There are some places in the universe you don’t go alone, as demonstrated by the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 finale, “Hegemony.” The episode was written by Henry Alonso Myers and directed by Maja Vrvilo.
Marie Batel (Melanie Scrofano) of the USS Cayuga records a Captain’s log for stardate 2344.2. The Cayuga is just outside Federation space, orbiting a colony on Parnassus Beta. The colony was designed to resemble the “old midwestern United States.” The Cayuga is visiting to assist with agriculture and provide vaccinations.
Nurse Christine Chapel (Jess Bush) administers the last of the vaccinations. She’s hitching a ride on the Cayuga to arrive early at the archeological medicine program to which she was accepted in “Subspace Rhapsody.” Chapel beams up to the Cayuga. Batel begins crossing the town square. She receives a subspace transmission on her PADD. It’s Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) from his quarters on the USS Enterprise.
Pike and Batel chat and flirt. They even joke about the previous episode’s musical numbers. It’s obvious their relationship is in a good place. Pike tries to offer Batel some advice and she reminds him she does this for a living. He admits he just misses her. But then the signal is abruptly lost. In his quarters, Pike looks at the necklace Batel gifted him in “Among the Lotus Eaters.”
On Parnassus, Batel asks one of the ensigns on her crew if they’re having issues with comms. However, he’s unable to contact the Cayuga. A strange sound in the sky attracts their attention. What appears to be a Starfleet shuttle streaks through the sky, leaving a trail of smoke behind. The ensign identifies it as Starfleet. The shuttle appears to crash, but the ensign’s attention remains on the sky.
Batel follows his gaze to reveal an enormous vessel approaching the planet. The ship’s shadow falls across the town square. “My god,” says Batel. On the Enterprise, Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) receives an encrypted message from the Cayuga to any nearby ship. It’s a distress signal from Batel, calling for immediate assistance and revealing they are under attack by the Gorn. On the Enterprise bridge, Pike, Spock (Ethan Peck), Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn), Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia), and Jenna Mitchell (Rong Fu) all react to the message. Pike orders the ship to head to Parnassus at full speed and requests to be connected to Admiral Robert April (Adrian Holmes) on a secure line.
In the ready room, April and Pike communicate via subspace transmission. April tells Pike that the Federation is in a precarious place with the Gorn Hegemony. He says whatever is happening here, it’s technically happening outside of Federation space. The incident could lead to war with the Gorn, which Starfleet wants to avoid (see also: “The Broken Circle“). Pike says the Gorn attacked them. April corrects that they attacked a colony outside of Starfleet jurisdiction. He says they need to know why, and further states they don’t understand the Gorn.
This Time It’s War
Pike says he’s seen the Gorn up close and they’re monsters. April counters that “monster” is just a word for something they don’t understand yet. Pike replies that “Sometimes a monster is just a monster.” April says Pike can’t exacerbate the situation. He says he knows Pike is close to Batel and Pike can’t let that color his judgment of the situation. Pike asserts that it won’t.
The Enterprise arrives at Parnassus and drops out of warp. Pike calls for a yellow alert. Returning to the bridge, he orders Ortegas to slowly bring the Enterprise around to the far side of the moon. This reveals a debris field composed of the remains of the Cayuga. With the fates of both Batel and Chapel unknown, the mood on the bridge is grim.
Cayuga’s saucer section has been disconnected from the remainder of the ship, which has been obliterated. Roughly two-thirds of the saucer section remains intact. On the Enterprise bridge, Pike says they should make no assumptions about the fate of the crew. From his station, Spock states that his scans are not functioning. A counter-signal from the planet’s surface is negating all scans, communications, and transporter signals between the ship and the planet.
La’An Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) theorizes that the Gorn may possess an interference field. “A weapon to deploy during invasions,” she postulates. “Renders their enemies blind, unable to communicate or move.” Pike believes Batel and many of her crew may be on the surface. Una suggests he remembers his training. Any survivors will be attempting to contact “anyone who will listen.” This could include sending signals using fire and smoke (or giant Starfleet deltas in the sand). Pike orders observation to begin.
This Time There’s More
They’re interrupted by the detection of an incoming warp signature. Pike calls for a red alert. Spock believes it to be a Gorn hunter ship (see also: “Memento Mori“). The ship arrives. Pike orders La’An to prepare phasers but to hold fire. Uhura receives secure communication from Starfleet from outside of the damping field. Starfleet is relaying an image sent to them by the Gorn. It depicts Starfleet on one side of a line and Parnassus and the Gorn on the other. Starfleet orders the Enterprise to remain on the Federation side of the line.
