“It appears that hijinks are the most logical course of action.”
Previously on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – La’an joined Starfleet because of Una, Spock got engaged but had to leave T’Pring later that same night, and Ortegas hazed Uhura for her first square in Enterprise Bingo. Right, and there was an encounter with the Gorn last week that’s got the ship pretty beat up.
Spock (Ethan Peck) is on Vulcan for his wedding, complete with aggressive bell-shaking. As T’Pring (Gia Sandhu) steps forward – wearing an absolutely incredibly dress – she notices that Spock has rounded ears (and a very non-Vulcan hairstyle, but she doesn’t mention that part). She refuses to marry a Human and chooses kal-if-fee. As attendants approach with lirpas, Spock meets his challenger: His Vulcan self. The two fight, over the classic “Arena” soundtrack, until Vulcan Spock overpowers Human Spock and goes in for the kill…
And that’s when Actual Spock is jolted awake about the Enterprise, and checks his ears in the mirror.
Enterprise has returned to Starbase 1 for repairs and R&R. Though he has some work to do, Spock intends to spend most of his time with T’Pring, who will also be on the starbase. When she arrives at Spock’s quarters, she can’t help but remark on how “Human” they are. T’Pring also has some work to do while she’s here. She and her colleague, K’Tyll, help to rehabilitate criminals by showing them the “true path of Vulcan logic,” and a criminal called Barjan T’Or is known to be nearby. But T’Pring is confident that K’Tyll can take care of that situation on her own. Spock’s duties interrupted them last time and T’Pring wants to make sure that won’t happen again. She reminds him that he needs to make their relationship a priority. Spock promises to be back in time for dinner.
Admiral April (Adrian Holmes) briefs Pike (Anson Mount), Spock, and Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) on their impending diplomatic talks. (Pike is wearing an updated version of the green wrap tunic with leather shoulder and arm details and it’s just *chef’s kiss.*) The R’ongovian Protectorate occupies a small region of space between Klingon and Romulan territory. Safe passage through their space would greatly increase the speed at which Starfleet could get to the other side of the Beta Quadrant. Initial negotiations were opened by the Tellarites, and they did not go well. Now the R’ongovians are also talking to the Klingons, and the Romulans are next in line. April needs Pike to get this deal done. The captain of their flagship is here to meet with him, having arrived via an old solar sail ship – when they sign a treaty, it’s traditional that the R’ongovians raise the flag of their new allies.
The briefing is interrupted when the R’ongovian delegation arrives early and Captain Vasso (Ron Kennell) demands to speak with Pike and begin negotiations. Pike tries to cut the tension with a joke, and it actually works. Vasso’s first officer, Brax (Carlisle J. Williams), addresses Spock, asking if Vulcans also have a voice in the Federation. When Spock confirms that all members have a voice, Brax observes that that sounds confusing. Pike admits it can be, but decisions are made by vote. To come to a consensus, Federation members have to listen to each other. Vasso approves – empathy is a hallmark of their people.
Chapel (Jess Bush) and Ortegas (Melissa Navia) arrive in sickbay to gather M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) and head out for shore leave. Chapel’s has plans for a date with a Lt. Dever, and Ortegas is ready to be her out – hand signal, open communications channel, anything. She insists there’s no need – they’re on the same page. The same casual, no attachments, just-for-fun page. Ortegas reminds her that she said the same thing about that gal on Argellius II. (Did we just get confirmation of queer Chapel??) Apparently that was just a misunderstanding… which somehow lead to a chase with light phaser fire. I love this Chapel. Before these two can reminisce further, M’Benga joins them with his luggage and a fly-fishing hat, and the group makes their way to the transporter room.
La’an (Christina Chong) checks everyone out while Number One (Rebecca Romijn) oversees departures in the transporter room. Before they beam down, M’Benga asks their plans. But Ortegas answers his question first, “They don’t shore leave, they shore stay,” which makes M’Benga giggle about “the nickname”… “Where fun goes to die.” Ortegas tries to soften the blow, saying the yeomen don’t know what they’re talking about, but Una orders Kyle (André Dae Kim) to energize. Kyle has certainly never heard this nickname before. Definitely not.
When Spock is finally able to return to his quarters, T’Pring’s waiting for him. She’s been waiting for a while. He apologizes, but she’s growing more frustrated – her work is also important, but she chose not to work during this time. (That’s quite the privilege, T’Pring.) She believes that mutual sacrifice is necessary for a successful relationship, and again questions whether Spock’s position in Starfleet is making him too Human. She leaves him to prepare for his “important work” with a cold dinner on the set table.
Chapel’s and Dever (Graham Parkhurst) are catching up in a bar, but she’s ready to get out of there and do something more fun. Dever wants to talk about their relationship. So, they weren’t on the same page after all. Chapel panics and makes an excuse to leave.
