The news of the accidental death of Chekov actor Anton Yelchin at the young age of 27 was a shock to his family, friends, castmates, and fans. Yelchin can never be truly replaced, but as progress is being made on the fourth Star Trek movie set in the Kelvin timeline, we thought we’d discuss what’s next for Chekov and the navigator’s station on the bridge of the newly launched USS Enterprise-A.
Shooting Star Trek 4 without Anton will be hard for the cast
Yelchin’s fellow castmembers have often expressed how deeply his passing impacted them, especially as they were tasked to promote Star Trek Beyond so soon after. And even more recently, as the word got around about new interest in the Trek film franchise, Yelchin’s castmates said they’ll have a hard time shooting the next movie without him.
In late 2017, Karl Urban told ScreenCrush:
I think it [Star Trek Beyond] was a good note to end it on. And certainly, it wouldn’t be the same without Anton [Yelchin], so that would be bittersweet.
More recently, in April, Simon Pegg said to The Quietus:
I know we’re doing more. I’d love to – I love those guys. It’s, of course, difficult because we lost Anton [Yelchin] and moving forward without him still feels unimaginable.
Chekov won’t be recast, so what happens to him?
Producer J.J. Abrams made sure to address the burning issue on fans’ minds. Speaking to the Toronto Sun in July 2016, he confirmed that the role of Chekov would not be recast:
I would say there’s no replacing him. There’s no recasting. I can’t possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better.
However, when asked if Chekov would be killed off, Abrams was more vague:
I have thought about it, we’re working on it, and it’s too early to talk about it.
It seems in poor taste to kill off Chekov the character, as there are a number of ways to gracefully write him out of the current adventures. For example, why not say he transferred to the USS Reliant? It’s a bit of fan service, and handles the issue nicely, fitting in with a history we’re already familiar with.
An ensemble of six?
The loss of Yelchin and his enthusiastic take on Chekov as a young, eager officer leaves a hole in the cast. He was a proxy for young audience members, while the rest of cast are approaching 40 (or older). It could certainly behoove Paramount to get a younger character back into the ensemble. This character could take Chekov’s navigator station on the bridge, or possibly have some other role on the ship.
On the other hand, as much as we love the idea of a large ensemble cast, it gets harder to give screen time to everyone as the cast grows. There’s also the very real issue of money–we’d tend to expect that the next movie will be more conscious of the budget, so one less main character could help the bottom line.
What about Jaylah?
If it is decided the main crew works best as an ensemble cast of seven, one possible choice would be to bring back the character of Jaylah who was a breakout character in Beyond, a lot of fans want to see more of her. Actress Sofia Boutella seems like she might be available, and in 2016, she told USA Today that she’d be “…excited to be a part of it again,” even though it hadn’t come up as an option at that time she said “I’m ready to jump on the next plane, no problem.” Storywise, Jaylah would be fresh out of Starfleet Academy and ready to go. Jaylah could be assigned to Chekov’s old position of navigator, or possibly a different role.
The Enterprise-A still needs a navigator
If a new main character isn’t introduced as the new navigator, the ship still needs a navigator, even if they have limited or even no dialogue. They could possibly just have a background character fill the role, perhaps named for one of the commonly seen background characters from TOS such as DeSalle, Hadley, or Leslie. They could of course also create a new character, but there are a few reasonable possibilities for new navigators from the Kelvin movies and classic Star Trek. We have pulled together a few suggestions.
Original Kelvin timeline characters
Darwin – Lieutenant Darwin took over the navigator’s station for Chekov during the events of Into Darkness, when he was reassigned to engineering. She didn’t get to say much in her first appearance, and it would be nice bit of continuity to give actress Aisha Hinds some more screen time.
0718 – Transferring Science Officer 0718 to navigation is another possibility. This unique cybernetically-enhanced character from Into Darkness would certainly make for an interesting navigator, since according to behind-the-scenes information, they intended him to have a link to the Enterprise computer with his augmentations. Actor Joseph Gatt told fans that 0718 was written into the script for the initial idea for a third movie (by “Star Trek 4” scribes McKay and Payne) that was later scrapped, so maybe they’ll include him in the fourth movie.
Kevin the Teenaxi – “Kevin” (his real name is unpronounceable for humans) was one of the two Teenaxi beamed up while Captain Kirk was under attack at the beginning of Star Trek Beyond. He appears at the end of the movie in a blue civilian shirt during Kirk’s birthday celebration. Behind-the-scenes, while shooting the birthday celebration, they used a physical model of Kevin in a blue sciences uniform, which was then replaced with the CGI character in post production. So there’s a non-canonical hint that Kevin apparently joined Starfleet in some capacity. This idea was picked up in the IDW comic series Boldly Go, where they gave Kevin his own issue, in it he works along side the crew (while still not wearing pants) to get the new Enterprise-A ready to launch. He’s of course a CGI character, so there’s a concern about budget if they pick him.
Arex – A number of fans have expressed their interest in seeing The Animated Series three armed and legged alien navigator Lieutenant Arex brought to life with modern cinema techniques. He would be pretty expensive. While a similar alien named Alnschloss K’Bentayr was seen on the USS Kelvin, Alnschloss was on screen for no more than 10 minutes, so springing for an entire movie’s worth of Arex as navigator is likely out due to budget.
Dave Bailey – The newly promoted Lieutenant from “The Corbomite Maneuver” is one of the first navigators we meet in TOS, and over the years he’s caught the interest of a number of authors in the non-canon expanded universe books and comic books. He was also featured quite a bit in the funky Star Trek UK weekly comic strip.
What do you say?
How do you think Star Trek 4 should deal with the absence of Chekov? Do you think the movie needs a new character to replace him? Who would you chose to be the new navigator? Sound off in the comments below.
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