We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 2 episode 2 recap - Una on trial

Check out our detailed Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 2 episode 2 recap and review to find out what happened in Ad Astra Per Aspera with Una's trial.

Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 2 epiosde 2 recap - Una on trial

Our Verdict

Ad Astra Per Aspera fails to measure up to The Measure of a Man because its resolution relies on technical trickery. It needed a bit more Picard.

Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 2 episode 2 recap. Court drama episodes are something of a long-standing tradition in Star Trek. Back in the first season of the first Star Trek series, there’s Court Martial. TNG would follow this up with The Measure of a Man, and later, The Drumhead. In Voyager we get Author, Author.

In the two most iconic and well-beloved of these, the first two, the writers also took the chance to inject some close personal drama into proceedings too. In The Measure of a Man, court is led by Picard’s would-be ex girlfriend. They share a history, a resentment, and a taut romantic tension. Adding to that, it’s Data’s close friend and superior officer, Riker, who has to lead the prosecution against him. Similarly in Court Martial the case against Kirk is spearheaded by a former lover.

Now, enter: Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 2 episode 2, Ad Astra Per Aspera. A new Star Trek episode in this tradition, with an analogy for today, which picks up and concludes the dangling plot thread from the season 1 finale.

After the events of episode 1, Enterprise and its crew (sans Pike and Una) seem to be back in their normal groove. Meanwhile, two months after being initially arrested Una remains in Starfleet custody and is being pressured to take a guilty plea deal, while Pike finds the legal counsel he began his search for in episode 1.

YouTube Thumbnail


This mystery advocate is an Illyrian named Neera, whose reputation is known across the quadrant as a fighter for Illyrian rights. The only issue is, after a former friendship, Neera just doesn’t like Una anymore.

Despite her objections, Pike convinces Neera to take Una’s case through a combination of Kirk-ian charm and a compelling argument that representing Una will boost her profile and be an excellent platform from which she can represent the Illyrian cause. Neera arrives to help Una, and they agree to fight against the Federation’s draconian race laws.

If it wasn’t already clear, through Una and Neera’s dialogue Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 2 episode 2 makes it abundantly clear that this is all an analogy for trans rights and anti-trans laws and discrimination. Neera says she’s not fighting for Una individually, but for ‘All the Illyrains who can’t, or just won’t, pretend to not be who they really are.’ They agree to reject the deal, to Captain Batel’s dismay, and so the build-up to the trial begins.

This focuses primarily on who is and isn’t on the witness list, on both sides. Pike is angry that he’s not directly involved (“You look awful,” says Captain Batel, to Pike: an image of perfect handsomeness) but Batel argues that his presence would be a hindrance to his own cause. Admiral April has also been called on to testify against Una, and things look set to become worryingly personal.

Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 2 epiosde 2 recap - Captain Batel

The trial begins

As the trial begins, Admiral April is questioned on his history and relationship with Una, as an ex-captain of the Enterprise. He says he respects Una and describes her as one of the most talented and capable officers he’s ever worked with, but admits he wouldn’t have supported her application to Starfleet had he known she was an Illyrian as it would be against protocol.

Neera then takes the opportunity to point out multiple times April broke protocol by violating General Order One (the Prime Directive), in an attempt to highlight his hypocrisy. Her argument is overruled by the court, and angers Una herself who begins to think that Neera is simply looking for a soapbox to trash the Federation, rather than being there to assist her.

The attention then turns to Una’s colleagues: La’an, Spock, and M’Benga. Each extols Una’s virtues, showing the ‘human’ side of the Illyrian on trial. She’s described as a friend and family to those she serves alongside, with Spock arguing that to punish her would be to punish Starfleet itself.

Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 2 epiosde 2 recap - Pike

Not guilty

Finally, we get to Una. She explains her difficult childhood, plagued by the threat of prejudice, and how she was forced to hide her true self. During this testimony, she unveils the reason why her friendship with Neera broke down: her and her family lived within Federation society because they could pass for humans, whereas Neera and her family were forced into a segregated city specifically for augments. Neera took this as a betrayal both of her, and of their species.

Due to a combination of guilt, optimism, and simply not wanting to hide anymore, it’s also revealed that Una turned herself in. She wanted her crew to know her for who she really is, and hoped that Starfleet and the Federation would be able to accept her.

In a quick riposte to her affecting testimony, the prosecution turns the spotlight onto Captain Pike’s willingness to conceal Una’s identity, arguing that it points toward a greater conspiracy to protect the commander. It’s all looking gloomy, and clear that Una’s actions will find her guilty despite the emotional resonance of her pleas.

That’s when Neera pulls out her ace card; under a number of definitions Una’s situation means that she is entitled, under Federation regulations, to be granted asylum. After a rousing speech from Neera, the tribunal agrees to confirm this status, and both Una and Pike are absolved for breaking their respective rules.

YouTube Thumbnail

The verdict

…And that’s it. While it takes plot points from The Drumhead, Ad Astra Per Aspera wants to be The Measure of a Man, except with an analogy for the modern age.

Does it work? Unfortunately, not really. Yes, it points to the issue, but what does it actually have to say about it other than ‘Thing bad’? There is no lesson learned about tolerance, or ruling enshrined in Federation law which will protect Illyrians in the future. It’s all fixed, really, by a technical loophole. It wasn’t winning the argument, it was just shifting the goalposts.

And, while analogies are fun and all, I can’t help but think that Strange New Worlds could have told a sci-fi story about trans rights with actual trans people. Imperfect though it was, The Outcast attempted to do something much closer to this in 1992. Ad Astra Per Aspera might have had more success if it had looked to rework this TNG episode, rather than repurposing The Measure of a Man.

The eagerness to confront the topic is commendable, but the final resolution ultimately rings hollow because it has no answers. I just wanted more.

Still, because this is Star Trek Strange New Worlds, there’s a lot that’s still worthwhile. The performances are good, and Rebecca Romijn in particular gives a heartfelt and sensitive turn. Guest star Yetide Badaki as Neera is powerful and rousing, though not given much room for Picard-ian nuance as seen in The Measure of a Man.

The episode is also filled with some lovely visual nods and Easter eggs, including the TOS bell, identification card and slot, and the dress uniforms. For fans of Court Martial, in particular, there’s lots to appreciate in the superficial.

For more on Star Trek, check out our Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 2 review, as well as our explainers on last week’s Lanthanites, the Crossfield class, and Pelia. You can also find out how we celebrated Captain Picard Day, before learning how Patrick Stewart’s pride nearly killed Picard season 3.