Friday night I brought my eight year old daughter to see Star Trek Into Darkness. It wasn’t the first time we’d seen it and while we were walking to the theater she went over the things she was excited to see including “her, in her cool outfit!” I thought she was talking about Uhura’s red wet suit but she meant the smuggler disguise leathers. When Uhura said “You brought me to speak Klingon. Let me speak Klingon.” and then exited the ship and walked out to meet the Klingons alone my daughter leaned over and asked with awe “What would they have done if they didn’t have Uhura?” I agreed and she grinned and turned back to watch her hero speak Klingon.
I thought of all the posts I’ve seen debating that scene and what it says about Uhura – that she fails, that she needs to be saved by a man, that she “doesn’t get to do anything empowering”. But my daughter watched that scene and came away thinking they would all be dead and the movie would be over if Uhura had not been there. Uhura in her cool outfit speaking Klingon was the second most powerful thing she saw in and remembered from the movie. The only thing more powerful than Uhura in her cool outfit speaking Klingon was a volcano.