Finally got to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds ep 9 All Those Who Wander. We’re near the wrap up of the first season. This one is the horror movie, monster episode. It’s been compared to Alien (1979), Aliens (1986), Predator (1987), and if you factor in the cold, to The Thing (1982).
The Enterprise is already on a priority mission to deliver materials to space station K7, without which, all the station’s systems including life support will shut down. Now they’ve been ordered to find a lost starship, the USS Peregrine, which isn’t a Constitution class starship but sure looks like one. It transmitted a distress signal four days ago before crash landing on a desolate L class planet and has not been heard from since. The planet’s atmosphere blocks communication and transporter functions.
Pike decides to lead an away mission in two shuttles, allowing the Enterprise to complete it’s task at K7.
This is also a farewell party, complete with Pike’s cooking, for the cadets, Uhura plus two we haven’t met before, one receiving a promotion to Lieutenant. That means they are the “red shirts” and are sure to die.
Most of the command crew minus Ortega and Number One go. They find bodies and blood outside the ship but only 20 out of a crew complement of 99. Although they landed a few kilometers from the ship, they seem to be right on top of it, meaning either the ship is a lot bigger than Enterprise or the writers got it wrong again.
Getting inside, they find chaos, more blood, but no bodies, at least not right away. The ship has no internal sensors or comm and about 20% life support which is enough to keep them warm for awhile. The planet looks rocky and icy with plenty of snow. Hemmer says it’s just like Andoria, which he utters with some fondness. No one else is impressed.
With all command functions routed to engineering, he and Uhura go down there to see if they can restore power. A closer examination of the crew outside shows they’ve been eaten. They find more slaughtered bodies inside. Tapping into the ship’s log, the Peregrine picked up three castaway survivors, a human girl, an Orion adult, and an adult unknown humanoid. They pick up only two life signs left.
The Peregrine looks just like Enterprise and besides sitting on the planet’s surface at an angle, is completely intact. Having built more than one plastic model of the Enterprise, I can tell you they’re incredibly nose heavy and the saucer section should have broken off, even in the mildest landing. So should at least one if not both warp nacelles.
The crew is seen walking at an angle because of the ship’s tilt, but that’s only because the camera is tilting. They should have trouble walking, need to climb, slip in the direction of gravity, that sort of thing. Also, the tilt isn’t consistent throughout the ship, even though the exterior view suggests it should be. Most of the ship is tilted, but not engineering for some reason.
Pike, La’an, Uhura, M’Benga, and Chapel find the alien with a gun. Universal translator’s not helping and Uhura isn’t either except she believes he’s protecting someone. Everyone lowers their weapons and the alien lets them find the other survivor, a girl named Oriana (Emma Ho). She calls the alien Buckley (voiced by Carlos Albornoz).
The Orion set off a bomb in the ship because he knew one of them was infected, which is why he isn’t around. La’an goes off on Oriana asking why she didn’t warn the ship’s Captain. M’Benga defends her, accidently calling her his daughter. Pike suggests that La’an use her own experiences to help Oriana. The girl has escaped from a Gorn breeding planet is is very much like a young La’an.
In engineering, Hemmer plays “ship’s counselor” telling Uhura she’s afraid to find a “home,” not because she’s afraid of relationships but because she loves them. Because she’s lost loved ones before, she’s afraid of the pain those connections will cause. Reminded me of some lyrics to that wee Beatles song which goes:
And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make.
Back with the girl, Chapel has finished her scans of the girl and the alien. No sign of the Gorn on the ship or inside anyone so they conclude that they’re gone. Of course, they’re wrong.
Chapel finds some strange, patterned blood wounds on the alien’s arm and neck and he seems to be in distress. Yes, it’s going to be bad.
Chapel says she needs to go into another room to read the results on her tablet. Why she had to leave makes no sense except she’s supposed to survive the episode. Oriana is left with Cadet Chia (Jessica Danecker) and the alien, and the girl knows what’s about to happen. She slips around a corner and hides. Chia is oblivious doing some sort of useless work, that is until we get to the chest exploder scene where she’s killed almost immediately.
Chapel runs toward the screams and then seeing the baby Gorn, takes off and hides herself. This is where we find that the Gorn see heat signatures like Predator.
Earlier, Spock sought Chapel out for medical supplies. Now Lt. Duke (Ted Kellogg) has injured himself though not severely. Through some conversational twist, Chapel says there are times when you need to get angry. This is a bit of foreshadowing.
Spock goes back into a creepy part of the ship. Sees a blood trail. Can’t find Duke. He jumps but the noise was just Pike and Sam. They eventually find Duke and he’s surprisingly all right. That doesn’t last as a now half-grown Gorn grabs him and drags him screaming into the darkness, leaving Spock’s gloved hands covered with blood. Sam panics in a manner so unlike his younger brother.
I have to wonder about Sam. We’ve seen him make a significant appearance in only one past episode and a trivial appearance in another. Why is this character on the show? He does nothing and contributes nothing. Is he supposed to be a placeholder until season two when his role expands?
