A little FYI about me: I’m such an in-the-closet theater nerd! Something about being a Jersey boy who could frequent NYC Broadway shows as a child (and an adult) just always made me love musicals. My music streaming library consists of 80s-mid 2010s hip-hop (sorry current hip-hop stinks no matter how much I give it a try), 80s rock, and a crap-ton of musicals and movie scores. I know for a fact I’m the only black man (probably on the planet) who thinks Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (and its three songs an episode requirement) is one of the most inventive and creative TV shows of the last decade (and plays those songs at least once a week on my phone). So, I’m in it bag for musicals.
I was a little worried that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds was planning on making a musical episode. For one, I LOVE Star Trek. While Star Trek over the decades has always had a “fun” episode here and there, they never tried to go even weirder and make a musical episode. And also, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is a phenomenal show. No shade to Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard (which in its last season was the perfect send-off for the TNG crew), Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is the best Star Trek has been in decades! And they already went weird with the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds/Star Trek: Lower Decks crossover episode “Those Old Scientists,” where they had characters in the animated show interact with the old Enterprise crew (and it was great!). So, trying to pull off a musical was gonna be a hard task.
But man did they pull it off!! From the first opening song to the grand finale, I was mesmerized that two of my favorite things were able to perfectly blend. While it was a little campy (having a boy band of Klingons was cringy and hilarious at the same time), it was awesome! Not only did the musical episode “Space Rhapsody” have some genuine bangers (sung exceptionally well by the cast), but it also helped further the stories, drama, and internal conflict of many of the characters in preparation for next week’s Season Two finale. Shortly after the episode was released, Paramount put those songs available for Amazon/Spotify/Apple Music, etc. for us to endlessly listen to…. and that was pretty much what I did all weekend! I can only imagine people in the gym watching me jam to “Status Report” while working out were thinking.
So let’s take a look at all the musical numbers and rank them:
9. “Connect to Your Truth”
-Una Chin-Riley and James Kirk
In Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, James Kirk is not yet “Captain Kirk.” In fact, he’s not even on The Enterprise yet, he’s aboard the USS Farragut. Because his brother George is on the Enterprise, he’s made a few guest appearances on the show. In “Space Rhapsody” he’s shadowing Una Chin-Riley, the Enterprise’s First Officer “Number One” as he may be up for a promotion on the Farragut.
After the crew discovers the “singing phenomenon” as a result of Uhura and Spock sending music through the subspace field they were analyzing, he works with Una to try and stop it. But during that time the two discuss being First Officer. So of course, they break out in song about connecting with their crew(s) and connecting to their truth (hence the song’s title). It’s a fun waltz of a song as the two go back and forth, and even dance with each other. Both actors Rebecca Romijn and Paul Wesley (who plays a younger version that William Shatner has had since 1966) both do a great job singing this fun song.
8. “Private Conversation”
– Captain Pike and Captain Batel
One thing about the song phenomenon is that it causes crew members to break out in song, but also, they don’t have a filter and they just sing out their emotional truths. Captains Pike and Batel are into each other, but they also have duties to their respective crews. Earlier in the episode, Pike cancels a vacation between the two of them as he’s worried about getting close to her and shuts down emotionally. However, when she hails him (in front of both of their crews), they have a “private conversation” in front of both of their bridge crews.
Both actor Anson Mount (who knew he could sing) and actress Melanie Scrofano do a great job singing, the song is quite short as Security Officer La’an Noonien-Singh cuts the signal as she realizes people breaking out into singing with no filters is a security risk. So just as it starts to get good, it cuts short.
7. “Keeping Secrets”
– Una Chin-Riley and La’an Noonien-Singh
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds made an interesting choice by having a member of the crew be a descendent of Khan Noonien Singh, who was responsible for the Eugenics Wars and hated in Star Trek just about as much as Bin Laden or Hitler is in our world. Because of her heritage to a mass murderer, she has to keep to herself and not let people in to know the “real” her because of who she’s related to. That all changed when she accidentally time-traveled to an alternate reality (where she had to ironically save Khan Noonien Singh) along with a version of James Kirk from that same alternate reality. This reality though didn’t have the Eugenics Wars, so the name Khan Noonien Singh didn’t make people afraid. This allowed her to let her guard down with alt James Kirk and they fell for each other. Unfortunately, Alt James Kirk died and she was forbidden from ever discussing the event by a temporal agent.
In this episode, she had to work directly with the James Kirk from our reality, which made her uneasy. Una could tell something was wrong with how she was looking at Kirk, but because of the Temporal Prime Directive, she couldn’t do anything. Una, who went on trial for hiding that she was Illyrian (and genetically engineered, which is illegal in the Federation) broke into song and dance to tell her that she shouldn’t keep secrets. La’an didn’t have to tell Una, but she should talk to Kirk so that it doesn’t eat her alive inside.
Both Rebecca Romijn and Christina Chong were good, especially Chong. Did not expect her to sing so good as well!
