‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ finds empathy in memory

The next article comprises spoilers for “Misplaced in Translation”

Late final month, I got here off my bicycle and smashed the facet of my head on the curb in a reasonably dramatic accident. It gave me one hell of a concussion, a smashed-up face and a good quantity of reminiscence loss, together with all the things in regards to the incident itself. 4 weeks later, I’m nonetheless struggling, and whereas I’m feeling a bit of higher each day, it’s a sluggish course of to restoration.

It’s acceptable, then, that this week’s Unusual New Worlds touches on that relationship with our recollections. The episode asks if reminiscence is tied to empathy and if we will solely sympathize with others if their ache calls to our personal. I may not be fully lucid all the time proper now but it surely definitely does really feel like the neatest episode of Star Trek I’ve seen shortly.

Enterprise and the Farragut are headed to a brand new facility that’s delayed, a deuterium extraction base. Starfleet has constructed the large “gasoline station” inside a nebula on the sting of Gorn area to assist gas a brand new age of area exploration. And, you realize, be a pleasant strategic location for the already well-telegraphed struggle with the Gorn that’s coming at some point.

Uhura, who has been extra concerned with this mission than others, is feeling the pressure of all of the work. She’s having issue sleeping, and has been watching movies that Hemmer recorded for her to show her easy methods to do fundamental engineering work. On the nebula, she begins listening to the Transformers noise, and experiences flashbacks to the accident that killed her household.

Fairly than hold these issues to herself, Uhura properly goes to Dr. M’Benga for assist, however he prescribes relaxation. The crew believes she’s affected by deuterium publicity as hallucinations are a typical side-effect. However the visions worsen, and he or she begins seeing Zombie Hemmer – a welcome, if transient return for the much-missed Bruce Horak.

The gasoline station ought to have been lively some time in the past, so Pike sends over Una to crack the whip and Pelia to lend her experience. There’s stress between the pair, Una appearing just like the form of exhausting charging CEO who ignores Pelia’s soon-proved-right opinion. One of many station’s crew has been sabotaging issues, and is seeing the identical traumatic visions as Uhura.

As a lot because the crew is sympathetic to the pair’s plight, they nonetheless really feel the trigger is deuterium poisoning. The one individual prepared to discover an alternative choice is “and particular visitor star Paul Wesley as James T. Kirk.” He’s over from the Farragut for, uh, causes, however rapidly types a bond with Uhura, trusting her instincts that one thing unusual is happening.

ASIDE: These causes being that Anson Mount was on paternity depart for a bit of Unusual New Worlds’ second season. The crew gave him a greatly-reduced workload, and also you’ll discover how little Pike has been current in lots of episodes. A lot as Mount is the present’s star, and an exquisite presence, his diminished visibility right here has been a boon for the sequence total. Extra of the ensemble has been given extra time within the highlight, and whereas the restricted episode order hampers a few of this broadening out, it’s nice to see a extra democratic imaginative and prescient of the present.

There’s a touching scene, too, the place La’an and Kirk speak about their divergent childhoods, and the absence of fogeys. George Kirk (nonetheless alive on this universe) was lacking from a lot of Jim’s childhood, roaming the universe to avoid wasting others; La’an, in the meantime, was a kind of individuals saved. It’s a bit of, elegant reminder of why Starfleet exists, and why so many individuals in Trek’s fictional world signal as much as its mission.

The rogue station crewmember breaks out of sickbay, shuts off the lights and appears to sabotage the Enterprise in the one underwhelming second in the entire episode. It virtually felt like a studio word to interrupt up the tempo of the episode with an “motion” sequence, albeit one that may be shot on standing units. The group stumbles round within the darkness of the Enterprise corridors for a bit, earlier than Kirk saves Uhura from an explosion.

After a lot unraveling, it transpires that the gasoline station is constructed on the house of extra-dimensional aliens lurking throughout the deuterium. Their solely approach to talk is to search out sympathetic brains and provoke recollections of grief, of loss, to try to clarify their predicament. Each the station and the starships are pulling in deuterium for gas, mincing up numerous alien lifeforms for energy.

Uhura and Kirk go to Pike, who wastes no time in torching the station reasonably than permitting any extra pointless deaths. Uhura can sleep properly once more, and even Zombie Hemmer has been turned again into Common Hemmer, smiling in approval. There’s simply time for Jim to fulfill Spock for the primary time earlier than we pan out to the credit.

On the danger of sounding like Invoice Hader’s impression of Alan Alda, “Misplaced in Translation” is filled with nice writing. The screenplay, credited to Onitra Johnson and David Reed, is smarter and subtler than some latest Trek episodes I might point out. Whereas some Unusual New Worlds’ episodes can generally leap to unintended conclusions whereas exploring a Large Thought, it really works completely right here. And I need to say that it’s an exquisite sight to see Pike select to torch the station as a result of it’s very clearly the proper factor to do. A lot as we might miss the debating-hall sequences of golden-age Trek, isn’t it good to only see individuals do the factor that aligns with their values reasonably than spending 35 minutes speaking about it beforehand?

That is an exploration of empathy, and the way some individuals get it, and the assistance that comes with it, whereas others are left to endure in ignomy. It speaks to a way that we’re lacking a basic sense of empathy in public life, as quite a lot of figures attempt to out-do one another of their brutality. Is reminiscence, then, the important thing to mercy? Are those that have been introduced up in perpetual consolation much less capable of really feel pity? If it’s the previous, it’s a deliciously delicate remark about these with quick recollections – typically emboldened by a political and media tradition that values forgetfulness – are eternally doomed to make the identical errors.

ANOTHER ASIDE: A recurring theme in Unusual New Worlds’ second season is the operate of reminiscence, and never in the way in which you may anticipate from a prequel. Fairly than amping up the nostalgia bait, the present is as an alternative exploring how reminiscence informs and shapes our society. The one draw back of “Amongst The Lotus Eaters” was that one episode merely couldn’t include a deeper exploration of its perpetually-amnesiac society.

So, yeah, I’m a fan.