Before I get started, if you haven’t seen the first episode of season two of Strange New Worlds, go away. Because while I don’t plan to review the entire episode, I feel a need to speak on two things I have been listening to on the Internet and need to speak out on them.
IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED STRANGE NEW WORLDS S2:E1, GO. This is your final warning.
Without further ado: A brief setup.
In the image below, Dr. M’Benga and Nurse Chapel have been reimagined with the Star Trek Universe having a real budget, more ambitious writers, and a desire to give characters who were overlooked in the previous version of The Original Series of Star Trek, some quality screen-time.
This is a form of restorative justice and I salute and support this. If this bothered you, get over it.
Chapel and M’Benga are forced to provide medical care to a group of renegade Klingons suffering from radiation poisoning only possible by utilizing photon torpedoes and an interaction with a radiation found on this dilithium-mining planet.
After spending time with the Klingons, the two realize there is more going on and that it appears the Klingons may have stolen tech from Federation sources. Recognizing they may not be allowed to leave because of their knowledge, the two enter an agreement to take a stimulant capable of enhancing their human physiology to a level capable of fighting NUMEROUS Klingons in hand-to-hand combat.
Before you whine, remember we have seen such things in the past. Remember when Kirk fights Spock during the episode where Spock was experiencing pon farr and Kirk was expected to hold his own against a half-Vulcan; Dr. McCoy gives Kirk a “stimulant-laced, neural paralyzer” which helped “cope with the thin air of Vulcan” and conveniently rendered him ”dead” later.
Apparently, Nurse Chapel and Dr. M’Benga’s fighting scenes bothered fans everywhere, I laughed and enjoyed watching overconfident Klingons getting their butts handed to them by a doctor who had obviously seen more combat than he liked to let on and his thousand-yard stare was IMPRESSIVE AS FUCK. He looked as if he was willing to keep fighting even as the drug wore off (and I think it might have) because Chapel ran out of gas and M’Benga was still whooping that ass, looking crazier every second. That was an outstanding performance by Babs Olusanmokun.
Point One: Mysterious Enhancement Compound
Given the technological capacity of the Federation, the temporary enhancement of physical capabilities should have ALWAYS been available. Since the Federation frowns on genetic engineering, the creation of such short-term enhancements make sense under certain conditions.
For example: Performing a rescue on a heavy-gravity world, hit the rescue team with some aspect of this drug and they have increased endurance during what would otherwise be a hardship. Since they are going to return to the ship and get medical treatment, they would get muscular and cellular regeneration, repairing any damage the short term use of the drug might cause.
The impression I walked away with was: The enhancement drug had been something from the private medical reserve of Dr. M’Benga who had spent time working and fighting against Klingons in some previous period in his life. He recognized the threat and BROUGHT this formula with him. He would have made the Boy Scouts proud.
They foreshadowed it when he and the Klingon he was treating traded notes and the Klingon realized the doctor had indeed been on location. Said Klingon looked shook.
The nature of this drug may have been how MBenga survived fighting with Klingons in the first place. I also suspect it should have come with sufficient side effects that the two were unable to use it again without consequences.
Just because we (the audience) have not been privy to EVERY aspect of Star Trek technological capacity does not mean it DOES NOT EXIST. It may be illegal, not recommended, or intentionally hidden (see: Section 31) and held in times of emergency.
As to Point Two: ‘Stealing’ the Enterprise
As for “stealing the Enterprise” I believe this was ALLOWED because the Federation brass wanted the option to engage in that time-honored, military tradition of “plausible deniability.”
To officially send a starship to the dilithium planet during the Klingon’s time on the planet might have caused problematic interactions with the Klingon government. Counting on Vulcan discretion and Spock’s desire to NOT cause a scene meant Commodore April could get reconnaissance data he could rely on and Spock determining if there was a credible threat (which he already knew SOMETHING was going on there) but didn’t have an embedded source he could trust.
Until Enterprise revealed itself, the Klingons were completely unaware the Federation was even there. If not for the need to fire on the false flag starship, the Klingons NEVER would known Enterprise had been there and left, if there was no threat there.
April “reprimanded” Spock because that’s his job. But the Enterprise served HIS purpose and thus there was no problem in the overall scheme of things because this was a win/win scenario. A significant threat to the Federation peace was countered, a lost starship found and denied further use to the enemy and ironically Spock (of all people) manage to broker a furthering of the peace, however, temporary.
April would have been a fool to bench one of the best and brightest assets in the Federation’s Star Fleet Service, and he knows it, even saying so at the very end of the episode.
I enjoyed the episode and the scenes with the Doctor M’Benga and Nurse Chapel Ass-Kicking Ensemble was outstanding and long overdue. Why should redshirts have all the fun?
Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.