For Star Trek: Discovery, A Romulan By Any Other Name Would Smell As Treacherous

TOS Romulans from "Balance of Terror"

Star Trek fans are eagerly awaiting any news about the upcoming series Star Trek: Discovery. With the recent announcement that the Original Series episode “Balance of Terror” will be a “touchstone” for the new series, we thought it prudent to take a look back at the history of Romulans in Star Trek. We noticed an odd pattern and have to ask: why are so many Romulans nameless? Could Discovery retcon some key commanders with names? And we found one bit of Trek lore that -no one- else on the Internet has spotted.

Like the White Rabbit chasing Alice across an alien amusement park or a Cardassian vole scurrying to find its next meal, Star Trek fans eagerly await every morsel of news they can get about Discovery – both out of curiosity and the insatiable desire to complain about Star Trek on the Internet.

Recently it was announced that “Balance of Terror,” which finds its way onto most top 10 episode lists, would serve as the “touchstone” for the new show.

Now that could mean it’s a touchstone for continuity (DSC will heavily involve Romulans, despite our pointed-eared friends’ less than successful two outings on the big screen) or it will be a touchstone for tone – that is the series will feature more adversarial battles of wills against enemy commanders rather than subspace anomalies of the week.

Given that the Romulan War would have happened about 100 years before the events of Discovery, we know that won’t be the storyline, but there could still be some legacy from the conflict.

My one request is this: please give the Romulan commanders names.

There are so many unnamed Romulans that there are multiple Memory Alpha pages dedicated to the subject – and this namelessness isn’t restricted to background aliens; frequently the leaders are just “Romulan commander” or “Romulan captain”.

I count two in TOS, two in TAS, two in TNG, two in Nemesis, and one in ENT (though I’m sure they would have had more if they’d gotten to the full seven seasons). The naming convention of not naming Romulans could be to give them an added air of mystery because (as Weyoun says) they’re so “predictably treacherous” – but at this point it would be nice to get some retroactive continuity to help out a couple very notable ones.

The most famous unnamed Romulan commander was played by Mark Lenard from that very touchstone episode:

Romulan Keras played by Mark Lenard from "Balance of Terror"

Romulan Keras played by Mark Lenard from “Balance of Terror”

He retroactively got the name Keras by a designer for the Star Trek card game who had to go with something. Keras is is of course Sarek backwards; the same idea was used for the unnamed Klingon commander Krase. Keras is okay, but a little too cute even for me.

The more interesting one though is the commander from “Enterprise Incident”:

Unnamed Romulan commander from "Enterprise Incident"

Unnamed Romulan commander from “Enterprise Incident”

The nameless character, played by Joanne Linville, received three names in different books: Thea (Killing Time), Di’on Charvon (The Fate of the Phoenix), and Liviana Charvanek (Vulcan’s Heart).

If this character were to appear in Discovery, I would be delighted if they went with the last one. Authors Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz may have picked the name Liviana as an homage to another character named Lavinia, also played by Linville, on The Twilight Zone episode “The Passerby”, which was No. 6 on TrekMovie’s top 10 TZ episodes for Star Trek fans.

The character Lavinia from the Twilight Zone episode "The Passerby" may have been the inspiration for the name of the Romulan character, Liviana, played by the same actress

The character Lavinia from the Twilight Zone episode “The Passerby” may have been the inspiration for the name of the Romulan character, Liviana, played by the same actress

I have found no corroboration otherwise that this episode was the inspiration for naming the character, but it’s too close to be a coincidence. (That also means tracking this reference down is a TrekMovie exclusive!) Given how well-plowed the field of Trek lore is after 50 years, it’s always nice to find some new bit of trivia. Here’s hoping it can become canonical. So please, friends at Discovery: #BringBackLiviana.

Or, at least, please just give any new Romulan commanders names.

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