Thursday, June 15, 2023

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' - Spock Follows a Hunch to Prevent War From Breaking Out in 'The Broken Circle'

Paramount+'s Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - Episode 2.01 "The Broken Circle"

A distress call from Lt. Noonien-Singh compels Spock to disobey orders and take the U.S.S. Enterprise and its crew into disputed space, risking renewed hostilities with the Klingons in a bid to aid their shipmate.

"The Broken Circle" was written by Henry Alonso Myers & Akiva Goldsman and directed by Chris Fisher

Spock was terrified his newly unbridled emotions would alter his usually logical nature. He was stressed out before Pike announced his plan to take personal leave to aide in Una's legal defense. Pike has complete confidence in his science officer. However, Pike left with the understanding that Spock would only be overseeing the needed repairs to the Enterprise. Instead, Uhura receives a distress signal from La'an while on a planet in Klingon-controlled territory. Now, this show isn't always at its best when it references the events of Star Trek: Discovery before it made its jump thousands of years into the future. The Klingon War was consequential. Those effects are still playing out in the timeline Strange New Worlds now inhabits. Peace remains very tentative. It takes careful negotiations and actions to maintain that balance. It wouldn't take much for war to ignite once more. Meanwhile, a new potential conflict looms on the horizon. The admiral class is keeping those fears away from the lower ranks for the time being. However, Pike senses that something is making his superiors nervous. He doesn't know what that is. It's not productive to push for clarity either. He has a mission he must embark on. That's how he can be of service. Everyone who enlists in Starfleet honors the chain of command. The officers respect the importance of each individual task. That allows the entire operation to run smoothly. The admirals are distracted. As such, they aren't capable of seeing this potential threat from a radical group of Klingons. And yet, the organization has trusted and talented individuals to recognize the patterns and take the necessary actions. Spock goes against direct orders. He decides to follow his hunch. He isn't a typical Vulcan. That message is delivered countless times over the course of this adventure. He follows the Vulcan way of life as that is how most people perceive him. However, he is much more complicated than that. His internal struggle is complex. He doesn't always have the words to describe what he is going through. His emotions elevate when Nurse Chapel enters the room. Those feelings don't overwhelm him in the heat of the moment though. He still orders the fateful shot that destroys the Federation ship the radical Klingons were hoping to use to reignite the war despite Chapel and M'Benga still being aboard. Logic still dictates Spock's mind in many ways. His relationships with the other members of the crew have deepened. He gave all of them the opportunity to walk away from this mission and turn him in. They all signed up because they too saw the honor in trusting La'an's actions. Her message was received with the appropriate seriousness it deserved. As a result, the galaxy is safer. Spock did that. He has no reason to doubt his instincts. His emotions are still coming out in inopportune times though.

Starfleet brings crews together through a sense of higher purpose. They all worked hard to achieve these positions. Uhura made that decision recently too. She is proud to be an Ensign now. Her expertise is needed on the ship and on the ground. The world requires people who understand how to communicate. The language spoken by the radicals may be an unrecognizable Klingon dialect. However, the point is still understood. The Enterprise crew only has a small amount of time to act. They hope to avoid detection. They don't want their presence to be the excuse needed for war to return. They aspire for higher ideals. The radicals aren't pursuing these actions due to genuinely held beliefs. Instead, they miss the economic prosperity that came from the mining operation on their home planet. All sides needed what they had. That made their material lucrative to everyone. That greed built this radical movement. It was enough to inspire many to take action. La'an has been on the ground. She's built relationships with the locals. She was on a mission to reunite Oriana with her family. And now, they are in danger because of the forces wishing to exploit the resources of this planet. They don't care about the health of the people who do the work. It's all about the potential payoff coming. That never arrives. The Enterprise succeeds in its mission. It still comes at a personal cost. M'Benga and Chapel have to be willing to sacrifice their lives for the greater good. They fortunately are gifted with the resources to alert the Enterprise to their location before they freeze in the void of space. Before that though, they inject themselves with the compound that enhances all of their senses. They suddenly have the ability to take on multiple Klingons at once. The effects don't last long. They may have side effects. It's the only way to survive. They are placed in this dire situation. They seek to help people in need. They extend their medical services. Others want to exploit that. They are still heroes. They are at the center of the action. This is part of the mission they signed up for. The Enterprise crew is willing to fight to save them as well. The crew's collective instincts are in sync. That's why La'an feels the pull to return to the Enterprise once her mission is complete. That's what the future entails for her. Meanwhile, M'Benga and Chapel make a leap of faith. They escape before Spock fires the torpedoes. Lives are saved. Spock explains his actions to all sides. A hangover is all the punishment given. That's because the stakes are extreme elsewhere. These characters don't know the extent their lives are being forged by forces outside their control. That makes their bonds to one another even stronger. It becomes rewarding for the audience to watch even as they enter dire situations. Those stakes will seemingly be amplified by the threat of the Federation's war with the Gorn. Hopefully, the show doesn't lose its sense of fun along the way. The creative team has earned the trust to follow them as they pursue new stories in this world though. None of that is dampened here. Plus, Carol Kane joins the ensemble as the Enterprise's new engineer. That's an immediate delight.