In the ready room, Pike tells the command crew he believes his people are being held in Gorn territory. Pike says he doesn’t plan on leaving anyone behind, even in violation of Starfleet’s orders. While he’ll take volunteers for the mission, he’ll also go alone if necessary. Spock volunteers and the rest soon follow. Pike suggests Una, Spock, and Uhura remain on the Enterprise so their unique skills can be utilized to their utmost.
Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte) enters the ready room and volunteers. He cites his fear the last time he saw the Gorn (in “All Those Who Wander”). Sam says he’d like another chance to study them up close. Specifically with a phaser. La’An cautions them that phasers might not be enough. Pike calls Transporter Chief Jay (Noah Lamanna) and calls for crate 32 to be beamed directly into the ready room.
Pike opens the crate and reveals the “Gorn Protocol Box,” which contains weapons and specifications to counter a Gorn attack. All Starfleet ships have begun carrying them since the Gorn started amassing on the edge of Federation space. But they still have to reach the surface.
Shuttle of the Dead
On the bridge, Una states she has tried plotting several courses, but none will avoid the Gorn sensor range. Ortegas asks about the debris from the Cayuga. She points out that the Gorn won’t shoot at that because they already did. Pike summarizes that if they disguise the shuttle as space debris they might avoid being shot down. He wants Ortegas to pilot the shuttle. She’s finally joining a landing party.
Soon Ortegas, Pike, La’An, Sam, and M’Benga are in the shuttle traversing the debris field. Ortegas makes a joke that may be in poor taste as they enter the Gorn scanner range. On the Enterprise bridge, Spock reports the shuttle seems to go undetected. “Because they look like space garbage,” Uhura says. “The old zombie movie trick.” She and Una explain the strategy of disguising oneself as a zombie to evade detection by the undead. The shuttle passes out of the Enterprise scanner range.
As the shuttle enters the atmosphere, the space junk disguise begins to burn and fall away. The passengers are tense, except Ortegas. She’s waiting to start the engines until they’re under 1500 meters to stay beneath scans. Ortegas reassures them that she did this 100 times during the war. She grins as she executes the maneuver. “You were born for this, Erica,” Pike tells her.
Love in a Battlefield
On the Enterprise Spock continues to scan the Cayuga for life signs. He theorizes it may be possible to find a frequency gap so as to circumvent the damping field. Una says she doubts anyone is alive amid the Cayuga’s remains. Spock asserts that spectrographic analysis has confirmed that isolated pockets of oxygen remain intact on the Cayuga. Survival is possible.
Una says she would never ask Spock not to hope. She comments on her and Spock’s affection for Chapel. Spock admits it didn’t end well between them. But these things seem trivial in the face of death. He wants to apologize to her. Una says what happened wasn’t Spock’s fault. Spock holds back tears. He notes that the Cayuga rotates once every two hours, and the sickbay will soon be visible. He hopes this will reveal a possible glimpse of life. But Mitchell observes that the sickbay is gone.
On the surface of Parnassus, the landing part observes the Gorn damping tower. La’An confirms there was one on the breeding planet. Her brother theorized it was a beacon to trap passers-by. The party’s analysis confirms it blocks any signals from the surface to space. La’An reports there are no bogeys in the area. The party continues into the ruins of the colony.
La’An states they’ve arrived at the site of the colonist’s last stand. Pike says with a population of 5,000 there are bound to be survivors. He notes La’An made it out. Sam detects a bogey.
The party takes cover. A young Gorn appears, about the size of a medium dog. La’An fires upon it and kills it. She observes that the new phaser settings work. Sam questions constructing an elaborate tower and then sending babies to face them. La’An states that they spread their eggs to soften up a planet to be conquered. M’Benga says the youngling looked hungry. This could mean they’ve exhausted their food supply.
But the detection of multiple incoming bogeys means they need to hide. Pike orders them into the barbershop as the sound of more Gorn fills the air. Through the boarded windows, the party observes many Gorn younglings.
On the Enterprise, Uhura approaches Chief Engineer Pelia (Carol Kane). Uhura says she needs Pelia’s help with a problem. Pelia says she’s listening but has to keep working on recalibrating the deflector shield power conduits. Uhura explains she’s trying to determine how the Gorn are blocking communications. She’s discovered she needs the help of an engineer. Uhura says she has a crazy theory. Pelia begins to walk away but tells her, “Don’t sugarcoat it, I love a crazy theory.”
