“Under the Cloak of War” marks another impressive installment in the second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, as it delves deep into the repercussions of the Klingon War, a central theme subtly woven throughout the series. Written by Davy Perez and directed by Jeff W. Byrd, this episode puts the spotlight on Chief Medical Officer Joseph M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) and his haunting experiences during the war, offering a compelling and tragically beautiful glimpse into a character previously seen only briefly in The Original Series. As Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 8 progresses, the narrative explores the aftermath of the conflict and the challenges of finding peace and acceptance amidst the scars of war.
Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 8 kicks off with the Enterprise’s mission to escort Klingon ambassador Dak’Reh (played by Robert Wisdom) to Starbase 12. Dak’Reh, a former Klingon general who has a dark history of war crimes during the conflict with the Federation, is now the face of peace talks. His efforts are a clear attempt to atone for his past actions as an ambassador. This new mission isn’t as widely accepted with the crew as one would expect given many crew members’ involvement in the war with the Klingons. This dichotomy sets the stage for a gripping exploration of the crew’s emotions and the complexities of reconciliation.
Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 8‘s tension escalates as Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) and Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia), find themselves at odds regarding Dak’Reh’s trustworthiness. While Uhura emphasizes humanitarian efforts, Ortegas shares the stories of the ambassador’s war crimes, mirroring the crew’s divided feelings toward the Klingons. As tensions reach a boiling point, the dinner scene becomes a powerful confrontation where M’Benga, Chapel, and Ortegas challenge Dak’Reh, demanding accountability for his actions during the war. To this point, eating with Captain Pike has been a recurring instance of issues finding resolution as characters take in that captain’s amazing cooking. This time though, the conflict may prove to be too much.
While Oretgas and Chapel have their issues, the highlight of the Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 8 is the spotlight on Chief Medical Officer Joseph M’Benga’s character development and history. Olusanmokun’s powerful performance brings his struggles to life, revealing the profound trauma and anxiety he experiences. One of the standout moments is the depiction of M’Benga’s anxiety attack, emphasizing that even a fearless and skilled officer like him is not immune to the trauma he experienced. Babs Olusanmokun’s performance in this scene is heartfelt and authentic, showcasing the depth of his character.
Through tragic flashbacks, the origins of his trauma emerge, highlighting the unbreakable bond shared with Nurse Chapel, who stood by his side during the darkest times of the war. This painfully illustrates the unbreakable connection that arises from overcoming adversity together. However, as the story unfolds, the flashbacks attempt to justify the war’s necessity to prevent its spread, shedding light on the difficult choices M’Benga and other young Starfleet officers faced. The young Starfleet officers’ perception of themselves as soldiers rather than explorers and peacekeepers challenges the idea of Starfleet’s noble mission. This raises thought-provoking questions about the choices made during times of conflict and the toll it takes on those involved. It serves as a reflection on real-world conflicts and the justification of involvement in foreign affairs for the sake of peace and the scars that linger long after the battles are won.
Further, “Under the Cloak of War” delves into the intricacies of forgiveness and the complexities of reconciliation, highlighting the difficult choices M’Benga had to make during the Klingon War. It becomes evident that M’Benga and Ambassador Dak’Reh share haunting similarities, woven together by the tragic consequences of war. Yet, forgiveness is not a simple task, and Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 8 portrays the struggles of these two characters to find common ground and understanding.
The exploration of forgiveness in this context goes beyond the simplistic resolutions often seen in weekly sitcoms, underscoring the weight of their shared history and the challenging path toward reconciliation. This nuanced portrayal of forgiveness adds emotional depth to the storyline, reminding viewers that the journey toward understanding and peace is far from straightforward. This is further emphasized by “Under the Cloak of War” ending in a somber tone, demonstrating the series’ commitment to tackling heavy and realistic issues that cannot be resolved within the span of a single episode. It reinforces the depth and complexity of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, as it continues to build on small narrative threads while exploring the emotional journey of its characters.
“Under the Cloak of War” delivers a powerful and emotionally charged conclusion as the Enterprise crew confronts the enigmatic Klingon ambassador Dak’Reh, exposing the deep scars of war and the difficulty of moving forward. Flashbacks provide profound insights into M’Benga’s past. Babs Olusanmokun’s performance reveals the heartbreaking choices he faced during the Klingon War, challenging notions of black-and-white morality. The downbeat tone reflects the realism of the struggles faced by the characters, emphasizing the gravity of their experiences and the weight of their choices. The episode’s exploration of war’s aftermath, personal traumas, and the delicate dance of diplomacy solidify Star Trek: Strange New Worlds as an emotionally resonant series within the Star Trek universe.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 8 is streaming exclusively on Paramount+ with new episodes every Thursday.
'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,' Season 2 Episode 8 — "Under the Cloak of War"
“Under the Cloak of War” delivers a powerful and emotionally charged conclusion as the Enterprise crew confronts the enigmatic Klingon ambassador Dak’Reh, exposing the deep scars of war and the difficulty of moving forward.