The fifth episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 means it’s time for more hijinks with Christine Chapel (Jess Bush), Spock (Ethan Peck) and T’Pring (Gia Sandhu). “Charades” was written by Kathryn Lyn & Henry Alonso Myers and directed by Jordan Canning.
Chapel’s personal log, Stardate 1789.3. The Enterprise heading to the Vulcan system. Their mission is to survey the moon of Kirkov. It was once the home of an ancient civilization. The hope is that a local energy anomaly may provide information on where the Kirkovians went.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise is traveling at sub-impulse speeds so as to enjoy the view. This has led to downtime, which Chapel is using to prepare for an interview for a 2-month fellowship sponsored by the Vulcan Science Academy (VSA). Chapel gets help with prep from Doctor Joseph M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), La’An Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) and Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia).
La’An questions why Chapel isn’t studying with Spock. Ortegas says things are weird between them. In the next scene, Spock enters the same elevator as Chapel and M’Benga. However, he does not speak to either of them before he departs.
Science officer’s personal log, Stardate 1789.3. Spock states his downtime has been advantageous. He credits his success to M’Benga’s therapies, which he claims have been successful in suppressing his emotions. Spock explores new interests, like cooking with Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount). He also states that he’s been able to eliminate triggers. These include Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte) leaving dishes on the table. He further states that it has allowed him to “return to a normal state of friendship and comity with [his] fellow officers.”
He says he is looking forward to reuniting with T’Pring on Vulcan. But in the next scene, T’Pring informs Spock via subspace transmission that she has scheduled their ceremonial engagement dinner. Spock points out that he is still not speaking to his father, Sarek. However in spite of this, T’Pring’s mother still believes the dinner should take place. Her mother is skeptical of the engagement. T’Pring hopes this dinner will alleviate that.
Spock is distracted by the prospect of the dinner during a meeting with Pike regarding the moon flyby mission. Pike informs Spock, who will be piloting the shuttle, that Chapel will join him. The conversation on the shuttle is awkward. However, Chapel states that she’s hopeful the mission will yield data that facilitates her admission to the program.
Chapel says it feels like Spock has been avoiding her. But that’s when the Enterprise computer (Alex Kapp) informs them they’ve arrived at the moon. The energy anomaly appears to be a stable vortex: a rupture in spacetime. The shuttle approaches the anomaly. However, they lose control and the shuttle begins to get pulled in.
Spock regains consciousness. Pike, M’Benga and Chapel stand over him. They inform him that he’s been injured. After the shuttle crash, they woke up in space near the Enterprise. While Spock was healed, whoever did so seems to have made him human.
Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn) and La’An investigate the shuttle. Although the log notes the crash, the ship seems to have been repaired and “given a deep cleaning.” La’An locates a strange oblong object on a shuttle chair. On the Enterprise bridge, Uhura theorizes the object is a “calling card.” It offers routing instructions for a subspace call. When contacted, Uhura receives visuals in return. Onscreen, Yellow (Anjuli Cain) appears as swirling lights.
Pike introduces himself. He says they’ve contacted them regarding their shuttle. Yellow says that “remediation” has been made to the fullest extent of the law. No further contact is necessary. Pike brings up their crewmembers. Yellow observes that one of their crew contained “mixed instructions.” Yellow continues that both beings are alive and now match. They repeat that remediation has been made and no further contact is necessary. Then they hang up. When Uhura tries to call back, she gets nothing.
In sickbay, Spock is informed that for the time being he’s stuck like this. Spock says he feels angry, powerless, annoyed and hungry. He remembers his engagement dinner and becomes further agitated. Pike says he contacted T’Pring and Spock’s family. Chapel is working on reversing his condition. Meanwhile, Spock is otherwise in good health. He resolves to return to his social and professional obligations.
Spock joins his fellow crew members in laughing over drinks in the bar. During cooking lessons with Pike, he enjoys the aroma of bacon. And during a meeting in the ready room, Spock interrupts to remind Sam to clean up his dishes. Cutting back to each scene, Spock takes it a bit too far in each instance. This includes nearly coming to blows with Sam. And interpersonal conflict? That’s a big Starfleet no-no.
