Ensign Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) experiences some horrifying visions in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2’s sixth episode. “Lost in Translation was written by Onitra Johnson & David Reed and directed by Dan Li.
Communication Officer Log, Stardate 2394.8. The USS Enterprise has been sent to Bannon’s nebula on the edge of explored space. While Uhura has visited many nebulae, she says this one is special. As the birthplace of new stars, it is something to behold. However, the nebula also contains plenty of deuterium, used for ship fuel. Starfleet is constructing an outpost to collect and refine the deuterium. However, they have had difficulty getting the outpost operational.
On the bridge of the Enterprise, Fleet Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) waxes poetic about future explorers before asking Uhura if she’s awake. She concedes she has been missing sleep over the mission. Pike says he appreciates her efforts but advises her only to burn the candle one end. That’s when Uhura gets word from the crew of the refinery and is waiting for engineering details. Pike says to have Chief Kyle stand by to initiate transport.
Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn) arrives on the bridge and congratulates Pike on attaining the “Fleet Captain” rank. Pike says it’s only until they get the refinery online. Lieutenant Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia) assures him it’s the shiniest gas station she’s ever seen. Pike begins to wax poetic about the frontier again. Una was worried she missed the speech. Spock (Ethan Peck) points out the value of having an outpost with this one’s proximity to Gorn space. While the ship waits, Pike instructs Ortegas to open the Bussard collectors in a deuterium-heavy area to refuel.
Uhura begins to receive a signal. Pike instructs her to put it on the screen. She struggles with the task, and then can’t find the recording. Pike suggests it could have been a glitch. Uhura takes it upon herself to run a full diagnostic.
Inside one of the ship’s nacelles, Uhura uses recordings of late Enterprise Chief Engineer Hemmer (Bruce Horak) to calibrate the communications array. Current Chief Engineer Pelia (Carol Kane) arrives with her toolbox.
Pelia asks Uhura what she is doing there. Uhura explains that she asks for so many of these recalibrations that Hemmer eventually got annoyed and decided to show her how to complete the task himself. Pelia reveals that Hemmer was one of her students. Uhura says she’s almost done. Pelia asks why Uhura has never talked to her before. Uhura apologizes and says she’s been busy. After Pelia departs, Uhura turns her attention back to her PADD. She watches a tender moment between herself and Hemmer.
In an Enterprise hallway, Una and Pike discuss the issues with the refinery. Pike says the problems have been described as “organizational difficulties.” He says the previous superintendent had to be sent back to Earth. In the wake of this, they could “really use [Una’s] version of ‘managerial fervor.’” Una says nothing beats cleaning up someone else’s mess. Meanwhile, Uhura gets into a turbolift. She begins hearing strange noises. Then a zombie version of Hemmer appears in the lift and begins snarling at her.
In sickbay, Doctor Joseph M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) scans Uhura’s brain. He says it seems clear she was hallucinating, pointing out she had just been watching a video of Hemmer. Uhura says Starfleet officers aren’t supposed to randomly hallucinate. M’Benga assures her she did nothing wrong and says it wasn’t random. He states that during her time in the nacelle, she was exposed to deuterium. This gave her a mild case of deuterium poisoning, which can cause hallucinations, headaches, and nausea. However, M’Benga also notes that Uhura hasn’t been sleeping. Uhura says it’s been a busy year. M’Benga says that exhaustion can exacerbate deuterium poisoning. Uhura begins making more excuses. M’Benga tells her she’s not going back on duty until she has slept.
At the refinery, Una directs the work. Pelia says it isn’t as bad as it looks, it’s worse. She says the maintenance logs suggest the outpost has been breaking down faster than the crew can repair it. Una says they’re lucky they have three crews: the outpost crew, the Enterprise crew, and the Farragut crew. Pelia says it feels like there’s an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Una says she doesn’t base her decisions on feelings. Pelia smiles at her but Una simply orders her back to work.
