Star Trek Day roundup!

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the Star Trek franchise, including the following upcoming series: Strange New Worlds Season 1, Picard Season 2, Lower Decks Season 2, Discovery Season 4, and Prodigy Season 1.

Yesterday was Star Trek Day! And in case you missed it, ViacomCBS held a live event that was streamed online and via Paramount+ showcasing and celebrating all things Star Trek! We’ll break down the big news in a moment, but first I wanted to give you my thoughts on the event as a whole.

This was the first big in-person event that many of the folks involved had been able to attend since 2019, and there was talk of the pandemic and its enforced disruption on the various shows that have been in production over the last couple of years. There was also a lot of positivity from presenters and interviewees not only about Star Trek – which was to be expected, naturally – but also about being back together and simply being able to hold a major event of this nature. The positivity of hosts Wil Wheaton and Mica Burton was infectious, and the event was much better for the role the duo played in hosting the panels and introducing guests.

Mica Burton and Wil Wheaton were great hosts.

That isn’t to say that Star Trek Day was entirely without problems, though. To be blunt, the event dragged on a bit too long (it ran to over three hours) and several of the panels and interviews were the worse for being conducted live instead of the pre-recorded, edited, and curated segments and panels we’ve had to get used to in the coronavirus era. Several of the guests seemed unprepared for what should’ve been obvious questions, and there were too many awkward silences and pauses while people gathered their thoughts and responded to the hosts. Such is the nature of live broadcasting – and it sounds rather misanthropic to criticise it!

During what I assume was an intermission on the main stage we were treated(!) to a separate pair of presenters on the red carpet reading out twitter messages and posts from the audience. This was perhaps the segment that dragged the most; one of the presenters even admitted to not being a regular Star Trek viewer (she hadn’t seen Discovery at all) so unfortunately this part of the show was less interesting as the pair were a little less knowledgeable about the franchise. If it had been made clear that this section of the broadcast was going to last as long as it did I might’ve taken a break as well!

This segment in the middle of the broadcast dragged on a bit.

Overall, though, despite running a bit too long and the ending feeling a little rushed (something we’ll talk about later), Star Trek Day was a success. It didn’t only look forward to upcoming projects like Strange New Worlds and Picard Season 2, but it looked back at every past Star Trek series, inviting members of the casts of those shows to talk about what made them – and the franchise – so great.

As a true celebration of all things Star Trek, the broadcast has to be considered a success. And although a pre-recorded event could’ve been edited and streamlined to cut to the more interesting parts and to give interviewees a chance to gather their thoughts, it was nice to see many of the folks we know and love from Star Trek back together and able to spend time in person with one another. Hosts Wil Wheaton and Mica Burton did a great job at making us as the audience feel included, as if we were there at Star Trek Day right along with them. For those few hours – even through awkward moments and segments that seemed to run a little too long – it felt like being a member of the Star Trek family. As someone with few friends, I appreciated that immensely. For those few hours last night – and yes, even though Star Trek Day didn’t start until 1:30am UK time I did stay up to watch it – I felt like I, too, was an honorary member of the Star Trek family, and that’s a feeling I would never have been able to get anywhere else.

Star Trek Day was a successful celebration of all things Trek!

Now then! Let’s talk about the various panels, trailers, and interviews. Over the coming days I’ll be taking a closer look at some of the announcements and trailers in more detail (as well as perhaps crafting a few of my patented and often-wrong theories), but for now I want to try to include an overview of everything that was included in Star Trek Day.

We’ll come to the biggest announcements and trailers at the end, but first I wanted to talk for a moment about the music. Star Trek Day had a live orchestra on its main stage, and we were treated to live renditions of Star Trek theme music past and present – as well as a medley that kicked off the event. I was listening to Star Trek Day on my headphones, and the music sounded beautiful. Composer Jeff Ruso (who composed the theme music to Discovery and Picard) picked up the conductor’s baton, and the medley he arranged was really an outstanding celebration of all things Star Trek.

Star Trek Day both began and ended with music, as Isa Briones (Star Trek: Picard’s Soji) sang her rendition of Irving Berlin’s 1926 song Blue Skies to close out the broadcast.

Isa Briones’ rendition of Blue Skies brought proceedings to a fitting end.

There were five “legacy moments” spread throughout Star Trek Day, and these celebrations of past Star Trek series were genuinely moving. Actors George Takei, LeVar Burton, Cirroc Lofton, Garrett Wang, and Anthony Montgomery spoke about their respective series with enthusiasm and emotion. Cirroc Lofton paid tribute to his on-screen dad Avery Brooks, talking about how Deep Space Nine showed a single dad balancing his work and family commitments. He also spoke about Deep Space Nine’s legacy as the first Star Trek show to step away from a starship and take a different look at the Star Trek galaxy.

