Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation will surely recall the time that a young Ensign spilled hot chocolate all over Captain Picard in the show’s second season. What many fans may not know, however, is that Ensign was destined for a much greater storyline which was left on the cutting room floor. Actress Lycia Naff has revealed in a recent interview that her character, Sonya Gomez, was originally slated to have a bigger role in Star Trek, including a romance arc with Geordi La Forge.
Like many members of the expanded universe, Sonya Gomez was a short-lived but memorable character in The Next Generation, revived by an episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks. Lower Decks has a history of bringing back minor characters like Ensign Gomez, who managed to leave a mark on viewers while only appearing in a handful of episodes. The animated series recently pulled a similar stunt with Nick Locarno, the nearly-forgotten disgraced Starfleet Captain from a single 1992 episode of The Next Generation.
The original plan for Ensign Sonya Gomez, before her role in Star Trek was minimized, was to serve as a love interest for Geordi La Forge. Apparently, producers informed Lycia Naff that her portrayal as the character was too funny and charismatic to serve as the awkward and submissive character they had envisioned her to be. As a result, her contract was not renewed, and the original plan for Geordi was reconfigured in the following season.
The original plan saw Geordi, who requires the assistance of a high-tech visor in order to see, to seek a potentially dangerous eye surgery in order to finally lay eyes on Sonya Gomez. Unfortunately, Star Trek producers felt that a quick-witted quip would fail to elicit the love-struck reaction they hoped the audience would feel at the loving union. As a result of Gomez disappearing from the show unceremoniously, the eye surgery arc never occurred for Geordi, leaving his disability as an incidental element to his character.
Despite Geordi being consistently lost for love, fans resonated with the short-lived Sonya Gomez, leaving Star Trek: Lower Decks with a prime opportunity to mount her return. By the time Gomez shows up in the Lower Decks episode “First First Contact” she has been promoted to Captain, proving that her snafu with a glass of hot chocolate was little more than a speed bump on her road to Starfleet success. The minor role clearly struck a chord with fans of The Next Generation, who jumped at the opportunity to hear from the former Ensign once more.
Apparently the story of Captain Sonya Gomez extends beyond Naff’s portrayal, as the character has appeared in the Star Trek novel series Starfleet Corps of Engineers as well. The books, which were published from 2000 through 2007, provide a deeper backstory and lore for the character, showcasing her relationships outside of work, and following her rise to the rank of Captain. All in all, it seems that Sonya Gomez serves as yet another example of Star Trek’s intricate plot lines, proving that characters are never truly forgotten within the long-running franchise.