That Final Joke In The Strange New Worlds Season 2 Trailer Raises A Startling Number Of Star Trek Questions

The trailer for season 2 of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" is here with glimpses of upcoming adventure and good humor from our beloved Enterprise crew. It's like a friendly greeting, a promise of lofty things to come. But while we see the showrunners waving from such great heights, we're about to bring them down now.

Sure, everything looks perfect from far away and I'm trying my best to leave it there, but there's a comedic beat that sounded pretty thin in the trailer, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that it frankly will not fly. 

The "Strange New Worlds" trailer ends with James T. Kirk (Paul Wesley), the future captain of the Enterprise, getting confused by a revolving door. And when La'an (Christina Chong) asks him, "Never seen a revolving door before?" he says, "I'm from space."

Hahahahahahahahahaha. James T. Kirk is from Iowa and we all know it.

Where no Iowan has gone before

Yes, Kirk may spend an awful lot of time in outer space, and he may even have been born there. But he grew up in Iowa. He says he's from Iowa rather a lot, actually. Not only did Shatner's version of the character say he was from Iowa, in the expanded canon and in blockbuster films like "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," but the prequel version of the character in "Strange New Worlds" says it too.

In fact, the very last thing we heard Kirk clearly say in the first season finale of this hit show, before the audio started fading out, was, "I grew up in Iowa."

Kirk didn't spend his entire childhood in Iowa. Fans of the original series probably remember a classic episode called "The Conscience of the King," in which it's revealed that young James T. Kirk was also a survivor of a horrific genocide on Tarsus IV, where the threat of starvation led the governor, Kodos, to order half of the colony's population executed, in order to save the other half. Kodos went on to live in hiding, eventually finding a new career as a professional Shakespearean actor, but that's a whole other story and we're getting a little off-track here.

The point is that Kirk may have lived a lot of his life in outer space, but according to the character, even in the most recent episode of "Strange New Worlds," he grew up in Iowa. He's not "from space." Even his personnel records in "Strange New Worlds" say he's from Earth. The showrunners of "Strange New Worlds" know this, and they abandoned it just to make a weird and unnecessarily distracting joke? That's a really odd choice, isn't it?

The trouble with quibbles

Now, obviously, this whole line of discussion is a little pedantic. 

Okay, its a lot pedantic. But in my defense, this is "Star Trek." As far as sci-fi geekery goes, "Star Trek" practically invented being pedantic. The sense of continuity that "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry's original creation developed over the last sixty-odd years is all-consuming, and great pains have been taken to justify any minor inconsistency within its framework so that the world of these characters can be taken seriously and thought of as extremely real to "Trek" fans.

So while it's abundantly clear that the line, "I'm from space," in the "Strange New Worlds" trailer is, again, intended to be a joke, something we're supposed to laugh at and not overanalyze, it's also joked that entirely depends on the audience not knowing that James T. Kirk is from Iowa in order to be funny, in a franchise where his character repeatedly says he's from Iowa. A joke for "Star Trek" fans that relies on "Star Trek" fans not knowing a lot about "Star Trek" is a very weird joke indeed. What's more, a joke that isn't intended for "Star Trek" fans that nevertheless will be seen by practically every "Star Trek" fan is going to stick out like a sore thumb to, let's face it, all of those "Star Trek" fans.

To put it another way, for non-"Star Trek" fans who don't get why this is so weird to "Star Trek" nerds: Imagine if King Kong moved back to Skull Island and he couldn't remember how his giant King Kong door worked. And so Godzilla asks him, "Never seen a giant King Kong door before?", and King Kong sassily responds, "I'm from New York."

No you're not, King Kong. You're from Skull Island. Just like James T. Kirk is from freakin' Iowa.

"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" season 2 will premiere on June 15, 2023 exclusively on Paramount+.