As promised, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds took familiar storytelling cues from the classic star trek and applied them to the modern era. It’s exactly what fans have been looking for and a huge hit, with the reaction from new and old fans overwhelmingly positive. If you were a fan of The original series, you have been at home here. But as we saw with Hemmer’s shock death last week, the show isn’t just for comfort viewing. That said, this week’s finale is all about fan service.
“A Quality of Mercy” is an alternate version of Original series episode “Balance of Terror”. The 1966 classic introduced the Romulans in canon, and this new installment reintroduces them. The basic concept of the episode is that Captain Pike thinks he has figured out how to escape his future fate. As a result, his future self (clad in a fan-pleasing red movie uniform) travels back in time to change his mind. This means that, in this timeline, Pike actually lived through the early years of Kirk’s time on the Company.
“A Quality of Mercy” is neither a prequel nor a sequel to “Balance of Terror”, nor quite a remake. It does not require any prior knowledge of TOS episode, although you’ll get more out of it if you know what’s supposed to happen. Still, Strange new worlds ensures that new viewers aren’t overwhelmed by decades of lore.
As we get to the meat of the episode, we find that the future Company investigate the loss of communications with ground outposts near the Neutral Zone. Hansen appears with his son in the opening minutes, which lends more weight to his death. So far, everything seems to be going as usual, including the wedding of Lieutenant Tomlinson and Ensign Martine and the eventual first appearance of the Romulan Bird of Prey.
Pike, meanwhile, confides in Spock, who momentarily believes his captain has gone mad until he performs a mind meld. Spock advises that the best course of action is to let events unfold and find the point of divergence.
As in “Balance of Terror”, Outpost 4 is soon destroyed. Spock manages to hack the ship’s internal cameras and reveal the Romulans for the “first” time. Everyone is shocked at how much they look like Spock. In the original episode, navigator Lieutenant Stiles is shown to be prejudiced and questions Spock’s loyalty to Starfleet. Here, that role is given to current navigator Erica Ortegas. While Ortegas isn’t as racist as Stiles, it’s still a bit uncomfortable for a series regular to have those kinds of thoughts.
Captain Kirk makes his debut on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Soon we are introduced to Captain Kirk, the captain of the USS Farragut. Back in the TOS episode “Obsession”, it is revealed that Kirk had served on the ship as a lieutenant, and in this reality he apparently stayed and was given command. And this is where “A Quality of Mercy” stumbles.
While an actor putting a new spin on a role is understandable — Paul Wesley plays Kirk here — there’s no point in the episode that you actually feel like you’re watching James T. Kirk. Recreating Spock is much easier given his unique appearance, and Ethan Peck’s mannerisms and inflections leave you in no doubt that you’re looking at Spock. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Wesley. If the character wasn’t called Kirk, it’s unlikely the viewer would be able to tell him apart from any other Starfleet officer.
As in “Balance of Terror”, Stiles/Ortegas recommends attacking, as does Spock. However, unlike the original episode, two ships are ready to fight: the Company and the farragut, which the latter is attacked by the Bird of Prey. Despite leaving last week, La’an is back as one of farragut evacuated and is now apparently a hug! La’an’s return leads to the revelation that Number One has been sent to a penal colony to be raised. La’an isn’t the only cameo either, with chief engineer Montgomery Scott making his debut of sorts; Spock hears his voice.
Meanwhile, the same game of cat and mouse begins again, but with enough differences to keep things interesting. In the end, neither Pike nor the Romulan Commander makes much of a difference. Instead, Kirk conjures up a fake fleet of ships while on the Bird of Prey and Sub-Commander Decius summons a Romulan fleet, believing that Pike has shown weakness.
The situation ends in a firefight, with the Federation and the Romulan Empire going to war. Dozens of people die or are injured on board the Company, including Spock. Knowing what awaits him in his own future, Pike cannot let Spock suffer the same fate. Anson Mount gives a magnificent performance after discovering the extent of Spock’s injuries, all without dialogue.
Episode Rating: 9
“A Quality of Mercy” is a great ending to the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. The episode is a brilliantly done fan service that, while it leans heavily on “Balance of Terror”, requires no knowledge of the original episode. Although Pike has seemed sidelined at times throughout the season, he’s front and center here and shows why many are already calling him the best of them all. star trek captains.
Pike perfectly combines Kirk’s rule-breaking bravado, Picard’s diplomacy, and Sisko’s empathy, all of which are on display in “A Quality of Mercy.” This is without a doubt Pike’s best episode to date and another brilliant installment in the strongest first season of them all. Trek To display.
The last 10 episodes have been a roller coaster ride. Given the quality, it’s no wonder Paramount+ immediately ordered a second season. There are still plenty of stories to tell with seven years in-universe until Pike’s accident.
Where Strange new worlds going next is uncertain, but as we close out the season, we’re left with Number One’s cliffhanger stopped to be an augment. It’s something to keep fans guessing until next year.
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