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Dr. M'Benga: The Underappreciated Hero of Star Trek

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

In the vast universe of Star Trek, there are countless memorable characters, each with their own unique stories to tell. One such character is Dr. M'Benga, a skilled physician who has appeared in both The Original Series and the recent series Strange New Worlds. Dr. M'Benga's journey is enigmatic, filled with heartwarming moments and unexpected twists. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of Dr. M'Benga, exploring his origins, his role in both series and the captivating storyline surrounding his daughter, Rukiya.

The Original Series: Dr. M'Benga's First Appearance

This is a picture of Dr. M'Benga: The Underappreciated Hero of Star Trek
Paramount Plus. (1966). Screenshot of Dr. M'Benga from Star Trek: The Original Series, edited by Go Figment using Adobe Photoshop. Retrieved from https://www.paramountplus.com/shows/video/1226199524/

Dr. M'Benga first graced the screens of Star Trek in The Original Series. Portrayed by actor Booker Bradshaw, Dr. M'Benga made two notable appearances during the show's run. In the episode "A Private Little War," M'Benga is introduced as a physician working alongside the esteemed Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. Despite being relatively unknown, M'Benga's medical prowess is evident, showcasing skills that rival even Dr. McCoy himself. This raises the question: why was such a capable medical officer playing second fiddle to McCoy?

M'Benga's second appearance in The Original Series occurs in the episode "That Which Survives." In this standalone episode, he conducts an autopsy on a deceased member of an away team, further highlighting his expertise in the medical field. However, M'Benga's role in The Original Series remains relatively small. Dr. M'Benga, the underappreciated hero of Star Trek, left fans curious about his background and future endeavors.

Strange New Worlds: Babs Olusanmokun's Portrayal of Dr. M'Benga: The Underappreciated Hero of Star Trek

In the highly anticipated series Strange New Worlds, actor Babs Olusanmokun steps into the shoes of Dr. M'Benga, bringing a fresh perspective to the character. Unlike in The Original Series, where M'Benga has limited screen time, Olusanmokun's portrayal allows for a more in-depth exploration of the character's personality and motivations. It is revealed that prior to becoming the Enterprise's CMO, Dr. M'Benga served as a combat medic in the Klingon War and was a member of Starfleet special forces. He earned the nickname "Ghost" and held the record for the most confirmed hand-to-hand kills. The incorporation of Olusanmokun's real-life Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills into the character adds authenticity and depth to his abilities.

The Chief Medical Officer of the Enterprise

In Strange New Worlds, Dr. M'Benga assumes the role of the chief medical officer aboard the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike. Dr. M'Benga is no longer the underappreciated hero of Star Trek. This promotion positions him as a key member of the ship's medical team, responsible for the well-being of the crew and any visitors they encounter during their voyages. As the chief medical officer, M'Benga's expertise is in high demand, and he must navigate the challenges of space exploration while ensuring the health and safety of those under his care.

This is a picture of Rukiya from Strange New Worlds
StarTrek.com. 2023. Rukiya. Retrieved from https://www.startrek.com/. Edited by Go Figment using Adobe Photoshop.
The Fate of M'Benga's Daughter, Rukiya

One of the most intriguing aspects of Dr. M'Benga's storyline in Strange New Worlds revolves around his daughter, Rukiya. The episode "Ghosts of Ilyria" reveals that Rukiya suffers from a rare and incurable illness called cygnokemia. To keep her alive, M'Benga keeps her in stasis within a transporter beam. However, in "The Elysium Kingdom," a sentient nebula cures Rukiya of her illness, transforming her into a timeless being of pure energy.

This unexpected twist sets the stage for M'Benga's future development as a character. As Rukiya bids farewell to her father, she encourages him to live his own life and create his own stories. This poignant moment marks a turning point for M'Benga, allowing him to embrace a new path and become the character and the no longer underappreciated hero of Star Trek, leaving fans curious about his background and future endeavors fans know from The Original Series.

A Comparison of Portrayals: Booker Bradshaw vs. Babs Olusanmokun

While both Booker Bradshaw and Babs Olusanmokun have brought Dr. M'Benga to life, their portrayals offer distinct interpretations of the character. Bradshaw's M'Benga showcases a talented physician, equal to or even surpassing Dr. McCoy in medical expertise. However, his character remains somewhat elusive and underappreciated. Strange New Worlds explores the possibilities of this hero of Star Trek, giving fans answers to a few of those unanswered questions.

Olusanmokun's portrayal in Strange New Worlds allows for a deeper exploration of Dr. M'Benga's personality and background. Through his performance, Olusanmokun imbues M'Benga with warmth, wit, and a genuine sense of care for his patients. His portrayal sheds light on the character's motivations and desires, providing audiences with a more well-rounded understanding of Dr. M'Benga's role within the Star Trek universe.

The future of Dr. M'Benga Dr. M'Benga is full of possibilities. In an interview prior to the release of Season 2 of Strange New Worlds, actor Babs Olusanmokun hinted at a different path for M'Benga in the upcoming season. He teased that the character's journey will take a darker turn, delving into a contentious relationship with the Klingons.

This is an image of Dr. M'Benga from Star Trek Strange New Worlds
StarTrek.com. 2023. Dr M'Benga. Retrieved from https://www.startrek.com/. Edited by Go Figment using Adobe Photoshop.
Exploring a Contentious Relationship with the Klingons

The Klingons have long been a source of conflict and intrigue in the Star Trek universe. Olusanmokun's comments suggest that Dr. M'Benga will play a significant role in this dynamic, further expanding his character arc. Since Strange New Worlds occurs shortly after the Klingon War depicted in Discovery Season 1, exploring M'Benga's relationship with the Klingons opens up new storytelling possibilities.

With the Klingons returning in Strange New Worlds Season 2, viewers can anticipate a fresh take on this iconic species. Will they resemble the Klingons from Discovery or the smooth-headed Klingons of The Original Series? This redesign presents an opportunity to reimagine the Klingons in a way that aligns with the vision of Strange New Worlds.

Conclusion Dr. M'Benga: The Underappreciated Hero of Star Trek

Dr. M'Benga, a beloved character from The Original Series, has found new life in Strange New Worlds. Booker Bradshaw and Babs Olusanmokun have brought their unique talents to the role, offering distinct interpretations of the enigmatic physician. Through their portrayals, audiences have gained insight into Dr. M'Benga's medical expertise, personal journey, and his relationship with his daughter, Rukiya.

As Strange New Worlds Season 2 unfolds, viewers can expect an exploration of the darker side of Dr. M'Benga's character. The season delves into his controversial interactions with the Klingons, shedding light on the complexities of his past. Fans eagerly await the continuation of M'Benga's story, wondering if the revelations of his history will be too unsettling to ignore. Certain boundaries should not be crossed, and M'Benga may have crossed some of them. Nevertheless, his journey embodies the enduring spirit of Star Trek, showcasing growth, resilience, and a relentless pursuit of knowledge in the face of adversity. No longer Dr. M'Benga: The Underappreciated Hero of Star Trek.

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Aug 17, 2023
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