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REVIEW: Strange New Worlds: “The Broken Circle”

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has returned with its second season! Episode one, “The Broken Circle”, has us starting this brand new adventure aboard the USS Enterprise! However, we are also dealing with past adventures. Such as the fallout of events from Star Trek: Discovery! We get the return of the Klingons! This comes with a hint of hybridization between the maligned Klingons of Discovery and the beloved Klingons of The Next Generation.

Aside from Klingon preferences, we get some great setups for the rest of the season. Our crew still has a fairly self-contained adventure to solve in one manageable episode. This hearkens back to the times of The Original Series. However, we do have serialized character journeys! So characters like Miles O’Brien don’t go from being tortured in one episode to being perfectly fine in the next! But what did we think of this episode? 

SPOILER WARNING, this is our full review of Strange New Worlds’ first episode of season 2. As such, you have been warned. If you’ve not watched this episode, turn away now!

Pike the Boy Scout

It is a very bold choice for this episode, the first episode of the season, to have Pike not feature much. This choice is setting up the next, courtroom-based episode. It seems Una requires a particular lawyer to take on her case, of being an Illyrian which got her arrested last season.

This leaves Spock in command of the Enterprise. The show is making it seem like it is his first time as acting captain. This is cool, as we get to see this first captaincy of Spock of the Enterprise.

I will say, this particular scene was story-boarded in a very interesting way which made the scene come off as quite static. We mostly had cuts between Pike and Una, in different locations, which felt quite jarring. How it was shot and edited together did not make the scene flow. It might have worked better if we had more of the scene of Pike seeing Una on a terminal.

Anson Mount as Pike and Rebecca Romijn as Una of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS. Photo Cr: Marni Grossman/Paramount+ ©2022 CBS Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Spock’s Human Journey

This episode seems to set up situation for Spock this season. His emotional Vulcan blocks were removed in the Gorn episode last season. I really enjoy that even though we get episodic stories with Strange New World, we get a serialized element to characters.

So I expect we will be getting more “Spock dealing with his emotions” this season. We also seem to get an origin story for Spock’s Vulcan Harp. This is not necessary, but as we have gotten it, I do really like it. Now looking at The Original Series, we can see Spock playing his harp and think back on the fact it was M’Benga who gave it to him, to help him control his human emotions and stresses.

Spock dealing with his human side in this episode does come into play from the story side. With La’an sending a distress call to the Enterprise, and Spock being in charge, he has to violate orders to do the right thing, not the most logical thing. This is where he hatches a plan to steal the Enterprise.

Ethan Peck as Spock

Commander Pelia

Spock’s group tries to simulate a core breach to get the inspectors off the ship so that they can steal the Enterprise. The distress call is from the Cajitar system, a dilithium mining planet on the edge of Klingon Space. This is where we get our first look at Commander Pelia, the future chief engineer of the Enterprise.

Pelia is in charge of the inspection team looking over the enterprise at Starbase One and instantly knows that the warp core breach is a lie. I do really like her character so far, but I think the accent which Carol Kane puts on as Pelia is a little jarring. I came to like it by the end of the episode. but I hope with subsequent episodes she will grow even more on me.

Pelia has taught about warp core breaches at the Academy, and I love her use of logic in figuring out the scheme. She even postulates that since it is a Vulcan in charge trying to do this, they must have a good reason to do so. She actually helps make their plan look more credible to give the Enterprise a reason to leave Spacedock.

Carol Kane as Commander Pelia

Amanda Grayson & Hidden Aliens

Another little character aspect is that she has a history with Amanda Grayson, Spock’s mom. She is also not human, as Uhura says her accent is Lanthanite, and she is long-lived, saying she last went out on a ship 100 years ago. This is very The Original Series just having some alien species that look 100% human.

We learn by the end of the episode that the Lanthanites are an alien species that live on Earth and were only first discovered in the 22nd century, so probably sometime after Star Trek: Enterprise. She says she came out to Amanda Grayson that she is a Lanthanite, and considering Amanda is the wife of an Ambassador this does somewhat track, but does have the issue of perhaps making the Trek universe feel small.

Mia Kirshner as Amanda Grayson

Klingons

We’ve seen in trailers that we are getting Klingons and some Klingons that look more like the ones we are familiar with. So far it does look like a mixture between the Discovery-era Klingons and The Motion Picture. This is mostly with similar prosthetics to the Discovery ones but only the forehead and not the neck or lower face. 

