Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Mystery of Uhura's Armband

Calling all fellow Trekkies! I have a run across a puzzlement. The other day I was watching “City on the Edge of Forever,” which is certainly the best episode in the canon. In the first scene in which the Enterprise is passing through some bumpy temporal something-or-others we see Lt. Uhura in her usual place on the bridge, doing her usual job, wearing her usual uniform, but with an odd variation. Around her left forearm she is wearing a black armband. When she joins the landing party in the next scene she is not wearing it. It is never mentioned or seen again. What is it? Why is it there? I've looked around for an answer and found nothing. Memory Alpha ignores it. I've run into discussion and speculation but no answers.

I have a theory that is far more likely to be wrong than right, but I rather like it. The episode was shot in early February of 1967. On January 27, just a few days before, the crew of Apollo 1, Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White, were killed when a fire broke out in their command module while testing the equipment. I speculate that Nichelle Nichols was wearing a visible sign of mourning. On the other hand the reason may be perfectly mundane.

So I ask you, oh wise and knowledgeable hive mind of the internet, what do you know? Can you finally solve the mystery of Uhura's armband?

1 comment:

MichaelCoffey said...

I believe it was an attempt to give Uhura a place to store and carry her earpiece when she was not wearing it; along the lines of a smaller version of the black away mission belts worn to hold phasers and communicators. I further suspect that it's continued use was vetoed after the powers that be saw it on the screen and decided that it would confuse the viewers. I have read where others have also put forward the notion of it being an arm band signifying mourning, but those are worn higher, and something like that would just not be allowed th break the fourth wall. I would love to ask Nichelle about it!