Sunday, August 23, 2015

Character Insight No. 159: Dmitri Valtane

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 a character who spanned between the movies and the TV shows, this being Dmitri Valtane from Star Trek VI and also from Voyager.

Dmitri Valtane.jpg

(Dmitri from his older days in Star Trek VI, courtesy

Valtane is a Lieutenant Commander and the science officer and possibly also the first officer aboard the Excelsior during its three year mission under Captain Hikaru Sulu in the Beta Quadrant. Although it seems unusual, he had roommates or bunkmates aboard the ship, including Tuvok. That latter point was not established until the Voyager episode Flashback, which added some back story to Tuvok while tying it all in with characters and ships we had seen previously in the movies.

Before discussing Valtane in further detail, let's take a moment to review this type of character back story, which happens with some regularity in Star Trek. Certainly these episodes give a chance for viewers to be nostalgic about past characters and iterations of Star Trek, but it may also cheapen the legacy of those shows by making the world a little too small. Not everything can be tied together so neatly, despite the existence of certain theories like 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon separation, etc.

However, I do not mind when the callback has little effect on the original universe, which is really the case with Tuvok's backstory here and also in the DS9 episode Trials and Tribbleations. How do you feel about such retcons and tie-backs, on Star Trek or otherwise?

Valtane comes back into play and is given a name because he unknowingly transfers a memory virus to Tuvok after being critically injured in a Klingon attack. In these memories, we see Dmitri as a child as well as him on the bridge of Excelsior. It is never established whether he is actually first officer on screen, but that's how he has consistently been portrayed in the novels, including in the novelization of Star Trek VI.

One of the few speaking lines he has is an expression of surprise and approval at Captain Sulu's general recklessness in attempting to rescue Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy from the Klingon prison planet:

Valtane - "I can't believe we're going to do this. I didn't think the Captain had it in him."
Tuvok - "Had what in him?"
Valtane - "You know, the guts to defy direct orders and run off on some rescue mission to save old friends."
Tuvok - "I take it from the tone of your voice that you admire this trait."
Valtane - "Well, yeah. It's courageous."
Tuvok - "It is illogical and reckless."

One wouldn't have to stretch the imagination too far to hear the same words spoken by Riker about Picard, in a similar first officer-captain relationship. Dmitri may just be another face in the crowd, but it is kind of nifty to see him get some more play when the Excelsior was revisited for Flashback in Voyager.

Valtane was played by Jeremy Roberts. He hasn't acted since 2009, but he can be seen in movies like Jim Carrey's The Mask, and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.


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

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