Strange New Worlds robbed Pike of the power of his sacrifice


The project was a distinctly Star Trek one: As soon as once more having doubts about his tragic destiny, Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) is visited by his future self and compelled to stay out an important second within the ship’s existence to see why not avoiding the accident that leaves him scarred and paralyzed is higher than what occurs in that timeline. Additionally, it’s simply “Steadiness of Terror” once more, which Star Trek loves to revisit.

The result’s “A High quality of Mercy,” the season finale of Star Trek: Unusual New Worlds season 1. And it’s informative: On this timeline, with Pike on the helm of the Enterprise as an alternative of Kirk, what could be a one-off episode turns into an all-out conflict. Pike is left with the comfort (if not absolutely comforting thought) of realizing that his dying not solely saves some ensigns, however retains Spock alive and the universe from being torn aside in battle. He can now go ahead into the dire destiny he witnessed in Star Trek: Discovery realizing that it’s the proper factor to do.

Apologies to Unusual New Worlds, however that’s a bit bit bullshit. Within the present’s try to tie up a unfastened narrative finish and provides Pike a season arc, it robs him of the nice problem to his character — one all his cleverness, appeal, and ingenuity couldn’t free him from.

Photograph: Marni Grossman/Paramount Plus

His grim future of delta ray publicity (which leaves him unable to maneuver or converse) is an unenviable place, one Pike was doomed to within the Authentic Collection’ two-parter “The Menagerie.” Whereas the 2009 Star Trek tried to melt his post-accident final result, trendy Star Trek TV performs Pike’s destiny as extra a physique horror nightmare he’s staring down each single day.

And predictably — splendidly — we see Pike wrestle with it. For a personality this virtuous, this proficient, this optimistic, his destiny is agony. Day by day he has to reconcile the truth that he is aware of when and the place and why he will probably be incapacitated, and each day he additionally lives with the information that he’ll in all probability nonetheless make the choice to threat himself and save the crew members anyway. And so he research up on the handful of cadets his accident will save, learns their names and their lives. He seeks to provide their existence that means in a means that he worries his personal accident will rob him of.

“A High quality of Mercy” is, true to its identify, a merciful try to provide him some peace of thoughts on that entrance. Nevertheless it undercuts one of many issues that made this Pike so compelling. How does a person retain his endless optimism within the face of sure doom? If Pike’s central flaw is that his hopefulness would have him imagine each downside has an answer if solely he may simply discover it, it’s poetic that he’s confronted with a future that completely robs him of that conviction. The truth that it wasn’t an outright dying may even have made it more durable for somebody like Pike to swallow than your customary Kobayashi Maru.

Close-up on Captain Pike

Photograph: Marni Grossman/Paramount Plus

There’s hardly room in Mount’s characterization for the reply to that query to be something apart from “sure.” To Star Trek’s credit score, till now, it saved the stakes of Pike’s accident low, permitting his heroism to outline the devastation. In letting this loom over Pike — overtly or not — Unusual New Worlds arrange an enchanting character dynamic, consistently forcing this golden retriever of a captain to confront that not all struggling is noble or deserved, and leaves him to parse whether or not he may stay along with his future both means.

By increasing the stakes past what Pike may have imagined, “A High quality of Mercy” implodes the private stake for his character. He can now have the (close to) full peace of thoughts that his sacrifice is history-making within the grand scheme of issues, a digestible strategy to measure the price of his immolation. However for a present that has executed such a powerful job returning to the things that define Star Trek, “A High quality of Mercy” is the uncommon misstep that does little to advance a Trek trope or the character it’s centered on.

There could also be room in season 2 (which, to be clear, I’ll completely be watching) for this shadow to proceed coloring the whole lot Pike does. However I’ll miss the iteration of Pike that had little or no to carry on to as he processed his imaginative and prescient. He needed to face a future he couldn’t keep away from the place issues simply sucked, and consistently sq. it along with his worth system that advised him the ache was value it anyway.

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