Trend > Culture > Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 1 Brings Back The Klingons – /Film
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 1 Brings Back The Klingons – /Film
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 1 Brings Back The Klingons - /Film,Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has returned with all the strengths of its first season mercifully intact.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 1 Brings Back The Klingons – /Film

“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” has returned with all the strengths of its first season mercifully intact. Trekkies know well that no Trek series begins at its strongest — the first seasons of almost every “Star Trek” show are typically their worst — so it was a striking change of pace to see “Strange New Worlds” bolt out of the gate the way it did. The characters were interesting and strong, and the sci-fi stories were dynamic and bore the ring of classical “Star Trek.” After several clunky, awful, violent, weepy, terribly written seasons of “Star Trek: Discovery” and “Star Trek: Picard,” “Strange New Worlds” was a balm in Gilead. 

The previous mantra-like mandate on Trek at the beginning of the CBS All Access/Paramount+ seemed to be “This ain’t your father’s ‘Star Trek.'” Now, in 2023, the franchise has finally found a toehold by adhering to “No, actually, this is indeed your father’s ‘Star Trek.'” In sticking to hour-long stories, keeping its action on board starships, and focusing on individual characters — all facets of “Star Trek” at its strongest — “Strange New Worlds” feels simultaneously fresh and retro. 

The second season’s debut episode, “The Broken Circle” re-introduces several elements that Trekkies will be keen to know about. For one, the Klingons are back. The first season of “Star Trek: Discovery” was devoted the Klingon War, and that show redesigned the Klingons to have larger, elongated heads, extraneous nostrils, unusual eyes, no hair, and skin that was either blue-black or paper white. “Strange New Worlds” backtracks that design by making the Klingons look more like they did in the days of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” They have the usual ridged foreheads, sport mustaches and beards, wear black leather, and behave like lusty, grog-swilling pirates. 

They’re back, baby.

The echoes of war

Michael Gibson / Paramount+

The story of “The Broken Circle” (a title that echoes that of the “Star Trek: Enterprise” pilot “Broken Bow” perhaps?) is a catch-up from last season. Commander Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn) is still under arrest for lying to Starfleet about her species, and Captain Pike (Anson Mount) leaves the Enterprise to help with her legal defense. This leaves Spock (Ethan Peck) in command of the ship while it is in drydock receiving upgrades and repairs. While in command, Spock receives a secret communiqué from the Enterprise’s chief of security, Lieutenant La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) who has been off-world locating the parents of a young child she rescued in the last season. 

It seems the war left a mark on the Federation. La’an has discovered a distant world in Klingon space that, during the war, provided a handy source of dilithium crystals (the ore starships need as fuel). The planet made a lot of wartime lucre but has fallen on hard times since peace broke out. As such, a secret contingent of Klingons has been looking to restart the war. They have hijacked a small Starfleet vessel, and aim to frame the Federation for an upcoming attack. Hostilities will continue and money will start to flow in again. 

Many Trekkies, including this one, appreciate this dire philosophy about war. Throughout its history, “Star Trek” has most often leaned heavily toward pacifism. War is always depicted as humankind’s ultimate moral failing, and preventing war is the noblest of endeavors. The plot of “The Broken Circle” will eventually hinge on Spock having to attack the hijacked Federation ship — a ship that might have friends on board — in order to stop war from breakout out afresh. 

That is classic Trek, commander.

I would like the ship to go. Now.

Michael Gibson / Paramount+

Of course, there’s also a moment of moral ambiguity. But Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanokun) and Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush) served in the Klingon War, and now travel into combat situations with an unnamed vial of a mysterious steroid. When it seems hand-to-hand combat may break out, they inject themselves and temporarily turn into ultra-violent fighting machines. Before they take the drug, they sigh, wondering if this is something they should be doing. They hate the violence they’ll have to commit, but they commit it anyway. The characters are in a morally gray area, and the need for wartime violence is in question. 

This is not to say that “The Broken Circle” isn’t without humor and whimsy. Indeed, one of the more striking features of “Strange New Worlds” is its pervasive lightness, in both tone and on-set illumination. As such, there are fun jokes and character moments included to elicit laughter. When Spock is asked by Lieutenant Ortegas (Melissa Navia) what his captain’s catchphrase will be — that is: the phrase he says to order the activation of the ship’s engines — he awkwardly says “I would like the ship to go. Now.” 

Spock also meets the Enterprise’s new chief engineer, Commander Pelia (Carol Kane), a Lanthanite who lives thousands and thousands of years. Provocatively, Pelia also has the same accent as Kane’s character on the 1970s sitcom “Taxi,” leading to tantalizing postulations of overlapping canon between that series and “Star Trek.” She says that the worst thing about longevity is the boredom. Serving on the Enterprise, she feels, might at least be interesting. 

Peace is all

Michael Gibson / Paramount+

The episode ends with Spock toasting a new peace by chugging Klingon blood wine and growling like a pirate. This scene mirrors an earlier moment when La’an was introduced in the middle of a blood wine-drinking contest, very similar to Marion Ravenwood’s introduction in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It’s notable that “Strange New Worlds” is so often preoccupied with social scenarios, sharing drinks, and dining in a group (Captain Pike regularly invites the crew into his personal kitchen so that he can share meals). This series is very, very careful to assure light, positive social interactions are on display regularly. “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry infamously banned interpersonal conflicts from Trek scripts from the days of “Next Generation” on. For years, writers balked at this, aching to depict characters arguing and disagreeing. “Strange New Worlds” shows that a gripping, exciting adventure series can stem from a workplace environment where everyone kind of likes each other. 

While the episode is strong, one cannot help but feel “The Broken Circle” is a “wrapping up loose ends” story. The showrunners wanted to get La’an back on the series, so an episode was required to catch everyone up and get the crew back together. There is something a little bland and expected about the episode’s mere efficiency. 

Of course, Una is still under arrest, and it seems that she’ll conclude her story — for better or for worse — in next week’s episode. Once the crew is built, the adventures can begin in earnest. 

Frankly, I can’t wait.