Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is the best Strange New Worlds episode yet.
Some Star Trek episodes are so strong, fans know from the first time they see them, “This is one is going to be a classic.” Think “The Best of Both Worlds” or “In the Pale Moonlight.” For that matter, think “The City on the Edge of Forever.” I’m confident “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” the third episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season two, is going to stand the test of time as a classic episode of not only this series but also the whole franchise.
No Star Trek episode in recent years has made me laugh so loud or cry so hard as “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” did. I felt completely unprepared for the intellectual and emotional punch this episode packed. What begins as yet another temporal trek from the future to the audience’s present day—think “Tomorrow is Yesterday,” Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and “Future’s End,” among others—ends as a suspense-filled, intellectually engaging, emotionally devastating jewel of a story.
I’ve seen Star Trek fans comparing “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” to “The City on the Edge of Forever.” I think such comparisons are more than justified. Like “City,” this episode places its protagonist in an increasingly high-pressure crucible and pits love in an impossible conflict with the fate of the future itself.
Stunning performances and clever canon revision make Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow stand out
Christina Chong outdoes herself in “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.” La’an Noonien Singh has been a compelling character since Strange New Worlds’ first episode. But in this episode, she shows a wider range than she has before. When she tells Jim Kirk, “People are usually difficult for me,” she shows a vulnerability La’an, as Enterprise chief of security, can’t afford to show.
Ironically, even though Ethan Peck is on hand in Strange New Worlds, La’an feels more like the series’ “Spock character” than does Spock himself. Although La’an is human, her isolation from others—partly imposed by society, partly self-enforced—alienates her from the crew, and her fierce professionalism rarely falters. When she dissolves in tears at this episode’s end, we have a deeper understanding of how deeply painful her loneliness is and more empathy for her than we’ve had before.
Kudos also to Paul Wesley, who gives a far more satisfying interpretation of James T. Kirk than he did in last season’s “A Quality of Mercy.” Although the Kirk we see in Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow —apart from that final “long distance call” with La’an—is no more “our” Prime timeline Kirk than was the Kirk in “A Quality of Mercy,” this Kirk, from the “United Earth Fleet” that shouldn’t exist, feels more like the character William Shatner first performed.
Look no further than the beautiful scene in which Kirk looks lovingly at the Tall Ship Kajama at the Toronto Harbourfront. He does not quote John Masefield’s “Sea-Fever” as William Shatner’s Kirk has (twice), but the moment confirms he shares that other Kirk’s yearning for and love of exploration. We believe this Kirk when he tells La’an, “If we can only save one timeline… I’d rather live in yours.” He would not only be with La’an but also be able to be an explorer instead of a soldier.
Finally, I admire Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow for attempting to tackle the troublesome timeline surrounding Khan Noonien Singh—and successfully doing so! The main interest in Khan’s appearance at the episode’s end (Desmond Sivan, the first actor of South Asian heritage to play the role) is dramatic, since La’an finds herself confronted with a real-life version of the old thought experiment about killing Hitler as a baby. But by putting young Khan on Earth in the early 21st century as opposed to the late 20th, the episode also effectively answers the question of why Star Trek: Deep Space Nine placed Khan in the early 22nd (Admiral Bennett mentions the Eugenics Wars of “two hundred years ago” in “Doctor Bashir, I Presume?”).
Undercover Romulan time agent Sera (Adelaide Kane, in a thoroughly winning performance) laments, “All this was supposed to happen back in 1992, and I’ve been trapped here for 30 years trying to get my shot at him!” While Khan’s existence is a fixed part of Trek’s future history, his exact point on the timeline is constantly fluctuating as fallout from unseen temporal war activity—which also nicely ties in the mythos of Star Trek: Enterprise.
For all these reasons and many more—including Carol Kane’s amusing and adorable work as Pellia, whom La’an and Kirk apparently inspire to become an engineer; the hysterical twist on Kirk’s inability to drive a car in “A Piece of the Action,” here fused with Kevin Timeline Kirk’s rock-and-roll “experience” driving a stolen car as a kid; and the understated but effective social commentary about the absence of sunsets on Lt. Kirk’s Earth—Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is an instant Star Trek classic.
It is surely the strongest episode Strange New Worlds has yet offered. It sets the bar sky-high for the seven episodes still to come in this sophomore season.