It’s difficult to write about friendship in general terms without it being just a collection of well-worn phrases.
Complicating matters is the fact that most alien makeup on Star Trek is meant to be light.
After all, the audience will be better able to sympathize with a character if he or she is at least superficially humanoid. Plus recognizable guest stars (and their agents!) want performances to be memorable. It’s not impossible to do that if an actor is all but unrecognizable, but it sure does raise the degree of difficulty.
So instead I’ll go with what I know.
Malcolm and Tripp
Yes, yes, I know about the Tripp/Jonathan friendship. But that is more of a relationship of unequals.
When it comes to Malcolm and Tripp, I feel that a big chance was blown there, for they could have been much more of a source of comic relief. Actor Dominic Keating in particular is a real-life cut up, so it could have worked, certainly in the first two seasons of the program. I have revived that, a bit, particularly in Broken Seal, where together they pull a small prank on Hoshi.
Hoshi and Travis
Less cultivated and less explored was the friendship between the two ensigns.
In the aforementioned Broken Seal, the two of them work together in order to prank Tucker back, as Reed has already apologized.
It is easy and, I feel, a bit of a cop-out, to just ‘ship them and be done with it.
Friendships seem to be more complicated, and perhaps truer. After all, how many of us romance our coworkers – particularly if we are stuck with them, more or less 24/7, and can’t resign, even if we want to?
There are, of course, other friendships, and other series. In particular, I think the friendships between Data and Geordi, and between Geordi and Wesley (although that one is more of a mentor/protegé setup) are very believable in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Furthermore, the friendships among Bones, Spock and Kirk in the original series have spawned tons of slash.
But sometimes a friendship is … just a friendship.
Aidan is the good-looking guy, the Tactical Ensign with a fine career ahead of him. It is fully-realized, too, as he eventually becomes a captain in Equinox.
In Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before, Aidan is already slated for Tactical. For the project to improve the inertial dampers, he is brought in for one real purpose, to do the presentation. Because otherwise he doesn’t know a thing about engineering. He is also an eager participant in the second prank that occurs in that story.
Chip, on the other hand, is much more of a jokester. In Together, he dreams of doing standup.
As the self-appointed ‘movie guy’, he selects the films (Aidan is the projectionist), and his taste is reflected in many of the choices on screen. But he is not above silliness and, in Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before, it’s his initial prank that sets the events in motion.
The two are even pranksters in the Mirror Universe. In Brown, they are tasked with removing a rodent infestation from the ISS Defiant. But things don’t go according to plan, as they are both fed up with the Empress.
My own friendships creep in, on occasion. Part-Gorn Kevin O’Connor is based on a person of the same name. Andrew and Lucy‘s daughter is named for a dear friend of mine, as are Jay Hayes’s sister (Laura), M’Roan (in a way), Eleanor Daniels, Crystal Sherwood, Hamilton Roget, Mindy Ryan, Stacey Young and Darragh Stratton. Some are closer than others, who would likely be surprised if they were told that they were being included in some small way.
Relationships between people do not have to always mean lust and romance. Friendship is, truly, just as beautiful, and just as sustaining, and should not be dismissed lightly.