The themes of diversity and inclusion were omnipresent in these legacy moments, and all five actors spoke about how Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry have promoted diversity since the very beginning. George Takei spoke about Gene Roddenberry’s vision for Star Trek, how sci-fi had previously been something often seen as just for kids, and how putting a very diverse cast of characters together was groundbreaking in the 1960s. It’s always amazing to hear George Takei speak, and even fifty-five years later he still has a grace and eloquence when speaking on these topics. As someone who has himself been at the forefront of campaigning for diversity and equality, he does so with a gravitas that few can match.

George Takei’s speech was outstanding.

Garrett Wang spoke about how Voyager could be a “refuge” for fans; a place to go where everyone could feel included and like they were part of the family. The way the show combined two crews was, I would argue, one of its weaker elements, but Wang looked at it through a different lens, and I can see the point about how Voyager put those folks in a difficult situation and brought them together to work in common cause. He also spoke in very flattering terms about Captain Janeway and Kate Mulgrew – who is returning to Star Trek very soon.

Anthony Montgomery was incredibly positive about Enterprise, and how the series embodied the pioneering spirit of exploration. I loved his line about how Enterprise, although it was a prequel recorded later than many other shows, laid the groundwork and filled in much of Star Trek’s previously unvisited stories and unexplained lore. Above all, he said, Enterprise was a “fun” show – and it’s hard to disagree! The orchestra concluded this speech with Archer’s Theme – the music heard over the end credits for Enterprise – which is a beautiful piece of music. If I were to remaster Enterprise I’d drop Faith of the Heart (which is a nice enough song, don’t get me wrong) and replace it on the opening titles with Archer’s Theme. The orchestra played it perfectly.

Anthony Montgomery spoke with passion and good humour about Enterprise.

LeVar Burton talked about The Next Generation, and how Star Trek was reinvigorated for a new era. The Next Generation was the first spin-off, and it came at a time when spin-offs didn’t really exist in the sci-fi or drama spaces, so it was an unknown and a risk. Burton also spoke about The Next Generation’s sense of family, and how Star Trek can be a unifying force in the world.

Far from being mere padding, the five legacy moments saw stars of Star Trek’s past pay tribute to the franchise and the shows they were part of. There were consistent themes running through all five speeches, particularly the theme of inclusion. Star Trek has always been a franchise that strives to include people who are “different” – people like myself. For many fans, that’s one of the things that makes Star Trek so great. To see some of the biggest stars acknowledge and celebrate that aspect of Star Trek was wonderful, emotional, and rather cathartic.

Cirroc Lofton paid tribute to Deep Space Nine and his on-screen dad Avery Brooks.

Each of the five actors spoke with love, positivity, and enthusiasm for the franchise that made them household names. Anthony Montgomery’s incredibly positive attitude in particular shone through – he was beaming the whole time and seemed genuinely thrilled to have been invited to speak and to celebrate Enterprise.

If Star Trek Day aimed to celebrate all things Star Trek, then the legacy moments went a long way to making that ambition a reality on the night. The speeches were pitch-perfect, as were the orchestral renditions of all five Star Trek themes, and I had an unexpectedly good time with these moments. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the programme listed on the website; I didn’t really have any expectations of what the legacy moments would include. They surprised me by being one of the most enjoyable, down-to-earth parts of a hugely entertaining evening.

Garrett Wang represented Voyager in the show’s legacy moment segment.

Let’s talk about news and announcements. That’s what you’re here for, right?! That was certainly what I was most interested in and excited for when I sat down to watch the Star Trek Day broadcast – though, as mentioned, I was taken aback by some of the other elements present that I wouldn’t have expected!

First, a non-announcement! Wil Wheaton interviewed the head of production on Star Trek, Alex Kurtzman, early on in the evening. Kurtzman didn’t have anything to say about the Section 31 series, nor about the upcoming Star Trek film due for release in 2023. However, he mentioned something that I found really interesting: a Starfleet Academy series or project. This isn’t anything close to an official announcement, of course, and he and Wil Wheaton talked about it in abstract terms. But a Starfleet Academy series has been something Star Trek has considered in the past; Gene Roddenberry was quite keen on a Starfleet Academy spin-off prior to developing The Next Generation. Watch this space, because it’s at least possible that a project centred around Starfleet Academy will get off the ground under Kurtzman’s leadership.

Alex Kurtzman seemed to tease that a Starfleet Academy project may be coming sometime soon!

There were no brand-new shows or films formally announced at Star Trek Day. While I wasn’t necessarily expecting such an announcement, and Kurtzman’s earlier statement that no new show will be worked on until the current crop have run their course would seem to exclude it, there are multiple pitches and projects that have been rumoured or talked about over the last few years. The Section 31 series was absent again, as mentioned, and that’s more bad news for a series that feels like it isn’t going to happen. There were also no mentions of the likes of Ceti Alpha V, Captain Proton, or Captain Worf – just some of the heavily-speculated or rumoured pitches believed to be floating around over at ViacomCBS.

