Strange New Worlds Just Resolved One Of The Original Show’s Longest-Running Mysteries

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In its first season, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” has done an excellent job filling in some of the original series’ gaps, all while creating its own wholly unique story. “A Quality of Mercy,” the season finale, is perhaps the show’s most significant episode to date in terms of overall Trek lore. It’s an alternate reality version of another classic Trek episode, “Balance of Terror,” but it also enriches the story we see in “The Menagerie.” At the same time, it has lasting repercussions for each of its main characters, including bonding Spock (Ethan Peck) to Pike (Anson Mount) in a very concrete way.

The majority of the episode takes place seven years into Pike’s future, where he must figure out what decision he’ll make that will put the fate of the galaxy at risk. He thinks maybe he’s meant to stop Captain Kirk (Paul Wesley) from starting a war, but it turns out his own attempts at making peace are what put the Enterprise in Romulan crosshairs. The result is an attack that kick-starts a widespread and ongoing war, but one of its first casualties is its most important: Spock.

Pike finds Spock in the sick bay, where a haunted-looking Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush) describes his grievous injuries and says he may not survive. It’s a bleak moment, one that Pike carries back with him to the present day. There, his future self lets him in on a humbling secret: Pike’s future doesn’t matter for himself so much as it matters for Spock, and for everyone who Spock may save when faced with a Romulan war. “The best chance at a lasting peace between the Federation and the Romulans in any timeline: well, turns out he’s lying in a bio-bed,” future Pike says.