Published Aug 11, 2023
RECAP | Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 210 - 'Hegemony'
Sometimes a monster is just a monster.
By Jay Stobie
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains story details and plot points for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
- Marie Batel
- Christine Chapel
- Christopher Pike
- Doug Appel
- Nyota Uhura
- Erica Ortegas
- Robert April
- Una Chin-Riley (Number One)
- La’An Noonien-Singh
- Dr. Joseph M'Benga
- Sam Kirk
- Montgomery Scott
- U.S.S. Cayuga
- Parnassus Beta
- U.S.S. Enterprise
The U.S.S. Cayuga is orbiting Parnassus Beta, a colony located just outside Federation space whose founders drew inspiration from the small towns of the old midwestern United States. Led by Captain Marie Batel, the ship’s surface crew is stabilizing the settlement’s agricultural crop and providing necessary vaccinations. Having hitched a ride with theCayuga, Nurse Christine Chapel finishes the inoculations and looks ahead to rendezvousing with Dr. Roger Korby for the much-anticipated fellowship. Batel thanks the nurse for the assistance, and Chapel beams back up to the ship.
Batel’s PADD chirps, revealing an incoming call from Captain Christopher Pike aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. The two captains engage in playful banter, with Pike expressing his appreciation for not bursting into song every ten minutes. Batel laments the situation on Parnassus Beta — Federation membership would protect the colony, but it would also make it a target. Pike admits he misses Batel, though she loses his signal before they can continue the conversation any further, leaving Pike to reflect over the Opelian Mariner’s Keystone his partner had given to him.
Batel checks with Ensign Appel regarding the interruption in communications, but the Cayuga doesn’t respond to his hail. A booming sound catches everyone’s attention, and the officers watch as a damaged Starfleet shuttlecraft streaks across the sky and plummets into the distance. Batel stands in shock as a massive non-Federation starship enters the atmosphere and casts a shadow over the entire settlement.
On the Enterprise Bridge, Ensign Nyota Uhura receives an emergency transmission from Batel, who has requested that any nearby Federation vessels come to aid in evacuating the colony — Parnassus Beta is under attack by the Gorn! Captain Pike tells Lt. Erica Ortegas to steer the ship toward the planet with “everything she’s got.” The captain heads to his Ready Room to converse with Admiral Robert April, and the two highlight reports that the Gorn Hegemony has been amassing forces along the border for quite a while.* Since the incident is occurring outside the Federation and could potentially spark a war with the Gorn, Starfleet only wants the Enterprise to gather intelligence. Responding to Pike’s assertion that the Gorn are “monsters,” April notes the term is often used to describe those who misunderstand us. The captain replies with a stern gaze, offering a chilling observation — “Sometimes a monster is just a monster.” The admiral expresses concern over Pike’s judgment being clouded by his closeness to Batel, though Pike denies it will impact him.
The Enterprise arrives at Parnassus Beta to find a horrific sight — the Cayuga’s battered saucer section adrift amid an ocean of debris.** Pike hopes to detect life-signs or escape pods, but sensors, communications, and transporters are all down. Lt. Spock detects a counter frequency emanating from the planet, and Lt. La’An Noonien-Singh theorizes that the Gorn might have an interference field — a weapon to render their enemies blind during invasions. Unable to beam anyone off the Cayuga or the planet below, the crew turns to alternative solutions. Uhura suggests they still have line-of-sight communications, prompting Pike to order a search for any fires, lights, or smoke signals initiated by survivors.
An incoming warp signature is detected, sending the Enterprise into a red alert. Spock identifies the vessel as a Gorn hunter ship, and Uhura receives a secure message from Starfleet. The Gorn have sent the Federation an image — a map with a demarcation line separating the Enterprise from the colony and the Cayuga. Starfleet directs the crew to remain on their side of the impromptu border.
