This Star Trek: Strange New Worlds article contains spoilers.
Captain Pike has a terrible choice to make. In the final minutes of the finale of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Pike’s plan to rescue the survivors of an attack by the monstrous alien species, the Gorn, is thwarted by his own people. His superior Admiral April orders the immediate withdrawal, fearing that exposure to the increased Gorn onslaught would cost Starfleet its flagship, the USS Enterprise. In the midst of intergalactic chaos, Pike stumbles back, weighed down by this seemingly no-win scenario.
The finale caps off what has been an outstanding season of television for Strange New Worlds, throwing back to classic Star Trek sensibilities and standalone episodes while taking advantage of contemporary production values and storytelling possibilities.
Strange New Worlds Season 2 Finale Ending Explained: A Huge Cliffhanger and What’s Next for the Enterprise
“Hegemony” pays off a storyline teased from the first season of Strange New Worlds, finally pitting Starfleet against the Gorn Hegemony. Even non-Trekkies know the Gorn from the infamous TOS episode “Arena,” in which Captain Kirk battled a toga-clad lizard man on a desert planet. Where the Gorn came to represent the charm and cheese of classic Trek, SNW presents a far more dangerous version of the alien, as demonstrated by the trauma La’an still carries and the damage wrought by a single young Gorn in the season one episode “All Those Who Wander.”
Accordingly, “Hegemony” gives us the Gorn at their most terrifying, slaughtering colonists and the crew of the USS Cayuga. As La’an has warned Pike all along, the Gorn have a particularly brutal fate for those they conquer, either eating them alive or planting their eggs in victims, using people as living incubators.
Pike’s landing party finds some colonists and Cayuga crew members still alive. In addition to Pike’s love interest, the Cayuga Captain Batel, they meet a young Scottish engineer, who ingeniously devises a trap for the Gorn, keeping himself and the others alive. Thanks to Lieutenant Junior Grade Montgomery Scott‘s (actual Scottish actor Martin Quinn) ingenuity, he and Batel make it back to the Enterprise. But all is not well for Batel, who has been infected by the Gorn.
The ever-optimistic Pike insists that she can be saved, and Chapel assures him that she will not give up, but Batel is not so sure. Making matters worse, Uhura discovers that the surviving colonists have been beamed aboard a Gorn ship, just as more destroyers arrive to fire on the Enterprise. Undaunted, Pike prepares to rescue the captives, until April commands him to escape, leaving Pike with a terrible choice.
“Orders, Captain?” demands Commanding Officer Una Chin-Riley in the season’s final scene.
Then “To Be Continued…” flashes on the screen.
Like the previous shows about the Enterprise, Strange New Worlds has focused more on exploration than combat. But the possibility of a Gorn War has been a threat throughout the series, suggesting that season 3 may see a tighter (and much darker) overlapping storyline than the previous two.
While season 2 waited an episode before addressing season 1’s major cliffhanger — Number One’s imprisonment for lying about her true identity — there seems no way around addressing the Gorn in the room when the show finally returns, including the fate of Captain Batel and the captured members of Starfleet. But the Gorn aren’t the only thread season 3 will have to pick up. For example, where do Spock and Nurse Chapel go from here after their heartwarming reunion in the finale, and how will T’Pring feel about all this? What about La’an and Kirk (and Carol Marcus)?
Scotty’s arrival on the Enterprise also gets us one step closer to The Original Series crew. Now that Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and Scotty are accounted for, does this mean a certain doctor is next up in season 3?
And with the Klingons popping up several times throughout the season, in the same way the Gorn did in season 1, are they poised to become a bigger part of the series going forward, too? There’s always the chance that the war on two fronts that Admiral Robert April feared could finally break out…
If all that’s not enough for you, we know the Federation’s Department of Temporal Investigations is also running around protecting the timeline from Romulan time travelers. Strange New Worlds‘ looser approach to continuity leaves a lot of room for many more timey-wimey adventures!
Strange New Worlds Season 3: What We Know So Far
But getting back to Pike’s big Gorn dilemma, it’s been a long time since Trek fans had to wait for the resolution to a two-parter. Like many shows pre-Peak TV, Star Trek series would sometimes close a season on a cliffhanger, forcing the audience to wait months for the conclusion of the story in the next season premiere. The most famous example is The Next Generation season three closer “The Best of Both Worlds, Part One,” which ended with Riker commanding the Enterprise to fire on the Borg Cube containing Captain Picard, now transformed into Locutus of Borg. Adding to the episode’s tension were ongoing contract negotiations between Patrick Stewart and producers, leading to the very real possibility that Picard would die in the attack.
“Hegemony” doesn’t quite have those same stakes. We know things will ultimately turn out alright for the Enterprise in season 3 and that most (if not all) of the characters will survive the Gorn attack. But another real-world dispute does raise questions about the future of the show. Since Paramount and other studios represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) refuse to properly compensate the writers and actors on shows like Strange New Worlds, the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are now on strike, meaning season 3 of the Star Trek series can’t move forward until the matter is resolved.
When asked by Inverse about the status of the third season, which was green lit prior to the strikes, co-showrunner Akiva Goldsman had no good news to share: “We haven’t filmed anything for season 3, yet,” he confirmed, which means it’ll be a while before we get any resolution to “Hegemony.”
However, they won’t be completely starting from scratch. Goldsman fellow showrunner Henry Alonso Myers told the outlet they already know where the third season will go. “We knew the broad shape of this finale going into season 2,” Myers revealed. “And we knew the broad shape of what the follow-up would be. Now, there obviously have been some slight changes because it’s gonna be hard to work on things for a little while.”
Yet, as much fun as it is to speculate, Strange New Worlds has done nothing but surprise viewers since it began. In an era of serialized storylines that lean toward the dark and epic, who could have guessed that Strange New Worlds would give us standalone episodes with fairy tales and musicals? However the series plans to resolve Pike’s terrible choice, we’re confident that it will exceed expectations.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is streaming now on Paramount+.