There comes a time when we must face all of our yesterdays, and for La’An Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong), that time is “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.” Written by David Reed and directed by Amanda Row, this episode brings a different type of time travel to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
Enterprise Head of Security
On the USS Enterprise, La’An records the Security Officer’s Log for 1581.2. She makes wry observations about the nature of her duties. Meanwhile, a series of scenes shows difficult situations with various members of the crew.
Chief Jay (Noah Lamanna) insists the transporter buffer didn’t steal a personal item before almost coming to blows with another crewmember. Spock (Ethan Peck) demands to know who filed an anonymous noise complaint about his vigorous Vulcan lute playing. And Commander Pelia (Carol Kane) is indignant about having her abundant artifacts searched.
Pelia asks if La’An is implying she stole the artifacts. La’An reads a label stating one is the property of “The Archeology Department.” Pelia says she used to work there, so it’s all above board. She further states that living through myriad human ecological and economic disasters has made her something of a packrat. She admits she has a bunker in her previous home of Vermont, “in case this whole ‘no-money socialist utopia’ thing turns out to be a fad.”
Off duty, La’An practices combat with Doctor Joseph M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun). The walls are lined with weapons, including Klingon weapons. M’Benga tells her to take it easy. He observes she didn’t come to the “welcome back” party for Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn). Then he “uses [her] energy against [her],” sending her to the floor. He helps her to her feet and tells her bearing “all this” by herself doesn’t need to be lonely. She excuses herself.
“Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”
Later, La’An is walking the Enterprise halls in her uniform. She hears a noise and sees some sparks on the wall ahead. Suddenly a man in a 21st century suit and tie (Christopher Wyllie) stumbles in front of her and collapses. An injury is not a phaser wound but a bullet wound. He tells her there’s been an attack in the past and she has to stop it. After pulling a device from his jacket, he presses it into her hand and tells her to get to the bridge.
A wave passes through the hallway. In its wake, the man has vanished. Meanwhile, the ship is at Red Alert. La’An heads to the bridge. While Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia) is present, she’s in the opposite seat as the one where she usually sits. Meanwhile, James T. Kirk (Paul Wesley) is seated in the center chair. Kirk asks who she is and what she’s doing on his ship.
Comm Officer Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) reports an incoming transmission from the Vulcan ship. On the viewer, Spock appears, wearing a Vulcan uniform. Kirk introduces himself as the Captain of the United Earth Fleet (U.E.F.) Ship Enterprise. He says they have violated sovereign territory. Spock introduces himself as the Captain of his ship. He formally asks for assistance, citing a disastrous war with the Romulan Star Empire.
Spock alludes to the human adage, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” But Kirk coldly replies, “Maybe in some other lifetime.” Kirk says Earth has problems with Romulus and can’t afford a war on two fronts. Spock pleads for assistance but Kirk signals to Uhura to cut the transmission. Everyone on the bridge turns to stare at La’An. She suggests a private conversation with Kirk.
Both of Our Yesterdays
In Kirk’s captain’s quarters, La’An explains that she’s from another timeline. Kirk says their scientists have theorized this could be possible. However, he says it’s more likely La’An has lost her mind. However, there is no record of her in the database. La’An says this is because this isn’t her Enterprise. But she says it’s supposed to be.
She recalls the words of the man she met earlier and determines that some kind of attack occurred in the past. But Kirk points out that she doesn’t know when or what changed. He is further incredulous about time travel. La’An shows Kirk the device the man gave her. He wonders if it could be used to send La’An back. But La’An doesn’t believe the timeline currently exists.
La’An says that Starfleet has regulations for situations like this. But Kirk says he’s never heard of Starfleet. He’s a Captain in the U.E.F., and La’An is an intruder. When she refuses to hand over the device, he attempts to snatch it from her. In the struggle, the device activates. Both La’An and Kirk are transported to a 21st-century city alleyway.
