Strange New Worlds has made a reputation for itself over the course of its first season, and now the primary half of its sophomore, in taking the vibes of the unique Star Trek—and typically literal episodes—and translating them to a contemporary tv present, and the expectations that include them. However what occurs when the vibes can’t fairly make it?
You get “Among the many Lotus Eaters,” this week’s episode of Star Trek: Unusual New Worlds, which feels prefer it has loads in frequent with one of many uncommon daring swings that didn’t fairly work out within the present’s debut season, the equally wordily titled “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach.” Like that episode, “Lotus Eaters” is equal components heady and difficult in its concepts, presenting a nuanced, darker tone than Unusual New Worlds is normally accustomed to taking. But additionally like that episode, it’s one the place the potential of these difficult concepts falls aside when you consider it only a bit greater than the runtime of the episode—besides extra in order that unlucky line of considering additionally means dealing with a disappointing ponderance for what might’ve been, on the subject of the collection exploring the potential of its fully new characters.
“Among the many Lotus Eaters” revolves round maybe probably the most particularly bizarre hook between Unusual New Worlds and the unique Star Trek the present might probably think about, which is saying one thing for a collection that’s already set an episode throughout an alternate retelling of “Stability of Terror,” and even accomplished its own riffs on episodes like “Metropolis on the Fringe of Eternally.” After a mission alongside the USS Cayuga—the ship of Pike’s paramour, Captain Batel, whose relationship has turn into strained within the wake of Batel’s involvement in prosecuting Quantity One a few weeks ago—the Enterprise finds itself returning to the planet Rigel VII, six years after a disastrous away mission there first talked about within the unique Star Trek pilot, “The Cage.” Then, a number of members of the Enterprise’s touchdown social gathering have been killed in a skirmish with native natives, together with Pike’s personal yeoman. Now, Starfleet has found proof of a violation of the Prime Directive—in a literal Starfleet emblem carved into the gardens of a palace on the floor of the world, and Pike has to confront that previous failure, whereas navigating his current frustrations and regrets in his relationship with Captain Batel.
It’s, as we stated, a captivating premise, and a highlight on Anson Mount’s captain that he’s but to actually get this season. However as issues on Rigel VII get an increasing number of peculiar—the brand new touchdown social gathering of Pike, La’an, and Dr. M’Benga discover themselves dealing with debilitating reminiscence loss the longer they spend time on the world, an affliction that begins to plague the Enterprise crew in orbit—the episode dwells an increasing number of on the thriller field of the reminiscence loss and its impacts than a few of its most necessary characters. Pike at least will get a great deal of focus, as he’s confronted with the revelation that his Yeoman, Zac, truly survived the final mission and is now a bitter, vengeful chief of a tribe of locals, and the one behind outfitting them with Federation expertise. As he, La’an, and M’Benga wrestle with the lack of their recollections and their identities as Starfleet officers, Mount performs the trauma and willpower to recollect who he’s and what he stands for with aplomb, and there’s good cathartic launch in his arc right here when the episode culminates with a touching reunion between himself and Batel. The expertise on Rigel of shedding who he was, even for a second, forces him to confront the error of pushing the individuals he loves away from him—an particularly touching epilogue to Pike’s personal acceptance of his future destiny final season.
However the issue is that Captain Pike has already had lots of the main target of Unusual New Worlds’ character work to date. Sure, he’s the captain, and subsequently the collection’ important character. However when a lot of this episode looks like an epilogue to an arc already nicely explored for him, combining it with the layers of thriller on Rigel being drawn out throughout the episode, it looks like “Among the many Lotus Eaters” is taking part in for time that might’ve been used extra successfully—even if the vibes are immaculately classically Trek, proper all the way down to location units that give off ‘60s price range alien world vibes.
This particularly feels just like the case with one a part of the episode particularly: Lieutenant Erica Ortegas’ subplot. Melissa Navia’s helmsman is arguably one of many final remaining members of Unusual New Worlds’ ensemble forged to recieve a second within the highlight, an exploration left all of the extra tempting at the same time as a number of characters round her have gotten a number of episodes of focus. “Among the many Lotus Eaters” virtually begins taking part in with this metatextual acknowledgement when Erica, desperate to be part of Pike’s touchdown social gathering to analyze Rigel VII, out of the blue finds herself pulled out of subject responsibility to be able to hold her on the Enterprise helm. When Rigel VII’s thriller reminiscence loss affliction comes for the Enterprise—brought on partly by radiation from an orbiting asteroid, therefore its have an effect on on the ship in addition to the crew under—Ortegas and Spock are left as a few of the final crew unaffected, till they too succumb to it. And whereas under on the planet Pike’s grappling with shedding his identification comes with a second of emotional catharsis, Ortegas’ comes along with her… remembering that she pilots the Enterprise. And that’s it. Not who she is or what she stands for, however what her job is, the job that partly was irritating her earlier within the episode when it restricted her from being a part of the away staff. Sure, it means she remembers what she does in time to avoid wasting the day and save the crew, but it surely’s not precisely a profoundly emotional character exploration, particularly for a personality who has but to obtain a lot of a highlight on the present to date.
That’s what arguably stings the most about “Among the many Lotus Eaters” and its potential—it’s not a nasty episode of Unusual New Worlds, but it surely might’ve been a significantly better one than it was. In attempting to be a bit extra fascinated with just a few too many concepts, the collection stalled as a substitute of soared when it got here to the prospect to discover considered one of its extra intriguing new characters. However similar to “Raise Us The place Struggling Can’t Attain,” that’s not essentially a deadly misstep for a present like this. There’s at all times subsequent week, and the week after that, and the week after that, when the present will attempt once more with a brand new concept—and perhaps one that can, finally, do some justice to a few of its most underserved characters.
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