We talk a lot about the deep feelings our favorite shows and movies evoke in us, and I think one of the most underrated (and in the case of poorly plotted twists, misused) feelings we can experience as a TV fan is surprise. The medium’s relationship with surprises has evolved over the years, and it’s a feeling that’s felt cheapened by circumstances in many instances. Underdeveloped, shock-value cliffhangers of the ’80s, ’90s, and aughts have given way to finales that stuff in Easter eggs and teases for what’s to come or forgo cliffhangers entirely in favor of tying up loose ends. Often, surprises exist only to keep viewers hooked and are offensively obvious about this end goal.
“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” doesn’t typically do that, and when it does drop in a hook, it does it well. In a streaming landscape plagued by unquantifiable cancellations, it’s a bold move to end a season of TV with a “To be continued” promise the way “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” (which, thankfully, has already been renewed) just did. That cliffhanger itself is a fun surprise, but no moment in the finale feels quite as pure and joyous as Scotty’s appearance. We knew the rest of the original Enterprise crew — other as-yet-unseen characters include Bones and Sulu — would have to appear in this prequel series eventually, but “Hegemony” is so laser-focused on its high-stakes, horror movie-like premise that it’s easy for viewers to forget the larger world of “Star Trek” exists outside of this moment. The show waits until we’re totally distracted, then hits us with a super-fun twist.