Hi! It’s Annie!
My sister, who is very obviously into ‘Star Trek’, has recently pulled me kicking and screaming into a fandom that I already kind of was in, but wasn’t really. I’ve absolutely loved the J.J. Abrams movies for years, but I hadn’t really gotten further than that and maybe watching a couple of episodes of ‘Next Generation’. I’ve watched a lot more now, though my ‘Star Trek’ education still needs a lot of work. But most of my knowledge when it comes to ‘Star Trek’ actually does have to do with the main characters from the original series. I’m not going to talk about the original movies which I may or may not have been binging with my sister. That’s going to be a post she tackles entirely by herself. I’m also not going to talk about what episodes I’ve seen. But I have found, like many people, that my favorite original character is probably Spock. And honestly, it kind of has been since I saw Zachary Quinto play Spock in the Abrams movies. Obviously I love Leonard Nimoy, but Zachary Quinto is the first person I saw play the character. And now I absolutely love Ethan Peck. But Spock is actually my second favorite character in my new favorite ‘Star Trek’ media (because I don’t think anything will beat ‘Strange New Worlds’ for me now). Christine Chapel has absolutely stolen my heart in the new series. And, of course, I was delighted when they started hinting at my two favorite characters romantically. But this is not the first time they’ve done that for Spock, though it is undoubtedly the best. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
I don’t think there’s been a good version of Nurse Chapel until she was played by Jess Bush. And I say this with every respect to Majel Barrett. I think we can all be honest with ourselves now; the original series of ‘Star Trek’ wasn’t the best for female characters. Most of the amazingness that Nichelle Nichols added with Uhura were not things that were scripted. It was her own improvisation and attitude that at all made Uhura a great character. I personally believe that she deserves most of that credit. But Nurse Chapel in the original series had no such chance to recommend her to the audience at all. She barely had any screen time, she was demure, and she had no personality traits other than being a nurse and having a giant crush on Spock. Can you blame her? No. But that shouldn’t have been her entire personality regardless. Especially since, in the original series, it did not seem like Spock wanted to have anything to do with her whatsoever. There was barely an established friendship between Chapel and anyone else on the crew, let alone Spock. You would probably be hard pressed to find someone before ‘Strange New Worlds’ who had Nurse Chapel as their favorite character. And she probably would have been great with some better and more well directed writing in her favor. But unfortunately, this was kind of the way of writing women at that time in media in general. Christine really had nowhere to go but up.
I think talking about how Spock was in his previous media is almost too obvious. Spock is the most popular character from the original ‘Star Trek’ series and is still one of the most popular characters in the franchise. Spock was always a completely honest and interesting voice of reason. And the fact that Spock was half Vulcan and half human made his character so much more emotionally interesting. The fight between logic and emotion has always been a dichotomy that’s fascinated scientists and audiences alike for good reason. They are usually considered to be such opposing forces. So to create a character that was made to be in the middle of that dichotomy added an element to Spock that hadn’t really been explored in depth in many characters before. This is one of the most interesting elements of any iteration of Spock and makes the character unique and even more lovable. So, it most likely doesn’t surprise anyone that Spock has been attempted to be paired off before ‘Strange New Worlds’. The most notable pairing, other than T’Pring of course, is in J.J. Abrams’s movies. That pairs Spock and Uhura and I don’t think it was necessarily the best in doing so. Uhura, though she got more time in those movies, still didn’t receive nearly enough development. She often came across as Spock’s girlfriend rather than having much in the way of her own character, except for maybe in the first film and a little bit in the second. Not only that, it just didn’t seem to quite work. We saw them already in a relationship in the movies, when the question of how Spock would navigate a potential relationship with a non-Vulcan has always been a hot topic. Because we didn’t see it originate, the relationship felt weirdly shoe-horned in and almost unnatural to the story. And, in my opinion, the two characters also didn’t have much chemistry.
In comparison to some of the original episodes of ‘Star Trek’; ‘Strange New Worlds’ goes so much deeper into the friendships between many of the crew. It also goes much deeper into the personalities of characters that might have been snubbed before. Obviously, my main example here is Christine Chapel. Instead of a demure character, we automatically see the fun-loving, slightly sarcastic, incredibly charming, and extremely empathetic version of this character. She even gets her own fight scenes! Chapel does not easily take slights to heart and she is always up for running after a patient if she needs to. Usually the adrenaline is something she even enjoys. But what really strikes you about this version of Chapel is how self assured she is in so many areas. She doesn’t apologize for being who she is or feeling how she feels and she is absolutely certain of anything involving her work. Her openness to her emotions makes her the perfect friend for Spock and this series really shows you the growing relationship between the two of them. When Spock is unsure of himself because he doesn’t know how to react when feeling an emotion strongly, it’s Chapel that comforts him. And when Chapel is being dressed down for her emotions, it’s Spock that defends her because they are insulting the very thing about her that he values so much. Their relationship with each other is innocent and adorable; they are both nothing but completely honest with each other. That is, until Chapel actually catches feelings. And then she lies to his face about having feelings for him. Really, what else was she going to do? She already had a slight crush on him and then he kissed her for a ruse. You can’t help but feel a little sorry for her. But the interesting thing about that scenario is that the show is really making you wonder if maybe her crush isn’t one sided this time. Because when T’Pring tells Spock that she knew there was no way he could have feelings for Chapel, there seemed to be a little hesitation on Spock’s behalf. But we’ll have to see what future episodes hold.
This is largely because, ‘Strange New Worlds’ takes place before the original series. And if they are going to go the route of the original series, we know for a fact that Chapel’s crush will most likely remain unrequited. Just because Abrams changed the timeline doesn’t mean the new shows are also going to do so. But, it’s not like they haven’t already made slight changes by using and re-doing the characters from the original series, so you really never do know. I, personally, am obviously hoping for more when it comes to this specific relationship. I’m so invested in it at this point! And I have loved all of the interviews Jess Bush who plays Chapel has done about why Chapel feels so drawn to Spock. Because we know that Spock feels drawn to Chapel because of the vibrancy and openness she expresses her human emotions with. But she said that Chapel feels safe around him because he’s so open and honest. I think I got called out a little bit there. Regardless, I’ll love to see Chapel’s future friendship developments with characters like M’Benga and Ortegas. But this Spock one has really caught my attention more than any relationship in any fandom has for quite a while.
I’m just really excited to see what’s going to come next for them. As you can tell, I’m so invested in this storyline now that it almost hurts. I’m so excited to see what they’ll announce at the ‘Star Trek’ panel at San Diego Comic Con for this show. I know I just saw the first season, but binging shows has completely spoiled me now. I want to see the second season as soon as I possibly can! And now I’m even considering cosplaying Chapel, so I guess I know where my money will be going in the near future.
See you across the pond!