Star Trek: Strange New Worlds re-introduces terrifying villain

Christine Chong as La'an in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Christine Chong as La'an in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Image credit: Marni Grossman/Paramount+)

The latest Paramount Plus Star Trek series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is a refreshing return to episodic storytelling for the franchise, where there’s a new mission every week and new planets to explore. In Strange New World season 1 episode 4, "Memento Mori," Lieutenant La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) is confronted by the people who annihilated her family and it’s a reckoning that will have lasting implications for her and for the Enterprise crew. 

"Memento Mori" gives us a fresh look at the Gorn after hearing La’an reference her harrowing experience with the reptilian species in previous episodes. Only there’s a twist: we never actually see the Gorn in the episode. 

In some brilliant story maneuvering, Strange New Worlds writers Davy Perez and Beau DeMayo tease the viewers with lots of shadows and clicking sounds, but the Gorn are never seen. The terror comes in knowing what La’an has said about them coupled with the chilling reality that there is no negotiating with them. It’s fight or die; as La’an points out, the reason no one knows much about the Gorn is that no one ever survives an encounter with them.

And if the Gorn weren’t enough, the decision to hide the vulnerable Enterprise in a brown dwarf adds its own set of challenges as the outside pressure starts to tear apart the ship. 

While the episode features some of the biggest battle sequences we’ve seen to date, all it takes is the sound of the hull groaning to remind you that these people are stuck in a spacecraft and there’s no escape. If the hull collapses, they’re done for. 

The magic of "Memento Mori" is that the terror comes from things you never actually see. The breadcrumbs are tossed out with such great precision that fans are left terrified by things that never appear on the screen. 

Not surprisingly, fans had a lot to say about this week’s episode. 

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds needed a "big bad" to threaten the crew of the Enterprise and that’s where the Gorn came in. Between La’an’s history with the Gorn and what happens in "Memento Mori," the show has a brand new villain, only this villain isn’t new at all. 

While we know some fans will be upset that the Gorn have been retconned to be pure evil when they actually toed the morally grey line in Star Trek’s 1967 episode "Arena," which famously featured William Shatner's Captain Kirk battling one with a torn shirt, the show needed a villain and now it has one.

New episodes of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds release Thursdays on Paramount Plus.

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Sarabeth Pollock
Editorial Content Producer


Sarabeth joined the What to Watch team in May 2022. An avid TV and movie fan, her perennial favorites are The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, true crime documentaries on Netflix and anything from Passionflix. You’ve Got Mail, Ocean's Eleven and Signs are movies that she can watch all day long. She's also a huge baseball fan, and hockey is a new favorite.  

When she's not working, Sarabeth hosts the My Nights Are Booked Podcast and a blog dedicated to books and interviews with authors and actors. She also published her first novel, Once Upon an Interview, in 2022.