Strange New Worlds drained Pike of his victim’s power


Strange New Worlds drained Pike of his victim's power

The assignment was clearly a Star Trek assignment: Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), once again having doubts about his tragic fate, is visited by his future self and forced to witness a pivotal moment in the ship’s existence in order to see why he can’t avoid the accident that leaves him scarred and paralyzed better than what is happening in this timeline. Also, again, it’s just “Balance of Terror” that Star Trek is happy to revisit.

The result is “A Quality of Mercy,” the season finale of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1. And it’s informative: In this timeline, with Pike at the helm of the Enterprise instead of Kirk, a one-off episode turns into an all-out war. Pike remains the comfort (though not the comforting thought) of knowing that his death not only saves a few ensigns, but also keeps Spock alive and the universe from being torn apart in conflict. He can now face the terrible fate he witnessed Star Trek: Discovery to know that’s it to do the right thing.

sorry to strange new worlds, but that’s a bit of nonsense. The show’s attempt to tie a loose narrative ending and give Pike a season arc deprives him of a major challenge to his character – from which all his cleverness, charm and ingenuity could not free him.

Photo: Marni Grossman/Paramount Plus

His grim fate of delta ray exposure (which renders him unable to move or speak) is an unenviable position that Pike was doomed to in the original series two-parter The Menagerie. During the year 2009 star trek Attempting to soften his post-accident outcome, modern Star Trek television plays Pike’s fate as more of a body horror nightmare he stares at every day.

And predictably – miraculously – we see Pike struggling with that. For a character so virtuous, so competent, so optimistic, his fate is torture. Every day he has to accept that he knows when and where and why he will be incapacitated, and every day he also lives with the knowledge that he will likely make the decision to risk himself and save the crew members anyway. And so he studies the handful of cadets his accident will save, learning their names and their lives. He tries to make sense of their existence in a way he fears his own accident may rob him of.

A Quality of Mercy, as the name suggests, is a merciful attempt to give him some peace of mind on that front. But it undercuts one of the things that made this Pike so compelling. How does a man keep his infinite optimism in the face of certain doom? If Pike’s central flaw is that his hope would lead him to believe that every problem has a solution if only he could find it easy, it is poetic that he is confronted with a future that completely robs him of this conviction. The fact that it wasn’t an outright death might have made it even harder for someone like Pike to swallow than your regular Kobayashi Maru.

Close-up of Captain Pike

Photo: Marni Grossman/Paramount Plus

In Mount’s characterization there is little room for an answer other than “yes”. To his credit, Star Trek has kept the stakes on Pike’s accident down so far and allowed his heroism to dictate the devastation. By letting this tower over Pike – openly or not – Strange New Worlds built an intriguing character dynamic that constantly forces this golden retriever of a captain to confront the fact that not all suffering is noble or deserved, and makes him contemplate whether he could live with his future either way.

With a commitment beyond what Pike could have imagined, A Quality of Mercy implodes the personal commitment to his character. He can now have (almost) absolute certainty that his victim is largely making history, a digestible way of measuring the value of his sacrifice. But for a show that’s done such a great job of returning to the things that define Star Trek, “A Quality of Mercy” is that rare misstep that does little to define a Trek trope or the character it references she concentrates on moving forward.

In season 2 (which, to be clear, I’m definitely going to watch) there might be room for that shade to continue coloring everything Pike does. But I will miss the iteration of Pike, which had very little to hold on to as he processed his vision. He had to face a future he couldn’t avoid, where things were fair suckedand constantly balancing it with his value system, which told him the pain was worth it anyway.

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