That big crossover episode between Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Star Trek: Lower Decks has arrived early. Following an advance screening of the highly anticipated seventh episode of the current season of Strange New World at San Diego Comic-Con July 22, it was announced that the episode will be available to stream that same day, starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Paramount+ in the U.S. and all Paramount+ international markets exclusively on the service. There’s more.
It was also announced at Comic-Con that there will be a musical episode on Strange New Worlds this season. It’s dubbed — wait for it — “Subspace Rhapsody,“ and will be available to stream on Thursday, Aug. 3. (See a sneak peek of the trailer below.) The episode features 10 original songs. So it is true: Strange New Worlds really is going where no Trek has gone before this season.
Back to the crossover episode. Titled “Those Old Scientists,” the dynamic outing features both live action and animation as two of Star Trek’s most popular shows come together. It’s a creative feat that could have plummeted — c’mon, animation and live-action together? And in Star Trek?
Fortunately, in the hands of director Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Picard), the episode is an exceptional achievement, perhaps one of the best in Star Trek history. It’s rare to experience a consistently good season of any television series, but we are getting that with season two of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Episode seven soars at creative warp speed, uniting beloved characters from two very different shows. Here’s the lowdown:
Two Trek Worlds Come Together
Ensign Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid) is freaking out. The spunky purple-haired ensign from Star Trek: Lower Decks suddenly finds himself in sickbay aboard the USS Enterprise and has come face to face with Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Number One (Rebecca Romijn), Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), and La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong). Yes, the live-action versions. How did this happen?
Undoubtedly, it’s more fun to experience the full details of that on your own, but we can say that it has something to do with the ensigns of USS Cerritos investigating a seemingly random portal. Through Boimler, we learn that Captain Pike of the USS Enterprise discovered the portal long ago. Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawney Newton) pushes back. What’s the big deal? Boimler is fan-crushing on his Starfleet icons. He wonders what it must have been like to work alongside Pike and the Enterprise crew. “Come on, we’re going to be standing in the same spot as Uhura,” Boimler beams while Mariner stands by the portal. “That doesn’t get you a little excited?”
Everything changes when a mishap activates the portal and sure enough, Ensign Boimler is flung out on the other side, this time in live-action form, and many years in the past. So begins his odyssey with the crew of the USS Enterprise.
When You Meet Your Icons
It’s great fun to experience the live-action version of Ensign Boimler. Jack Quaid voices the character to winning ends in Lower Decks. This live-action Boimler is a hoot, giving the actor a larger playground to work in.
We wouldn’t be surprised to see Boimler or other Lower Deck characters featured in future episodes of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds as the series moves along. After all, Denise Crosby returned to Star Trek: The Next Generation as Sela after her original character, Tasha Yar, was killed off in season one. The character of Moriarty found his way back, too, returning in Star Trek: Picard. Other recurring characters charmed, too — Majel Barrett-Roddenberry immediately comes to mind as Lwaxana Troi. With Star Trek, there is always a way.
That said, Quaid knows how to handle humor and physical comedy. A recent Strange New World episode, “Charades,” also infused humor throughout the plot which found Spock (Ethan Peck) temporarily becoming fully human. “Those Old Scientists” goes a step further and one can imagine the ever-witty and outspoken Jonathan Frakes having a field day here, especially as the jittery Boimler meets the icons he’s learned so much about, from Captain Pike and Spock to Uhura.
The episode also winks repeatedly at fans. If you’ve ever attended a Star Trek convention or Comic-Con, you know what we’re talking about here. Ultimately, Boimler is a version of every fan or anybody who has tuned into Star Trek over the last five decades.
As far as the plot, the events ultimately lead to a confrontation with the Orions, a shady alien race known for their piracy, but some of them are actually legit. This gives Boimler plenty to consider because he knows history. But he can’t reveal anything because, well, that would just screw up the timeline. There are several nice twists, too, when Ensign Beckett Mariner (Newton) unexpectedly arrives through the portal. Having two Starfleet ensigns from the future aboard the Enterprise surely is bound to alter things. Will it?
Among the Best of the Best
We’ve experienced more than a handful of Star Trek episodes through the decades that managed to, well, “live long and prosper” and withstand the test of time, somehow becoming seminal moments. To note but a few: “The City on the Edge of Forever” from the original series; “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” “Q, Who?,” and “The Best of Both Worlds” from The Next Generation; “Trials and Tribble-ations” from Deep Space Nine; “Scorpion” from Voyager; “Such Sweet Sorrow” from Discovery; and “The Last Generation” from season three of Picard.
These episodes are among the best of the best of Star Trek because the writers understood their potential importance in Star Trek canon and world-building. But they also managed to create memorable television. “Those Old Scientists” is a triumph, one that fans will continue talking about for some time. So, raise your Vulcan plomeek teacup to Strange New Worlds. This has turned out to be one of most epic, most enjoyable rounds of Star Trek to ever hit the screen.
Catch Episode 207 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Saturday, July 22 on Paramount+. For a sneak peek at the just-announced musical episode, catch the exclusive trailer below.