Wednesday June 29, 2022

Warning! The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ latest episode. Read at your own risk!

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds delivered its first full-on fantasy episode with “The Elysian Kingdom,” as Dr. M’Benga lived out the storybook he regularly reads to his daughter. Paramount+ subscribers were treated to quite an offbeat medieval adventure, and watched the Enterprise crew’s major players in distinct roles that wouldn’t apply otherwise. For example, Melissa Navia’s Erica Ortegas held her own as a brave knight, and even took part in a cool fight scene. Navia revealed to CinemaBlend a funny story behind that moment, while also sharing the kind of fantasy episode she’d like the show to explore next.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Melissa Navia ahead of “The Elysian Kingdom,” and learned about the late-stage moment she found out that Ortegas, who’s typically the ship’s helmsman, would be tasked with defending herself in a sword fight in Strange New Worlds. Navia revealed that after she was first clued in on Ortegas taking on a knightly transformation in the episode, she quickly set out in search of help from the stunt team. In her words:

I found out that I was going to be playing this role [but] we didn’t even have a script until like right until we started shooting, but this episode was so whispered about on set. We were getting hints from wardrobe, from makeup, from hair, as to what was happening. I got the illustration of who I would be playing…and I’m like ‘I play a knight! This is so awesome.’ And so even before I had the script I kind of, of my own accord, went and sought out the stunt team. I was like ‘I don’t know what’s happening, but I hear I’m sword fighting in eight episodes’ time.’ So we started working on all this choreography.

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Melissa Navia wasn’t completely in the dark on training, as she noted she’d taken part in a martial arts breakdown and played a knight in an indie film at one point. So she thankfully had a leg up on preparing for the kind of epic showdown that Trek rarely brings to the table.

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The only problem, though, was that they didn’t even know exactly what the scene would entail, so the actress and stunt coordinators just started working on various moves. Hilariously enough, Melissa Navia revealed the actual Star Trek: Strange New Worlds scene that fans watched wasn’t even as big and complicated as what she and the fight choreography crew were practicing for, so they had to rework a few things. According to Navia:

It’s really funny because the more that we were figuring out the story, [we realized] we end up fighting essentially in a corridor on the ship. In our wildest dreams, we had like a lot more room. So we had choreographed all these fight scenes had me with 15 people and in a bit more of a spacious area, and so when it kind of came down to it we had to change everything. But I think because of all that training with stunts and kind of the excitement for the role it helped.

The fight scene might not have had quite the sprawling battleground Melissa Navia prepared for, but the execution was flawless all the same. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds fans got a cool swordfight that, while brief, definitely looked good and served as one of the best action sequences of the season. 

The Fantasy Episode Idea Melissa Navia Wants To See

Overall, Melissa Navia enjoyed the experience of getting all dressed up for “The Elysian Kingdom,” and she’s ready for the next fantastical side quest whenever that may come. In fact, while explaining some things she liked about her costume, she talked about how it inspired her to pitch the next fantasy episode to the writing staff:

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I know you guys won’t see it but I’ll post pictures of [the costume]. Underneath, I have the coolest suspenders, and I have these leather pants. We’re telling each other, and I’m telling the writers, ‘We need to do like a Prohibition era-like thing. Maybe song and dance, mobsters.’ I just want to wear suspenders again, and a hat.

It would be cool to see Star Trek: Strange New Worlds touch on the Prohibition era and get all Al Capone-y in outer space. Or even if they explored how a similar situation would play out on another planet. (Someone write down Spock-y Luciano.)

But we’ll just have to wait and see what’s in store down the road. Even if something so grand isn’t in the works for Season 2, Melissa Navia (as well as Christina Chong) definintely assured me it’ll still be great, and that something special is something special is on the way. I can’t wait to see all that play out, but of course, we’ll be enjoying whatever else is in store in the rest of Season 1 before that happens.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams new episodes on Paramount+ (opens in new tab) on Thursdays. With only two new chapters left in the season, now is as good of a time as any to look up which Trek shows are next on the docket, as well as everything hitting the 2022 TV premiere schedule.

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