We also see some classic Klingon Bloodwine cups, and La’an is in an outfit that was last worn by Georgiou in season 2 of Discovery. This makes sense as that was when Georgiou was undercover on Qo’nos, so her outfit must have been Klingon in Origin.

The money which La’an wins from her drinking game was also seen in Discovery Season One, during the game T’Sang.

Abbas Wahab as Ror’Queg

The Broken Circle

With the crew now back together and meeting with La’an on this planet, we get what this “situation critical to the federation” is. This Dilithium mining planet made a fortune providing both sides during the Klingon-Federation War. Now that there is peace, they cannot exploit either side. A syndicate called “The Broken Circle”, which consists of both Ex-Klingons and ex-Starfleet Officers, is trying to restart the war for profits.

We learn from M’Benga that the casualty number of the Klingon-Federation War was 100 million Federation bodies. Sci-Fi usually doesn’t do numbers well in regards to this, but in my mind, this works. A single year of the Klingon Federation war was worse than WW2.

M’Benga and Chapel instantly want to aid the civilians injured from ion exposure, due to this scheme to restart the war is also a nice touch. They do get kidnapped pretty quickly to heal the Broken Circle members who have been subjected to ion exposure.

Ethan Peck as Spock, Babs Olusanmokun as Dr. M’Benga, Jess Bush as Chapel and Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura

Chief Jay

Unfortunately, it does not look like André Dae Kim is returning as Transporter Chief Kyle this season. Instead, we have Noah Lamanna, playing Chief Jay. They have some big shoes to fill as people did like Chief Kyle, so we’ll see what Season 2 has in store for them.

We reported on their inclusion in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 earlier this year, so it’s nice to finally see them on screen!

Noah Lamanna

Crossfield Class

One of the biggest aspects of this episode which I really adore is that the miners’ plan to restart the war with the Klingon empire is to use a Crossfield class starship. It is also fascinating how this utilization of the Crossfield class helps to contextualize an aspect of Star Trek: Discovery for the better. 

It shows that the design of the Crossfield existed before the U.S.S. Discovery, and the Discovery design was altered for the spore drive, which helps make the visual continuity work even better.

Especially when the saucer of this Crossfield class looks almost identical to the very first footage we got of Star Trek: Discovery! The secondary hull however is interesting, with a deflector dish above the saucer and the pylons connecting to this, with Enterprise style nacelles. The Trek-Tradition of Kitbashing endures!

Crossfield Saucer before the implementation of the Spore Drive

Ships

The interior of the ship seems to be a mismatch of Starfleet tech, which makes sense for what the story is saying about this ship being constructed with what components this group can buy on the black market. The Sickbay looks to have Strange New Worlds interior as well as some of the corridors, but the turbo-lift and some other corridors are from Discovery-era components.

The registry of the ship is NCC-1279. This is a very cool-looking ship, but it does get destroyed by the Enterprise before it can attack the Klingon ship and restart the war. We do get a look at some of the other SNW-era ships in this episode docked at Starbase one, with an Archer-Type ship and a Farragut-Type ship.

Personally, I would really like it if they used some Discovery-era ships to populate the space shots. They used a Shepard class in season 1, but some more around Starbase One would be nice, whether they be Hoover classes or Cardenas classes, something else for us ship nerds to enjoy. This was a strength of Picard Season 3 of fleshing out the fleet, and I hope other trek shows take those lessons to heart.

U.S.S. Farragut

M’Benga

M’Benga served on the Moon of J’gal and tended to wounded Klingons there. There was a Battle there called the Battle of Cha’Kana, where it seems a lot of people died. This season from interviews and this episode seems to be doing more with the consequences of the Klingon-Federation War, and what it is like for active serving officers to go through such an event. It seems like M’Benga is having some flashbacks to the war, even commenting, on when is war truly over, probably remarking on the lasting effects it has on people.

M’Benga and Chapel take some sort of drug which allows them to take down numerous Klingons through this ship. We know that Chapel does specialize in short-term temporary genetic enhancements from the very first episode of Strange New Worlds, and it does look like they’ve had this drug before, perhaps even during the Klingon War.

I will say, some of M’Benga and Chapel’s fighting moves are straight up from the Original Series. M’Benga even does the Double Head slap that Kirk does to the Gorn in TOS.

