Published Jun 8, 2023
The Cast of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on What to Expect from Their Characters This Season
Everything you need to know to get ready for the Season 2 premiere next week!
By Christine Dinh
We're officially one week out from the highly anticipated second season premiere of the critically acclaimed original series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on June 15!
In Season 2, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, under the command of Captain Christopher Pike, confronts increasingly dangerous stakes, explores uncharted territories and encounters new life and civilizations. The crew will also embark on personal journeys that will continue to test their resolve and redefine their destinies. Facing friends and enemies both new and familiar, their adventures will unfold in surprising ways never seen before on any Star Trek series.
StarTrek.com had the opportunity to speak with the series stars Anson Mount (Christopher Pike), Rebecca Romijn (Una Chin-Riley), Ethan Peck (Spock), Jess Bush (Christine Chapel), Christina Chong (La’An Noonien-Singh), Celia Rose Gooding (Nyota Uhura), Melissa Navia (Erica Ortegas), and Babs Olusanmokun (Joseph M’Benga), as well as special guest stars Paul Wesley (James T. Kirk) and Carol Kane (Pelia) during a press junket. With their help, here's what you need to know about their characters this season!
The Fate of Number One
The first season ended on a startling cliffhanger; Starfleet Command sends Captain Batel to the Enterprise. Captain Pike and Number One meet her in the Transporter Room; unfortunately, this wasn't the usual friendly visit. Apologetic for what she's about to do, Batel arrests First Officer Una and takes her into custody for violating the Federation's ban on genetic modifications; her Illyrian identity exposed.
Rebecca Romijn acknowledges, "The biggest question I got at the end of Season 1 from fans was, 'Is Una finished? Are we ever going to see her again?'" Thankfully, she assures us, "The first thing I would say is, 'I'll be back in Season 2. I shot Season 2. I was there.'"
"Una somehow makes her way back onto the Enterprise," continues Romijn. "We know that Una does make her way back to the Enterprise, but we get to see, early in the season, how she does it."
Fans were thankfully given an extended first look, with the clip above, of Una's trial; the series' was not going to brush over her arrest.
"It's been a big burden for Una to carry this secret for so many years and to rely on Pike to give her asylum," adds Romijn. "And she carries a great deal of shame over that. Not over being an Illyrian. I think she's proud of her heritage, but she's very guilty about lying and living inauthentically. Going into Season 2 and seeing Una finally decide that she's going to live authentically and not hide anymore is a great release for her. You'll see a freer Una."
For Captain Pike, the loss of his Number One is immense. Anson Mount explains, "It's not just like losing a crew member for Pike; it's losing a limb. A big part of Pike's ability to function as well as he does is because of Una. And he knows that. And she's not just his Number One, but she's a friend. So a lot is on the line."
The loss of his friend is not the only thing weighing on the Enterprise captain. His visit to a Klingon monastery on Boreth and the vision he saw from a time crystal continues to gnaw at him. While he has confided in Una and Spock, he has yet to divulge his tragic future to his girlfriend. When asked what we need to know about his character leading up to the second season premiere, Mount responds, "What's important is that the lingering question of when he's going to tell Captain Batel about his future is obviously there."
Most illuminating is Ethan Peck's insight to the typically unflappable Vulcan, "The two things I would like fans to know about Spock are that he is wildly uncertain of himself and is really doing his best to discover how he is most effective in Starfleet, and he will be very challenged in Season 2."
Despite James T. Kirk's recurring presence this season, both Peck and Paul Wesley reminds us that the friendship Spock and Kirk are known for has yet to occur yet. Wesley explains, "It's all very new, it's very fresh. It's the beginning. We don't dig in deep yet. It's kind of like we're dancing around. We haven't explored that sort of deep friendship that we all know, which is fun, because it's something to look forward to."
Peck tells us you can "expect a lot of curiosity between the two of them," and from Spock's perspective, "suspicion and caution for this sort of daring human person."
