At long last, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is back! It’s only been a few months since Star Trek has been on our screens. However, it’s been nearly a year for Strange New Worlds. I, for one, am overjoyed to have this show back. This week’s episode is ‘The Broken Circle‘, written by showrunners Henry Alonso Myers and Akiva Goldsman.
Like the last season of Star Trek: Picard, every week, I will be digging for references, story arc clues, and the sorts of lore nuggets that we Trekkies love. And now that the introduction’s out of the way, I would like the article to begin now!
Pelia’s Our New Darling
Carol Kane has finally joined the Star Trek family! She’s playing the new engineering character following the death of Hemmer (Bruce Horak) last season. Instead of wishing the hero’s luck in “storming the castle, ” she’s here for the long haul. The character is a Lanthanite. As far as I can tell, they’re new to Trek. Initial impressions are that they appear humanoid, were hidden on Earth, and seem friendly. So it doesn’t look like we’re headed for another infiltration story.
Pelia seems interested in Spock (Ethan Peck) and confides in him that Amanda was the first person she came out to. Could we be headed for some time travel, flashbacks, coming-out scenes, and LGBT metaphors? Unsurprisingly, I’m all for that. It’d also be cool to see Amanda again. We’ve not seen her since early Discovery, where Mia Kirshner played her. Seeing her outside of Sarek’s shadow could make for some enticing viewing. Looking forward to seeing where this story goes.
It’s a bit hard to tell from Strange New Worlds – ‘The Broken Circle’, but she doesn’t seem to take much nonsense either. She picked up on the ruse to steal the Enterprise almost immediately and probably has engineering knowledge rivalling the best. She also wants to stick around, beating the boredom of living for over a century. Alas, just like Hemmer, she’s not a character in The Original Series. I’ll try not to get too attached, but it’s Carol Kane, so that’s very difficult.
During a checkup with Dr M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), Spock’s stress levels are shown to be a little higher than usual. This only increases when Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush) enters the room. We’ve seen a clip of a very exasperated Spock. Could we be building to a Pon Farr episode? “The Cloud Minders” said it occurs every seven years. At this point, “Amok Time” is about seven years away, so it fits into the timeline.
Something calms him down, though, and that’s the Vulcan Lute. It was christened a “ka’athyra” in the Beta Canon back in the 80s, but the former is much easier to type, so let’s go with that. It’s the instrument we saw him play back in The Original Series, most notably in his duet with Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) in “Charlie X“. From Uhura’s reaction to her hearing music from Spock’s quarters, could Celia Rose Gooding’s Uhura grace us with a musical number?
Also, speaking of Spock’s things in ‘The Broken Circle’, he gets to take command of the bridge in Strange New Worlds – ‘The Broken Circle‘! Like “every” captain, he creates his catchphrase before the ship moves. It’s an interesting oddity from Picard’s “engage!” to Pike’s “hit it!”. My biggest problem is that not every captain, most notably Captain Kirk (William Shatner), had a catchphrase. It was a funny scene, sure. I’m also going to adapt that line more than once (that’s right, the top of this article wasn’t the end, and I’m not sorry). But it feels like a tired gag at this point.
Chapel and M’Benga
This is presented very much as La’an’s (Christina Chong) episode. It was surprising, with me seriously expecting them to get Una back immediately, but it was a welcome diversion. It also allowed the show to have some serious stakes longer. Regardless, La’an’s reintroduction with a drinking scene straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark was a beautiful reintroduction to this badass. Sadly, she doesn’t get much to do, even though Strange New Worlds – ‘The Broken Circle‘ is her rescue.
It feels, at times, a lot more like M’Benga’s and Chapel’s episode. They’re the ones that get to go undercover and get through some cool fight scenes. Between this episode’s events and the recap montage at the start, it’s established that both of them fought in the Klingon War. With their use and knowledge of some serious fighting potions, I can’t shake the feeling that maybe they were involved in it at an almost secret ops degree. I am done with it after Picard, but a secret Starfleet Intelligence job wouldn’t be out of place.
Chapel’s story also has some surprisingly emotional beats this week. As much as episodes like “The Naked Time” make Spock and Chapel a tragic unrequited romance, it’s clear for the moment that Chapel has her sights set elsewhere. She mentions an interest in archaeological medicine. It’s a throwaway line, and I’m going too far. However, it warrants asking; could we be headed for at least a reference to her fiance, Roger Korby? SNW is all about setting up TOS, so anything’s possible.
