Doctor Joseph M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) is the focus of the eighth episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season one, “The Elysian Kingdom.” Written by Akela Cooper & Onitra Johnson and directed by Amanda Row, the episode is perfectly timed with a midsummer’s night release on June 23, 2022.

Chief Medical Officer’s personal log, Stardate 2341.6. The Enterprise is surveying the Josian Nebula, so M’Benga is concentrating on treating his daughter, Rukiya (Sage Arrindell). She begs him to finish the storybook featuring King Ridley, Queen Neve, Sir Roth, and Princess Talia. Rukiya says she wishes the Huntress would get together with Sir Adya and rescue the King. M’Benga says that’s the story: Ridley must choose between giving up his greatest weapon (the Mercury Stone) or rescuing Talia. 

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Rukiya asks, “what if they could change the ending?” M’Benga says that when she grows up, she can write her own stories. Then she can have any ending she chooses. Rukiya is returned to the pattern buffer.

Pike’s Hair

Number One (Rebecca Romijn) arrives to ask why the away team isn’t cleared. Una asks if M’Benga has been working too hard. She reminds him of his duties as the Enterprise’s Chief Medical Officer. 

Spock (Ethan Peck) informs Captain Pike (Anson Mount) that Cadet Uhara (Celia Rose Gooding) reports all data buoys have been collected. The survey is complete. Pike says he enjoys the scientific missions. He orders Ortegas (Melissa Navia) to set a course to the nearest starbase. But they don’t move.

Ensign Jenna Mitchell (Rong Fu) reports all systems nominal. Spock detects a flux from within the nebula. Hemmer (Bruce Horak) reports the warp core seems functional. Spock postulates the nebula may have affected the warp bubble and recommends impulse. However that doesn’t work either. Ortegas wangs her head.

Pike (Anson Mount) as Roth in "The Elysian Kingdom."

All Photos Cr: Marni Grossman/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Pike calls M’Benga to the bridge. But when the doors open, everyone is wearing new, medieval costumes. The set has been redecorated. M’Benga is the King, and now Pike is Roth. 

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Apothecary of M’Benga

M’Benga says he’s here to see Ortegas. Pike doesn’t recognize the name, and instead refers to Ortegas as “Ayda” and himself as “Roth.” M’Benga recognizes the characters from Rukiya’s book. Roth suggests the King sit on the throne (the Captain’s chair).

M’Benga scans the ship but the computer (Alex Kapp) detects no abnormalities. He wonders if he’s hallucinating. He says he needs to go to Sick Bay. Roth asks where the “bay” is located and whether or not he should commandeer a ship. 

M’Benga travels through decoration-decked halls to medical. He’s greeted by a transformed Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush). He uses the tricorder to scan himself: readings normal. M’Benga scans Chapel. Her dopamine levels are higher than normal.

Ayda arrives and says that although he asked not to be followed, “Princess Talia” insisted. Enter La’An Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong). M’Benga recognizes the character from the book. She’s carrying Princess Runa (Herself). Talia tells M’Benga that Neve’s Crimson Guard has invaded her kingdom, captured her throne, and imprisoned her subjects. 

Neve wants the Mercury Stone. M’Benga says it is safe. Talia insists M’Benga use the Mercury Stone to save their kingdoms. A scan reveals her dopamine levels are also higher than normal.

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The Wizard

In the hallway, Hemmer is being dragged by “the Crimson Guard.” They are commanded by a transformed Mitchell. Hemmer says he isn’t a wizard, his robes appeared out of nowhere.

Bruce Horak as Hemmer in Wizard's robes.

Talia sics M’Benga on the Crimson Guard. M’Benga says the “woods” are neutral territory according to the Letter of Accords (good thing he knows that storybook so well). The Crimson Guard disregards the Accords. They drag Hemmer away. 

M’Benga reveals he does not have the stone. But the wizard they just saw, “Castor,” does. They must rescue him. 

In a candlelit ready room, Roth describes the tactical situation using an olde Enterprise map (no stellar cartography here). Roth suggests diplomacy and Ayda calls him a coward. M’Benga assures Ayda that if diplomacy fails, Starfall (the sword) can get into some chopping. But they’ll both escort him to Queen Neve. Meanwhile, Talia and Runa will stay behind.

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As they travel through the “forest,” they encounter the brother of the first wizard, “Pollux” (Spock). Pollux tells them they can only rescue Castor by traveling through the Swamp of Infinite Deaths. M’Benga reveals he knows Pollux is Castor’s brother and promises to free him. Pollux agrees to show them a secret way around the swamp.

M’Benga tells Ayda he’s sure they can’t trust Pollux, but says this is the only way to get to Castor. 


“Neve” (Uhura) welcomes M’Benga and company to her Kingdom. Ayda says they’ve been led into a trap, and M’Benga admits he anticipated their capture. Neve demands to know the location of the Stone and M’Benga says he doesn’t know. Pollux says they can join Castor in the “dungeon.”

In the brig, Hemmer and M’Benga swap notes. M’Benga tells Hemmer that everyone is acting strangely because they’re playing characters from a children’s book. But why aren’t they affected?

M’Benga tells Hemmer that in the book, Castor helps Ridley find the Mercury Stone. But Hemmer doesn’t know what Castor knows. Still, they must work together.

Hemmer says that when the event occurred, he felt a “consciousness” press up against his own. Thanks to his years of telepathic training, he was able to push back against it. Hemmer suggests the entity he sensed might have pulled the story from M’Benga’s brain. However, Hemmer is loath to contact the entity again. But he learned the entity is part of the nebula, not on the ship.