As Una and La’an make rounds on the much emptier Enterprise, Una insists that she’s not bothered by her nickname. She doesn’t care. Really. But not knowing makes her feel “out of touch” – senior officers don’t really get to be part of the crew. La’an disagrees – that’s not because she’s a senior officer, it’s because she’s terrifying. But there’s nothing wrong with that. Besides, both of them were excited to finally have the chance to get more work done. (I feel called out.) Security Breach in Airlock 4. La’an asks the computer who her backup is, but Una dismisses the question. She’s going to be backup. See? She’s fun! Phasers drawn, La’an and Una enter the airlock to find two young crewmembers attempting an unauthorized EVA.
Chapel has joined Spock, who was eating alone at the same restaurant. He’s recounted everything that’s been going on with T’Pring, and Chapel can’t believe what an idiot he’s been. He makes more excuses, and she (lightly, lovingly) slaps him in the head. Chapel echoes T’Pring’s statement that being in a relationship means putting your partner first – mutual sacrifice. That’s why she avoids them. Spock finally confesses, out loud, that he’s worried T’Pring thinks they’re incompatible because he is half Human. Chapel suggests that maybe T’Pring actually just feels misunderstood, and they need to communicate better.
Musings: I have been trying to figure out Chapel’s timeline. We know that she fell in love with her Dr. Roger Korby when she was a student, and they got engaged. We don’t have any dates for that. We do know that he disappeared around 2261 (TOS: “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”). That’s what prompted her to she officially joined Starfleet, hoping to be reunited with him. This first season of SNW takes place is 2259, two years prior to Korby’s disappearance, with Chapel on civilian exchange. Is he in the picture now? Have they met yet? Are they in an open relationship? I need answers.
T’Pring accepts Spock invitation to a Vulcan soul-sharing ceremony, so that they can see each other’s point of view. (Vulcans sure do like their bells and candles.) They chant together, and when they reach the end of the ceremony, all of the candles extinguish. But the “effects of the ritual have not dissipated.” That’s right – it’s a body swap! Vulcan Freaky Friday! And they don’t know how to switch back.
Pike’s packing his bags for his own little break when April stops by with news – the R’ongovians want to cancel all future negotiations with Pike. They are willing to talk, but only with Spock.
Spock and T’Pring have been in his quarters for hours, trying every ritual and chant they can think of, with no change to their predicament. And of course, the doorbell rings. Spock convinces T’Pring to answer the door as him, and act natural. Of course, it’s Pike, who catches them up on the R’ongovians. The Vulcans are clearly being weird, but Pike does his best to not mention it. T’Pring-as-Spock tries to make an excuse, but Pike insists – this is their only chance to secure this alliance. So T’Pring and Spock make the most logical decision and explain to Pike their katra-exchange gone wrong. But the R’ongovians only want to meet with Spock, “or someone who looks like him.” Spock doesn’t want to put T’Pring through that, but she cuts him off and volunteers. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise, and she can see his important work for herself. She and Pike depart, leaving Spock to find a way to undo this.
Una and La’an decide to play a little good cop/bad cop (respectively) with their errant ensigns – they were trying to Sign the Scorch, to complete the last square in Enterprise Bingo. As punishment, their shore leave is revoked and they’ll spend the next to days assigned to Chief Kyle (who’s “so mean!”), cleaning the transporter pads with space toothbrushes. Dismissed. But what the hell is Enterprise Bingo?!
Spock-as-T’Pring receives a call from K’Tyll (Tahirih Vejdani), who’s encountered a problem. Barjan T’Or has agreed to surrender, but will only speak to T’Pring. Spock tries to make some more excuses, and K’Tyll does not want to ask T’Pring to sacrifice her time with her fiancé, but reiterates their mission: “If not for us, who else will help them back to the path of logic?” Only T’Pring can do this.
Enterprise Bingo is a game, and La’an found the list of tasks:
- Use transporter to re-flavor gum
- Phaser stun club
- Turbolift two floor shout challenge
- Set the universal translator to Andorian
- Gravity Boot Hang Challenge
- Medical Tricorder Challenge: Vulcan Marsupial (It actually says “Marupial,” but I’m guessing that’s a type-o – though the Voyager reference is appreciated.)
- Food Replicator Challenge: Durian Fruit
- Sneak a Tribble into the transporter buffer
- Sit in the Captain’s Chair
- EV Suit Challenge: Unsanctioned Space Walk
- Sign the Scorch
These two don’t get the appeal… but maybe they could? Just maybe, completing Enterprise Bingo would help them both better understand the crew. And in no time, they’ve checked of three boxes.
