If you haven’t seen this week’s episode of “Star Trek: Picard,” “Imposters,” stop watching and watch that episode. After that check out Sean Ferrick’s reaction to that episode. And then come back here to talk about the “fridging” of a female character to motivate a male character.
This week’s episode of “Star Trek: Picard” re-introduces a character we haven’t see in 30 years. Ro Laren played by Michelle Forbes.
The last time we saw Ro was in season seven of “Star Trek: The Next Generations.” Captain Picard sent her to infiltrate the Marquis for rebelling against the Federation. She defected from Starfleet to join the Marquis—and betrayed Picard’s trust in her.
In the Star Trek novels, Ro left the Marquis, surrendered to Starfleet for court martial, and sent to a penal colony. She eventually becomes the commander of Deep Space Nine. A role that the TV writers wrote for her in “Deep Space Nine.” But Michelle Forbes wouldn’t commit to multi-year contract.
Ro returns to “Picard” as a commander in Starfleet Intelligence. Recruited out of the penal colony for her expertise with terrorist groups. The recriminations between her and Picard flies fast and furious. Their mutual pain from the last 30 years proved to each other that they weren’t Changelings.
Ro reveals to Picard that Changelings have compromised the highest levels of Starfleet. She hands him her Bajoran earring that is a data chip with all her investigation files. And then she gets killed in a shuttle explosion.
Her death convinces a skeptical Captain Shaw to order the Titan to flee from Starfleet.
Sean Ferrick for Trek Culture has done a fantastic job in recapping each episode of “Star Trek: Picard.” He pointed out that Ro got “fridged” in this week’s episode. Fridging never occurred to me while watching the episode.
After watching the episode a few more times, it becomes obvious that Ro got fridged.
If you’re not familiar with “fridging,” it’s a comic book trope. The death of a female character motivates the male character to do something heroic. Green Lantern being the first example when he finds his murdered girlfriend in the fridge.
Female characters don’t always have to die to get fridged in the storyline. They can be “rapped, depowered, crippled, turned evil, maimed, tortured, contracted a disease or had other life-derailing tragedies[.]” Gail Simone compiled a long list of fridged female characters.
A recent example would be the 90th anniversary of Nancy Drew in March 2020. A new comic book series begins with Nancy Drew being dead on page one. The Hardy Boys take it upon themselves to solve her murder. Only to discover that she was alive and well, and pissed off that they were stepping in on her investigation.
Anthony Del Col, the writer, thought it would be a neat idea to have the Hardy Boys investigate Nancy Drew’s death. He was unaware of fridging as a trope and wasn’t prepared for the backlash. That’s not how you celebrate a 90-year-old character.
Or a 30-year-old Star Trek character like Ro.
I agree with Sean that it was a mistake to bring Ro back and then kill off her for one episode. Her character deserved a richer storyline. For what we got in this episode, the resolution between Ro and Picard was perfect.