Warning: This article contains spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode seven.
As is only right for a franchise that has always championed inclusivity, Star Trek has seen a major uptick in its LGBTQIA+ representation over the past few years. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds just made another major step forward, for instance, with the introduction of trans actress Jesse James Keitel to the cast in its latest episode, “The Serene Squall,” in which Keitel got to play a fascinating, multi-faceted new character.
Keitel was introduced as Dr. Aspen, a former Starfleet counselor who strikes up a connection with Ethan Peck’s Spock. However, it’s ultimately revealed that they’re really Captain Angel, a space pirate and the spouse of Spock’s estranged half-Vulcan brother, Sybok! Angel’s introduction alone was a big deal as they are the first non-binary character featured on Strange New Worlds, but the fact they’re really a villain only deepens their importance.
Now that the cat is out of the bag, Keitel has taken to Twitter to react to her arrival on the Enterprise, sharing an image of Angel sitting in the Enterprise’s captain chair, after she successfully hijacks Pike’s starship. The star stressed that they’re proud to be “flipping the script” with how trans characters are typically portrayed on screen these days as she believes that trans performers should be allowed to “play every shade of good & evil,” just as cis actors do.
“Trans people have a complicated history with tv/ film — but at a time when trans women are constantly vilified, mocked & legislated against IRL, I take pride in flipping the script,” reads Keitel’s full message. “Cis actors get to play every shade of good & evil — let us do the same!”
It sounds like Angel is a dream job all-round for the Queer as Folk star, then, especially as Keitel is now ingrained in Star Trek lore in a major way as Spock’s sibling-in-law. Hopefully there will be room for Captain Angel to return for a rematch with the Enterprise crew — and possibly a first encounter with Paul Wesley’s James T. Kirk — in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season two, which is already in production.
In the meantime, season one continues Thursdays on Paramount Plus.