1.08: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - The Elysian Kingdom

Dave

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The Enterprise becomes stuck in a nebula that is home to an alien consciousness that traps the crew in a fairy tale.

Okay, I'm going to say this first - I've never really liked these kinds of episodes - the classic Star Trek holodeck episodes like Voyager's "The Bride of Chaotica!" or "The Killing Game" and The Next Generation's "A Fistful of Datas" or "The Big Goodbye," or DS9's "Take Me Out to the Holosuite." They usually do nothing to move along any "arc" story, are at worst, a comedy "filler" episode that gives the actors a chance to dress up, and at best, only a device to character build, by deliberately having them play against type.

While there was comedy, character building and playing against type here too, this episode was a little different:

Firstly, there is no Holodeck involved as it hasn't been invented. Instead this had strong links to the DS9 episodes "Far Beyond the Stars" and "Shadows and Symbols" where in Benjamin Sisko's visions from the pah-wraiths he assumes the identity of Benny Russell. The book which Rukiya wishes to change the ending, The Kingdom of Elysian is written by none other than Benny Russell himself!

Secondly, it actually did progress that "arc" story of Doctor M'Benga's daughter, Rukiya, and brought it to a conclusion in a most unexpected way. After the previous episode 1.06 showed a civilisation that gave the doctor the possible access to advanced medicine, I had naturally assumed that some medical cure to her illness would be forthcoming eventually.

Thirdly, the choice that M'Benga must make is an unbelievable difficult one - to keep holding his daughter in the pattern buffer while he searches for a cure, or allow Rukiya to join with the entity and truly live even if it means it will be without him.

And finally, that parallelism between King Ridley's dilemma with the Mercury Stone, and M'Benga's internal struggle with letting Rukiya go was cleverly done.
 
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They usually do nothing to move along any "arc" story, are at worst, a comedy "filler" episode that gives the actors a chance to dress up, and at best, only a device to character build, by deliberately having them play against type.
I'm with you on that. Pike as a cowardly sycophant and La'an as a simpering princess were particularly cringeworthy. The dog was really Paris Hilton, over the top.
it actually did progress that "arc" story of Doctor M'Benga's daughter, Rukiya, and brought it to a conclusion in a most unexpected way.
The opening dialog between M'Benga and Rukiya made me think a tragic ending was coming. I was happy to be wrong.

the choice that M'Benga must make is an unbelievable difficult one
His decision to allow Rukiya to join the entity seemed too quick and dry-eyed. Her almost immediate return as a cheerful, young adult brought the tears, but they seemed to reflect happiness and relief that he had made the right decision.

there is no Holodeck involved as it hasn't been invented.
Leave it to clever writers to find a way around that. I thought M'Benga was hallucinating under the influence of whatever he had inhaled when his experiment exploded until he encountered Hemmer.
Mind control by a powerful superbeing is, of course, always a possibility (as recently as last week in another current series). Benevolent beings are preferable to the evil, long-arc ones.
 
I didn't have a problem with the episode. I wanted to see more of the doctor but I didn't like the abrupt end to the doctor and daughter arc either. I liked seeing the command crew out of their roles, especially head of security. Also, I wondered if space exploration would entail psychedelic-like experiences that took it's toll on the crew. It also reminded of TOS too, but I can understand why some people may not like it. The costumes were pretty good, not sure of production values. Just drapes on the bridge.
 

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