Thursday, May 12, 2022

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' - Uhura Must Trust Her Instincts to Save Millions of Lives in 'Children of the Comet'

Paramount+'s Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - Episode 1.02 "Children of the Comet"

While on a survey mission, the U.S.S. Enterprise discovers a comet is going to strike an inhabited planet. They try to re-route the comet, only to find that an ancient alien relic buried on the comet's icy surface is somehow stopping them. As the away team try to unlock the relic's secrets, Pike and Number One deal with a group of zealots who want to prevent the U.S.S. Enterprise from interfering.

"Children of the Comet" was written by Henry Alonso Myers & Sarah Tarkoff and directed by Maja Vrvilo

The premiere of Strange New Worlds dealt with the lingering fallout of what happened to a few characters during their time on the U.S.S. Discovery. Those connections could make for an even more inter-connected universe. So many outlets strive for that franchise building with the expectation of numerous shows seamlessly coexisting together and crossing over. That's not what anyone should expect here. Discovery jumped into the future. The Enterprise crew does have some familiar faces with firmly planted stories in this universe. However, it's fascinating in the early going to see the creative team utilize an episodic format in order to showcase the various skills these characters bring to the table. It forces them into existential conflicts just as readily as other shows in this storied franchise. Spock even notes how this is the first time Nyota Uhura's life has been in danger. That has an impact on her judgment and ability to do the job. And yet, it remains very character driven. The focus is being spread amongst the ensemble. This hour strives to delve more into the life of the new cadet. She joined Starfleet because it was a direction she could pursue. Her grandmother had a connection to the beloved organization. Uhura doesn't have the same reverence and passion everyone else does on the ship. They collectively feel lucky to get to do this job every day. They worked hard in order to land these positions. It's miraculous that they received these assignments. Meanwhile, Uhura knows she has a passion for alien languages. She speaks dozens of them. That skill has importance on the Enterprise. However, she doesn't know what she wants her future to be. She is open to many possibilities. It's her running away from the life that was originally planned for her. Her parents and brother were killed. That tragedy defines her. She can't return to the space that was once so sacred to them. Instead, she had to pursue a new opportunity. It's one that leads her to the forefront of discovery. She gets to decipher alien languages in the hopes of finding a clue that can lead to a peaceful solution. She can provide clarity and context when so many divisions threaten to destroy worlds. The Enterprise comes across a sentient comet on a collision course with a primitive species. The inhabitants don't have the technology to know this threat is coming and will cause mass extinction. And so, the Enterprise steps in to allow this species a chance to develop further. It gets more complicated because it becomes a philosophical debate about what nature wants to happen and how the demands of the people in this universe don't always align with those plans.

The Enterprise crew receives confirmation that this comet is aware of its larger fate. It always knew it wouldn't collide with this planet. In fact, it would spread its precious resources to help the local ecosystem grow much more prosperous. That could only come from the crew being steadfast in their beliefs that they must help. Spock must run a mission that ultimately pushes the comet onto a new course. It all hinges on Uhuru's ability to unlock the code. She succeeds in that endeavor. It's a language built around the numerology of music. It's absolutely beautiful and breathtaking. However, it still takes a lot of risks in order to be successful. Pike doesn't know how his team on the away mission are doing. Nor does he trust the advanced species tasked with protecting the sacredness of the comet's purpose. He dismisses this threat as religious zealots placing extreme importance onto this situation. Right now, the stakes are very clear for the Starfleet crew. They have to prevent the destruction of millions of lives. They have the tools and willingness to do so. They simply must evade those who have a different agenda all together. The Shepherds don't believe anything should intervene with the path the comet is on. It's destined to do whatever it does. That includes giving life. It may also feature ending it. Everyone has to make peace with that greater power moving the forces of nature in this world. The Shepherds are powerless to stop it even though their technology outpaces what the Enterprise can do. All of this is a parable for people twisting some significant meaning out of inexplicable events. No one can explain how the comet operates and the prosperity it brings to the planet during this close call. It rains for the first time down below. That will dramatically reshape the environment. The civilization will prosper in new ways. They will do so without any larger awareness to the events happening in space. The Enterprise crew can find peace in knowing this intervention resulted in transformative action. It also affirms Uhura's place on the crew. She may doubt her future. She has a home here. Starfleet is willing to accept her fully should she choose to devote her life to the mission. This ship is special too. Pike seeks out the counsel and wisdom of the people who serve on it. He creates that open and inviting atmosphere. And yet, he still worries about the future. The fate of the children whose lives he saves a decade from now weighs heavily on him. Una wants him to accept that the future isn't written in stone. It's not his place to fully understand the circumstances behind that event. It simply takes more conviction to accept the powerlessness that surrendering to the mysteries of the universe calls for. Pike isn't quite there yet despite him running an efficient and united crew.