There might not be any actors or big casting announcements at San Diego Comic-Con this year, but Paramount Plus did find one way to surprise fans. It’s dropping the next episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds five days early. The episode also happens to be the very anticipated crossover episode featuring the live-action version of some of the cast of Star Trek: Lower Decks. Having already seen this episode, I can confirm this is all exactly as delightful as it sounds.

With the actors on strike, SDCC has been much more muted than in previous years. There aren’t as many star-studded panels and zero major casting announcements. This has meant studios need to rely on something besides the labor of actors to promote their shows, and Paramount Plus settled on this surprise drop.

Episode 7, “Those Old Scientists,” is available right now and manages to bring the characters of Lower Decks, a very frenetic animated show, into the more traditional Star Trek world of Strange New Worlds remarkably well. Jack Quaid and Tawny Newsome move seamlessly between the two mediums, and much of their outrageousness is easily explained away because, you know, they’re from the future. Things are just weirder in the future.

The characters of Strange New Worlds struggle to match the energy of the Lower Decks characters, but the actors playing them develop an easy rhythm that really helps bridge the two very different shows well. Even when it’s supremely goofy, it all feels like Strange New Worlds, not like a weird and forced crossover.

That took me by surprise when I tuned in. I’d been tentatively excited about this episode since they announced it last year at SDCC. I was curious how they’d pull it off. One show is about a group of extraordinary heroes who travel the stars and save the universe. The other is a frequently raunchy comedy about the people who keep the ship running while the heroes are out heroing. Meshing those two tones together could have been disastrous, but Strange New Worlds has always been good at hopping from genre to genre and tackling bit tonal shifts with aplomb.

Also, it turns out that when you put a bunch of really good and really committed actors on a sound stage together, they can work some magic.

With episode 7 now airing today, the rest of the rest of the season will be airing a little earlier than expected. Strange New Worlds episode 8 will air this Thursday, July 27th. Episode 9, the musical episode, will air the Thursday after that, and episode 10, the season finale, will air on August 10th.

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