Hemmer uses powerful “magic” (science) to escape. Ayda is impressed. 

Neve is livid to learn the prisoners have escaped. She dispatches the Crimson Guard to retrieve them, with Pollux leading them. 

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But in the “woods,” Pollux encounters M’Benga and company. Ayda takes one of the swords from a guard and begins fighting them. Roth flees for the castle due to his lack of bravery. Ayda has fought valiantly but is incapacitated. That’s when arrows take out the remaining guards. It’s Huntress (Number One), an ally.


Huntress and Ayda have some kind of romantic history. But there’s no time for romance.

In engineering, Hemmer says he detects evidence of a brain and consciousness in the nebula. But there’s no body? Huntress says it almost sounds like the description of a diety. Hemmer brings up the thought experiment of the Botlzmann brain. This postulates a brain could spontaneously form in a void. Hemmer suggests this “brain” could have causes the event.

Hemmer suggests that the entity may have connected with M’Benga to rewrite reality. If this is the case, severing the connection could restore it. Meanwhile, Huntress and Ayda bicker like lovers. Hemmer postulates it may have been their differences that drew them together. But M’Benga realizes their intimate relationship is a departure from the familiar narrative.

While Huntress and Ayda never actually meet in the book, M’Benga has another realization. Rukiya hated the ending of the story. She always wanted Huntress and Ayda to team-up and save the day. Hemmer and M’Benga postulate that the entity took the story not from M’Benga but from Rukiya.

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They travel to medical to find Rukiya. However, she is not in the pattern buffer. She was beamed out at 0845 hours. While she’s somewhere on the ship, the computer won’t give him her exact location. M’Benga is concerned about the progression of her illness outside the buffer. Hemmer offers his help.

Spock (Ethan Peck) as Pollux the Wizard.

M’Benga thinks Rukiya might be the only one who can put an end to all this. Unbeknownst to him, Pollux is dropping eaves. He smiles and brings news to Neve that the Mercury Stone is a girl. Neve concludes she can simply take Rukiya and win her over. A bound Roth is brought before her and she demands his loyalty. Roth promptly defects.

Doctor M’Benga and the Mercury Stone

Hemmer asks M’Benga where Rukiya would want to go. M’Benga believes she may be in his quarters. But as they travel through the “woods,” they are confronted by Roth. As they reach the destination, Roth takes M’Benga hostage and Neve and the Crimson Guard arrive.

Both Ayda and M’Benga lament that they should have known Roth would betray them. Pollux threatens Castor. Neve says everyone can live if Ridley turns over the Mercury Stone. 

Hemmer tells Neve he’ll unleash his powers unless she relents. He threatens to send them all to “the event horizon,” “a dark room full of chaos and monsters.” Pollux tells Neve there is no such place. 

Hemmer huffs and puffs. He says “abracadabra” and produces a communicator. He uses it to trigger the transporter and send Neve and her lackeys to Cargo Bay 12. “Once again: the magic of science prevails,” exalts Hemmer. “Too much?”

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In his quarters, M’Benga is greeted by Rukiya. He scans her; she’s cured. Rukiya says her friend made her better, and they’ve been playing. M’Benga asks them to put things back to normal. Rukiya says her friend said they could play as long as she wants. Does she have to go back into the buffer?

M’Benga doesn’t understand what’s happening. Hemmer offers his assistance. M’Benga asks if it will kill him, but Hemmer thinks communication is possible if Rukiya acts as intermediary. Hemmer says the entity can speak through him.

The Elysian Kingdom

Speaking through Hemmer, the entity tells M’Benga he must not take the child. They have an attachment. Both were lonely before they found each other. When the entity probed the ship, it sensed Rukiya’s loneliness inside the pattern buffer. The entity created the world to give Rukiya a piece of her childhood M’Benga didn’t allow.

Doctor M'Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) as King Ridley.

M’Benga says everything he did was to keep his daughter alive. However, the fantasy must end. The entity says if Rukiya is taken from the nebula, she will get sick again. The entity says M’Benga must choose between the crew and his daughter. Rukiya says she will go inside the buffer if he wants.

The entity offers another way. M’Benga can go and Rukiya can stay. Her body is ill, but her consciousness could join with the entity. Free of sickness, she will never know death. M’Benga explains the situation to Rukiya. He uses the Mercury Stone from the story as a metaphor. The Stone has a soul, and it will die if Ridley holds on to it. He has to release it, in spite of the fact that this will cost him his happiness.

M’Benga says maybe it is time for Rukiya to write her own story. But it’s up to her. She chooses to go with the entity. M’Benga and Rukiya embrace. Hemmer collapses. Rukiya is engulfed in energy.

The child vanishes. A few moments later, adult Rukiya (Makambe Simamba) appears. She thanks him for everything. From Rukiya’s perspective, it has been years since she left. She has named the entity Deborah, after her late mother. Rukiya says she’s happy and safe. She assures him they’ll see one another again. But she says in the meantime, he must live his own life and create his own stories. 

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He promises her he will be happy. Rukiya vanishes.

M’Benga Restored

M’Benga and Hemmer’s uniforms return to normal. Hemmer awakens with “the worst headache.” He has no recollection of the event, his last memory being stuck in the nebula. None of the rest of the crew remembers what happened. The surveillance logs have lost five hours. 

Rebecca Romijn as Una and Babs Olusanmokun as Doctor M'Benga. Number One leans against his desk in sick bay.

Una approaches M’Benga at his desk. He tells her that she is safe. But he has been through something extraordinary that no one else remembers. He begins to share the story with her.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams new episodes every Thursday on Paramount Plus. You can keep up with our Strange New Worlds recaps, here!

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