La’an finds a terrified Chapel and they go looking for Oriana. They find her. Meanwhile in engineering, except for navigation, Hemmer and Uhura have restored power, but something goes “bang.” Then Hemmer smells human blood.
One of the Gorn is in there and spits its venom, hitting Hemmer. He and Uhura escape.
With sensors and communications back up, Pike orders everyone to regroup in sickbay. They determine that by their nature, Gorn are invisible to sensors. Even Hemmer can’t sense them telepathically. Their maturity cycle depends on the host. With an Orion, it takes weeks to gestate. Inside a human, they take only days.
La’an says that there are just three left and they’ll fight each other until only the alpha emerges. The plan is to use environmental controls to make certain parts of the ship cold and herd them.
Uhura and Sam become bait for a remaining Gorn and lead them to where Spock is waiting.
They both go for Spock but to lure them out, he has to tap into his rage. He does, sealing the two surviving Gorn in a conduit together. Soon there’ll only be one left. Sam almost gets his head torn off by Spock by approaching him from behind.
At one point before this, a very terrified Sam pulls a “McCoy” on Spock accusing him of being an unfeeling, green-blooded computer, which Pike has to shut down.
La’an is bait for the alpha Gorn and she gets it to follow her into a cargo bay. Hemmer and Uhura have set up the trap and are in cargo pods of some kind. La’an makes it into hers just seconds before the Gorn attacks, threating to break in. Hemmer triggers his freeze trap and it’s like dipping the Gorn into liquid nitrogen. La’an emerges, grabs a metal bar and shatters the thing.
Hemmer is now obviously suffering. While everyone is celebrating that the Gorn are dead, La’an says it’s venom is also how it reproduces, infecting a host (Why didn’t she mention this when Hemmer was first splattered?). In this case, Hemmer is that host. Uhura got out of the chamber. I don’t know if it’s La’an or Hemmer who sealed the doors.
With everyone outside begging Hemmer to hang on until they can find a way to extract the eggs, he decides to go out into the cold. La’an is the only one who understands. Hemmer imparts one last piece of advice to Uhura before he walks outside into the freezing cold and over the edge of a cliff.
Everyone is appropriately upset including Uhura and particularly La’an. Her brother was infected by the Gorn and killed, too.
As an aside, we’ve yet to see an adult Gorn. So far, they are incredibly vicious predators but that’s in their less than full grown phase. They’ve shown cunning, but not real intelligence or the ability to communicate. They must go through some very significant changes by maturity if they’ve developed a culture that is capable of interstellar space travel.
The next scene is impossible. The Enterprise is at warp towing the Peregrine behind. They should never have gotten the ship off of the planet in one piece due to the aforementioned stresses on its design. Oh well.
Ortegas is speaking at the eulogy for three lost friends, although from the audience’s point of view. we only miss Hemmer.
This brought up for me the idea that in a ten-episode season, we really don’t have time to become attached to a character before they die or disappear. I know what I said in my last review about M’Benga’s daughter, but that was special because as a Dad and Grandpa, I could especially relate. Plus, I hadn’t seen my two oldest grandchildren for two months (and I’m used to at least talking to them every day) and was missing them.
But although I felt the sense of loss with Hemmer, it was nothing like Spock’s (Leonard Nimoy’s) death scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Wow, all these great movies are from the 1980s…I wonder if the universe is trying to tell us something?). At that point, audiences had sixteen years of attachment to Spock, so when he “died” (he came back), emotionally, we are all torn to shreds. Compared to that, how often in the past nine episodes have we even seen Hemmer?
During the eulogy, Spock is obviously upset and, clenching his fists, leaves. Chapel follows to see Spock smashing his fist into and denting a bulkhead. She grabs him and he barely stops himself from breaking her arm.
He’s let his rage out of the Vulcan Pandora’s box and now can’t find a way to get it back inside. They hug but as they are about to close in for another kiss, he turns and walks away.
In Pike’s quarters, La’an says she’s tracked down a lead to Oriana’s family but it’s outside of Federation space (what’s the attachment to Federation space? Doesn’t exploring “strange new worlds” mean going outside of the Federation?). She requests and is granted an extended leave of absence to take Oriana on that journey. That means actress Christina Chong might be absent from at least part of the next season.
The last scene is Uhura taking one final look at the bridge, and especially the communications station. She’s going back to Earth and the scene strongly suggests that when she comes back to the Enterprise, she’ll be Lt. Uhura, the ship’s communication’s officer.
The title was meant for Uhura because she has been wandering but finally is no longer lost. Hailing frequencies open.
A very fine episode. Writing was a lot better than many other episodes. There were actually explanations for why sensors, communications, and other things not working.
Sam Kirk was a whiney little bitch and if that’s how they want to write him, I really have no use for him, and I suspect, neither does the Enterprise. Also, the ship now needs a new chief engineer. I wonder if a version of Scotty will show up for season two of the show?
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