The sixth episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach,” gives Captain Pike (Anson Mount) and Doctor M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) alike a chance for development on Majalis. It was written by Robin Wasserman & Bill Wolkoff and directed by Andi Armaganian.
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“Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach”
A Captain’s Log for Stardate 1943.7 informs us that the Enterprise has arrived in the Majalan System. Pike was last there a decade earlier on a rescue mission. The current mission is more routine: a cartographic survey.
In the elevator, Pike runs into a sore Cadet Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding). This week, her duty shift rotation has her working security under Lt. La’An Noonein-Singh (Christina Chong). Pike warns Uhura to watch out for lesson number seven.
On the bridge, La’An imparts lesson two: “there are no breaks in security.” Lt. Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia) finishes stating the lesson. Everyone remembers what La’An has to teach. But soon Number One (Rebecca Romijn) reports a distress call from a non-Federation vessel. Spock (Ethan Peck) explains that a ship is under attack. The Enterprise approaches and Pike broadcasts a warning.
In response, the attacking ship fires on Enterprise. Ensign Mitchell (Rong Fu) reports minimal damage. But the ship continues to attack. Uhura attempts to send a warning shot. The movement of the ship causes the shot to hit a key point. Then the attacking ship crashes.
Pike and Number One meet the survivors in the transporter room. Chief Kyle (André Dae Kim) beams in three people. One of them, Alora (Lindy Booth), recognizes Pike.
Pike explains that Alora met him years ago. He rescued her during the pulsar incident. There’s obvious chemistry, to the point that Pike is acting dopey. Meanwhile, Elder Gamal (Huse Madhavji) tends to the First Servant (Ian Ho). The man insists the child be brought to sick bay. He says he is his father, but “strictly in a biological sense.”
In medical, M’Benga is reading to his daughter, Rukiya (Sage Arrindell). She complains that he’s repeating a chapter of the storybook. M’Benga explains this is because he can only allow her out of the buffer for a short period of time. He uses an automatic timer to ensure she can unobtrusively be returned. As he explains the timer activates and she beams away. Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush) informs him he has another patient.
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In the ready room, Alora explains that the child is the First Servant. He embodies the sacrifice of her people. She says he has forsworn his family
since all of Majalis is his family. They were returning from a retreat when they were attacked. According to Alora, there is a nearby alien settlement. But she claims they coexist peacefully.
Alora further explains that the First Servant’s ascension will be taking place soon. She postulates that the attack could have been motivated by a desire for ransom. La’An says they should dispatch a landing party to investigate the ship they shot down.
Alora says an investigation won’t be necessary. Una says regulation compels them to investigate. Alora appeals to Pike and says they aren’t members of the Federation. Pike replies that they must investigate because the ship fired upon the Enterprise. Alora demures but insists she will accompany him.
Chapel scans the First Servant as the child enjoys M’Benga’s bedside manner. His father checks the First Servant’s quantum-bio implants. Chapel’s scan didn’t detect them because their tech is so advanced. The First Servant explains that the “implants rebuild biological function using quantum mechanics.” Chapel identifies the man as a doctor. Gamal says since his son became First Servant, the boy is his only patient.
M’Benga’s interest is piqued. He says the technology could ensure disease is a thing of the past. The man shares a Majelan saying. “Let the tree that grows from the roots of sacrifice lift us where suffering cannot reach.” Gamal says they have no disease.
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The away team makes an ingress on the crashed ship. “Let your tricorder do the investigating,” La’An advises Uhura. Otherwise, an auto-destruct sequence could be tripped. The crash site is secure, Alora and Spock join. Spock finds a strange device. Alora finds a coin she recognizes.
In the ready room, Alora explains. It’s an “oath coin,” given to guards charged with protecting the First Servant. However, the coin is scratched. Alora postulates this defacement of a sacred symbol means danger.
Pike proposes they remain safely aboard Enterprise. Alora says she has duties. Peaceful transfer of power is the cornerstone of society on Majalis. Pike proposes sending guards, but she says they don’t welcome outsiders. So Pike proposes he accompany her as a friend instead.
A City Above
Majalis is an ornate city suspended about a lava planet. Pike walks with Alora as she receives an update from an assistant. There are lots of activities on her schedule. They all have names like “the Festival of Gratitude.” Alora calls for guards.
In medical, Spock asks Gamal about the device he found. Gamal says he does not recognize it. Spock says he believes it is a neural dampener. The Enterprise’s Science Officer believes it was intended for the First Servant. Spock and the First Servant have a conversation about subspace relays and radial polarization.
Alora addresses the guards with a lot of language about “sanctity.” She asks them to present their coins. One guard has defaced his coin. When confronted, the guard flees. Pike, Alora, and the other guards give chase. They corner the guard and Alora asks what motivates him. The guard says he wants to “renounce this floating hell.” He shouts “long live the First Servant.” He puts a weapon to Alora’s neck. She counters and kills him instead.