Kirk accuses La’An of being responsible. She says this was done to her as much as it was done to him. Further, they have a duty to stop the attack. Neither have a tricorder or phaser. La’An says they’ll have to have a look around. Soon they are in a crowded area. Kirk believes it’s New York City but La’An corrects him. It’s Toronto. Kirk has never been to Earth. He was born on the starship Iowa. Earth is uninhabitable in his timeline. Meanwhile, the climate in the 21st century means they’ll need to acquire some new clothing.
La’An and Kirk enter a clothing store. Kirk is stymied by the revolving door. Both select identical outfits. Kirk changes into different clothes. As he does so, La’An has to avoid staring. Once he’s done changing, they discuss how to deal with the lack of money. La’An drops some merchandise in the shopping bag of another customer. This sets off the store’s alarm. While the security guard is distracted, La’An and Kirk slip out wearing the stolen clothes.
La’An says they need currency. In a montage, Kirk raises some funds by winning a series of chess games. Both the crowd of observers and the pile of cash next to the board quickly grow. In the next scene, Kirk reveals he used to play three-dimensional chess with his First Officer. Then he buys himself and La’An hot dogs. But La’An is focused on what might have been changed in the past. They were, after all, sent back for a reason.
Kirk is distracted by a sunset. He reveals humanity primarily lives in subterranean lunar habitats in his timeline. Thus, he advises La’An not to pass up good hot dogs when they’re available. She acquiesces. Kirk goes back to buy one more dog.
That night, La’An is having difficulty sleeping. She gets out of bed and looks at Kirk sleeping on the couch. After she leaves, he wakes and looks after her. Then he lies on his back and looks at the ceiling. The next day, La’An writes what she remembers about history. She tells Kirk he should do the same so they can determine where the alteration to the past took place.
Kirk replies that he knows what she’s asking him to do. If they repair her timeline, his timeline will cease to exist. La’An argues that her timeline is superior. Kirk defends the seemingly negative nature of his timeline by saying humanity has made the stars their home. La’An says in her timeline, humanity is part of a Federation of species. Kirk says they don’t need anyone’s help to survive. La’An asks if just surviving is good enough for him. Kirk supposes she comes from a utopia. La’An says her Earth still has sunsets. But then she concedes that things got bad during humanity’s 21st century. But after First Contact with the Vulcans, Earth became a paradise.
La’An says that Kirk is a soldier in his timeline when he could have been an explorer. Kirk says he might not even be alive in her timeline. However, La’An can confirm that he is, thanks to stories from his brother, Sam. In Kirk’s timeline, Sam is no longer alive. But they’re interrupted by an explosion outside the window. It destroys a bridge. La’An says they have to get to the explosion site.
Photonic Bridge Bomb
La’An and Kirk get as close to the wreckage of the bridge as possible. Both of them remember the attack from history. This leads La’An to conclude this attack must not be the moment that the timeline split. La’An asks a nearby photographer (Adelaide Kane) if she can see the photos she’s taking. This allows her to identify the explosion as having been caused by a photonic bomb – future technology.
Workers load the evidence into a van. La’An says they need to follow it. She reminds Kirk that most vehicles in this time period have private ownership. Kirk says he recalls. He uses a Vulcan nerve pinch to incapacitate a driver as he’s getting into his car. Kirk explains he learned during a six-month stint in a Denobulan prison during which his cellmate was a Vulcan. He adds that he can also make Plomeek soup in the toilet.
However, Kirk struggles to find the right key to start the vehicle. Then he struggles to begin driving. Nevertheless, they’re soon on the road. Kirk says discretion is his middle name. La’An argues that “Tiberius” is the least discrete middle name. Kirk says she’s one to talk, and calls her “La’An Noonien Soong.” But that makes La’An realize Kirk doesn’t recognize the name “Khan Noonien Singh.”
The van nearly gets away Kirk throws the car into gear and gives pursuit. Before long, a cop has joined the pursuit. More cops join in and soon Kirk has been apprehended.
