We get a re-balance of terror in the season finale of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, in which Captain Pike (Anson Mount) visits tomorrow’s Enterprise. The episode was written by showrunners Henry Alonso Myers & Akiva Goldsman, and directed by Chris Fisher.
The Enterprise is on the edge of the Neutral Zone. The Enterprise and the USS Cayuga are visiting Outpost 4, which needs supplies and updates.
Pike is cooking breakfast for Captain Batel (Melanie Scrofano) in his quarters using leftover spaghetti. Batel says she’s heard rumors that the Romulans are making a new weapon and Pike dismisses them as bogeymen.
Speaking with Commander Hansen Al-Salah (Ali Hassan), Number One (Rebecca Romijn), Spock (Ethan Peck), and Pike discuss updating Starbase 4. But when an enthusiastic Maat Al-Salah (Chris River) enters, Pike recognizes the name as one of the cadets Pike will be injured attempting to rescue. Overwhelmed, Pike excuses himself.
Una catches up with him, recognizing the name. Matt is one of two cadets who won’t survive.
In his quarters, Pike looks at Maat on a PADD. He begins dictating a letter warning him not to join Starfleet. That’s when an older version of Pike appears in his quarters. He’s wearing a uniform reminiscent of those we saw in the original crew Trek movies.
Days of Future Pike
Pike says he won’t take Future Pike’s word that he’s not an imposter. In response, Future Pike shares a tragic personal story about Pike’s first pony. He’s here because the letter Pike is writing will wreck the future.
Future Pike says the letter will cause a domino effect that will mess up the future. He explains he was sent by the Klingon monks on Borath. He’s brought a time crystal to show Pike the effects of changing his fate. Pike touches the crystal and finds himself presiding over a wedding.
Judging by the bride (Megha Sandhu) and groom (Ian Rayburn), Pike has arrived at Stardate 3198.4 (seen in another timeline in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Balance of Terror”). Soon, all decks are called to red alert.
Spock informs Pike that Outpost Four is under attack. Pike arrives on the bridge and is briefed by Lieutenant Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding). Neither Outpost Two or Three responds. Ortegas (Melissa Navia) guesses it’s all the Romulans. Pike says he’d like to avoid a war.
In the Ready Room, Pike compares notes with Spock. They determine he has traveled seven years into the future. Pike insists he is not mentally compromised and offers to participate in a mind meld with Spock. Spock informs him that the accident in question took place six months previously. No one was even hurt.
Because Pike was never injured, he is still in command of the Enterprise. In the prime timeline, some other captain of the Enterprise must have commanded it differently. Pike must act in accordance with his inclinations to determine what the awful event that inspired Future Pike might have been.
The Farragut (NCC-1647) is close by, the ship on which La’An (Christina Chong) is serving. An audio-only message from Outpost 4 describes the situation: they had been attacked by a disappearing enemy with a high-energy plasma weapon. The video activates and the damage is extreme.
A Romulan Bird of Prey de-cloaks. They ignore the Enterprise’s hail and destroy Outpost Four. Mitchell (Rong Fu) is horrified. The Bird of Prey cloaks and vanishes. The Farragut arrives and the Enterprise is hailed by its captain: James T. Kirk (Paul Wesley).
Spock says they can track the location of the ship thanks to micro-lensing of background stars. Kirk is impressed by Spock. Spock suggests that the energy required by the Bird of Prey may require so much power they may have hobbled the use of their sensors. They determine the ship is heading towards the Neutral Zone.
Kirk posits that they could shadow the ship to buy them some time. If Enterprise and Farragut match course and speed, they may appear as nothing more than a shadow on the enemy vessel’s sensors.
Pike consults with Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte) about his brother Jim. He describes his brother as a “whole deck” of wild cards. Sam says Jim is a pain in the ass, but he’s as fine a captain as Starfleet has. But he does like to bend the rules often.
The Enterprise detects a comet. Its tail is reflecting a code on an unused EM frequency: a feed from the Romulan bridge. No one knows what the Romulans look like. They put it on screen and see the Romulan Commander (Matthew MacFadzean). Romulan physiology bears a striking resemblance to Vulcan physiology. Spock raises an eyebrow.
Kirk on the Enterprise
Thanks to Chief Kyle (André Dae Kim), Kirk beams aboard the Enterprise. In the ready room, Ortegas questions Spock’s loyalty in light of the revelations. Spock says the similarities were a surprise to him. Kirk says it is suspicious that they should discover it just now, wondering if the Romulans allowed them to see the transmission in order to sow discord.
Mitchell says that the Romulans are on a bearing to return to the Neutral Zone within an hour. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) asks if destroying the ship wouldn’t be an act of war. Both M’Benga and Ortegas vote against war, they just disagree about how to accomplish that.
Spock suggests the Romulans may retain the marshal philosophy of his Vulcan forerunners. He says they, therefore, have no choice but to attack.
Kirk responds to Pike’s desire to avoid violence. He proposes a plan. They use the particle distortion caused by the Bird of Prey passing through the comet’s tail to mount a pincer move. Kirk agrees to neutralize rather than destroy the ship. In a supplementary log, Pike wonders if Kirk would start a war if Pike weren’t here to stop it.
The plan fails. The Bird of Prey appears behind the Farragut. Kirk orders attack pattern “Tiberius Four” but the ship is critically hit by the Romulans. Pike fires phasers in an attempt to draw their fire. Mitchell clips them. Uhura hails them to retain their focus. The ship fires the plasma weapon at the Enterprise. It sustains damage but survives. Meanwhile, the Farragut’s status is critical.
