Enlarge / Tawny Newsome (left) and Jack Quaid reprising their roles as Beckett Mariner and Brad Boimler… but in real life this time. (credit: Paramount)

The second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, much like the first one, has been fun at least partly because the show itself is not all that new or strange.

The characters and visuals and specific plot constructs are new, but at its heart the show is a painstaking reconstruction of The Next Generation formula from Star Trek‘s 90s-era creative and commercial peak: ensemble cast, primarily episodic storytelling with lightly serialized character development and recurring arcs, and a willingness to mix high-concept sci-fi with just the right amount of silliness. It’s also very good at taking old Star Trek tropes—the transporter accident, the disease-on-the-ship, the talky courtroom thriller about the nature of humanity—and making them feel fresh again.

Episode 7, which went up early this weekend to coincide with a Comic-Con screening, exhumes and expertly executes yet another shopworn trope, something we haven’t seen on Star Trek since the days when Quark might show up on the viewscreen of the Enterprise-D: the crossover episode. And despite the wide gap between Strange New Worlds and the animated Lower Decks, the blending of the two shows’ disparate styles comes together better than any gimmicky attempt at cross-promotion has any right to.

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