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Last season on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Spock had to unleash his more violently emotional side to survive, Lieutenant La’an took a leave of absence, and Una (aka Number One) was arrested for hiding that her species is genetically modified. A quick recap covers these moments in the opening of “The Broken Circle”, the first episode of Season 2.


The USS Enterprise is at Starbase One, undergoing major repairs. Captain Pike, thinking he has found someone to help Una, sets off on a three-day trip, leaving Spock in command of the Enterprise. M’Benga suggests that music may help restore Spock’s emotional stability and gives him a Vulcan lute.

Chaos ensues when Ensign Uhura decodes a distress signal from the Cajitar system, sent by La’an. She warns of a threat to the Federation from Cajitar IV — a dilithium mining planet on the edge of Klingon space. Under a peace treaty, the Federation and Klingons each take six-month shifts running the planet. When Admiral April refuses to allow the mission, Spock and crew plan to steal the Enterprise.

To accomplish the theft, a fake warp core breach is staged with the help of Commander Pelia. She’s a long-lived Lanthanite who wants to be back in space as an engineer.

An away team to Cajitar IV makes contact with La’an (Paramount+)

Meeting La’an on Cajitar IV, we learn that a group of rebels — consisting of Klingon and Federation former soldiers — intends to reignite the Federation-Klingon war for profit. Doctor M’Benga and Nurse Chapel treat the wounded from a mine explosion — including the girl Oriana, previously rescued from the Gorn. Klingon insurgents kidnap the pair for their medical skills, while La’an tries to buy her way into information about smuggled Federation technology. Chapel and M’Benga are led through the planet’s underground by their captors, where they discover an old Crossfield-class ship built with smuggled parts.

The Klingon rebels plan to use their newly built, seemingly Federation starship to attack the other Klingons and thereby reinitiate the war. In order to access a communication station from which to warn Enterprise, M’Benga and Chapel resort to strong drugs to engage the Klingons in hand-to-hand combat. The duo manage to send a coded signal to the Enterprise, but the Klingon-produced Starfleet vessel they are aboard is launched.

Chapel and M’Benga aboard the Klingon-built Crossfield-class starship (Paramount+)

A D7-class Klingon battle cruiser enters orbit. The launch of the Crossfield-class ship is detected by the Enterprise, as is the signal that Chapel and M’Benga have sent, which instructs the Enterprise to destroy it. The Enterprise proceeds to stalk the ship while trying to remain undetected by the D7.

M’Benga and Chapel leap into space without spacesuits mere moments before the ship is destroyed by the Enterprise. Fortunately, they are beamed home just in time to survive.

The Klingon captain

On Cajitar IV, Spock and the D7 captain make peace over bloodwine. The near-immortal Lanthanite engineer Pelia admits to Spock that she is happy to have been assigned as the Enterprise’s chief engineer, since she had been bored with teaching at Starfleet Academy. La’an likewise plans to rejoin the Enterprise crew.

Returning to the ship, Spock faces punishment from Starfleet for having gone against orders, but Admiral April tells Spock that his Klingon hangover is adequate punishment. April doesn’t mention that a Gorn attack ship has been detected, a potential precedent to war.


This season premiere follows nicely on from the end of last season, though those hoping for plenty of Pike action will have to wait a little longer, as he appears quite briefly before going off in search of legal aid for Una. This gives the show plenty of freedom to build upon the characters of M’Benga, Nurse Chapel, and Spock.

M’Benga on Cajitar IV (Paramount+)

Whereas Babs Olusanmokun is perfect in the increasingly fascinating and layered role of M’Benga, him and Chapel as the badass martial arts duo is a bit hard to believe — especially in comparison to Chapel’s TOS persona. It works well enough for the episode, and the bits we can see of their big fight scene with a dozen or so Klingons are damn good. Unfortunately, it suffers from being too dark (in an attempt to disguise that the Klingon-built Starfleet ship is shot on the show’s regular Enterprise standing sets) and with too many eye-watering “flashing images” when lights flicker on and off. These factors combine to make it pretty near impossible to see much of the action.

Two beautiful factors are Spock’s interest in music being advised as therapy for his anger issues after last season — which has real world precedent — and the gift of a lute from M’Benga. It’s also nice to see the Chapel/Spock relationship develop, but she’s the most difficult character to reconcile with her TOS self.

Chapel aboard the Klingon-built Crossfield-class starship (Paramount+)

The Klingons are the type we’ve seen from 1979 onwards, through the Berman era, which is good. They properly feel like Klingons, and their costumes look like the mid-stage between TOS and ’80s styling. It’s also a nice detail that Uhura notes more than one Klingon language/dialect, explaining some differences that there have been over the years. The D7-class battle cruiser is well done, with the transforming nacelles a bit of a surprise tweak.

The episode also nails the introduction of Carol Kane as the new chief engineer, Pelia. She takes a little getting used to but is an amusing and effectively eccentric contrast to both Hemmer and Scotty, coming across as sort of what you’d get if Guinan’s place was taken by Grand Nagus Zek…only more endearing.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Overall, this is a good opener, with action and humour, steeped in the Trek feel the audience has grown up with, and full of love for that heritage. In other words, it’s exactly what Strange New Worlds is supposed to be, and topped off with a touching memorial caption to Nichelle Nichols. But a point deducted for the lack of sensible lighting in the big action sequence.

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