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REVIEW – Star Trek: Strange New Worlds “Hegemony”

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Here we are, the finale of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2! While some episodes haven’t been to everyone’s taste, I’ve lauded the variety of episode themes and styles presented. To that effect, this week sees the crew of the USS Enterprise fighting off a Gorn invasion. This is our review of Strange New Worlds “Hegemony”. Even if you tried, you could hardly have a sharper detour from a musical episode. The Gorn episodes of this series so far, “Memento Mori” and “All Those Who Wander”, are absolute gems, so let’s hope this effort from writer Henry Alonso Myers and director Maja Vrvilo can live up to them.

In true Star Trek finale fashion, we must ask ourselves some important questions. How does this prepare us for Season 3? Will all the characters make it out alive? What will become of the relationship between Captains Pike (Anson Mount) and Batel (Melanie Scrofano)? There’s all of this and more in my review of the Season 2 finale of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Hit it!

(WARNING This review contains full spoilers for “Hegemony”, so if you’ve not seen it, please turn away now!)

Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 (Via Paramount+)

Distress Call

The episode opens in what appears to be an old-style American town. I’d say this was done to save money when building sets. However, when it’s razed to the ground, it doesn’t look too dissimilar to a regular alien planet in the series. Regardless, the set looks gorgeous; setting it there was a beyond-inspired choice. The previous Gorn episodes of Strange New Worlds take a lot of cues from the Alien movies, so it’s cool to see something like that set in an Earth-like space.

We here at Trek Central thought that Batel was a goner, and the opening didn’t give me much hope. The cold open does a great job of transitioning from happy to mortifying quickly, which establishes the threat the Gorn poses well. Going from that to hearing the distress call to seeing a very damaged USS Cayuga made this one of the most impactful cold opens in recent memory. I really couldn’t wait to get into the episode!

With Batel’s life in danger, this was a personal mission for Pike. I almost wonder what the episode could have been if he did go down alone, the selected away team feels mostly like replaceable window dressing. That being said, the rest of the cast needed something to do, and who doesn’t love playing a shooter game with the Gorn? The one exception to this rule was Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte), who really built off his role in “All Those Who Wander” to great effect.

Dan Jeannotte as Sam Kirk in Strange New Worlds Season 2 (Via Paramount+)

Pike & Batel

This is the actual relationship of this season, and to think we didn’t even know Batel’s first name until last week. I was scared from the beginning of this episode that she would be dead, and I thought for the longest time she was. Having Pike driven by rage like that was probably the most dramatic performance that Mount’s turned in this season. Although even in all that darkness, there were still lovely moments of levity, with the shuttle landing, in particular, springing to mind.

Batel survives Strange New Worlds “Hegemony”. I’m glad the episode didn’t cut to how she survived or assembled that group. As the audience, we were allowed to experience that surprise with Pike, which made it a more impactful moment. Also, for a character who’s mostly sat on the other side of the screens, it’s nice to see her get more stuff to do. Although with the Gorn mother reveal, I’m unsure if she’ll live much longer.

I don’t want her to die, though. The franchise hasn’t killed a major character like that for quite some time. That being said, she’s probably served her purpose to the plot of the series and made a big enough impact on Pike’s life. The second their video call ended, it felt like an endpoint in their relationship was being reached. I look forward to seeing what befalls her in Season 3.

Spock & Christine

This is a romance and relationship I’ve been mixed on since it first started happening earlier this season. The way they broke up last week felt like an okay end-point, but the story continues! I’m not sure why Spock (Ethan Peck) would be the one apologizing to be honest, especially since Chapel (Jess Bush) was the one who broke up with him. That being said, I understand that crisis situations, tragedies, and emergencies can bring out those sorts of responses.

But coming from a Vulcan, it’s strange he didn’t react more. There were a couple of shots, but it didn’t feel like as much of a “feelings” moment as it should’ve been. That being said though, Peck does a great job with everything he’s given, as does Bush. I’m mixed about the way their arc resolves itself at the end of the season as well. We know that she still needs to move off to do that internship with Dr. Korby, it needs to happen.

My disinterest and general distaste for their relationship aside though, it was cool to see Chapel get more action scenes. The comparisons of her scenes to something Alien most certainly ring true. Of all the female characters to turn into full-blown action heroes, Chapel’s probably the most surprising. It’s good that she’s able to outshine La’an (Christina Chong) in particular, a literal war hero. I hope we get to see more of this side of her character in the future. I really enjoyed it.

A Very Surprising Star

About precisely halfway through the episode, I screamed. I had to pause it and take a minute to process what was happening before me. The second the mysterious crew member walked out from the shadows with a Scottish accent, I knew exactly what was happening. It makes me very happy to say that the legendary Montgomery “Scotty” Scott has officially joined the cast of Strange New Worlds. Taking over the role from James Doohan and Simon Pegg is Martin Quinn.

