Temporal Hijinks in my Star Trek? It’s more likely than you think! After an amazing trial episode last week, we return to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 for a new installment. This week we have an episode that has La’an going into the past, to ensure that the future survives. There are references to previous Trek, another alt-timeline James Tiberius Kirk, and a whole lot more! How is “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” when compared to previous SNW, and time travel episodes? Let’s take a look!
SPOILER WARNING, this is a full review of Strange New Worlds‘ third episode in season 2 so there will be spoilers ahead! As such, you have been warned. If you’ve not watched this episode, turn away now!
A Bump in the Road
This episode was a fun one to watch. The characters were great, and their interactions were amazing. Unfortunately, I felt that the story of this let it down. It needed some refinement before it could stand up to similar episodes, such as “City on the Edge of Forever”. But what exactly do we mean by that? Well, let’s talk about some of the moments I did enjoy from this episode. Then we will talk about what didn’t work for us.
La’an was the center point of this episode. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds usually centers around one specific character for their stories. However, this one was different in that it very much isolated La’an. This was probably intentional given the story that was being told. La’an feels isolated from the rest of her crew and doesn’t get on too well with people. This episode made us feel that by not having too much interaction with the rest of the Enterprise Crew.
This is good, but also bad. One of the great elements of Strange New Worlds is the ensemble cast. They are great. Though this episode is effective in isolating La’an from the crew, it is a little too effective in this. It isolates us, the audience, from the other characters that we love, to its own detriment.
Christina Chong puts her all into the emotion and acting of La’an. This does make up for this isolation for the most part. We get an extremely good semblance of what her character is feeling. There are times when we know an entire conversation, just from a cut-off word and that is done very well. The biggest element of this episode was her dynamic with one James T. Kirk, which in my opinion works really well.
We got our first look at James T. Kirk last season during the finale, where we were treated with an alt-timeline Kirk, Captain of the U.S.S. Farragut, who many people have remarked did not feel like Kirk. Though we get another Alt-Timeline Kirk in this episode, it’s as Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise way before his prime. He feels much more in line with the Kirk we know. However, there is still some uniqueness that Paul Wesley embeds in the character.
There is a little element that I found to be really cool about this Kirk. This alt-timeline Kirk was born on the U.S.S. Iowa while the prime timeline Kirk we know was born in Iowa on Earth. This is what differentiates them and why alt-timeline Kirk is not familiar with Earth or revolving doors. This is also how La’an finds that the timeline has been fixed. Contacting James Kirk and checking where he was born, but also using the opportunity to see his face again.
Personally, I actually enjoyed this Captain Kirk of the United Earth Fleet U.S.S. Enterprise. Seeing him in the past quickly adapting to the scenarios getting money and food and whatnot was fun. Jim earns money by playing chess, he’s a master thanks to being used to the more advanced Three Dimensional Chess. It was also a nice beat.
It was also nice to see the conflict with Kirk. Wrestling with the idea of erasing his own timeline for the sake of the prime timeline. Knowing that his Brother Sam Kirk is alive in our timeline, but not in his own.
With regard to George ‘Samuel’ Kirk, there is a little retcon here that works so well. When Sam Kirk was first introduced, many people had an issue with this, because he was introduced as Sam Kirk. In The Original Series, George Samuel Kirk was said to only really be referred to as George. Only people like James T. Kirk would call him Sam. Kirk even brings this up saying, “Most people call him George”. La’an replies, “Nobody calls him George”.
From a sibling perspective, this is an authentic touch. James T. Kirk thinks something of his sibling while the opposite is true. It is nice to see how much Sam does mean to Kirk. Kirk even being willing to sacrifice himself for a timeline that has his brother still alive. And that makes his inevitable death hurt even more. Hopefully, we’ll get to see the two brothers interact with each other later in this season.
The Temporal Hijinks of this episode are interesting, to say the least. They were enjoyable to watch and piece together as our characters did the same. As with most time travel episodes, there are a lot of contrivances in the plot. When looked upon after the fact, it really let the episode down. We have temporal Romulan Agents trying to track down the Cold Fusion Reactor in Toronto. Okay cool. The Romulan plan is to wait until La’an and Kirk find the Reactor. Surely they would have a device to find radiation?
Anyway, another element that “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” sets up is that of “Time Fighting Back”. We’ve had this previously with Star Trek: Voyager, with Time being described as having moods. What is interesting about this episode is that it sets up a will to time. Something that even models can’t really predict. Even if something is removed from the timeline, time will try and reinsert it.
This is how the episode retcons previously established things in an interesting way. The Cold Fusion Reactor is run by the Noonien-Singh Institute for Cultural Advancement. Khan was originally meant to be active in 1992, but time has reinserted him here. This episode, as well as Star Trek: Picard Season 2, sets this up. Project Khan was seemingly spearheaded by Adam Noonien-Singh, and developed in Canada. So yes, Khan is now Canadian. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 also implied that the Eugenics Wars are mixed in with World War 3.
The extremely messed up element of this episode is that La’an basically has to make a very powerful choice for her character. All her life, people have made an assumption about her last name Noonien-Singh. She has the opportunity to kill a young version of the man who started it all. The boy who would become Khan Noonien-Singh.
I was very worried that they were going to somehow redeem Khan himself, but it is a point to make. Khan is not a monster because of his augments. Something Neera reminded La’an last episode. Khan is a monster because of the choices he made later in his life. Nobody is born with sin. However he is the same person, and we know he will become the infamous Khan. Even La’an realizes this.
