Number One (Star Trek)
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Number One at the Helm
|Position||USS Enterprise executive officer|
Number One, in "The Cage", the original pilot episode of the science fiction television series Star Trek, was the unnamed intellectual, problem-solving second-in-command serving under Captain Christopher Pike. She performs the same role for Pike "as Spock later does for Kirk". Although not shown on-screen, it is implied that Number One briefly takes command of the Enterprise when Captain Pike and his landing party first beam down to Talos IV. She later beams down to the planet several times herself.
Number One is a traditional term in the Royal Navy for the "First Lieutenant" or first officer on board ship, second-in-command to the captain; this staff position is sometimes known in other navies as the "exec", "Executive Officer", or "XO".
During "The Cage", Number One proves to her alien captors that humans would rather die than be slaves.
The character was played by Majel Barrett, who went on to play Nurse Christine Chapel in the original Star Trek and Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as the computer's voice. The character appears only in the unaired pilot and in the footage used in "The Menagerie".
According to Gene Roddenberry and Stephen Whitfield, the prominence of a woman among the crew of a starship was one of the reasons the original Star Trek pilot was rejected by NBC, who, in addition to calling the pilot "too cerebral", felt the alien Spock and a female senior officer would be rejected by audiences, although Roddenberry also related the tale of how women of the era had difficulty accepting her as well. However, in his book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, producer Herbert Solow suggested the network was fine with the character, but was infuriated when a relatively unknown actress was cast simply because she was having an affair with Roddenberry.
Because of NBC's rare order of a second pilot, Roddenberry compromised by eliminating Number One, but aspects of her character — specifically, her cool demeanor and logical nature — were merged into Spock (who does appear in "The Cage") during the regular run of the series.
Number One's real name was never revealed in either "The Cage" or "The Menagerie" - to date, her only official on-screen appearances, and debate has raged in fandom for years as to whether she is even human. Since the very first Star Trek episode, some have interpreted her title as being a proper name. One Star Trek novel, Vulcan's Glory, mentions her being the top intellect of her generation, hence her name, and that she was from the planet Ilyria.
"Number One" is a common term applied to the Executive Officer of a ship, particularly in the Royal Navy. (In the United States Navy the Executive Officer is typically referred to as "X-O".) In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Jean-Luc Picard frequently uses the title "Number One" to address his first officer, William Riker. Although Captain James T. Kirk never referred on-screen to his executive officer Mr. Spock as "Number One", this is not really an anomaly; the British usage dates from a time when the "First Lieutenant" or number one on board ship was so ranked by seniority of his commission, and later by date of appointment by the captain.
Author Peter David, in his long-running Star Trek: New Frontier series of novels, has hinted that the mother of Robin Lefler, Morgan Primus (an immortal and a regular character in the series), was Number One and resembles other characters played by Majel Barrett. This is loosely supported by Jerry Oltion's Captain's Table Book 6: Where Sea Meets Sky, where the author refers to Number One as Commander Lefler in the first chapter, although this wouldn't make any sense chronologically based on the history of Morgan Primus.
In the Star Trek: Early Voyages comic book series she is called Lieutenant Commander Robbins. A character stating her first name is interrupted, in one issue, and we know only it starts with "Eu-".
In keeping with the ongoing mystery regarding her name, the comic never refers to the character by any name, and often uses tricks of dialogue to avoid identifying her beyond her rank.
In Star Trek: Early Voyages
Although no Star Trek comic books are considered canon, the series Early Voyages fleshed out the characters and story from "The Cage", including Number One. In this series, she is depicted much as she is in "The Cage", and often finds herself taking command in the captain's absence. Her surname is given as Robbins. Pike is interrupted when saying her first name, which starts with "Eure--".
Close to the end of the series, she was offered a promotion to the rank of captain and a ship of her own. She turned it down, opting to stay aboard the Enterprise.
Soon afterwards, Robert April, the former captain of the Enterprise, came aboard to supervise for a certain mission. During the mission, April gave reckless orders which led to Number One nearly (and possibly) being killed, and Pike and Kaaj unaccounted for. The story was never resolved.
Morgan Primus (Star Trek: New Frontier)
Much like the comic books, all novels based on Star Trek are not considered canon. Peter David's original book series, Star Trek: New Frontier, includes a character (mentioned above) who is strongly hinted to be Number One. Her name is Morgan Primus, and she is the mother of Robin Lefler, a regular character in the series. New Frontier greatly fleshes out the character, assuming that she is, in fact, Number One.
Morgan Primus (also known as Morgan Lefler) is an immortal. She frequently changed her name throughout her life, taking new identities each time so that no one would realize her immortality.
She left her husband and daughter, Robin, and faked her death. She then changed her last name to Primus. Years later, the Excalibur finds her in a prison on a planet in sector 221-G (the setting for the series).
Upon hearing of the impending arrival of a Starfleet ship, she expresses hope that it isn't the Enterprise, which she still mistakenly believed her daughter was serving on. The Excalibur picks her up and she begins living with her daughter again aboard the ship.
Later, she became a bridge officer on the Excalibur. However, during a battle, she was (seemingly) killed, despite her immortality. However, she survived as her consciousness was transferred into the ship's computer. She chose not to return to a human body, instead replacing the computer.
References are made to the fact that she sounds just like the normal computer voice, even before entering the computer. This is because the voice of the ship's computer, in all live-action Star Trek shows, were provided by Majel Barrett, the same actress who portrayed Number One. (David's earlier novel The Rift claims that the computer voice was derived from Number One's voice).
Similarly, in the New Frontier novel Double or Nothing, William Riker is somewhat taken aback by her, saying she reminds him of a woman he knows (presumably Lwaxana Troi, also played by Barrett). Likewise, when the aged Montgomery Scott meets her in Excalibur Book 2: Renaissance, he thinks she is "Christine" (Chapel).
In the novel Blind Man's Bluff, the Primus entity attacks New Thallon, the site of a former assassination attempt on her daughter. Thousands of innocents are killed. Primus is later seemingly destroyed, leaving a four percent chance of her survival.
- Daniel Bernardi (1998). Star Trek and History: Race-Ing Toward a White Future. Rutgers University Press.
- David, Peter (2011). Blind Man's BLuff. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4516-1169-4.