Monday, July 1, 2013

TWITrek Character Insight No. 57: Nyota Uhura

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
Welcome back to Character Insight!  This week, we continue our review of characters from the Abrams timeline with a look at Nyota Uhura.


Similar to the prime timeline, Uhura serves as communications officer aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise under Captain Pike, then under Spock and Kirk. Uhura was a gifted student at the academy focusing on xenolinguistics, which gave her the opportunity to be posted aboard the Enterprise as a cadet. Her immediate ability to speak Romulan in Star Trek 09 and Klingon in Into Darkness is the very reason she immediately grabbed this position for good on the flagship.

Although her role on the ship remains the same in this Abrams timeline, the writers have had a bit more free spirit with Uhura than they have with other characters. First and foremost, Uhura is romantically involved with Spock in this timeline. That makes for some great human condition dialogue outside that well-worn trio of Bones-Kirk-Spock that was relied on in TOS. Plus a little dash of romance helps sell movies (why else would Carol Marcus be introduced in Into Darkness?), so don't expect it to go away anytime soon.

Uhura also finally received a canonical first name, although the writers decided to have a bit of fun with this as well. Kirk tries for three years to learn Uhura's first name to no avail, but Spock lets it slip before he beams with Kirk to take out Nero and his ship in Star Trek 09. Thus, we now have it on record that Uhura's first name is Nyota, which means "star" in Swahili.

The origins of the Nyota name stem back to Gene Roddenberry and Nichelle Nichols though, as an author of a Star Trek history book and writers guide asked them for the name well after filming was done on TOS. The name Nyota was a suggestion from the author, but both Roddenberry and Nichols loved it. Thus, we end up with a name that means "star of freedom," a fitting name for a character who broke boundaries for gender and race in the beginning of this series.

Nyota has seen far more screen time as the love interest for Spock and as the balancing of the ensemble crew has been better done by Abrams than others before him. She even saw some legitimate battle in Into Darkness, taking on the Klingons on Kronos before later beaming down to help Spock finally subdue John Harrison at the climax of Into Darkness. Thus, she is rapidly becoming an even more well rounded character in this timeline.

Our notable quote this week comes from the Into Darkness:
"You brought me on this mission because I can speak Klingon. So let me speak Klingon."
Actor: Zoe Saldana plays Uhura in the Abrams timeline. Saldana can also been seen starring in Avatar and in a smaller role back in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Until next time, live long and prosper...

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