Celebrating Star Trek's Moms
Mother's Day, as most cynics know, is a somewhat fabricated holiday expanded upon by the good people at Hallmark. But with time traditions form, and to hold one's nose at Mother's Day would be as inconsiderate as sneering at a Bajoran on the Promenade offering “Peldor Joi” at the Gratitude Festival. For a show like Star Trek, which many—rightly or wrongly—associate as a heavy dude zone, there are more than a few instances of motherhood and the maternal instinct. The first biggie I can think of is Amanda Grayson, the Earth woman who married Vulcan Ambassador Sarek to bring us Star Trek's greatest creation, Spock. We meet her on the diplomatic “Journey To Babel,” an adventure episode that does, here and there, slip into a tiny bit of Mad About You-esque familial banter. “Why did you marry her?” Spock asks his father, when the human among them is acting out in her most emotional manner. “At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do.”
The Next Generation's Captain made his disassociation from personal relationships core to his character. Picard didn't ever want to see any snotnosed kids on his bridge, which was a rule he quickly broke when he made boy genius Wesley Crusher an acting Ensign. But romance was something he kept at arm's length, which is probably why Counselor Troi's mother Lwaxana got such a kick out of flirting with him
Deanna was all about openness and expressing your feelings, but even she would blush when her mother (and her valet Mr. Homn) would pop by. Though the Betazoid Ambassador (always ambassadors!) might have appeared flighty or embarrassing, the truth is that she was actually pretty sharp, and usually right. JUST LIKE YOUR OWN MOTHER THAT YOU TAKE FOR GRANTED! Even the mighty warrior Worf referred to her as “an admirable woman.”
Lwaxana's daughter Deanna had her own child in the season-two opener “The Child.” She is impregnated by a glowy thing, quickly comes to term and almost immediately thereafter her son (Ian) looks like he's ready for fifth grade. Do the math on this, he isn't staying til the end of the season. Soon the kid sacrifices himself to save the crew, but maybe lives on as his original self, or a version of himself, which was an alien that wanted to “live through” a different life cycle as a human. It's a little confusin! But Deanna is very understanding about the whole thing. Personally I think the alien should have asked first.
On Voyager, there was a lot of producorial tweaking to make Captain Janeway a figure of authority but also a recognizable human female. She had a love interest, but he was tidily back on Earth. When Seven of Nine came aboard in the fourth season, that's where she was able to expose her maternal side a little bit more. Seven of Nine was an adult, but in certain matters had the mind of a child, and Captain Janeway took personal responsibility in nurturing her intellectual and social development.
The show paid it forward, of course, with the character Naomi Wildman. The half-human, half-Ktarian child was the first born on Voyager and, for whatever reason, she looked up to Seven of Nine, who would take a few minutes away from poking around the Astrometrics Lab to bond with the li'l moppet from time to time.
But let's not be so Carbon-prejudiced. One of the most dynamic mothers on Star Trek, and certainly one of the ones with the highest body count, was The Horta from “The Devil In The Dark.” As more and more people mysteriously died in the pergium mines of Janus VI, it took a mindmeld from Spock (and some medical miracles from Bones) to realize that the dastardly rock monster is, in fact, merely a worried parent trying to protect her brood! The next time you see silver orbs in a cave, leave them alone! Everything is beloved to someone somewhere in the galaxy!
I'm going to leave out the Borg Queen on my list (yet I invite you to make a case in the comments below), but I do have one final person I need to add. Enterprise: season one, episode five, “Unexpected.” Commander Trip Tucker boards a Xyrillian spacecraft, innocently sticks his fingers into some pebbles and, whoopsie, he ends up pregnant. Even those of us that had been watching Star Trek in various forms for decades did not see that one coming. Despite Trip being one of the more macho regular cast members, he took the news rather well. (And, luckily, Xyrillian reproduction is a little different from ours, so zooming away in the next episode left few ethical issues.)
With that, two things for you to do. Get on the phone and tell your mother (or a mother) that you love her. Then, get in the comments and tell me who I left out!
Jordan Hoffman is a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can also be seen on Film.com, ScreenCrush and Badass Digest. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels.