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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' Latest Episode Featured Two Major Callbacks To The O.G. Series And Film Lore

Ethan Peck as Spock in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
(Image credit: Paramount+)

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode "The Serene Squall" are ahead!

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has proven itself as an incredibly popular addition to the sci-fi franchise, pleasing both longtime Trek fans and being a perfect entry point for newcomers. One of the ways this series stands out from Discovery and Picard is by being episodic rather than serialized, meaning while certain character beats are followed up on here and there, each Strange New Worlds episode can followed along with easily enough on its own. Having said that, the latest episode of Strange New Worlds (which is accessible with a Paramount+ subscription) featured two major callbacks that fans of Star Trek: The Original Series and its associated lore will appreciate.

The events of “The Serene Squall” saw Captain Christopher Pike and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise dealing with the pirates from the title ship. Our intrepid protagonists were joined by Jesse James Keitel’s Dr. Aspen, who was initially presented at a former Starfleet counselor who was now doing humanitarian work at the edge of non-Federation space. However, it was later revealed that Aspen was actually Captain Angel, leader of these pirates. This episode also returned another appearance from Gia Sandhu’s T’Pring, Spock’s betrothed, and it’s through her and Angel that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds delivered these O.G. callbacks. First, let’s go over how this episode ended. 

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' Sybok and Sybok from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

(Image credit: Paramount)

Sybok Cameos At The End Of "The Serene Squall"

After their true identity was revealed, Captain Angel made it clear she wasn’t looking to permanently capture the Enterprise for their crew or sell off the ship’s crew members into slavery. Instead, they were specifically looking to use Spock as a bargaining chip; it turns out that one thing Angel didn’t lie about was having a Vulcan lover. She said his name was Xaverius, and rather than being dead, he was actually being held at Ankeshtan K’til, the criminal rehabilitation center on Omicron Lyrae where T’Pring worked. Angel intended to trade Spock for Xaverius, but to make a long story short, the antagonist failed to make this happen, though they nonetheless managed to escape.

During Captain Angel’s attempted negotiation with T’Pring, Spock realized that he’d deduced who Xaverius really was, and at the end of “The Serene Squall,” Spock informed Christine Chapel that Angel’s lover was actually Sybok, his half-brother (and thus another adoptive brother of Star Trek: Discovery’s Michael Burnham). Spock and Sybok share the same father, Sarek, but unlike Spock, Sybil is one of the V’tosh ka’tur, Vulcans who have rejected the teachings of logic. The name Sybok won’t mean anything to new Star Trek fans, but anyone who’s seen Star Trek V: The Final Frontier will instantly remember him.

Sybok was played in the 1989 movie by Laurence Luckinbill, with James T. Kirk and his crew crossing paths with the renegade Vulcan as he searched for an entity he perceived to be God. I won’t spoil what happens in The Final Frontier for those who haven’t seen it, but it is worth noting that is considered one of the Star Trek film series’ lesser entries (even William Shatner thinks it sucks). No actor is listed for who played Sybok at the end of “The Serene Squall,” though given the way the character was framed, there’s a good chance a more well-known actor could take over the role at a later date. 

Still, with a setup like that, it’s pretty clear we’ll see Sybok again in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, although whether that’ll be before Season 1 finishes or sometime in Season 2 (which is when we’ll meet Paul Wesley’s James Kirk) remains to be seen. Either way, perhaps Sybok’s time on this Star Trek series will improve the character’s reputation. And while there’s no sign that Strange New Worlds will abandon its episodic format, I could easily see Sybok serving as a “big bad.”

Star Trek: Strange New World and The Original Series' respective versions of Stonn

(Image credit: Paramount)

Stonn Also Briefly Appears In "The Serene Squall"

During our brief check-in with T’Pring at Ankeshtan K’til in “The Serene Squall,” we saw her being informed by a Vulcan named Stonn, played by Roderick McNeil, that she’d received a subspace transmission from the Enterprise. This callback was way more ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ compared to the Sybok reveal, but Stonn isn’t any random Vulcan. Back during Star Trek: The Original Series’ run, he played a key role in the Season 2 premier, “Amok Time,” where he was played by Lawrence Montaigne.

Unlike with Sybok, I will share spoilers about Stonn's future in Star Trek: The Original Series, so feel free to read another one of CinemaBlend’s articles if you’re a Star Trek newcomer and want to stay as fresh as possible. Sorry to those of you who want Spock and T’Pring to have a bright future together, but it’s not happening. In “Amok Time,” Spock returned to Vulcan and learned that T’Pring (played here by Arlene Martel) that she no longer wished to marry him, instead preferring Stonn. You’re welcome to watch the episode for yourself to see how things specifically unfolded from there, but by the end, Spock willingly cut ties with T’Pring, leaving her and Stonn to start a life together. However, Spock cautioned Stonn that having the Vulcan woman might not be as pleasing to him as wanting her.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has shown that although Spock and T’Pring’s relationship is on slightly unsteady ground, these two are nonetheless committed to each other. However, there’s roughly a decade between Strange New Worlds Season 1 and the first season of Star Trek: The Original Series, so at some point during that time, T’Pring will realize she no longer wishes to marry Spock. With Stonn’s brief appearance in “The Serene Squall,” the foundation has been established for him and T’Pring to start building their own relationship, although even assuming Strange New Worlds delves into this subplot, keep in mind might not happen for a while given the large gap in time between “The Serene Squall” and “Amok Time.”

New episodes of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premiere Thursdays on Paramount+ (opens in new tab). Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for updates on this series and the streaming service’s other Star Trek shows.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.