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“Don’t Punch Any More Officers Until I Get Back” — Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Lost in Translation”


“Don’t Punch Any More Officers Until I Get Back” — Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Lost in Translation”

Home / “Don’t Punch Any More Officers Until I Get Back” — Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Lost in Translation”
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“Don’t Punch Any More Officers Until I Get Back” — Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Lost in Translation”


Published on July 20, 2023

Image: CBS / Paramount+
Uhura and Jim Kirk
Image: CBS / Paramount+

In many ways, this is a historic episode of Strange New Worlds, as we get two first meetings between characters whom we know will become very dear to each other in the future history of this fictional setting. And there’s another first meeting between characters that will likely have a tiresome segment of the fanbase once again screaming “ALTERNATE TIMELINE!” at the tops of their lungs because they don’t understand how fiction works.

What’s great about it, though, is that these things happen in what is pretty much just a run-of-the-mill Star Trek episode. Which is totally fine.

The meetings all involve James T. Kirk. Though this is Paul Wesley’s third appearance as the younger of the Kirk brothers after “A Quality of Mercy” and “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” it’s his first (substantial) one as the one we know from this timeline. The Enterprise and Farragut are both involved in getting a deuterium collecting station up and running inside a stellar nursery. Said station is horribly behind schedule, and engineers from both ships are sent over to help the station crew.

For his part, Jim is about to be promoted to first officer of the Farragut. He comes over to Enterprise to say hi to his brother. And here we get something SNW can give us that the original series never really could (because dramatic adventure TV didn’t do that sort of thing much in the 1960s), which is dig into backstory.

Brothers Sam and Jim Kirk.
Image: CBS / Paramount+

Jim has risen to the rank of first officer faster than anyone in the fleet since George Samuel Kirk Sr. on the Kelvin. Meanwhile, George Samuel Kirk Jr. is still a lieutenant in the sciences, and apparently the elder Kirk doesn’t think that’s all that great. The tension between Wesley and Dan Jeannotte is very nicely played, as Jim doesn’t see what the problem is, and Sam very obviously feels the weight of parental disapproval that’s sailing right over Jim’s head.

After Sam stomps off in a huff, Jim goes over to talk to Uhura, who pretty much blows him off. Uhura has been hearing weird noises, and also hallucinating a decomposing Hemmer (a welcome return from Bruce Horak, both as Uhura’s hallucination and in footage of Hemmer showing Uhura how to recalibrate stuff). When she leaves the bar, she has a much nastier hallucination involving a whole lot of dead people, and it ends with her being attacked by an image of herself, against whom she defends herself.

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Except in reality it’s Jim, checking on her to make sure she’s all right, and getting a bloody nose for his trouble. They go back to Uhura’s quarters to fix his nose, as going to sickbay would require reporting officially that she assaulted a superior officer, something neither Jim nor Uhura want to do.

At first, it’s believed that Uhura is suffering from some deuterium poisoning, combined with her not sleeping very much, as she’s been overworking. But then on the station, Pelia discovers that the reason why the station has been delayed in coming online is because of sabotage.

The saboteur is one of the station crew, Lieutenant Ramon (Michael Reventar). He’s also been hearing the weird noises and hallucinating just like Uhura, but he’s been hearing it for longer and it’s been causing him to try to keep the station from coming online.

It isn’t until after Ramon does some serious damage, killing himself in the process, that Uhura is able to figure it out: There’s a life form inside the deuterium that’s being killed by the mining process. Uhura’s hallucinations all relate to death, with an emphasis on Hemmer (though she also hallucinates the death of her family in the shuttle accident, as established back in “Children of the Comet“). When, at Uhura’s urging, the Enterprise and Farragut destroy the station, the image of Hemmer changes from that of a decomposing one to what Hemmer looked like alive—and smiling.

