Interview: Jess Bush On Chapel’s Turning Point & “Crazy” Rest Of ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Season 2

The latest episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (“Charades“) was a big one for the character of Nurse Christine Chapel. TrekMovie had a chance to talk to actress Jess Bush about the episode and what it means for the future of the character. This included hints about the character Dr. Roger Korby, Nurse Chapel’s former fiancé in The Original Series, who has been teased before by Strange New Worlds showrunner Akiva Goldsman.

Even though this was a lighthearted episode, it’s also very serious and kind of a pivot point for Capel, and of course, Spock and T’Pring. So would you say this changes everything?

Well, that’s very dramatic. But yes. Yeah, it’s definitely one that pushes her into places that she hasn’t been willing to go before. She’s far more vulnerable than she’s been in the past. She has to ask for help from her friends, which is something that she hasn’t done before. And she’s forced to fess up about how she really feels, and in a public way. So yeah, I would say it is a turning point for her. For sure.

One might imagine Spock becoming human would be a dream come true for Chapel. So the twist is that it is not. So what does that say to you, as an actress, and to the character that she prefers the Vulcan Spock?

I think it’s a couple of things. I mean, even if she did prefer the human Spock, she would never do that. Morally, it’s not something that she could ever live with. Allowing him to be forever changed for her benefit is out of the question. That would never be okay. Also, yeah, I think that some elements of Spock, as his half-Vulcan self, which she might have perceived as difficulties for her, but when they’re gone she realizes exactly why he’s special to her. Yeah, she loves him for who he is. All his unique and challenging traits are part of that.

You had been playing this as unrequited love, but with this episode, as you said it’s now out in the open. So for you, which is the bigger challenge, the unrequited side or the “let’s get it on” side?

I think for Chapel it’s the “Let’s get it on,” as you put it. That vibe, yeah, I think for Chapel, letting it all be open and happening is a lot harder. Because that requires her to be vulnerable and honest and open and available. And all of those things are scary for her. So for the character, much more challenging. As for me, I don’t think either one is more challenging. They both have their complexities for me as a performer.

This episode is played for laughs, however, Chapel is sort of the straight man of this comedy. Everyone else was having fun. Did you feel like you were missing out while everyone around is joking around, you were like, “I got to fix Spock.” Did you prefer playing it straight or wish to join in on the comedy?

[laughs] Yeah. I loved this episode for me. I loved the arc for Chapel and the deepening of his story. No complaints on my end. And when we were shooting, I don’t get to see what everyone else is doing. I read it and I saw that this is a comedy for everyone else and a challenge for me. But, I love drama. It was a real delight to see the episode and see that difference and see the comedy of it and it’s very delightful.

There still was some comedy around you, like Ortegas and Uhura joking around as you go on your rescue mission. Is it ever hard to not break on set with all the joking?

We definitely have an absolute blast between takes, but we’re pretty warm now with being able to just snap into the story and get it done. I don’t know if we’ve ever had a really massive break in that way. I think we all went a little bit loopy in the interdimensional space day. Because we were in that room for like 16 hours. But yeah, we have fun between takes for sure.

Jess Bush as Chapel in “Charades” (Paramount+)

The episode added some subtle nods towards Chapel’s larger arc towards The Original Series, including namedropping Roger Korby.

Yeah! [laughs]

So how much have the showrunners laid out for you their plan for Chapel? Have they talked to you about where they are headed with the character?

Yeah, so how it goes is there are certain points that we’re going to reach. They kind of tell us the greater kind of broader points that we’re going to reach as characters. But how we get there is never really set in stone until the episodes come together closer to the time of shooting. So I have a vague idea of where I’m going, let’s put it that way.

So just to get things straight, even though you are talking about Roger Korby at the beginning of the episode, are we to take away Chapel has yet to meet Roger Korby as of this episode?

Yet to meet him? Yeah, well I haven’t met him yet.

So should we look forward to that? Are you saying?

