Monday, June 15, 2015

Character Insight No. 149: Alynna Nechayev

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 
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Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we profile Admiral Alynna Nechayev, who appeared in several episodes of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.

Alynna Nechayev 2371.jpg

(The Admiral, courtesy memory-alpha.org)

Admiral Nechayev is an expert on the Cardassian Union and dealing with the issues that come up along that border. That makes her an important figure in the latter season of TNG, when she first shows up as a vice admiral and direct superior to Captain Picard.


It turns out, Picard and Nechayev don't get along all that well. It's pretty easy to see why, as Nechayev doesn't trust Picard's leadership skills and negotiation style when it comes to dealing with more adversarial races like the Cardassians and the Borg. She even relieves Picard of command of Enterprise for a mission when she deems Edward Jellico to be a better expert on negotiating a treaty with the Cardassians. 

As you might expect, Riker doesn't take kindly to this either:
From the episode Chain of Command, Part 1:
Riker: "Admiral, with all due respect, it's not necessary to give Captain Jellico command of the Enterprise just to conduct a negotiation."
Nechayev: "I disagree. The Enterprise will be in a dangerous situation and I want someone on the bridge who has a great deal of experience with the Cardassians. No offense, commander, but that's not you."


After Nechayev is promoted to fleet admiral the next year, Picard tries to make amends with her by buying her a favorite: Bulgarian canap├ęs. Although the relationship is still pretty cold, at least Nechayev begins to respect Picard more and understand him more even when they continue to come to loggerheads over details of a signed non-aggression treaty.

Although the Enterprise only occasionally cuts into the Cardassian and related story lines, Nechayev serves as a logical link between the two concurrent Star Trek shows in the 1990s. Thus, when we see Nechayev leading the Federation efforts against the Maquis after an insurrection on the Cardassians and the kidnapping of Gul Ducat in DS9, she also appears in TNG to recruit Ro Laren to infiltrate the Maquis on her behalf and help her understand and sympathize with the party she has to publicly condemn and sanction.

From the episode The Maquis, Part II:
Nechayev - "The Maquis are a bunch of irresponsible hotheads."

Although Nechayev is a strong character who butts heads with Picard and even Sisko, she is highly dedicated to her principles and her mission. Actress Natalia Nogulich, who played Nechayev, came from a military family, including her grandfather who was a Medal of Honor recipient and her father who participated in World War II, including the invasion at Normandy. Drawing on that experience from family added a legitimacy and authentic touch to her portrayal, including the leader who must make unpopular decisions in the name of the greater good.

Indeed, Nogulich has been told recently by Marines that Generals have watched her interactions with Picard and other subordinates and have modeled their communication and dialogue with subordinates in the same manner. That's a compliment of the highest order, and it shows just how perfect Nogulich was for this role.

When not playing in Star Trek, Nogulich can be found in many television series, including this year on Glee. Her Nechayev character is one of the most used admirals in the Star Trek books for those who want more of this character in their life.

Until next time, don't be afraid to make the tough decisions like a boss.

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

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