(Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Episode 2 “To the Stars Through the Rough”)
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds resolves the major issue of Una’s (Rebecca Romijn) Season 1 finale arrest — Starfleet finding out she’s Illyrian and arresting her for violating the genetic modification directive — in the last episode. And in doing so, he reconnected Una with a childhood friend, Neera (Yeti knowswhich executive producer Henry Alonso Myers calls “a great gift”) and revealed who handed it over in the first place.
It was Pike (Anson Mount) who tracked down Neera, who, albeit reluctantly, took Una on as a client. Among those who took the stand in defense of Una were: La’an (Christina Chong), Spock (Ethan Peck), and Dr. AS M’Benga (official music video)Babs Olusanmokun). And when it came time for Una to testify, Neera had her say on why she joined Starfleet knowing she could end up where she did. His motto, ad astra per aspera, to the stars through hardships, she explained. He liked to think it meant that the stars could free them from anything, that in the mystery and vastness of space, they might not just satisfy their curiosity and need for explanation, but find salvation.
He didn’t need saving after growing up in a Federation colony where those found to be genetically enhanced were arrested and anti-augmentation laws gave people the freedom to act on their worst impulses theirs. When he tried to intervene during a fight at school, his leg was broken. She became infected—her parents were too afraid to take her to the hospital—and would have died if she hadn’t found an Illyrian doctor willing to see her in the middle of the night. Una revealed that she surrendered, because she was tired of living the lie and hoped that Starfleet would understand the Illyrians better.
It then became a question of when Pike found out the truth (and what he might say about the chain of command on Business) until Neera returned that Una had requested asylum (and her captain had granted it), per Fleet code. Una’s plea was accepted and she was found not guilty of all charges, being able to return to her command on Business. It’s a start for the Illyrians, Neera said afterwards, as she watched a crew proudly serve under an Illyrian commander.
“It took a lot of talking,” Myers told StrippedPixel. “It’s a complicated issue that we really wanted to explore. (Executive Producer) Akiva (Goldsman) he had a strong heart and a direction and a feeling about it that I think helped him deepen it and make it better. I knew that (Una and Neera) was kind of a pivotal moment. Also, look, we tried to do a courtroom drama, which is extremely hard to do and hard to do well, and it really gives it soul. And so the difference between the two people was one of the critical elements in it.”
added Goldsman, “Star Trek it’s a challenge when it comes to talking about marginalized peoples because it’s utopia, right? That’s the great thing about it. So we found ourselves beginning in Season 1 with a very interesting dilemma – which would be a big dilemma in real life – which is who is institutionally marginalized in the Federation? Few and far between. But when we discovered that, it became something we really wanted to talk about, and this episode was where we got to be the most explicit about it. And that was definitely one of my favorite episodes of the show.”
For Romijn, “I think it’s interesting that she’s Illyrian, but she was acceptable. She was able to hide and pass as non-Illyrian, which is how she ended up in Starfleet in the first place. I think he was tired of hiding, tired of lying and wanted to live authentically. And I think food is at some point, just because you can hide doesn’t mean you should. And I think that’s where he ended up: he didn’t want to hide anymore.”
And now she doesn’t have to, and it’s great to see her back where she belongs: as number one.
Star Trek: Strange New WorldsThursday, Paramount+