Captain Pike (Anson Mount) stands on the bridge in the 'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' season 2 finale
(Paramount+)

‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Ends Season 2 on One Hell of a Cliffhanger

"When we seek out the unknown, we will find things that challenge us."
Captain Pike (Anson Mount) stands on the bridge in the 'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' season 2 finale
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The Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 finale, “Hegemony,” ended with one helluva cliffhanger, and damn, I hope we get to see the conclusion. While some of Star Trek‘s most memorable episodes have been two-parters, I don’t believe in today’s streamers enough to trust they’ll deliver on confirmed seasons. So Paramount+, I beg you: no more cliffhangers. 

Given recent Wall Street reports that studios are seeing significant streaming losses, and labor reports that the AMPTP is no closer to settling with WGA and SAG-AFTRA, I don’t know if we will see more SNW. Although MovieWeb reported that SNW showrunner Akiva Goldsman has already confirmed season 3 is in production, what Paramount did to Star Trek: Prodigy demonstrates that no matter how popular a series appears to be, the network is willing to pull the plug well into the production of its next season.

Without further adieu, here’s a breakdown of the Strange New Worlds season 2 finale and its cliffhanger ending. Hopefully, the AMPTP will be willing to negotiate fair contracts soon, so fans can confidently look forward to seeing what’s next for the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Stardate 2344.2, Captain’s Log: What happened in “Hegemony”?

Written by Henry Alonso Myers and directed by Maja Vrvilo, the SNW season 2 finale “Hegemony” opens on stardate 2344.2. On her way to the archeological medicine fellowship she accepted in “Subspace Rhapsody,” Nurse Christine Chapel (Jess Bush) assists Cpt. Marie Batel (Melanie Scrofano) and the U.S.S. Cayuga crew as they provide aid to the 5,000 colonists living on Parnassus Beta, a midwestern-style colony just outside Federation space. As they prepare to return to the Cayuga, the Gorn attack Parnassus Beta, leaving most of the away team and colonists stranded.

When Ens. Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) intercepts the Cayuga‘s distress call requesting immediate aid, Cpt. Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) rushes to Parnassus Beta, ignoring Adm. Robert April’s (Adrian Holmes) warnings that crossing the demarcation line could start a war with the Gorn before Starfleet has learned about their enemy. Sometimes, “monster” is a word for something we don’t understand.

Christina Chong as La'an in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streaming on Paramount+, 2023
(Paramount+)

Arriving at Parnassus Beta, the Enterprise discovers that only two-thirds of the Cayuga‘s saucer section remains, and because the Gorn have erected an interference tower on the planet’s surface, it’s impossible to transport any survivors of the attack. Making matters worse, more Gorn appear on the ship’s scanners.

As Pike orders Lt. La’An Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) to prepare phasers for an incoming Gorn attack, Uhura receives a message from Starfleet about a demarcation line between Federation and Gorn space—placing Parnassus Beta in Gorn space. Starfleet orders Pike to stand down and remain on the Federation side of the line. Pike refuses, inviting La’An, Dr. Joseph M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), Lt. Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia), and Lt. Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte)—who volunteers to study the Gorn up close—to join.

Thanks to Ortegas’ fancy flying, the away team safely makes it to Parnassus Beta, only to discover that Gorn younglings have already overrun the midwestern-style colony. As the away team runs from the younglings, they discover survivors, who are alive thanks to Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (Martin Quinn), the miracle worker and engineering ingénue who first appeared in TOS‘s second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

Martin Quinn as Scotty on Star Trek Strange New Worlds via Paramount Plus
(Paramount+)

Scotty, Pike, and Batel devise a plan to get everyone off Parnassus Beta and somewhat succeed; all three of them make it back, anyway. Even though Pike desperately tries to transport the rest of the survivors, a Gorn vessel beams them up before he has a chance.

April orders the Enterprise‘s immediate withdrawal. “But the Gorn still have our people,” Jenna Mitchell (Rong Fu) protests. And one of those people is Gorn breeding planet survivor, La’An.

Who are the Gorn, and what the heck is a Hegemony?

The SNW season 2 finale episode’s title, “Hegemony,” refers to the Gorn’s governing body, known as the Gorn Hegemony. Building on the groundwork laid in “All Those Who Wander,” “A Quality of Mercy,” and more, Strange New Worlds season 2 continued with the Gorn as the show’s big bad, while also setting them up for redemption, just like the Klingons in TOS, the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the Dominion in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

The Gorn were introduced in TOS season 1, episode 19, “Arena,” which begins similarly to “Hegemony,” with the Gorn destroying a Federation base on the border of their territory. When Cpt. James T. Kirk finds the destroyed base, the Enterprise chases the Gorn ship into a territory controlled by an advanced alien species, who whisk each captain to an asteroid to fight fist-to-fist for the survival of their crews. At first, the Gorn captain appears to have a tremendous advantage, standing about seven feet tall, with long claws and tremendous strength, but Kirk quickly discovers that he’s faster and more intelligent.