We did get release dates or release windows for several upcoming seasons, though! After Lower Decks Season 2 draws to a close in mid-October there’ll be a couple of weeks with no Star Trek, but then Prodigy will be available (in the United States at least) from the 28th of October. Shortly thereafter, Discovery Season 4 will kick off – it will premiere on the 18th of November in the United States and on the 19th internationally. Finally, Picard Season 2 is scheduled to arrive on our screens in February next year – presumably shortly after the season finale of Discovery.

Prodigy is coming soon… if you live in the USA, anyway.

All of this is great news! There was no release date for Strange New Worlds, but I think we can assume it will follow within a few weeks at most of Picard Season 2, which would put it perhaps in May or June 2022 at the very latest. But there will be a whole lot of Star Trek on our screens this autumn and winter, well into the first half of next year. Wil Wheaton said it best: with so many new Star Trek projects in production, we’re living through a new golden age of Star Trek right now!

I was a little surprised when the Discovery panel ended without revealing a new trailer or teaser for Season 4. Michelle Paradise, Wilson Cruz, Blu del Barrio, and Ian Alexander talked about how the show is fostering a sense of family in the 32nd Century – and that we will see Gray get a “corporeal” body in Season 4 somehow, which is great! But I have to say I’d been expecting a new trailer; the show is only a couple of months away after all. Perhaps we’ll get that nearer to the time. There wasn’t any mention of Season 5 either, but it’s possible that announcement will come as the marketing campaign for Season 4 ramps up.

Wilson Cruz speaking during the Discovery panel.

Wilson Cruz seems like such a positive person in every interview I’ve ever seen him participate in, and he brought a lot of positive energy to the stage in Star Trek Day as well. There was talk of the Stamets-Culber relationship being revisited in Season 4, which is great – Stamets and Culber really form the emotional core of the show. He also spoke about how Dr Culber is embracing new roles in Season 4 – the role of counsellor to others aboard the ship as well as a parental role for Adira and Gray.

Gray’s storyline has the potential to be one of the most powerful in Discovery as the show moves into its fourth season. Being trans or gender-nonconforming can make one feel invisible – something I can speak to myself – and this is literally shown on screen by Gray’s invisibility. The powerful story of discovering how to be seen, and to do so with the help, encouragement, and support of one’s closest friends and family has the potential to be an exceptionally powerful story, one which I can already feel resonating with me. Blu del Barrio and Ian Alexander spoke very positively about their on- and off-screen relationships, and they seem like they work exceptionally well together as a duo. I can’t wait to see what Season 4 will bring for them both.

Blu del Barrio and Ian Alexander play Adira and Gray respectively. I’m greatly looking forward to their stories in Season 4.

I’ve already got a Prodigy theory! The show’s co-creators talked about how Prodigy Season 1 begins with the kids on a never-before-seen planet described as being “far removed and mysterious.” It sounds like we aren’t seeing a planet that the USS Voyager visited in the Delta Quadrant – something backed up by scenes seemingly set on that world in the trailer – and the USS Protostar appears to have crashed “inside” the planet. Did it crash during the final leg of Voyager’s journey home through the Borg transwarp network? Or perhaps during one of Voyager’s other flights – the space catapult from The Voyager Conspiracy or Kes’ telepathic launch in The Gift, for example. More to come on this, so stay tuned!

So we got a release date for Prodigy in the United States, but as I’ve said on a couple of occasions now it seems as though Prodigy isn’t going to be broadcast anywhere that doesn’t already have Paramount+. Considering that the series is a collaborative project between Star Trek and Nickelodeon (itself a ViacomCBS subsidiary), it should surely have been possible to secure an international broadcast on the Nickelodeon channel – a satellite/cable channel here in the UK and in many other countries. It’s a disappointment that, once again, ViacomCBS does not care about its international fans. It’s not as egregious a failing as it was with Lower Decks, because as a kids’ show Prodigy’s primary audience won’t really notice the delay. But for Trekkies around the world, to see Prodigy teased then find out we have no way to watch it is disappointing, and there’s no way around that.

The USS Protostar in flight.

Despite that, the Prodigy panel was interesting. Dee Bradley Baker, who voices Murf – the cute blob-alien – seems like he’s a real Trekkie and spoke about the franchise with passion. It was so much fun to see him perform Murf’s voice live, as well! Brett Gray, who will take on the role of young leader Dal, seemed overjoyed to have joined a franchise – and a family – with such a legacy, and I liked the way he spoke about how the young crew of the USS Protostar will grow as the season progresses.