6. “I’m The X”
First off, Ethan Peck has been great as Spock! When he was first introduced on Star Trek: Discovery as Michael Burnam’s adoptive brother, he seemed to do an all right job for the role made iconic by Lenord Nimoy. However, when Spock showed up on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Ethan Peck was able to get into the groove and become Spock, to the point that I now think of “him” as Spock.
Having Nurse Chapel and Spock be a couple was also an interesting choice, because that wasn’t canon as she in the original Star Trek was married to someone else. Now we find out why as she breaks up with Spock because she accepts an assignment off The Enterprise. Spock, who was attempting to navigate his human side with emotions instead of his trademark Vulcan logic, decides that after the breakup, he no longer wants to engage with his emotions and sings that he’s the “X” while talking with Uhura.
Ethan Peck’s baritone voice was almost harmonic in all his songs, but in “I’m the X” this one he gets to have his own solo. He’s great at singing, but the creativity in the songwriting (having the “logical” Spock sing about equations as it relates to his love life) was a chef’s kiss of songwriting.
5. “How Would That Feel”
– La’an Noonien-Singh
Christina Chong can sing!
Continuing the theme of her shutting down, especially after Alt Kirk’s death, La’an sings her own solo as she ponders her feelings, her isolation, and her family’s legacy. It’s mostly her sitting in her room in the dark singing to herself, but man does Christina Chong sell it with her singing! In the aftermath of the song, she decides to tell Prime Kirk about Alt Kirk and her feelings for him. This song truly moves her character forward.
4. “I’m Ready”
– Nurse Chapel
Because I’m a fan of Spock and Nurse Chapel, I wasn’t a fan of her breaking up with him. In fact, the way she did was, while brutally honest (which was because of the singing phenomenon), it was also at the expense of Spock’s feelings. But that doesn’t mean that the musical number “I’m Ready” wasn’t outstanding.
Jess Bush is another one who I didn’t know could sing, but she can SANG! The entire dance sequence in the bar while she was singing about working hard, he ambitions, and he relationship with Spock was a great number, very reminiscent of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s moments where that crew hung out at Vic Fontaine’s lounge in their holodeck. George Kirk joining the crew dancing was also a fun highlight as everyone broke into song and dance organically during the musical number.
3. “Keep Us Connected”
Uhura is the friggin MVP of this episode! Not only does she motivate everyone for the finale (more on that later), but her solo “Keep Us Connected” left me with goosebumps!
As the ship’s communication officer, Uhura does keep everyone connected, and during her solo performance, she gets the chance to reflect on her life, her loss (never has singing about your entire family dying in a crash been so beautiful), but her role on the ship. She had for the most part on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, kept her head down and did her work. Through this song though, she reclaims her power and her identity as an important member of the crew.
Celia Rose Gooding can SANG! The entire performance was outstanding and they did such a great job that I wouldn’t be mad if her solo brought people to tears by how beautiful they sounded.
2. “Status Report”
– The Whole Crew
This is the first musical number, and it really sets the tone for the entire episode. If you were going into it expecting it to be terrible, “Status Report” set your mind at ease. As soon as Spock started singing, my ears immediately perked up and relaxed any thoughts that this episode wouldn’t work. It was an outstanding song and one that has been on repeat on my phone for days.
Spock and Uhura are analyzing a subspace field that they can’t penetrate. Commander Pelia suggests sending music through the transmission, which creates a pulse that goes through the ship. In the aftermath, Spock breaks out into song, and soon enough the whole crew is singing their status report updates. The songwriting is creative as it’s inventive how many Star Trek terminologies they can make rhyme with each other. Captain Pike’s nonverbal responses to everyone singing and continuing to sing “Why are we singing?” was hilarious. The harmonies are outstanding and let you know (and prepare you) for an episode that perfectly blends Star Trek and theater together!
1. “We Are One.”
– The Whole Crew
As with any theater production, the musical finale always pulls out all the stops. And the finale of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ “Subspace Rhapsody” is no different!
Realizing that in order to crash the subspace field (and therefore save the universe), Uhura (once again the MVP of the episode) realizes that she needs the entire crew to sing together. Unsure of who could motivate everyone to sing, she asks Pike, who affirms to her that she’s the ship’s Communications Officer and she keeps everyone connected. After a nice motivational speech throughout the ship, she begins the song with a solo and then the whole crew jumps singing about everything dramatic that has happened to them in this episode and the need for them to be “as one” as members of the Enterprise crew. Everyone gets a chance to shine… even the Klingons!
The Klingon “boy band” scene almost made me fall out from laughter! It’s cringy and cheesy, but it was still a fun 20-second scene. Now I could have used some Klingon opera, but this was a decent alternative.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds managed to pull off the impossible. The show has already been firing on all cylinders with a spectacular first season, and a second season that was just as good, yet it took some BIG SWINGS (the crossover with Star Trek: Lower Decks, and now the musical episode) that absolutely nailed it! The writers, directors, production crew, music crew, and actors all put one hundred percent into delivering an outstanding episode (end the strike so we can see more of this!). It’s going to be hard to top because next season they will have to do something even wilder to top it.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is currently streaming on Paramount Plus.
“Subspace Rhapsody” is currently available for streaming on various music sites.