As of writing this, there’s no word as to whether or not he’s here to stay, but it looks very likely. I thought the series would have introduced Bones or Rand before jumping to Scotty, but I was wrong. Such a pleasure to see him again and have another character connected to Pelia (Carol Kane). While it looks like she’ll be at the start of Season 3, I’m unsure if she’ll be sticking around.

I can easily see her death at the start of the next season being the trigger for Scotty being on the Enterprise. We’ll have to wait and see, but still, Quinn gives a lovely performance. For a character we didn’t know would be in Strange New Worlds “Hegemony”, he has quite a lot to do. The fact that it wasn’t just a quick cameo or nod was what took me by surprise the most. Beyond ready to see the character again soon, it’s lovely to see the TOS cast slowly forming.

Martin Quinn as Scotty in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Via Paramount+)

The Gorn

We knew going in that this would be a Gorn episode. They’ve teased it from the beginning of this season, specifically at the end of “The Broken Circle”. It only took eight episodes of totally different things for us to get here. It’s been a lovely ride, but seeing the Gorn again is great. I mentioned earlier that they enter the episode in a big way, which makes it all the more disappointing when they appear comparatively little. On the bright side, they feel very present throughout, and when they want to do a good action spectacle, they do.

What I appreciated most from them was the lone presence on the Cayuga. The whole episode really felt like a tug-of-war between Alien and Aliens. It combines the stealth horror part with the sci-fi action part and it juggles both of these really well. When you consider their more individual influences on the previous Gorn episodes, doing both is the sort of one-up that a second season should strive for.

The only part I’m mixed on is their communications to the Federation. The episode feels like it wants faceless aliens that are okay to gun down, yet here they are implying they have a degree of intelligence. An intelligence beyond their military capabilities, which means they’re not really faceless drones. While I think Pike almost objectively makes the right decisions throughout, there’s a bit of a moral quandary in this skirmish that I hope they grapple with more in part two.

A Wild Gorn Adult, as seen in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Via Paramount+)

“Orders, Captain?”

I think that subheading says it all. It’s one of those cliffhangers that will live in your head until the next episode comes out. Strange New Worlds “Hegemony” being a two-parter took me by surprise, although I’m glad they didn’t rush the conclusion to fit an hour’s runtime. I don’t think I’ve ever been so genuinely surprised by an episode of any TV show like this in a long time. Between this and Scotty’s reveal, this was a really surprising episode.

As soon as the credits started rolling, the first thing that popped into my head was the end of The Next Generation’sThe Best of Both Worlds“. The cliffhanger where Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) was assimilated by the Borg, with Riker on the bridge uttering the words “Mr Worf, fire!”. It’s been frequently hailed as one of the greatest cliffhangers on television. Strange New Worlds “Hegemony”‘s cliffhanger was the modern-day answer. Easily the best cliffhanger on any of the Star Trek episodes in my lifetime. Easily.

I don’t know what to expect from Season 3. Conveniently, outside of M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) and Sam Kirk, none of the other characters in jeopardy appears anywhere else in the Trek canon. It’s a choice that leaves us, as the audience, genuinely unsure about what will happen. The only death I can see happening now is Pelia, but who knows? Perhaps the main cast is going to be culled next season? I’m excited to see what happens.

Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Via Paramount+)

Conclusion

Strange New Worlds “Hegemony” was an absolute blockbuster of an episode. It grabbed me from the second I hit play and didn’t let go until the credits rolled. I’ve never been quite so enthralled in action spectacle. The fact that this was produced during the pandemic’s peak is laudable. The production value is so good that you can barely tell. Compared to the other things I’ve seen from the pandemic, I’m very impressed.

While the strikes currently halt Season 3’s production, I hope it arrives eventually. It’s like some big 2023 movies, such as Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning. The legacy of the cliffhanger is only as good as what follows it. I have complete faith in the creative team, who have delivered two solid seasons, so I wait in anticipation.

Thankfully this isn’t the end of Star Trek for the year. Next is the fourth season of Star Trek: Lower Decks, which starts on September 7. I think the break between series will do us some good. We need to sit and digest this cliffhanger for a while before we run off to the next thing.

Where to Watch

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams Thursdays via Paramount+ in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Latin America, Brazil, South Korea (via Tving), France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland & Austria. As well as CTV Scifi / Crave in Canada, & TVNZ in New Zealand. And on SkyShowtime in the Nordics, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Central and Eastern Europe. For reviews, news, and Star Trek talk, follow Trek Central for more!


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Connor Schwigtenberg
Connor Schwigtenberg
All round science fiction geek and a passionate Star Trek enthusiast. Can reliably be found nerding out online. Currently exploring the expanded media. A writer at heart, look out for deep dives, reviews, and feature articles.

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