Review: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – Season 2, Episode 1 "The Broken Circle"

15 June 2023
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds returns for its highly anticipated second season with "The Broken Circle," and while the premiere episode delivers an enjoyable and thrilling adventure, it does have some uneven moments. The series continues to excel in its blend of throwback, adventure-of-the-week storytelling and character-focused arcs, but it also leaves viewers questioning if some of the initial magic has faded.

Picking up from the season 1 cliffhanger, where Commander Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn) was arrested for concealing her true nature as a genetically modified Illyrian, the episode begins with Captain Pike (Anson Mount) reaching out to Una via a futuristic video call. 

Determined to help his friend, Pike embarks on a mission to find assistance, but to the audience's surprise, this turns out to be the last we see of him in this episode. The absence of Pike leaves a noticeable gap and makes the new season feel slightly off-kilter from the start.

"The Broken Circle" struggles to establish a clear focus on whose story it wants to tell. Is it a Spock-centric episode, as we witness his ongoing struggle with his emotions after the events of the previous season? 

Or does it belong to Dr. M'Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) and Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush), who finally receive some shared backstory? 

Additionally, the reappearance of La'an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong), who left the Enterprise in the previous season to assist an abandoned child, lacks dramatic weight and fails to make a significant impact.

Despite the lack of focus, the episode eventually finds its footing with a thoughtful and exciting journey for Spock, M'Benga, and Chapel. Spock, brilliantly portrayed by Ethan Peck, navigates the emotional aftermath of breaking down his mental barriers to confront the Gorn in the previous season. Peck's performance captures the essence of a young and conflicted Spock, beautifully blending vulnerability with the responsibility of a seasoned officer. His struggle with command, complex emotions for Nurse Chapel, and the weight of difficult decisions highlight the depth of his character.

The episode introduces Carol Kane as Chief Engineer Pelia, a fascinating new addition to the crew. Kane's character brings a unique perspective as a member of the Lanthanite species, which has masqueraded as humans for centuries. Pelia's connection to Spock's mother, Amanda, promises intriguing interactions, particularly as Captain Pike grapples with his own mortality. Kane's performance, although deviating from traditional Starfleet mannerisms, is captivating, and her character's background holds great potential.

The plot unfolds with the crew of the Enterprise embarking on an unsanctioned mission into Klingon space, involving stolen starships, a crime syndicate, and the threat of reigniting war between the Federation and the Klingons. While the adventure provides suspense and action, it also allows the show to delve into Chapel and M'Benga's relationship and their shared history from the Klingon war. Jess Bush and Babs Olusanmokun have excellent chemistry, and their performances shine in this episode, revealing the depth of their connection.

One of the strengths of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is its ability to balance episodic storytelling with fresh and unexpected twists. The season 2 premiere continues this trend by avoiding the typical catch-up recap or a lighthearted reintroduction. Instead, it dives straight into complex character dynamics and high-stakes situations. The decision to focus on other characters while sidelining the main protagonist, Captain Pike, in the first episode showcases the show's confidence in its ensemble cast and their ability to carry the narrative.

The episode maintains the show's high production value, with impressive visual effects and set design that capture the spirit of Star Trek while incorporating modern cinematic techniques. The action sequences are well-executed and intense, adding excitement and energy to the narrative.

In conclusion, "The Broken Circle" sets the stage for an exciting and thoughtful second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. While the episode may suffer from some uneven storytelling and underutilized characters, it still delivers an enjoyable and thrilling adventure that fans of the franchise will appreciate. The series continues to challenge expectations and bring fresh perspectives to the Star Trek universe, promising another fantastic season filled with exploration, character growth, and engaging storytelling with the growing threat of the Gorn...


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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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