3. "Those Old Scientists" (season 2, episode 7)
The oddly nostalgic episode "Those Old Scientists" shines as a standout episode for several reasons. Firstly, the episode is a super fun bridge between two Star Trek worlds. It brings Ensigns Boimler and Mariner from the animated series Lower Decks into the live-action universe of Strange New Worlds.
This crossover is a clever and seamless integration that respects both shows' unique qualities. Jack Quaid and Tawny Newsome, reprising their roles, transition flawlessly into live-action, preserving the essence of their characters while adding new depth. They are a ball of energy and humor, bringing a much-needed chaotic dynamic to the Enterprise. Their interactions with Pike and his crew are not only hilarious but also insightful as they navigate through the challenges of an Orion time portal.
What sets this episode apart is its ability to balance humor with the essence of Star Trek’s core values. "Those Old Scientists" is a display of the show's ability to be lighthearted and serious at the same time. The episode adeptly handles themes of prejudice and stereotypes through Boimler's experiences and growth, making it not just entertaining but also pretty thought-provoking. The combination of comedy and meaningful storytelling creates a rich narrative that resonates with long-time fans and newcomers alike. This episode is the culmination of the spirit of Star Trek: exploration, not just of space, but of complex social issues, all wrapped up in an adventure that is as amusing as it is enlightening.
It's a perfect example of how Strange New Worlds can take classic Trek themes and present them in a way that's fresh, exciting, and relevant to today’s audience.