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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Put Starfleet & Number One On Trial – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Put Starfleet & Number One On Trial



Warning: The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2, Episode 2 – “Ad Astra Per Aspera”. The second episode of the season puts not only Number One (Rebecca Romijn), the USS Enterprise First Officer Una Chin-Riley, on trial but also Starfleet itself. “Ad Astra Per Aspera” follows through on the cliffhanger from the previous season that saw Number One arrested for lying on her Starfleet application about being a genetically-modified Illyrian. The episode calls into question Starfleet’s augment ban and forces the trial judges to rethink their previous assumptions. Despite the many questions raised about Starfleet’s laws and their augment ban, Una is ultimately upheld as an exemplary Starfleet officer and remains as First Officer on the USS Enterprise.

Following in the tradition of many Star Trek courtroom episodes that came before it, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2, episode 2, “Ad Astra Per Aspera” spends most of its runtime on the trial itself. Una emotionally recounts her experiences as a young Illyrian hiding her identity from the United Federation of Planets when she grew up in a Federation colony in the Vaultera Nebula. Una’s friend and lawyer, Neera Ketoul (Yetide Badaki), implores Starfleet to favor their more empathic laws over their harsher ones. Neera uses her skills as a Civil Rights lawyer to lay out the prejudice inherent in the ban on genetic modification, which led to persecution and discrimination, going against everything that Starfleet stands for. By framing Una’s story as one of a persecuted asylum-seeker, Neera provides the judges with a chance to uphold their laws and still remain true to the values of Starfleet.

Despite her reservations about Starfleet as an organization, Neera uses one of their most empathetic laws to ensure Una can remain in Starfleet. Neera brings out the Starfleet code book and asks Captain Batel (Melanie Scrofano) to read Starfleet Code 8514, which states that any Starfleet Captain can offer asylum to those fleeing persecution. When the code is read, everyone in the courtroom begins to understand Neera’s intentions. Neera ends her defense with a plea: “Years ago, the ideals of Starfleet called a young girl from the far side of the galaxy to service. Find those ideals inside yourself.”

In the end, all of Neera’s apparent accusations serve to make an important point: Sometimes Starfleet officers must use their own judgment when making decisions rather than following the exact letter of the law. Starfleet may have rules and regulations that seem unjust, but most of the individuals within Starfleet really do strive to make the right choices. As for Una’s trial, compassion and humanity win out in the end, and everyone seems happy with the final verdict. With “Ad Astra Per Aspera,” Star Trek: Strange New Worlds reaffirms that Starfleet (and Star Trek) celebrate the very best that humanity has to offer.

Overall, “Ad Astra Per Aspera” not only puts Number One and Starfleet on trial but also raises important questions about the values and ideals of Starfleet. Despite the many challenges faced by Una during the trial, her exemplary service as a Starfleet officer ultimately shines through, and she remains in her position as First Officer on the USS Enterprise. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 streams Thursdays on Paramount+.

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2, Episode 2 – “Ad Astra Per Aspera”



The second episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 not only puts Number One (Rebecca Romijn), the USS Enterprise First Officer Una Chin-Riley, on trial but also puts Starfleet itself on trial. “Ad Astra Per Aspera” follows through on the cliffhanger of Strange New Worlds season 1 that saw Number One arrested for lying on her Starfleet application about being a genetically-modified Illyrian. The episode calls Starfleet’s augment ban into question and forces the trial judges to rethink their previous assumptions. In the end, Starfleet upholds its ideals and makes the right call regarding Una, even if they cannot fully investigate the augment ban itself.

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Following in the tradition of the many Star Trek courtroom episodes that came before it, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2, episode 2, “Ad Astra Per Aspera” spends most of its runtime on the trial itself. Una emotionally recounts her experiences as a young Illyrian hiding her identity from the United Federation of Planets when she grew up in a Federation colony in the Vaultera Nebula. Una’s friend and lawyer, Neera Ketoul (Yetide Badaki), implores Starfleet to favor their more empathic laws over their harsher ones. Though the trial raises many questions about Starfleet’s laws and their augment ban, Strange New Worlds “As Astra Per Aspera” ends with Una right where she’s meant to be – as First Officer on the USS Enterprise.



Strange New Worlds Put Starfleet On Trial Along With Number One

Star Trek Strange New Worlds Ad Astra Per Aspera Judges

As part of her defense of Una, Neera brings up Number One’s former Captain, Admiral Robert April (Adrian Holmes), and her current Captain, Christopher Pike (Anson Mount). She goes after April with particular gusto, calling into question several decisions he made in the past that went against Starfleet’s most important law, the Prime Directive. Pike’s character is called into question when the trial reveals that he found out about Una’s Illyrian heritage four months before her arrest. In the end, all of Neera’s apparent accusations serve to make an important point: Sometimes Starfleet officers must use their own judgment when making decisions rather than following the exact letter of the law.

Related: Star Trek’s Best Courtroom Episodes Ranked

Despite her reservations about Starfleet as an organization, Neera uses one of their most empathetic laws to ensure Una can remain in Starfleet. By framing Una’s story as one of a persecuted asylum-seeker, Neera provides the judges with a chance to uphold their laws and still remain true to the values of Starfleet. She does not turn the trial into a fight to end the augment ban but rather uses it as a chance to point out the prejudice inherent in the ban. Regardless of its intentions, the ban on genetic modification led to persecution and discrimination, going against everything that Starfleet stands for. Neera uses her skills as a Civil Rights lawyer to lay this out for the Starfleet judges, giving them an option that will save Una.

Starfleet & Una Both Won In Number One’s Trial

Star Trek Strange New Worlds Ad Astra Per Aspera Una Trial

When Neera brings out the Starfleet code book and asks Captain Batel (Melanie Scrofano) to read Starfleet Code 8514, everyone in the room seems to feel relief and even joy. The law states that any Starfleet Captain can offer asylum to those fleeing persecution, and when the code is read, everyone in the courtroom begins to understand Neera’s intentions. Neera ends her defense with a plea: “Years ago, the ideals of Starfleet called a young girl from the far side of the galaxy to service. Find those ideals inside yourself.” Though the Starfleet judges must uphold the augment ban, they also recognize that Una has been an exemplary Starfleet officer and does not deserve to be punished simply for existing.

Una truly believes in Starfleet’s ideals, and “Ad Astra Per Aspera” justifies those beliefs. Starfleet may have rules and regulations that seem unjust, but most of the individuals within Starfleet really do strive to make the right choices. All of the best Starfleet officers understand that sometimes, decisions must be made with empathy rather than strict adherence to the law. As for Una’s trial, compassion and humanity win out in the end, and everyone – with the exception, perhaps, of Vice Admiral Pasalk (Graeme Somerville) – seems happy with the final verdict. With “Ad Astra Per Aspera,” Star Trek: Strange New Worlds reaffirms that Starfleet (and Star Trek) celebrate the very best that humanity has to offer.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 streams Thursdays on Paramount+.

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