Babs Olusanmokun as Dr. M’Benga

Spock’s Logic vs Emotion

Spock not only uses logic to defuse the situation with the Klingon Captain of the D7 who was nearly attacked by this false flag operation but also uses the fact he isn’t a typical Vulcan to sway the Klingon emotionally, saying that they should meet face to face over a barrel of blood wine.

It is nice that Spock tries the logical approach, but for this, finds that the human approach works better. This really helps to cement what Spock will be going through this season it seems, and is a good way to start this arc for our favorite Vulcan character.

Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura and Ethan Peck as Spock

Klingon Variety

I will say, it would have been nice to see a little more variety in the Klingons in this episode. We could have gotten some Siscovery-style Klingons in the background to help flesh out the species a little more, similar to how Star Trek: Picard did with the Romulans and whether they had ridges or not. It also would have been nice to see some TOS-style Klingons, though, for all we know, there could have been, considering they just have smooth foreheads.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – Klingon

The Gorn Threat

The season seems to be heading up to a Gorn episode, with the final scene of this episode being the brass with Admiral April worrying that war is approaching them, with an unidentifiable ship seemingly heading into Federation territory, and the ship possibly being a Gorn ship.

They have to walk an interesting line to have their cake and eat it too. The fact that the ship is not 100% identified as a Gorn ship, is nice, but we will have to see how they will keep it like that for the Gorn official first contact in The Original Series. This will probably be a recurring story element throughout this season, with perhaps the final episode confronting the Gorn. They can either have these Gorn be a splinter faction, or something else, but they can still make it work if they want it to.

The Beginning of the Gorn’s Invasion into Federation Space?

In Memoriam

This episode is dedicated to Nichelle Nichols in a nice message at the end of the episode. Celia Rose Gooding had some good scenes in this episode and is continuing that legacy that Nichelle made as Uhura in The Original Series. She not only inspired many people but did so much more.

Directing

Overall this was an enjoyable episode, and a solid first outing for Strange New Worlds season 2, but there are some issues I had with the episode. Some of the directing was superb, but some were very out of place and felt disconnected.

These are more difficult scenes such as how to communicate a conversation between characters that aren’t in the same room. This was shown well by the end of the episode with Spock talking to April, but not shown well at the start with Pike and Una.

The scenes inside the Crossfield ship were done extremely well. Communicating fight scenes is an art, and the scenes with M’Benga and Chapel fighting the crew were done well. One particular shot was so over the top, in the best way, of M’Benga and Chapel moving between decks with the camera rotating between said decks. It was a visually stunning shot that did not need to go that hard.

Jess Bush as Chapel and Babs Olusanmokun as M’Benga

Set Decoration

The set decoration was excellent in this episode, as well as the use of what I believe to be the Volume in some of the exterior shots on the planet, which enabled a seamless planetary look for this mining colony. 

The best use of set decoration and design was the interior of the Crossfield class, melding designs between the Constitution-style interiors of Strange New Worlds, and the Crossfield-style interiors of Discovery. This helped to further sell the story of what was happening, which is what should be the case.

Crossfield Class Interior

It’s like Poetry

Season 1 Episode 1 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds dealt with the fallout of the canonical events of Star Trek: Discovery Season 2’s finale. This was done in a way, that enhanced what happened in Discovery. Season 2 Episode 1 of Strange New Worlds is dealing with the fallout of the canonical events of Discovery Season 1s finale. Whatever your thoughts on Discovery, Strange New Worlds is doing what all franchise shows should do, not only stand on their own but enhance and use what is around them.

Battle at the Binary Stars

Conclusion

This was the first episode of season 2 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, titled “The Broken Circle”. The episode was written by Henry Alonso-Meyers and Akiva Goldsman, both show-runners of this show! The episode was directed by Chris Fisher.

We now have La’an back on the ship, a new chief engineer that I believe I am starting to like her chaotic energy, which helps to differentiate her from the fan-favorite Hemmer of last season, and the next episode we will pick up on the courtroom episode of Strange New Worlds, with Una standing trial for lying to Starfleet and being a genetically augmented Illyrian.

The second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premieres on Thursday, June 15, exclusively on Paramount+, with new episodes dropping weekly on Thursdays. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams 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 from June 16 on SkyShowtime in the Nordics, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Central and Eastern Europe.


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Dom Paris
Dom Parishttps://twitter.com/DomDParis
The resident "Loremaster" among the team, Dom is typically found fact-checking videos and articles for the Trek Central team, as well as reviewing the latest episodes and movies.

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