Monday, May 25, 2015

Character Insight No. 146: Ensign Brooks

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 profile Ensign Brooks, one of the more prolific background characters in Voyager.

 Brooks (Ensign).jpg
(Some resemblance to the Captain is definitely present, courtesy

If there's one thing that stands out about Voyager, it's the lack of regular secondary characters outside a few major villains because the ship is always moving and changing the setting. That means whenever it's time for Voyager to come up in the rotation, we often cover a role that is rarely credited.

Brooks falls right into this mix, as she is a command division officer who shows up as assistance on certain missions or as a regular "face in the crowd" at big events like Neelix's goodbye party. For example, she appears in the pilot Caretaker and receives orders from the Captain to help scan the region on that occasion.

But she does not have many appearances in the first 2 and a half seasons of the show because the actress was also a stand in for Captain Janeway in some episodes because of her general similar appearance to Kate Mulgrew. That makes this character somewhat unique, in that instead of remaining just a complete background actor and stand in, Brooks does graduate to a speaking role on a handful of occasions. That also means this role is credited in a couple appearances, but only a small number of her 18 overall.

She almost became a victim of a malfunctioning doctor hologram in the episode Darkling. After greeting the doctor, he follows her into the turbolift and is about to make a move to do something maleficent to her when Tom Paris enters the turbolift and "saves the day." Enter heavily edited dramatic music, stage left:

Brooks: Doctor.
(both enter turbolift)
Brooks: Deck 10
EMH: How are you this evening, ensign?
Brooks: Fine Sir.
EMH: Deck...14 (ominous looks)
(Tom Paris enters turbolift)
Paris: Ensign, Doctor...Deck 10

That may be the crowning achievement of background character drama and quotes, right there. If nothing else, it's Brooks' most notable appearance on Voyager.

Her other notable moment came in an alternative timeline seen in the two-part episode Year of Hell, as she was supposed to share a room in this timeline with Seven of Nine. It didn't work out because Seven thought Brooks to be too untidy. It's tough living with a neat freak Borg roommate.

As mentioned with similar characters, Brooks is a necessary recurring component on a show with this type of premise, e.g., a limited crew stranded together for years. However, she doesn't add much more than the status quo, unfortunately.

Sue Henley played Brooks, and she also appeared as a command division officer on two early seasons of Deep Space Nine. Outside Star Trek, Henley had limited roles in the movies Hairspray, and The Long Kiss Goodnight alongside Samuel L. Jackson, you know, that guy who assembles the Avengers and wields a purple lightsaber.

Until next time, don't let creepy malfunctioning holograms get to you, modern redshirts.


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

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