In her quarters, Uhura is attempting to sleep. When she tries to get out of bed, she’s suddenly in the middle of a field. The ominous sound she heard earlier can be heard. She looks over and sees a rising plume of smoke. Then she awakes in her bed once again.
Lieutenant James T. Kirk (Paul Wesley) beams into the Enterprise transporter room. He’s greeted by his brother, Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte). They warmly hassle one another before heading to the bar. Sam congratulates James on his impending promotion to First Officer. This makes him the youngest First Officer in Starfleet history. The prior record holder was George Kirk of the USS Kelvin, their father. James asks what his personal ambition has to do with Sam. After growing more frustrated that their father doesn’t respect him, Sam leaves. At the outpost, systems seem to be activating, but they subsequently shut down. Pelia says one of her team has found something in the fuel distribution system. She says she’s found evidence of sabotage.
On the Enterprise, Spock and Nurse Christine Chapel (Jess Bush) converse during a game of three-dimensional chess. Spock floats the idea of making their relationship official with Starfleet. Chapel uses a Schrödinger’s Cat metaphor to describe the unstable nature of their relationship. They’re interrupted by Uhura. She says she heard the sound before she visited the nacelle, so it couldn’t be a symptom of deuterium poisoning. Spock is skeptical. Chapel says Uhura is suffering from a textbook case of overwork and exhaustion. She offers to prescribe something to help her sleep. But Uhura isn’t trying to sleep.
She heads to the bar and orders a Saurian Brandy. James introduces himself to Uhura at the bar. He offers commentary on Spock’s three-dimensional chess strategy. Kirk denies he’s looking for a hookup. Uhura says she’s not looking for friends. It isn’t Kirk’s night.
After departing from the bar, Uhura begins hearing the sound again. She observes the bodies of her fellow crew members, bloody and broken in the hallways. She repeats to herself that it isn’t real. Then she turns and sees a duplicate of herself, holding a knife. The doppelganger attacks her. She lands a punch and her duplicate collapses. The hallway returns to normal. However, Uhura punched James. He insists he wasn’t hitting on her.
Uhura offers to take James to sickbay. He says it looks like she was seeing things that weren’t there. He asks if she really needs to be written up for striking a superior officer as well. Uhura says she has a dermal regenerator in her quarters. After fixing his nose, James posits that her “nightmare visions” may be making her a sadist. She asks if he thinks it’s all in her head. Having experienced insomnia and deuterium poisoning, James doesn’t think Uhura’s dealing with either one. He believes something else is going on and offers to help her figure out what.
Uhura says she’s triple-checked sensor logs and can only find deuterium. But there must be something else. After determining that she’s the only one with symptoms on the Enterprise, James states he’ll check with the Farragut’s doctor. He takes a PADD with Uhura’s information.
Meanwhile, Una and Pelia search for a saboteur. They find Ramone muttering to himself. He’s whispering “it can’t be real” repeatedly. When Una places a hand on his shoulder, he asks if she is real. She asks him why he sabotaged the station. He continues to repeat it isn’t real. Una contacts Enterprise about the medical emergency.
Uhura is in her quarters when the Enterprise goes to red alert. She heads to the bridge and Pike tells her to contact Starfleet. He says they’re being attacked by an enemy. But before he can further elaborate the viewscreen cracks. It shatters. The crew is yanked out into space, a la Captain Vadic. However, Uhura soon awakens. Pike and the rest of the crew, all safely sitting on the bridge, look at her with concern.
In the ready room, Pike sits across the table from Uhura. He states his concern as both a Captain and a friend. Uhura says she’s aware of the irony of a communications officer who can’t communicate what’s wrong with her. James arrives and introduces himself to Pike. All three express their concern about Uhura’s condition. James informs them that the Farragut’s doctor had received a report about the outpost saboteur, Ramone, the day before. His friends were concerned because he was seeing things that weren’t there. The symptoms match Uhura’s.
