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.
back to Character Insight! This week, we profile Admiral Maxwell Forrest, a recurring character on Enterprise.
Maxwell Forrest was the officer in charge of the NX Project and made many critical decisions as humanity learned to develop better warp drive capability. For example, he was the driving force behind convincing the Vulcans that Starfleet should continue working on the warp ships following setbacks such as the NX-Alpha exploding upon reaching Warp 2. He also puts Jonathan Archer in position to lead the Enterprise.
Thanks to a pair of flashback episodes, we see Forrest as a commodore as well as his role as admiral. We see the commodore begin to walk the balance between appeasing the Vulcans and encouraging the natural human tendency to explore.
Forrest therefore found himself in position to begin laying the foundation of the future Federation by giving orders and assignments to the crew of Enterprise that advanced those goals. Archer and his crew began to mend the damaged relationship between the Andorians and Vulcans, which became two of the founding members of the Federation. Archer even started a positive dialogue with the Klingons, although they would remain an antagonist throughout Kirk's time.
Although Forrest is often at odds with Vulcan Ambassador Soval, he shows the ultimate respect by pushing Soval out of the path of a terrorist blast while taking the brunt himself. That ended up killing Forrest, one of the few major characters to die in a Star Trek series.
Forrest was named in honor of DeForest Kelley, the late TOS actor. In many ways, Forrest is one of the first admirals that the viewers
understand, as his decisions and role are more fleshed out than the
"badmirals" seen commonly in movies and other series. This is a nice change of pace for a top level character in Star Trek.
Our notable quote this week comes from Broken Bow:
Admiral Maxwell Forrest:
When Zefram Cochrane made his legendary warp flight ninety years ago,
and drew the attention of our new friends, the Vulcans, we realized
that we weren't alone in the galaxy. Today, we are about to cross a new
threshold. For nearly a century, we've waded ankle-deep in the ocean of
space. Now it's finally time to swim.
Actor: Vaughn Armstrong played Maxwell Forrest, and he is possibly the most prolific actor on Star Trek. In addition to the 13 characters he played in 28 episodes across four series of Star Trek, he has appeared in television classics such as Cheers, Seinfeld, Frasier, NYPD Blue, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Desperate Housewives, and CSI.
Armstrong is also the lead singer of The Enterprise Blues Band, a folk band made up of four former Star Trek actors. Here's a sample.