Strange New Worlds’ technology for turning humans into aliens is still new and flawed, which also gives Christine Chapel a bigger focus on the Enterprise.
Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Episode 1 – “Strange New Worlds”
The premiere of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds also pioneers the well-known Star Trek method of turning Starfleet officers into aliens. A prequel set in the 23rd century, Strange new worlds resumes months after the end of Star Trek: Discovery season 2. Strange new worlds chronicles a new five-year mission exploring the galaxy by the Starship Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount). But before Pike can boldly go where no one has gone before, he must lead a rescue mission to Kiley 279 and rescue his number one, Lt. Commander Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn), and solve a difficult crisis. first contact – becoming an extraterrestrial.
While starships, phasers, tricorders, and transporters are the most heralded Star Trek technologies, perhaps the most underrated is the ability to surgically transform a Starfleet officer into an alien. This is common in Star Trek from The original series when Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) was turned into a Romulan in “The Enterprise Incident.” Since then, many Star Trek heroes have become undercover aliens. For example, Councilwoman Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) was also turned into a Romulan in Star Trek: The Next Generationand Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), along with several of his officers, were turned into Klingons on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It’s easy and painless for humans to not only be surgically transformed into an alien on Star Trek, but also to be reinstated without ill effects. This includes Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) reclaiming his full humanity after the Borg turned him into Locutus in TNG.
However, in Star Trek: Strange New WorldsCirca 2259, the technology to surgically turn humans into aliens is still new, and that’s the expertise of nurse Christine Chapel (Jess Bush). One of his duties on the Enterprise medical team is to “make disguises”, but this early version of surgical DNA alternation is both dangerous and painless. In the Strange New Worlds premiere, Captain Pike, Spock (Ethan Peck), and La’an Noonien Singh (Christina Chong) needed to be surgically altered so they could infiltrate the planet Kiley 279 and rescue Number One. Although Chapel’s DNA resequencing worked, it came with serious caveats: it required an anesthetic to numb the incredible pain caused by the surgical alteration and, in Spock’s case, the effects n were only temporary. Spock’s Vulcan DNA rebelled and he began to become himself again. The Enterprise Science Officer needed an extra serum delivered directly into his bloodstream to maintain his disguise.
Strange new worlds giving Christine Chapel that particular skill ingeniously gives her a bigger purpose beyond just being nurse to Dr. M’Benga’s (Babs Olusanmokun) chief medical officer. It also means that Chapel is a pioneer in this field and she remains on the USS Enterprise after Strange new worlds helps to understand how Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley), becomes so proficient in surgical modifications in TOS. Chapel’s surgical alteration is also linked to Star Trek: Discovery season 1 because the Klingons apparently had this technology before Starfleet. The Klingon named Voq (Shazad Latif) was surgically transformed into human Lieutenant Ash Tyler and infiltrated the USS Discovery. Presumably Starfleet set out to bring surgical tampering under control after Tyler/Voq’s discovery.
The fact that Nurse Chapel’s surgical tampering technology is still new, dangerous, and flawed reinforces how Strange New Worlds’ The Enterprise is at the tip of the final frontier. As a prequel, Strange new worlds has fun reintroducing familiar Star Trek characters and concepts such as DNA resequencing. It’s fascinating to watch something like Starfleet officers painlessly transform into aliens as a fraught new idea in Strange new worldsas opposed to how something so miraculous is down to earth and somewhat taken for granted in the canonical Star Trek series after Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
Next: Star Trek: Every Doctor in the Company
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds airs Thursdays on Paramount+.
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