Thursday, August 4, 2022

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - A Quality of Mercy

After getting off-track for a couple of episodes, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds rights the ship for the season finale that touches on one of the major themes of the season as well as explore one of the original series episodes in a new way. In something akin to Marvel's What If..., "A Quality of Mercy" examines what might happen if you removed the Enterprise's most famous captain from one of his biggest moments of his early career and instead left Captain Pike (Anson Mount) in command. The time travel is made possible by the arrival of Pike's older self letting him know the consequences if he attempts to change the outcome of his accident several years in the future.

The idea of the right person in the right situation at the right time rings true here as Pike lives out events in the future, still in command of the Enterprise, when the events of "Balance of Terror" occur. Although we do get Captain Kirk (Paul Wesley) in this episode, Kirk arrives as back-up commanding the USS Farragut and it is the more cautious Pike who takes the lead in the battle of wits with the Romulan commander destroying Federation outposts along the Neutral Zone leading to a far different outcome.

Although Matthew MacFadzean isn't nearly as strong on-screen as Mark Lenard in the role of the unnamed Romulan Commander, the episode still has plenty of drama in both the tense moments with the Romulans and Pike's attempts to discover what this version of history has in store. Speaking of casting, Wesley wouldn't be my choice for a young Shatner. His interpretation of the character feels more like an imitation. That, along with his gangly frame, made me think more of Jim Carrey's parody of Captain Kirk than Kirk himself.

The episode leaves several us with several interesting ideas, including the possibility that after his experience with Kirk it might have been Pike who recommended him for the Enterprise's big chair. Although Spock (Ethan Peck) does not know exactly what Pike experienced, he understands enough that his choice to not alter his own future helps save the future of Spock. In doing so, the episode ties the two closer together and lays a bit more foundation for the reasoning of Spock's actions in "The Menagerie." Although apparently satisfied with his choice to accept his fate, the captain misses a big clue in the future and returns to his own timeline to new trouble for his First Officer. The future may be saved, but we still end the season on a cliffhanger with the fate of Number One (Rebecca Romijn) undecided as the show provides a potential reason for character's removal from the ship prior to Kirk taking command.

  • Title: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - A Quality of Mercy
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