Season two of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds put a bow on a stellar season with a finale, titled “Hegemony,” that left us looking intensely at Captain Pike as we awaited what could be a momentous decision. Then – fade to black. That’s how you deliver a cliff-hanger, my friends, and “Hegemony,” left us hanging by a couple fingers as Pike must deal with a new threat to Star Fleet – the Gorn.
It was a tremendously entertaining episode that gave us some new insight into the Gorn, the problems they may present moving forward, and a golden moment that TOS fans must have been shrieking about in excitement. And in the end, Pike stands on his bridge faced with a decision that pulls at every fiber of his being, a decision that pits his natural instincts against a Star Fleet edict concerning the Gorn. Anson Mount delivered some really nice work in those final seconds of the episode, emoting the turmoil within without a word. Well done.
This is your SPOILER ALERT. There are SPOILERS ahead.
A planet that’s technically outside of Federation space is colonized and the Enterprise has stopped by to help with inoculations and other issues when the Gorn show up, offer up a graphic detailing where they feel the borderline is, and the fight is on – both mentally and literally. Making matters worse, Star Fleet has ordered the Enterprise to stay on its side of the demarcation line, something that sits poorly with Captain Pike as there are members of is crew down there, as well as those of the Cayuga, including Capt. Batel. When the Enterprise enters the system, they see the remains of a destroyed Cayuga and immediately start to plan a rescue – regardless of Star Fleet’s dictate.
And from there we get a dizzying array of happenings, including some smart machinations that allows Pike and a small away team to make it to the surface and find a few survivors (always, always use the debris field as your cover). But I have to say, I do have some confusion about the Gorn as an entity. On the surface, this species would appear to be a human-eating, dinosaur-looking monster. They seem mindlessly in search of food and something to kill. Yet, they are an advanced space-faring race. They travel the system, they develop advanced weaponry and invasion technology, space suits and show every indication of being an advanced society.
I admit that I’m having a little trouble reconciling those two parts of the Gorn – flesh-eating, screaming monsters and the advanced, intelligent civilization. I suspect, given how the finale ended, we will get a little more clarity on just how this seemingly monstrous creature is able to do all those wonderful things. There’s certainly a leadership structure and leaders of their society – and we’ve seen they will work together in cohesive groups.
Seeing them show up in massive ships, etc., and create an invasion disruption device,has proven a struggle for me to come to grips with. I look forward to further clarity on just what makes the Gorn tick. I mean, they are apparently negotiating with the Federation on some issues, so though they seem to be a species of few words, yet can communicate on a higher level, it would appear. Anyway, that’s a personal observation. The Gorn are, at this point, completely fascinating to me and I want more clarity on what makes them tick.
It’s also worth noting that Star Fleet anticipated some conflict with the Gorn many months before, creating specialized weaponry designed to be effective against them. Beaming in “Box 32” to his ready room, Pike signals that things are about to get very real. So real, in fact, that Pike and his away team eventually run into a very interesting person once on the surface. He leads them to some survivors in hiding. What a fun moment to meet a young Montgomery Scott in the midst of this terror. And his creative engineering prowess is on full display from the outset. Once again, a fun little tie-in to TOS.
Kudos to Martin Quinn’s take on Scotty. The walk, the talk, the whole vibe is a tremendously spot-on Scotty vibe, while also incorporating some of the elements of Simon Pegg’s take on the legendary Star Fleet engineer. There’s a nice melding of Quinn, Pegg and James Doohan to make his surprise appearance a delight for Star Trek fans. I’m already a fan. And the feed into TOS is so well done.
From there, it’s a race to save the survivors while appearing to adhere to the call for restraint from Star Fleet. Meanwhile, aboard the Enterprise, Spock is dealing with the apparent loss of Christine Chapel, who was attached to the Cayuga to help with medical issues down on the planet. She’d beamed up to the Cayuga just as the attack began. And with the saucer section of the Cayuga floating in space with a huge chunk of it blown out, the assumption is she’s gone.
It’s so interesting to watch Spock deal with the human side of himself. Things ended poorly with nurse Chapel and he laments what happened and wanted to apologize. He now faces the very human emotion of mourning and emotional pain. I think it’s this struggle that leads him to concoct quite the plan to sneakily maneuver the remains of the Cayuga saucer section into a “natural” orbital decay, then steer it into the device on the planet that is blocking communications, transporters and other ship-wide systems. The plan is simple, like Pike’s shuttle ploy earlier, he’ll just float in the Cayuga’s debris field and make his way to the saucer section, attach some small rockets and gently “steer” the section into the path needed.
Fortunately, Chapel is alive and surviving on the wreck of the Cayuga and the two will eventually find each other. But not before battling a Gorn soldier, complete with space suit, and defeat it in hand-to-hand combat. Personally, Spock using a chunk of metal to break open the Gorn’s head covering was a glorious moment. Klingons would certainly honor that effort. It’s a wonderful arc, a touching moment, and a reminder how complicated this relationship is from both of their standpoints. But there’s little time for apologies, as they make it back to the Enterprise just as Captain Pike and some of his away team get back.
That’s when things go haywire, which leads us to that powerful final scene with Pike on the bridge contemplating a decision that we’ll have to wait until season 3 for him to make. The Gorn figure out what’s happening and before the Enterprise can beam their people and the survivors off the surface, the Gorn beat them to it and snag those folks. To top it off, Star Fleet is trying to call the Enterprise off, now that the Gorn have decided to start shooting.
Again, Pike is faced with leaving his people on the Gorn ship and withdrawing, knowing that they’ll be breakfast, lunch and dinner for the Gorn, or doing a very Pike/Kirk thing and do something about the situation. Pike going contrary to Star Fleet’s edict? Makes you wonder, again, about the Gorn. Can they be reasoned with? Are they capable of legitimate negotiations, is there a level of Gorn that are much more evolved? Are we just gonna go Rambo on the Gorn and get into it, which would surely start a war? As Pike stands there staring out at the Gorn ship, knowing full-well what their captivity might mean for the people, Mount does a great job of letting us read the turmoil on his face. He says nothing, just stares instensly.
I’m also curious about Captain Batel’s impending battle with the Gorn biologicals infection. It’s what eventually led to Hemmer’s sacrifice in season 1. Chapel promises no quit in trying to save Batel. To say Pike has a lot on his mind would be an understatement. To say season 2 of Strange New Worlds was a string of hits over 10 episodes would not. There was excitement, struggle, revelations, plenty odes to different Star Trek offerings, and so much fun. Some episodes were better than others, but judging by the social media take, that kind of ebbed and flowed depending on who was watching. With Pike looking out the viewscreen contemplating the future, he wasn’t just looking for answers for himself, but for the viewer as well.
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