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Recap / Star Trek: Strange New Worlds S1E09 "All Those Who Wander"

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The Enterprise, already on a Priority One mission to deliver power cells to Deep Space K-7, is tasked a second Priority One mission: the USS Peregrine, a Sombra-class escort that looks outwardly like a Constitution-class, issued a distress call four days ago. This news interrupts a banquet thrown by Pike, celebrating Cadets Chia and Uhura for their successful training rotations and the promotion of Ensign Duke to Lieutenant. Since neither the Peregrine nor DSK7 can wait, Pike decides on a case of "Let's Split Up, Gang!": Number One and Ortegas will make the delivery while Pike, Chia, Uhura, Duke, Lt. Sam Kirk, and the other characters in the credits descend to Valeo Beta V via shuttles. It's a frigid L-class planet, which Hemmer notes is just like Andoria.

La'an finds a Starfleet corpse in the snow, and more besides; the Peregrine is abandoned, having crash-landed, and most of her systems fried. Hemmer and Uhura descend to Engineering to get the ship running again, while Pike gets into the Captain's Log: Captain Gavin reports that her crew picked up three alien refugees; a human girl, an Orion named Pasko, and an alien of indeterminate race. Pasko, it turns out, was hosting Gorn Chest Burster eggs, and tried to stave off the inevitable by setting off a plasma grenade in Engineering. Pasko was unsuccessful... but the other two are still around; the girl calls herself Oriana and her companion Buckley. In Sickbay, neither M'Benga, Chapel, nor Cadet Chia can find any evidence of Gorn infestation... which is proven wrong when Buckley turns out to also be carrying Chest Burster eggs. The hatchlings eat Chia and scamper off to do the same to Duke. Meanwhile, "Team Hemhura" have gotten the ship in working order, and Pike uses the comms to order the team to regroup... but one Gorn hatchling, quite a lot larger (and played by CGI this time instead of a dude in a funky rubber suit), arrives to spit venom at Hemmer, only leaving when La'an and her phaser swing in to save the day.

The Starfleet contingent regroup in Sickbay. Spock finds records that the Gorn have somehow evolved to avoid Starfleet electromagnetic sensors, which is how all these eggs got through. Hemmer reports that navigation is the only system remaining to be restored, meaning that Pike can soon declare mission accomplished and pull a Screw This, I'm Outta Here. However, there are still Gorn around. La'an reports that the hatchlings will squabble amongst themselves until only one — the strongest, smartest, and fastest — remains; they will have to trap the Gorn, and the only bait they have are themselves. The Plan comes together.

With Pike, M'Benga, and Oriana quarterbacking from the bridge, both La'an and Spock channel their inner Screaming Warriornote  to draw the two remaining Gorn together so that they'll fight, and the last one to the shuttlebay where Hemmer freezes it with coolant. (La'an then vents a lifetime of fear and rage on it.) The mission is complete... with only one loose end to tie up: the venom spray that Hemmer got hit with was not just uncomfortable, it's how the Gorn implant new eggs in people. Citing The Needs of the Many, he walks out of the shuttlebay and falls into the chasm the Peregrine is balanced on ("Just like Andoria..."), ending the Gorn threat. Before he goes, he advises Uhura, who still has not decided whether to stay in Starfleet, that an Ineffectual Loner afraid of pain and loss can also never find love and happiness. During the shipboard funeral, Uhura echoes these sentiments, and is shown, in the episode's final shot, standing on the bridge amidst the familiar beeps and whirs— happy to be home. Meanwhile, La'an takes indefinite leave from Starfleet to help Oriana reunite with her family.

Tropes Featured in this Episode:

  • Air Vent Escape: Used by the youngling Gorn, who are small enough to fit in the ventilation shafts.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Captain Gavin's final log explains what happened and just what kind of mess the away team has landed in.
  • Bottle Episode: A slightly more elaborate one than normal, but since the Sombra-class and Constitution-class look essentially the same, the show just uses all its pre-existing sets, with only the exterior of the planet itself being out of the ordinary.
  • Bury Your Disabled: Hemmer, a blind character, played by the franchise's first blind actor, dies after fewer episodes than any series main character has ever had. Even Tasha Yar had more episodes.
  • Call-Forward:
    • The Enterprise was heading to Deep Space Station K-7, which featured prominently in "The Trouble With Tribbles" and "Trials And Tribbleations".
    • Before the end, Hemmer gives a Vulcan salute to Spock and tells him to "live long and prosper," much like Spock will do about 26 years later after making his own sacrifice to save the Enterprise crew. Also, much like Spock would himself do just prior to his first death, he asks his friends not to weep for him.
    • Spock, after accessing his rage, stands wide-eyed and silent, barely responding to the rest of the crew, much like when when undergoing Pon Farr.
  • Captain's Log: Uhura sums her time on Enterprise in her log.
    "Cadet's personal log, stardate 2510.6. My assignment to Enterprise is over. After we complete our current mission delivering Vidium power cells to deep space station K-7, I go back to Earth. I'm excited to see my grandmother. Our last call was cut short. Life on a starship has a way of taking over. I've rotated through almost every department. So many amazing, talented people. The top everyone of everything. They all know why they belong in Starfleet. For them, Starfleet has always been the destination. For me, it was where I ran to after the loss of my parents. Serving aboard Enterprise is an affirmation of this entire crew's hopes and dreams. I envy their surety. But, me... I guess I'm still searching."
  • Closed Circle: Due to conflicting missions, a two-shuttle away team is sent down to the surface of the planet while the Enterprise continues on its original delivery mission. Shortly after arriving, there is a heavy storm that forces the crew to huddle up inside the Peregrine. This forces the crew to either deal with the Gorn hatchlings or wait out the storm, neither of which are optimal.
  • Cooldown Hug: Chapel hugs Spock to calm him from his rage.
  • Disability Immunity: Gorn venom blinds the target, but Hemmer is already blind. Unfortunately, that's not all the venom does...
  • Downer Ending: Probably the roughest ending of the season. Three crew members — including Hemmer — are dead, La'an has gone on indefinite leave, Uhura is ending her cadet tour on a low note, and Spock is horrified that he let his emotions run rampant.
  • Due to the Dead: Ortegas and Uhura eulogize Hemmer at his funeral. (Chia and Duke go completely unmentioned, the former being especially curious because a captain who gets a cadet killed is probably going to get in trouble.)
  • Dwindling Party: The show introduces a cadet and newly promoted lieutenant as part of the crew, but lacking Nominal Importance compared to the main cast, they are rather quickly killed off. Hemmer, surprisingly, sacrifices himself after realizing he is infected with Gorn eggs and there is little time to consider an alternative before starting the whole mess again.
  • Enfant Terrible: The Gorn the crew fight are newborns. Literally seconds after they are born, their first instinct is to go for the jugular of any living thing nearby, and they only get worse from there.
  • Enemy Civil War: Gorn younglings fight each other for dominance, so the crew trick them into the same section so they'll fight and thin their numbers, leaving only one.
  • Expy: Oriana is Newt, down to the dirty face, the occasional snark, and not trusting the well-meaning but clueless adults who just showed up and are getting picked off one by one.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: Played with; while the Gorn do breed their young in hosts to violently hatch out, the initial assumption is that there needs to be some sort of direct physical interaction. A few hours after Hemmer is hit by some projectile venom, he starts feeling ill and the crew immediately realize how their breeding cycle works.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Because Pike, Spock, Uhura, M'Benga, Chapel, and Sam Kirk all make it to the beginning of TOS, the audience knows they are not going to be killed by the Gorn.
  • Freudian Slip: When La'an starts haranguing Oriana about why she didn't warn Peregrine's crew that one of her fellow escapees was infested with Gorn eggs, M'Benga snaps at her not to talk to "my daughter" like that. After a painful moment, he corrects himself to "my patient".
  • Heroic Suicide: Infested with Gorn eggs and sensing they're about to hatch, Hemmer throws himself into the chasm beneath the Peregrine. If the fall doesn't do the job, the cold will.
  • Hostile Weather: An incoming blizzard forces the crew to take shelter in the ship, preventing them from simply fleeing in the shuttles when the situation becomes really bad.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: A mission briefing opens with Pike's cooking, and try as she might, even a reluctant La'an admits that the food is delicious.
  • In-Universe Catharsis: After emerging from the cargo pod after freezing the last Gorn hatchling to death, La'an smashes the frozen corpse into icy pieces.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Gorn biology allows their eggs to blend in with their hosts, and they are naturally immune to sensors.
  • Kill It with Ice: Gorn (like most other reptiloids) hate the cold, so Hemmer and La'an kill the last one by freezing it. The crew of the Peregrine similarly lured their Gorn outside to kill them by exposure, which did work, but it cost all of them their lives (either by being mauled to death or freezing themselves).
  • Killed Off for Real: Hemmer is infected by the Gorn and sacrifices himself to save the crew.
  • Language Barrier: Buckley's language isn't recognized by the universal translator, preventing him from warning the away team that he's infected with Gorn eggs.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: La'an smashes the Gorn into numerous pieces after she and Hemmer freeze it to death.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Pre-release photos make it look like the Enterprise crashed on an ice planet. It's actually a similar ship, the Peregrine.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: When Spock decides to channel his inner rage, he really goes to town against one of the Gorn.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: The crew of the Peregrine tried to lure the Gorn outside of the ship to freeze. Unfortunately, it can be surmised from the bodies that while they may have succeeded in killing the Gorn, most of them were killed in the fight and the survivors then froze to death.
