SNW: ‘The Serene Squall’ brings heart, hijacks and hijinks…

The Enterprise is under attack again - but is it from pirates or a greater threat within?

The Enterprise picks up Dr. Aspen who is to help them co-ordinate relief efforts in a borderland part of the galaxy, one that she warns them is rife with opportunistic pirates led by the ruthless captain Angel. As the ship edges slowly through the area to avoid any unwelcome encounters, Aspen, a trained psychologist offers to help Spock discuss his relationship with T’Pring… 

However, despite the Enterprise’s samaritan mission, it’s snared in a trap that leads to a boarding party seizing control of the ship. Spock, Nurse Chapel and Aspen are trapped in engineering, but it turns out that the hijack is less opportunistic than it first appeared…



The Serene Squall is an episode of Strange New Worlds that’s hard to immediately pin down. Select some scenes and it’s a standard humanitarian mission gone awry to police the borders of a system known for pirates, take other scenes and it’s more marriage-counselling for Spock,  it’s Die Hard in Space where various members of the Enterprise have to subvert a hijack and in others it’s a set-up for a recurring antagonist who we’re absolutely bound to see in future instalments. If it doesn’t knock it out of the park – as some previous episodes have managed to do – it at least  services all the above in a decent manner.

There’s a general levity to the episode, perhaps to distract from just how easily the Enterprise is taken over by its hijackers.  The pirates featured are fun but largely disposable, little more than a distraction to hide the greater threat. The likes of Remy (Michael Hough) and his loose-knit band of mercenary hijackers feel like the kind of troupe occupying the background in a Guardians of the Galaxy film, largely there for one-liners and collateral damage as and when needed and Anson Mount’s Pike, like the audience,  struggles to take any of their threats and posturing very seriously.

The series is intent on exploring Spock’s personal life and his relationship with his intended T’pring which it continues to do here.  As is the case with all the recent trend of franchise prequel shows, there’s a line to walk when the audience likely knows the eventual outcome of a story-arc because of pre-existing mythology. We know Spock and T’pring won’t stay together in the long term, so the individual entry and the actors themselves have the harder job of making us care. Ethan Peck and Gia Sandhu help considerably with that and their sometimes over-formal interaction, as an aspect of their Vulcan heritage, feels organically strained – if that isn’t an oxymoron.

Trek has always been a vehicle for representation and diversity (and anyone who utters the already tired phrase ‘woke’ in relation to Trek‘s latest versions clearly hasn’t been watching for decades). Some will loudly applaud the fact that Aspen/ Angel is played by trans-actress Jesse James Keitel (Big Sky, Queer as Folk) – under the direction of trans-director Sydney Freeland – but while diversity is to be welcomed, it’s also good that such aspects aren’t actually remotely important to the plot. It’s Pride Month, but it’s important to remember representation is about making things acceptably normal and Keitel is simply an interesting performer in her own right, giving her duplicitous character a fascinating serpentine quality as she manipulates those around her – not unlike a Loki variant – and, just the same, the nonbinary aspect here is not more or less important than, say, her hair-colour.

Ultimately the story is a slick entry about a complex gambit, not so much to steal the Enterprise, but to manipulate T’Pring into doing what Angel actually wants by using her relationship with Spock as the lever to do so. It seems a tad convoluted, but then again plenty of films and tv shows have had the bad guy use convenient misdirection to achieve their greater aims. Here – and this is the water-cooler moment – we close the episode by revealing that the dissident that Angel wanted released is non other than Sybok, Spock’s half-brother. Long term fans will remember the character’s introduction in marmite big-screen entry The Final Frontier (directed by William Shatner) and then played by Laurence Luckinbill. It’s hardly the most demanded return of the franchise, though fans had noticed that the character had been missing from a lot of the various tv series interactions concerning Spock and his family…

Perhaps we’ll see more of this storyline develop as we head into the last half of the season…






'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds  S01 Ep07 - The Serene Squall'  (Paramount+ review)
'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds S01 Ep07 - The Serene Squall' (Paramount+ review)
  • Story
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  • Production Design / VFX