We’ve known practically since it was announced that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds would bridge the gap between the original Discovery era—before that show jetted off to the 31st century—and the road to the original Star Trek. But new details about a few of the familiar faces joining the Enterprise give us more of an idea as to how Strange New Worlds wants to enmesh itself with Trek’s earliest canon.
At a panel for Paramount+ last night during the Television Critics Association press tour, the first footage from Strange New Worlds was screened to attending press. As Den of Geek reports, the clip focused on Celia Rose Gooding’s take on an iconic Star Trek hero: the young Nyota Uhura, the future legendary comms officer of the Enterprise, and in Strange New Worlds, a fresh-faced cadet right out of Starfleet Academy and thrust onto the Federation’s flagship.
The footage showed Uhura being formally introduced to the crew at a dinner hosted by Captain Pike—one where the young woman shows up wildly over-prepared to impress, thanks to a prank by fellow officer Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia), in her Starfleet dress uniform. At the dinner, Uhura introduces herself and reveals her background, fleshing out details of her past that we’ve never seen play out on-screen before, covering her passion for xenolinguistics, her childhood in Nairobi as the daughter of two university professors, and the tragic loss of her family in an accident—leaving her to be raised by her grandmother, a retired Starfleet officer who ultimately inspired the young woman to follow in her footsteps.
But Uhura—beyond of course the likes of Rebecca Romijin’s Number One (now finally given a full name after all these years, Una Chin-Riley), Ethan Peck’s Spock, Anson Mount’s Captain Pike, and even deeper cuts like Jess Bush and Babs Olusanmokun as Nurse Chapel and Dr. M’Benga—isn’t the only familiar cut in Strange New World’s cast. The most intriguing of all original Trek connections was properly confirmed at the panel too, even if it was perhaps an obvious one from the moment it was announced: Christina Chong’s La’an Noonien-Singh is indeed a relative of one of classic Trek’s most iconic villains, Khan.
“She’s related to Khan, for sure, and the deal [with that connection] will unfold.” Goldsman said at the panel (via THR). “We don’t want to bring folks into the show to be splashy. We want to dig deeply into characters that are part of our ensemble and then, obviously, we’re open to getting our arms … but right now, what you see is what you get.”
Obviously, you don’t put a Noonien-Singh aboard the Enterprise just a few years before the events of Khan’s debut in “Space Seed” and not explore what’s up with that. But if Gooding’s take on Uhura is one way to explore classic Trek backstories left untouched by the original show, then perhaps Chong’s presence as a connection to such an iconic villain—and a chance to explore the Starfleet of the mid-23rd-century’s approach to genetic engineering in ways Discovery itself briefly touched on—is another foil to that, as well as an opportunity to put some interesting connections in place as the show goes ahead.
No doubt we’ll find out about even more links to classic Trek soon—Strange New Worlds is set to begin on Paramount+ from May 5.
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