This is a review of the first two seasons of “Strange New Worlds”, one of the this decade’s new Star Trek series.

As usual, this isn’t a traditional review, but more a round-up of thoughts, opinions, and fun stuff.

First and most importantly, SNW is positioned as the immediate prequel to the original “Star Trek” show. We’re aboard the Enterprise, familiar characters will show up, and established TOS canon is (theoretically) going to be respected. This means veteran viewers will know a lot of what’s to come for certain characters.

Characters I Recognized

Spock: “I am more than capable of managing any pain you can induce”
Nurse Christine Chapel: “Mr. Spock, now you’re just toying with me”

I watched the first two seasons of “Star Trek Discovery”, and was first introduced to the Captain Pike and Spock characters in that series. Everyone else is showing up fresh here.

  • Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike. I’d first heard about the actor from the recent “Doctor Strange” film, and holy shit is he amazing in SNW. He’s got an easy-going, confident persona, diplomatic and jovial. But he’s also inspiring, charismatic, and he’s got a highly expressive face.
  • Ethan Peck as Spock. I wasn’t sure what to make of him in “Discovery”, although I could see glimpses of his half-human story there. Here, his “child of two worlds” story is in full swing. We’re introduced to his fiancee T’Pring (knowing it won’t last), and we get to see him struggle with human emotions and Vulcan cultural norms. He’s a really fascinating weirdo, and he’s pitched much more like an “older teen” or “young adult” character than the mature, thoughtful man we see in TOS.
  • Christina Chong as La’an Noonien-Singh. La’an is the gruff security chief and has not one but two tragic back stories: she’s the descendant of the infamous tyrant Khan, and she’s the survivor of a Gorn attack that took her family. She inherits the hardass, no-nonsense security role filled by characters like Worf and Odo, but she’s also got some self-consciousness about this and is struggling to open up.
  • Melissa Navia as Erica Ortegas. Although she doesn’t get too much characterization, she makes up for it in personality. She’s the pilot, she’s really good at it, she wants to be on the away team and never gets to be, and so on.
  • Rebecca Romjin as “Number One”. Pike’s trusted first officer who had a snarled set of backstories in spin-off novels. The series has done an interesting job pulling these things together and giving her a “hated underclass” background. She’s cool, calm, and competent, but still is human enough to be upset when she’s described as “where fun goes to die”.
  • Jess Bush as Nurse Chapel. TOS’s Chapel was a one-note character, the nurse who crushed on Spock, and here she gets a lot more personality and action. We hear as much about her career and history as her personal life, and she’s highly skilled in medicine.
  • Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura. Holy shit, she is Uhura. She’s got doubts and talent and uncertainty and charm. SNW goes even further than TOS did in showing us an awesome comm officer, with Pike calling her “the voice of the Enterprise”.
  • Babs Olusanmokun as Dr. M’Bega. Another TOS canon character, although we only saw him in two episodes. Here he’s a badass combat medic, a veteran of the Klingon-Federation war, with a child and wartime secrets and more.
  • Dan Jeannotte as Sam Kirk. TOS’s “Operation - Annihilate!” reveals his final fate, but right now he’s a casual, somewhat cocky xenolinguist serving aboard the Enterprise.
  • Bruce Horak as Hemmer, ship’s engineer. He’s a complex character - gruff, somewhat impatient, very kind, considerate, and principled.

A couple of guest/recurring characters deserve mention.

  • Gia Sandhu as T’Pring. Holy shit, this woman has absolutely perfected cold, logical passive-aggressive cutting wit. She can out-Seven of Nine Seven of Nine. TOS introduced T’Pring as Spock’s wife, but here she’s his fiancee, and we see what she does for a living: providing mental health for Vulcan criminals and dissidents.
  • Paul Wesley as James Kirk. We saw Chris Pine’s Kirk in the rebooted movies, and now we’ve got another data point. Wesley’s Kirk is ambitious but a little self-deprecating. He holds his own. He’s direct, but not arrogant. For how outsized the Captain Kirk character feels, it’s a surprisingly subtle performance. It’s easy to see how he inspires others.

The Plot

Captain Christopher Pike: “Maybe that’s why I’m here. To remind you of the power of possibility.”

It’s the Enterpise, she’s on a five-year mission, we’ve got a crew of explorers and dingbats gallivanting around the galaxy. They’re going to encounter dangerous enemies, weirdo aliens, fascinating mysteries, and situations that nobody else would believe happened.

The show takes the TOS-era weirdness (an amnesiac Kirk turns Native American, Gary Seven and a shapeshifting cat) but with a much more progressive, inclusive, and - most importantly - empathetic take on characters and situations. People are different, sometimes very different, but they’re people. Peace is hard, peace is frustrating, but peace is worth it. The galaxy is too amazing not to explore, even for the horrible cost it sometimes exacts.


Dr. M’Benga: “We have to fight so the people we love can have a chance to live in peace. That’s Starfleet.”

Anson Mount and Ethan Peck are a comedy duo. Watching the very human Pike and the very Vulcan Spock interact is always a joy, especially when Spock’s emotions are in full swing and they’re just emoting at each other without speaking.

What it says about TOS canon is hilarious. Spock, the legendary science officer and later ambassador, the effortlessly logical and brilliant scientist, canonically knows Bradward Boimler. Captain James Kirk’s first introduction to the enterprise was during the musical episode.

The show can flex between comedy, horror, and ambitious sci-fi. A species of comet worshippers? Klingons doing K-Pop? Gorn invasions worthy of the movie “Aliens”? A planet full of amnesiacs, ruled by a former Federation ensign? There’s throwbacks and references to the best of TOS, and then there’s episodes where SNW pushes past its heritage and gives us the bright, hopeful future Star Trek has always promised.

The show mixes personal relationships and future stories much more gracefully than Discovery. The first couple of seasons of “Discovery” struggled with balancing the cast’s personal lives and their activities as Starfleet personnel who often straddled the line between loyal officers and do-gooder rebels. Here, perhaps because we don’t have a single overarching story that everything else must follow, we’re able to see people being people, as well as doing their jobs, and it all fits well.

The galaxy feels wild. It’s a frontier out there. Life in space is dangerous. There’s space phenomena that can mess with your body or mind. Some very alien aliens struggle to communicate basic concepts to the crew, sometimes causing harm in the process. There’s space pirates and hostile planets, bands of hostile Klingons, and seeming allies concealing dark secrets.


A very worthy entry in the Trek canon, and probably my personal favorite series right now for how it handles some of the frankly ridiculous conceits of the TOS era.

The series is currently airing on Paramount+.