Soon, La’An and Spock are alone in an empty ready room. Spock says Vulcans have emotions, but this is beyond what he’s experienced. La’An tells him it sounds like he’s experiencing a state similar to human adolescence. He has overwhelming emotions and hunger. Furthermore, he may be slightly attracted to La’An. La’An tells him he just needs to develop impulse control and leaves the room.
Chapel continues to work on Spock’s condition nonstop. M’Benga identifies this as survivor’s guilt. But she’s become so consumed with finding a solution that she’s forgotten her interview. In the ready room, the representative of the VSA is not impressed with her application. She asks for attention towards her fieldwork. Although the representative says this will be considered, it doesn’t look promising.
Chapel encounters Spock in the hall. He says Vulcans can be jerks. He embraces her and they share a brief conversation. But they’re interrupted by Pike requesting Spock’s presence in the transporter bay. Spock asks if its an emergency. Pike tells him his mother is beaming aboard.
In the transporter bay, Amanda Grayson (Mia Kirshner) is greeted by Pike. He tells her that Chief Engineer Pelia (Carol Kane) sends her regards. However, she is “off dealing with our dilithium shortage.” Amanda posits that this may also entail purchasing additional “weird antiques.” Spock arrives in the transporter bay wearing a Starfleet beanie. Amanda asks why he’s wearing it. He states it is regulation.
Amanda tells him that T’Pring’s family is insisting the engagement dinner take place. Furthermore, they have agreed for the dinner to take place tomorrow on the Enterprise. Amanda asks Spock if he’s upset. Spock claims he’s experiencing muscle spasms. Amanda replies that it’s good they’re having the dinner close to his doctor. Spock tries to shirk the dinner. Soon he is shouting about logic.
Amanda forces him to remove his hat. In the next scene, a disheveled Spock snacks in Pike’s quarters. Amanda laments that T’Pring’s mother dislikes humans. Spock cites this as further reason to postpone the dinner. Amanda notes that being fully human could compromise Spock’s engagement. She suggests Spock access his human side and lie.
Enlisting Pike, Amanda begins Spock’s human education. M’Benga provides him with fake Vulcan ears. Amanda coaches him on the Vulcan ritual, which includes handling a scalding hot pot. She says she has learned to suppress her pain. On the bridge, Uhura, La’An, Una and Ortegas coach him on speaking like a Vulcan. Another Vulcan ritual involves the parents listing the shortcomings of the future family member. Finally, Amanda and Spock will simulate a mind-meld in which a memory of Spock’s childhood is shared. Pike and Una critique his technique. Amanda doubts he can pass as Vulcan.
But Chapel is having very little luck reversing Spock’s condition. Furthermore, they only have twenty-four hours or it will remain permanent. Chapel says they’ve exhausted all their experimental gene therapies. However, the aliens who did this in the first place could reverse it. In the bar, Chapel asks Ortegas and Uhura to join her on a mission to contact the aliens.
Spock (in Vulcan disguise) and Amanda await the arrival of T’Pring and her parents. T’Pring arrives first, and Spock accompanies her to his quarters. In the hallway, T’Pring laments that the past few days with her mother, T’Pril, have been challenging. Spock has to suppress a cough. T’Pring says her mother has been especially difficult and Spock balks at the notion of revealing he’s human.
T’Pring’s parents arrive at Pike’s quarters. The music by Nami Melumad recalls the Kal-if-fee scene in “Amok Time.” T’Pril (Ellora Patnaik) immediately brings up the human smell. Spock mentions his eyebrows were singed and draws an uncomfortable amount of attention to his disguise. Pike has prepared some Vulcan specialties. T’Pring’s father (Michael Benyaer) is delighted but T’Pril is critical. T’Pril declares they should forgo food in favor of the ritual. Eager to be done, T’Pring agrees.
The shuttle containing Ortegas, Uhura and Chapel arrives at the anomaly. There’s too much gravometric interference to connect through the rift. Ortegas is loath to move close to the anomaly but Chapel convinces her. Uhura determines that a distortion field is blocking their call. But Uhura believes if they can “wedge themselves in the door,” they can get a signal through. Uhura postulates that there’s a calm corridor behind the portal. Ortegas pilots the shuttle into the portal.