During this process, Jim meets Pike, and this is the “OMG, THEY’RE BREAKING CANON, HOW DARE THEY?” moment. In “The Menagerie,” Jim said that he first met Pike when he took over commanding the ship from him. This violates that, technically, but it’s one line in one episode. Trek has always revised itself, as Captain James R. Kirk of the UESPA ship Enterprise and his Vulcanian first officer Spock can attest. Is it worth twisting the storylines into knots to keep Chris Pike and Jim Kirk from meeting on SNW to satisfy one line of dialogue? Obviously, the producers of this show don’t think so, any more than the producers of Star Trek Generations thought it would be worth not having James Doohan appear in the prelude of their movie to satisfy one line of dialogue from TNG‘s “Relics” when Scotty thought Kirk was still alive. EDITED TO ADD: As several people pointed out in the comments, the exact line in “The Menagerie” that Kirk had when asked if he’d met Pike was, “When he was promoted to fleet captain,” and in this episode Pike gets a temporary promotion to fleet captain because he’s in charge of both Enterprise and Farragut. It’s one part clumsy, one part clever, but, at the very least, it’s true to continuity.

Along the way, we get some fun stuff with Number One and Pelia, as the first officer has a real problem with her new space-hippie chief engineer. Pelia does things her way and doesn’t always obey orders—in this case, to good effect, since her not doing things the way Chin-Riley wanted her to enabled her to discover Ramon’s sabotage—and the very by-the-book Number One doesn’t like that.

Pelia aboard a shuttlecraft.
Image: CBS / Paramount+

What I particularly love is that Pelia cuts through the bullshit. Number One tries to make out that she resents that Pelia gave her a low grade in a class at the Academy years ago, but Pelia has been around too long to fall for that. She knows that she’s replacing someone beloved who died tragically in Hemmer and that some folks have trouble warming to her because of that. (Pelia has a similar conversation with Uhura earlier.) However, Pelia’s also been around long enough to know a psychological coping mechanism when she sees one, so she tells Number One to go ahead and keep resenting the C grade Pelia gave her if it’s too uncomfortable to think about Hemmer. It’s a beautifully played scene between two great actors in Carol Kane and Rebecca Romijn. (Romijn also has one of the best lines in the episode early on when Pike is waxing rhapsodic about the next great age of exploration, and Number One rolls her eyes and says, “Oh good, I was afraid I missed the speech!”)

In the end, we get our third and final first meeting, between Jim Kirk and Spock. Uhura and Jim are sharing a drink after it’s all over, and Jim mentions what a pain in the ass his brother is, and Spock—who just last week was seen bitching about Sam’s inability to clean up after himself—chimes in his agreement. Uhura then introduces the two of them, and Spock joins them for a drink. The closing shot is these three legends having a seat at a time waaaaaaaaaaaay before they became legends, and it’s kind of fabulous.

And wonderfully low-key. There’s something fitting about these three historic introductions happening in a very simple manner during what, it must be said, is a very bog-standard Star Trek storyline. The we’re-accidentally-harming-the-strange-aliens plot has been a staple of Trek since the original series’ “The Devil in the Dark,” and has been used constantly, from TNG’s “Night Terrors” to DS9’s “Playing God” to Voyager’s “Heroes and Demons” to an inversion of it in Discovery’s fourth-season storyline.

But it’s still an important story to tell, because the hallmark of Star Trek has always been compassion and conversation over violence and ignorance. The solution to this story is exactly what it’s supposed to be on a Trek show: saving people and being nice to each other.

Keith R.A. DeCandido will be an author guest at ConnectiCon XX in Hartford at the Connecticut Convention Center this weekend. He’ll have a table where he’ll be selling and signing books, and also will be doing some panels. His full schedule can be found here.

About the Author

Keith R.A. DeCandido


Keith R.A. DeCandido has been writing about popular culture for this site since 2011, primarily but not exclusively writing about Star Trek and screen adaptations of superhero comics. He is also the author of more than 60 novels, more than 100 short stories, and around 50 comic books, both in a variety of licensed universes from Alien to Zorro, as well as in worlds of his own creation. Read his blog, follow him on Facebook, The Site Formerly Known As Twitter, Instagram, Threads, and Blue Sky, and follow him on YouTube and Patreon.
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