Strange New Worlds: The Serene Squall

Getting seven episodes in before hitting a stinker isn’t too bad, right?  Because this one is pretty bad. Too many people pick up the idiot ball just to make the plot “work”.  Things are stated to work one way and then inexplicably work another.  The “retake the ship” plot has been done to death, it almost never works, and it often leads to criminal stupidity.  In this case it’s a shame, because there’s some nice character work going on, being totally buried by a silly action plot.

So, what are the horrible missteps?  Well, Pike orders Yellow Alert and leads a boarding party, but somehow doesn’t think to secure his own ship against attackers.  There seem to be absolutely no internal defenses on the Enterprise, and the bridge is taken way too easily.  Una does manage to lock down the ship’s systems, which is nice, but it ends up being wasted because Spock can’t spot the incredibly obvious mole.  And did no one think to do a background check on the mysterious Dr. Aspen?

Pike decides to cross into non-Federation space without permission (which is actually fine, because that’s the entire point of their five-year mission) — though someone makes a comment that the Federation apparently isn’t happy when their exploration cruisers move into unknown space.  He’d get permission, but it takes at least two days for messages to reach Starfleet and return.  Except later, the incredibly obvious mole is able to conduct a real-time negotiation with T’Pring, who’s in the heart of the Federation.  Why couldn’t Pike just use whatever channel they were using?

And T’Pring… the show runs the real risk of overusing this character, who (remember) shows up in exactly one episode of the original series.  Despite the considerable surprise evinced by everyone in TOS “Amok Time”, here Spock is sharing out intimate details of his life willy-nilly.  I get why T’Pring is such an attractive character for the writers but they should be treading more carefully.

Also once Spock routes systems control to Engineering, why isn’t his first action to beam all the pirates into the brig?  For that matter, rather than board the “colonist ship”, why doesn’t Pike just beam all 230 life forms out, hold most of them in the pattern buffer, and reconstitute them under heavy guard in the transporter room?  He could certainly have easily sorted through them at that point.  (This of course would also have revealed the ruse that the life form signatures of the “colonists” was actually a spoofed signal — the episode barely even notes the stratagem.)

Supposedly everything turns out fine in the end, though this is at least the second time in seven episodes that the Enterprise has been rendered inoperable.   Maybe Pike doesn’t get promoted — maybe Starfleet cans him.  It would certainly be justified based on this episode: He violated policy, didn’t take minimal precautions, and lost his ship.  Retaking it depended on the wildest of luck in timing.  

As a final irksome note, did anyone else notice that Pike says “Take out the Enterprise‘s impulse engines” and Ortegas fires on the warp nacelles, and no one even blinks?

That was a shame, too, because I am beginning to really enjoy the character of Ortegas.  “Get in close.” “Like a first date, or third date?” and of course, reacting to a command from Pike, “Fire gently?  What does that even mean?”

Here’s to hoping that this proves a momentary stumble and that the Strange New Worlds writers find their footing again soon.

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