Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Strange New Worlds” Season 2, episode 10
Here we are then. After this, it’s quite the wait for the next season of any live-action “Star Trek,” let alone “Strange New Worlds,” and of course the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes will almost certainly further confound things. However, the good news is, season 2 of “Invasion” on Apple TV+ starts on Aug. 23, and we can tell you having watched it all already, that it’s good. Really good. This second season takes all the plot strands that didn’t seem to go anywhere particularly groundbreaking and catapults them into some incredibly imaginative places. A late entry into the contest granted, but a very strong contender for the title of Surprise Sci-Fi Summer Hit.
But we digress. We are gathered here today, after all, to talk about the season 2 finale of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” and following something of a rollercoaster ride through these last 10 episodes, what did Paramount Plus, Alex Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman have planned for us? And the answer is, further evidence to support the theory that for one reason or another, this second season was rushed through the writing process.
Tragically, this finale, entitled “Hegemony,” feels like a lazy lurch over the finishing line. That’s not to say it wasn’t thoroughly entertaining, but it fell back, retreated if you will, to what the executive producers know is safe, in a similar manner to how each season of “Picard” basically follows the same story template with just the variables changed to make it appear different. In this instance though, it was the reappearance of the Gorn, the introduction of yet another legacy character and the decision to make the finale a two-parter in an attempt to retain your interest and buy Kurtzman, Akiva et al a bit more time to come up with something more original. (If you’re feeling a bit lost and need to catch up, check out our Star Trek streaming guide on how to watch all things Trek.)
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This installment starts off a little “Independence Day” then goes all “Attack The Block” before borrowing a bit from “All Those Who Wander” (S01, E09) and then finally gives us our first pre-“TOS” look at engineer Montgomery Scott, played in “Strange New Worlds” by Martin Quinn and immortalized of course, by the legendary James Doohan. Still, we should thank our lucky stars that the casting director actually chose a native Scotsman to play the role and not a one-trick-pony from Gloucester, so you know, there’s that.
That said, the writers have successfully managed to insert this new chapter of Scott’s history into existing canon without having to rewrite anything or rely on a portal and create alt-history. You have to wonder, if there’s a printed note stuck to the wall, in the writer’s room, to the left of the fridge, above the coffee machine that says, “If in doubt, use a portal.”
There’s no ignoring the sense that after such a run of amazing episodes, albeit in a very mixed up order, this finale falls just a wee bit flat. If you took all of the second season and mixed it in with the first and put the “Lower Decks” crossover episode (S02, E07) in the first half, bake it all at 475°F for 20 minutes, you’d end up with an amazing “first season” consisting of 20, mostly brilliant installments, comparable to any of the quality sci-fi made in the first decade of this millennia, including “Battlestar Galactica,” “Stargate: Atlantis” and “Doctor Who.”
Although, the very end scene is quite entertaining upon reflection … as the USS Enterprise comes under fire from Gorn attack ships, it becomes clear that the away team — including La’An, Ortegas, Kirk and M’Benga — while attempting to escape the colony planet of Parnassus Beta, have been snatched by a transporter beam from an incoming Gorn destroyer.
Blaster fire rocks the bridge of the Enterprise and over the deafening cacophony of alarms and explosions, Number One shouts to the Captain that they’ve been ordered to retreat, but he has become motionless, almost frozen in time. He’s torn, emotionally and ethically about what to do. Over 100 innocent colonists together with some of his closest colleagues and crewmates are now captive and could be virtually impossible to find again, providing they’re not tortured and killed first. And then there’s the crew of the Enterprise. Still, his face remains expressionless.
“What are your orders sir?!” Number One screams. Any further delay could result in the destruction of the Enterprise and the death of all of those aboard. “Captain! What are your orders?!” She screams again…
At this point, we fade to black — but, when this scene is replayed at the beginning of the third season premiere, if Pike calmly looks up and responds with, “Activate the Omega 13…” I swear I will run and up and down the street naked á la Archimedes.
There are some fun things to note, in addition to the introduction to Montgomery Scott. The Gorn in an environment suit is extremely interesting and opens up all sorts of possibilities going forward into the third season. Although, it has to be said that clearly, all command crew and indeed any Starfleet officer on an away mission, desperately needs some — any — tactical training.
Quite what will happen to the away team aboard the Gorn destroyer remains to be seen. Maybe, through some clever physiology-altering hypospray, you know like we saw in the first season premiere episode, a couple of Enterprise crewmembers could be made to look like Gorn and sneak aboard, calling themselves “Chris” and “Devon” like Ed Mercer and Gordon Malloy did in “The Orville” episode “Krill” (S01, E06). Tragically, we probably have a year to wait to find out. But in the meantime, don’t forget to check out “Invasion” on Apple TV+.
“Strange New Worlds” and every episode of almost every “Star Trek” show (sorry “Prodigy”) currently airing streams exclusively on Paramount Plus in the US. Internationally, the shows are available on Paramount Plus in Australia, Latin America, the UK and South Korea, as well as on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel. They also stream exclusively on Paramount Plus in Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In Canada, they air on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and stream on Crave.