Christina Chong delivers a masterclass in this week’s episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. The emotional weight of her performance is infectious and she has produced a character arc worthy of its place in Trek lore!
It’s time for another gripping episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. After last week’s courtroom drama resulted in Una’s exoneration and reinstation to Starfleet, this week finds La’an time-traveling. But she’s not alone, because she’s joined by none other than Paul Wesley’s James T. Kirk. And as always, episodes featuring temporal anomalies have far-reaching consequences. But can this episode build upon the foundation of last week’s intense courtroom drama? Or is S2:E3 heading for the brig?
Fear not fellow Trekkies, because this week’s episode is a triumph. Not only does it tap into the elements of the classic Original Series episode “City on the Edge of Forever”, but it also picks up the breadcrumbs carefully planted in last week’s episode to deliver an emotional rollercoaster ride. One packed with enough Star Trek iconography to fill a Klingon Battle-Cruiser. And if you were hoping for the series to flesh out La’an’s infamous heritage then you’re in luck. Especially when it throws James T. Kirk into the mix. And we all know his history with La’an’s ancestors. The result is an episode packed full of great moments and spectacular visuals which is sure to delight Trek fans everywhere. So, strap yourself in and dig into this emotionally-charged adventure.
S2:E3 TOMORROW TOMORROW AND TOMORROW
So far this season, the show has highlighted a different character per episode. And “Tomorrow Tomorrow and Tomorrow” is no different. After last week’s slow-paced courtroom drama, this week follows La’an after she inadvertently comes into contact with an agent of the infamous Department of Temporal Investigations. A temporal anomaly materializes inside the Enterprise and an injured agent emerges and collapses at La’an’s feet. After handing her his time control device and whispering “Get to the bridge,” the agent dies and the timeline is altered drastically.
Heeding his warning, La’an proceeds to the bridge of the Enterprise but as the turbolift doors open, she discovers a different Captain sitting in the big chair. To her amazement, Captain James T. Kirk is now in command of the Enterprise and he is navigating his way through a Romulan/Vulcan warzone.
The franchise is renowned for its alternate timeline episodes. So it comes as no surprise that La’an finds herself trapped in an alternate reality. The Federation is gone, Starfleet never came to pass, and Jim Kirk commands the flagship of a military fleet. What’s more, a large-scale explosion has poisoned Earth’s atmosphere forcing the populace to live underground. It is here where the Temporal Investigations agent’s mission comes into play.
Whilst desperately trying to convince Kirk of the validity of her outlandish story, the time control device activates and transports the duo back to 21st-century Earth. From there, the pair are forced to work together to uncover how the timeline changed and how to prevent it from happening. However, it soon becomes clear that preventing the temporal cataclysm would spell the end of Kirk’s timeline. And La’an is forced to convince him that her timeline is the only legitimate one.
Picking up the breadcrumbs from last week’s episode, La’an is still trying to come to terms with her lineage. Being related to the infamous tyrant Khan Noonien-Singh comes with its fair share of baggage. And La’an has struggled with the stigma attached to her lineage since childhood. But recent events have given her a fresh perspective. And although she is trying to come to terms with her ancestry, the stigma is proving to be hard to shake. However, it soon becomes evident that in the new timeline, Khan Noonien-Singh never came to power. And with the baggage banished from their conversations, La’an lets her inhibitions loose and swiftly forms an uncharacteristically close bond with Kirk. One that is reciprocated, and as the episode progresses, the duo finds themselves drawn to one another.
Now to be clear, Christina Chong delivers a masterclass in the episode. The emotional weight of her performance is infectious, and as we watch the events unfold, the emotional torment La’an has endured hits hard. It is a cross we have all had to bare at some point or another, and Chong sticks the landing with a truly labored performance that deserves to be praised. Throughout the episode, we are treated to a side of La’an we have never seen before and her connection to James T. Kirk is heartwarming. But as is always the case with alternate realities, preventing its existence comes at a cost and La’an will have to carry the weight of the outcome on her shoulders for the rest of her life.
CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER
The close connection this episode shares with the original series episode “City on the Edge of Forever” will not be lost on the majority of Trek fans. And the emotional weight of that adventure truly helped to define James T. Kirk’s journey. In that episode, Kirk had to endure the loss of Edith Keeler – a woman he fell in love with in the past. In order to secure the future, Kirk was forced to let her die – and he carried the emotional agony of that incident with him for the rest of his life. And as this week’s episode draws to a close, the emotional burden La’an will carry forwards will undoubtedly define her future in the franchise.
Keeping the third episode in line with previous installments, Christina Chong has done it again and added new levels of characterization to La’an. No longer a two-dimensional and emotionless Starfleet officer, Chong has given La’an more layers than I had ever thought possible. And the future of her character is an enticing prospect. There are many avenues to follow in the wake of the episode and I am excited to see which the showrunners take.
But either way, Chong’s performance and a screenplay written by an excellent team of creatives have produced a character arc worthy of its place in Trek lore. Her journey now runs parallel with Kirk’s in the Original Series. And as the rest of the season unfolds, it is going to be fascinating to see where this journey will take her. But Chong is more than up to the task, and I relish seeing her grow on the screen.
The same can be said about Paul Wesley’s portrayal of James T. Kirk. Instead of trying to emulate the great William Shatner, Wesley has tapped into a more humanized version of the character. Yes, Kirk has his characteristic bravado. Yes, he’s the same unswervable Captain of the Enterprise. But here, Wesley has focussed on the core of the character to uncover a more empathetic version that we have seen before. Needless to say, it’s a hard balance to pull off. Especially for long-term fans of Shatner’s incarnation. But here, Kirk is a far more layered character than we’ve ever seen him. And I cannot wait to see him return in future episodes. Even if it’s just to see him reconnect with La’an once again. And believe me, it’ll be an emotional affair!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Although we are yet to see the series really cut loose and unleash the inevitable confrontation with the Gorn the show is building towards; the series is finally starting to take shape. The plot threads of the past are unifying with those of the present. And the characters are truly coming to the fore. Last week, Una Chin-Riley cemented her status as a true standout of the series. And this week La’an Noonien Singh endured an emotional rollercoaster ride that will confirm her as the true beating heart of the series so far.
In the end, we are rewarded with an emotional episode packed with more tropes; iconography, and familiar faces than you can shake a Tricorder at. And with the plot threads beginning to come together and with La’an coming full circle; the next few episodes are going to be something special. Whether you’re a new Trek fan, or like me, an Original Series legacy fan, there’s something for everyone in this episode. The result is an unmissable 58 minutes for fans of the franchise.
It is a feast of well-executed classic Star Trek. Enjoy!
New episodes of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premiere weekly on Thursdays only on Paramount+ in the US and UK. Make sure to visit us frequently as we will keep you updated on all the latest stories as they develop. With Future of the Force, you can stay informed and won’t miss a thing.
Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force and babbles frequently!