Kirk isn't the only character that piques Spock's interest. The trailer shows that the science officer will get more entangled with Christine Chapel. When pressed upon it, Peck divulges, "I suppose we can tease it. As usual, Spock is in deep inner conflict about who he is and what he's doing and how he's doing it. We will see more of that in his interactions with Nurse Chapel, and he will be challenged to further discover himself through their interactions."
The Medical Staff - Dr. M'Benga and Nurse Chapel
Strange New Worlds gives us the opportunity to learn more about the backstory of two characters who originated in The Original Series — Joseph M'Benga and Christine Chapel.
Babs Olusanmokun hints, "You will discover more of M'Benga, go deeper into his history. You might get a kick out of that. There will be some revealed secrets, or just another side of the good doctor. More interesting, wild, unpredictable, 'Who is this guy?' type of thing."
Jess Bush echoes the fact, sharing, "Chapel has a brutal side, and you will learn a bit about her history with M'Benga. That is very illuminating."
"We're going to get a sense of their history, the genesis of the relationship," elaborates Olusanmokun. "How they met, and we go deeper into their relationship. The things you've seen in Season 1 will make more sense in terms of how these two people came to work together and respect each other so much and have each other's back."
Opposites Attract? La'An and James Kirk
Christina Chong is excited for her character La'An this season, stating, "She's growing. She's not the same La'An as Season 1. She's evolving, opening up her heart, slowly learning to trust, and that she can do things that we didn't know she could do."
As for Paul Wesley, he's hesitant to reveal too much, other than to highlight that the version of Kirk in the first season was an alternate timeline Kirk. On the captain of the Farragut, Wesley notes that we'll meet "actual canon Kirk," before teasing in the third episode, "I get to bring out some of those Kirk mannerisms and some of that charm and fun we all associate with the character of Kirk. I get to have some pretty historical significant moments on the Enterprise."
What can we expect from a Noonien-Singh and Kirk interaction? According to Wesley, "Kirk and La'An are oil and... They're very different; Kirk is very cavalier and kind of charismatic and fun. La'An is quite serious, and so I think he brings out this little bit of color in her because she's quite tormented. I think she smiles for the first time in a while, which it's quite lovely to see. They bring out some qualities in one another that are complementary, I would say."
The teaser trailer hints of some attraction, at least from La'An's side. Wesley's comment about their dynamic as "oil and water" amuses Chong, with her noting, "That's a nice way to put it. 'Bittersweet,' I would say, is the word. It's given and then it's taken away."
Celia Rose Gooding reflects on how much Nyota Uhura has endured thus far, "We are going to continue to learn about her and continue to learn how she processes this experience of being a Starfleet officer. We're going to talk about the events of Season 1 and her losing Hemmer in such a really heartbreaking way. We're not just going to sweep that under the rug and act like it didn't happen. We're going to talk about it and we're going to talk about it until there is nothing to say anymore."
"We're really honoring the humanity in Uhura and honoring the fact that there's no way you could go through something like that and just be fine," emphasizes Gooding. "There's more that you have to unpack in order to grieve something like that properly, and we sort of witness that. We see what Hemmer's death really brings up in her in reflection to what death and loss and mourning means to Uhura as an avoidant person in this chapter of her life. We're learning that avoidance is not really an option."
Not only that, we'll see Uhura open herself up more. "Uhura has a lot to learn from her superior officers," says Gooding. "They have a lot to offer her, especially when it comes to just what it means to being a seasoned vet in Starfleet and the dynamics of the things you have to process in quick, fast feat. We learn that she really, really appreciates having an opportunity to bounce her emotions off of someone who has been in her shoes before, to talk to someone who has been an ensign, and has probably seen death and witnessed it and have had to find their ways through it in their own way."
"So Uhura's doing the right thing," Gooding concludes, "instead of just relying on herself all the time and forcing her to keep her feelings down. When those feelings aren't able to be contained anymore, she turns to her superiors and asks for help as she should, and she receives it as she should. In the grand scheme of canon, fans are really going to appreciate this is how [Uhura and Kirk's] relationship starts, especially because they know what the future of their relationship looks like. It's going to make a lot of sense to people who know the canon, and it's going to introduce dynamics that are long-standing to new fans."
