Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - S1 E2 - "Children of the Comet"
By: Samantha Coley
May 12, 2022
'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' Season 1 Episode 2 Review: What's Meant to be Will Always Find a Way
Uhura's first away mission features music and the exploration of fate.
The second episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds dives into Cadet Uhura's (Celia Rose Gooding) very first away mission and uses the experience to examine the overlap between science, faith, and destiny. We also get a more intimate look at what it's like serving on Pike's (Anson Mount) Enterprise, his relationship with his first officer Una (Rebecca Romijn), and Spock's (Ethan Peck) faith in Uhura. By toeing the line between science and belief, Strange New Worlds engages in an age-old quandary that Star Trek and much of humanity have revisited over and over.
Strange New Worlds Season 1 Episode 2, "Children of the Comet," opens with a "Cadet's Log" voiceover from Uhura detailing the subject of this week's episode: a mysterious comet passing by a pre-warp planet. Ortegas (Melissa Navia) starts us off on a humorous note as she meets Uhura ahead of dinner in the Captain's cabin, having tricked the junior officer into showing up to the casual event in her dress uniform. The helmsman tells Uhura she can count this as her first official square on "Enterprise Bingo," which I am personally dying to see the playcard for.
Dinner at Captain Pike's seems like an event that we'd all want to attend — his quarters are warm and inviting, large enough to host a party in, with an open fire pit, upbeat music, and friendly conversation as the senior officers work together family-style to prepare a shared meal. The atmosphere here instantly tells us so much about this crew and how Pike interacts with them. Through Uhura's first-timer experience we also meet Hemmer, the new Chief Engineer (Bruce Horak) — both Hemmer and the actor who plays him are blind. In a sci-fi future, it's easy to erase any physical ailments or abnormalities, but Strange New Worlds takes this opportunity to celebrate Hemmer's blindness as a strength rather than an "impairment."
Throughout this episode Uhura is a complex mix of confident and unsure of herself; she's a talented young officer ready to prove she's got what it takes, while also thinking that she may not be cut out for Starfleet. Gooding plays the varied emotions of the linguistics prodigy flawlessly. As Uhura struggles to figure out where she fits into the grand scheme of the universe, Strange New Worlds uses the alien encounter of the week to assure her that she's exactly where she needs to be. When the comet turns out to be more than it appears, Uhura is sent on her first away mission, along with Spock, La'an (Christina Chong), and Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte). While on the surface, Uhura is the only officer capable of cracking the mystery set out before them — figuring out how to communicate with their surroundings.
Uhura shines as brightly as the comet itself in this episode, using her unique skill set to help the crew despite feeling out of her depth. Her prodigy-esque revelations are somewhat reminiscent of a young Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Gooding's delivery of dry humor and joyful wonder perfectly captures the essence of a slightly less experienced Uhura that will evolve into the character that Nichelle Nichols originated, and I think it's safe to say she'd be proud.
The alien threat that the Enterprise is up against, known as the Shepherds, demands that Starfleet not interfere with the destined path of the comet — but the crew has a moral obligation to do everything they can to save the civilians on the planet below. Working in unison Uhura, Pike, Spock, and the rest of the bridge crew are able to figure out a way to move the comet without alerting the Shepherds. "Children of the Comet" effectively blurs the line between science and faith in a very appealing way. The comet is what the Shepherds herald it as — it bestows water to the desert planet below, creating a path for the struggling society there to one day flourish. However, it would not have been able to do so without Spock and Uhura's interference. The episode posits the idea that faith is most effective and miraculous when working hand in hand with science and morality. It also spotlights that communication is the most powerful tool we have in our arsenal.
As a bookend to the warm opening dinner scene, this episode also takes a few quiet moments to enrich the relationships between several crew members. This episode teases briefly at the flirtation between Spock and Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush) that will eventually evolve into a complete infatuation on Star Trek: The Original Series. We also witness Spock developing an older-brother-style bond with Uhura as he bluntly encourages her throughout the episode before telling her that Starfleet is genuinely lucky to have her.
