Trans Geek Girl Meets Mundane World

A Plea for Gaila

I want more Gaila.

Gaila is the green-skinned Orion girl in the recent Star Trek movie who is Uhura’s roommate and (presumably) Captain Kirk’s very first alien babe conquest.

She’s a throwaway character. She exists to show Kirk’s xenophilia, create tension between him and Uhura, and provide a conduit by which he cheats the Kobiyashi Maru simulation (though the latter was not obvious in the final cut).  She’s eye candy, and remarks by the creators of the movie demonstrate that they didn’t give her much thought beyond that.

She’s captured the imaginations of a segment of the fan base strictly BECAUSE, while she may only be eye candy, she’s very yummy eye candy. While I don’t disagree with that assessment (Rachel Nichols is a lovely woman), it’s beside the point.

Orions have always seemed to get the short end of the stick in Star Trek continuity. They’re invariably portrayed as spies, pirates and seductive “slave” girls (“slave” in quotes because their biochemical ability to influence males leaves some doubt as to who’s enslaving whom). Gaila is the first Orion we’ve seen with the moral compass to enter Star Fleet Academy and the brains and ability to not wash out.

I want to know more about this character. How did she get into the Academy? What’s her story? What’s her function? How’s she going to cope with being in love with James T. Kirk, who is tragically also in love with James T. Kirk (and a fresh alien babe every episode)? Does the sprawling, corrupt, ancient Orion civilization provide enough backstory to help transform a throwaway character into something more?

The Orions were introduced in the very first pilot for Star Trek… the same one that featured Majel Barret as Captain Pike’s first officer. The studio made Roddenberry reverse having a woman in a command role, relegating them to hailing frequencies, nursing, or being seduced by Kirk for the rest of the run.

It would be deliciously ironic if the “slave girls” created in that episode ended up, if not in command, at least in a role demonstrating qualities beyond being green, beautiful, and hot for Captain.


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