WARNING: Article contains SPOILERS for latest episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
The big surprise in Thursday’s episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (“All Those Who Wander”) was the tragic sacrifice of Hemmer. His death protected the crew from another wave of Gorn, but resulted in a tearful goodbye to the Aenar chief engineer for the crew of the USS Enterprise. In a series of post-episode interviews, actor Bruce Horak talked about the episode and his potential future with the franchise.
A noble death was all part of the plan
Hemmer’s death in episode nine wasn’t a surprise to Bruce Horak, as he explained in all of his interviews, including this one with TV Insider:
I found out about the death of Hemmer from the very get-go. Henry Alonso Myers and I met over Zoom and he just flat out said, “Listen, this is what we have in mind for Hemmer.” And yeah, so I knew before I’d even had my head mold made.
Horak told Nerdist he was “actually relieved” the episode was finally out, explaining that he knew it was coming ever since he took the job:
They told me right off that they were setting Hemmer up to be the Obi-Wan Kenobi basically, to train Uhura, to give her that final piece of advice. And that lesson—it’s the arc of her journey through the first season—is finding a home and connecting with the people on the Enterprise. And I knew that coming in, but I didn’t know how it was going to resolve. All I knew was that he was going to die. And I think my initial request was please make it cool.
In an interview with Collider, Horak said he “knew from the start” that Hemmer was destined for a “noble death,” and he was happy to see how it came together for episode nine:
What is it when something comes full circle? Completion. Yeah, it’s a moment of completion. He certainly brings the ship back online, the broken USS Peregrine. So he’s integral in fixing the physical environment so that they can actually physically leave. Beyond that, it’s the situation itself, which is this incredible hazard. He’s about to erupt with Gorn and the solution to that is to sacrifice himself. I think that’s a really lovely moment of completion for the character. Showing that sacrifice is really the heart of what Starfleet is all about, sacrificing yourself for those you love. That beautiful lesson to Uhura feels like all of the little loose ends have been tied up in a lovely bow.
Even though he was “really happy with how the episode turned out,” Horak revealed there was a lot of emotion on set for his goodbye to THR:
There were a lot of tears. The final day we shot was actually the landing on the planet. It was really tearful, especially the prosthetics crew Allan Cooke and Shane Zander, who worked tirelessly on the look of Hemmer for the season. We really had a special bond, spending three and a half hours every morning getting ready and then an hour at the end of the day to get out of the prosthetic gear. Honestly, Shane and Allan sent me off in great style. There were exchanges of gifts. It was really lovely.
And to TV insider, Horak talked about his final scene:
Tough scene to shoot. Heartbreaking. Connecting over the four or five months with the cast and having to say goodbye was just one of the hardest things. I was really happy with how it turned out and even on the page, it just read like a really beautiful moment. And I feel really lucky that he did get to say goodbye, that he did get to have that moment, and ultimately that his sacrifice was noble. It felt like the perfect way to send this character off and that he would leave a lasting impression and the message that he was giving with his own his own death was one of sacrifice and love. As an actor, I couldn’t ask for better.
He also added his time on Strange New Worlds was the “best year of my life, tops,” adding:
So many things off the bucket list in this season and one of them is definitely getting to do the Vulcan salute and say “live long and prosper.”
Hemmer and Uhura
The actor also talked with Collider about his time on the series and what it took to develop the Aenar character:
I really dug into the history of the Aenar. I dug into Memory Alpha and I went back and looked at what we knew about his species and where they are. Knowing that there are very few of them left, that they are a dying species, that they are somewhat ostracized and considered a myth in the Andorian world, I felt like this is another great outsider figure that obviously puts up this sort of veneer of gruffness and harshness in order to keep people a bit at a distance, might be coming from general suspicion or fear. But ultimately, it feels like that’s where it’s coming from, feeling like an outsider.
And with Nerdist, he gave more detail about Hemmer’s relationship with Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding):
From the very start he’s saying his sensors are superior and he’s a genius. And you know, he demonstrates that. In his short time, as we see him on-screen, that’s he fixed what is broken and that he was a good teacher. And he learns that from Uhura, that he’s a good teacher. He certainly does change over the course of the season. That, I think, is a mark of good writing, to see a character change. That’s true drama. That’s being altered by either others or circumstances. And in this way, I think he’s altered by Uhura. And some of that guard he had up at the beginning is gone. I hope they remember him as part of the family.
The actor talked about the chemistry he had with Celia Rose Gooding:
I really connected with Hemmer. Celia and I connected from the very beginning. Most of our scenes are together, so we spent a lot of time off-camera just hanging out and connecting about music and theater. She has a background in theater, as do I. That was one of the hardest goodbyes, for sure.
More Star Trek for Bruce
Hemmer may be dead, but Bruce Horak revealed episode nine will not be his final moment with Star Trek. In a number of interviews, he spoke about what he has been authorized to reveal. With THR he said:
I have been released to say that this is not the end of Bruce Horak’s career in Star Trek.
Horak told Original Cin:
I have been allowed to say this, that this is not the end of Bruce Horak’s journey with Strange New Worlds.
And to Cinemablend, he explained:
I can officially say that the Star Trek career of Bruce Horak is not over. I can’t share much beyond that, but I can at least say that I’m absolutely thrilled and honestly I’m so happy with how this season turned out.
As for what he thinks is Hemmer’s legacy, Horak embodied his character, telling TV Insider:
Yeah. I think about that, how he wants to be remembered, which is different than how Bruce wants him to be remembered, but Hemmer, I think, wants to be remembered as an excellent engineer, as a genius. [Laughs] I’d say that he was able to achieve his life life’s purpose and that he did fix things.