The Truth is Out There
As Kirk is being arrested, a voice interrupts. It’s the photographer from the bridge. She heckles the cops. She claims she’s streaming the arrest live and asks if they’re profiling Kirk for being a notable civil rights attorney. Combined with a call from dispatch, the cops release Kirk with a warning.
La’An and Kirk approach the photographer, who introduces herself as Sera. She says she followed them because of their interest in the evidence on the van. Sera explains that she believes the attack on the Unity Bridge was symbolic. It was meant to sow discord among humans so they could not unite against the real threat of extraterrestrials. Sera excuses herself. But Kirk stops her by claiming his “wife” (La’An) was abducted. They say she saw advanced technology aboard, including the photonic bomb.
Now won over, Sera shares more of her alien conspiracy theories with La’An and Kirk. She says an international cabal keeps alien attacks secret in exchange for any recovered alien tech. La’An asks what the connection between the various attacks might be. Sera says they’re to slow human progress and keep the species from traveling to the stars. She mentions a local cold fusion reactor.
Sera and Kirk are hungry, so they head to a restaurant. Kirk enjoys poutine. La’An doubts that Sera is trustworthy. Kirk says she grew up in a time when aliens were sci-fi, but she knows they’re real in her gut. Sera shares a series of pictures she says are evidence of extraterrestrials. One of them is a Romulan spacecraft. Sera further reveals she bought security footage of a man who was present before the bridge detonation transpired. Since he subsequently left with the wreckage, he may have had foreknowledge.
The Archeology Department
Sera thanks La’An and Kirk for not calling her crazy before departing. La’An expresses sympathy that Sera is so close to the truth. Kirk reveals to La’An that the ship in the image is Romulan. He further confirms the presence of the cold fusion reactor. This is because, according to his timeline’s history, it will be destroyed in a few days by a Romulan first-strike attack. Kirk says they need to find the reactor and stop it from being destroyed.
La’An notes this would be trivial with a tricorder. Kirk says they need to find an engineer from “the stone ages” to build them a cold fusion detector. La’An sees a weather map that includes Vermont on a television screen in a storefront window. She realizes she might actually know someone in Vermont.
Later, a Vermont cab pulls up outside “The Archeology Department,” a dilapidated freestanding building. There’s a “closed” sign on the door. La’An knocks and Pelia opens the door and says they’re closed. But La’An reveals she knows her name and her secret. Pelia yields and lets them in.
Inside, La’An looks at a tag on an item. It matches the one from the cold opening. La’An identifies Pelia as Lanthanite. She further identifies the painting stolen from the Louvre. Pelia asks how they found her. La’An and Kirk reveal they knew she was at “The Archeology Department.” However, it did take them a while to realize it wasn’t on a college campus. La’An says she can’t reveal the source of their knowledge. However, she says they’re attempting to save the future of humanity.
Cold Fusion Warriors
While Pelia is convinced, she isn’t yet an engineer. She works retail. And she had been under the impression cold fusion was made up. La’An says they just need to locate a by-product of cold fusion: “excess heat, neutrons, tritium.” Pelia identifies the latter as a component of divers’ watches from the 1980s. She provides them with an example. La’An determines that by removing the face of the watch, the hands of the watch will glow if tritium is present. She thanks Pelia for her assistance. Pelia wonders if she might have missed her calling.
Back in Toronto, La’An and Kirk wander the streets hoping for a reaction from the watch. Kirk admits that if they can only save one timeline, he thinks they should save hers. La’An asks why he couldn’t come to her timeline. Kirk says one timeline might be too small for two of him. But La’An suggests they might both be able to return to her time. She further admits that people can be difficult for her, but she feels a connection to Kirk.
La’An suggests Kirk’s lack of familiarity with her heritage might help. She uses comparisons to The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and the mark of Cain to explain it. Kirk pretends he doesn’t get her allusions. Then the pair kiss. Afterward, they realize the watch has begun to glow. They’re close to the reactor.
The pair identify the precise location. It’s behind a door with a hand scanner. The sign identifies the location as the Noonien-Singh Institute for Cultural Advancement. La’An places her hand on the scanner. The door opens.
