Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ latest episode, “Among the Lotus Eaters”, would’ve worked better as a flashback episode.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds doesn’t miss, but in my opinion, “Among the Lotus Eaters” is easily the least enjoyable of the series. That’s not a knock against Strange New Worlds, every series that Star Trek has done has had a few duds, from the original series to the Nu Trek era. There’s always a dud and “Among the Lotus Eaters” is easily Strange New Worlds’ least enjoyable encounter.
It didn’t have to be though.
The issue with the episode stems from the core plot; Rigel VII contains an asteroid, whose radiation causes people to forget most things. It’s as well executed as it can be, but it’s not a great premise at all. Especially considering the Rigel VII connection. Instead of doing the cheap and often poorly done “memory loss” episode, Strange New Worlds should’ve done what it was on the verge of doing; telling the story that started Star Trek.
“Among the Lotus Eaters” should’ve looked at the beginning of all Star Trek
Considering that Rigel VII is mentioned in the very first pilot of Star Trek, and is the first planet mentioned by name, it would stand to reason that the episode and return to the planet would revolve around the pilots’ first-ever story.
In the pilot, we are weeks removed from a mission to Rigel VII that saw the crew suffer great harm. Spock’s walking with a limp, and Pike is dealing with the fallout. Things aren’t good. The Strange New Worlds episode could’ve actually shown us what transpired on the planet. How things got so bad, why Spock was hurt, how did the thought-dead crew members end up that way.
It could’ve been a great callback to a time when Pike was both less confident and more free. To when Spock was a bit younger and Una Chin-Riley was finding herself. You could’ve told the story from their three perspectives, with each of them telling the tale to someone else, from different points of view.
Spock could’ve told Chapel, Pike to M’Benga, Chin-Riley to La’an Noonien Singh, and Erica Ortegas. Or have it just be Ortegas, and Singh could wander around the ship from story to story as each person slightly tells a different version of what happened.
There was so much promise and potential for the premise of returning to Rigel VII. It’s a shame none of it was fully delivered upon.