Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 6 Review – Lost in Translation

Uhura and the Kirk brothers team up against a new enemy in the latest episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds! Our review...

Kirk and Uhura in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2
Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+

This Star Trek: Strange New Worlds review contains spoilers.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 6

While the adventures the crew of the Enterprise find themselves in from week to week on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds are always fun, they’re often the least important part of the show we’re watching. Instead, the missions of the week are almost always explicitly tied to the larger themes at work in the various emotional journeys of the show’s characters and their relationships with one another. Such is the case in the season 2 episode “Lost in Translation,” an hour that’s technically about discovering a new alien species, but that’s really a larger story about loss, empathy, and the power of listening to others, even when you don’t always understand what they’re trying to say, at first. 

A largely Uhura-focused episode, “Lost in Translation” also gives several other characters key moments to shine, including Carol Kane’s Pelia and Paul Wesley’s James Kirk, who is at long last officially part of Strange New Worlds’ primary timeline. Sorry, Kirk/La’an shippers, there’s minimal progress on the romantic front this week, but the hour does feature his first meeting with Spock, in a ridiculously brief and strangely perfect coda that lands like a thunderclap infused with all our affection for what that bond will one day become. Yes, the close-up on the handshake was kind of cheesy. Did I care? Not even a little bit.

After two previous appearances in episodes that took place in alternate timelines, Wesley finally gets a crack at the “real” Kirk, and I…kind of love it. Don’t get me wrong, I remain as surprised by this fact as anyone else, given that I still don’t believe Strange New Worlds technically needs any version of Kirk to be great. And on some level I do still wish this screen time were going to characters like Chapel or Ortegas. But Wesley’s a relentlessly charming performer, and somehow manages to strike a decent balance between youthful hubris and the thoughtful leadership smarts we know his character will one day possess. Plus, if we have to have some variation of the franchise’s most famous figure on our screen, then I appreciate the deliberate way that the show has gone about introducing this Kirk to its canvas and the obvious care that’s been taken in crafting a space for him that doesn’t feel exploitive, pointlessly nostalgic, or as though it’s somehow crowding out the other characters we care about. 

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Admittedly, I also loved the sly way the episode does manage to stay canon-compliant, giving Pike a temporary fleet command because that’s the only fact we actually know about Kirk’s first meeting with him. This show is truly run by incredible nerds and I love it so much.

Happily, nothing about this Kirk feels as though he’s destined to take over the show, something I think many of us have been rightly concerned about since his addition to the cast was announced. Instead, his presence in “Lost in Translation” is almost solely about serving Uhura’s story. Yes, there’s something particularly lovely about the fact that Kirk’s first scenes opposite a future Enterprise crewmate are with her, a character who casts as long a shadow over the legacy of this franchise as he does, but whose relationship with him The Original Series was never all that interested in exploring. But, at the end of the day, this hour is very clearly Uhura’s episode and it’s her emotional arc that takes precedence throughout.

Far too often when characters die on episodic-skewing shows like this, their loss is simply treated as a fact of one specific story, and everyone just moves on to the next story beat because that’s how the show’s narrative pretty much has to function. So it’s particularly nice to see Strange New Worlds not just revisit Hemmer’s death, but the impact of his life as well. He may be dead, but he’s not gone, and Uhura and Una are both reflections of the way that he lives on in the world of the Enterprise

“Lost in Translation” is also a larger story of Uhura finally being forced to face the grief that she has kept locked inside since the accident that killed her family and ultimately sent her to Starfleet, and, in many ways, it feels like the natural extension of some of the themes and story beats we saw play out back in season 1’s “Children of the Comet.” Its primary plot also revolves around communication, and the need to figure out how to talk to an unfamiliar and wildly strange alien race we initially (and incorrectly) assume means Uhura and her Starfleet friends harm. The effects of those attempts—her visions of a zombie-esque Hemmer and hallways full of the blood-soaked bodies of dead crew members—have serious horror movie vibes and serve as a welcome reminder that it’s pure human hubris to assume that the creatures we’ll encounter on our exploration the stars will look like anything we’re familiar with. And that we should prepare ourselves and our expectations accordingly.

As for Kirk, his role in this episode is primarily a supporting one. He’s there to be a sounding board for Uhura and, more importantly, to believe her when she most needs someone to have faith in her. Okay, fine, and also to get punched in the face, which is, admittedly, fun to watch. But Strange New Worlds does make the interesting decision, when the hour is focused on his character, to show us a side of Kirk we’ve never had the chance to see before. Though these are much younger versions of the Kirk, Uhura, and Spock who will one day lead The Original Series, we know the basic shapes those relationships will one day take. What we don’t know is a ton about who Kirk was in his formative years, and/or what his family was really like. His brother Sam Kirk appears in The Original Series for approximately 30 seconds and only after he’s dead, and we have no idea what their relationship was like. 

Wesley and Dan Jeannotte have great sibling chemistry—Wesley has peak little brother energy here, which is something that I as a former The Vampire Diaries viewer find hilarious given his role as long-suffering elder brother Stefan Salvatore on that show—and their interactions are bursting with unspoken complexities. That Sam ultimately gets to solve the episode’s mystery through the application of his extremely esoteric science knowledge is deeply satisfying, but it’s also clear that it’s not enough to make him feel like his brother’s equal, largely because Jim is succeeding in more traditionally acceptable (and possibly traditionally masculine) ways. (And Jim will never be the eldest son that got his father’s name no matter what he does.)

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Their relationship clearly has some deeply complex issues at its heart, despite their obvious care for one another, and I would absolutely watch more of them untangling their daddy issues in future episodes. Because while I’ll admit didn’t really want Kirk here, Strange New Worlds is slowly convincing me there might actually be a place for him on this canvas, after all. In limited doses, of course.


4.5 out of 5