The Star Trek Captain Who Returned In Secret Roles

By Zack Zagranis | Published

star trek captain

For some people, Star Trek is a lot like the mob. Every time they think they’re out, they get pulled back in. Just ask Tricia O’Neil, AKA Captain Rachel Garrett, Captain of the ill-fated Enterprise-C. O’Neil was dragged back into the Star Trek universe not once but two more times following her initial appearance as Garrett.

Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation may remember the Enterprise-C from the classic episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” Captain Rachel Garrett accidentally flies her version of the Trek flagship 20 years into the future, running smack dab into the Enterprise commanded by Picard and Co. This time-jump alters the Next Gen timeline as Garrett’s ship went forward in time just when it was supposed to be destroyed in a battle with the Klingons.

Enterprise C
USS Enterprise NCC-1701-C

As a result, the Enterprise-D is suddenly one of the Federation’s only functioning warships engaged in a decades-long scuffle with the Klingons. Rachel Garrett faces a tough choice: Condemn herself and her crew to a certain death by returning to their time or staying in a future that she personally ruined. This being Star Trek, she makes the right choice, and that’s the last we see of Captain Rachel Garrett.

Except it’s not. Kind of.

Obviously, we aren’t referring to some kind of Saw situation where Rachel Garrett appears in flashbacks after her character dies—although how cool would Saw in Space be? James Wan, call us!

No, Tricia O’Neil would go on to appear in Star Trek two more times. Once in the 1993 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Suspicions” as a Klingon scientist named Kurak and again in a 1994 episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “Defiant” as the Cardassian observer Korinas.

Despite only ever being a guest star on Next Gen and DS9, Tricia O’Neil gave her all every time, proving the old show biz adage: “There are no small parts only small actors.” Many fans appreciated Tricia O’Neil’s dedication to the role of Rachel Garrett in particular.

It may have been a one-episode gig, but O’Neil imbued Rachel Garrett with humanity and depth usually not found in throwaway guest roles. As the actress herself put it: “I knew what that captain’s chair was, and when I, Tricia O’Neil, sat in that chair, I understood the importance of it.” O’Neil also said that sitting in the captain’s chair made everything “very real” and that when it comes to Garrett, the actress became her character “for a week or so.”

Tricia O’Neil as Captain Rachel Garrett

When it came time to play Kurak, the Klingon scientist, O’Neil used a different focal point to get into character. If playing Rachel Garrett was all about sitting in the captain’s chair, then Kurak was all about the prosthetics. “The makeup was difficult, but once I saw it, it was such a support to believe the world, to get into character.”

The confining makeup O’Neil was forced to don for her Deep Space Nine appearance once again helped her shape her portrayal of the Cardassian Korinas, an operative of the Obsidian Order (basically the Cardassian CIA). The actress once remarked, “How the makeup makes you appear affects how you think of a character,” when reflecting back on her Star Trek roles.

While O’Neil has never said what her favorite Star Trek role is, we’re going to go out on a limb and guess it was Rachel Garrett. Not only did the role give her a chance to portray a captain of the USS Enterprise—easily one of the most prestigious roles in science fiction—but it was also free of the pain-in-the-neck makeup process that defined her other two roles.