A Potential War and Some Ship Drama
The very end of Strange New Worlds – ‘The Broken Circle’ sets up what could well be the season’s main arc. After recurring as one of the biggest villains in the last season, the Gorn are back to wreak havoc. I’m mixed on the series’ treatment of the Gorn as mindless villains, as in my eyes, it devalues the “Arena”‘s message of the enemy still having nuanced social structures and considerations. I’m very much going in with an open mind, though. Also, you can even catch a brief glimpse of Cestus III (the planet from “Arena“) in the same scene!
As an all-time science fiction classic (I mean, most TOS episodes are, but especially “Arena“), I’d love to see a prototype version of a Federation vs Gorn fight with Pike (Anson Mount) in this season. What season 1 did with the Alien (1979) homages was clearly just the beginning. In a way, they could end up being the main antagonists of SNW as a series, so seeing how they develop could be really really fun. Speaking of classic reappearances, you can also catch a Tellarite, looking far more like its TOS appearance, walking around.
A Klingon Ship Returns
On another note of development, we also caught another look at the Klingon D-7 Battlecruiser with New Trek effects. I could rant about the Klingons’ appearance here, but I’ll try not to. The switch from the Discovery look to the more familiar TOS movie one was an interesting choice though. If we’re looking to mirror TOS, wouldn’t it make more sense to use the design from that series? It’s not even the only Discovery deviation in Strange New Worlds – ‘The Broken Circle’ either, with the Crossfield ship type being slightly redesigned for the false ship.
Hailing Frequencies Forever Open…
The card before the end credits is beautiful. It’s not an easter egg-laden prose, but it’s one of the most beautiful tributes I’ve ever read. The episode is dedicated to Nichelle Nichols, the original Uhura, who passed away last year. Her being the first through the door is one of the best reminders of the franchise’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion. Now, with one of the most diverse casts in Star Trek‘s history, Celia Rose Gooding takes the reins and guides the character on SNW.
Speaking of her Uhura, she’s now been made a proper ensign. I know it’s been a year, but TOS does look to be slowly taking shape throughout the series. We saw her take control of the communications area like never before during the inspection this week. She carried it with the sense of ownership that Uhura should have over that area.
Her picking up on Pelia’s accent was also a nice touch. As advanced as this technology is, Uhura’s also a linguist. It’s a lovely blend of communication professionals aided by technology, which we see in many of the later Star Trek series, and the traditional translator of someone like Hoshi Sato (Linda Park) on the NX-01. I look forward to seeing what Uhura does throughout the rest of the season and have all the faith in star Celia Rose Gooding to carry on this legacy.
“Ad Astra Per Aspera“, the Other Illyrian Enigma
I’m still surprised that the show didn’t go all out and rescue Una immediately. Next week’s episode looks like an exciting courtroom drama, some midpoint between “Court Martial” and “The Measure of a Man”. Hopefully, the mention of the latter isn’t too high praise, but this does have the potential to be one of Star Trek’s finest hours. It also looks like it will finally solve the other Illyrian Enigma and rescue Una.
The episode’s title comes from a popular Latin phrase, “from hardships to the stars”. At this point, it looks like it reflects Una’s journey and hardships to get back on the bridge of the Enterprise. But that also seems obvious from the outset, so maybe be on the lookout for a twist or two. The phrase is also the current state motto of Kansas, although that looks to be useless trivia rather than an insightful point or theory.
Also, it’s probably worth noting that I had the privilege of reviewing the SNW comic, The Illyrian Enigma, a few months ago. It was released between the two seasons as a sort of bridge. While it’s highly unlikely, it would make sense for Pike perhaps to bring up some of the events. I do love a good expanded media namedrop. Even if it doesn’t, I highly recommend the comic series as an entertaining Trek romp for more insight into Illyrians as a people. Expect me to reference it next week, probably.
That was everything that I noticed in the SNW season 2 premiere, “The Broken Circle”. Overall, a fun time with lots to discuss afterwards. What did you make of the episode? Was there anything I missed? I’m looking forward to talking about next week’s episode. It looks like a solid piece of television.
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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