  • Now You Tell Me: Lampshaded. Captain Gavin is aware she can't warn any potential rescuers not to come, and La'an immediately quips that it would have been good to know that going in.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: In order to properly lure two of the hatchlings into the same corridor, Spock has to psych himself up to get angry because faking it wouldn't work. He finds it really difficult to regain his Vulcan composure afterward, which infuriates him even more and he needs a Cool-Down Hug from Chapel after they get back to the Enterprise and hold a memorial, who can tell Spock is out of sorts despite him trying to conceal it.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": M'Benga gives Pike a light ribbing for his command code still being "2-4-6-8-10".
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: The power cells Enterprise is delivering to Deep Space K-7 are unstable and will become useless if not delivered to K-7 promptly, meaning an away team will have to be sent down to the Peregrine in shuttles while Enterprise continues on its mission, depriving them of backup.
  • Properly Paranoid: La'an grills Oriana about being infected with Gorn eggs, ignoring M'Benga's protests that she and Buckley came up clean in scans. She's entirely right to be suspicious, as Buckley turns out to have four inside him which hatch soon after.
  • Punch a Wall: Spock does this after the funeral, putting a sizable dent in the wall, because he's having trouble repressing his emotions after letting them out.
  • Red Shirt: Of the three Enterprise crewmembers who die, Hemmer is the only one who's had any prior screentime or characterization; the other two are onscreen just long enough to get bullseyes painted on them. Ironically, Hemmer is the only one of the three wearing a red uniform.
  • Retirony: The start of the episode features a modest ceremony where one crew member is promoted to Lieutenant while two cadets, one of which being Uhura, have finished their academy rotation and are preparing to leave. The Lieutenant and the other Cadet end up being the ones to die.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: La'an ends up requesting an indefinite leave of absence from Starfleet at the end of the episode, as she's rattled by everything that happened on the Peregrine and wants to help Oriana find her family.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The events on the Peregrine are basically a pastiche of Alien and Aliens, bordering on a Whole-Plot Reference.
    • References to the Alien franchise include:
      • The crew following a distress call to find a crashed ship, only to discover it's a warning to stay away (Alien, Alien: Isolation).
      • Finding corpses littering the ship (Alien: Isolation).
      • Hemmer's sacrifice is a near recreation of Ripley's (Alien 3).
      • La'an searching for Oriana's parents and taking her under her wing is a mirror to Ripley doing the same with Newt (Aliens).
      • The emerging Gorn are pure white and quickly molt and grow (Alien). There are more than one per host (Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem). One also emerges from Buckley's back (Alien: Covenant).
      • The scene where the Gorn emerge from Buckley is akin to the scene with Alien: Covenant, as much like the Neomorphs, they are actively hostile, killing two Starfleet officers shortly after birth in sheer aggression rather than fleeing to grow safely.
      • The Gorn like to use the vents to get around.
      • The vein-like pattern on Buckley's skin is similar to how humans infected by the black goo look (Prometheus).
    • The way the Gorn see and make clicking noises is clearly a homage to the Predator.
    • In her eulogy, Ortegas remembers calling Hemmer a "blue meanie" when he scolded her for overworking the ship's engine.
    • The Gorn spew venom that blinds its victims.
    • La'an working through her trauma by breaking apart the frozen Gorn hatchling is evocative of Buffy smashing the Master's bones.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The universal translator can't parse Buckley the alien's language, and when La'an tells Uhura to do something, Uhura has to remind her that that's not how linguistics works. The crew never does work out how to communicate with Buckley (beyond a general sense of "we're trying to help") before his death by Gorn Chest Burster.
  • Tainted Veins: A symptom of late-stage Gorn infestation is bulging red veins.
  • Teleport Interdiction: The atmosphere of the planet is filled with particles that render comms and beaming useless from orbit, so the away team has to take shuttles to get down, and any messages sent planet-side never make it out.
  • There Are No Therapists: Subverted with La'an, who was late to an event in the Captain's lounge because of a scheduled session with a counselor over her established backstory with the Gorn. It's actually one of the few times the franchise has suggested regular therapy to crew members who experience such things.
  • Transformation at the Speed of Plot: Gorn eggs hatch at different rates depending on the host. For Hemmer, this means he's infected and close to bursting inside an hour, whereas days pass for most humanoids.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: When the crew start discussing how to defeat the two remaining Gorn, they outline a couple facts and Pike announces they have the start of a plan. From there, we only see the plan's execution, and it is largely successful.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Sam Kirk reams Spock out for his stoic nature after the Gorn attack kills Duke.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Despite being in the opening credits, Hemmer has only had lines in five episodes, one of them this one.
  • Xenomorph Xerox: The Gorn as seen in this episode take quite a few cues from the classic xenomorphs. They reproduce by infesting others with their offspring, who then explode out of the host in classic Chest Burster fashion. The hatchlings then go through a period of molting and rapid growth, during which they hunt each other and potential prey by traveling through vents and skittering along walls and ceilings. They also have prehensile tails, More Teeth than the Osmond Family, and can spit acid that infests the unfortunate target with more eggs.