Star Trek: Discovery lost a cast member this week. Lt. Nhan, the Barzan security officer formerly of the USS Enterprise, who joined Discovery for its voyage into the future, departed the ship to keep a vital piece of Federation history intact and return to her homeworld for the first time since joining Starfleet. It's the latest in a series of powerful choices Nhan's has had to make since first meeting Discovery's crew, following the death of Airiam and the jump into the 32nd century. There were tears as Nhan said goodbye to Michael Burnham and her Starfleet career and prepared herself for her new mission aboard the Federation seed ship and eventually return home.
Saying goodbye to Nhan also means saying goodbye to actress Rachael Ancheril, who joined Star Trek: Discovery early in the show's second season. ComicBook.com spoke to Ancheril over the phone about "Die Trying," her final Discovery episode. Be forewarned that the interview contains SPOILERS for the episode's story.
During our conversation, Ancheril discusses her reaction to learning Nhan's fate and the possibility of her returning to Discovery. She also talks about Nhan's relationship with Michael Burnham, speculates about Nhan's future, and reveals what she took home from the show's set. Keep reading to see what she had to say.
Learning Nhan's Fate
Did you know you were leaving Star Trek: Discovery ahead of time? How did you feel when you first read the script for "Die Trying"?
Rachael Ancheril: I knew I was exiting, but I didn't know how… When I read it, I loved it. I cried a little bit. I read it a few times. And then when I went to the read-through, I really honestly tried to be professional. I tried to hold it together. And I was choking out the words. I was so embarrassed because I couldn't get some of the words out. Like, you know when kids cry and they get really upset and they're trying to breathe and talk and cry at the same time? That's how it felt.
So now, you know I'm a professional actress, but I was so moved by it. To be honest with you, I thought they would exit me either using the redshirt pain, or they would exit me in some sort of action sequence, but I was so thrilled that it was a totally different side of Nhan that anyone has seen or that I had ever got to play with this character. I think the only one time where it tried to get a little bit more emotional is when Pike left, and that was just a really quick beat. So, this is really nice to be able to show more of Nhan and give her a bit more dimension.prevnext
Oh, 100%. I'll always be ready for those guys. To be honest with you, I really honestly was not supposed to be around for as long as I was. So, even still I was supposed to come in and do my business for a couple of episodes and then go. I felt so grateful that they wanted me around more. That's always a compliment. Right? So, yeah.prevnext
Nhan and Michael Burnham
Nhan's sendoff climaxes with a tearful conversation between her and Michael Burnham. How do you feel about the evolution of their relationship? What do you think it means for both Nhan and for Michael?
I don't know. Do you think Nhan has that much of an impact on her? I think, because Nhan when she came on from Enterprise I think the entire bridge crew, I think everyone on the ship, was sort of like, "Who is this girl?" She's coming in and she's touting her opinion, but I think that's what Nhan is. She is there and she operates the best that she can within the scope of the work, whatever the duties are, whatever her missions are that she's facing. And I think Michael can see that, that Nhan's always going to be operating in the best interests of what she's supposed to do and to try, she says, to preserve as many lives as she can. And so I think there's a reliability there.
I think with Airiam, that was a really tough situation because Burnham wanted to save her. However, that would have sacrificed so many lives, that choice. And it was done out of compassion rather than seeing the big picture. And I think Nhan, because she wasn't really part of the bridge crew, she wasn't part of that tight family, she was a bit of an introvert from the outside. And so I think she was able to bring a perspective of, "Well, I'm going to do this because this is what we need to do." And, I think maybe Burnham might have thought that that was a bit cold. But I think when we had the heart to heart, I think it was understood. I think there's this mutual respect and understanding between the two characters. And I think that's why Burnham was able to be like, "I'm not going to fight you on it." Then Nhan decides to stay.prevnext
Nhan's New Home
I joked with everyone on the episode that -- because I was so amazed by that set design and I spent some time in there by myself which was kind of fun -- she's probably doing the best she can with her duty but she might get bored a little bit. Maybe she starts cracking open some seedpods, or I don't know. I think probably very lonely, but I think Nhan's used to that. She's used to saying goodbye. She said goodbye to her family when she joined Starfleet. she said goodbye to Captain Pike, and Enterprise and now she's saying goodbye to Discovery. I think this is just sort of, it is what it is. But I had an actor once on the very first sci-fi show I ever did and I was dying in it, and this actor said to me, she goes, "You know in sci-fi you never really die or go away. There's only distance."prevnext
You mentioned the set. Everything on Discovery looks like a movie and the line between practical and digital can really blur. Can you tell us a bit about the set you were on in this episode?
It was unlike any, it was so transformed when I walked on there I thought, "This is so beautiful." I was wowed by it. I don't think I have words for it. Even the whole entire set of Discovery, all of it is overwhelming when you see it for the first time, but it does so much to inform your character too, and the storyline. And so I could have stayed in the seed ship forever, it was so beautiful. Well, which I am, so.prevnext
I wish. No, but you know what? They did let me keep, I was so fortunate enough they let me keep my badge. I've been in this business now 15 years, this is the first show where I got my character's name on the back of my chair and they let me keep the backing of that with Nhan on it, which is really special to me. So, yeah, good consolation prizes, right? Even though I would love to keep that redshirt.prevnext
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What do you think of Nhan's exit from Star Trek: Discovery? Let us know in the comments.
Star Trek: Discovery Season Three streams new episodes weekly on Thursdays on CBS All Access in the U.S. The season debuts new on Bell Media CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada, and on Netflix in 190 countries.prev