In the lounge, Lt. Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte) approaches Uhura. He tells her La’An is too hard on the cadets. La’An appears and he makes himself scarce. La’An gives Uhura some data chips she liberated from the crash site. Technically this is against protocol. La’An says that’s sometimes necessary when it comes to security.
Plus, Uhura’s special skills mean she can translate the chips without using the proper avenues. This means bending the rules is possible. Fortunate, since the proper procedure would take weeks.
M’Benga is dumbfounded by the efficacy of the Majalan tech. Gamal says Majalis tech could be used to heal the patient. However, it is illegal for their tech to be shared with other races. Gamal says an alliance between his world and the Federation could exist, making it possible to share the tech.
Suffering and Sacrifice
On Majalis, Alora invites Pike into her bedroom. This foregoes the need to post a guard. As the pair lay in bed, they flirt and reminisce on their intertwined fates. Alora says it’s rare to know what’s in your future. Pike shares what he knows about his accident.
Federation medicine won’t be able to help him. But Majalan medicine might be a different story. Alora says Pike could partake of the tech if he chose to relocate to Majalis. She says he would be welcome.
Uhura’s linguistic acumen has paid off. She’s discovered something on the chips. By parsing their dialogue and analyzing the roots of their dialect, she’s made a discovery. La’An says they should take it to Pike. Further, since it’s Uhura’s work, La’An insists she present it.
In medical, M’Benga arrives with a tray of food. He discovers the First Servant is playing a game with Rukiya. It’s all innocent fun, but you can tell M’Benga is anxious about his daughter’s health. The First Servant explains he deduced Rukiya’s presence based on conversation he overheard. M’Benga swears the First Servant to secrecy.
Pike returns to the bridge to receive Uhura’s report. Uhura explains the chips were traced to a nearby colony, Prospect VII, a L-Class planet (not very hospitable). The surprising part? Language on Prospect has a common root with the language on Majalus. The Prospect colony must be an offshoot of Majalis.
Why leave paradise for a subsistence-level existence? And why did the Majalans lie to Starfleet?
Gamal and the First Servant are in the transporter room. Gamal demands to be returned to Majalis. The pair unexpectedly beam out. Kyle says it wasn’t him. Someone else locked on to them when their shields were down. Scans reveal one nearby ship: a combat cruiser attempting to flee. Gamal beams back in, alone.
Red alert! Pike returns to the bridge. Scans indicate the First Servant is aboard the cruiser, which is attempting to flee. Mitchell deploys a tractor beam. The ship tries to go to warp anyway. The stress creates a catastrophic strain imbalance. Mitchell increases their structural integrity field. Pike tells her to disengage but it’s too late. The cruiser explodes. Everyone’s horrified.
Pike informs Alora. While Pike agrees it is a tragedy, he doesn’t understand Alora’s reaction. She insists that if the First Servant doesn’t ascend, Majalis will “fall out of the sky.”
Pike asks how someone could beam a person off the Enterprise and Uhura says she thinks she can explain. In the ready room, she accuses Gamal. He accessed biopatterns for both the First Servant and himself before going to the transporter room. La’An backs up Uhura’s deductions. Gamal isn’t talking.
Spock brings Pike to a hallway. The First Servant wasn’t beamed to the cruiser. He was beamed to a crate in the Enterprise. The child insists he be sent to the ceremony on Majalis.
On the planet, the First Servant attends a celebration for the ascension. Alora tells Pike it wouldn’t have happened without him. Pike has lots of questions.
In the brig, Una confronts Gamal. Gamal explains the neural dampening device’s purpose. It was to prevent the First Servant from fulfilling his duties during the ascension. He learns the ceremony has begun. Gamal comes clean about his betrayal. He was motivated by a need to save his son.
Because of his role in the proceedings, Pike is invited into the Sacred Chamber to witness the ascension. Una attempts to contact Pike. Electromagnetic interference prevents communication or beaming.
In the chamber, the First Servant “consents” to his fate. The former First Servant is removed. We see the child has become a desiccated mummy. Pike says it has to be stopped. Alora says he chooses it freely. The First Servant is placed in the device, which is activated. Pike is incapacitated.
First Servant Ascendant
In Alora’s room, Pike says he has to rescue the First Servant. Alora says even if he could get into the Sacred Chamber, freeing the child would prove fatal. They don’t know how the device works. They only know that the machine needs the neural network of a child to operate.
Alora says that they respect the sacrifice by honoring it. They keep the First Servant in mind. She asks if Pike can honestly say no child suffers for the Federation. She says on Majalis, they are honest about it. Further, Alora points out that the Federation has no jurisdiction here. Pike beams back to the Enterprise.
In medical, Ga’mol tells M’Benga he is relocating to Prospect VII to help save the next First Servant. Gamal offers to share what knowledge he can with M’Benga. Not a cure, but possibly the first step towards one.
As the Federation flagship heads away from Majalis, Pike sips a drink and watches the planet recede.
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