Friday, February 13, 2015

Character Insight No. 132: Thy'lek Shran

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 review Thy'lek Shran, an Andorian commander from Enterprise.
Shran, 2154.jpg
 (Andorians should really be used more in the next iteration of Star Trek, considering how cool they look) 

Shran serves in the Imperial Guard for the Andorians, and he is the commanding officer of the warship Kumari. That provides Shran with many opportunities to run into Captain Archer and the Enterprise throughout the four seasons of this show.
Unlike prior Star Trek series, Enterprise actually features Andorians in several episodes. At the time of Enterprise, the Andorians and Vulcans are engaging in hostilities with one another. As a result, Shran first meets Captain Archer and T'Pol when he imprisons them while looking for a secret Vulcan sensor array for spying on Andorian space. Archer accidentally helps Shran uncover this array, leading to a partnership and friendship that is highly valuable for the Enterprise crew moving forward.

The next year, Shran insists on Archer to be a neutral arbitrator of a Vulcan-Andorian dispute, which helps the Vulcans gain more respect for the humans. Shran also assists the humans when the time comes to investigate and then destroy the Xindi superweapon after the Xindi begin attacking Earth. Shran and Archer also use their ships and combined forces to repel a Vulcan invasion force long enough to prevent a significant battle at Andoria that could have shattered peace in the quadrant irreversibly.

From Proving Ground:
Commander Shran: The last time we met, you helped my people avert a war. I don't like unpaid debts.
Captain Jonathan Archer: We keep doing each other favors.
Commander Shran: Isn't that how alliances are born?

That tentative peace is also threatened when a Romulan ship disguised as a Tellarite vessel destroys Shran's ship the Kumari a few months later. However, once again Archer helps Shran find the truth and stop the Romulan subterfuge, although it requires a memorable hand-to-hand combat duel between the two commanding officers before that happens. The last time we see Shran is during the finale of the show, when Archer helps him once again, this time in rescuing his abducted daughter following Shran's retirement from the Imperial Guard.

Shran is an enjoyable character who has a fun bit of rebel to him, even though he turns out to be an unexpected close ally to Captain Archer and the Enterprise crew. Similar to the critical Weyoun character played by the same actor in Deep Space Nine, the character of Shran becomes a key cog in the story of three factions, with the humans rising up to become the unifying force in this circumstance to establish the Alpha Quadrant's mighty new Federation.  Without such a strong acting performance in the initial appearances, this character likely does not end up being as important as he turns out.

Jeffrey Combs played Shran, and he played many roles on Star Trek with the most notable being this role as well as Weyoun of the Dominion. He still acts today, and he will appear in the new Fox show Gotham next week in the episode Red Hood for those who want to see his latest performance.


Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...

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