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How the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 twist ending sets up Season 2

Here’s what that cliffhanger does (and doesn’t) change.

Anson Mount as Captain Pike in the Season 1 finale of 'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.'

This isn’t over! Captain Pike’s final words in “A Quality of Mercy” — the Season 1 finale of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds — have created a shocking cliffhanger. And because of this, it would seem that the next season of the series will have to change its format, at least slightly to resolve this surprising pivot. Here’s exactly what the ending of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds means, and why showrunners Akiva Goldsman and Henry Alonso Myers say the show might not change as much as you’d think.

Spoilers ahead.

Why was Number One arrested by Starfleet?

Although the vast majority of “A Quality of Mercy” is focused on Captain Pike exploring an alternate future set in the year 2266, and inside of the classic TOS episode “Balance of Terror,” the ending of the episode isn’t really connected to any of that.

Una’s (Rebecca Romijn) was a shocking twist for the Strange New Worlds finale.


That said, at one point in the alternate future, Pike did learn that Una had been imprisoned for her “deception.” But, once he’s back in his proper place in the timeline, he sort of forgets about it — but he shouldn’t!

As Melissa Carper’s “Makin’ Memories” plays while Pike seems upbeat, things seem to be going great. But then, suddenly, everything shifts.

Captain Batel (Melanie Scrofano) asks to see Pike (Anson Mount) and Una Chin-Riley/Number One (Rebecca Romijn) in the transporter room. And just like that, Una is arrested because she’s secretly an Illyrian (a genetically modified person). This plot detail is directly connected to the events of episode 3, “Ghosts of Illyria,” in which Number One revealed she’d been hiding her genetic modifications in order to stay in Starfleet. At the time, Number One suggested turning herself in, but Pike said he’d deal with Starfleet when the time came.

But now, Starfleet has taken Number One away to space prison, and Pike is determined to get her back. This feels like a major Season 2 set-up right away. So, will the next season of Strange New Worlds focus on the search for Una? Not so fast.

Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), Number One (Rebecca Romijn) and La’an (Christina Chong) in Episode 9, “All Those Who Wander.”


Strange New Worlds Season 2 will remain episodic

Speaking to Inverse, co-showrunner Henry Alonso Myers makes it clear Season 2 will directly address all the cliffhangers from Season 1.

“Obviously, Una is arrested,” Myers says. “That’s a big one and that’s hanging over everything.” But, Myers also points out that in addition to the death of Hemmer in Episode 9, La’an also departed the Enterprise to search for the family of Ariana, who she rescued. Essentially, Myers says Strange New Worlds will “deal” with those “serialized threads,” but that doesn’t mean the essence of the show will change.

“The show is still very much an adventure of the week,” Myers says. “We do different genres, we try to go for broke with regard to those genres, and none of that has changed. I would say it's the same character storytelling that we do. But, I will say Season 2 is on a grander scale.”

Spock (Ethan Peck) and La’an (Christina Chong) inside of a mind-meld in Episode 4.


Something Star Trek has “never” done

So far, Strange New Worlds has delivered on the promise of a different genre every week. From body-switching comedy hijinks in “Spock Amok” to the pirate episode “The Serene Squall,” storybook escapism in “The Elysium Kingdom,” and straight-up sci-fi horror in “All Those Who Wander,” the narrative palette for Strange New Worlds is already very diverse. But, co-showrunner Akiva Goldsman (also the co-creator of Picard) says that in terms of pushing the envelope, Strange New Worlds is just getting started.

“If you like Season 1, we’re doing a bunch of things in Season 2 where you’re gonna go ‘Oh come on! that’s amazing!’” Goldsman says. “We started making Season 2 before anybody had seen Season 1. And we just decided it was going to work because we really liked it. But, I believe, in Season 2, we’re doing some genres and making creative stretches that have literally never been done on Star Trek before.”

So what does that mean? An animated Strange New Worlds episode? Something connected to a “crossover” teased by Alex Kurtzman recently? A sitcom episode about Spock and his brother Sybok? A musical?

For now, there’s no release date yet for Strange New Worlds Season 2, but when it does return (likely in 2023) fans should expect things in the Final Frontier will get a whole lot stranger.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is now streaming on Paramount+.

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