The crew of the Farragut beams over to the Enterprise before their life support fails. In the transport room, Pike reunites with (now-Commander) La’An. He asks her about Una. La’An says Una is not allowed contact.
Kirk confronts Pike about hesitating. Pike admits Kirk is more willing to take risks than he is, and reminds him that he’s on the Enterprise after the Farragut had been destroyed.
Spock informs both Captains that the Bird of Prey has been damaged: they are unlikely to make it to Romulus. The Enterprise could overtake the damaged ship. Uhura hails the Romulans and Pike “takes a risk” by sending a message. He says they can make a choice besides war: a temporary cease-fire, so they can talk for the first time in a century.
The Commander responds. Pike argues for empathy. A Romulan Subcommander (Mathieu Bourassa) is unimpressed. The Commander questions the wisdom of Pike’s appeal. Pike offers more reasons for a ceasefire: two hours to remedy their respective situations. The Commander agrees.
Ortegas protests but Pike brokers no argument. Spock says senors suggests the Romulans have stopped forward movement. Kirk wonders what they’re doing over there.
The Subcommander calls the ceasefire Federation “weakness.” He argues that they have the advantage and should concentrate on repairing weapons so they can strike before the two hours toll. The Commander emphasizes rank and experience, citing the fact that the elder Romulan served with the Subcommander’s uncle, who died during the Reman campaign.
The Commander says they can’t afford pride. They must try for peace. But the Subcommander will get his war if it does not succeed.
Pike tells Spock so much has gone wrong, yet he believes the worst is coming. He asks what happened to Una, and Spock says she was sentenced to the Federation penal colony. She was convicted on deception.
Next Pike tells Kirk they can’t afford pride. Kirk admits he would have tried to blow the Romulans out of the sky but it wasn’t his call. Kirk questions whether they can trust the Romulans. He proposes a backup plan (if Pike allocates the resources). Kirk points out Romulan reinforcements could be called. Pike says they can’t do the same because they’re too far from the Federation. Kirk borrows a shuttle.
In the Jefferies Tubes, Spock repairs the phaser array. He communicates with the familiar-sounding Engineer (Matthew Wolf), who insists he is “not a miracle worker.”
Two hours have passed. They contact the Commander. Pike suggests that instead of resuming hostilities they rely on a type of strength humans have: seeing an ally instead of an enemy. His words seem to reach the Commander.
But then a perimeter alert announces the arrival of a Romulan fleet. The Subcommander alerted them, disobeying his Commander.
The Romulan Praetor (Carolyn Scott) contacts Pike and demands surrender or they’ll be destroyed. But another perimeter alert hails the arrival of ships that appear to be Federation on the scanner. The lead ship is the shuttle. Kirk tells Pike that the Romulans don’t know what Starfleet ships look like, so they’ll believe the mining drones he’s gathered up are an armada.
Pike orders Spock to work faster. The Praetor contacts Pike again. Kirk is patched in.
The Praetor denies knowledge of the Bird of Prey attacking Federation outposts. She smiles and signals for the original ship to head to the center of the dispute. The Praetor calls it a “culling.”
Pike contacts the Commander. The Commander says he did not call for the armada, but he is doing what he was called to do. “I regret that we meet in this way,” says the Commander. “You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend.” The Commander says it is his duty to die, and he accepts his fate. He hopes his sacrifice will lead to an end to the conflict.
The Romulan fleet fires on the ship and destroys it. The Praetor calls to accept Pike’s surrender. She says Pike’s affinity for peace has sealed his fate. Enterprise initiates evasive maneuvers as the Romulan fleet attacks. Kirk directs the drones between the flagship and the Romulans to allow it time to repair the warp drive.
Kirk beams aboard as engines come online and the Enterprise narrowly escapes.
The Romulans declare war against the Federation on all known subspace frequencies. The Enterprise is damaged. Weapons systems took a direct hit.
In medical, Pike finds the bride being mourned by the groom. He locates the wounded Spock. According to Chapel (Jess Bush), massive cerebral trauma means he’ll never be the same.
Shortly, Future Pike arrives to speak with Pike. The war with the Romulans kills millions. Plus, Pike seems to have traded his fate for Spock. And Future Pike knows that Spock is the best bet for peace with the Romulans: he must survive. The fate of the galaxy relies on Spock’s future.
Captain to Captain on Strange New Worlds
Before Pike is returned to his present, he shares a drink with Kirk. Pike says he believes he was supposed to meet Kirk. Kirk acknowledges that Pike tried for something better, and Pike says, “Tried and lost.” Kirk asks Pike if it ever occurred to him that sometimes, you can’t avoid a fight.
Soon Pike returns to his present. He deletes the letter to Maat. Later, he looks up Kirk’s file. Spock arrives and Pike says he’s glad to see him. Pike admits if he shirks his fate, another will sustain it in his place. Spock deduces he owes Pike a debt of gratitude (see: “The Menagerie”). They express their importance to one another.
A montage sees Pike’s gratitude for his bridge crew. A happy ending?
Not quite. Next, Batel beams aboard. She apologizes and arrests Una for being an Illyrian (see: “Ghosts of Illyria”). Pike almost resists but Una tells him not to; she’s known it might happen for years. Batel says she doesn’t like it but has no choice. Una is beamed away.
Left behind, Pike looks directly at the audience. You can almost hear Kirk’s advice ringing in his ears.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is available for streaming on Paramount Plus.
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