Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for the Star Trek franchise – including Short Treks, Star Trek: Discovery, and the trailers for Star Trek: Picard.
If you’re in the United States, you’ll be able to watch Star Trek: Picard tomorrow, you lucky thing! The rest of us have to wait an extra 24 hours… hopefully I can manage! This is the final part of my series of articles leading up to the release of the new show, and after this I expect my next piece – on the 24th or 25th – will be a review/breakdown of the first episode, which we now know is titled Remembrance.
Before we jump in and look at a few other factions from Star Trek, let’s briefly recap the articles here on the site in case you’ve missed any.
Firstly, I wrote a piece back in December explaining why I’m so excited for Star Trek: Picard. This was more of a personal look at my feelings regarding the upcoming series. The next piece I wrote was a review of Children of Mars – the Short Treks episode which was a prequel or prologue to the new show. Next, I wrote two articles which each highlighted ten episodes and/or films from Star Trek’s extensive back catalogue which may or may not be useful preparation for Star Trek: Picard. The first article contained episodes I think will surely have some relevance, and the second article looked at some episodes which are less likely to matter – but still might! After that, Picard had its red carpet premieres in Hollywood and London, so I wrote a short piece about that.
Finally, I began this series, looking at some of the factions we will encounter in Star Trek: Picard and giving some background information. First I looked at the Romulans, then the Borg, and finally the Federation.
This time – as a bonus and the final part of the series – we’re going to look at an assortment of other factions which seem less likely to be relevant to Picard. However, they may be mentioned in passing, may have been deliberately kept out of marketing material, or are just factions we know less about.
Captain Picard has some history with the Bajorans, who were first introduced in The Next Generation. He took Ensign – later Lieutenant – Ro under his wing for a time, and was hurt by her ultimate defection to the Maquis. Of course most of what we know about Bajor and its people comes from Deep Space Nine, which was set in the Bajoran system.
Very briefly, the Bajorans were a much older race than humanity, and flourished more than 10,000 years prior to the events of Star Trek. In their star system is the only known stable wormhole – connecting Bajor to the Gamma Quadrant. The Prophets – a noncorporeal species with no concept of linear time – live in the wormhole and contacted the Bajorans throughout their history.
In the late 23rd or early 24th Century, Bajor was violently conquered by their neighbours, the Cardassians. The Cardassian occupation stripped the Bajorans of significant quantities of resources, and many Bajorans were enslaved. A resistance movement sprang up, and for a variety of reasons the Cardassians withdrew from the Bajoran system in the mid-late 24th Century.
The new Bajoran government asked the Federation for help putting their planet and people back together, and a former Cardassian space station was occupied by the Federation and christened Deep Space Nine. The crew of DS9 discovered the wormhole shortly thereafter.
Bajor experienced a renaissance as a result of being the gateway to the Gamma Quadrant, and for a time many ships were passing through their system. However, their old enemies the Cardassians soon allied with the Dominion – an aggressive faction from the Gamma Quadrant – and when war broke out, Bajor – while officially neutral – was again occupied by the Cardassian-Dominion alliance until the Federation were able to drive them out.
Prior to the Dominion War, Bajor was a candidate for Federation membership. At one time they were on the cusp of being accepted, and an official ceremony was even planned to mark Bajor’s admission into the Federation. However, as of the finale of Deep Space Nine, Bajor had not yet officially become a Federation member – though it’s heavily suggested that it was still their goal.
In Star Trek: Picard, look out for signs that Bajor is a full Federation member, and that they have begun to heal after such a prolonged period of conflict. Also listen out for any mention of Deep Space Nine, as the station is located in the Bajoran system.
The Cardassians, as mentioned above, occupied Bajor for a long period from the late 23rd Century through to the mid-late 24th Century. They were, as of the mid-24th Century, a regional power comparable in strength to other factions in the Alpha Quadrant – including the Klingons, Romulans, and even the Federation.
In wars and border conflicts with all of the aforementioned factions, the Cardassians held their own and even forced the Federation to concede settled planets as part of a peace treaty. These concessions, along with continued Cardassian aggression toward Federation border worlds, would ultimately lead to the Maquis attempting to secede from the Federation.
The Cardassian Union was, in some respects, similar to the Romulan Star Empire in that it was heavily militarised, and with a very powerful intelligence agency that also operated as a secret police. The Obsidian Order, as it was known, was responsible for keeping order in the Cardassian territory, and dominated the Cardassian state.
In the 2370s, the Cardassian Union entered a period of decline, withdrawing from Bajor and fighting a losing war against the Klingons. As a result, Gul Dukat was able to seize power and allied Cardassia with the Dominion – formally becoming a member of the Dominion under their rule. This would ultimately lead to the outbreak of the Dominion War, as a reinvigorated Cardassia sought to reconquer all of its old territory – including Bajor.
