Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 5 Review – Charades

Forced to experience being human after an encounter with a race of ancient aliens, Spock must confront his complicated feelings about Nurse Chapel.

Star Trek Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 5 Review
Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+

The following review contains Star Trek: Strange New Worlds spoilers.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 5

After several heavy episodes dealing with topics ranging from death and memory loss to an alternate timeline set in a bleak, Starfleet-less future, it was definitely time for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 to lighten up a bit. Thankfully the season’s mid-point episode, “Charades,” is an entertaining romp, full of laugh-out-loud funny moments that let almost every member of the series’ main cast flex their comedic chops. (Every single scene of Anson Mount in Pike’s kitchen is basically gold, is what I’m saying.) Yet, it’s also a surprisingly thoughtful and emotional hour in which Spock, accidentally turns human, confronts a variety of internal and social struggles, and seems to take some important and necessary steps toward deciding what kind of person, partner, and Starfleet officer he ultimately wants to become. 

Ethan Peck has always been one of Strange New Worlds most potent secret weapons, taking on the almost impossible task of playing a character so thoroughly connected to other performers and somehow managing to make his interpretation feel both fresh and deeply necessary to our understanding of who Spock is. And “Charades” is possibly Peck’s best episode to date, an hour that allows him to stretch his wings as an actor in many different directions. It’s easy to forget sometimes, particularly because most of the Star Trek shows in the franchise at the moment aren’t terribly interested in fun as a concept—we love you, Lower Decks!—how delightful a low stakes episode that really only wants to make us laugh can be. Peck’s physical and verbal timing throughout this installment is fairly incredible, as he plays a Spock drowning under the combined weight of all the hormones, hunger, and rage that come along with being forced into what is essentially a human adolescence by well-meaning aliens who are trying to fix whatever their extra-dimensional tractor beam broke inside him during a shuttle accident.

From his constant snacking to his intense, irrational dislike of Sam Kirk and his utter lack of understanding when it comes to social cues and physical boundaries, Peck gets to play the kind of big emotional swings his character is usually not allowed to acknowledge, and his face—normally so calm and stoic—is a non-stop meme generator of eye-rolls and over the top reaction shots. By the time we get to the part where he’s playing a Vulcan who’s been turned human pretending to still be Vulcan to pass the stringent series of tests that come along with his official engagement dinner and differentiating between them all with the smallest of facial tics, you’ll probably be mad all over again that sci-fi actors never get any respect during awards season (or maybe that’s just me). 


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