This Star Trek: Strange New Worlds article contains spoilers.
Andorian chief engineer Hemmer was one of the highlights of the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, thanks in large part to actor Bruce Horak’s gruff sweetness. Fans truly felt the loss when Hemmer sacrificed himself to save the crew from the Gorn in “All Those Who Wander,” even if it made way for the equally wonderful Carol Kane as new chief engineer Pelia.
But that didn’t mark the end of Horak’s time in Star Trek. We got a brief glimpse of Hemmer as both a zombie projection and a priority one YouTube video in season 2’s “Lost in Translation,” as Uhura called upon the teaching of her old friend to solve a complex communication problem. Now, Horak is back in the new musical episode, “Subspace Rhapsody,” but not as Hemmer.
In addition to the sudden bursts of song in the episode caused by a subspace fold, the Enterprise also needs to deal with the threat of Klingons, who plan to destroy the fold because of the “dishonor” it caused. Leading the Klingons is General Garkog, sporting an eye patch that would bring glory to Martok or General Chang. Garkog makes for a memorable presence, despite his limited screen time, especially when he and his crew briefly break into a hip-hop number.
But according to showrunners Akiva Goldsman and Henry Alonso Myers, part of Garkog’s effectiveness stems from the actor portraying him: Bruce Horak, under a different type of alien makeup. “We love Bruce and wanted to find a fun way to bring him back,” the showrunners told Entertainment Weekly.
The return allows Horak to show off another one of his talents, one that might seem like a surprise to those only familiar with the actor through the ill-tempered Hemmer. In addition to acting, Horak is an accomplished musician, who records as a member of The Railbirds.
Horak wasn’t the only member of the Enterprise crew to show off chops honed in other roles. Despite the jaded persona she adopts as Security Chief La’an Noonien-Singh, actor Christina Chong actualy got her start in musical theater and still records pop songs when not acting. Before walking in the footsteps of Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, Celia Rose Gooding put in a Tony Award-nominated performance in the musical Jagged Little Pill, which also earned a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.
But even those who knew of Horak’s musical skills, which tend to focus on covers of indie songs like Canadian legends The Tragically Hip, were likely shocked to see him break out an intricate dance number. Inspired by K-pop acts like BTS, the dancing Klingon interlude added one more dose of humor to an already delightful episode.
As the overwhelmingly positive response to “Subspace Rhapsody” proves, Strange New Worlds continues to thrill fans, especially when it finds exciting new ways to bring back favorites like Bruce Horak.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 is streaming now on Paramount+.