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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Star Bruce Horak's Unlikely Reaction To That Heartbreaking Episode

The closest thing to the original "Star Trek" continues to throw curve balls into the final frontier. "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" just finished up a fascinating first season on Paramount+, but the penultimate episode was the scariest — in more ways than one. The show, created by Akiva Goldsman, Alex Kurtzman, and Jenny Lumet, serves as a prequel series to "TOS" (The Original Series from the '60s), following the adventures of the starship Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount). Spock (Ethan Peck), Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), and several other OG characters are already on board to help cement the link. But in the terrifying "Alien"-inspired episode "All Those Who Wander," one of the newest faces earns his place in Trek lore, the hard way.

That would be Chief Engineer Hemmer (Bruce Horak), who spent the bulk of Season 1 winning audiences over with his sage wisdom, often dished out to young cadet Uhura. The blind Hemmer belongs to an alien species, the Aenar, but they have impressive telepathic abilities that more than compensate for their genetic impairment. While on a dangerous mission involving the vicious Gorn (a lizard-like predatory species first introduced via the TOS episode "Arena" with William Shatner facing off against a guy in a rubber suit), Hemmer becomes infected with Gorn venom, which is a death sentence. Heroically, he saves Uhura in the process, so his death is not in vain. That tends to be a big deal in Trek.

One might expect to learn Horak had a tough reaction upon discovering the fate of his character Hemmer, especially as "Strange New Worlds" will run for at least one more season (and probably more). But the actor had quite a different take.

Hemmer was doomed all along

Poor Hemmer. Apparently when "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" was conceived, the engineer's character arc was constructed for him to meet his demise near the end of Season 1, so it was already written in the stars. Bruce Horak was told about this in his initial discussions about the role, so he knew what he was getting into from day one. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Horak revealed his only real concern was how the death would actually play out when the time came. "When I read the script, I was so happy — well, happy is not the right word," he recalled. "I was relieved. It's a pretty great death for a red shirt."

He's right. Red shirts in "The Original Series" are known for dying just to show the situation is serious. When they beam down with Kirk and Spock, they don't often come back. But chief engineers aren't your typical red shirts. Just ask Scotty — although even he died briefly a couple of times.

But we may not have seen the last of Horak or Hemmer. There is precedence for this already. In Season 1 of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," one of the regulars (Tasha Yar, played by Denise Crosby) also dies by the hand of a nasty alien creature in the episode "Skin of Evil." Subsequently, Crosby returns to appear in multiple later episodes as Yar or someone else. Don't forget this is "Star Trek" — given those alternate timelines and science fiction shenanigans, no one ever really dies (cough, Spock, cough).

So while you might mourn the unexpected death of a favorite character in the telepathic Hemmer, don't feel too bad for Horak. He saw it coming.