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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Strange New Worlds is simultaneously a spinoff, a prequel, and a throwback. It directly follows Discovery’s second season and features Captain Pike in command of the Enterprise in the years leading up to The Original Series, but does so with a structure more similar to all the (live-action) series in between those.

Although Strange New Worlds has ten-episode seasons like its contemporaries, its storytelling is much more similar to its predecessors. There’s once more a true ensemble cast with the captain as the face of the show, and individual episodes tend to spotlight individual characters and often feature A-plots and B-plots. As it’s set just a handful of years before The Original Series and features several overlapping characters, it provides an opportunity to reinterpret and recontextualize their personalities and backstories.

Episodic or serial?

Mostly episodic. There are arcs and consequential events, but most episodes are largely standalone, to a degree similar to in Voyager. The show is best enjoyed in order, but you don’t have to watch every single episode to know what’s going on.

Idealistic or cynical?

Mostly idealistic. The show is framed as a deliberate return to the explicit optimism that the earlier series are known for, but there is a bizarrely militaristic streak to some of the episodes.

Worth watching?

Yes, especially if you miss episodic Trek. It’s a good use of that structure with some likable characters and interesting ideas.

There is an frustrating tendency to over-focus on existing continuity but the episodes that let the show be its own thing are often great.

Anything else that should be watched first?

Despite its complicated relationship to other series, Strange New Worlds is quite approachable and can be a great starting point. It’s entirely possible to jump right in with no background; the essential pieces of backstory are explained in the first couple of episodes.

That said, there are things you will understand and appreciate further if you are familiar with Discovery’s second season and several key episodes of The Original Series: most obviously “The Menagerie” but also other fan favorites like “The Naked Time”, “Balance of Terror”, “Arena”, “Space Seed”, and “Amok Time”.

What should be watched after this?

If you’re coming to this before watching The Original Series, you can head over there to catch up on these characters and gain some extra context around Strange New Worlds. And if you haven’t yet watched The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, or Voyager, those are good sources of similar character-ensemble episodic Trek adventures. You could check out The Orville for an off-brand throwback to those series.

If you’re caught up on all of those, as of this writing there isn’t anywhere else to go; this is the most recent series.