‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Embarks on a New Beginning in Its Inspiring Premiere

Three years after the cataclysmic events that changed the trajectory of Star Trek: Discovery, Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Spock (Ethan Peck), and Number One (Rebecca Romijn) are back with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, setting off to explore the galaxy anew and venturing into strange new worlds. But before they can embark on those grand adventures, Pike has to be lured back to Starfleet to rescue Number One from a first-contact mission gone wrong.

Set before the events of Star Trek: The Original Series, Strange New Worlds blends what we already knew about Captain Pike’s time as the Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise with new storytelling that is ripe with potential. In addition to the trio that made their appearances in Star Trek: Discovery, the series also re-introduces three more familiar characters from the first Star Trek series, Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), Dr. M'Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), and Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush) and welcomes newcomers La'an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) and Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia).

Before there was ever a hint of romance between Spock and Uhura in The Original Series, audiences learned about his failed engagement to a fellow Vulcan, T’Pring. When Strange New Worlds reunites us with Spock, we see him with his soon-to-be betrothed in the midst of a Vulcan courting ritual. T’Pring (Gia Sandhu) seems like a perfect match for him, though we know that this is an ill-fated relationship, right from the start. Beyond the necessity of the plot for this storyline, it gives Spock a diversion from his grief and allows the show to explore new facets of his personality. How does a stoic, emotionally distant Vulcan navigate romance? How does it take shape?

Once Pike resumes his position as the Captain of the Enterprise he is provided a new Number one in La’an Noonien-Singh, who is somewhat reluctant about the role that she is taking on. Early reports about her character suggested that she may have a genetic link to the infamous Star Trek antagonist Khan Noonien Singh, though there is no sign of that connection in the premiere. They do, however, set La’an up to go on an inward journey throughout the series, priming her to feel like the odd-man-out, with secrets, and trauma to reckon with.

Una Chin-Riley (Number One) was taken prisoner on a planet that has not yet made first contact with Starfleet, nor is it a planet ready for first contact. In order to blend in during their rescue mission, Nurse Chapel and Dr. M’Benga find a way to temporarily alter the DNA of Captain Pike, Spock, and La’an Noonien-Singh to facilitate a trip to the surface. Unfortunately, despite La’an’s fast thinking “prey” skills, the trio is captured due to Spock’s half-human-half-Vulcan DNA not accepting the faux genetic structure.

After they are taken into custody, Pike and Spock discover that the events aboard the Discovery have had far more widespread repercussions than they had anticipated. While both of them are dealing with the weight of those events—with Pike grappling with witnessing his own impending death and Spock learning to move forward without his sister Michael—the time-traveling wormhole that was opened caused ripple effects across the galaxy and introduced this planet to dangerous technology that they are unprepared for.

Strange New Worlds uses the present-day United States of America as an allegory for what could go wrong if the planet continued down a path of self-destruction. We know that it’s present-day America, not just because the footage shown bears a striking resemblance to Earth 2024 shown in Star Trek: Picard this season, but because they literally show footage taken from the January 6th insurrection. Star Trek has never once shied away from getting political or drawing clear parallels between fictionalized atrocities and real-world travesties, and unfortunately, the people who need to see the throughline of their actions won’t see them for what they are. Luckily the planet of people that Captain Pike speaks to see the error of their ways and instead shift their priorities to mirror the goodwill missions of Starfleet and the hope they bring.

With the planet saved from certain doom and crisis averted, Number One is brought back safely to the Enterprise, and Pike offers La’an a permanent commission aboard the ship. She shares part of her tragic backstory with the Captain, explaining how she knows Una Chin-Riley and how she found a place within Starfleet. While the series may be about seeking out new adventures and exploring the galaxy, moments like this make it clear that the heart of the show is focused on an inward journey for its cast—giving each of them layered backstories to unravel throughout the season.

In the final minutes of the premiere, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds introduces a character often spoken about, but only seen once in The Original Series. At Captain Pike’s request, Samuel Kirk (Dan Jeannotte) is transferred aboard the Enterprise to work with Spock, setting into motion plot points that have already played out in The Original Series but will now receive new context to further strengthen them.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds may not be as immediately action-packed as Star Trek: Discovery was or as focused on a singular character as Star Trek: Picard, but it is set up to return to a more serialized style of storytelling, ushering in rich, nuanced looks at each of its characters and helping them to unpack the baggage that old wounds—and future tragedies—has forced them to carry.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is available to stream on Paramount+

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Managing Editor of Entertainment at Your Money Geek | + posts

Maggie Lovitt is the Managing Editor of Entertainment at Wealth of Geeks where she covers her favorite topics: Star Wars and pop culture nerdery. She is also a freelance writer and News Editor at Collider. She has had bylines at Inverse, Polygon, and Dorkside of the Force. She is also a member of the Hollywood Critics Association.

When she is not covering entertainment news, she can be found on one of her numerous podcasts or on her YouTube channel. In her free time, she is also a novelist, screenwriter, actor, and member of the Screen Actors Guild.