The Noonien-Singh Institute
However, Sera reveals she’s been following them. She holds them at gunpoint as she thanks them for helping her gain ingress. Kirk postulates she’s from the future. Sera recognizes him as James T. Kirk. She continues that what she told them was true: her people, the Romulans, have been slowing human progress. But she thinks they haven’t gone far enough.
Sera tells them both to go inside. Kirk refuses. He calls her bluff on shooting them, saying it will alert security. Sera demonstrates she isn’t bluffing by shooting Kirk in the chest. He wasn’t bluffing about the alarm. Kirk tells La’An to say “hi” to Sam for him. Then he dies.
Sera admits her actions may have been impulsive. However, she brags that she killed Kirk. Then she grabs La’An by the neck and forces her inside the Institute. Sera shoots at multiple security guards. La’An says she won’t be able to destroy the reactor. However, Sera says that’s no longer the plan. Instead of heading toward “reactor control,” Sera directs them toward the “genetics laboratory.”
They arrive at a door marked “Khan.” Sera demands La’An open it. La’An refuses. Sera says a computer simulation told her to kill Khan. According to the computer, if Khan is killed, the Federation will never form.
Time Out of Joint
Sera continues that so many people have attempted to influence these events, “or delay them, or stop them. Whole temporal wars have been fought over them. And it’s almost as though time itself is pushing back, and events reinsert themselves, and all this was supposed to happen back in 1992 and I have been trapped here for 30 years trying to get my shot at him.” She says she isn’t about to stop now.
La’An reveals her last name is Noonien-Singh and that Khan is her ancestor. She cites his legacy as “genocide, torture, and me.” Sera says the device in her pocket will protect her from changes to the timeline. Sera says that if Khan dies, La’An will be free to live whatever kind of life she wants. Without ever having to hear the name Khan again. La’An turns briefly towards the door. But then she turns back and begins fighting with Sera.
Sera manages to use La’An’s hand to open the door. However, the pair continue to struggle in the hall. La’An wrestles the gun from Sera and shoots her. Sera’s corpse subsequently dissolves. The device turns green, suggesting the restoration of La’An’s timeline.
La’An enters the room marked Khan. She meets a child-aged version of Khan (Desmond Sivan). La’An says he doesn’t need to be scared of her. She asks if he’s alone or if there are others like him. Khan indicates a group of children. He asks if she’s going to take him away. “This won’t make any sense right now, maybe it won’t ever,” she says. “But you are right where you need to be.” She leaves the room. Then she presses the button on the device and returns to the hallway of her Enterprise.
Department of Temporal Investigations
La’An heads to the bridge. There, Pelia is speaking with Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) and Una. Pelia says the statute of limitations on her “plundered antiquities” passed decades earlier. Pike asks La’An if Starfleet Security wants to weigh in. La’An says they should let this one slide. Pike observes La’An isn’t wearing her uniform. This elicits an incredulous reaction from Uhura.
Returning to her quarters, La’An begins removing her 21st-century clothing. Agent Ymalay (Allison Wilson-Forbes) from the Department of Temporal Investigations is waiting for her. She explains that it’s a division of the Federation that doesn’t exist yet. Ymalay thanks her for completing the Department’s mission. However, she says La’An cannot share her experience with anyone, lest she risk undoing what transpired. Ymalay collects the device and checks it before vanishing.
La’An sits down, alone. She’s still wearing the diving watch but removes it. Then she gets in bed and uses her PADD to contact Lieutenant Kirk. La’An says they’ve never met but identifies herself as the Security Chief of the Enterprise. Kirk worries his brother is in trouble. But La’An says Sam is fine, she just needs to know his place of birth. “Riverside, Iowa,” Kirk replies. “Same as me.” La’An claims this was all she needed. Kirk says to buy him a drink next time they’re on Starbase together and he can tell her some stories.
After terminating the call, La’An begins to sob.
New episodes of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds arrive on Paramount+ on Thursday.
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