The horrors of war are explored in Episode 8. This gives the writers room to address some tricky subject matter while providing ample entertainment. It’s great to see more of M’Benga’s back story, and the plot twists add extra depth to his character.
We recap the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 8, “Under the Cloak of War,” which contains spoilers.
The Enterprise’s chief medical officer Joseph M’Benga takes center stage in episode 8, “Under the Cloak of War.”
Flashbacks reveal his involvement in the Klingon War, fighting alongside Christine (Jess Bush). While in the present day, M’Benga is faced with his old enemy, Ambassador Dak’Rah.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 8 Recap
This installment begins with a quick summary of the crew’s latest mission. They are transporting the Klingon Ambassador Dak’Rah (known as Rah) to his next conference.
Who is Ambassador Dak’Rah?
Dak’Rah is a feared Klingon General, nicknamed the Butcher of J’Gal, who changed his ways to become a renowned peace negotiator after the Klingon War. Yet his horrifying past still haunts some of the Enterprise’s crew members.
First of all, Erica doesn’t trust him; she believes that Rah is working undercover to steal the Enterprise’s secrets. Uhura defends Rah, though, stating that he is a changed man. Rah is given a tour of the ship; Spock attempts to make him feel welcome.
Another crew member who distrusts Rah is M’Benga. On meeting Rah, he had a panic attack.
Flashbacks explain his complicated history with Rah. We start these flashbacks in the middle of the Klingon War, on the Moon of J’Gal.
How did Christine first meet M’Benga?
Christine is posted into the middle of this conflict to aid the medical department; this is where she first meets M’Benga. The medical staff are placed in the heart of the war, dealing with an endless conveyor belt of injured soldiers that are beamed in.
M’Benga is already scarred by the horrors of war and has lost all hope, but Christine’s optimism inspires M’Benga to try and save every soldier. Christine and M’Benga quickly form a bond, yet the endless stream of new patients is relentless.
It isn’t long before M’Benga is summoned into battle. The resistance is planning to assassinate the Klingon’s leader Dak’Rah.
They have discovered that he is killing anyone who isn’t a Klingon soldier; this means civilians and even children. M’Benga declines the offer, though.
Back in the present, the angry crew members struggle to hide their true emotions. Pike wants to give Rah the benefit of the doubt, but the others are growing impatient.
Rah doesn’t help matters when he gloats about his achievements.
Spock is unable to appease Christine, who is also filled with rage. Christine asks for some time away from Spock. This decision may have been spurred on by Brad’s future talk and then intensified by the sudden appearance of Rah, but it doesn’t look good for the couple.
Rah then asks to spend some time with M’Benga; they spar with each other. J’Gal is discussed. Rah wants M’Benga to join him at his next peace conference, but M’Benga wants to know the truth. He asks if Rah actually killed his own men.
Why does M’Benga decide to fight in the Klingon war?
The Ambassador admits that he did kill his own men. He was appalled by the army’s decision to kill innocent people, and he chose to take a stand. After this encounter, M’Benga has traumatic flashbacks, remembering the bodies of dead children during the war. This motivated M’Benga to finally join the fight on J’Gal.
Una senses a drop in the crew’s morale, so she decides to shorten Rah’s trip to counteract this negativity. Rah visits M’Benga after discovering this change, of course.
Rah wants to make amends with M’Benga, but the chief medical officer doesn’t want to forgive him.
M’Benga wants Rah to admit to the truth that he was the one who gave the orders to kill civilians and children. Rah finally admits to the horrifying truth.
Who is the Butcher of J’Gal?
Then M’Benga provides further twists. He was the one who killed Rah’s men, M’Benga was the actual Butcher of J’Gal. M’Benga fought and killed Rah’s men, while Rah escaped. He let Rah take the credit for the murders for all those years. M’Benga is still ashamed of his actions, though.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 8 Ending Explained
The episode ends with the two enemies arguing. M’Benga wants Rah to pay for his war crimes. They fight, and Rah is stabbed and killed, but the audience doesn’t actually get to see the scuffle firsthand. It is inferred that M’Benga killed Rah.
Christine informs Pike that she witnessed the whole thing. The knife is scanned; it is the Butcher’s weapon. DNA from the knife confirms that the Butcher killed three warlords. Pike believes that Rah is the Butcher and, therefore, he must have attacked M’Benga first. M’Benga is in the clear.
Although Pike does have his doubts still. He meets with M’Benga afterward. M’Benga won’t admit to his actions but brings up the truth about Rah that he ordered the killing of children.
Pike and M’Benga have their disagreements, but M’Benga is happy justice has finally been served.
What did you think of the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 8? Comment below.