“While not quite as good as we hoped, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has delivered an episode that will have fans cheering, and laughing all the way through.”
It’s here, the episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds we’ve been waiting for. The crossover episode between the crew and several members of Star Trek: Lower Decks. While I won’t divulge any spoilers, I can say that the episode, although not quite as good as we hoped, is one for the ages. It is an episode that finally brings Boimler and Mariner into live-action. And believe me, they are fantastic additions to something that fans will lap in their droves.
An accident while investigating a time portal sends Ensign Brad Boimler through time from the twenty-fourth century, and Captain Pike and his crew must get him back where he belongs before he can somehow alter the timeline.
The episode starts the way it should, with the animated crew of the U.S.S Cerritos. Mariner, Boimler, Tendi, and Rutherford are dispatched to investigate a time portal. This allows Noel Wells and Eugene Cordero to add their voices to the episode. And both, although only adding vocal cameos, make the episode feel that much better. Boimler gets sent back in time where he gets his live-action debut (in the shape of Jack Quaid.) He meets several members of the crew of the Enterprise before passing out.
Upon awakening, Boimler gets to meet his heroes in person. And this is where we get the feeling we are watching something special. The combination of Quaid and the regular cast of Strange New Worlds is a winner from the start. With the usual personas of the crew in full effect, Quaid as Boimler is a brilliant addition. The way the episode plays out means that the drama is reduced somewhat while the comedy is played up. And it works. The episode is one of the most enjoyable ever created, despite not quite living up to its billing. But things get even better when Mariner (played by Tawny Newsome) appears in live-action.
THE REGULAR CAST
The regular cast of the series is on point here. Anson Mount as Pike, Ethan Peck as Spock, Jess Bush as Chapel, Christina Chong as La’an, Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura, Melissa Navia as Ortegas, Babs Olusanmokun as M’Benga, and Rebecca Romijn as Riley are all in on the fun. If you think they will be serious for the entire episode, think again. The episode allows them all to let their hair down and simply have fun. After a few episodes this season of emotion, action, and dramatic tension, this is one that allows the cast to breathe. Every one of the cast gets a chance to play off of Quaid and Newsome and to allow their inner child out.
One of the best scenes concerns Quaid and Peck. Boimler is shocked to discover Spock is showing emotions, a serious contrast as to what he knows about the Vulcan in the future. Both work together to create something that will allow Boimler and Mariner to return to the future. But of course, it goes wrong. Peck shows some amazing comic timing that we haven’t seen before while Quaid replicates Boimler’s scared reactions from the animated show to perfection. Tawny Newsome gets in on the act though, in some scenes with Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura, someone Mariner hero worships. And both actresses play off each other’s enthusiasm and sense of fun.
Celia Rose Gooding and Jess Bush manage to get a comedic scene with Jack Quaid early in the episode too which is a delight for fans of both shows. The way Uhura and Chapel tell Boimler what may happen to him after his trip through time is comedic gold. And Quaid goes along with it brilliantly. Rebecca Romijn and Tawny Newsome get their own scene as Mariner inadvertently reveals Boimler’s hero worship of Riley. The facial reactions of both actresses sell the scene perfectly. All is explained in the end but this first scene between the pair is one that will fans in fits of laughter.
TAWNY NEWSOME AND JACK QUAID
As you would expect, Tawny Newsome and Jack Quaid steal the show. We’ve seen the pair as their animated characters in Lower Decks. Here, they bring that same energy, the same spark as Mariner and Boimler that they provide in the animated series. The same comedic touch that both provide in animation is seen in live-action for the first time. And anyone that was concerned that they wouldn’t translate the relationship from one medium to another can rest easy. Both transfer their brilliant performances to live-action with ease. In fact, they could be better in live-action than in animation.
Jack Quaid brings everything we’ve seen of Boimler into the episode and it fits perfectly within the narrative. Every quirk of Boimler’s, every mannerism, every facial expression transfers into live-action superbly. The same can be said of Tawny Newsome. While Quaid gets the most playtime in live-action, Tawny Newsome still gets her own time to shine in the spotlight. It is delightful to see Mariner finally in the flesh, and the actress brings her boundless energy to the episode. And of course, Mariner can’t resist having some digs at Boimler in front of the Enterprise crew. It all adds up to something that every fan can enjoy.
WRITING AND DIRECTION
The writing of Kathryn Lyn and Bill Wolkoff merges the two shows together wonderfully. We expected some comedic touches in the episode, but they have delivered something that exceeds expectations. They also add into the story the original Enterprise NX-01 as well as having Boimler almost reveal the fate of the NCC-1701 before catching himself. They wisely reign back on the dramatics somewhat and allow the episode to be its own thing. For the most part, it works well. But somehow, there feels like a small element is missing. I can’t put my finger on it but the episode, while brilliant and hugely fun, doesn’t reach its full potential. But what we are given is more than enough to see beaming smiles on the audience’s faces.
The direction is by the legendary Jonathan Frakes. And what do you know? He NAILS it completely. It won’t come as a huge surprise to learn that the episode looks brilliant, is colourful and bright, flows along easily, and is one of the best episodes of any Trek show so far. Jonathan Frakes is an undoubted master at directing episodes of Star Trek, no matter which show it happens to be. He was and still is the perfect choice to direct this crossover, and he pulls it off with style, ease, and tremendous effect.
While not quite as good as we hoped, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has delivered an episode that will have fans cheering, and laughing all the way through. The combination of both series works so well that I’m hoping already that the episode will get a sequel somehow in Season 3. The pieces all fit together like a perfect jigsaw, meaning the fun element goes sky-high. This is an episode the season needed. One to release the tension, the drama, and the high stakes and allow the cast to have some fun. And everyone takes their chance and runs with it. Every cast member looks to be having a whale of a time in every scene and shows their comedic skills to the world.
Added to the mix is that the opening credits to the episode have been changed to the same animation featured in Lower Decks. And not only is it amusing and different, but it also gives us a sense of which direction the episode will take. Fans of the animated show will get a kick out of something we see in Lower Decks’ opening credits make an appearance here. And we also get another animated cameo at the climax of the episode. No prizes for guessing who that is! But the climax to the episode is one that will have fans clapping their hands in delight while laughing at what the writers have come up with. Set your phasers to fun as you’re going to get it and more.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 is available now, with a new episode dropping weekly. Season 1 is available to stream in its entirety on Paramount+. To sign up for the service, you can start your 7-day free trial here.
Carl Roberts is the News Editor for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!