Star Trek Strange New Worlds Review: “Ghosts of Illyeria”

This week features a more-or-less standalone episode that draws on Trek lore. Pike and Spock try to unravel the mysteries of the Ontario Place pods an abandoned alien colony, while the rest of the Away Team returns carrying a strange illness. Curiously, it does not affect Number One– a character Roddenberry intended to be mysterious.

What secrets will we uncover?

Title: “Ghosts of Illyria”

Cast and Crew

Director: Leslie Hope
Writers: Akela Cooper, Bill Wolkoff

Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike
Rebecca Romijn as Commander Una Chin-Riley aka “Number One”
Ethan Peck as Lt. Spock
Christina Chong as La’an Noonien-Singh
Melissa Navia as Lt. Erica Ortegas
Jess Bush as Christine Chapel
Babs Olusanmokun as Dr. M’Benga
Bruce Horak as Hemmer
Celia Rose Gooding as Cadet Nyota Uhura
Prosha Hussein as mysterious illness Red Shirt
André Dae Kim as Chief Kyle
Daniel Gravelle as Ensign Lance
Andre Colquhoun as Probasco
Rong Fu as Lt. Jenna Mitchell
Sage Arrindell as Rukiya


Pike and an Away Team examine the remains of an alien colony. Several of the members return to the Enterprise carrying a mysterious ailment– to which Number One remains immune.

High Points

I’m not certain the underlying biology makes sense, but this episode comes the closest we’ve seen in some time to classic Trek, with its blend of against-the-clock adventure and science-related social themes.

I like how they rotate the secondary characters. Backstory delivered in this fashion, rather than by front-loaded exposition, works. Since Uhura played a key role last week, she plays an important but minor role this week, while other characters take centre stage.

Low Points

Two minor notes about character struck me, less as low points than as uncertain ones. Granting that Hemmer (1) was affected by the disease and (2) will doubtless grow and develop, he still remains kind of annoying. If you’re going to give us an alien, give him a personality other than “arrogant dick.” Secondly, they need to stop developing Pike and Number One in separate stories, because, in Discovery, they played so well together. And one Rebecca Romijn is worth ten token female characters in incidental bridge roles.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6

Acting: 5/6 Ethan Peck’s Spock isn’t quite Nimoy’s, but he’s younger here. He’s giving us an interesting and consistent take on the character. In this episode, we see his Vulcan resolve and logic in the face of a potentially fatal situation, and it is entirely in character.

Story: 5/6 The cluttered plot nevertheless resolves its conflicts, though certain aspects will carry into future episodes.

Production: 6/6 Anyone who knows Toronto could identify exactly where they filmed the planet scenes– enhanced, of course, with CGI.

Effects: 6/6

Emotional Response: 5/6

Overall: 5/6 A lot has been made about the Number One reveal but, really, the character appeared once in the original series and was never mentioned again. She’s essentially a new character. This new information– based, apparently, on non-canonical Trek novels– along with M’Benga’s secret, doubtless will be relevant to future episodes, and both indicate much about how Pike runs his ship.

It’s rather in keeping with TOS. In this era, mavericks run Starfleet.

In total, “Ghosts of Illyria” receives 34/42

2 replies on “Star Trek Strange New Worlds Review: “Ghosts of Illyeria””

  1. I like Hemmer. I agree he easily comes off as “arrogant dick”, but I also took his character as the old, tired engineer who was so good and confident at his job he recognizes that explaining it would be more effort than it’s worth, so he doesn’t bother. It’s the sort of reaction I know I get when I try to explain to my mother-in-law why the worker shortage isn’t because ‘Kids just don’t want to work.’ It’s like Hemmer is using a reverse ‘ok boomer’.

    Also: Number One rules. Full stop.

  2. This episode makes me want to go back to a relevant episode of “Enterprise”.

    Also, I’m fine with having crew members who are unlikeable and don’t really fit the ensemble. In a few years time, they’ll be replaced with Kirk’s crew, so it won’t feel out of place if *they* feel out of place.

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