Chapel confides in Ortegas about her date-gone-wrong, and how Lt. Dever has written her some not-terrible poetry, when Ortegas spots “T’Pring” walking towards them. Chapel quickly lets Ortegas know that she gave Spock some relationship advice, and Ortegas knows that was a bad idea – she doesn’t want anymore lirpa scars. “T’Pring” asks to speak with Chapel alone, and Ortegas quickly excuses herself. Spock-as-T’Pring brings Chapel up to speed, and she is very amused by these circumstances. She’s less amused when Spock asks for her help doing T’Pring’s job.
Una and La’an still don’t get it. Why would someone want participate in such childish behavior? The thrill of risky behavior? To break the rules? They make the rules. So they’ll have to find another way to break them.
T’Pring-as-Spock approaches negotiations with the R’ongovians with pure logic, and they are matching her demeanor, and go so far as to ask, “What is the logic of an alliance with the Federation whose interdependence merely dilutes the cultures that comprise it?” T’Pring answers in a way that we can only guess she would want Spock to – that he understands their concern and at times wishes he could return to Vulcan to focus on his courtship, framing his duty to Starfleet as a burden. And that’s when Pike steps in, not to defend the Federation but to defend Spock. He tells T’Pring that Spock’s is a noble sacrifice, and his commitment to the ideals of the Federation is inspirational. Pike quietly apologizes to T’Pring for putting her in this situation. Lucky for them both, they R’ongovians are impressed, and offer the opportunity of Summation in one more session.
“T’Pring” and Chapel meet Barjan (Alden Adair). Barjan only wanted to speak to T’Pring. But since he’s V’tosh ka’tur (Vulcan without logic), why not bring a human along? Spock thought that might make him more comfortable. Too bad he also hates humans, and is puzzled by T’Pring’s tolerance for them. Spock is surprised that a Vulcan who rejects logic would feel that way. Barjan says, “It is one thing to see strength in emotion; It is another thing entirely to marry a half-Human.” Spock tries to move forward and determine if there are any circumstances under which Barjan would accept rehabilitation, but he just continues to spew insults. So Spock punches him. Barjan’s captured – done and done.
Dr. M’Benga has returned from fly fishing and is back in sickbay with Chapel, attempting to switch back some katras. He’s using a paste made of ground Nivallan sea urchin, which is a great electromagnetic match for Vulcan skin – it’ll be Federation standard… eventually. The paste combined with some cortical stimulation should prompt Spock and T’Pring’s katras to switch back.
Later, privately, Spock-as-Spock thanks Chapel for her help. It may not have been a big deal to her, but it was to him. She encourages him to be more honest going forward. He assures her that Vulcans cannot lie – “at least, not in the way that Humans can.” No, she meant that he needs to be honest with himself.
Time for an open conversation between the betrothed. Spock finally tells T’Pring that he’s afraid she thinks that he’s not Vulcan enough, and not committed to his culture. His whole life, he’s had to prove his Vulcan-ness, constantly being made to feel like an outsider. But in Starfleet, he can just be. T’Pring fears that Spock saw their relationship as just another duty. They both must want to be in this relationship. At the moment, they both do.
Time to meet with the R’ongovians one last time, and Pike has decided to a play a hunch. Why should they ally with the Federation? They shouldn’t. It comes with built-in enemies. Any conflict that a member world has will automatically be their conflict, too. The Federation is clearly interested in their territory, not their culture. Sure, they could hypothetically gain new trade opportunities, scientific advancement, support in times of crisis… There’s actually a lot the Federation can offer, but it definitely comes with a price. Vasso thanks Pike, and leaves.
April is flabbergasted. And then Pike lays it out: The R’ongovians were rude to the Tellarites, reasonable with the Humans, logical with a Vulcan… but it’s not mere copying. It’s a diplomatic technique. They’re looking for allies who can see their point of view. And out the window of the conference room, the R’ongovian solar sail ship appears, flying the United Federation of Planets flag.
Meanwhile, Una and La’an have found a way to break the rules: They’re walking on the saucer of the Enterprise with no EV suits and only a force field to protect them. Their goal? Sign the Scorch – the oldest, unreplaced piece of the hull. Signing it is good luck. It also gives them an incredible view of the R’ongovian ship passing by.
In bed, T’Pring confesses to have enjoyed her time as Spock. Spock confesses to have punched Barjan.
Chapel broke up with Dever. It’s Erica’s turn to encourage Christine to be honest in her next relationship. But that means it might get serious, so it would have to be the “right guy.” (I get the impression here that we’re supposed to think she’s talking about Spock, but I can’t be the only one feeling the heat between Ortegas and Chapel, right?) Chapel’s about to say more, but changes her mind. Roll credits.