Charting New Musical Frontiers: Review of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds S2E9 'Space Rhapsody'

04 August 2023
"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" continues to push the boundaries of its own universe with its innovative storytelling, and Season 2 Episode 9, titled "Subspace Rhapsody," is a testament to the show's willingness to experiment and surprise its audience. Since its debut in 2022, the series has dabbled in various genres, from body-swapping comedy to fantasy elements, even crossing over with the animated series "Star Trek: Lower Decks.

However, this time, the showrunners, Henry Alonso Myers and Akiva Goldsman, have taken it a step further by delivering the first-ever full-fledged musical episode in the "Trek" franchise.

The episode starts off with a classic "Trek" setup: the crew of the Enterprise investigating a naturally occurring fold in subspace. What sets this episode apart is the suggestion from Ensign Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) to use music as a means of testing the fold's properties. However, the music causes an unexpected tear in space-time, leading to an alternate reality where the crew members sing their most intense and private emotions.

The integration of musical elements into the episode's narrative is a bold move, and it pays off remarkably well. The cast's vocal abilities shine, with standout solos for each main character. Capt. Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), Cmdr. Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn), Lt. Spock (Ethan Peck), Lt. La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong), Nurse Christine Chapel (Jess Bush), and even visiting Lt. James T. Kirk (Paul Wesley) contribute to the musical numbers with impressive performances that reflect their characters' emotions and struggles.

strange new worlds space rhapsody review episode

The effort and dedication put into creating this musical extravaganza are evident. According to Myers and Goldsman, the episode's development took more than six months, involving collaboration between the cast, crew, composers Kay Hanley and Tom Polce, and writers Dana Horgan and Bill Wolkoff. The songs were crafted around the actors' vocal strengths and tailored to their characters' arcs, creating a cohesive and engaging musical narrative.

The integration of pre-established storylines and character development into the musical format is commendable. The episode addresses ongoing character conflicts, such as Spock and Chapel's break-up, La’an's unrequited feelings for Kirk, and Uhura's sense of isolation. These storylines are seamlessly woven into the musical numbers, adding depth to both the characters and the episode's overall emotional impact.

Myers' insight into the challenges of creating a musical episode is evident in the meticulous planning required to make it a success. The episode's emotional core takes precedence, breaking the expectation of a light-hearted comedic musical and instead delivering moments that tug at the heartstrings of the audience.

The standout performances in "Subspace Rhapsody" are numerous. Celia Rose Gooding's powerful rendition of "Keep Us Connected" as Uhura is a definite highlight, showcasing her vocal prowess and emotional depth. Similarly, Christina Chong's portrayal of La’an's struggles and revelations is both heartfelt and compelling. Jess Bush's Chapel shines in her ensemble number, capturing the character's optimism and determination.

While the episode is character-driven, it also effectively incorporates "Trek" lore, such as references to Dr. Roger Korby and Kirk's complex relationships including that of Carol Marcus. You may recalled that she is the Project Genesis scientist seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and her yet-to-be-born child is Kirk’s son, David. 

"Subspace Rhapsody" doesn't merely use the musical format as a gimmick; it leverages the medium to explore characters' innermost feelings and struggles, providing a fresh perspective on their growth and relationships. The episode's commitment to the emotional arcs of the characters elevates it beyond a mere musical experiment.

When La’an sings “How Would That Feel,” we see her watch from episode 3, “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.” This was the watch she modified to find the secret facility during the time travel mission with the alternate version of Kirk (with whom she fell in love).

The show's ability to successfully integrate a musical episode into the "Star Trek" universe is a testament to its creative team's willingness to take risks and its cast's versatility. "Strange New Worlds" continues to surprise and captivate its audience, demonstrating that even after decades, "Trek" can still explore new frontiers, whether they're in space or in the realm of musical storytelling. With a poignant ending that leaves us humming along, "Subspace Rhapsody" adds another layer of complexity and depth to the ongoing adventures of the Enterprise crew.

Those dancing Klingons are never gonna live it down though eh?


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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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