22 June 2023

Following from The Broken Circle which focussed on Spock's choice to steal the Enterprise (classic Star Trek), episode Ad Astra Per Aspera (translation of the Latin means "to the stars through difficulties'') focuses on Number Two's troubles of her arrest for lying on her admission to Star Fleet Academy.

“Ad Astra Per Aspera” in particular reveals why Una’s personal commitment to Starfleet runs so deep. 
“It was fantastic just getting that opportunity to sink my teeth into that,” Romijn says. “And it just shows the deep level of trust between Pike and Una that she really relies on him. She's done hiding and living her lie, and she wants her crew to know who she really is.”

strange new worlds star trek crew season 2

On to the review:

Ad Astra Per Aspera continues the show's streak of quality storytelling. Picking up on central plot threads from the previous season, this episode revolves around Number One (Una Chin Riley), her genetic modification, and an investigation by Starfleet.

Rebecca Romijn shines in this episode, taking center stage after being a peripheral character at times in the first season. The episode delves into questions about the bureaucracy and morality of Starfleet. Captain Pike seeks legal counsel for Number One, resulting in a captivating court case that forms the crux of the episode. 

The bond between Pike and Una is beautifully portrayed, highlighting Pike's willingness to go to great lengths to defend her character and clear her name. This episode encapsulates the utopian morality of the original series and remains timely with its subtle commentary on identity, race, and gender, delicately handled without overstating its intentions.

In that regard, it's classic Star Trek, despite what I suspect some purists will think.

Once again, the episode shifts the attention away from Pike, allowing the ensemble cast to flourish and showcase their talent. The exploration of Number One's character is a welcome addition, offering insight into her significance to the wider Enterprise crew and thus viewer. The introduction of Melanie Scrofano's Batel as a more antagonistic figure as the lawyer with a shared past to Number Two resonates.

"Ad Astra Per Aspera" never feels like it's dragging its heels, thanks to its focus on the court case and the smaller central cast. The episode remains riveting throughout, delving deep into the connections between the characters and displaying their humanity. It showcases the show's depth and quality beyond exploration, evoking a sense of desperation from all involved, including Pike, La'an, and Uhura, as they strive to help Una clear her name.

This episode adds layers to an already stellar show, tackling themes of morality, race, gender, and more. The performances across the board are commendable, with Rebecca Romijn truly coming into her own as Una Chin Riley, providing a moment in the spotlight and further fleshing out her backstory. The delicate handling of Starfleet's flaws emphasizes that even the revered institutions have their imperfections.

That classic Prime Directive question eh?

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds continues its winning streak in season two, promising plenty of twists, turns, and delights for both longtime fans and newcomers. While the direction of the show may have departed somewhat from Gene Roddenberry's original vision (which is fine as generations change), it has taken a bold step in challenging the Federation's utopian facade. By breaking away from the somewhat traditional Trek formula, the show offers something potentially more interesting, relevant, and relatable.

"Ad Astra Per Aspera" expertly balances a compelling courtroom drama with character development and thought-provoking themes. Fans of Star Trek's previous courtroom episodes (refer The Measure of a Man from Star Trek Next Generation and all Q's bullshit) will appreciate the strong performances and impassioned speeches reminiscent of the franchise's best efforts. 


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
From exploring the latest news and theories to discussing the classics, I aim to provide entertaining and informative content for all fans of the genre.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Trek fan or simply curious about the world of science fiction, The Astromech has something for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this journey through the stars!
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