Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 Episode 8
The Elysian Kingdom
M’Benga records a log as the Enterprise surveys the Jonisian Nebula. Faced with some downtime, M’Benga spends his time working on a cure for Rukiya.
Rukiya insists that he finish reading their story, The Kingdom of Elysian by Benny Russell, before he sends her back into the buffer.
“Once upon a time, in a far-off land was the beautiful Kingdom of Elysian. Within its borders ruled three monarchs. To the south ruled wicked Queen Neve, whose frozen heart governed with an iron fist. In the lush eastern kingdom ruled Princess Thalia, whose kind-heart was forever with her people.”
M’Benga reads about King Ridley’s final choice. Rukiya wishes they could change the ending so the king wouldn’t have to choose.
Once she’s safe in the buffer, he returns to his experiments, looking for a cure. One combination causes a puff of gas to emit into his face, choking him.
Una comes in to check on why the returned shuttle crew hasn’t been cleared for active duty. M’Benga realizes he’s gotten lost in his research. Una inquires as to whether he’s close to success. He has to tell her no.
She recommends he get some rest.
On the bridge, Pike muses on how quiet everything is on this mission. Spock reminds him that humans believe in jinxing themselves.
As they set a course for McNair Starbase, the engines do not engage. Spock theorizes the nebula is affecting their ability to go to warp. He suggests they use impulse thrusters to move away. When Ortegas tries to engage the impulse thrusters, the ship lurches and Ortegas falls, hitting her head.
Pike calls for M’Benga. M’Benga feels out of sorts as the turbo lift takes him to the bridge. When he arrives, the bridge has been transformed into a medieval throne room, and he is dressed as King Ridley.
Pike is dressed as the Chamberlain and Ortegas is a knight, Sir Adya..
“But, with Princess Thalia’s forces defeated the Huntress may be the only one who can help us turn the tide of this war and push back Queen Neve’s Guard.
“I’m sorry, my King, to be the bearer of bad news. But this is the truth of our situation. And to make matters worse…”
“Sir Adya grew grim as she delivered this final bit of news, ‘I believe Sir Rauth has betrayed us to the evil Queen. He is the one who told her the location of the Mercury Stone.’
“King Ridley inhaled sharply. This news hitting him like a punch to the gut. It was not that King Ridley believed Sir Rauth to be completely loyal to him, the king had always suspected an underlying cowardliness to the man. But King Ridley had believed, falsely it would seem, that Sir Rauth would have remained by his side when the matter at hand was the very end of their beautiful kingdom as well as the entire realm as they knew it.”
M’Benga takes a seat. Pike/Rauth offers him wine and Ortegas/Adya stops him, insisting that she test anything the king ingests.
M’Benga tries to consult the computer to see if it can explain what is going on.
Rauth and Adya inform him that the kingdom is engulfed in a poisonous fog.
M’Benga excuses himself to go get a tricorder in order to examine himself for infection or other abnormalities.
In sickbay, he finds Chapel, now a herbalist/healer. He finds the tricorder and checks himself out. The readings indicate he’s perfectly healthy. He scans Chapel who has elevated dopamine levels.
Adya appears and announces the arrival of Princess Thalia. Thalia is played by La’an. Carrying a small dog.
“Nodding in agreement, Sir Adya spurred her horse ahead. Alert, King Ridley followed. Suddenly, there came a loud crash from behind! King Ridley and Sir Adya whipped around, finding themselves facing several of the Red Guards sent by Queen Neve to spoil their plans and capture them.
“King Ridley and Sir Adya grimly faced the Red Guards. Drawing her mighty sword, Sir Adya stepped protectively in front of King Ridley and motioned towards the Woods.
“‘My King! Please continue on. I will hold off this riff-raff and keep you safe.”
La’an/Thalia explains that Queen Neve has invaded her kingdom and is demanding the Mercury Stone.
M’Benga plays along that he has the Mercury Stone somewhere safe. He scans La’an and finds the same raised dopamine levels, indicating heightened neurological activity.
While they are talking, Hemmer’s voice is heard. He is being dragged by crew members now playing the part of Crimson Guards. Hemmer is not in character. He is himself, threatening them all with court martial.
M’Benga and his group rush to Hemmer’s defense. M’Benga realizes Hemmer is meant to be the Elysian wizard, Caster. He orders him released.
M’Benga attempts to enact a treaty, but the Crimson Guard informs them that Neve no longer acknowledges the treaty and has laid claim to all lands. They pick up Hemmer again and drag him off.
M’Benga tells Ortegas/Adya that he doesn’t have the stone but that Hemmer/Caster does and they must rescue him.
Pike/Rauth and Ortegas/Adya bicker as they plan. M’Benga chooses to try diplomacy first with Neve.
La’an/Thalia is told to stay back to protect her dog, Runa. She promises to sing a song of epic mourning if Ridley were to fall in battle. Rauth tries to stay back too, but M’Benga orders him to come with them.
As they make their way through the Woods, Ortegas/Adya senses someone nearby and challenges them to come out. Spock steps out of the shadows. M’Benga recognizes him as Pollux, the wizard.
Pollux warns them the only way to Neve and Caster is through the Swamp of Infinite Death.
M’Benga asks Pollux to help them since Caster is his brother. Pollux agrees to take them.
