This post contains spoilers for the second season premiere of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
The second season premiere of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds wasn’t what I expected, but that’s part of the reason why the series is so exceptional. Fans most likely were looking forward to the exoneration of Lt. Commander Chin-Riley, but that portion of the season one finale was put on hold with Captain Pike on a hunt to find the one person that can help.
On a dangerous mission and in command of the Enterprise, Lt. Spock has his first chance to lead the reduced crew into a dangerous situation based on a signal the ship received from La’an Noonien Singh who has been away for months. And while the storyline was vastly different from anything we saw in season one, there was one standout star who really made the episode shine. Ethan Peck.
Ethan Peck embraces his Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ character in an exceptional manner
Lt. Spock is grappling with his emotions after his confrontation with the Gorn last season, and he has yet to get them back under control like the Spock we see on Captain Kirk’s Enterprise. But that serves him well in this episode, especially in the last few minutes.
Spock is forced to make a decision to fire on a Federation ship carrying Dr. M’Benga and Nurse Chapel, and as he gives the command from the captain’s chair, the tears in his eyes mirror the pain he feels at the loss. He’s devastated at the thought of having lost Nurse Chapel just when he’s realizing what she means to him.
The wonder of Peck’s acting continues when Nurse Chapel and Dr. M’Benga are beamed safely aboard the Enterprise, but Chapel is not breathing. While doing CPR, Spock tells her he waited for her and then boldly demands that she doesn’t die. It’s an engrossing, short scene that ends with Chapel gasping for air and asking him if he had to be so rough.
Only a few minutes later, Spock is in sickbay looking down at Chapel who is still recovering from her trip out into space without an EV suit. As Dr. M’Benga tells him Chapel is going to be okay, Spock says he has no words for what he feels with such raw emotion, we feel his confusion, pain, and surprise. And this is precisely the reason why Ethan Peck is the best choice to portray Lt. Spock. Though he doesn’t emotionally resemble the Spock we meet years later, he is enduring the uncertainty of emotions while working his way toward the resolute Vulcan of Kirk’s Enterprise. And Peck is doing a borderline perfect job!