The story comes full circle, and we begin afresh. The final frontier awaits.
That’s the tag line on the key art poster that’s been released for the upcoming Star Trek: Strange New Worlds series set to debut on Paramount Plus this May. Alongside this art, the official trailer premiered during the Grammy Awards broadcast on April 4th, showing us our first real glimpse of more than just the characters that comprise the new series, but the character that is the series itself.
Strange New Worlds, which follows the adventures of Captain Chris Pike and the original crew of the USS Enterprise, serves as the Star Trek universe’s first true prequel. Granted, we’ve had series such as Discovery and Enterprise that are set further back in the timeline of the world itself, but the premiere of Strange New Worlds shares a unique history with the rest of the universe. Rather than merely being a snapshot of an earlier point in the timeline, this series follows the life and times of the captain that directly preceded James T. Kirk aboard the Enterprise. What would otherwise be history, and an independent story with its own independent events, this show serves to provide a direct continuity to the original series.
Leading up to the release of the trailer, a series of teasers introducing audiences to the characters that comprise the crew revealed a lot about what audiences can expect: a mix of both old and new. Much of the cast, such as Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Number One (Rebecca Romijn) – now known to us as Una Chin-Reilly – Spock (Ethan Peck), Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush), Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), and Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), had their genesis in the pilot episode of the original series,or served under Captain Kirk outright during its run.
However, it is some of the new names that are most noteworthy, such as the appearance of La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong), a clear relative of famed villain Khan Noonien-Singh. There’s also the Aenar Hemmer (Bruce Horak) – the Aenar are an albino and highly telepathic form of the Andorian species, who have appeared previously in Star Trek canon, but have never before featured as a member of any show’s primary cast. Finally, we have Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia), who we only know is a lieutenant, and as such is, in this writer’s opinion, the most intriguing of the bunch as her story is a surprise just waiting to be discovered.
Many of these older characters have been little more than bullet points in the show’s history, serving on the sidelines or so fleetingly present we never got to know their full names. In this series, we will come to know them as fully realized people for the first time – and much of this cast has a huge burden to carry in the legacy of their predecessors. Bush and Romijn likely will face the most scrutiny, as Christine Chapel and Number One were both originally played by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. As keepers of the flame of a woman who brought these roles to life, portrayed Lwaxana Troi on Next Generation, and became the signature voice of the computer aboard countless ships and space stations, a lot will likely be riding on their performances. Not only must they do justice to their predecessor, but breathe unique life into two separate characters that were portrayed by the same actress.
If the trailer is any indication, they’ll have ample opportunity to prove themselves. While the trailer features some glimpses of more modern humor that does create some separation from the feel of the original series, it also dazzles with incredible special effects and reassures with core elements of what made the original series great.
Cadet Uhura is the best example of this, her awed and reverent voice breathlessly processing, from within the helmet of her space suit, that she is “standing on the surface of a comet.” That wide-eyed plunge into adventure and exploration as vast and endless as the universe itself may very well be the linch pin that maintains a strong spiritual connection to the source material. They work hard to capture some of the retro vibe of the original series in costumes and styling, but at first blush, this trailer feels more like it has stronger ties to the rebooted theatrical universe than the core timeline. Rife with lights, lens flares, and settings illuminated strictly for mood, it is this writer’s opinion that we’re going to need to wait and see what full episodes provide in terms of writing, and additional visuals, to confirm whether or not this will be tailor made to fit into its place in Star Trek history – or Paramount shoving square pegs in round holes.
As the poster says, the premiere in May – and the frontier – awaits.
Liz Carlie (she/her/he/him) is a regular book, TV, and film reviewer for SCIFI.radio and has previously been a guest on ‘The Event Horizon’. In addition to being an active member of the traditional fandom community, she’s also an active participant in online fan culture, pro wrestling journalism, and spreading the gospel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She resides in Southern California with her aspiring superhero dog, Junior, enjoying life one hyperfixation at a time.