Welcome to this week’s installment of Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week, wherein we shine a spotlight on strong women who inspire us. These ladies are a prime example of female empowerment and how crucial it is for youth to have said example to follow.
Chief Engineer Pelia
Pelia (Carol Kane) is a member of an extremely long-lived alien species, the Lanthanite. While physically identical to humans, Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) identified Pelia’s species in SNW season 2’s premiere episode, “The Broken Circle,” via her distinctive Lanthanite accent.
According to dialogue, Pelia lived on Earth throughout recorded history, disguising herself as human in order to do. This gave her the chance to personally befriend many historical figures, including Pythagoras and Cary Grant. Pelia eventually came out as Lanthanite. Although any specific details have yet to be revealed, one of the first people with whom she shared her secret was Amanda Grayson (Mia Kirshner), mother of Spock (Ethan Peck).
As seen in the SNW episode “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” in the mid-2020s, Pelia was living in Vermont on Earth. There she ran an antique retail store. However, an encounter with time travelers La’An Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) and James T. Kirk (Paul Wesley) set her life on a different path. Inspired by the experience to begin studying engineering, Pelia began to gravitate toward her eventual position within Starfleet.
Eventually, Pelia became a professor at Starfleet Academy. There her students included Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn). Later, she became the chief fleet inspector for Starfleet’s Operational Support Services. It was through this position that she became embroiled in Spock’s plan to steal the Enterprise in order to rescue La’An in “The Broken Circle.” Afterward, because the ship was in need of a chief engineer due to the death of Hemmer (Bruce Horak) in “All Those Who Wander,” and motivated by a desire to avoid boredom, Pelia joined the ship’s crew.
This put her in the position to offer her wisdom and knowledge to many other Starfleet officers. This includes visitor-from-the-future Bradward Boimler (Jack Quaid) in “Those Old Scientists.” And through incidents like visiting a musical reality created by sending “Anything Goes” into a naturally occurring subspace fold in “Subspace Rhapsody,” Pelia has no shortage of boredom-busting capers to take part in as the Enterprise’s chief engineer.
The Real Deal:
Pelia is the real deal. As a person who has lived for literal millennia, she has a very different take on things than those who surround her. This singular perspective informs her interactions with her fellow crew, and she is able to pass along the benefit of her experience as a result.
In “Lost in Translation,” Pelia notes that she has received a less-than-warm welcome from several members of the crew. This includes both Uhura and Una. Initially, Una chalks this up to the fact that Pelia gave her a middling grade at Starfleet Academy. However, Pelia eventually discusses the real reason for the hostility with Una. Because Pelia replaced Hemmer as chief engineer, dealing with Pelia is difficult for Una because it forces her to confront this loss. But Pelia nevertheless offers Una the opportunity to continue to blame the animosity on the “C.”
Why She Matters:
Why does Pelia matter? She shows us that it’s possible to recognize that sometimes, people will seem to have a problem with you. However, it isn’t actually about you but rather about unrelated issues that they’re dealing with inside themselves. And just as Pelia does for Una and Uhura in “Lost in Translation,” it’s possible to help people deal with what they’re going through rather than take their potentially offensive actions personally.
She also shows us that it’s possible to leave one’s proverbial bunker and draw inspiration from new people and new experiences. And while it can be hard to let go of those old experiences (embodied by Pelia’s voluminous collection of possibly stolen human artifacts), there are few things in life that can compare with the joy of expanding one’s horizons both figuratively and literally.
So, be like Pelia. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself, even if you’ve been doing the same thing for years (or even centuries). Remember everything that you’ve loved and lost over the decades, but recognize that new people mean new opportunities to share your cherished memories and see them grow in new and unexpected ways. And don’t forget: these humans don’t live that long. If you just keep insisting a certain priceless painting is a fake long enough, no matter how tenacious their suspicions might be, you’ll eventually outlive them.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams new episodes every Thursday on Paramount+.
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