Thursday, June 29, 2023

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' - La'an Confronts Her Family Lineage in 'Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow'

Paramount+'s Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - Episode 2.03 "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow"

La'an travels back in time to twenty-first-century Earth to prevent an attack which will alter humanity's future history - and bring her face to face with her own contentious legacy.

"Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow" was written by David Reed and directed by Amanda Row

La'an has endured grandiose infamy for her entire life. People always recognize her last name. It's closely associated with one of the darkest times in human history. She has absolutely made friendships aboard the Enterprise. And yet, she always feels the pressure to explain how she is nothing like her ancestor. That's a requirement for her in any social situation. Meanwhile, she is plagued by the fear that her genetic makeup will eventually direct her to that same darkness. She feels it's completely out of her control. She was made to feel different and ostracized. That pressure reinforces the ideas that once plagued civilization. She doesn't have to answer for anything anyone else ever did. She simply has to be accountable for her own actions. She deserves the opportunity to make her own choices. So much of the narrative framework is still centered around Khan. He has consequential importance to the timeline. That can only be delayed for so long. The Federation implemented many rules as a result of his actions during the Eugenics Wars. Fear dictated policy and actions. It wasn't enough to force Una out of Starfleet for good. She's back on a ship where the crew respects her. She serves as a symbol for progress even though there's still plenty of work that needs to be done. She is willing to carry part of that burden. Meanwhile, so much pressure has always been placed on La'an. So much of it unfairly so. It was completely unavoidable. As such, it's refreshing when she doesn't have to lead with those expectations. Yes, this story is still fundamentally about the significant actions of the past. La'an is simply given an opportunity to be present and actively dictate what occurs next. Her entire life and timeline are at stake if anything happens differently. That may be a reality La'an actually wants. She is given the freedom to be removed from all consequences entirely. She was singled out for this mission. She picked up Captain James T. Kirk in an alternate timeline before making it back to the middle of the 21st century. She saw what her present has the potential to become. Progress is still made. The conflicts are driven by division and animosity. The universe hasn't evolved to a more enlightened place. Sure, one can argue if the Federation is truly a utopia. It doesn't function that way for all. This is simply how the world developed. It did so with a focus on exploration. That drove the collective actions of society forward instead of truly trying to conquer before being conquered. Those reflections of the past are still all too real. No one is far enough removed from this history to forget about it completely. La'an has never had that luxury. And now, she's tasked with preserving what is meant to be.

La'an and Kirk's connection develops quickly because she gets to let her guard down. The internalized pressure is no longer present. She is still on a mission. She wants to restore her timeline. She needs to solve this mystery as quickly as possible. However, she can't be so consumed with emotions that she's blinded to her surroundings. She has to channel them in productive ways that are actually of service to others. It's fun watching Kirk bring out this new side of La'an. That makes it tragic when he is inevitably killed. He dies believing in something greater. That proves his overall sense of duty is strong no matter what the timeline holds. He's destined for that greatness. He looms large over the timeline for a reason. He still delights in the dysfunction of breaking the rules and seeing how far he can push boundaries to achieve the requisite outcome. He's proven himself to be an asset to the Federation. That's not the entity he serves in this timeline though. He doesn't know what La'an is talking about. And yet, he too gets a vulnerable moment by realizing they have a shared connection through his brother. That love and respect transcends everything else. Kirk recognizes the power of a better world. It's worth fighting to restore that even though it destroys everything he has even known. He is willing to make that sacrifice. La'an's presence is more consequential to stopping this attack in the past. She has the genetic material to gain access to the building where these dangerous experiments are happening. She has the wisdom to see the tragedy of people being trapped in their circumstances despite advocating for what's actually true. People are still radicalized though. They have an inherent belief that their mission is more moral and just. It's better to end Khan's reign of terror because lives will be saved. However, that darkness needed to happen so the Federation could be born. The timeline was delayed. It couldn't be changed. It's a personal burden La'an must carry. It's something of massive personal consequence for her. To the rest of the crew, she simply shows up on the bridge out of uniform. She went on this life-altering journey though. She can't talk about it with anyone. She can't process all that she has just endured. She must make peace with her decisions. She was tasked with preserving the timeline. The agents typically assigned to that mission are grateful for her. She is let in on a secret that isn't meant to be known. She carries that. Kirk is alive. He isn't the version she shared this intimate experience with. She lost something profound. It's in service to something she has always hated. This situation may provide greater clarity to her. She can move on from what Khan did and the influence he had. But now, she must grapple with the people lost along the way in service to what she saw as the greater good. Others reinforce those principles. She did the right thing. The emotions simply flow more openly than ever before. That's what she is left with. It's completely devastating despite the overall victory. It shares a brand new side to La'an that will permeate throughout all of her actions moving forward.