‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’: Jess Bush on Chapel & Spock’s Complicated Dynamic and the Crew’s Loss

Jess Bush as Chapel in Star Trek Strange New Worlds
Spoiler Alert
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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 Episode 9 “All Those Who Wander.”]

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds delivered a heartbreaking penultimate episode for its first season, one that saw the Enterprise crew face a deadly alien threat (the Gorn) and lose several of their own.

“All Those Who Wander” ended with the crew holding a memorial service for those they lost, including Chief Engineer Hemmer (Bruce Horak), which ended up being too much for Spock (Ethan Peck), as he struggled to control his rage and pain. That makes him human, Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush) told him, and after their hug, it certainly looked like they could kiss (again, after doing so to trick Jesse James Keitel’s Angel two episodes earlier).

Here, Bush discusses the latest episode, Chapel and Spock’s complicated dynamic, and what’s ahead for her in Season 2.

This episode was really, really good and heartbreaking and also had this mini horror movie vibe to it. Talk about reading that script.

Jess Bush: It was a long time ago now. I can’t really remember reading it, but it was an absolute blast of film. I find personally letting myself go into terror is really electrifying and actually so much fun when you are doing it. It was one of my favorite scripts of the season, for sure.

We see Chapel off the Enterprise, running from the danger, getting in these dangerous situations. It’s such a different role for her. How was it to play Chapel in that?

I loved it. I loved it so much. I love what the writers have started to give me. I could kind of see that happening slowly throughout the season, Chapel being kind of pushed more and more in that direction. It’s so much fun. I think that that’s one thing that’s happened throughout the season is Chapel’s been called on to do things that were really outside of her job description a few times and it’s cool. It’s forced her to grow into herself a little bit, to find this very capable, brave kind of fighter element to her. I loved it. It was an absolute blast.

Jess Bush as Nurse Chapel, Ethan Peck as Spock, Dan Jeannotte as Samuel Kirk, and Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura in Star Trek Strange New Worlds

Marni Grossman/Paramount+

And she steps up every time she’s called on to do that, which is so much fun to see.

Absolutely.

The crew suffers a major loss with Hemmer’s death. How was it to film those scenes, of his sacrifice and then the memorial?

Oh, so sad. Just so sad. I remember watching that scene back when we lose Hemmer and it was so heartbreaking, the way that they put it together is so heartbreaking. Also we love Bruce and so finding out that he’s not gonna be around anymore was like, in real life, oh no, that really sucks. The memorial scene was actually a really beautiful day. I think the days where we’re all together — because that’s not something that happens very often when we’re all on set together at the same time — naturally are really lovely and unusual and just Melissa [Navia] and Celia [Rose Gooding]’s performance on that day were just really touching. The director had some beautiful, old timey music playing in between takes and it was a real poignant day.

The Cast in Star Trek Strange New Worlds

Marni Grossman/Paramount+

How is it for Chapel to handle that loss? As a nurse, she’s used to saving people.

Absolutely. I think that was really hard for her to accept that, to accept a fate in that way. But also that’s part of being a nurse. You have to learn to care 100 percent about every patient that you have, but also to not take the loss personally or as your fault. I think that’s one of the most difficult parts of being a nurse. So yeah, I think that she feels every loss that she has to experience, but it never gets easier.

And especially because on the Enterprise, these are the people she’s with every day and then they’re the ones put in dangerous situations.

Yeah, so it’s really hard not to see it in a personal way.

Then there’s the ever-complicated Chapel and Spock dynamic. First, let’s go back to that kiss in Episode 7. How has that changed things for her, despite what she said in their conversation after?

Yeah, look, that kiss definitely complicated things. It’s put them in a bit of a gray area. I think up until that point, Chapel thought that she had her feelings under control and that she could easily keep it in a safe and clear box. That conversation after, at the end of Episode 7, was her setting a really clear boundary, being like, “I’m not gonna do this to your fiancée. I would never do that to another woman. I would never do that to myself. And neither will you.” It was very much like, “We’re not gonna do this. This is not OK.” So I think it leaves us in quite a complicated place, and especially at the end of Episode 9, it’s kind of visible that it’s undeniable, the connection, and so, yeah, it’s just gotten really messy, I guess. [Laughs]

Jess Bush as Nurse Chapel and Ethan Peck as Spock in Star Trek Strange New Worlds

Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Speaking of the end of Episode 9, the two have a couple conversations about emotions. And with that last one, there are quite a few layers to it and it’s not a long scene — Spock’s emotion, them losing Hemmer, that moment at the end after the hug…

It was a great scene. I really enjoyed shooting that. It’s very complex, it’s layered, there’s a lot that goes on that’s unsaid. I think that no matter where she stands with Spock, Chapel really loves him as a friend. They get each other. There’s something about Spock — his very Vulcan nature, being very candid and earnest feels really safe for her and has allowed her to kind of open up in a special type of way, even just within herself. And on the other hand, Spock coming to terms with his human qualities, Chapel’s been a real great support for that. And so there’s this really special bond between them and she can see his struggles and she understands it. So I think that moment is a moment of just real love for him, not necessarily romantic, but just like, “I just want you to see how great you are and how OK you’re gonna be and I hate that you’re in pain.”

What’s going on with Spock is kind of opposite what she was saying about keeping things casual — there could never be something casual between Chapel and Spock.

No, I think that’s really what’s throwing her off-kilter, that she can’t keep it in the zone that she wants to. I think that Chapel has a big, vulnerable heart and she has gotten quite skilled at protecting it and keeping things casual is a tool to do that. That’s been her MO for a long time: No one can actually touch me. I’ve got this under control. I’m doing it the way that I want. And I can cut and run when I want to so I don’t get hurt, which is a way that a lot of people function. What’s happening with Spock is really pushing her outside of her comfort zone.

Bruce Horak on That Heartbreaking 'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds'See Also

Bruce Horak on That Heartbreaking 'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds'

The star also shares his excitement over a key moment in 'All Those Who Wander' and more.

What can you share about Chapel in Season 2?

I am so jazzed about Chapel’s backstory, which is gonna be explored in Season 2, and it’s quite unexpected. There’s quite a bit to Chapel that I think is, again, unexpected, to do with present day and in her past that I’m really excited about.

Does that mean we’re getting flashbacks?

Maybe. [Laughs] Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know. [Laughs]

Is there anything else you can tease about Season 2?

Season 1 was amazing. Season 2 is just another level. It’s so good. The writing is so good. I think they’ve just stepped it up on every level. There’s some really surprising storylines, so much fun. The sets are incredible again.

Will we see more of Chapel off the Enterprise, maybe using something from her experience in this episode?

Yeah, Chapel goes off base a lot in Season 2. I would say she’s off base more than she’s on base.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Season 1 Finale, Thursday, July 7, Paramount+