Review: ‘Strange New Worlds’ is the Best Yet of the New Star Treks

Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS.

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is a delight that will enchant both old fans and those new to the show. It is the best new Star Trek yet. It carries on the wonder and adventurous spirit that Trek is all about. 

The theme is one of the trickiest parts of a show. Strange New Worlds carries on the social message of Trek without being heavy-handed or clumsy. The message is expertly woven into the story, and I’d like to think that Gene Rodenberry would be proud. Trek is meant to stand for something – to represent a hope for what we can be. Strange New Worlds achieves that.

The cast is absolutely magnetic and oozes charisma. They have incredible chemistry together that can be hard to find in ensemble casts. It’s a delight to watch. Furthermore, it’s not an easy job to step into the shoes that other actors have worn. These folks do it with skill and so embody their characters that you forget you’re watching actors.

Pictured: (L-R) Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura, Melissa Navia as Ortegas, Ethan Peck as Spock, Bruce Horak as Hemmer, Anson Mount as Pike, Rebecca Romijn as Una, Jess Bush as Chapel, Christina Chong as La’an and Baby Olusanmokun as M’Benga in the official key art of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS. Photo Cr: James Dimmock/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Anson Mount plays Captain Christopher Pike, and he is riveting as a Starfleet captain haunted by the knowledge of his bleak future. There are moments where Ethan Peck channels Spock so expertly that you forget you’re watching a new iteration of the character. Christina Chong, as La’an Noonien-Singh, is the best mix of mildly scary and fascinating that a security officer should be. Her portrayal hints at a deep story behind the character. Babs Olusanmokun is the perfect Doctor M’benga, projecting calmness despite the chaos on the Enterprise. Jess Bush brings humor and wit to the role of Nurse Chapel. Rebecca Romijn is one with the role of Number One. Melissa Navia shines as Erica Ortegas. 

Sometimes it can take a few episodes to become invested in a new TV show. This is not the case with Strange New Worlds and our own Editor-In-Chief Lizzie Hill echoed these sentiments on her Twitter recently.

This show is magic, and I’m invested from the very start. I want to hang out with these characters every week and see what happens. There’s no warmup – I just need more. And I recommend you check it out.  

[Please be aware that there are heavy spoilers for the rest of the first episode after this point.]

There were so many things to love about Strange New Worlds, and I want to highlight one thing from the exciting pilot episode.

The Kirk twist and what it teases about the future story

Let’s talk about Kirk and that twist at the end of the pilot episode. It was certainly intriguing, and I loved it! When Pike is on the bridge of the Enterprise early in the episode, we’re teased that he has requested a Lt. Kirk to be assigned to the ship. As a long-term Star Trek fan, that piqued my interest right away and hung in the air as the episode played out. If you’re not a long-term Trek fan, your eyebrow might have shot up at that too. Kirk, like Spock, is one of those Trek characters that have permeated our greater shared world culture.

At the end of the episode, it’s revealed that the Kirk in question isn’t James T., but instead, Sam Kirk, played by Dan Jeannotte. If you’re an old Trekkie (or Trekker, ahem), you might remember that the iconic Kirk had a brother named George Samuel Kirk, played by William Shatner. He died in the first season of The Original Series in episode “Operation – Annihilate!” while on Deneva. The focus of this episode is dealing with some evil-funky single-celled aliens that form a hivemind and cause the inhabitants of the planet to turn violent. We got a bit of his life from that episode. Still, the Kirk family history isn’t, and especially the brotherly dynamic isn’t something that was otherwise deeply explored in subsequent Star Treks.  

Sam Kirk of Strange New Worlds is assigned to the science department to work under Spock. We know from The Original Series that Sam Kirk has a wife, Aurelan (Joan Swift), and a child. We know we’re also going to see James Kirk at some point. The actor Paul Wesley was recently cast in that role for Season 2. So this tease represents so much more.

The addition of Sam Kirk to Pike’s Enterprise means we’re likely going to get new Kirk stories without breaking cannon or getting wrapped up in temporal knots. Add into this that Pike and Sam Kirk are old friends. I’m so excited to see what stories are explored within this new family dynamic space and how Pike fits into the equation.

Pictured: Ethan Peck as Spock and Anson Mount as Pike of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS. Photo Cr: James Dimmock/Paramount+ ©2022 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

New episodes of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds come out every Thursday on Paramount+ in the United States. I (and Lizzie!) recommend you check it out. If you’re curious about my thoughts on the new season of Picard, check out my review of the premiere. 

Have you watched Star Trek: Strange New Worlds? What do you think? Please share your thoughts with us on Twitter @MyCosmicCircus. And if you liked what you just read, please consider supporting the site by subscribing to our Patreon.

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