Rutherford is attacked by several lizard-like Gorn in the animated series 'Star Trek: Lower Decks'
(Paramount+)

The Gorn are smart and adaptable, as we’ve seen throughout SNW. For example, in “Hegemony,” the Gorn who Chapel encounters on the Cayuga is wearing an E.V. Suit and attempting to access the ship’s computer. Likewise, on Parnassus Beta, the landing party confirms the existence of the sophisticated Gorn-designed signal-dampening beacons that La’An remembers from the breeding planet. “A weapon to deploy during invasions,” she postulates. “Renders their enemies blind, unable to communicate or move.”

Like all of the franchise’s big bads, the Gorn Hegemony eventually joins the Federation, with younglings even enrolling in Starfleet Academy (see: Star Trek: Lower Decks). In “Hegemony,” this future is set up with all the discussion over whether the Gorn are truly monsters.

What’s love got to do with it?

Throughout SNW season 2, romance was in the air. So, where does the season finale leave Trekkies’ fan-favorite couples and ships?

Chapel and Spock? Status: Unknown.

This season marked Spock (Ethan Peck) and Chapel’s first-ever consensual kiss, at least on screen (historically, their kisses have happened under duress). However, when Chapel learns she’s been accepted to an archeological medicine fellowship in “Subspace Rhapsody,” she declares her independence, leaving Spock to declare himself as the X. Then, in “Hegemony,” although unlikely anyone survived the Gorn attack, Spock’s spectrometric analysis locates isolated pockets of oxygen on the Cayuga. Acknowledging that their fight is trivial in the face of death, Spock clings to the slim chance his former paramour is alive.

Although Spock spends most of the finale yearning to apologize to Chapel, she’s committed to attending her fellowship program. Near the end of the episode, Chapel brushes off Spock’s attempt to apologize to her, telling him to “save it” as “there will be time later” to discuss their relationship status. In a status quo reversal of TOS, in which Chapel is hopelessly in love with Spock, who avoids her when possible, Spock is now pining for Chapel, who has no time for him.

L-R Melanie Scrofano as Batel and Anson Mount as Capt. Pike in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds  streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+
(Paramount+)

Batel and Pike? Status: It’s complicated.

Besides the “Subspace Rhapsody” spat over selecting their first couple’s vacation locale, Pike and Batel’s relationship was smooth sailing in the latter half of SNW‘s sophomore season. Narratively, it’s almost been going too well, and the writing was on the wall for the events of “Hegemony,” which somewhat predictably throws an ion wrench into the couple’s vacation plans after a Gorn impregnates Batel, who’s willing to sacrifice herself so others can survive.

However, Pike won’t give up on Batel easily. When transporters are working again, he asks his crew to have his paramour beamed directly to sickbay, where Chapel puts her in a stasis field and administers sedatives. Although Batel’s wounds look bad (whether she can survive is unclear), we have seen innovative Starfleet medical personnel save the crew from all sorts of dire situations that previously seemed impossible (e.g., in the Enterprise episode “Regeneration,” Dr. Phlox manages to stop Borg nanoprobes from turning him).

La’An and Kirk? Status: Over, hopefully.

La’An doesn’t mention her feelings for Kirk in the finale episode. After Kirk’s confession in “Subspace Rhapsody” that he’s a manwhore who has a baby on the way with his girlfriend Dr. Carol Marcus (played by Bibi Besch in Star Trek: Wrath of Khan), it’s unclear where La’An’s feelings stand. Hopefully, La’An will move on to someone capable of giving her what she wants next season, as it doesn’t appear to be Kirk in the prime timeline.

The future Enterprise captain’s revelation proved to me: If James T. were a real person in the 21st century, he would either commit 100% to his polyamorous ways or be in treatment for his sex addiction. Even better, he should follow Una Chin-Riley’s (Rebecca Romijn) advice and commit to his truth, the future leader of the “#@*& Ship Enterprise.”

(featured image: Paramount+)


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Rebecca Oliver Kaplan
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan (she/he) is a comics critic and entertainment writer, who's dipping her toes into new types of reporting at The Mary Sue and is stoked. In 2023, he was part of the PanelxPanel comics criticism team honored with an Eisner Award. You can find some more of his writing at Prism Comics, StarTrek.com, Comics Beat, Geek Girl Authority, and in Double Challenge: Being LGBTQ and a Minority, which she co-authored with her wife, Avery Kaplan. Rebecca and her wife live in the California mountains with a herd of cats.