Pike gathers the command crew — Commander Una Chin-Riley, Dr. Joseph M’Benga, Lt. Noonien-Singh, Lt. Ortegas, Lt. Spock, and Ensign Uhura — in his Ready Room, relaying his intention to defy Starfleet and covertly extract any survivors from the territory claimed by the Gorn. The captain asks for volunteers, a plea that is greeted with resounding support from those seated around the table. Pike believes Una, Spock, and Uhura’s skill sets will serve them best aboard the Enterprise, where they must try to avert a war with the Gorn. Lt. George “Sam” Kirk enters the briefing, eager to participate in the mission and overcome his past fears by “studying” the Gorn — with a phaser.
Filled with resolve, Pike authorizes Transporter Chief Jay to conduct an in-ship transport, beaming Crate 32 out of storage and into the Ready Room. The captain places his hand on the container, unlocking its security measures and revealing an array of anti-Gorn weaponry. Ever since the Hegemony had begun building its forces near Federation space, Starfleet had started issuing such crates to every Starfleet ship in the event they ran across the Gorn. Or, as Ortegas wryly opines, “Break in case of Gorn.” Phaser harmonics adjustments, scanner recalibrations, and — to Uhura’s shock — nitrogen grenades are all included. Tricorders can now pick up Gorn life-signs, and the grenades will freeze anything within its ten-meter range. Ortegas revisits a burning question — can they even reach the planet?
Sitting at her Bridge station, Number One demonstrates the futility of alternate routes — they cannot use the gravity of the moon as a slingshot or utilize a geosynchronous orbit to take the Enterprise off the same plane as its Gorn counterpart. If the ship crosses the demarcation line, the Gorn will know about it. The map of the Cayuga’s debris draws Ortegas’ attention — the Gorn aren’t shooting at the wreckage because they already did. Perhaps the best way to cross is right in front of them. A subdued Pike praises the pilot’s brilliant plan, agreeing that posing as space debris might get them by the Gorn hunter. Citing Ortegas’ well-known desire to join a landing party, the captain tasks her with the job.
Now on one of the Enterprise’s shuttlecraft, the team — Pike, M’Benga, Noonien-Singh, Ortegas, and Sam Kirk — sit anxiously as the vessel is guided into position within the debris field. Its hull camouflaged by pieces of metal, the shuttle passes through the Gorn ship’s scanning range without being detected. On the Enterprise’s Bridge, Uhura compares the “space garbage” gambit to an old zombie movie trick, with Una concurring that survivors would dress up as if they were dead so the zombies wouldn’t notice them. Spock wears a confused expression, promising to conduct more research on the curious film genre. A beep chimes from his station, alerting him that the shuttle has entered the planet’s atmosphere.
Out of range and on their own, the landing party endures a rough entry and a death-defying plummet to avoid being spotted. The captain grits his teeth, but Ortegas — who pulled this maneuver a hundred times during the Klingon War — flashes a smile and delights in the adrenaline-fueled ride to the surface. Despite his history as a test pilot, a rattled Pike claims that Ortegas was born for “riding a bike” at the speed of light.
Number One approaches Spock’s Bridge station, where the science officer persists in his attempt to scan for survivors by seeking a frequency gap through the interference field. Recognizing Spock’s distress, Una quietly confides that she doesn’t believe anyone is alive on the Cayuga. Spectrometric analysis suggests there are pockets of oxygen on the derelict saucer section, but Spock’s desire to find Nurse Chapel — coupled with their recent fight — inspires resolve in the Vulcan. The wreck rotates every two hours, so Sickbay should soon be visible from their current position. Number One orders the computer to magnify the Cayuga on the viewscreen, revealing that the other vessel’s Sickbay is completely gone. Una places her hand on Spock’s shoulder, but he is too stunned to speak.
