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star trek lower decks tendi and rutherford
Photo: PARAMOUNT+

Television

‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ — Tendi and Rutherford’s unresolved sexual tension and more

Star Trek: Lower Decks recently held a press day where we had the opportunity to hear from some of the stars of the series. Tawny Newsome and Jack Quaid had plenty to share about their characters and the upcoming season. We also had the chance to speak with Noël Wells (D’Vana Tendi) and Eugene Cordero (Sam Rutherford).

Both Rutherford and Tendi have great personal journeys compared to when we first met them. For the latter, “In the first season, Tendi’s very wide eyed. She’s soaking up everything like a sponge. She is a bit naïve. I think in the second season, maybe she has her bubble burst a couple times but because of that, she gets to take herself to the next level. You see her pushing back a little more. Having a little bit more agency. Not only taking more risks but standing up for herself,” Wells said.

She added, “She’s having to run some things herself and take a little bit more control. You get to see a little bit more of her dark side. Her capacity to fight…I do think we get to see a little bit more of what she has going on underneath her and that she has a lot more levels.”

Rutherford is still dealing with the events of the season one finale of Lower Decks and how his implant malfunctioned. “He’s figuring out things for himself as well as what happened to him and trying to figure out those things. We get more into Rutherford but it’s more about what he is as a person…,” Cordero revealed. “I think there’s a weird mix of growth in certain ways. As a friend, definitely grew but as himself, just finding out new things about himself that he didn’t know in season one even, is some of the character development you’ll see as the season keeps going.”

The characters are best friends on Lower Decks and they have much in common. However, they do have distinct personalities. Cordero provided some insight on the pair.

I feel like the biggest difference between them is, as excited as they are, I think it’s just how they approach other people. There’s a positivity that they have with each other but if you watch them interact with let’s say, Mariner or even the Captain, I think that they have a very different way in to a conversation, I think. Rutherford comes in, with a very much, not cocky, but confident that he knows how to do everything that he’s doing, or can. Then it’s just a mentality of if they believe he could or not. I think that’s a different approach than to how Tendi walks into a room at this point as far as we know.

Wells continued the conversation. “Tendi walks into a room more of a people pleaser; can I show you that I can do this, which is not as confident, actually. Whereas with Rutherford, she’s able to be more of her truer, confident self because she has somebody who sees her.”

star trek lower decks cerritos
Photo: PARAMOUNT+

But what about the unresolved sexual tension between them. “The weird thing about them and the great thing about the Tendi and Rutherford relationship is that it is a kind of intellectual love affair they have for each other in a way that you would have with a co-worker or somebody who is just as passionate about the work as you are…Who knows what it is? I think sexual tension within a cartoon is always weird so I don’t know,” Cordero expressed.

The actor also spoke about allowing the ensigns to branch out of the traditional pairings we saw in the first season. “I think season one, we set up a really great rapport with each other so I think they want to keep that going. But because you have the background of the Lower Deck crew together, yeah, you will see us paired up a little bit more and I would love to pair up even more. I get to do a couple of moments that me and Jack Quaid, the Boimler/Rutherford duo happens a bit and the Mariner/Rutherford happens a little bit too so I think that kind of mixes great.”

Lower Decks is part of the greater Star Trek Universe and the duo appreciate being part of the legacy. Wells reflected on her contributions.

I personally have always felt like an alien. I’m so excited any time I get cast into something where I really relate to it, that’s a win. But to be in this intergalactic universe of all these different people coming together and what the show actually stands for. The idea of creating peace on a universal level and the diplomacy of that and how we can all work together. I really like being part of something that speaks to that and connects with so many people who also feel that way.

…It’s really cool to see your name in the credits of something that is so iconic and is so in the zeitgeist, is so recognizable and you realize, oh my gosh, I’m a part of this institution. And whatever part you play in that, there is something you really can’t take that away and that is now part of your legacy as a human or alien.

Cordero had the same enthusiasm. “As a kid, there would be nothing more that I want to be, was to be part robot. Are you kidding me? Then to be that within the world of Star Trek is just amazing. To kind of fit into the world representing Asian Americans in anything, and the way he’s drawn and how cool he is, this is great. The fact that I get to be part of it in those two ways, just as a fan of Star Trek, to play and represent cool Asian cyborgs.”

There are other perks being involved in such a franchise such as receiving your own action figure. Both actors are anticipating collecting their Star Trek: Lower Decks versions. Cordero said, “I’m so excited about the action figure thing…I think the implant is going to be so cool. I hope it lights up. I hope there’s a button on the back so that you can see it light up. If that’s the case, I’d be stoked.”

Wells discussed what she wanted for her collectible. “I just hope Tendi is versatile. You can make her dance and stuff. I hope it’s not really stiff, but I hope she has a lot of articulation.” 

We’ll have to wait until 2022 for those action figures from Playmates but we can at least catch the new season of Star Trek: Lower Decks this Thursday, August 12, on Paramount+

star trek: lower decks poster
Photo: PARAMOUNT+

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