Old Federation Allies: Star Trek's Aenar And The Andorians Explained

Episode 2 of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" properly introduced the Enterprise's chief engineer, Hemmer (Bruce Horak). Hemmer is a member of a familiar "Star Trek" species, but not quite the one you may think. Specifically, he's an Aenar (pronounced i-nar), a subspecies of the Andorians. The pale white Aenar resemble their blue-skinned cousins, but there are some differences that go more than skin-deep. The Aenar are blind and have telepathic abilities which Andorians lack.

While not as famous as the Vulcans or Klingons, the Andorians go back to "Star Trek: The Original Series." The Aenar are a more recent introduction to the franchise, debuting in 2004 during an eponymous episode of "Star Trek: Enterprise." Indeed, Hemmer is the first Aenar main character in a "Trek" series. 

Let's look back at the history of these two closely related alien races.

Introducing the Andorians

The Andorians debuted in the second season of "Star Trek," specifically "Journey to Babel." In this episode, the Enterprise is assigned to transport numerous diplomatic delegations to the titular planet; among the representatives are Andorians. The villain of the episode is an Orion spy posing as an Andorian named Thelev (William O'Connell).

Written by D.C. Fontana, "Journey to Babel" is an important episode for the "Trek" canon. For one, it fleshes out Spock's backstory and marks the first appearance of his parents, Vulcan Ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard) and Amanda Grayson (Jane Wyatt). On a more macro-scale, the episode makes the world of "Trek" feel much fuller by emphasizing that the Federation is more than just Humans and Vulcans.

Though very little of Andorian culture was revealed, Fontana's script described them as a "warrior breed," and ambassador Shras (Reggie Nalder) notes his people are "violent." Indeed, later works would depict the Andorians as militaristic, especially compared to their Federation comrades.

Of all the alien species introduced in the original "Trek," the Andorians had the most distinctive appearance. The work of make-up artist Fred Phillips, they were blue-skinned, white-haired, and with a pair of antennae atop their heads. Their costumes were vaguely medieval, with chain-mail beneath green/brown vestments. The Andorians certainly looked more like aliens than the Vulcans/Romulans or "TOS"-era Klingons. However, this was a double-edged sword. Make-up expenses kept the Andorians from being a major presence in the series; they only appeared in four episodes, and none besides "Babel" was more than a cameo. The same held true for the "Star Trek" films, where Andorian characters were little more than crowd filler in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and "The Voyage Home."

Absent from the Next Generation

The Andorians were an even more meager presence in the 24th-century era "Trek" shows, specifically "Next Generation," "Deep Space Nine," and "Voyager." Indeed, no Andorians appear in the latter two shows. The closest they came on "Next Generation" was a background appearance in "Captain's Holiday" and Data creating a holographic model of an Andorian in "The Offspring." The "TNG" Andorians looked more like the Great Gazoo, with green skin, a bulbous head, and longer antennae. With such a lacking design, perhaps it was for the best they didn't show up more.

A non-presence in the TV series, the expanded universe had to pick up the slack in fleshing out the Andorians. The "Deep Space Nine" novels by S.D. Perry on an offhand comment in "Data's Day" that Andorian marriages have four participants. Perry interpreted the species as not simply polyamorous but actually having four sexes: the roughly masculine chan and thaan and the approximately feminine zhen and shen. Take this with a grain of salt, though; "Trek" novels are treated as secondary canon and filmed works have depicted Andorians as a binary-sex race.

IDW's "Alien Spotlight" comic meta-series included an Andorian issue, published in 2007. Written by Paul D. Storrie with art by Leonard O'Grady, the issue centers on a 24th century Andorian named Sharad. A member of Starfleet Intelligence, Sharad finds that there is discontent among his people, some of whom prefer the "Old Ways" when Andorians were the types of conquerors who Starfleet often fights against. Sadly, this is one of the only "Trek" works that explore Andorians' place in the Federation.

Andorian resurgence on Enterprise

The first "Star Trek" series to explore the Andorians in any depth was "Enterprise." Producer Brannon Braga's goal was to, "take the goofiest aliens from 'The Original Series' and make them a real culture that's cool and believable."

Advances in make-up no doubt helped facilitate their increased presence; their antennae now protruded from their foreheads rather than from the top of their heads, where the make-up splotches could be concealed with hair. The "Enterprise" Andorian design was a big improvement on the "TNG" look, harkening closer to how they looked in the original series. "Enterprise" also boasted the first recurring Andorian character, Commander Shran (Jeffrey Combs), and the first appearance of Andorian ships.

"Enterprise" is a prequel, set in the mid-22nd century about 10 years before the Federation's founding. In a call back to "Journey to Babel," the Andorians were revealed as one of the four founding members of the Federation, alongside Humanity, Vulcans, and Tellarites. The series used the Andorians as foils for the Vulcans; warriors driven by passion and romanticism instead of logical scientists.

Debuting in "The Andorian Incident," Shran and his compatriots are initially antagonists; they hold the Vulcan monastery of P'Jem hostage, believing the Vulcans are using it as cover for a listening post. Things become greyer when it turns out their suspicions were right. For the rest of the series, the Andorians waffle between ally and antagonist to humanity but ultimately settle on the former side, reflected in the friendship between Shran and Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula). "Enterprise" Season 4 is also when we finally meet the Aenar.

The Aenar

"The Aenar" is the final chapter of a three-part "Enterprise" episode. The previous chapters centered around a Romulan drone ship equipped with a holographic projector to mimic other ships' appearance. The Romulans' goals were to foment unrest; Shran's ship is destroyed by the drone posing as a Tellarite ship.

In part 2, "United," the drone ship's pilot was revealed to be an Aenar. His people are properly introduced when Archer and Shran visit Andoria to get answers. Incidentally, this was the first onscreen depiction of the Andoria, revealed as a cold, harsh world where the inhabitants dwell underground.

The Aenar are a pacifistic and isolationist people; the Romulans' pilot Gareb (Scott Allen Rinker) was abducted so his captors could exploit his telepathic abilities. Gareb's sister Jhamel (Alexandra Lydon) is able to communicate with her brother and sabotage the Romulans' plans.

"Enterprise" ended prematurely after Season 4. Considering it was building towards the Earth-Romulan War and the founding of the Federation from the ashes of conflict, it's a certainty the Andorians would've continued to be a major presence in the series. Whether the same is true for the Aenar remains unclear.

Andorians and Aenar in modern Star Trek

The Andorians have made sporadic appearances throughout "Star Trek: Discovery." The make-up hews close to the "Enterprise" iteration but with more accentuated facial features; a white version of this make-up was used to bring Hemmer to life. Animated comedy series "Star Trek: Lower Decks," (where make-up costs are a non-issue) also features a recurring Andorian character, Jennifer Sh'reyan (Lauren Lapkus).

"Strange New Worlds" marks the first appearance of the Aenar since their debut. Evidently, in the century since, at least some of them have abandoned their forebears' isolationism. Speaking to Nerdist, Horak described his character as:

"Crunchy outside and gooey on the inside. He is a bit crunchy on the outside. I think that comes from just his incredible intelligence and his incredible abilities. The Aenar species, at least as far as my research goes, is—they're a dying species. I think that kind of pressure might, or that kind of loneliness or aloneness, might give someone a bit of a crunchy exterior."

With Hemmer as part of the main cast, it's possible that "Strange New Worlds" will be the lynchpin series for the Aenar that "Enterprise" was for their Andorians cousins.