At the Parnassus Beta colony, Noonien-Singh informs Pike about a distant Gorn structure that is pulsating with a green glow. Something similar was on the breeding planet she was imprisoned on, and her brother thought it was a beacon designed to trap passersby. They speculate that it is what’s blocking their signals. The group moves through the darkness, their path lit only by sporadic fires. Strewn with rubble, the streets paint a grim picture of the colony’s fate, but Pike isn’t ready to give up on its 5,000 residents. An alarm blares from Kirk’s tricorder — a Gorn youngling is inbound.
The landing party takes cover, observing the reptilian lifeform until La’An rises to get off a kill-shot. The Gorn collapses in agony, proving that the phaser modifications are working. The security chief mentions that the Gorn spread their eggs to soften up planets for conquering, but the youngling’s hunger could signify that it had run out of food sources — perhaps the settlement’s survivors are hiding? Another tricorder alert warns the group that dozens of “bogeys” are converging on them. Pike leads them into a nearby barbershop, allowing Noonien-Singh and Kirk to block the door with a shelf. The officers extinguish their lights and watch as the Gorn investigate the youngling’s corpse.
Uhura catches up with Commander Pelia in one of the Enterprise’s corridors, where the Lanthanite has been struggling to recalibrate the deflector shield’s power conduits. The ensign could use the engineer’s help with a theory pertaining to the Gorn’s interference field. Pelia acknowledges that she loves a “crazy theory,” and Uhura follows her as she continues her work.
Down on the surface, Pike’s team realizes that the younglings are gathering together rather than fighting for dominance. The captain wonders if they should be finding a way to reach them, responding to Noonien-Singh’s skepticism with one of his favorite sayings — "Sometimes hope is a choice." Pike shows remorse over having brought his crew into this situation, but the security chief emphasizes that Batel is tough; if she can handle the captain, she can handle the Gorn. The younglings outside have moved on, and Sam delivers a report about an anomalous human signal emanating down the street.
Phasers drawn, the landing party enters the building in question to find bloodied walls, gory remains, and a mysterious device. Sam lifts the equipment, an action which activates a hidden force field and traps them within its confines. A Starfleet officer peaks in from another room, cautiously approaching his imprisoned colleagues. Speaking with a thick Scottish accent, the officer notes he had set a Gorn trap. He programmed the box to send out auditory and pheromonal life signs — as well as heat signatures — at regular intervals. Clearly pleased with his ingenuity, the officer drops the energy barrier and introduces himself as Montgomery Scott, lieutenant junior grade.
A crew member from the U.S.S. Stardiver, a solar research vessel that had been monitoring solar flare activity one system over when the Gorn attacked, Scott miraculously escaped by jury-rigging the engines on one of his ship’s shuttles to increase their capacity and learning how to hide in plain sight. Scott credits the presence of human-eating lizards with his ability to get creative. Pike steels himself to ask a pressing question — did any of the Cayuga’s crew make it out?
Scott brings them into the remnants of an abandoned diner where Captain Batel and other survivors are hunkered down. Batel and Pike embrace, their palpable relief broken up by a brief disagreement about whether or not Pike’s rescue attempt was a wise decision. The Enterprise’s commanding officer consults with Scott, who details the Stardiver’s study of the red supergiant in the neighboring Shangdi system. The star released a dramatic series of CMEs — coronal mass ejections that are more violent than solar flares — which Scott believes attracted the Gorn to the region.
Sam Kirk adds his thoughts, remembering that environmental factors can trigger a swarming instinct in locusts. What if CMEs in certain sequences set off a consumption cycle among the Gorn? Recalling Noonien-Singh’s revelation that the Gorn communicate ship-to-ship through light, Kirk surmises they might have evolved with a deep, ingrained sensitivity to it. Batel recognizes this as an important piece of intel, reinforcing Pike’s urge to escape the planet. The group turns back to Scott, who had assessed the Gorn’s scanning tech and built a transponder to replicate the signals the Gorn use to recognize one another. Harnessing specialized components from the Stardiver — including a Hubble K7C Stellar Assessment Array — Scott made his shuttlecraft appear as a Gorn vessel. Unfortunately, he would need the unique array to replicate the procedure on Pike’s shuttle.
