Portrait of a Character – Preston Jennings
Before Lili, I needed someone who would serve meals to Captain Archer. This does not only mean before she joined Starfleet; this would also be for before I had even created the character. Preston predates Lili, and goes all the way back to More, More, More!
Preston is played by Billy Zane.
I like the actor’s suave charm and handsome air.
Pleasant but sometimes prone to meltdowns, Preston is just trying to get ahead. He’s also one of the four gay men on the ship (the others are Dave Constantine, Lucas Donnelly, and Frank Todd). When the Xindi War breaks out, he seizes the opportunity to do something different, and transfers to Navigation. He is the first person to admit that Lili is far more skilled in cooking than he ever was. This is put on display in Before the Fall, where Will Slocum pretty much misuses his talents in a cooking competition with Lili and her partner, Brian Delacroix. Will continues to joke about burdening Preston with Lili’s work, in The Continuing Adventures of Porthos – The Future Cat.
During both kicks back in time, Preston and Luke end up together.
Neither of them are 100% thrilled with this; Dave Constantine is considered to be more of a prize. But they make the most of it, even though they aren’t necessarily compatible.
It’s only in Mirror Masquerade where this happens, and only in the Mirror Universe, in an altered timeline. Preston is, just like in the Prime Universe, serving food. But there is no Lili (her counterpart is dead), so he still has that job, whereas in the Prime Universe, he switches over to Navigation.
When Sulu and Mayweather are switched, Sulu flirts with him in the chow line, and Preston gets a major promotion, to Captain’s Man. But it’s all for naught, as Carmen fixes the timeline and everything goes back to the way it’s supposed to be.
In the Mirror Universe, Preston never stops serving chow, both in the correct timeline and in the Mirror Masquerade alternate timeline.
However, in the Temper alternate timelines, he is not seen working in the kitchen. Is he dead? Absent from the ship? Working elsewhere? The truth is, I just didn’t write him. But there’s no reason why he can’t be written into a related story, at a later date.
“Are you sure we don’t have to prep for this?”
I don’t really know this character well enough, and would like to rectify that at some point.