Another week, and another new episode of Strange New Worlds – “Lost in Translation”. The episode is written by Onitra Johnson and David Reed. The director this week is Dan Liu (who previously directed Season 1’s ‘Momento Mori’). The trailers portrayed this as an episode centered around Uhura (Celia Rose-Gooding), as well as playing with the more horrific elements of Star Trek. It also teased appearances from Kirk (Paul Wesley) and even the long-deceased Hemmer (Bruce Horak).
So how did all these plot elements tie together? Was it ultimately a good episode? Does it follow up on that kiss from last week at all? Let’s find out in this review of the latest edition of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
Spoiler Warning: This is a full review of Season 2, Episode 6 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – “Lost in Translation”, and as such contains spoilers. You have been warned. If you have not seen the episode, please turn away now!
We had speculated on it previously, but the opening of the episode confirms it outright. Captain Pike (Anson Mount) has become Fleet Captain Pike! Only temporarily, but it’s a cool step to where we know the character will eventually end up. Even though it’s said to be temporary, just until the Deuterium refinery is online, he’s still on the bridge rocking an updated badge. With the updated TOS uniforms in the series, I adore the black background on the badge we see here.
His speech about the refinery, nebula birthing stars, and his temporary command of the USS Farragut is interrupted though. Both by Uhura’s sleepiness, the arrival of Una (Rebecca Romijn), and another interruption from Uhura – this one is an auditory hallucination. This becomes the real starting point of Strange New Worlds – “Lost in Translation”. As far as opening scenes go, this is among the quieter. I like it a lot, also it warrants saying that throughout the entire episode that the shots of the nebula look breathtakingly gorgeous.
They also discuss how the refinery is close to known Gorn space. While they don’t really expand on this, it’s theorized that this is a potential strategic point. This is likely the truth, as we know there’s an operation by the higher-ups of Starfleet to go to war with the Gorn. We saw this way back in the series premiere “The Broken Circle”. For a series with so many plot threads, where most of them are character driven too, it was nice that this one ends up getting touched a little bit.
Hemmer’s Appearance & Other Hallucinations
Hemmer returns in Strange New Worlds – “Lost in Translation”, though not how you might expect. His first appearance is in a video that he and Uhura recorded about engineering processes. It creates a touching scene. It’s a quiet moment, but the fact we know Uhura likes to multi-skill matches her character nicely. His appearances throughout the episode, when not a zombie, are really touching. His ghost fading away at the end actually brought a tear to my eye, even though it wasn’t actually him, and was just the aliens waving goodbye to their savior.
Then there’s also one of the scariest moments I can recall in Star Trek. Hemmer joins Uhura in the turbolift, except he’s a deformed zombie. In many ways, it felt like a jumpscare for the sake of it. But it’s also among the most memorable shots in the episode. It also propelled the plot along, with Uhura’s hallucinations becoming the focal point. Later on, there are dead bodies, moving corridors, and even some smoke monsters in the spirit of Lost. There are loads of creative, well-done visuals that actually end up having meaning.
They speculate that it could be Deuterium poisoning from her exposure in engineering, but also she hasn’t been sleeping. I love how the ultimate answer about the Deuterium is right under their noses, but they’re just in the wrong department. I found the ultimate reveal of the Deuterium creatures totally unpredictable and loved the way we got to involve Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte). All the characters’ individual specialties are on full display this week. It’s brilliant.
Unfortunately, this one isn’t by the Beastie Boys (please somebody catch the Beyond reference). Meanwhile, on the refinery, Una’s leading the Enterprise and Farragut teams in repair efforts. The state of the station and the scale of the repair efforts reminds me of the overworking of Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney) in Deep Space Nine. Although not is all as it seems, in an investigation mostly driven by Pelia (Carol Kane). As much as I adore Kane, she hasn’t gotten too much to do before this week.
This episode changes all of that, as she’s involved quite a lot in the main plot. She’s solely responsible for finding the saboteur, Ramon (Michael Reventar). He’s a Starfleet officer experiencing the same sort of hallucinations that Uhura is. I thought it was a nice way to merge the two plots and even hint further at what’s really wrong with Uhura. It actually makes perfect sense that the creatures within the Deuterium are trying to sabotage the station, but this doesn’t become clear until you rewatch it. Clever stuff.
The fight scene with Ramon, which ends with his body drifting out into space felt like a merging of the old and new episodes of Star Trek. The older episodes of Trek are no stranger to fights in engineering sections, just look at “Court Martial”. Then the newer side of Trek with the big explosions and bodies floating around in vacuums (Lorca, Vadic, etc.). It’s some nasty, brief stuff but I was having the time of my life with it. A real highlight of the episode for me. Ramon wasn’t a huge role, but he was a well-utilized one.
Spock and Chapel
I really appreciated the way they acknowledged the end of last week’s episode. For the last entire week, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Thoughts of canon discrepancies crossed my mind, as well as just being annoyed – Spock doesn’t need a love story. This episode put my mind at ease for the most part. It’s not perfect, but I’m no longer begging for the Department of Temporal Investigations to come in and undo anything.
The chess scene was really sweet. We saw Kirk playing it earlier in the season, and now we see Spock in his element. He’s the chess master of the Enterprise. We don’t know if he actually beats Chapel (Jess Bush). However, Kirk points out to Uhura that Spock was close to checkmate, but had become distracted. This was likely by Uhura’s interjection, but Chapel’s metaphor involving Schrodinger’s Cat was mindboggling. At least according to Spock, it made sense to me, but I’m not exactly a scientist.