I don’t know. Maybe.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry as Chapel and Michael Strong as Roger Korby in TOS “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”

Ethan [Peck] often talks about how he feels the weight of Leonard Nimoy and The Original Series constantly. But the showrunners have talked about how with Chapel she’s not really the same because it’s 2023 and it’s a modern character. So for you, do you still look to Majel [Barrett Roddenberry]’s performance? Or do you try to approach this just on the page as a newer different character?

I think it’s a little bit of both like. I obviously wanted to have her essence in my portrayal. But I think now looking to Majel’s Chapel, I think the responsibility lies in doing the things that she wasn’t able to do. And the things that she probably wanted to do. And the things that women are now able to do that they weren’t able to do them. So using it using her performance as a reference point to flesh out in the ways that she wasn’t able to do that, I think is the aim. And I think the writers are doing a really fantastic job of that and I’m stoked with the material that they given me to help me do that. It’s been deeply satisfying and exciting for me.

Did you have much of a chance to work with Tawny [Newsome] and Jack [Quaid] while they were on set [for the Lower Decks crossover in episode 7]?

Yeah, a little. That was so fun. That’s so fun. I didn’t actually get to go work directly with Tawny in particular, but I worked with Jack. And just having them both in the table read before the episode was such a joy because the tone of Lower Decks is so different. It’s so much faster and funnier having their energy injected into the cast was so cool. It was a real blast.

Is there anything you can tease about the rest of the season? We keep hearing rumblings of episode 9 as nuts, maybe a musical?


Do you have anything to say about that?

Look, there is some really crazy stuff to come. The second half of the season just gets bigger and louder and more surprising. So yeah, strap in.

Jess Bush at 56-Year Mission Star Trek convention (Photo:

New episodes from season 2 of Strange New Worlds drop weekly on Thursdays on Paramount+ in the U.S, the U.K., Australia, Latin America, Brazil, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Season 2 is also available on SkyShowtime elsewhere in Europe. The second season will also be available to stream on Paramount+ in South Korea, with premiere dates to be announced later.

Keep up with news about the Star Trek Universe at

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I enjoy this show, but I think season one was a lot better written. I wish they could get back to that level of storytelling, because so far this season has been very hit or miss. I’m not sure what the writers and actors are talking about when they discuss big swings and big surprises. The episodes we’ve seen so far have been inferior to most of season one’s shows, with only one that I’d call a big swing (the Khan episode).

I take actors promoting their shows with a grain of salt, so I don’t really have any notion of what the “big swings” might be.

But I do agree with you about the quality of the season so far. There’s a noticeable drop in quality, and I wonder why. The biggest change I can see is a certain lack of energy. And it’s not the actors; if anything, they’re better this year. The show just doesn’t cook like it did last season. It feels sluggish.

I’ve said this before, but season 2 was written and produced before the reactions to season 1 were ever received. With the writers and actors strike and issues with P+ and all the stuff going on, that will be TOTALLY different with season 3. Personally I am loving this season, but lets see what comes in the future.


I can’t wait to see her scene(s?) with Jack Quaid then!

A musical episode of Star Trek? Absurd. That’s as crazy as a holographic doctor that sings opera!

They made a musical Trek?
Unheard of. absurd.
They made a musical Trek?

Better not tell Uhura, the Doctor, Seven, Sisko, or Vic Fontaine.

Spock and Riker would be the backup band..

What, a hologram singing? MADNESS!!!!!

Can you imagine if they had a Captain sing with a hologram, though? Ridiculous!

Except a musical episode isn’t the same as a character actually singing a song.

So little imagination….;)

In her interview with Trek Core, Jess Bush said that she read memoirs of nurses in order to better understand the kind of person who chose to become a nurse, and she read some stuff about combat medicine to try to better understand what Chapel would have been doing during the Klingon war.

I’m impressed by how deeply Jess Bush has thought about the character and by how much research she’s done. Nurse Chapel is clearly in good hands with Jess!

It’s been such a relief in SNW to see a Chapel who has so much agency and spunk. Somewhere, Majel’s ghost is smiling!

I didn’t know Jess Bush had done all that research but it makes sense. I think her Chapel is a great evolution of/improvement to the original. She really sold the complexities the character was struggling with this week. As did Ethan Peck. I loved this episode.

Yeah, we’re lucky to have her for Star Trek!