Fancy Flier Ortegas
Melissa Navia wants viewers to know that they've "heard them loud and clear." And with that, they're going to be getting more Erica Ortegas in Season 2.
"We're going to get that backstory that everyone feels they did not get enough of in Season 1. And everything you loved about her and about the crew in Season 1, we've only ramped it up in Season 2. Season 1 was excellent. Season 2 is even better," Navia hypes.
Sharing her gratitude for the Star Trek community, Navia reveals, "We knew that we had a really special show that came out of the fans' love for Anson and Ethan and Rebecca's portrayal of these legacy characters. And so we knew that fans were going to be very excited for what we were doing. It also put a bunch of pressure on us, but it was good pressure. That's how great things come about."
"I always say that when we were finished filming Season 1, I thought there was plenty of Ortegas because that was my focus because I was playing the character. But hearing from fans that they wanted to learn so much more based on just the little that they got to see of her in Season 1, that to me was everything. It's a testament to the writing and to what we did as a cast and a crew. I can't say enough that I'm very thankful to the fans for shouting it from the rooftops that Ortegas is a welcome addition to the world of Star Trek."
In a first look that was revealed last year, Ortegas expresses her interest in going on an away mission, which the latest full trailer reveals she finally gets her wish. Commenting on that, Navia says, "I kind of love that after that trailer came out, nobody was talking too much about the fact that, oh my god, Ortegas is finally on a shuttle going on an away mission, and she's part of the landing party. It was almost like, yeah, Ortegas is flying, and being amazing, and doing stuff that is making Pike really nervous."
"To me, it spoke to the fact that we've embedded so much this idea that Ortegas is an excellent pilot who Pike trusts so much," reflects Navia. "And that was just a little version of everything that everyone so far knows about Ortegas. And nobody's really seen what happens afterward. Like, oh no, she's just flying the shuttle like she does and Pike kind of wishes he was anywhere else, but he trusts her. I'm excited for fans to see that episode, which episode that'll be, who can tell?"
Chief Engineer On Board
During Star Trek Day 2022, fans learned that the incomporable Academy Award-nominee Carol Kane was joining the second season as Chief Engineer Pelia, who's described as "highly educated and intelligent, the Enterprise's new senior engineering officer suffers no fools. Pelia solves problems calmly and brusquely, thanks to her many years of experience."
Kane reveals this surprising role is her introduction into the sci-fi world, "It was so unexpected that somebody would ask me to be on Star Trek. It was just so delightful."
"Then I read the character and I love the fact that she has been around so long and has so much wisdom and so much technical knowledge," Kane continues, "I'm the teacher of the engineers," before teasing that Season 1's fan-favorite Hemmer was one of her pupils.
Kane notes that while she's been working since she was 14 years old, she's "never seen a set that big," which amazed her with its scale. On being a part of this production with the cast, and taking on the challenges of a sci-fi role, she cheekily states, "It's exciting. I don't think it gets old. I get old, but it doesn't."
The cast definitely could not get enough of Kane's presence. Romijn tells StarTrek.com, "We were all pretty starstruck when she arrived, and she has such a funny way about her that seems so not Star Trek, but somehow it's perfect. It somehow works beautifully within our world. And she's absolutely hilarious. She's a real joy to work with, and she's got a very, very interesting way about her. And she's got a real innocence about her. She doesn't pretend to know anything about Star Trek, and yet she's a perfect Star Trek character."
Bush has nothing but praise for her new colleague, "For someone who has done so much in the way of amazing work, she's got no ego, and she moves through the world with such an innocent sense of wonder, always open, so porous and open and humble. And that is so beautiful that that is something that has been preserved through such a long successful career. And she just has folded perfectly into our mix. We love her."
Peck echoes Bush, adding, "I second that. She's just like this chaotic, bubbling stew of excitement and talent and you never know what she's going to bring in any given take. And I think that she's a really fun partner-in-crime for Spock."