At the end of the war, fed up with an increasingly authoritarian Dominion occupation and too many concessions made to the Breen, a mass revolt began among Cardassian troops and later even Cardassian civilians. The Dominion responded by attempting mass genocide of the Cardassians, devastating Cardassia Prime in the process. Fortunately, the end of the war saved the Cardassians from complete extermination – though they were left in a thoroughly ruined state.
Again, be on the lookout for mentions of Deep Space Nine – as this station was close to Cardassian space. We may hear about the reconstruction of Cardassia after the war, and what state the Cardassian Union is in. It’s also possible that – due to the extent of the devastation inflicted – Cardassia has become a Federation protectorate.
The Delta Quadrant factions
The crew of the USS Voyager encountered dozens of species during their journey through the Delta Quadrant. From Ocampans and Talaxians to Kazon, Vidiians, Brunali, and Hirogen, each had their own territory and technology. Some Delta Quadrant races came into contact and conflict with the Borg, and if the Borg have resumed their expansion efforts in that region some of these species may be in jeopardy.
With Star Trek: Picard seemingly taking place firmly in the Alpha and/or Beta Quadrants, I’d be surprised to see any Delta Quadrant factions making an appearance. However, it’s possible that an individual from one of these races may be encountered, especially given that part of the plot, as hinted at in the trailers anyway, may involve dealing with ex-Borg. If the Borg had assimilated a Talaxian, for example, and that individual had been de-assimilated in the Alpha Quadrant, it’s possible we could see them. It’s also possible that new technology allows for travel between the Alpha and Delta Quadrants, but again I think this is unlikely.
The Dominion, as mentioned above, originated in the Gamma Quadrant and allied with the Cardassians and Breen to attempt to conquer large parts of the Alpha Quadrant. At least three distinct races make up the Dominion. Their leaders are shape-shifting beings called The Founders. They designed and bred two servant races: The Jem’Hadar, who served as the bulk of their forces during the Dominion War, and the Vorta, who serve more as diplomats and an officer corps.
I don’t expect the Dominion to feature in a significant way in Star Trek: Picard. They had, as of the end of Deep Space Nine, been forced to withdraw behind the Bajoran wormhole, and while they may be mentioned in passing, I would be surprised if they have a significant impact here.
Early appearances in The Next Generation attempted to set up the Ferengi as a major antagonist to replace the Klingons, who had been pacified, and the Romulans, who had isolated themselves. This never really worked from a storytelling perspective, however, and the Ferengi quickly shifted into the money-obsessed species we saw in Deep Space Nine.
The Ferengi, starting after The Next Generation’s first season, were a neutral power, more concerned with their own finances than galactic affairs. War could be profitable for them, but they also saw that a prolonged, devastating conflict (like the Dominion War) could be financially ruinous, and were cautious about becoming involved. They preferred to stay on the sidelines and trade.
Having been incredibly aggressive with their approach to capitalism for a long time, by the end of Deep Space Nine the Ferengi government was beginning to implement some reforms – this process may have continued under Rom, who was appointed the Ferengi Grand Nagus in 2375.
As an independent, neutral power, the Ferengi may prove useful to Picard and his crew if they need to operate outside of the jurisdiction of the Federation and other factions. However, aside from maybe the odd passing reference, I would be surprised to see much from them at least in Season 1.
A cold war between the Klingon Empire and the Federation had been building since the mid-22nd Century. The Klingons, upset by Federation exploration and expansion, ultimately ended up at war with the Federation in the mid-23rd Century – and the war proved devastating for a time.
However, after the crew of the USS Discovery were able to stop a plot by Starfleet which would have devastated the Klingon homeworld, the Klingon Great Houses came together and the Empire, under new leadership, sued for peace.
Relations would remain frosty for much of the rest of the 23rd Century, but the destruction of the Klingon moon Praxis led to a peace agreement with the Federation called the Khitomer Accords – a peace treaty which would remain in place (with one brief lapse) for the duration of the 24th Century.
The Khitomer Accords would ultimately evolve from a peace treaty into an alliance, and Captain Picard himself spent time on the Klingon homeworld and was trusted by Klingon Chancellor K’mpec to be a neutral party as the Klingons chose a new leader. Gowron, despite breaking the peace treaty for a time, ultimately became a firm ally of the Federation during the Dominion War, and for a time, the Federation and Klingons stood alone against the forces of the Dominion.
