Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is on a roll that doesn’t slow down with the most recent episode, “The Elysian Kingdom.”
Warning: this post contains spoilers of this episode.
Dr. M’Benga has been searching for a cure for his daughter, Rukiya’s, deadly disease, and because of that, he’s had to keep her in the Enterprise’s transporter buffer to keep the illness from killing her. Every night, he reads to her from her favorite book, a fairytale with kings, queens, and wizards. And when the Enterprise gets trapped in a nebula with a lonely entity, that books comes to life, and Rukiya is healed.
The fairytale scenes are hilarious with Captain Pike as a cowardly chamberlain, La’an as a giddy princess, and Ortegas as the protector of Dr. M’Benga’s King Ridley. Add in Spock as a villanous wizard, Hemmer as his wizard brother, Nurse Chapel as a mystic healer, and Number One as a huntress, and you have the makings for a wild ride. But we can’t forget about Cadet Uhura who takes her place as the evil Queen Neve, playing the part with panache and just the right amount of wickedness that would give Cinderella’s evil stepmother a run for her money.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds hit it out of the park with “The Elysian Kingdom.”
It would seem the fairytale alone would be enough to carry the episode as there are hijinks galore, but there is so much more to this story because Rukiya’s healing comes at a price. If she stays aboard the Enterprise, the disease will return. But the entity gives Dr. M’Benga another choice. Rukiya can go with her and live her life free of the illness. But the doctor will have to live without her.
Tears are shed when Rukiya said she wants to go with the entity, but she’s only gone a minute when she returns as a full-grown woman and tells her father of the joyous life she’s had. It’s a bittersweet moment for Dr. M’Benga who didn’t get a chance to watch his little girl grow up. But she’s happy and free of pain. And she’ll never know death. That’s more than any father could ask for.
The actors who are bringing these characters to life are perfect for their roles. They switch from their Starfleet personnas to characters in a fairytale with ease, all taking on opposite characteristics. (No one could ever accuse Captain Pike of being cowardly, yet, the fairytale version of him beats feet at the first sign of trouble.)
Overall, “The Elysian Kingdom” was one of the best episodes of the series so far. Not because of its over-the-top dive into a fake kingdom but because of it’s resolution to a situation that had caused Dr. M’Benga such heartbreaking pain. Though it hurt for him to let his daughter go, he believed she would have a better life. And she did. Now he (and we) can hope to see the adult Rukiya in the future.