This post contains spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ ninth episode, “All Those Who Wander,” and the Alien franchise. Please proceed with the extremest of cautions.
The newest episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, “All Those Who Wander,” written by Davy Perez, directed by Christopher J. Byrne, and released for streaming today, Thursday, June 30, 2022. It follows the crew of the Enterprise as they travel to the site of a crashed Federation starship for a recovery mission. From the very first scene, this episode pays heavy homage to the first three movies in the Alien franchise. The invocation of the classic sci-fi stories results in a singular episode of Star Trek.
First and foremost, the original Alien (1979) gets plenty of love throughout “All Those Who Wander.” Written by Dan O’Bannon from a story by O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, Alien was directed by Ridley Scott. Just like “All Those Who Wander,” one of the very first scenes in Alien is around a breakfast table. This gives you an innate sense of the community around both crews, which their alien encounter will soon shatter.
Another striking parallel between Alien and “All Those Who Wander” is the ship from which the extraterrestrial threat originates. In both cases, the crashed spaceship looms above the windswept horizon of the planet, a definite visual homage. But the Enterprise is investigating a crashed Federation vessel. In Alien, the previously infected ship belongs to yet another unknown alien species.
In “All Those Who Wander,” we see an unknown alien species play the role of patient zero: Buckley (Carlos Albornoz). Using an extraterrestrial puppet for this narrative role also gives Strange New Worlds the chance to replicate the shocking “chestburster” scene from Alien. While Buckley’s death is shocking, it is perhaps more appropriate for a Paramount Plus streaming series than having a human’s body explode might be.
No One Can Hear You Scream
There was only one interloper on board the Nostromo in Alien, and there are multiple baby Gorn in “All Those Who Wander.” However, the overall tone of the episode closely resembles the first movie. For one, much of the tension during these scenes derives from sound effects and the horror of the implied presence of the extraterrestrials. And for another, the isolation experienced by the away team as the Enterprise completes another mission plays an important role.
Alien also featured an examination of hysteria, embodied by Lambert (Veronica Cartwright). We also get a somewhat hysterical character in “All Those Who Wander”: Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte). But with the support of the rest of the away team, he manages to maintain his composure.
Finally, La’An (Christina Chong) utilizes high-pressure gas and a spacesuit as she defeats the final Gorn. This is heavily reminiscent of the conclusion of Alien. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) uses similar techniques as she defeats the xenomorph in the cramped confines of a Nostromo escape pod.
The sequel to Alien was 1986’s Aliens. Written by James Cameron from a story by Cameron, David Giler and Walter Hill, Aliens was directed by Cameron. Ripley returns to LV-426 after several decades of being cryogenically frozen. She soon discovers a xenomorph infestation has gotten out of hand in the decades since the conclusion of Alien.
In many ways, Aliens is a more action-oriented movie than Alien, and “All Those Who Wander” feels closer to the latter in terms of tone. However, Aliens features an important character role that is echoed in this episode. This is Newt (Carrie Henn), a young girl who has survived the xenomorphs for much longer than most. Newt gives Ripley a new perspective on herself and what the value of having survived the events of Alien might prove to be.
Likewise, in “All Those Who Wander,” we meet Oriana (Emma Ho). She is a young girl who has survived sustained Gorn attacks on the M-Class planet where she was found and on board the Penegrine. Newt helped Ripley see how the horrible experiences she’d been subjected to might help others avoid similar fates. Similarly, Oriana could play an essential role in La’An’s ongoing healing from her trauma at the claws of the Gorn.
However, Newt was unceremoniously killed off-screen between Aliens and Alien 3. Hopefully, we will see Oriana and La’An have a happy ending instead.
Interestingly, James Horner, the composer who also scored Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, scored Aliens. Clearly, composer Nami Melumad had both of Horner’s scores in mind when working on the reliably excellent soundtrack for this episode.
Alien 3 (1992)
1992’s Alien 3 heavily re-treads themes and concepts from Alien. It was written by Giler, Hill, and Larry Ferguson from a story by Vincent Ward and directed by David Fincher. Nevertheless, there is still a significant element borrowed from Alien 3 by “All Those Who Wander”: the sacrifice of Ripley.
In the final scenes of “All Those Who Wander,” it is revealed that the Gorn has impregnated Hemmer (Bruce Horak). Rather than risk the death of the remainder of his crew, Hemmer sacrifices himself by throwing himself off a cliff.
This sacrifice heavily evokes Ripley’s death in Alien 3. After learning she has finally been infected, she hurls herself into molten lead in order to ensure the incubation cannot be completed.
However, there is another point of reference for Hemmer’s sacrifice: again, The Wrath of Khan. At the conclusion of that movie, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) sacrifices himself “for the good of the many.” This plot point is foreshadowed by the telepathic communication between Spock (Ethan Peck) and Hemmer. This is a retcon that helps us understand where Spock’s motivation at the conclusion of Khan.
“All Those Who Wander”
Throughout the first three Alien movies, the recurring and omnipresent true antagonist is the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. This corrupt stand-in for capitalism is responsible for repeatedly placing the crews in danger. The motivation? To harness the profit potential in the difficult-to-contain xenomorphs, of course.
This leads to plenty of self-serving behavior. This is embodied by company-programed android Ash (Ian Holm) and company man Carter Burke (Paul Reiser). In both cases, the characters are not motivated by survival. They instead serve only themselves and capitalism. Thus they often prove to be equally or more dangerous than the xenomorphs themselves.
But in Strange New Worlds, capitalism isn’t a problem. In the post-scarcity society of the Federation, it isn’t necessary to turn on one another to solve problems. As a direct result, more members of the Enterprise away team survive than make it through any of the Alien movies.
The tagline for Alien states, “In space, no one can hear you scream.” But that’s only true if you aren’t surrounded by members of your tight-knit, utopian community, as is true for the Enterprise crew. Ripley deserved to have people like this watching her back.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams new episodes every Thursday on Paramount Plus.