Star Trek: Strange New Worlds review, Episode 207: “Those Old Scientists”

Tawny Newsome, Jack Quaid and Anson Mount appearing in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/Paramount+
Tawny Newsome, Jack Quaid and Anson Mount appearing in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ /

“Those Old Scientists,” a crossover between flagship Star Trek series Strange New Worlds and the raunchy animated series Lower Decks, was possibly the most anticipated episode of Star Trek ever. It was natural to wonder, when the episode was announced at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, how it would even work.

That anticipation probably has something to do with the episode dropping early; “Those Old Scientists” premiered on Paramount+ this past Saturday, five days ahead of schedule. Perhaps Paramount was preempting a leak. In any case, we didn’t have the opportunity to get a review up as soon as it was released.

So we may have missed the party, but given this that episode was such a big deal, I still wanted to weigh in.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds crosses over with Star Trek: Lower Decks

So how does this even work? Well, with 20/20 hindsight, we should’ve realized that Strange New Worlds would bridge the gap between silly Star Trek and serious Star Trek. The episode oscillates between these two tones, but it never attempts to mix the tones, which is why it works so well. When the Strange New Worlds characters are by themselves, it’s classic SNW, and when the Lower Decks characters are by themselves, it feels like a live-action episode of LD. “Those Old Scientists” is about fifty percent straight-up comedy, and the jokes are A-grade stuff.

Strange New Worlds and Lower Decks are set about 120 years apart, so only time travel hijinks can bring them together. It’s incumbent on the time travelers from the future, ensigns Boimler and Mariner, not to screw up the past. As comedic characters, this goes about as well as you’d expect. They’re played by the same actors who voice them on the animated series; for Mariner this is perfect, since she was was almost certainly drawn to look like actor Tawny Newsome. Jack Quaid’s face has too much character to look like the comically non-descript Boimler, but literally having his voice meant that Quaid became Boimler as soon as he opened his mouth.

The most important scene in “Those Old Scientists”

There’s one scene that we need to talk about. It’s the reason I felt the need to write this post despite missing the boat of the episode itself, and it will definitely have repercussions going forward.

Boimler is understandably creeped out and concerned to meet a smiling Spock. The Spock he knew from the history books was a typical stoic Vulcan. Worrying that he’d broken Spock and disrupted the timeline, he tells Nurse Chapel about this discrepancy. Spock was, of course, exploring his human side through his relationship with Chapel. By telling her that future Spock was unemotional, Boimler was telling her that their relationship wasn’t going to last.

This was the one scene where comedy clashed with drama. Because it happens just the once, it’s effective rather than jarring. Spock and Chapel’s relationship is heartbreak waiting to happen, even if Spock is grinning like a cross between the Cheshire Cat and Pennywise posing for a family portrait.


This episode was a lot. Even a full-length recap wouldn’t do it justice. The Lower Decks style of comedy is frenetically paced, and the fact that the episode didn’t shake itself apart trying to incorporate it is a miracle.

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