As M’Benga treats a survivor, Ortegas offers to assist before asking if the doctor had inquired about Chapel. The nurse transported back to the Cayuga just prior to the attack, elevating Ortegas’ concern that her friend had been killed. The two share a nervous laugh, knowing their friend would be the first one to tell them to pick up the pace.
Back on the Enterprise, Spock’s scans sense the arrival of two more Gorn hunter ships. Uhura and Pelia rush onto the Bridge, and the four officers convene in the Ready Room. By adjusting their output, Uhura and Pelia had triangulated the interference field’s point of origin on the far side of Parnassus Beta — unbeknownst to them, this is the same structure that Pike and Noonien-Singh had spotted while scouting the surface. Destroying it would make comms and transporters functional again, but using the Enterprise’s weapons would ignite a conflict with the Gorn. The ensign proposes they divert the trajectory of the Cayuga’s derelict saucer section. With the right calculations and a few well-placed retro rockets, Pelia guarantees they can make it seem as if the ship’s hull is being pulled down naturally. Last-minute attitude adjustments will permit them to determine the saucer’s final landing spot. Convinced that no human could accomplish this, a defiant Spock announces he must be the one to enact the plan.
As the colony’s survivors sleep in the diner below, Batel catches Pike in his attempt to sneak out and recover the device from Scott’s shuttle. Unwilling to let him go alone, Batel volunteers to join them. Having overheard their conversation, Scott — who promises he didn’t mean to eavesdrop — notes they will need his help to uninstall the transponder. Pike tosses him a phaser, and the three officers set out on the dangerous excursion.
A wounded Christine Chapel awakes in a corridor aboard the Cayuga’s saucer. An automated computer message announces that oxygen is running out in this section, so Chapel musters her strength and rewires a panel. An hour’s worth of life support is restored. The nurse rummages through supplies until she spies the Enterprise through a nearby window, but she becomes frustrated when a faulty flashlight prevents her from manually signaling the ship.
Outfitted with a spacesuit, Spock jets across the divide separating the Enterprise from the Cayuga’s saucer. The Vulcan sets foot onto the Cayuga’s hull and initiates the scheme to attach maneuvering rockets. During this process, he floats by the room Chapel is in, but she is unable to get his attention from inside the ship. Buoyed with hope, Chapel visits a corridor and opens a locker containing a spacesuit of her own.
At the fiery crash site where Scott’s shuttle went down, the engineer enlists Pike to assist him in removing the makeshift Gorn transponder. As Batel shifts equipment around, she is confronted by a Gorn youngling that instigates a face-off with the three Starfleet officers.
Back aboard the Cayuga’s saucer, Chapel has donned her environmental suit and hears someone entering incorrect command codes into the ship’s computer. Expecting a joyous reunion with Spock, Chapel is stunned to find an adult Gorn exploring the Cayuga’s systems. Horrified, she steps back into cover and eyes a potential escape route — a Jefferies tube frosted over by space’s icy temperatures.
In Scott’s shuttle, Batel boldly takes a stand and positions herself between the Gorn and her two colleagues. The Gorn growls, coming eye-to-eye with Batel before retreating into the night. Batel blocks the entrance, leaving Pike to insist on learning why the youngling didn’t attack them. Batel brushes off the inquiry, but Pike stares at her with curiosity and concern.
Spock places the final rocket within the shattered remains of the Cayuga’s Bridge and activates the thruster sequence. As he does so, the Vulcan notices the reflection of a Gorn emerging from the ceiling behind him. Chapel walks onto the deck, exchanging a glance with Spock just as the Gorn launches its assault on him. An arduous battle ensues, with the Gorn wrapping its tail around the Vulcan’s throat. Chapel manages to secure Spock’s phaser, firing a shot that distracts the Gorn and allows Spock to jab a metal shard into the Gorn’s helmet. Its seal broken, the Gorn’s mask vents atmosphere and sends it into a brief — but agonizing — death spiral.