I wouldn’t say that the character has any agency. This iteration of the character is literally there to service Spock’s arc. Everytime there is a focus on her, it’s all to further whatever is going on with Spock. 95% of her screen time features her grappling with her feelings for him.

I agree. She needs an episode where she gets focus that’s not about that. honestly I half feel like La’an is getting this same treatment from this season, just they made her about Kirk instead of Spock. Both women need an opportunity to be focused on where it’s ultimately about them and not a man.

At least with La’an we got a lot of plot in the first season that didn’t involve being romantically involved/interested in a man. La’an being interested in Kirk doesn’t bother me as much because she’s already a fully developed three dimensional character, whereas Chapel is apparently in the show to solely service Spock’s arc.

I really love this actress on the show and her character but this Chapel is about as close to the original as Spock is to Kirk. It really is a very different character and they have warped canon so much I don’t understand why they are bothering to pretend any of it lines up with TOS? And I just can’t personally care if her and Spock get together or not but I know many people do like it. Again, it just totally goes against what we saw in TOS.

We’re only 15 episodes in, imagine where this character will be at by episode 50. And of course I’m happy she’s getting real development (certainly more than Ortegas sadly) but they should just make it clear its in a totally separate timeline and do whatever they want. I would have no issue if by the end of the series her and Spock ended up getting married.

They already acknowledged it’s a separate timeline in the Khan episode, though.

Yeah I know but I mean it’s silly to even try to still connect it to TOS which this interview seems to be implying. At this point, maybe it’s just better to treat it like the Kelvin movies and just say canon is wide open from this point on but I think they are afraid to still go that far with it.

They seem to want their cake and eat it too. They stick with certain canonical aspects like Spock and Sarek’s estrangement, but blow past many other, such as the Enterprise crew not knowing who T’Pring was in “Amok Time.” I think they are trying to imply that this timeline is mostly the same, and setting things up for what we saw in TOS, but when they choose to ignore something from canon, they have provided fans with an assumption that it is due to the Temporal Cold War. I personally find this lazy writing and most of the time unnecessary…

Yep, this is the problem they seem to just pick and choose what canon to follow like Sarek because it’s convenient enough to follow but ignores other pieces if it gets in the way of the story they are telling. But then just pretend it will all kind of fit at the end of the day when it really doesn’t.

I’ve said this in the past, the biggest issue in reality isn’t just bringing in too many TOS characters but just waaaaay too soon at that. For example, if there was no Uhura or Chapel on the show now or maybe not show up until the final season, then they probably could get away with all the T’Pring stuff and have her show up on the ship regularly with an engagement party and all of that. But now they have these characters all interacting 5 years before TOS even starts and it makes no logical sense Spock is supposedly some blank slate on that show who they knew very little about when they are seeing his fiance regularly and now his own mother showed up as well.

I can at least buy the Spock stuff itself because he was on that ship for a decade before Kirk and the others showed up and I can see Pike would know his life more intimately because we DON’T know what Pike knows canon wise along with Una, Ortegas and La’an, so that works. But it doesn’t when so many other legacy characters are around too interacting with each other for years.

And I don’t mind using TCW for SOME things like Khan for example (and I don’t care about that much at all to be honest) but if you’re going to use it to explain away how Kirk, Spock, La’an and Chapel all end up on the most bizarre double date ever or something as an example, then yeah it feels like a cop out to explain away every canon change. I rather they don’t treat us like morons and just say it’s different because its different and be done with it.

I have trouble with the change in timeline for Khan, too. But there is a very easy way to bring the Chapel-Spock relationship in SNW in line with TOS. After “Charades”, Chapel and Spock decide to pursue a relationship. Chapel applies again for the Vulcan fellowship, is accepted this time, and studies with Korby. She finds herself falling in love with Korby, too. The tension between her love for both men is so great that Spock decides to ease it by giving her a telepathic command to “forget” as he did with Kirk at the end of “Requiem for Methusalah”. So Chapel forgets their romantic relationship but keeps her feelings of love for Spock, which she expresses in what will be the “first” time for her in “Amok Time.”