Worf was the first Klingon to serve in Starfleet, serving on both the Enterprise-D and on Deep Space Nine. Also in the 24th Century, the Federation and Klingons participated in an exchange programme where officers could spend time serving on each other’s starships.
With the Klingons having featured so prominently in Star Trek: Discovery, I’m sure there will be at least some reference to them in Picard. Keep an eye out for Worf – it’s possible he may make a cameo appearance or at least be mentioned, and the last time we saw him he was scheduled to become the Federation’s Ambassador to the Klingon homeworld. However, it’s possible that relations have deteriorated – we’ve seen in some episodes set in the future (like Endgame and All Good Things…) that the Klingons were once again enemies of the Federation.
The “Rogue Synths”
This faction was mentioned in the Short Treks episode Children of Mars. They were identified as being behind the attack on the Utopia Planitia shipyards on Mars, which set back Admiral Picard’s fleet as he attempted to aid the Romulans.
Who they are and where they came from is unclear, as this isn’t a faction we’ve met before.
Based on the designs of the ships they used, I made stab-in-the-dark guesses that they could be affiliated in some way with the Klingons or the Romulans, as I could see that design of ship being a natural evolution from the 23rd and 24th Century ships used by those factions. However, it’s likely that I’m way off base with that.
The word “synth” seems like it’s short for “synthetic”, and the term has been used in other science fiction works to describe robots, droids, and artificial or machine intelligences. In the trailers for Picard, we’ve seen glimpses of a number of Data-esque characters who appeared to be in stasis or shut down, so the rogue synths could be a race of androids or AIs – perhaps even androids created by the Federation themselves.
The attack on Mars seemed to be significant at the time – though it doesn’t appear to have set back the Federation in a major way. Who the rogue synths are, and whether they are still even an active faction during the new series, is something yet to be revealed.
The Suliban and Xindi
Two of the biggest antagonists in Star Trek: Enterprise, both the Suliban and Xindi were aided by time travellers to grow in power and strength. Following the NX-01 Enterprise’s intervention in the “temporal cold war”, the Suliban eventually became a somewhat-ally of Earth, even giving Captain Archer the information that showed it was the Xindi who were responsible for attacking Earth. What became of the Suliban Cabal after the 2150s is unclear, and as a new faction featured only in Enterprise, we haven’t seen them since.
The Xindi were a collection of five races: humanoids, arboreals, aquatics, reptilians, and insectoids, who all originated from one planet and achieved sentience together. Having been manipluated by extra-dimensional time-travelling beings known as the Sphere Builders, the Xindi attacked Earth with a weapon-probe that killed over 7 million people in the 2150s. The NX-01 Enterprise was dispatched to stop them before they could deploy an even larger weapon capable of destroying entire planets. Captain Archer and his crew were able to stop them, and in the process swayed some Xindi – primarily the humanoids and arboreals – to become friendly to Earth and her allies.
By the 26th Century, the Xindi had joined the Federation, though whether this took place before or after the events of Star Trek: Picard is unclear. If we see any Xindi officers serving in Starfleet, that would be a good indication that they’re at least close to becoming Federation members, though it’s possible we may not see any indication of the Xindi or the Suliban, especially given that Enterprise wasn’t as successful as the TNG-era series.
So that’s it.
I think we’ve recapped pretty much all of the major factions encountered in Star Trek up to this point, or at least all of the ones who have a chance of being connected to the plot of Star Trek: Picard.
I’m hopeful that Picard will surprise me, and that we’ll not only see some glimpses of returning factions, but also some brand new ones, as well as new alliances or groupings that change things up.
Star Trek: Picard has to walk a fine line between looking back at Star Trek’s successes and building something new for the future. I’ve said before that, as excited as I am to see returning characters like Riker and Seven of Nine, I want the series to give new characters like Chris Rio and Dahj a chance to shine too. Spending too much time looking back would stray too far into fan-service, and as Star Wars has been learning to its cost, that doesn’t always work. When it comes to factions and species, the same is true.
As fans, we absolutely want to see the Klingons and the Cardassians and the Xindi – but only if doing so moves the story forward. Picard has its own story to tell, and while I hope we’ll find out a great deal about the shape of the galaxy and its factions as that story unfolds, there should to be new things in there too. We’ve already seen one new potential faction – the “rogue synths”. What role they have to play isn’t clear, but some of you will find out tomorrow!
Star Trek: Picard is upon us, and as I said I’ll be taking a short break until I’ve seen the premiere, then I’ll be back with a review. Live Long and Prosper!
The Star Trek franchise – including Star Trek: Picard – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. Star Trek: Picard premieres on the 23rd of January in the United States on CBS All Access and in the United Kingdom and other countries/territories on the 24th of January on Amazon Prime Video. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.