There has never been Trek like Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 9, and there may never be again, which would be a galactic shame.
Ever since Paramount+ released the news at San Diego Comic-Con 2023 that the penultimate offering of the season would be a musical, the fanbase has been split between the canonical stick-in-the-warp-core gatekeepers and those who embrace all that Trek can be.
Haters can just jettison their vitriol now. This is the biggest swing the series -- nay, the franchise -- has ever taken, and they blast it so far out there they probably broke temporal protocols.
It was always meant to be.
Ever since Una confessed her love of Gilbert & Sullivan to Spock on Star Trek: Short Treks Season 2 Episode 1, treating him to a performance of the "Major-General's Song" from The Pirates of Penzance, we've itched to know what Spock would sing, given the chance.
But then Strange New Worlds manifested a cast that includes Grammy Award-winning, Tony-nominated Celia Rose Gooding and the unbelievably versatile Christina Chong, who has her debut EP dropping later this month.
Given the depth of talent present on set, the writers and showrunners would've been out of their minds not to do a musical.
Pike: So… That happened.
La’an: Reports of musical outbreaks have come in from every deck.
James Kirk: Honestly, I thought it was something you had all rehearsed, but I sang too.
M’Benga: So did I. And I do not sing.
Framing it as the effect of an improbability field is as perfectly Trek as having a demon compelling musical numbers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
And just like in "Once More With Feeling," the characters find their secrets exposed and their plotlines advanced as the field effect causes them to sing their truths, driven by emotional spikes and some fabulous orchestration.
If the trolls would settle down for a moment, they'd realize there's more TOS canon here than in any script this season.
Chapel's fellowship is with Dr. Roger Korby, a character played on Star Trek: The Original Series Season 1 Episode 9 by Michael Strong.
Chapel: What if it’s another rejection?
Ortegas: Forget those Vulcans and their Science Academy. They don’t deserve you.
Chapel: But this fellowship is different. Dr. Korby’s a genius.
Ortegas: I’m supposed to know who that is?
M’Benga: He’s the Louis Pasteur of archeological medicine.
Ortegas: Yeah, no. Still means nothing.
Trek lore aficionados will regale you with the #SPOILER that when Chapel joins Kirk's Enterprise in a few years, it's with the secret purpose to find her former professor and fiancé, Dr. Korby, who goes missing while leading an expedition on Exo-3.
If you've been paying attention, Korby's already been mentioned this season. On Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 5, Chapel's friends drill her on Korby's three principles of archeological medicine in preparation for her interview with the Vulcan Science Academy.
The other canon drop is when James Kirk explains to La'an how complicated his love life already is without having her time-traveling lost love emotions added to the mix.
It's all a bit mind-bendy, but follow me down this wormhole. #SPOILERS below for TOS canon.
James Kirk and Carol Marcus will have a son, David. David grows up to become part of his mother's scientific research team working on the Genesis project.
In the meantime, James Kirk, having no part in David's upbringing at Carol's insistence, brings La'an's ancestor, Khan Noonien-Singh, out of his centuries-long suspension and then makes a mortal enemy of him.
Khan then seeks to lure Kirk to him by attacking David and Carol. Spock dies in the conflict, only to be resurrected by David and Carol's Genesis planet.
So yeah, the idea of Kirk and La'an hooking up is such a canon grenade that there's a collective sigh of relief when that's nipped in the bud.
Besides the Trek canon, there are several cross-references to other television musical episodes.
Spock: Imagine an area of space where quantum uncertainties collapse so rapidly and randomly that new realities are created. In one such reality, people sing… uncontrollably.
Pelia: A musical reality.
La’an: So what’s next? More improbability? Or will we just suddenly poof into bunnies.
M’Benga: I would prefer not to be a bunny either.
The mention of bunnies touches on Buffy's "I've Got a Theory / Bunnies / If We're Together" medley, while Una's explanation of how musicals work rings more recently familiar.
Uhura: I have a theory. I think since we’re in a musical reality, we actually following the rules of musicals.
Pike: So when do characters in musicals usually begin to sing?
Una: When their emotions are so heightened, that words won’t suffice.
Let's think about that for a moment, where have we heard something like that before?
Melissa: You're in a musical. That's how musicals work. When you're too emotional to talk, you sing. When you're too emotional to sing, you dance.
Josh: What happens when you're too emotional to dance? Does it loop back around to talking? Cause I feel like that's where I'm at right now.
Right, Melissa has to school Josh in how musicals work on Schmigadoon! Season 1, when they first land in their own -- season-long -- improbability field.
Oh, that was a fun summer.
Everyone gets their hearts stomped on as the Enterprise moves through its Act 2.
Pike and Batel have it out in front of their crew.
I promise you even Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon itself will not make me forget that you sang about lying to me.Batel
La'an has to lower her proverbial shields -- although you never know with Augments, she might have real ones -- to explain to James Kirk her attachment to Other Timeline Him.
Admiral April’s last message confirmed that the improbability field has now spread to twelve Federation ships. He let me know in a surprisingly beautiful baritone that he wants us to stop this now, by the way.Una
Una shares with La'an the life lesson she's learned about keeping secrets while mentoring Kirk on how to be a connected First Officer to his crew. AND singing about Gilbert & Sullivan. She really is amazing. #NumeroUna
Spock and Chapel come to a parting of ways. Spock feels heartbreak for the first time.
(It's fascinating to note that Spock actually gets the first line of song in the whole shebang. Of the entire cast, I was most surprised by how great a singing voice Ethan Peck has. I guess I've just never imagined Vulcans singing.)
And Uhura comes into her own, taking that first step towards the Uhura that will inspire Beckett Mariner enough to fangirl over her on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 7.
From orphan to Starfleet prodigy to Hemmer's apprentice to the Voice of the Enterprise, Uhura's path has been one of both personal and professional blossoming.
The finale does everything a good finale needs to do.
It unites the cast -- in this case, crew -- into a synchronous, harmonized union.
Uhura: That was just a solo with backup vocals. Maybe four voices, max? So we need to do that again but with more, a lot more.
Pike: You mean, like an ensemble number?
Uhura: Not just an ensemble number. A grand finale. We need melodies and harmonies with tone ratios that achieve both algorithmic and logarithmic balance on a mass scale.
There is a central thematic message that inspires and energizes the audience.
And it brings the house down. Well, in this case, it blows the improbability field up, but for all intents and purposes, those are equivalent effects.
While La'an's solo "How Would That Feel" is the emotional showstopper here, the Klingon dance break is the most inspired bit of musical schtick thrown in to demonstrate the field's spreading effect throughout the quadrant.
Spock: There appears to be an incoming warp signal heading our way fast. The signal has Klingon encryption.
Una: The last thing anyone wants is singing Klingons.
It's a production that benefits from multiple viewings (and hopefully, a stage adaptation one day), as there are layers of meaning infused into the lyrics, and the music distracts the first time through.
With only the season finale left, chime in down in the comments with what epic adventure you think they'll leave us with.
My money's on the Gorn, but with Chapel and Spock's relationship ending, we may see T'Pring again and her work with Sybok at the Ankeshtan K'til Vulcan criminal rehabilitation center means Spock's half-brother may make his official entrance.
While you're there, be sure to mention which song you'll have on repeat when the soundtrack drops on all the platforms this week, Fanatics! We could call it an ear worm hole! (But we won't.)
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on X.