Ortegas/Adya questions whether they can trust Pollux. M’Benga’s sure they can’t but he will get them to Caster.
Pollux leads them directly to Queen Neve’s throne room where she (played by Uhura) orders them to kneel to her.
“‘And where might I find this powerful Stone?’ King Ridley asked.
“‘The Mercury Stone was last rumored to rest in Lady Audrey’s Woods to the west, my King. It was placed under a veil of protection. One that can only be disarmed by the purest of hearts,’ replied Wizard Caster. He continued, ‘But beware, King Ridley. For I am certain my brother, Wizard Pollux has warned Queen Neve about the Mercury Stone and may send fiends to hinder you.’
"King Ridley nodded grimly, accepting this new quest. Calling on Sir Adya, his most loyal and valiant knight, to accompany him. The two rode out on majestic steeds…”
M’Benga gives Neve no information about the Mercury Stone. Neve promises to send him to the torturers. Pollux directs them to the dungeon with Caster to wait.
In the dungeon, M’Benga confers with Hemmer. Hemmer reveals that he felt a strange consciousness press on his. His telepathic training was able to block it. He suggests the entity who tried to take over his mind pulled the story they are reenacting out of M’Benga’s mind.
M’Benga asks Hemmer to try to make telepathic contact with the entity. Hemmer reports the entity is part of the nebula. M’Benga suggests that they scan the nebula to learn more about the entity.
Hemmer uses a laser scalpel to break them out of the dungeon’s cage.
The Crimson Guard report the escape to Neve.
She sends Pollux with the Guard to catch the escapees.
When the groups encounter each other, Adya attacks Neve’s forces while Rauth runs back to the castle. Just as Adya is surrounded, arrows fly out of nowhere and take down the Crimson Guard.
Una as Ximera the Huntress reveals herself and runs off Spock/Pollux and the Guard. She greets Adya warmly.
In Engineering, Hemmer discovers evidence of a consciousness and brain activity in the nebula scans but no sign of a body. Hemmer suggests to M’Benga that this is an instance of The Boltsman Brain, a theoretical spontaneously generated consciousness.
Adya and The Huntress have a disagreement about how to approach the dilemma and begin to bicker. M’Benga realizes that the story has changed as, in the book, Adya and Ximera don’t even know each other.
He realizes the entity is taking the story from Rukiya’s mind. They head to sickbay, but M’Benga can’t find her in the transporter buffer. He explains the situation to Hemmer, not knowing that Spock/Pollux is eavesdropping on them.
He reports back to Uhura/Neve that Rukiya is the Mercury Stone. Uhura/Neve decides to take her from M’Benga/Ridley by using Pike/Rauth who has been captured.
When M’Benga is frustrated by their fruitless search, Hemmer asks where he thinks Rukiya would go if she could go anywhere. M’Benga leads them to his quarters. On the way, they run into Pike/Rauth.
Once M’Benga opens the door to his quarters, Rauth draws a weapon and holds it to the king’s throat. Uhura/Neve and Spock/Pollux appear with the Crimson Guard.
Uhura/Neve demands they turn over Rukiya/The Mercury Stone. M’Benga swears he’ll destroy her if she touches his daughter. Hemmer takes over, ad-libbing some wizard-y lines and then transports them all to Cargo Bay 12 by using a tricorder.
M’Benga enters his quarters and finds Rukiya waiting for him. After hugging her, he checks her over and discovers her illness has disappeared.
She explains that her friend in the nebula woke her up and they’ve been playing and her friend says they can play as long as she likes. M’Benga responds that his friends are being harmed by their game. When Rukiya asks whether she’ll have to go back into the buffer, he doesn’t have an answer.
When he expresses a desire to speak with her friend, Hemmer offers to be a conduit.
The entity tells M’Benga that he mustn’t take Rukiya away because they are alike. The entity sensed Rukiya in the buffer and recognized the feeling of loneliness.
The entity explains that Rukiya will grow sick and die if the ship leaves, taking her with it. It is the entity’s presence that keeps her healthy.
M’Benga protests that the ship cannot stay. The entity forces him to make a choice between the crew and Rukiya.
Rukiya offers to return to the buffer. The entity offers another option. Rukiya’s consciousness can live on forever with the entity.
M’Benga talks with Rukiya and gives her the choice. She chooses to go with the entity.
The choice made, the entity leaves Hemmer and envelops Rukiya who describes the sensation as tickly. She disappears, leaving M’Benga heartbroken.
A moment later, a woman appears in front of M’Benga. It’s Rukiya, now grown, back to thank M’Benga for letting her go. In the moments that have elapsed for M’Benga, Rukiya’s lived years of adventures with the entity, whom she’s named Deborah after her mother.
She wants M’Benga to know he did the right thing and go and live his life happily, knowing that she is happy and safe. He promises to be happy.
She disappears and everything returns to normal.
Hemmer revives with a massive headache and no memory of the Elysian adventure.
In his personal log, M’Benga shares that no one on board remembers anything and the surveillance is blank for the five hours of the entity’s incursion into the ship and the crew’s minds.
Una checks in on him. He shares that Rukiya is alive and safe. She deduces that he knows what happened in the missing five hours. He begins to tell her the story.