The second episode features both character development, story arc content, and a contained SF adventure. If this is the default format of the series it’s certainly enjoyable. It varies, however, from what many fans expected.
Title: “Children of the Comet”
Cast and Crew
Director: Maja Vrvilo
Writers: Henry Alonso Myers and Sarah Tarkoff
Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike
Rebecca Romijn as Commander Una Chin-Riley aka “Number One”
Ethan Peck as Lt. Spock
Celia Rose Gooding as Cadet Nyota Uhura
Melissa Navia as Lt. Erica Ortegas
Christina Chong as La’an Noonien-Singh
Rong Fu as Lt. Jenna Mitchell
Jess Bush as Christine Chapel
Bruce Horak as Hemmer
Dan Jeannotte as Lt. Sam Kirk
Thom Marriott as Shepherd Captain
Dana Beddoe as Alien girl
Amber Cull as Alien woman
Jennifer Hui as Ensign
André Dae Kim as Chief Kyle
Alex Kapp as voice of computer
Everyone meets for dinner and a lot of character stuff happens.
When the Enterprise tries to prevent a comet from striking an inhabited, pre-contact world, they learn the situation is not as it appears.
They do an excellent job of tying this week’s major character exploration to the main plot. Uhura finally receives a canonical backstory.
The episode features a standalone plot, character arc content, clear themes, and a videogame-style action sequence….
….In trying to be all things to all Trekkers (and, admittedly, doing those things commendably well), it feels a bit fragmented.
Originality: 3/6 It’s not wildly original, but it’s more original than last week’s episode.
Acting: 5/6 Celia Rose Gooding, like her character, has a lot to prove in the episode. Both turn out to be equal to the task.
Story: 4/6 The episode features some classic tropes, from Trek and other SF. We have artifacts of past civilizations coexisting with less advanced humanoids, first contact, a space anomaly, music as a means of communication, and…. *urgh*… the far-fetched last-minute solution that actually works, before the crew confronts the fact that we have so much still to learn about the universe.
Production: 6/6 Production is brilliant, of course.
Apparently, cadet dress uniforms during this era resemble NextGen gear, instead of TOS’s formal ware.
Effects: 6/6 The interior of the alien god/ship looks great, and the design and reactions serve the purpose of the script.
Emotional Response: 5/6 We’re two episodes in, it has served up two decent episodes, and we shall have to see where it goes. It’s doing better than some of the post-TOS shows during their first seasons, but they didn’t face nearly as much competition.
Overall: 5/6 Story arcs, as I’ve noted before, work very well at delivering a certain kind of storytelling, and often, a more mature and sophisticated kind of storytelling. Trek has generally failed at achieving that level of maturity and sophistication with their arced shows, which have tended to drag. The adventure-of-the-week suits this particular franchise. I was pleased they were going to return to their roots.
Except they haven’t, not entirely. Strange New Worlds offers a compromise. We have an adventure-of-the-week, surrounded by copious amounts of character backstory and broader story arc developments. You really couldn’t watch this series out of sequence. Like the design of the bridge and the uniforms, it tries to balance the old and the new, with both positive and negative results.
Nitpicking Comment of the Week
Speaking of the bridge, does anyone feel it diverges too much from the source? I accept that they have updated the visuals to better meet contemporary expectations, and I see no reason to waste too much time discussing the inevitability of such changes. The revamp works considerably better than Discovery‘s first-season Klingons. I also realize they have an in-world explanation for the change: the Enterprise was overhauled just before this show began (which takes place some time after the events of “The Menagerie”) and it’s a matter of canon that the ship receives another overhaul before the TOS era. Still, the results resemble a hi-tech nightclub that cribbed some details from Star Trek. I’m not certain how I feel about that, beyond the fact that it will fade into nothing if the show continues being at least as good as these episodes.
In total, “Children of the Comet” receives 34/42