The season 4 finale of Star Trek: Discovery streamed this week and the end of “Coming Home” offered a surprise for fans. The heroes return to the 32nd century Earth and find the planet’s President waiting for them. And who is it? Well, we never hear a name, but the President of the United Earth is played by the real life 21sty century politician Stacey Abrams.
Toward the end of the episode, Discovery’s Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and others wait for what they believe is going to be the first of many discussions hopefully leading to Earth’s return to the United Federation of Planets. Instead, Stacey Abrams tells Burnham and the others there’s “nothing to dicsuss.” And just like that, Earth is once more part of the Federation.
Confused? Well, while Star Trek: Discovery began as a prequel series, in season 3 it took a huge leap almost a millennia forward into the 32nd century. Unfortunately, the heroes found that while the Federation had survived the centuries, it was not the power it once was. A galactic event known as The Burn destroyed almost all of the dilithium in the galaxy, making warp travel exceptionally rare. As a result, many of the member worlds left the Federation, including founding members like Earth and Ni’Var (formerly Vulcan). When Discovery first reaches the Earth of the 32nd century, they are shocked to find the world hostile to strangers. With the help of Discovery’s spore technology, allowing it to instantly travel almost anywhere in the galaxy, the Federation has slowly begun to rebuild its relationships with member worlds.
If you’re unfamiliar with Stacey Abrams, the woman who made the recent Star Trek cameo served in the Georgia House of Representatives as Minority Leader from 2011-2017. She made an unsuccessful run for the state’s Governor’s office in 2018, but didn’t leave the spotlight. Her campaigning during the 2020 Presidential election is largely credited for flipping Georgia for the Democrats, and she was reportedly on Joseph Biden’s short list for Vice Presidential nominees. In December, she announced that this year she’ll be running in the Georgia gubernatorial election again.
According to Abrams, she’s been a Star Trek fan for a long time. She talked to Now This Nerd about the franchise’s influence on her a couple of years ago, saying she was instantly “hooked” upon first seeing the shows. “What I loved about Star Trek: The Next Generation, but what I think was perfected in Star Trek: Voyager, and now Star Trek: Discovery,” Abrams said, “is their real interesting interplay between space and time. I think what has been so interesting to me … is that you can address those core, fundamental economic and socioeconomic issues, but conflict remains, and the challenge is, how willing are we to find solutions when we think we have the answers.” You can see that interview below.
Stacey Abrams is far from the only politician to be influenced by Star Trek. In 2019, Voyager star Kate Mulgrew told Trek Movie about meeting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She said she made a surprise visit to one of Ocasio-Cortez’s rallies, and that the politician acted starstruck. She said the congresswoman told her she watched Voyager as a little girl, and she was apparently such a big fan she didn’t always have to see the show. Mulgrew said, “when they lost their screen — they had bad reception in their house, and often the television was just black and white — she’d listen to it, like a radio show.”