Star Trek: Strange New Worlds harkens back to the old sci-fi days in latest episode.
The latest episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, “All Those Who Wander,” utilizes many tropes of the science fiction genre, paying homage to some of the most well-known pieces of sci fi lore, such as Jurrasic Park and even a nod to the Terminator. It is entirely dependent upon the viewer which piece of sci-fi history will come to mind, while viewing the latest adventure of Captain Pike and his crew. For example, for my fellow brilliant Trek writer, Rachel, it brought to mind the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park.
The wonderful thing about looking at the latest episode in such a way is that no opinion is wrong, just a different interpretation of the same episode, being drawn from that particular viewers experience with science fiction.
When I saw the Gorn hatchlings bursting from the bodies of the characters screen or the adolescent Gorn running around the ship, spewing venom and latching onto the necks of their victoms, it immediately brought to mind a franchise that I think all sci-fi fans hold in great reverence—Alien.
Why Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode resembles Alien
During the summer of 1979, Director Ridley Scott would deliver his perfectly blended film, mixing pure science fiction and a brand of horror yet to be replicated. It gave birth not only to one of the greatest actresses of our time in Sigourney Weaver but one of the most well-known science fiction series in film to date. This perfectly mixed cocktail of action, sci-fi and horror was simply entitled “Alien,” and in the summer of 1986, James Cameron would direct Weaver in the sequel film “Aliens.” (He also directed Terminater, which Trek gives a nod to at the end of this episode.)
Picking the most memorable scene in the first Alien movie would be close to an impossible task, but an argument could certainly be made for the scene where the “baby” alien bursts from the chest of one of the crew members. During my viewing of the new episode, as the Gorn hatchlings burst not only from their eggs, but also from the back of a blue alien refugee named Buckley, it was that iconic scene from that iconic film that sprang immediately to my mind. And the similarities to the Alien franchise did not stop there.
At different points in the episode, Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley is embodied through the character of La’an Noonien-Singh. Noonien-Singh reminds me less of Ripley from Alien and more of the battle hardened Ripley of Aliens.
When faced with the Gorn hatchlings, the crew relies heavily on the experience of Noonien-Singh to combat the vicious alien creatures. She, like Ripley, approaches her alien enemy with the fear, thh experience, and respect that the Gorn demand.
We are also reminded of Ellen Ripley from Alien 3 during the final heart breaking moments of the episode, when Hemmer (who’s body now contains the unhatched Gorn eggs) hurls himself from the open doors of the starship into an icey chasm to kill the last of the Gorn hatchlings and protect his friends. This scene is reminiscent of one of the final scenes in the somewhat dubious Alien 3 where Ripley throws herself into the furnace, killing the alien embryo that is inside of her.
Some could also point to the end of Terminator 2: Judgement Day when Terminator model 101 throws himself into the vat of molten steel, destroying the final Skynet CPU that resides in his own head.
Not only are there several parallels between the Alien franchise and the new episode of Strange New Worlds, but I have yet to mention the most obvious, which is the Gorn themselves. The young adolescent Gorn are much like the Aliens, incredibly agile, extremely violent and aggressivek, and absolutely terrifying.
During this first season of Strange New Worlds, we have already seen the show use multiple different genres as tools for story telling, from classic sci-fi such as body switching, to pirates, and even fantasy, but this is the first time in the series (and possibly in Trek as a whole) that the “monster movie” genre has been truly explored and used to its full potential, and perhaps that is because Trek now finally has the technology to do so, unlike when we first saw the Gorn who somewhat resembled my 3-year olds son’s bath toy.
That is not to say there have not been scary episodes of Trek over the years; there has, but this might be the first episode that has gone full monster movie and carried it out to perfection. Not only was this another fantastic episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, providing 45 minutes of action-packed entertainment, in brought to mind some of the tropes and franchises that caused a lot of us to fall in love with science fiction in the first place.