Strange New Worlds serves up some military SF this week, keeps the enemies in the shadows, and delivers the strongest episode thus far.
We know what the Gorn look like, but the crew (with one exception) do not.
Title: “Memento Mori”
Cast and Crew
Director: Dan Liu
Writers: Davy Perez, Beau DeMayo
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
Jess Bush as Christine Chapel
Celia Rose Gooding as Cadet Nyota Uhura
Bruce Horak as Hemmer
Babs Olusanmokun as Dr. M’Benga
Angela Besharah as Thandie
Ava Cheung as Young La’an
Melissa Navia as Lt. Erica Ortegas
Kaylee Harwood as Lt. Parker
André Dae Kim as Chief Kyle
Johnathan James Mitchell as Young Jaivarn
Oscar Moreno as Crewman Zuniga
As the crew of the Enterprise observes Starfleet’s Remembrance Day / Memorial Day, they encounter an unexplained and distressing problem on their current mission. It brings them in a life-or-death battle with their most feared and least known adversaries, the Gorn.
Star Trek has done these kinds of ship in peril episodes many times before. This one makes the situation intense and personal, and enters the psychology of the characters in ways similar episodes have not. It also features some of the best storytelling we’ve seen in Trek in a while. I like many story-arc shows, but the standalone approach works for Trek.
The plots also examines the characters of La’an Noonien Singh and the hitherto rather limited Hemmer.
Sorry to return to my review of the premiere. I’ll move on after this one. Peck and Mount are doing Spock and Pike. It’s their takes on the characters, sure, but they’re consistent with past incarnations. Peck, in particular, passes, on point. Celia Rose Gooding plays Uhura quite a bit differently from Nichelle Nichols, but she’s a cadet at this time in her life, so I’ll accept it. The original writers rarely knew what to do with the character in any case. Dr. M’Benga and Number One only briefly appeared in the original series, so Olusanmokun and Romijn have considerable latitude.
But Jess Bush? She does not in any way, shape, or form connect to the Christine Chapel that we know (other than being a nurse and having a crush on Spock). She’s a strong actress playing an interesting character, but it takes me out of the notion that we’re watching a TOS prequel every time I’m reminded that she’s supposed to be Christine Chapel. Seriously, why not just call her “Maria Lee” or “Itzel Bellagamba” or whatever? That also would mean that, like certain characters this week, her fate remains open.
Originality: 2/6 Good, though it remains difficult to do anything too original with Trek. Most of the episode has parallels in the past, including an obvious riff on Wrath of Khan.
Story: 6/6 Even the fact of two subplots– always a potential disaster in an hour of television– works, because all three plots are closely connected.
Emotional Response: 5/6
In total, “Memento Mori” receives 36/42
Next week presents “Spock Amok,” so we’re either going to be revisiting T’Pring, who appeared briefly in the first episode, or watching a fourth-wall-demolishing classic where the show’s creators put the cast through bizarre paces for laughs.