4. Number One – Majel Barrett/Rebecca Romijn
Number one is the second character on this list to be played by first lady of Star Trek Majel Barrett, but the first chronologically. And again, Barrett’s Number One was only seen in The Cage. But unlike Pike, Barrett’s Chapel stands the test of time. Although she wasn’t given a name until Strange New Worlds, Number One was a competent and respected bridge officer with the rank of executive officer.
Despite the sexism of The Cage, none of it was directed at Number One. She was treated with nothing but respect.
Though the other characters didn’t treat her in a sexist way, the treatment she receives in the plot of The Cage is not ideal. When she and Pike are kidnapped by the Talosians, who intend to use them to breed a human slave race, they read her mind, revealing that she “often has fantasies about [Pike,]” which is a manifestation of the hoary trope that a man and a woman can’t just be friends and colleagues. But I guess that makes it canon that she’s at least physically attracted to him, and Strange New Worlds has proven it can do relationships between characters with the sensitivity and maturity needed to avoid cliches and sexist tropes. Perhaps they’ll do something with that attraction.
The script notes for The Cage say she’s “Almost glacier-like in her imperturbability and precision. From time to time we’ll wonder just how much female exists under that icy facade,” implying that one can be either female or competent, but not both, and that she’s an exception. (Also, are glaciers known for their precision?)
Although the Number One of The Cage stands up today, I don’t think a more faithful depiction of her would fly in Strange New Worlds. She’s competent and professional, but shouldn’t all Starfleet officers be competent and professional, especially those who’ve attained the rank of commander? The Cage saw these as notable character traits because she’s a woman. So Strange New Worlds expanded the character, with Rebecca Romijn’s natural charisma and charm, as well as one of Star Trek’s most interesting and meaningful backstories.