Welcome back to Strange New Worlds 101! This week, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise suffered several tragic losses, including their Chief Engineer Hemmer (Bruce Horak). As the crew — and the fandom — grieves for their fallen friend, we wanted to examine the Aenar more closely in the wake of Hemmer’s final episode.
The Aenar were first introduced in Star Trek: Enterprise. Shran, an Andorian who was the frenemy and occasional ally of Jonathan Archer, described them as being the stuff of myth, until, 50 years prior to the events of the series, they were discovered in the Northern Wastes of Andoria. The Wastes were a freezing cold tundra; Hemmer remarked that Valeo Beta V’s icy winds reminded him of home.
The Aenar’s skin and hair had no pigmentation, as compared to the blue skin of other Andorians. Most Aenar were blind; though, they possessed strong telepathic senses and, in some cases, a form of precognition. Hemmer demonstrated his skills for Uhura during their first meeting in Strange New Worlds’ “Children of the Comet.” This telepathy allowed them to communicate amongst each other, but they had a rule never to read the minds of others without their consent.
This telepathy also allows for the Aenar to fend off some forms of mind control. In “The Elysian Kingdom,” Hemmer was the only officer on board the Enterprise aside from M’Benga who wasn’t controlled into believing they were a character from a storybook. While Hemmer ultimately was controlled by the nebula, he maintained his own personality and memories for longer than most of the crew did.
In the Enterprise episode “The Aenar,” it is revealed that while the Aenar maintain diplomatic ties with the Andorian government, they mostly keep to themselves. However, when one of their own is kidnapped by Romulans, the kidnapped Aenar, Gareb, is forced to pilot an experimental drone ship. However, through the combined efforts of the crew of the NX-01, Shran, and Gareb’s sister, the drone program is stopped; though Gareb perishes. Shran and Gareb’s sister, Jhamel, eventually become romantically involved and have a child together, named Talla.
Perhaps, the most interesting thing about the Aenar is that they are strict pacifists. While Hemmer serves as chief engineer of a Federation starship (and is he the first Aenar to do so?), he never engages in any sort of violence himself. You can read more about Hemmer’s pacifism and how it connects with his character’s journey in our interview with Bruce Horak.
In the fourth episode of Strange New Worlds, “Memento Mori,” Hemmer tells Uhura that the Aenar believe that death only comes after they have fulfilled their life’s meaning. It is through her friendship with Hemmer that Uhura, who is still grieving the loss of her family, finds the courage to open herself up again. This, in turn, points her down the path to Starfleet, and to James Kirk’s Bridge crew where she will find a new family. Even now, she’s found people who love and respect her on Pike’s Enterprise. Without Hemmer’s help, we would not have the Uhura we all love from The Original Series.
The season finale of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds airs this week, so send us your theories on social and in the meantime, read the recap for the latest episode here and take a moment to remember Hemmer. Despite his gruff exterior, he embodied the best of Starfleet.
Julian Gardner (they/them) is on the editorial team for StarTrek.com.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., Latin America, Australia & the Nordics. The series will air on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel & stream on Crave in Canada with additional international availability to be announced at a later date. The series is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.