Star Trek Just Brought Back A Character From One Of Its Most Awkward Stories
Leah Brahms-a recurring character from TNG-just made a surprise appearance on Star Trek: Lower Decks, voiced by the original actress.
The animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks has made a wonderful habit of bringing back not only obscure recurring and/or one-off characters from the franchise, but even recruiting the original actors to voice them. For example, the Season 2 finale revealed that Sonya Gomez–best remembered for spilling coffee all over Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) in TNG‘s “Q Who” and disappearing not long after–had ascended the ranks in spite of her clumsiness. The show hired the actress from TNG, Lycia Naff, to voice the new Captain of the USS Archimedes. Now Lower Decks just did the same thing, though–very fittingly–it wasn’t the actual character they brought back, but an illusion of her. In the third episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks‘s third season–“Mining the Mind’s Mines”–Susan Gibney returns to voice an illusory version of Dr. Leah Brahms, the star of one of the most awkward stories in the history of Trek.
In the latest episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks, the heroes are tasked with cleaning up dangerous green stones on a rocky planet. Those who touch the stones run the risk of making their most powerful fantasies appear. If the victim touches the illusion, they’re turned to stone. When the cybernetic Rutherford (voiced by Eugene Cordero) touches the stones, an image of Dr. Leah Brahms appears, voiced by Gibney. While she speaks in a sultry, tempting voice, all of her dialogue is pure science talk like, “You want to come over here and help me design some Galaxy class starship engines?” It’s one of the funnier bits of the episode, which should leave TNG fans rolling.
It’s fitting that it’s an illusion of Leah Brahms, rather than the real thing, that appears in Lower Decks considering exactly what it is that made her first storyline so awkward. In the Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 episode “Booby Trap,” Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) creates a holographic version of Brahms–who designed the Enterprise-D’s warp engines–to help him figure out how to free the ship. As far as we see, nothing “inappropriate” happens between Geordi and the hologram, but it’s clear the experience leaves him carrying a torch. When the real Brahms visits the Enterprise in Season 4’s “Galaxy’s Child,” Geordi is not only disappointed to learn she’s married, but Brahms discovers her holographic counterpart and assumes the worst.
The Brahms storyline is perhaps one of the cringiest examples of something that bothered LeVar Burton about how his character was written on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Speaking to Rolling Stone last November, Burton said the all the stories about how Geordi was bad at romance were part of “unconscious bias.” When his interviewer called it “weird” that his character never seemed to have luck with women, Burton responded, “Weird? It’s insulting. Whether they are aware of it or not, those white men who wrote the show had an unconscious bias that was on display to me and to other people of color.”
Thankfully, we now know Geordi La Forge found his match. Like most of TNG‘s original leading cast, Burton will be reprising his Trek role for the third and final season of Star Trek: Picard. While we don’t know a lot yet about what Enterprise’s former Chief Engineer has been doing over the years, we do know when we see him in Picard, he’ll be happily married as well as a father.