Star Trek: Picard has brought Captain Rios face to face with racism.
Warning: This post contains spoilers from season two of Star Trek: Picard.
The standout star of Star Trek: PIcard, Santiago Cabrera, is this Trekkie’s personal favorite. Cabrera plays Captain Cristóbal Rios (and of course his several holograms of himself around his ship). With William Shatner’s Captain James T Kirk no where in sight, the series was in need of its Han Solo character, and Cabrera’s Captain Rios fills those shoes with just the right amount of swagger.
But he isn’t swaggering so much this season as the series has put the character in a situation he’s never experienced before, and he’s not quite certain how to handle it.
Captain Rios has never faced the ugly nature of racism.
When we catch up with Rios in season 2, he is Captain of the U.S.S. Stargazer briefly before he goes back in time with Admiral Picard, Dr. Jurati, Raffi, Seven of Nine, and Elnor to fix a broken timeline.
Episode 4 of season 2 sees Rios detained in an immigration facility and treated unfairly, simply because of his ethnicity. Due to a lack of racism in the future world that Rios hails from, regardless of how many worlds and galaxies he has travelled to and how many other beings he has come into contact with, this sort of cruel treatment is beyond his understanding.
This serves as a reminder of what Gene Roddenberry was trying to accomplish with Star Trek nearly 56 years ago, that no one should ever be judged or treated differently due to the color of their skin. Unfortunately the time travelling element of season 2 brings into a harsh light just how far away we still are from achieving that type of peace (and season 2 takes place two years from now).
Cabrera spoke to Remezcla about what playing Captain Rios and becoming part of the mythical nature of Star Trek has meant to him. It was extremely important to him, that even though there are no more countries in the world of Star Trek, his accent and his culture were still preserved.
"“Being able to use my own voice for different kind of characters and just make them Latino was something I was very happy to do. Especially being a Captain as well, and seeing Latinos in a new light, because we’re so much more.”"
When doing his research on the world of Trek in order to step into the role of Captain Rios, he commented, “It’s a reflection of our own reality and of being human, Star Trek is at its best when it really talks about what it means to be a human being.”
Though Captain Rios will, undoubtedly, be freed from his current incarceration, it will be interesting to see how this confrontation with bigotry will affect him in the future.