Strange New Worlds Pays Homage To Forgotten Classic Star Trek Line

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

strange new worlds star trek

One of the reasons we Star Trek fans love Strange New Worlds so much is that it has so many references to The Original Series. Some of these references are subtler than others: for example, in “All Those Who Wander,” we see Spock letting his emotions run rampant so he can better fight the Gorn. He comes close to hurting Chapel, essentially paying off a line from The Original Series where Spock describes the hidden dangers regarding “the healthy release of emotions.”

Plato’s Stepchildren

To understand this Strange New Worlds Easter egg, we need to go back to The Original Series. In the episode “Plato’s Stepchildren,” the Enterprise crew must deal with powerful aliens who can force them to experience emotions against their will. This includes forcing Spock to laugh, and the episode gives us a very particular line of dialogue that Strange New Worlds would echo decades later.

Spock Explains The Danger Of Emotion

In “Plato’s Stepchildren,” Dr. McCoy champions emotions to Spock, telling the Vulcan that “the healthy release of emotions…is what keeps us healthy—emotionally healthy, that is.” To this, Spock replies, “That may be, Doctor; however, I have noted that the healthy release of emotion is frequently very unhealthy for those closest to you.” In context, they are mostly discussing the powers of the aliens they are facing, so it’s easy to read Spock’s comment as yet another dunk on the dangers of other races (particularly humans) letting emotions run rampant.

All Who Wander

However, the Strange New Worlds episode “All Who Wander” illustrates that Spock actually has personal experience with the dangers of emotion. Earlier in that episode, he waxes philosophic to Chapel about how humans often experience “flawed” emotions and how happy he is that the teachings of Surak helped Vulcans get past their own reliance on emotions. The limits of this pure logic are tested when Spock sees a fellow crewman brutally killed by the Gorn right in front of him, and a visiting Kirk is annoyed at Spock’s cold analysis, asking if the colleague’s death affected him or if he’s just a “pointy-eared computer.”

Spock Embraces Rage

Later on in the Strange New Worlds episode, La’an advises Spock to make the Gorn they are fighting angry. Spock intones, “The rage in my thoughts, I let into my heart,” quickly revealing two things: that he did indeed feel a mountain of rage toward the creature that killed his colleague and that, once the emotion was unleashed, Spock became something of a monster himself. Sure enough, the rage-filled Spock has an easier time fighting their reptilian foe, but it’s also clear that this emotion absolutely blinds him.

All-Consuming Anger

While some Strange New Worlds audiences thought this was out of character for the Vulcan, the truth is that strategically releasing his emotions to help defeat a foe that might have killed the entire crew was completely logical. But during a funeral for deceased engineer Hemmer, we can see Spock’s hands clenching into fists. Chapel follows when he suddenly leaves, and she finds him outside using his impressive Vulcan strength to dent a bulkhead with his violent punch.

Those Closest To Us

Spock tells her not to follow him in this state, and we quickly see why: when she goes to stop him, the Vulcan grabs her wrist and looks like he might be in real danger of hurting her. The moment passes, and Spock shamefully admits that he can’t fully control the rage he has inside and that this makes his mind weak. Chapel, in traditional Star Trek fashion, lets him know that this simply makes him human, and the scene ends with a hug.

Echos Of The Original Series

Thanks to The Original Series taking place later than Strange New Worlds in the timeline, we know that Spock doesn’t end up with Chapel despite the two of them exploring romance in the prequel show. This adds quite a bit more poignance to his statement in “Plato’s Stepchildren” that releasing emotion can be “very unhealthy for those closest to you.” In this dry understatement, Spock subtly references that time when that emotion made him grab Chapel’s wrist and very nearly hurt the woman that, once upon a time, he loved.

Star Trek Fan Service

This subtle payoff to a random line from The Original Series is just one more reason why Strange New Worlds is such a great Star Trek show. New faces and light, as well as episodic stories, make the series very friendly for franchise newcomers, but every episode is full of Easter eggs that seem like they have been multiplying like Tribbles in the writers’ room. You’ll have to forgive my inner fanboy for how much I love this show, but as Spock might say, rewatching each season and discovering new references every single time is completely logical, and I’m totally not giving into the flawed human emotion of pure joy.

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