La’An is confused as to why the Gorn younglings are cooperating instead of fighting with one another. Pike wonders if this means there’s something about the Gorn they’ve yet to discover. He postulates that instead of fighting them, they might be able to find a way to reach them. La’An says, “Ever the optimist.” Pike counters that “Sometimes hope is a choice.” La’An says he’s told her that one before. Pike says maybe he needed to hear it. La’An says if Batel can handle Pike she can handle the Gorn.
Sole Survivor Scotty
The Gorn vacate the area. But Sam picks up signs of human life down the street. The Enterprise party follows the signal to a gore-spattered room. Sam locates a beacon in a corner. As he picks it up, the entire party is trapped inside a forcefield. This is revealed to be the work of Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (Martin Quinn). He explains that the beacon was designed to mimic human life as a lure for Gorn. At the request of Ortegas, Scotty releases the party from the trap.
After introductions have been conducted, La’An states that she doesn’t recognize Scotty from the Cayuga manifest. Scotty explains he was from USS Stardiver, a solar research vessel. The Stardiver was monitoring solar flare activity one system over when it was overwhelmed by the Gorn. Scotty was the sole survivor. He escaped by shuttle.
Scotty jury-rigged the engines to increase their capacity and figured out how to hide in plain sight. “When an armada of human-eating lizards come my way I can get quite … creative,” Scotty admits. Pike asks if any of the Cayuga crew survived. Soon, the party is in a gore-covered midwestern-style diner. Batel and Pike reunite. Pike says they’ll get some people out. Batel says that isn’t enough. Pike asks about Scotty’s escape.
Shortly after, Scotty explains that the Stardiver was located one system over observing a red supergiant. The star released a series of coronal mass ejections or CMEs. Sam explains these are like solar flares, but more violent. The uncommon phenomenon seemed to summon the Gorn. Sam notes that locust cycles can be triggered by the environment. Perhaps the Gorn were set off in the same way by the CMEs.
But how did Scotty evade detection? He did a quick assessment of their scanning tech and determined how they detected one another. It’s a similar setup to Starfleet transponders. Scotty built a Gorn transponder using equipment from the Stardiver’s solar array. This made his shuttle appear as a Gorn ship to their scanners. While they did eventually realize he wasn’t Gorn, leading to damage, he nevertheless made an escape. However, he can’t make another one unless they have another solar array he can cannibalize.
Ortegas approaches M’Benga and offers her assistance as he cares for the injured. She tells him she’s leaving the planning to the captains. M’Benga tells Ortegas that Chapel beamed back to the Cayuga. He says if Chapel was here, she’d tell them to pick up the pace. Ortegas does a pretty good impression of Chapel. But she says that Chapel does a better impression of her.
On the Enterprise bridge, the arrival of several additional Gorn hunter ships is detected. Spock and Una’s conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Pelia and Uhura. In the ready room, the quartet discusses Uhura and Pelia’s findings. The duo has pinpointed the location of the anti-beacon. However, they can’t fire weapons at the location without starting a war.
Pelia confirms they can’t fire weapons. However, they already know the Gorn don’t respond to space debris. By causing a piece of debris to fall on the anti-beacon, they can destroy it without creating further conflict. And the Cayuga saucer section is just the space junk for the job.
“With the right calculations and a few well-placed retrorockets, we can make it appear the Cayuga’s orbit is decaying naturally,” explains Pelia. A few last-minute altitude adjustments can be made during the descent to assure the target is hit. Then, before the Gorn realize what’s going on, they can beam everyone up and escape. Spock says placing the rockets is a near-impossible job that no human could complete. He volunteers. Because of his Vulcan heritage, he is the only candidate for the task.
In the blood-spattered diner, Pike awakens in a booth across from Batel. He attempts to leave without detection, but Batel stops him. She accuses him of playing the hero. Pike admits he’s headed for Scotty’s shuttle to retrieve the disguising device. Batel tells him he isn’t doing it on his own. Pike says he’d be happy for the company.
Scotty says they’ll never be able to retrieve it, as it’s fused to the system. He apologizes for dropping eaves but points out they were discussing the sensitive material right in front of his sleeping spot. Although he’s terrified, Scotty feels he owes it to the crew of the Stardiver to accompany them. While they’ll try to stay off the main street and avoid the Gorn, Pike gives Scotty a phaser in case.
Above the planet, the Cayuga saucer drifts amid the debris. Aboard the ship are many corpses. However, Chapel has indeed survived. A warning that oxygen is approaching critical levels is repeated by the Cayuga computer. Chapel restores power and functionality to the life support for one hour. She says she can work with that.
