The latest episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, titled “Subspace Rhapsody,” is a musical episode that brings together two classic characters for the first time. The episode focuses on Number One, who was the original second-in-command to Captain Christopher Pike in the unaired pilot for Star Trek: The Original Series. However, she did not join Kirk’s Enterprise due to complaints from test audiences and network executives.
In “Subspace Rhapsody,” Kirk is assigned to the USS Enterprise to shadow Number One and learn what it takes to be the executive officer of the Federation’s flagship. This reunion also addresses the unspoken attraction between Lt. La’an Noonien-Singh and Kirk. Throughout the episode, Number One teaches Kirk about overseeing a starship crew through a Mary Poppins-style song.
The episode not only serves as a musical, but it also ties together many of the overarching themes of the season. It resolves the unspoken attraction between La’an and Kirk and gives Number One an impressive legacy as the one responsible for training one of Starfleet’s legendary captains.
The reason Number One did not join Kirk’s Enterprise in Star Trek: The Original Series was due to objections from test audiences and network executives. It is speculated that the executives objected to having an intelligent woman on the bridge of the Enterprise, considering the sexism displayed by Captain Pike in the unaired pilot. As a result, Gene Roddenberry smuggled in his wife, Majel Barrett, as a completely different character—Nurse Christine Chapel.
However, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has given both of Barrett’s original Star Trek characters substantial updates, reframing them as important figures in Starfleet history. This honors Barrett’s franchise legacy and allows fans to see the two characters paired together for the first time.
Overall, “Subspace Rhapsody” is a significant episode in the Star Trek universe. It breaks new ground by being the first musical episode in the franchise’s 57-year history and brings together two beloved characters in a unique and meaningful way. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds continues to explore new storytelling methods while staying true to the franchise’s legacy.