We haven't got long now until Star Trek: Beyond is released, the most recent film in Trek's long history, penned by geek god Simon Pegg and directed by self-confessed Trekkie Justin Lin. Everything we've seen so far of the movie has us really excited, from teasing the Federation's past in the trailer, to promising a plot of such ethical and intellectual dilemmas that even Jean Luc Picard would be stumped.
We know we're going to be seeing a lot of development from the core crew, especially Spock and Bones, but it's the new alien addition to the cast that really has us intrigued.
Enter Sofia Boutella's Jaylah, a mysterious character of unknown origins. She's clearly taken up a sort of guide role to Scotty, when the Enterprise is destroyed and the crew find themselves stranded on an alien planet (the plot staple of many an episode of The Original Series). But who is she, really? And why is she set to steal the show?
Connections With The Villain
On a purely meta level, it's pretty obvious that Paramount want to showcase Sofia Boutella's character. Mirroring Rey back before Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released, Jaylah has been placed front and centre in both of the Beyond posters which feature the crew.
It could be that Paramount are ensuring that we already have Jaylah in the front of our minds going into the film, because her character helps to drive the plot. And from what we deduced from the trailer, there's a clear reason for this — she has history with Kraal, the villain of the piece, and will help the crew defeat him.
"Everyone who goes there, he kills."
From what we know of the villain, it seems he has a vendetta against the Federation, but it could be that he's on a mission of conquest throughout the galaxy. It could be that Jaylah is an inhabitant of the planet the Enterprise crash lands on. And if she's on a mission to avenge her people, it looks like she gets to have a showdown with Kraal himself later on.
The character Jaylah is fighting certainly looks more like Kraal than his grunt soldiers. Perhaps Jaylah is the sole survivor of one of Kraal's previous quests, or maybe she had an alliance with him which turned sour. Early set pictures teased the possibility that Jaylah had her own ship, meaning she could be a bounty hunter or some kind of independent explorer. As such, her story could broaden the scope of Star Trek, showing cultures and peoples beyond the Federation's reach.
Stealing The Show Isn't New
Star Trek has a history of standalone movies showcasing a new character as a foil and ally to the captain, with this character driving the story. Notable examples include Wrath of Khan's Carol Marcus, The Voyage Home's Dr Gillian Taylor, and First Contact's Lily Sloane.
These characters were a major pull for the audience, adding an intriguing new element to the cast and shaking up the dynamic, while providing depth to the story. Jaylah is clearly set to take up this role in Beyond, and she's following a neat little Trek tradition. What she'll add to the story remains to be seen, but she already seems to have a nice little friendship with Scotty, and the trailer established that she and Kirk might just have a clash of egos.
There are many reasons to look forward to Beyond, but Jaylah really stands out as an interesting new element to add to the cast we know and love. Whether she'll pop up in later installments of the franchise remains to be seen, but so far we're excited to find out exactly what her history is, and how she'll help the crew save the day.