In sickbay Pike implores Ramone to share what he saw. M’Benga says he might not understand them because the speech center of his brain is being affected. But then he begins to hear the ominous sound. He attacks M’Benga and flees sickbay. Uhura begins telling herself that it isn’t real, but James tells her it is very real and they must stop Ramone before he hurts anyone else. Emergency lighting is activated as Pike and other crew members pursue Ramone through the hallways. They come across a bloody and incapacitated crewmember outside Astrometrics. La’An Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) arrives and observes that he’s cut the power conduits.
As James and Uhura pursue Ramone, Uhura begins hearing the sound again. The walls begin to close in as she loses track of James. Uhura says she should just return to sickbay. James offers to accompany her but she says he should continue to search for Ramone. Soon, James runs into La’An and Pike. La’An is clearly affected (see: “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”) but now is not the time.
On her way to sickbay, Uhura believes she’s located Ramone in the access tunnel for the port nacelle. James says he isn’t far and instructs her to wait. However, she enters and locates Ramone at a console. She tells him she’s been seeing things too. Whatever made him come here wasn’t real. She shares personal information to convince Ramone she’s real. However, Ramone initiates a fuel pod ejection sequence. James arrives and orders emergency transport for himself and Uhura. They beam away just as an explosion ejects Ramone into space.
In sickbay Chapel covers the corpse of the officer they found in the hallway in the previous scene. Pike says they need information. Uhura says Ramone seemed to be hearing the same sound as her. Pike says this proves she isn’t crazy. Uhura worries she may sabotage the ship, but Pike isn’t worried. He says there may be answers in Ramone’s personal logs or medical records. Since Ramone is deceased, Pike has been given permission to decrypt them.
Lover from Another Timeline
La’An approaches James in the hallway outside sickbay. James identifies Uhura as someone who has trouble asking for help. La’An identifies James as someone who can’t walk past a stranger in need. James shares that his father used to run around the universe helping strangers. He says this is where he learned it was important. La’An says that as one of those strangers that was helped by Starfleet, it is important. Before she departs, James brings up the drink she owes him.
At the outpost, Pelia is surprised that Una isn’t on the Enterprise. Una says getting the station online is top priority. Pelia asks Una about her problem with her. Una says she has a problem with the situation. Pelia says that’s malarkey. Una explodes. She says Pelia is sloppy, doesn’t respect protocol, is loose with discipline, selectively follows orders, has crumbs on her uniform, and is essentially a “space hippie.”
Pelia says she thinks Una has gotten too used to being the smartest person in the room. Una says Pelia has been in Starfleet since before Una was born, but Una outranks her. She asks why Pelia thinks that is. Pelia states she’ll have the station online in a few hours.
Uhura and James listen to Ramone’s logs. Ramone hallucinated that he saw someone he knew, John, who had died. Uhura observes he was having similar hallucinations and hearing the same sound. She is concerned that he became afflicted earlier, and so the same fate awaits her. James suggests they get some “real cookies” from the mess. Uhura shares that her parents and brother died in a shuttlecraft crash. She says after it happened she was plagued by intrusive thoughts depicting the crash, which she did not witness. After Hemmer’s death (in “All Those Who Wander”), the intrusive thoughts returned. She says she tried to cover them with work and smiles. However, she says she doesn’t know how to move on. Uhura asks how she can be a Starfleet officer if she can’t cope with death.
James says their job forces them to face death. He says right now, death is winning. It claimed her family and her friend and then convinced her to forget them because it was less painful than holding on to their memories. He says she can let death win, or she can fight back. “Hold on to them,” he says. Then he leaves to get her one of the cookies.
Uhura picks up her PADD and watches the video with Hemmer again. She cries but smiles. But one of Hemmer’s instructions sticks out to her: “burn out the receiver.” Meeting James in the hall, she shows him Ramone’s brain scan. She states the damage to the language center matches the elevated signal from the same part of her brain. Speculating someone may be attempting to communicate with them, she suggests the signal may be too strong. It’s a message from an invisible alien. They need Sam.