In Pike’s quarters, Spock undertakes the finger-burning tea ritual. It is deemed acceptable. Meanwhile, Ortegas, Uhura and Chapel find themselves in interdimensional space. They are addressed by Blue (Cain). Chapel explains that they “remediated” Spock but they didn’t fix him correctly. Blue states that remediation was made but Chapel argues it was not. She says they read his instructions wrong and now they need help. Blue says the complaint is outside the complaint period and leaves, ignoring Chapel’s requests for Yellow. Chapel says they wait.
Meanwhile, Spock and T’Pring undergo the second ritual. Amanda tells T’Pring she could visit more. T’Pril is even critical of Amanda’s execution of the critique. She tells Spock that he is a disappointment who abandons T’Pring for months at a time. T’Pril is further critical of Spock’s decision to join Starfleet. She concludes he is unworthy of T’Pring. Spock excuses himself to go to the bathroom. T’Pril states that a Vulcan should have a more resilient bladder.
In the other room, Spock punches the air and screams into a pillow. He contacts M’Benga and learns Chapel has gone to contact the Kirkovians. Meanwhile, Yellow arrives to address Chapel, Ortegas and Uhura. Yellow repeats that the complaint is outside the window. Chapel says that Spock is her friend. Yellow says this is insufficient connection for the complaint, but Chapel says that’s now how friendship works for them. This helps Yellow understand why Spock diverted shields towards Chapel.
Uhura and Ortegas insist Chapel tell Yellow that she has feelings for Spock. Chapel says it’s complicated. Uhura says to make it simple, or he’ll never be himself again. Chapel says that Spock is someone she cares deeply for. But she says that he isn’t entirely himself after the “remediation.” She implores Yellow to help put him back.
In Pike’s quarters, they are about to undertake the third ritual: the mind meld. But Pike interrupts to suggest they take part in an Earth ritual, in honor of Spock’s human heritage: charades. Amanda joins Pike’s insistence that they take part. Spock joins in. Fortunately, Chapel arrives with Spock’s “vitamins”: the cure from the Kirkovians.
Chapel and Spock go to the other room for the injection. Meanwhile, Pike continues to explain charades to T’Pring’s parents. In the other room, Spock admits he feels many things, which are confusing. Chapel agrees. It seems like he’s about to kiss her but she injects him and tells him to get back out there, where people are waiting. In the hallway outside, Chapel fights back tears.
Finally, Spock and Amanda meld minds. T’Pril is critical of the memory. T’Pring says this is illogical. She says all that is necessary is T’Pring’s acknowledgment that the dinner has been completed. T’Pring’s father wants more of Pike’s cooking. T’Pril pays Spock a backhanded compliment. Spock reveals he is human.
To Err Is Human
He says that T’Pril referred to his human side as a handicap. However, Spock cites his mother as the most resilient and tolerant person he has ever known. He says this is true strength. In Spock’s quarters, T’Pring states she is confused as to why Spock failed to inform her of his condition. Spock says she seemed overwhelmed by her mother. T’Pring says this is logical but is hurt that Spock involved everyone but her in the ruse. She suggests they take time apart and then leaves.
Chapel is contacted by the Vulcan scientist, who rejects her application. Chapel shares that she went to interdimensional space and administered an ancient medical procedure earlier in the day. The Vulcan’s interest is piqued, but Chapel says he should read her paper later in the year. Chapel says she doesn’t believe his fellowship is ready for her.
In Pike’s quarters, Pike and Spock share a drink. Pike shares the human ritual of commiseration with him. In the transporter room, Spock asks Amanda why she shared her memory of the first time he was accepted by the other Vulcan children. He says only then does he see her journey. Amanda says it is not easy being a human who loves a Vulcan.
Spock is on his way to see Chapel, but she’s waiting outside his door. She enters his quarters and he tells her he’s taking time apart from T’Pring. He says he feels bad but it was necessary. He says he’s conflicted because he has feelings for someone else. Spock says he doesn’t want to suppress it anymore. Spock and Chapel kiss.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams new episodes every Thursday on Paramount+.
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