At this point, Trekkies need no reminder of how the Gorn were first introduced to “Trek” — as a man in a woefully unconvincing rubber suit beating up William Shatner’s Kirk at the famous Vasquez rocks in southern California in the Original Series episode “Arena.” (For more casual fans, we’ve got the history of the Gorn covered right here!) To say that any future installment of the franchise would have its work cut out for it in trying to reshape our conception of this particularly barbaric alien species is putting it mildly, but “Strange New Worlds” managed to crack the code — and, against all odds, make them feel genuinely scary.
The season 1 episode “All Those Who Wander” finally brought the Gorn back into the spotlight after only teasing them through La’an’s traumatic backstory in previous episodes, reconfiguring them into a Xenomorph-like threat that was far deadlier than we’d ever seen before. But even as Trekkies wrapped their minds around this downright horrific take on the classic creatures, we weren’t fully prepared for just how much “Strange New Worlds” would be playing the long game. The Gorn, as it turns out, would inevitably come back to threaten the entire Federation as we know it.
In the season 2 finale, the episode begins with extremely high stakes when the Cayuga, the Starfleet vessel crewed by Pike’s lover Captain Marie Batel (Melanie Scrofano) and Spock’s love interest Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush), comes under attack by the Gorn outside of Federation space. But the scope of the conflict remains fairly limited to our immediate supporting characters … in the early going, at least. The fraught political climate between the Federation and the Gorn soon comes into play when the latter enact a blockade of sorts, leading to the threat of all-out war.