In his lab, Sam deduces that the reason the symptoms began when they entered the nebula is because the aliens live there. Sam cites a fringe theory that extra-dimension lifeforms could poke into their space and attach to local atoms. In other words, they aren’t sophisticated lifeforms capable of speech. Uhura notes there are similarities in the ways different species process thoughts and ideas. This is the principle on which the universal translator is based. Uhura wonders if her brain is performing a similar function. They send simple ideas to the language center of Uhura’s brain. Then Uhura’s brain interprets these ideas through her thoughts and memories. The visions are like vocabulary.
Uhura deduces she felt the walls closing in because they feel trapped. She was attacking herself because Starfleet was responsible. The ship exploding showed they were desperate for escape. The slaughtered crew members demonstrated that Starfleet is killing them. Zombie Hemmer showed Starfleet is killing their loved ones, and they’re terrified. This is what they’re making Uhura experience.
James says they’re living in the nebula. But Sam says in a way they are deuterium. Collecting and processing the deuterium is effectively torturing them. Uhura contacts Pike and tells him to abort the refinery mission. However, Pike reports that the refinery process started five minutes ago.
James and Uhura run through the halls. Uhura informs Pike to tell Una to shut it down, as it’s a matter of life and death. Pike states he’ll contact Una and tell her to do what she can. On the outpost, Una finds the automated systems won’t respond to commands. Pelia wonders if Ramone did more damage than they thought.
Uhura and James get in the turbolift and head for the bridge. However, Uhura once again hears the sound. Soon she’s in the field with the crashed shuttlecraft. She closes her eyes but this only makes her appear inside the craft. “Keep going,” Uhura says, walking further into the craft. Suddenly, she is on the bridge next to James. She tells Pike that the ship is killing the creatures that live in the deuterium in the nebula. The station is doing so on an exponentially larger scale.
Pike says they can’t see them or detect them in any way. But Uhura says she and Ramone can. Pike says the systems on the outpost won’t shut down. Uhura says they need to destroy it. Zombie Hemmer is present on the bridge. Pike asks Uhura how certain she is. She says she’s certain. James backs her up. She says to order an emergency evacuation of the outpost, and then to vent the deuterium from the Enterprise and Farragut fuel pods. Pike executes these strategies. The crew evacuates the refinery. The Enterprise fires torpedoes at the outpost. It explodes. Pike asks if that worked. Zombie Hemmer has returned to normal Hemmer. He smiles and nods. Uhura confirms their success before Hemmer fades away.
Strange New Era
Uhura recalls Pike’s statement that the outpost would be the jumping-off point for a new era of exploration. Pike says Starfleet can build a new gas station somewhere else, where there isn’t something living in the deuterium. Pike accepts responsibility for any blowback concerning the station’s destruction. Alternatively, he says they can blame the brash influence of James. “Always happy to be of service,” James says before suggesting they may give Uhura a medal. Pike directs Uhura to her station. He says they need to get out of the nebula and contact the Admiral. Then Pike says she should go take a nap.
On the shuttle, Una shares that Pelia was her professor at the Academy. Una is bitter that Pelia gave her a “C.” However, Pelia says that what’s actually bothering Una is the late Hemmer. Pelia is a reminder that Una’s friend is dead. She’s empathetic, having been there too many times. Further, Pelia says Una can keep claiming her animosity is actually based on the “C” without contradiction.
In the lounge, Uhura shares a drink (and photos) with James. He raises a glass with her “to staying in the fight.” Uhura wonders why the aliens chose her. James says she was thoughtful, empathetic, and a good listener. Sam arrives and says he’ll write a paper about their deuterium friends. Then he tells James that the Farragut is lucky to have him, and he’s proud. But Sam gets upset when he doesn’t get an apology. Spock agrees that Sam can be frustrating. Uhura introduces Spock to James. The three friends share their fateful first drink together.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams new episodes every Thursday on Paramount+.
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