Actress Melissa George recently spoke about taking on the role of Vina in Star Trek: Discovery and how she paid homage to Susan Oliver.
Last week’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery had already promised to be not only a key episode of the second season but to firmly tie Discovery into the larger Trek mythos. And on both counts it wildly succeeded.
“If Memory Serves” not only expanded on Spock’s role in the search for the Red Angel, it also put a spotlight on his relationship with his foster sister Michael Burnham. It also featured the return to the world of Talos IV, which any Star Trek nerd worth his combadge knows was featured in “The Menagerie” which itself used footage from the original Trek pilot “The Cage.”
The episode was filled with Easter eggs and callbacks to “The Cage” which was widely expected. What wasn’t expected was the return of a character no one thought we’d ever see again.
The appearance of Vina, played by Melissa George in “If Memory Serves” came as a complete shock to almost anyone. The character, originally portrayed by Susan Oliver in “The Cage” is the only survivor of the crash of the SS Columbia which leaves her horribly disfigured. However, thanks to the Talosians, Vina will still always be beautiful due to their telepathic abilities.
Eventually Vina and Pike fall in love, and in “The Menagerie” they are reunited on Talos IV, both able to remain young and beautiful for the rest of their lives together.
George, best known for roles in Grey’s Anatomy and The Good Wife, spoke to SyFy about taking on the role and how she approached bringing Vina to life.
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"“When you first see Vina with that perfect blonde hair and that perfect blue eyeshadow, you think, ‘Oh, she’s a bit off with the fairies.’ But she’s actually got such gravitas and is in fact very strong and grounded. So I decided I was going to embrace being a woman, with all her beauty and the hair, and those high heels, and being comfortable in my own skin. And that’s how I am in my own life, too. I think that women often get perceived in a certain way. If you’re ‘too pretty,’ you’re perceived as maybe not being smart enough. So, no, she’s not a victim. She’s everything, this woman. She’s clearly a woman in love, too. So [I] decided to be comfortable and strong with it.”"
George also talked about keeping the return of Vina top secret so that viewers could enjoy the surprise of the character’s return.
"“I hated it! But, at the same time, it is a gem of a role. When I had to walk on the shuttlecraft and I saw Spock, I had a little giggle to myself. It was so exciting to play in that world. Everything on these sets is for real. I assumed all the rocks and water for the alien planet would be added in later by special effects. But no! There were 15 trucks bringing in the boulders! And adding the water! To my eyes, this was one of the most glorious sets I’d ever been on. Everything you touched was real.”"
While it’s doubtful we’ll see Vina again on Discovery, the fact George did such an excellent job bringing the character back to life was a real treat for Trekkers everywhere. And there can be no doubt now that Discovery is indeed a part of Trek canon. And Melissa George played a big part in that.
The second season of Star Trek: Discovery continues every Thursdays on CBS All Access.