Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Premiere: A Fun, Action Packed Return That Asks A Lot From Older Fans
The Season 2 premiere of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is a fun return to the series, but diehard fans may have issues with with the portrayals of Christine Chapel and Spock.
STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS SEASON 2 PREMIERE REVIEW SCORE
The Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 premiere brings us back to the visually gorgeous home of the franchise’s newest series. The Broken Circle” is just as fun, funny, and action packed as the best the first season had to offer, but if your investment in Star Trek is a little long in the tooth, you may bristle at the portrayals of two characters in particular. The season premiere finds Spock (Ethan Peck) and Christine Chapel (Jess Bush) acting nothing like their earlier counterparts, and for older fans the question of whether they’re willing to accept this or not will dictate how much they can appreciate “The Broken Circle.”
Hoping to convince an as of yet unidentified character to help free Una (Rebecca Romijn) — who was arrested in the Season 1 finale for lying about her Illyrian heritage — Captain Pike (Anson Mount) leaves the Enterprise early in the Strange New Worlds Season 2 premiere and puts Spock in command. While enduring a tedious inspection, the crew receives an emergency communique from La’an (Christina Chong), but Spock is ordered to let her solve her own problems. Unwilling to leave La’an hanging, Spock and the senior crew conspire to steal the Enterprise: a theft that receives the unexpected aid of Pelia (Carol Kane).
Not long after the heroes arrive at Cajitar IV to aid La’an, they learn their former security chief — who went on leave in the Season 1 finale — has uncovered a conspiracy that threatens to throw the Federation into a destructive war. We get to see plenty of the once-more re-designed Klingons, who are looking decidedly more TNG-era and less Discovery-era.
The uncovering of the war plot is largely the work of Christine and Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) who share the most action-heavy sequence in the episode. Intent on infiltrating a captured Starfleet ship, the pair ingest a mysterious green substance that essentially turns them into super soldiers. Before taking the drug, Chapel says, “You sure you want to do this again?” signaling that this isn’t the first time they’ve used it.
Toward the end of the Strange New Worlds Season 2 premiere, Spock is forced to make a decision which he believes will kill both M’Benga and Christine. It brings the Vulcan close to an emotional outburst, and we actually see tears welling in his eyes.
The premiere ends with a tease of what’s to come, and it involves the return of an enemy from Season 1.
The portrayal of Spock in the Strange New Worlds Season 2 premiere is one of the biggest things some fans are likely to take issue with. He is much more emotional than usual, but his behavior comes with an explanation. Early in the episode, we learn that the cognitive blocks Spock — like most Vulcans — built to suppress his emotions were lowered in the penultimate episode of Season 1 to help in the heroes’ battle with the Gorn.
Rebuilding those cognitive blocks will take time, and it clearly wasn’t able to happen in time for the Strange New Worlds Season 2 premiere. While older fans might not like this, the truth is that the idea of Spock not always doing what he is expected to as a Vulcan when it comes to emotion suppression is not a new idea. The first scene Leonard Nimoy’s Spock shows up in way back in 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture has him abandoning the Kolinahr discipline meant to purge him of emotion.
What may prove a much tougher pill to swallow is what we see from Chapel in the Strange New Worlds Season 2 premiere. If the inaugural season hadn’t already made it clear, this is very much not the Nurse Chapel the late Majel Barrett once played. There is no way to see Jess Bush tearing through humans and Klingons like a blonde John Wick and think this is the same meek Chapel from Star Trek: The Original Series.
For the record, I love it. Part of what makes Star Trek: Strange New Worlds so fun for this old school Trek fan is that it adds so much more dimension to characters like Chapel, Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), and Una Chin-Riley (formerly known as simply “Number One”).
Does some of what we see clash with established continuity? Sure, and so do a million other things we’ve always chosen to give a pass or ignore completely.
Star Trek: The Original Series was a trailblazer in many ways, and was much kinder to underrepresented groups of the time than its contemporaries, but it wasn’t exactly perfect in that arena. Don’t believe me?
Try a Star Trek drinking game in which you watch The Original Series and have to drink every time a female officer shrieks in terror and/or sadness — while their male counterparts are completely silent and composed — and immediately buries their face in a male character’s chest (usually Kirk’s). You’ll be legally impaired in no time.
“The Broken Circle” is an entertaining and promising Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premiere. You can see for yourself now on Paramount+.