Episode three of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (“Ghosts of Illyria) revealed that Una Chin-Riley (Number One) has been hiding a big secret. She isn’t human, but a genetically enhanced Illyrian. And being that genetic modification is banned in the Federation and Starfleet, her secret puts her at great risk. The episode ended with Pike allowing her to say on the ship and with her deleting a personal log discussing being an Illyrian. Now actress Rebecca Romijn and the show’s writers are talking more about what this means for the series.
Romijn on exploring Number One’s secret in season one… and two
As a guest on The Ready Room, Rebecca Romjin was asked how this big reveal will impact how the crew interacts with Number One and she revealed there is more to come with this storyline:
You’re going to see a lot more where that came from… It was such an interesting layer to add to this character who seems to be the most fastidious, meticulous, perfect first officer. And I believe that she hides this horrible deep secret by being as perfect as you can possibly be in the workplace… The layer of being an Illyrian and having to hide this shameful, shameful secret just felt like – oh, I just couldn’t wait. I was so excited when they first floated the idea to me. And you’re going to see that play out in a pretty intense way.
Romijn also explained why Una deleted her log at the end of the episode:
Becasue that is the one thing that could get her kicked out of Starfleet, and she just loves Starfleet. She’s so devoted to Starfleet. And when I say that she carries this deep shame it’s because she knows it’s against the Starfleet regulation to be an Illyrian and to be there. But Una’s not ashamed of being an Illyrian. I think Una’s very proud of being an Illyrian… I think it really tears her up. I think making the decision to delete that log was to protect herself.
Speaking to TrekMovie before the series premiered, Romijn talked about how this storyline will continue…
We learn a secret about her in episode three… And we were going to keep exploring that in a pretty major way throughout the season.
And speaking to TrekMovie again at the gold carpet premiere, Romijn revealed this Illyrian secret storyline will continue into season two:
Well, she’s got something that she’s hiding… So that will continue to be explored and sussed out… it opens up some bigger conversations going into season two and yeah, we’re just going continue to explore that side of her.
Writers talk consequences of Una’s secret
Co-showrunner Henry Alonso Myers talked to TVLine about introducing this storyline and how it will define the character moving forward:
You’re treading into difficult waters anytime you add something to this. We try very hard to think about what the consequences of adding to them are, and then we just have to do it. At the end of the day, you have to tell the story… We knew that the episode would be a big Una episode, and we wanted to reveal something to the audience about her. It was a lot about defining who she is on this show and what kind of stories we can tell with her.
“Ghosts of Illyria” co-writer Akela Cooper was also a guest on The Ready Room, and she talked about how the writers see this storyline as fitting into Star Trek tradition:
We all come up with how Star Trek was supposed to be a utopia. Far in the future, everyone has worked out their differences. There’s a Russian on the crew, there’s a Black woman, there’s a Japanese man. Everyone gets along. That was the idea. But there was still, even in The Original Series, these instances of prejudice. And the show found unique and different ways to address what in the ’60s were current issues through a sci-fi lens. And we wanted to keep that tradition, most definitely. And so this was a way of not only exploring a great character like Una and building that out for the audience, but also exploring how prejudice hinders Starfleet and can work against it. Because they won’t even give them a chance, basically.
She also talked about what this reveals about the character Una, and outlined the possible consequences:
It does really go to show how Una, in her struggle is so devoted to Starfleet and dedicated to the ship and the crew that she stays and she saves everyone. And now she has this albatross around her neck, this secret that if it actually did get back to the admirals and Starfleet she could be court-martialed. She could be kicked out. And so she’s going to have to carry that. But she loves [Starfleet] so much, she risked that to be a part of it.
New episodes of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds debut on Thursdays exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., Latin America, Australia and the Nordics. The series airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada. In New Zealand, it is available on TVNZ, and in India on Voot Select. Strange New Worlds will arrive via Paramount+ in select countries in Europe when the service launches later this year, starting with the UK and Ireland in June.