I’m sure I don’t need to remind many of you of the first “red shirt” death in the new JJverse, which premiered in 2009 (seems such a short time ago), but nonetheless Lt. Olsen’s demise is important to me, simply because his red shirt death has quite the untold story to it. Here’s his death (along with a few other TOS red shirts):
Now, I remember seeing this in theaters (twice!) and it brought quite a smile to my face. I mean, come on, a classic red shirt death like that cannot be played enough times over and over. But, like everything with the new JJverse trek, I had to think on it a bit afterwards. Mainly, the question that kept popping in my mind was “Why was Olsen such a thrillseeker?”
The new AOS intrigued me on a number of fronts, from the political dynamics of the universe, to the social ramifications, to the demise of Vulcan, the new takes on the species, and of course of canon was turned upside down, shook about like a bottle of soda, and open to spray stuff everywhere. The possibilities were quite endless.
But Olsen’s death particularly intrigued me. Not only the motivations behind his death but also why he was named Olsen. I came up with a reason for the second question pretty quickly; his last name is Olsen so obviously he has a twin, right? Right?
Well, it made sense to me. For those of you unfamiliar, the Olsen twins were a twin set of identical girls that were quite famous worldwide thanks to their role on the show “Full House”, which was huge in the late 80s and early 90s, the time when I was just a kid. Those two were EVERYWHERE during that time period, so that’s why his last name triggered that particular thought in me.
And you know what? It made sense in a weird way. I figured if Lt. Olsen had a twin, then the Lt. Olsen we saw bite the dust must have been the thrillseeker of the two. The other had to be the cautious one in my mind. And so, Lt. Olsen had a twin; this idea led directly to the development of my AOS series, Star Trek Farragut: Borders of Fear (which sadly remains unfinished) and the idea of a rival/mirror for the AOS Kirk.
You see, if Olsen had a twin, then why couldn’t Kirk and his crew have a sort of twin as well? Not exact copies mind you but sort of half mirrors? I decided to “make it so” and figured Kirk’s rival/mirror would be none other than Kirk’s TOS mentor/idol Captain Garrovick. Except here he was a mirror of Kirk in some ways, and so was his crew. It was a bit of a reach, admittedly, but I quite fell in love with the idea and had a field day with it. Lt. Olsen’s death was indirectly or directly responsible for helping spawn the idea.
I had plans to include Lt. Olsen’s twin, Owen Olsen, as a science officer aboard Garrovick’s ship, but I never progressed far enough into the story to really get that far. Rather than be like his brother and die a senseless death, Owen Olsen was actually going to play a hand in saving the day, without dying of course. I was quite taken with the idea of giving him his own spinoff series if he was received decently enough but again I never got far enough into the story itself to even write it.
However, I did do a small, small bit of background work on him and Owen was a nice guy. He was shy as hell though; whereas his brother Oz (yes, I know, a bit cliche to have them named Oz and Owen when their last names started with O) was the adrenaline junky, thrillseeker, excitable guy, Owen was very much introverted. He took joy in reading a good book on biology (his field of study) and wasn’t much for the night life. Owen liked the silence of an empty room, and enjoyed his own company more than others. He wasn’t good at social stuff; quite the opposite actually. Whereas his brother was, more or less, a party animal Owen was more like a party plush toy; cute looking, nice to squeeze, but obviously not fit for life in the jungle.
Owen went into the sciences simply for the fact that solitude was often called upon there. One scientist could be left alone for quite a while; Oz joined engineering for huge amount of people it took to run it and of course the ever present chance of death (warp core breaches anyone?). The two were quite a dichotomy, probably too extreme of one, but as seeing how Oz died, I didn’t think it was too bad a stretch.
Owen could have been an interesting character to write. At the very least, he lives on in some way. One day he may get his due as a character but today, he gets his eulogy.
Though Owen Olsen didn’t really live in any sense of the word he did help play a role in creating my AOS series. Furthermore, without the red shirt death of Lt. Olsen, the ideas spawned off his death would have likely not come to fruition. The Lt. Olsen twins will likely be regulated to a footnote in my creative history but today, they are the heroes. Cheers to both of you gentlemen, perhaps one day I’ll get back to the AOS universe.
Until then, the best I can do for you two is to give you your due here, small pittance as that is. Never fear though…only one of you is technically dead (sorry Oz). At least you died in classic fashion though.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of The Lt. Olsen Twins.