I mean outside of maybe the Korby episode we know so little about Chapel from TOS other than she had the hots for Spock. From what I remember she was a very passive, very 1960s kind of a woman. I don’t object to the writers giving her a more well rounded and spunky personality… I just wish that a) did it better and b) didn’t define her by her feelings for Spock.

And the separate timeline thing? I’m not so sure. There was so little concrete information about the universe during TOS and so many inconsistencies that maybe *that* is in a seperate timeline. I mean this is a show where the pilot had the Captain expressed discomfort at having to serve alongside a woman and where no one was really sure of the name of the organisation in which the Enterprise served. I’m totally fine with them retconning the Eugenics Wars because it’s only really an issue for TOS alignment- and that show isn’t great at nailing down specific details and sticking to them.

That’s true, we don’t know much about Chapel. But we knew her and Spock didn’t have a relationship either. And I agree I’m happy she is getting a lot more to do. I was genuinely excited when I heard the character would be part of the show. But her entire character arc up to now is all tied around Spock and probably Korby when he shows up. Look at Uhura, they didn’t tie her to M’Benga or anything, she is just developed on her own.

As far as the timeline, this is the basic problem as I see it and I will include the Eugenics war. If you are completely new to Star Trek and you’re told now that SNW is a prequel to TOS and you watch both shows, you have completely contradicting information now. According to SNW Khan shows up in the early 21st century and I’m guessing now the Eugenics wars will happen sometime in the mid-21st century. OK, fine. But then you get to TOS and from their POV, Khan is still the guy who caused the war in the late 90s and left Earth after that.

They both can’t be right obviously but yet they are both still canon. if they say that TOS is no longer canon, OK, people won’t like it lol but ironically it would solve a lot of their problems. But if they both are then that implies they are not in the same timeline. It has to be one or the other. And I know people are saying well maybe they just got the dates wrong. But that doesn’t work either because Khan is specific when he came from in TWOK. That’s why it just makes sense one of them anyway is now an altered time line to make it work.

But same time its all fiction so yeah people can just think how they want about it.

Oh and thanks for the response by the way.

Absolutely spot on, Tiger. She is great in the role. And to me, canon basically no longer exists. I’m just watching for the enjoyment of it.

Jess Bush is extremely talented, and she’s playing a part that’s written to be so guarded that she contends with her emotional experience in ways that parallels a Vulcan. She goes about it differently, of course, but the inner tension is a great approach given that Chapel is in love with a Vulcan. I also like Chapel’s ambition as a medical professional- she eventually gets her M.D. in the original timeline, so it makes sense that she keeps looking for ways to become better at her job here. And Bush steals the screen so often, it’s a testament to her charisma and talent.

“I obviously wanted to have her essence in my portrayal. But I think now looking to Majel’s Chapel, I think the responsibility lies in doing the things that she wasn’t able to do. And the things that she probably wanted to do. And the things that women are now able to do that they weren’t able to do them. So using it using her performance as a reference point to flesh out in the ways that she wasn’t able to do that, I think is the aim.”

I love this statement. I do see hints of Majel’s Chapel, but I think she is making the character that should have happened in TOS. She’s great!

100% Agreed!

Despite my issues with the show- I do really like Chapel in this series. I think she deserves better material but Jess Bush absolutely sells what she has been given

I’ve watched the episode twice and still haven’t heard where Roger Korby’s name gets dropped. Could someone please tell me what scene that happens in?

At the start of the show when Chapel is prepping for her interview Dr. M’Benga asks her “What are Korby’s three principles of archeological medicine?”

Thanks, T! I missed the Korby in that line when M’benga said it.

I missed that totally – thanks!

I just have to say Jess Bush has one of the most flawless and effortless American accents I’ve seen from a Non-American actor, really amazing.

Yes! I had the same thought. Overall I think she is a really good actress…

I’d much rather have Archer show upon SNW than another TOS character.

As logical as it would be for Phlox, T’Pol, Soval, or Shran to appear on Star Trek Strange New Worlds due to their alien longevity, emotionally, it would be considerably far more impactful to see Captain Archer walk down the halls of and stand on the bridge of Pike’s Enterprise.

Completely agree!