K-Pop, Crossovers and Killer Docs: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Review

Julien Neaves, Sci Fi Head Writer

Earlier this month Star Trek prequel/spin-off series Strange New Worlds completed its sophomore season and it definitely had fans talking at the proverbial water cooler. But after delivering one of the best first seasons of the franchise were Captain Pike and crew able to hit it out of the stratosphere again? Let’s put on our review pants and check it out.

I will be breaking this review into three parts, namely Maximum Warp (very good aspects), Half Impulse (okay aspects), and Towed by Tractor Beam (disappointing aspects). With an M-class planet-sized SPOILER ALERT let us break it on down.

Part 1 – Maximum Warp

You have messed with the bull, now you shall get the horns

SNW is generally a light, escapist show which is quite refreshing. So, it is ironic that it has been at its best went it goes super dark. The best episode of the first season and a top tier Trek episode overall was the supremely affecting Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach. And similarly, the best episode of Season 2 is bleak post-war character study Under the Cloak of War. Both Babs Olusanmokun and Robert Wisdom brought their A-games as Doctor Joseph M’Benga and Ambassador Dak’Rah respectively, and that ending will have fans speculating for years to come.

On the exact opposite end of the spectrum was Those Old Scientists. On paper, a live action/animated crossover with SNW’s comedic sister show Lower Decks should not have worked. And while some fans did not like it, I thought the episode was hilarious and very well done. Jack Quaid was a wonderful bouncing ball of awkward energy as the live action version of Brad Boimler and though we did not get much of Tawny Newsome’s live action Beckett Mariner she delivered on her comedic moments. Add to that loads of meta humour and a deft integration of the animated sequences and you have an enjoyable story from start to finish. And who didn’t love seeing Pike’s crew go fully animated?

Continuing on the comedic side, Ethan Peck was brilliant in laugh-out-loud Vulcan sitcom episode Charades, and I was glad to see the super cool La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) get some development with her own character-focused episode Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. She had great chemistry with Paul Wesley’s James T. Kirk, and I found their star-crossed romance intriguing. Wesley also brought more charisma and energy to the role compared to his flat performance last season. Good stuff.

Part 2 – Half Impulse

More jazz hands! MORE JAZZ HANDS!!!

While Those Old Scientists created a stir among fans, the most talked about episode has to be the musical Subspace Rhapsody. On ye olde Facebook I saw some folks dreading it when it was announced and others looking forward it. I’m not the biggest fan of musicals but I do appreciate a good one, so I found my anticipation right in the middle. And in the middle was exactly where it landed for me. The premise made little sense and the songs were hit and miss (Celia Rose Gooding’s solo was a banger though). And I will admit I did chuckle at the Klingon-pop/K-pop scene. An interesting experiment but one that did not completely work for me.

I would put most the of the episodes this season in this “good but not great” category. It was entertaining seeing drugged up M’Benga and Chapel kick butt in The Broken Circle, watching the courtroom drama of Ad Astra per Aspera, seeing Pike fighting memory loss and a rogue officer (so very TOS) in Among the Loss Eaters, and Uhura fighting hallucinations in Lost in Translation. Pour one out for my boy Hemmer. And speaking of Hemmer, I found his replacement Pelia (veteran actress Carol Kane) to be okay but somewhat grating at times. She made me miss that crotchety old Aenar.

I am also on the fence about the Spock/Chapel relationship. Ethan Peck’s Spock and Jess Bush’s Nurse Christine Chapel do have electric chemistry and add some sparks to the show, but I do hope they resolve the Spock/Chapel/T’Pring love triangle in a way that is consistent with The Original Series canon. My head canon is that Chapel will ask Spock to wipe her memory of their relationship and her schoolgirl crush on him in TOS would be a latent memory. Add Spock’s dalliance with Chapel could be the reason for failure of his relationship with T’Pring. Somebody get me on the SNW writing staff! But seriously, I just hope it is resolved in a way that respects the canon.

Part 3 – Towed by Tractor Beam


For Trek prequel series like Enterprise and Discovery (the first two pre-TOS seasons to be specific) navigating canon and not breaking it was an issue. And unfortunately, while I adore SNW I am seeing it sailing into some troubled canon waters. I already mentioned the Spock/Chapel/T’Pring love triangle and suggested a way to resolve that effectively. And minor issues like Kirk in TOS acting like he barely knew Pike in The Menagerie to Kirk frequently popping over in SNW could be easily fixed. But this is not the case with the Gorn.

Now I appreciate the show choosing a TOS-era alien as their big bad and developing the little-known species. And I found the Season 2 finale Hegemony to be highly entertaining and cinematic. But it makes less and less canon sense that the Gorn would be a mysterious species in the TOS episode “Arena” when in SNW Spock, Uhura AND a younger version of Scotty had hands-on experience with them. They probably should have left it as part of La’an’s backstory and not gone any further. Or Gorn any further. The puns practically write themselves. And I know some of you all don’t give a tribble turd about canon but as a writer myself these continuity inconsistencies don’t sit right with me. Call me anal, call me a TOS purist but just don’t call me after 9pm.

And speaking of inconsistencies, are we all just going to ignore the appearance of the Klingons in SNW? Now I despised their redesign in Discovery, and I am glad they look more ENT/TNG-era traditional this season. But as a TOS prequel series they are supposed to look like bronze humans (you can read about the Klingon augment virus here). We never got an explanation in DSC and now SNW is doubling down on that. At least give me an episode or a few lines to explain the discrepancy. Is that too much to ask? Canon issues aside, I also found Pike got sidelined this season and Anson Mount is terrific so that is not a good thing. Despite the decreased Pike screentime, troubled canon waters and middling musical episode, SNW Season 2 was a great time, and I am excited for the next season.

Editor Jules’s Score: 7.5 out of 10

How would you rate Season 2 of Strange New Worlds? And you can boldly go to more Trek content below:


Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by the Cryptkeeper, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “13 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.

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