Chapel in Space
Through a window, Chapel spots the Enterprise. She attempts to use a flashlight to signal them. Meanwhile, Spock crosses the distance between the ships in an E.V. Suit, a crate in tow. He uses his mag boots to land on the Cayuga and opens the crate to reveal the rockets. He begins placing them on the saucer. From the Enterprise, Una observes and reports on his progress. Inside the Cayuga, Chapel spots Spock and begins trying to get his attention. She locates and accesses an E.V. Suit.
On the surface, Pike, Batel, and Scotty have arrived at the crashed shuttlecraft. Scotty identifies the fused portion of the device. He asks Pike for help prying it off. Meanwhile, he asks Batel to search the crates for an ion welder. But amid the crates is a young Gorn. It hisses at the trio menacingly.
Elsewhere Chapel encounters a full-grown Gorn on the Cayuga, wearing a Gorn E.V. Suit and attempting to access the ship’s computer. Chapel is paralyzed with fear. In the crashed shuttle, the young Gorn gets in Batel’s face. But instead of attacking it scurries away. Pike and Scotty are confounded. Batel asserts they got lucky. She says not to waste time questioning it.
On the Cayuga bridge, Spock completes his work. On the Enterprise bridge, Una reports the saucer has begun moving. But on the Cayuga bridge, Spock realizes a Gorn tail has appeared behind him.
Let This Be Your Final Arena
Spock pulls out his phaser, but the Gorn knocks it from his hand. Chapel arrives on the bridge. The Gorn knocks both officers aside. Spock throws himself at the Gorn. The Gorn seems about to break Spock’s suit. But Chapel reaches the phaser before it drifts away in the low gravity. She fires at the Gorn multiple times. The distraction allows Spock to grab the Gorn by the tail and use blunt force to break the Gorn’s helmet. The Gorn struggles in the suit but eventually dies and drifts away.
In the crashed shuttle, Batel reveals she’s been impregnated by Gorn. Meanwhile, the Cayuga saucer begins its descent towards Parnassus. Spock and Chapel escape from the wreckage as it falls. They take each others’ hands as they watch it descend. On the surface, Batel says she’ll sacrifice herself as Hemmer did when he was impregnated. Pike says Hemmer was brave, but he didn’t give them a choice. Batel says her choice is to take a shuttle disguised by the Gorn device and fly it into the anti-beacon, allowing the other survivors to escape. Pike says there must be another way, and she has to let them at least try.
Scotty doesn’t want to interrupt, but he warns them to hold on to something. He’s spotted the incoming saucer, which collides with the anti-beacon and explodes. On the Enterprise bridge, Uhura is contacted by Spock, who requests two to beam aboard. Una contacts Pike. He instructs her to track the colonists and beam them up. Meanwhile, three to beam up for Pike and company, directly to sickbay. He requests Pelia’s presence as well.
Spock and Chapel arrive in the transporter bay. Una welcomes them back remotely but has to immediately request Chapel report to sickbay and Spock report to the bridge. Before they leave the bay Spock calls for Chapel’s attention and apologizes. She says, “Save it. There will be time later.”
La’An, Sam, M’Benga, Ortegas and the surviving colonists prepare to be beamed up in the diner. Soon they are, but it looks weird. Elsewhere, Pike, Batel, and Scotty (with the device in his arms) beam into the Enterprise sickbay. Pike embraces Chapel and then reveals Batel’s condition. Chapel moves to sedate Batel and put her in a stasis field. Batel wants to be taken out if it goes too far. Pike says he isn’t giving up and Chapel agrees.
Pelia arrives, and Pike introduces her to Scotty. But they already know each other. Scotty was one of Pelia’s best students who got the worst grades. He explains the device might keep them safe from the Gorn if it can be fixed.
Gorn Dang It
Pike returns to the bridge for more bad news. A Gorn destroyer has arrived in orbit, with more Gorn ships incoming. Pike needs to get in touch with Starfleet and report what they’ve learned. He says they need time to transport everyone else off the planet. But scans indicate no human life on the planet. Pike asks where the hundreds of people have gone. Spock reads residual transport signals in the center of town. But not Starfleet. The colonists and landing party have been beamed up by the Gorn.
The Gorn begins firing on the Enterprise. Chapel secures Batel in a stasis field, but her wounds look bad. Pelia and Scotty hurry through hallways that are exploding around them. A priority message arrives from Starfleet. April is ordering their immediate withdrawal. “But the Gorn still have our people,” Mitchell protests. Una asks for Pike’s orders. Pike looks at the viewscreen in horror.
To be continued…
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Seasons 1 and 2 are now available for streaming on Paramount+.
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