Meanwhile, just as the comet "knew its fate," as Uhura says, so does Pike. Una is one of the few crew members that knows what he saw in his vision and how it affects his outlook on life. She notices him getting hung up while talking about where Uhura sees herself in 10 years at dinner and makes quiet, careful observations about him throughout — as Spock noted in the Short Trek "Q & A." As she stays behind to help clean up after the meal, and later over a couple of drinks, Una urges Pike to not give up on his own life just because he too received a message from the future. In fitting with the theme of the episode, Una suggests that Pike could use the foreknowledge he has of the vision to save the kids he's destined to die for and himself.
In the unaired Star Trek pilot that originated these characters in the 1960s, a group of telepathic aliens claims to read Una's mind and reveal that she's secretly harboring feelings for Captain Pike. Footage from that pilot was later used in an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series at a point where Pike has lived through the accident he knows is in his future. While it's impossible to know if Strange New Worlds will fully explore or un-do either of these classic plot points, it looks like they're certainly laying the groundwork for both.
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Overall, a good episode. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole "the comet knew its fate" thing.
I do like the interactions among the bridge crew. Seems a bit reminiscent (or prescient?) of family dinner in Sisco's quarters.
Hope I can catch it later this week as I missed it due to my retirement party (my head still hurts)
Congratulations on your retirement!
after a certain age, you grow it where you can, lol.
I didn't notice that... maybe his hippy days?
Is it just me, or has anyone noticed the discrepancy in the size of the captain's quarters from TOS Enterprise to today's Enterprise SNW? TOS looks like the Kirk lived in a broom closet by comparison while what Pike lives in is a 5 star Hilton presidential suite.
Right? It's huge. It has the firepit. It even has windows, while nobody's quarters in TOS had windows.
I know right? I've had apartments smaller than his quarters.
It actually makes more sense that the captain would have such large quarters. Enterprise is supposed to have a crew of a little over 400, which is tiny for a ship of those dimensions. It’s longer than a modern aircraft carrier , which has a crew of thousands, and the saucer section is substantially wider. That ship could carry carry tens of thousand of people. So there’s no reason for anybody to be in tight quarters.
Not to mention they are starting out on their five year mission. Five years would feel so much longer and worse if you are shoe-horned into a small room. A lot of thought has to go into keeping the crew happy and on-task for five years, they don't get to go to the beach or Disneyland next summer after all.
That's one of the things that made no sense in Lower Decks. All that space, and people are bunking in the corridors? I mean, it didn't make sense from the standpoint of use of space, but also, I want the guy working on the warp core containment field to please, please not be sleep-deprived from trying to sleep in a noisy corridor.
I think that was done more to show the class distinction between upper and lower decks than a requirement due to limited space
Though in my Navy days I did bunk in No 1 mess with 42 others stacked 3 high. Ya do learn to sleep through most anything, I even slept through a couple man overboard drills and that is accompanied by a very loud bell
I hear ya. I served on a gator freighter as embarked personnel on the USS Okinawa (LPH-3). Overflow berthing was on the aft end of the ship right above the fantail behind Medical and right below the flight deck. Berthing stacked 4 racks high. Pretty loud during flight ops, especially when the Harriers were taking off and landing. As a HM2, I claimed a bottom one for myself. Loads of fun in those days.
Loads of fun (not being sarcastic) foreign ports were awesome. No 1 mess was at the pointy end, so heavy seas were like lying down in a roller coaster
Yeah, I bet sludge and sliders for breakfast were fun.
sludge and sliders for breakfast
Lol don't know what that is but it does not sound appetizing. We had great cooks on our ship, always something yummy to eat when I could eat (had a bit of a seasickness problem)
The sludge was the traditional Navy thick black coffee and the sliders were the slimy/greasy eggs and/or chipped beef aka SOS that slid off the metal serving trays whenever the ship took a roll.
There was a fair bit of humor in TOS, but it didn't age well.
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We're in the fleshing-out phase of the series, in which the primary focus will probably be on the characters, and initial relationships and back stories will be established.
We got to meet (or hear, rather) Majel Barrett's replacement in this episode. An actress named Alex Kapp will play the computer voice in Strange New Worlds. She did it so well that I was wondering if they were using actual sound samplings from Majel Barret. I had to look it up to find out it was a new person.
Fast fact – The actor who plays Hemmer is legally blind in real life, just like his character.
Nothing really major happened, but I thought it was a decent episode. To me it felt a lot like an alien-of-the-week episode of TNG. I kind of liked that.