Star Trek: Strange New Worlds didn’t bungle canon, the franchise did.
In Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ latest episode, “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow”, we see La’an Noonien Singh and an alternate realities James Kirk travel back in time to stop a bombing from going off in early 21st century Toronto. The duo is successful, but in the alternate reality Kirk dies, and La’an is forced to save herself and her lineage when she spares a very young gKhan Noonien Singh’s life…30 years after he was supposed to be in power.
For some reason, Singh, who should’ve been well into his 50s by now, was just born some 10 or so years earlier. This means Singh never took over a grouping of countries in the early 1990s as was established in canon during the original series and its later movies.
Fans were mad about this and I was too, until I realized one thing; Strange New Worlds didn’t break canon, Star Trek did. There are probably a dozen or so examples to point out where Star Trek screwed around with the timeline to make these changes necessary, but one really sticks out; Star Trek: Voyager. Voyager went back to 1996 and surprise surprise, there was no Eugenics War, no Khan, and no Third World War.
Sure, the series has tried to retcon these things, even suggesting that the Eugenics War happened in the background of the global theater, and was more covert than not but still, that doesn’t help things either.
So Star Trek: Strange New Worlds had to try and salvage it.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds tried to fix time and failed
Strange New Worlds didn’t make this an issue, but they didn’t fix it either. Khan is at least 35-to-40 years younger than he should’ve been, the Third World War clearly never happened and to make matters worse, they somehow shoehorn a Romulan spy who was on Earth for 30-some years.
Somehow that Romulan spy was able to delay everything that Star Trek has built up over the course of decades and it’s not even clear how. How was Khan still conceived, just 40 to 50 years later? There are biological questions that come into play there. That’s not something that needed to change. They could’ve pointed the time travel plot to the late 90s and still had it make sense.
They didn’t fix things, and arguably, they made it worse. It wasn’t their mess in the first place, but they didn’t make things better.
It’s fair to say that, despite this being a very good episode when you don’t think about things, Strange New Worlds and Star Trek as a whole need to stop doing time travel. Writers don’t know how to get it right, there’s too much retconning that happens, not enough respect for the source material and a whole lot of headaches come out of trying to do it.