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Why Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Fans Are So Divided Over Hemmer

One of the most unique aspects of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" is its mixture of old and new. Yes, we have a gaggle of familiar figures given a new spin: Spock (Ethan Peck), Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), just to name a few. There are also a handful of crew members who made very few prior appearances in other "Star Trek" series, such as Number One (Rebecca Romijn) and Dr. M'Benga (Babs Olusanmokun). But beyond those, there are also entirely new crew members of the Enterprise we've never met before, including Lieutenant La'an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) and Ortegas (Melissa Navia). Each brings their own back stories, along with their own hopes, fears, and complications.

Then there's Lieutenant Hemmer (Bruce Horak). The Aenar engineer (Aenar being a blind, telepathic subspecies of Andorians) makes clear from the outset that he can be a bit of a curmudgeon. He is regularly brusque, unfriendly, and often even rude. But as fans discover in "All Those Who Wander," the penultimate episode of the first season, he also has a deep sense of loyalty, even love, inside of him. Not only does he sacrifice himself to save Uhura, his last words are to her, encouraging her to sink roots in Starfleet (via Den of Geek).

Still, it would be untrue to say that Hemmer has been a universally beloved character. In fact, some fans are quite divided over him. And the reasons have a lot to do with how a lot of supporting characters are portrayed in "Star Trek" canon.

Some fans think arrogant and awkward are overdone in Star Trek

On the r/Star_Trek subreddit, u/MaximumEffort443 dropped a hot take. They don't care for Hemmer. The reason? They are tired of the trope of "arrogant and socially awkward" being used in "Star Trek" characters. Their post gives a fairly substantial list of characters who have in one way or another fallen into these categories, from Elnor (Evan Evagora) and Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) in "Star Trek: Picard" to Captain Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) and Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) of "Star Trek: Discovery."

"Hemmer sort of falls into this trope," they wrote, "he's arrogant and has no time for social graces (at least so far) and I'm kind of done with it." But at the time of the post, others seemed more like they were waiting to reserve judgment, with u/droid327 pointing out that earlier episodes of "Strange New Worlds" were developing more central characters before moving onto those like Hemmer.

Then there were those who stood firmly in team Hemmer. "I think he's more of a McCoy character rather than an awkward/arrogant one," wrote u/Alokir, referring to the often gruff Dr. McCoy played by DeForest Kelley in the original "Star Trek" series. "I like him." Others pointed out that Hemmer's attitude is in keeping with previous portrayals of Andorians, and even other Starfleet engineers. However, u/droid327's assessment, that we had not really had the chance to get to know Hemmer as a character yet, seemed to jive with other comments.

We'll be seeing more of Bruce Horak

Alas, we certainly get to see Hemmer do a lot in "All Those Who Wander." Beneath that callous exterior is an engineer willing to literally sacrifice himself for his crew. Given that the subreddit post and most of the comments on it came a good two months before this episode aired, it would be interesting to see whether fans' assessments have changed since Hemmer met his untimely demise. 

Notably, there even seems to be some discontent with the handling of Hemmer's sudden passing. In her review of the episode at Den of Geek, Lacy Baugher wrote, "My one complaint about this episode is that I wish we'd had a chance to know Hemmer better as a character before having to say goodbye to him."

Luckily, Hemmer's death does not mean we've seen the last of actor Bruce Horak. In fact, Horak, who is himself legally blind, and is the first blind actor to play a major character in the history of "Star Trek," knew that Hemmer would be dying later in the season when he signed on for the role (via The Hollywood Reporter). So, he wasn't surprised. What's more, as executive producer Davy Perez teased on the "7th Rule" podcast (via TrekMovie.com), while Hemmer may not be returning, Bruce Horak will.