In Strange New Worlds episode 9, Captain Pike makes a command decision that sidesteps the most common mistake Kirk makes as Captain of the Enterprise.
Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Episode 9 – “All Those Who Wander”
In Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode 9, Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) wisely avoids a common mistake Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) repeatedly makes in Star Trek: The Original Series. Pike leads a landing party to the L-class planet Valeo Beta V in Strange New Worlds episode 9 but their mission to investigate the crashed USS Peregrine turns into a horrific nightmare when Pike’s team is attacked by baby Gorn. Meanwhile, Lt. Commander Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn), Pike’s Number One, takes the Enterprise on a supply run to Deep Space Station K-7.
Numerous episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series involve Captain Kirk beaming onto a planet with Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) at his side, and they are often joined by Dr. Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley). From a television production standpoint, this makes perfect sense. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are the lead characters of Star Trek so their presence is often required in the main story. But from the standpoint of Starfleet’s protocols, Kirk and Spock regularly beaming down together is dangerous. It means the Captain and the First Officer of the USS Enterprise are off of the ship at the same time, and they’re usually plunged into danger. With Kirk and his Number One gone, Scotty (James Doohan) or Mr. Sulu (George Takei) are usually the ones in command of the Enterprise, but it has always been highly irresponsible of Kirk to leave either his helmsman or his Chief Engineer in charge of his starship. Logically, Spock should remain on the Enterprise when Kirk is away, and vice versa, yet the Vulcan rarely raised this issue and deferred to his Captain’s judgment.
Captain Pike properly avoids Captain Kirk’s error entirely in Strange New Worlds episode 9 and it worked out in the Enterprise’s favor overall. When Pike decided to personally lead the landing party to Valeo Beta V, he ordered Number One to take the Enterprise on its Priority One mission to deliver Vidium power cells to Deep Space Station K-7. It was the correct solution to the problem of the Enterprise needing to perform two missions simultaneously. With Pike planning to lead an away mission, Una’s place was on the bridge of the Enterprise. Since he intended to be off-ship, the Captain also trusted Una, who is known as the best First Officer in Starfleet, to perform the K-7 delivery and ensure the station gets the power cells it desperately needs. Pike’s decision was the correct one since Una not only delivered the Vidium, but she returned in time so that the Enterprise could tow the derelict USS Peregrine from Valeo Beta V.
Since Pike chose to bring Spock (Ethan Peck) and Lt. La’an Noonien Singh (Christina Chong) on his landing party, it would have been overkill to also include Una. While Spock and La’an are both capable of commanding the Enterprise in Pike’s absence – and La’an has capably served as Acting Number One twice in Strange New Worlds season 1 – the Captain was correct to leave Una in command. This avoids the problem Kirk routinely created of both the Captain and First Officer being away from the Enterprise at the same time. And it’s no surprise that Pike would make this call since he likes to go by the book; to Chris’ chagrin, even his Starfleet record refers to him as a “boy scout.”
Star Trek: The Next Generation took steps to address Captain Kirk’s mistake as well. In TNG‘s early seasons, the delineation was made so that Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) would remain on the bridge of the USS Enterprise-D while Away missions became the purview of Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes). However, this protocol gradually fell away according to the dramatic needs of each TNG episode. After all, Starfleet may be fashioned after the US Navy, but it’s still a television series whose story and drama come before real-world verisimilitude. This is why it’s so laudable that Pike’s decision in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode 9 delivered both realism and served the dramatic needs of the action-packed story.
Next: Strange New Worlds Makes A Big Vulcan Change To Spock
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Season 1 finale streams Thursday, July 7, on Paramount +.
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