Khan on the Edge of Forever
La’an has to save Khan. This is a really tough choice because she is saving the man who caused genocides and crimes against humanity. Compare this with Edith Keeler in The Original Series. Kirk has to let her die in order to ensure America joins the Second World War. Edith Keeler had the best intentions but has to die to make the “right” thing happen. Khan does not have the best intentions but has to live to make the “right” thing happen.
This reminds me more of an early plot of “City on the Edge of Forever”. Kirk and Spock have to make sure JFK is assassinated. I feel like these concepts don’t work when it is so direct in causing the historical event, but are better when indirect. Especially when you throw aliens into the mix. Making sure Edith Keeler dies is a good example. This helps to separate the decision by a degree, to the death that is being caused for the right reason.
A very nice inclusion in this episode is Carol Kane‘s ‘Pelia’. The episode starts with La’an inspecting Pelia’s possessions believing them to be illicit. Pelia dropped a little bit of info that she ran an archeological department in the past in Vermont. With La’an stuck in the past, she then goes to Vermont to get the advanced engineering help she and Kirk need from Pelia. However, the Pelia of this time isn’t an engineer. I will say I liked Pelia’s comment on not keeping up with maths since “Pythagoras made the crap up”.
This is where the episode works with time travel because it seems like this event always happened. Pelia became an engineer thanks to La’an. We however know the timeline changes. So this episode tries to have both a bootstrap paradox and a reactive timeline simultaneously. Carol Kane did an amazing job when La’an finally returns to the present day. She is wearing the outfit she wore when she met Pelia all those years ago. Pelia knows exactly what La’an just went through, it clearly being written on Pelia’s face.
It is nice to see a different side of Pelia, the “pack rat”. She may have stolen many unique items during her time on Earth. I hope Pelia and her antiques get brought up again in a future episode. I also hoped to have Pelia actually mention this, to really put a bookend on the temporal episode.
The Romulans being the villains here are intriguing. The events seem to be set after the Temporal Wars considering what the Romulan time agent said. With time though, who knows when they started or when they finished.
“Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” also seems to suggest that Chernobyl and JFK were also events that happened thanks to the interference by Romulans. This was revealed by an unreliable narrator, so we can’t take it as gospel. Personally, I would have preferred if this was a part of the Temporal Wars, and not the Romulans. If they had brought back the Na’Kuhl for example, a species that didn’t bring such advanced technology back and had to adapt to the time, this would have worked out way better. Better yet, another faction from the Temporal Cold War had one-way time travel devices and had been stuck on Earth for 30 years waiting to kill Khan.
Overall the writing for “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” was not the best. There were a lot of contrivances to get the plot going in the way it wanted. It felt very much like the end of the episode and the main plot points were planned out. This left the points in between to sort of meander.
The world-building and continuity in this episode were also quite hit or miss. There are some fantastic elements as well though. Such as “Everyone calls him George” to “This was meant to happen in 1992”. But how some of these elements interact with others was not thought out extremely well.
Though I did not enjoy the main plot, the character moments and interactions were done very well. And the character work and the arcs they went on were satisfying to watch.
After rewatching episode 2 of this season and coming to this one, it just doesn’t hit as hard. “Ad Astra per Aspera” was meticulous in what it was trying to achieve, and this felt less so. It needed some extra time to be refined and tightened. It will be interesting to revisit this episode and see how it holds up.
Director Amanda Row did a good job in setting up many of the scenes in this episode. They were enhanced by the choices made by her as director. Whether intentional or not, many of the shots on the alternate Enterprise were interesting. Shots of Pike in the captain’s chair and in his ready room have the camera gravitate towards him, many of the shots did the opposite for Kirk. This helped to sell that this was not “correct”. Most shots were behind the seats of authority, behind the captain’s chair, and behind the ready-room table.
The scene with Kirk and La’an witnessing the bridge’s destruction was also great. We’ve seen this shot numerous times within the trailers. For good reason, as it’s done so well with the reflection of the explosion, and the emotions on the characters’ faces.
The creatives of the show said they were taking some big swings this season, and an issue with that is that they sometimes miss. In the last episode, they very much hit, but in this episode not so much. This isn’t too much of a bad thing, as it should be welcomed for them to try new things and push the envelope in what Star Trek can say and do, but even on that front, this episode is very safe in what it does.
We also have the issue of a similar story being done fairly recently in Star Trek: Picard Season 2. A plot that had characters waking up in a strange new alternate reality and having to go back in time to stop this fork in the road. It had Romulan Temporal Agents and geneticists. This episode could have been a more excellent opportunity to overlap and interconnect these two episodes.
It could have also possibly had another Supervisor on Earth who mentions their previous Romulan Supervisor’s demise. The only connection is Khan, and it feels more like stepping on toes than it is collaborative storytelling. Similar to how we’ve had multiple AI taking over the fleet stories
‘Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow’ is written by David Reed and directed by Amanda Row. Overall this episode was fun to watch but feels like it won’t be so fun to revisit. It is propped up by some amazing acting from Paul Wesley and Christina Chong. It makes me want to see more of Kirk later in this season but hopefully used sparingly.
These characters are the best element of this episode, each going on their own arc throughout the story in a way that is satisfying. It’ll be interesting from La’an’s side whether these thoughts and feelings come back up when we inevitably have Kirk return later in the season.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 has a new episode released every Thursday on Paramount+.
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 on SkyShowtime in the Nordics, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Central and Eastern Europe.
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