It’s nice to have some relative closure. They’re choosing to keep their relationship quiet, and don’t know what to do with their feelings. Sure, it was a nice subplot, and it’s nice that it’s not going crazy, but it still feels unnecessary. A lot of this felt like controlling the potential damage from the fallout of last week’s episode. The fact that this, for both characters, is their biggest contribution to the episode is perhaps a sign that there were too many characters to juggle around. Pretty good for what it was though, and a massive relief.
The Kirk Brothers
While we’ve been introduced to both Sam and George Kirk over the course of the series, this is the first time they’ve interacted onscreen. There’s a lot more rivalry between them than I expected. Interestingly, it appears to be down to the opinion of their father, the Captain of the USS Kelvin. I do love that they kept that, in a way, it felt like a small tie-in to the 2009 film. The biggest difference though, is that their father is obviously still alive, or spoken about in the present tense at least. It’s a nice touch.
I’ve been mixed on Wesley’s Kirk so far. Mostly because he’s never been playing the Kirk we’re most familiar with (with the exception of a brief minute the other week). This is the episode where I finally began to see him as Kirk. His stuff with La’an was fine, but his scene with Uhura, where he talks about coping with death, is what finally swayed me. I also applauded when he met Spock. I loved the way they played that. Genuinely cannot wait to see them together more, one of my favorite friendships in Trek.
Sam on the other hand I’ve been sold on since day one. That little twist in the pilot episode was amazing, and I’ve loved everything he’s popped up in since. But for the most part, he’s been a lot of comic relief. This was the first time that I felt connected to his archaeological expertise, and him more broadly as full character. Seeing how close he was to his brother also helps to recontextualize “Operation — Annihilate”. Although now I’m actually intrigued as to what pushes Sam into moving away from Starfleet, I don’t think this ‘rivalry’ is over.
Dan Liu’s a fantastic director. His work on the vision sequences in particular was nothing short of astounding. He also worked on the episodes “Imposters” and “Bounty” from the most recent season of Picard, and it shows. The darker corridors and action scenes were mind-blowingly well done. His experience with zombies and horror was also on full display, he’s worked on The Walking Dead a few times. The tight scene on the elevator is it at its best, although any of the darker action scenes are applicable to.
There was a lot to juggle here in terms of the spectacle. For instance, plenty of big explosions, and large shots of ships moving around. There were also quieter intimate moments in the bar (speaking of, I love that the TOS characters get their own Ten Forward). Just about all the directorial choices here really hit the nail on the head. Enough shots from this episode have stuck in my mind well after the episode ended that this is worthy of praise. It’s simply a beautiful episode of Star Trek to look at and watch.
Even on a rewatch (which I have done already) it holds up. It’s evident that Liu’s fond of Star Trek, having now directed three full episodes. I really hope he comes back to do more in the future. We know there will probably eventually be another season of Strange New Worlds. Both this and “Memento Mori” (his effort last season) are up there with the best that the current era of Star Trek has to offer. If he’s not back to direct more soon, I would honestly be very surprised. This episode absolutely rocked my world.
The Core of Star Trek
The end of this episode, outside of how cool it is to see our versions of Pike and Kirk interacting with each other, answered the core of the franchise. That’s seeking out new life. Like certain forms of new life, it wasn’t one that was usual. This is what’s so great about Star Trek, and perhaps science fiction more broadly. It makes you consider thinking and opens up the mind to all sorts of crazy ideas. It’s like the discovery of the “wormhole aliens” (Prophets) in Deep Space Nine, or communicating with the Ten-C in Discovery.
Some of them weren’t ready to accept that the Deuterium here had life contained within it. Uhura, the communications officer, didn’t consider until the end that she was being communicated to through the visions. The point is, that when they realize, they’re receptive. That’s what’s so great about Starfleet, as flawed as it’s been portrayed over the last few years. It’s why we as an audience keep coming back as the shows keep breaking new ground.
This was also a really creative way of discovering new life, although I can’t shake the thought that two episodes revolving around inter-dimensional beings in a row might be a bit much. Like Season 4 of Discovery, I love finding fresh ways of communicating. The choice to use the visions was cool, and they look amazing. Also, when you watch the episode again, you can totally see what’s being said the whole time. It’s like an hour of genius writing and directing.
Looking Forward to “Those Old Scientists“
This is a hard episode to top. Honestly, if it weren’t for “Ad Astra Per Aspera”, this would be my favorite of the season. Maybe even the show as a whole. It’s some awesome stuff and is an instant classic of Star Trek. A pleasure to watch, a joy to rewatch, and a delight to review. Trek fans and critics could ask for nothing better.
That being said, next week could come close. For starters, it’s being directed by the legendary Jonathan Frakes. Need I say more? Yes. Yes, I do. We know that Frakes is directing the crossover with Lower Decks this season. Please. We’re going to be blending live-action and animation, and even getting the most exciting guest stars in Jack Quaid and Tawny Newsome. This is going to be so much fun and a much-needed comedic shift after this episode leaning into horror. Genuinely cannot wait to watch this one.
How to Watch
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams Thursdays via Paramount+ in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Latin America, France, Germany, 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.
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