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Why the Prime Directive Failed Captain Pike on “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds”


Anson Mount as Captain Pike

The sixth episode of the first season of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” started like many classic Trek episodes. There was a problem on an M-Class planet, and the Enterprise was dispatched to investigate. The captain, whether it was Kirk (William Shatner), Picard (Patrick Stewart), Archer (Scott Bakula), or in this case, Pike (Anson Mount), beamed down to assist in the situation. 

Eventually, thanks to the superior technology possessed by Starfleet, or sometimes by using their advanced problem-solving skills, they usually found a way for the planet’s inhabitants to end their dire situation. But in the episode, “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach,” none of that happened. 


The episode began as the Enterprise happened to encounter an attack in space. One craft assaulted a shuttle and had inhabitants of the planet Mejalus. That world was Class-M and was home to human-like beings, which Captain Pike had some knowledge of.

NOTE: Could the planet’s name, Mejalus, be a homage to the first lady of “Star Trek” — Majel Barrett Roddenberry? It certainly could, but fans would have to ask episode writers Robin Wasserman and Bill Wolkoff directly to see if this was the case.

‘Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach’

STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS 1×06 – LIFT US WHERE SUFFERING CANNOT REACH#StarTrek #startrekstrangenewworlds #strangenewworlds Facebook: facebook.com/megustachannel Instagram: instagram.com/megustachannel Twitter: twitter.com/MEGustaChannel Blog: megustachannel.com Amazon: amazon.it/shop/megustachannel2022-06-08T16:45:36Z

The Enterprise crew was able to save three passengers from the doomed shuttle, and they happened to be exalted members of the Mejalian government. Among the rescued were Alora (Lindy Booth), Elder Gamal (Huse Madhavji), and a child who will be known as the First Servant (Ian Ho). The crew learned that this child was to be the leader of the civilization on Mejalus, and this was his unshakable destiny. Alora said multiple times that if the child did not take up the mantle of leadership as the First Servant, then Mejalian society would crumble, and their floating cities would fall from the sky.

Perhaps Pike thought a “First Servant” would be like a “First Citizen” from Ancient Rome. That is the leader of the government, who was also known as Emperor or Caesar. On Mejalus, the First Servant was very different from Rome’s First Citizen, as Pike would find out.

Interestingly, Alora knew Captain Pike, and they shared a special place in each other’s memories. This may have clouded Pike’s judgment later in the episode. Pike soon learned that the child did not necessarily want to become the First Servant, and his father was willing to break all the rules to save his child. 

‘The Mind’s Eye’

Star Trek TNG Data Saves the Day – S4E24 – 27 May 1991Lt. Cmdr Data discovers a Romulan ploy to disrupt Federation/Klingon alliances2013-07-01T04:12:59Z

Like the classic “Next Generation” episode, “The Mind’s Eye,” Picard attempted to stay out of the middle of Klingon politics. Fans might remember “The Mind’s Eye” as the episode where Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) was brainwashed by Romulans. They tried to use him to start a new conflict between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.

Eventually, the truth came out, and Mr. Data (Brent Spiner) figured out that Geordi was being controlled. The Klingons then took matters into their own hands and diffused the crisis. The Federation and Klingons continued as allies.

Like Picard in “The Mind’s Eye,” Pike tried to stay out of the middle of internal politics. Instead, he helped deliver the child into the hands of the Mejalian government. When Pike realized what he had done, it was too late. The young First Servant was strapped into a device that would drain his life to operate the planet’s machines.

Alora told Pike that if the child did not become the First Servant, the cities would fall from the sky. Pike pushed back in a way that was not unlike Picard in the episode “Devil’s Due.” That was the story of when the Enterprise encountered the planet Ventax II, which feared its destruction because of a contract made by a mysterious creature. 

Devil’s Due’

We Live In A Universe Of MagicStar Trek · The Next Generation · s04e13 · Devil’s Due Thanks for clicking, thanks for watching, hope you got what you came for. BuyMeSomeBeans: ko-fi.com/tjwparso / paypal.me/tjwparso Intro Audio: Star Trek TNG: s03e06 ‘Booby Trap’ & s03e12 ‘The High Ground’ Outro Music: youtu.be/ghtc3bUuANA , youtu.be/au3-hk-pXsM & youtu.be/7ZWQMvHNOnI Discord: discord.gg/2PAjZf8TeV2021-09-01T07:18:22Z

Adra (played by actress Marta DuBois) was no more than an intergalactic huckster who found a religious text and decided to take advantage of the people of Ventax II by becoming their Satan. Picard figured it out and freed the planet from Adra’s attempted bondage.

Pike certainly must have thought that Alora’s warning of destruction was just myths and that the cities would not fall if a child were not named the God-Emperor. But Pike was wrong. 

Much like in the classic TOS episode, “Return of the Archons,” the ancestors of the Mejalians set in place a technology that would allow their society to live in peace. Unlike “Return of the Archons,” Pike could not just overwhelm the computer system and save the people of the planet as Kirk did.

Instead, Pike could only watch as the child became part of the machine. Life on the planet went on, and the Enterprise broke orbit. The episode ended with Pike standing alone in his quarters, looking at a star. Thanks to the Prime Directive, Pike could not get involved in another society’s problems, even if it meant the gruesome death of an innocent child.

‘Return of the Archons’

Landru Speaks – Star Trek TOS – Return of the ArchonsLandru Speaks – Star Trek TOS – Return of the Archons2009-05-18T01:49:14Z

Though Spock (Leonard Nimoy) advised Kirk against meddling in Beta III’s politics because of the Prime Directive, Pike knew that those same rules applied, and he did get involved to a certain extent on Mejalus. After the child was plugged into the machine, Pike threatened Alora that he would return and free the First Citizen. But he did not. 

In the end, “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach” was like a classic Trek episode but delivered something new. A story that had the ingredients of many other Kirk and Picard tales but ended in a different and troubling way for Captain Pike. The last third of the episode proved that even after 56 years, “Star Trek” can still tread new paths. 

READ NEXT: How Long Will ‘Star Trek’ Have Anson Mount?

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