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.
DISCLAIMER: The following article contains spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 1.
Lieutenant La’An Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) first came aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) in the Strange New Worlds series premiere, “Strange New Worlds.” La’An joined the crew on a mission to Kiley 279, where Commander Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn) had been captured. It was subsequently revealed that La’An had concealed the fact that as an ensign, Una had saved a young La’An after the Gorn had killed her immediate family.
In spite of the concealment, Pike offers La’An a permanent position as Chief of Security of the Enterprise. This gives La’An plenty of opportunity to offer her invaluable insight as the flagship faces a plethora of strange, new, potentially threatening situations. In particular, her experience with the Gorn helps keep the majority of the crew alive during all-too-close encounters in “Memento Mori” and “All Those Who Wander.”
The Legacy of Khan:
Since childhood, La’An has faced assumptions and mockery because of her surname, “Noonien-Singh.” This is thanks to her ancestor, Khan Noonien-Singh (Ricardo Montalbán). Khan was a despotic historical Earth leader who was an “Augment,” meaning he was genetically modified.
Because of this personal history, La’An is especially shocked to learn that Una is an Augment in “Ghosts of Illyria.” Nevertheless, the pair maintains a close mentor-mentee relationship, as demonstrated during their investigation of Enterprise Bingo in “Spock Amok.” This investigation also demonstrates how the duo possesses their own unusual (but shared) perspective on “fun.”
The Real Deal:
La’An is the real deal. While she suffered traumatic circumstances during her childhood, her position as the Security Chief of the Enterprise means she now gets to keep those closest to her safe. This includes teaching her peers how to take care of themselves in difficult situations. This is demonstrated in “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach,” which sees La’An passing along at least seven “Lessons of Security” to the rest of the crew.
However, while La’An is able to teach the crew lessons about security, the crew also helps her grow. In “Memento Mori,” she struggles to accept the memory of the tragedy that befell her family. La’An even rejects the idea of therapy when it’s suggested by Una in this episode. However, by the penultimate episode of the season, “All Those Who Wander,” she has begun taking part in Starfleet recovery assistance with Doctor Sanchez.
At the conclusion of “All Those Who Wander,” La’An takes a personal leave to help young Oriana (Emma Ho) find her parents. This mission is especially important to La’An because, like herself, Oriana is the sole survivor of a Gorn attack. Whether or not the mission is successful is not revealed in Strange New Worlds season 1, but regardless of the ultimate outcome, La’An’s unique experience allows her to offer vital assistance to Oriana.
Why She Matters:
Why does La’An matter? She shows us that we can define ourselves, no matter what assumptions people may make about us. Many have been quick to draw connections between her surname and a historical authoritarian. But the truth is, La’An is responsible for saving the crew of the Enterprise many times over.
La’An also shows us that one of the best ways to take care of those around you is to take care of yourself. While she’s initially reluctant to allocate time to her personal emotional recovery and growth, she eventually moves past this internal roadblock. This allows her to better protect friends and strangers alike, as embodied by Oriana.
So, be like La’An. Don’t become so hooked on past tragedy that you are stuck “surviving” instead of “living.” Remember that the darkest of days are inevitably followed by happier times, and recognize that the person you become as a result of those dark days might be the person you need to be. Know that others don’t have to understand the way from which derive joy in life. And never forget Lesson Six of Security: “Know when to bend the rules.”
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