As Scott focuses on his shuttle’s control panel, Pike pressures Batel for an answer. Rolling up her sleeve, Batel reveals a web-like pattern on her wrist — the telltale sign that she has been infested by Gorn eggs. The Cayuga’s captain confesses she was infected the day before, so the eggs will likely mature within the next 12 hours.
Flames engulf the Cayuga’s saucer as it falls through Parnassus Beta’s atmosphere, so Spock and Chapel depart the wreckage in their EV suits. The two watch as the starship’s remains head toward the planet, holding hands at the beautiful-yet-tragic sight. On the ground, Batel is adamant that she cannot put the Enterprise at risk by returning with Pike. Batel’s alternative? She will fly the shuttle into the Gorn tower to disrupt the interference field and enable the Enterprise to beam Pike and the other survivors aboard. Pike’s emotional plea is interrupted by a thunderous sound — the Cayuga’s saucer slices through the Gorn structure and produces a bright explosion!
Sensors on the Enterprise’s bridge indicate that the field is down, meaning the comms and transporters are operational once again. Spock and Chapel are beamed aboard, and Pike contacts Number One to request she lock on to the surviving colonists. In the meantime, Pike — along with Batel and Scott — must be beamed directly to Sickbay. Number One calls for Chapel, who shares a moment with Spock before heading off to help Pike.
In the diner on Parnassus Beta, the survivors — including M’Benga, Noonien-Singh, Ortegas, and Kirk — are also gripped in an energizing beam. Pike materializes in Sickbay, surprised and delighted to discover that Chapel has survived. Following a friendly hug, Pike informs Chapel about Batel’s situation. While Batel wants Chapel to “take her out” if there’s any sign the eggs cannot be stopped, the nurse vows she won’t give up on her. The captain turns around to find Scott awkwardly holding the transponder, introducing the lieutenant to Pelia as she arrives on the scene. Recognition washes over Scott’s face, and Pelia offers her own greeting — “Hello, Scotty.” Scott responds with a less-than-enthusiastic, “Professor!” The Lanthanite describes him as one of her best students... who sadly received some of her worst grades. The captain tasks the two engineers with fixing the transponder.
Pike returns to the Bridge, barely having time to get situated into the captain’s chair before finding out a Gorn destroyer has warped in — the Enterprise now faces four enemy ships, with more on the way. The Federation flagship prepares for evasive maneuvers, but sensors do not detect any human lifesigns on Parnassus Beta. Pike assures Spock there are hundreds of survivors below. The Vulcan investigates, ultimately reading residual transport signatures from a non-Starfleet vessel in the center of the town — the colonists and the landing party must have been beamed up by the Gorn.
Incoming fire rocks the ship, momentarily distracting Pike. Three Gorn hunters strafe the Enterprise, causing sparks to erupt throughout the vessel. On the Bridge, Uhura receives a priority message from Starfleet — Admiral April has ordered an immediate withdrawal. The captain’s facial features harden, his determination seemingly wavering as he contemplates the danger his crew is up against. Pondering his next move, Pike peers out the viewscreen, where local space is filled with enemies and energy blasts.
TO BE CONTINUED…
* "Bound" - In this Star Trek: Enterprise episode, the Orion Harrad-Sar offers Captain Archer and Lt. Reed a meridor drink he acquired from the Gorn Hegemony, which is the first time their government body is referenced.
** "Arena" and "Memento Mori" - The Gorn's interactions with the Federation have been aggressive and hostile. In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode, Kirk and the Enterprise arrive at an outpost on Cestus III only to find the colony destroyed, and the invitation a ruse to lure them there. The Gorn are adamant in their belief that this colony lies in their jurisdiction, and they were acting in accordance of staving off any invading force. However, the attack on the colony of Finibus III in the first season Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode confirmed the Gorn's raid now has targets in Federation space.
- Written by Henry Alonso Myers
- Directed by Maja Vrvilo