This article includes details about the Strange New Worlds season 2 finale, “Hegemony.”
I think Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 was consistently stronger than season 1—which, while uneven, wasn’t too shabby. Seeing the voyages of the U.S.S. Enterprise under Anson Mount’s Captain Christopher Pike has been fun. I’ve appreciated all the show has done to reinvigorate and enrich legacy characters—especially Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) and Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush), but also Number One (Rebecca Romijn) and Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun). And I admit Christina Chong as new character La’an Noonien-Singh has stolen my fannish heart.
“Hegemony,” the Strange New Worlds season 2 finale, was a far stronger finale than the first season’s finale, “A Quality of Mercy.” Some fans grouse about Strange New Worlds’ take on the Gorn, but I find this version of the reptilian aliens hair-raising and skin-crawling.
But I don’t think “Hegemony” stuck Strange New Worlds’ sophomore season landing. The episode relied too heavily on explicit, extended callbacks to a previous Star Trek story. It introduced yet another legacy character into the series’ mix for no necessary reason. And it seemingly fails to understand what makes a cliffhanger ending a great cliffhanger ending.
“Hegemony” borrowed too heavily from Star Trek: First Contact
Spock’s placement of propulsion rockets on the Cayuga’s hull so the Enterprise could use the hull to take out the Gorn deflector shield was, at times, a beat-for-beat repeat of the maglock release sequence in Star Trek: First Contact (1996).
Twenty-seven years ago, the site of Starfleet officers taking a stroll on a starship hull was novel. We’d only seen it happen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). And while it’s not a plot device the franchise has overused since, Strange New Worlds has now used it twice in two seasons. Number One and La’an signed the hull as part of “Enterprise bingo” in last season’s “Spock Amok.”
The plan to weaponize the Cayuga’s hull was a clever and compelling plotline, but the visual callbacks to First Contact—right down to shots of Spock’s magnetic boots affixing themselves to the plating—called too much attention to themselves. It’s as though the creative team behind the Strange New Worlds season 2 finale didn’t trust themselves to create a first-rate action sequence of their own, when they had all they needed to do so.
“Hegemony” introduces Montgomery Scott into the mix for no real reason
Sure, Scotty’s long been regarded as a “miracle worker”—although the franchise has also called that reputation into question, by Scotty’s own admissions in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) and the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Relics.” The plot of “Hegemony” called for a character who could “tech the tech” like none other, and Scotty is, to that extent, an acceptable choice.
But as the always-worth-reading Ryan Britt points out for Inverse, Scotty’s entrance into Strange New Worlds means the series “now has five of the eight regular, or semi-regular characters from [the beginning of] The Original Series.” If we see Sulu in season 3—whenever that may be—the series will have all the characters it needs to be a complete TOS reboot. (It wouldn’t surprise me if we see Pavel Chekov as a child, too, before all is said and done.)
Martin Quinn makes a highly enjoyable Scotty. He’s more reminiscent of Simon Pegg’s Scott from the Kelvin timeline films than of James Doohan’s original Scotty, but his performance was great. But is Scotty really the only amazing engineer Starfleet has? What about Chief Jay, about whom we’ve still learned nothing beyond their name? The Strange New Worlds team getting what it needs to reboot TOS makes the current series’ world feel even smaller.
“Hegemony” ends with a ho-hum cliffhanger
I’ve seen some Trek fans online lamenting how long we’ll all have to wait to find out what happens next.
But the Strange New Worlds season 2 finale felt as though it was deliberately trying to recreate the intense drama and excruciating suspense of “The Best of Both Worlds,” when there simply is no comparison.
We know the Enterprise itself and all our legacy characters must survive whatever encounter with the Gorn follows. One of the few brand-new characters might die, given how readily the show killed off Hemmer (Bruce Horak) last year, but it feels unlikely a punch of that sort could pack the same wallop twice.
We know Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte), at least, must survive the abduction, because he has to die on Deneva in the events of the first-season TOS episode, “Operation: Annihilate!” And while its true we don’t know Captain Batel’s fate, her life or death simply doesn’t carry much emotional weight because we don’t know much about her as a character. She has been defined almost exclusively as Captain Pike’s love interest—which, frankly, makes her death feel more likely, and mostly in the service of Pike’s character development.
Again, “Hegemony” was a solid episode, with plenty of satisfying action and engrossing drama. But the Strange New Worlds season 2 finale shows this series still has some room for improvement when it comes to having its conclusions fire on all thrusters.