The show’s co-creators – brothers Dan and Kevin Hageman – spoke about how Prodigy won’t be a series that talks down to children, but rather aims to be a series with plenty to offer for adults as well. The best kids’ shows manage this – and the Hagemans have received critical acclaim and awards for their work on Trollhunters and Ninjago, so there’s a lot of room for optimism. They both seemed to have a good grasp of the legacy and role Star Trek plays and has played for young people, and I think the show is in safe hands.

Dee Bradley Baker gave us a tease of Murf’s voice!

The Prodigy trailer was action-packed and exciting! We got a glimpse of the villainous character played by John Noble – and heard his distinctive voice – as well as got a much closer look at the USS Protostar than we had before. Perhaps the most exciting moment, though, was seeing the Janeway hologram for the first time! Janeway’s role in the show seems like it will be that of a mentor; the kids will make their own calls and decisions, but Janeway will be on hand to offer advice – at least that’s my take at this stage.

There were some funny moments in the trailer, too, which will surely produce a lot of giggles from Prodigy’s young audience. “Just hit all the buttons” until the phasers fire was a great laugh line, and the ship losing artificial gravity was likewise hilarious. There was also a crash-landing that reminded me very much of a scene in the Voyager episode Timeless. I’m really looking forward to Prodigy and to spending time with the young crew of the USS Protostar.

The crew of Prodigy on the bridge of the USS Protostar.

The Lower Decks panel was perhaps the funniest of the night. It was also the one where the interviewees felt the most comfortable and did their best at participating and answering questions; there were none of the awkward silences or long pauses that made me cringe during other panels. Noël Wells, Eugene Cordero, and creator Mike McMahan initially took to the stage before being joined in truly spectacular fashion by Ransom voice actor Jerry O’Connell. The cast members clearly get on very well together, and this came across as the four talked with host Mica Burton about the first four episodes of the season as well as what’s to come in the remaining six episodes.

Wells and Cordero talked about how they see their characters of Tendi and Rutherford becoming friends and bonding over “nerd” things – geeking out together over things like new tricorders, engineering, or how best to do their work was a hallmark for both in Season 1. I’m not so sure how I feel about Mike McMahan saying that the rest of the season plans to go “even bigger” with some of its stories. Lower Decks can be overly ambitious, at times, with the number of characters and story threads it tries to cram into a twenty- or twenty-five-minute episode, and this can be to the detriment of some or all of the stories it wants to tell.

Mike McMahan, Noël Wells, Eugene Cordero, and Jerry O’Connell participated in the Lower Decks panel.

However, McMahan spoke about the episode Crisis Point from Season 1 as a kind of baseline for how big and bold the show wants to go in the second half of Season 2. That episode was one of the best, not just for its wacky over-the-top action, but for its quieter character moments. If the rest of Season 2 keeps in mind the successful elements from episodes like Crisis Point, then I think we’re in for a good time!

The mid-season trailer was interesting! Here are just some of the things I spotted: the Pakleds are returning, Rutherford seems to get a “Wrath of Khan-inspired” moment in a radiation chamber, Tendi was transformed into a monster that seemed reminiscent of those in Genesis from Season 7 of The Next Generation, Boimler and Mariner are involved in a shuttle crash, Mariner rejoins Captain Freeman on the bridge, there was a scene in which Boimler easily defeated some Borg that I assume must be a dream or holodeck programme, a Crystalline Entity was seen, the creepy bartender with the New England accent was back, and Boimler and Mariner shared a joke about the utility of phaser rifles. I’m sure there was more – but those were the key things I spotted! The rest of Season 2 will hopefully continue to hit the highs of the past few weeks – and there’s another episode coming out very soon here in the UK that I can’t wait to watch!

Rutherford’s “Wrath of Khan moment” from the mid-season trailer.

It was very sweet for Star Trek Day to take time to discuss Gene Roddenberry’s legacy, coming in the centenary year of his birth. His son Rod, and former Star Trek stars LeVar Burton, George Takei, and Gates McFadden joined Wil Wheaton to talk about Gene Roddenberry, and this was one of the most touching moments in the entire event. There were some laughs as George Takei told us about his first meeting with Gene Roddenberry and how he came to land the role of Sulu – including how both he and Gene mispronounced each others’ names! Gates McFadden seemed to have been talked into joining the cast of The Next Generation by Roddenberry, having initially wanted to return to the stage and join a play. Rod Roddenberry’s reminiscence of the design process for the Enterprise-D was hilarious – apparently his mother thought the ship looked like “a pregnant duck!”

LeVar Burton, who had been a Star Trek fan prior to joining The Next Generation, spoke about how he was overwhelmed at first when meeting “the Great Bird of the Galaxy,” and how a small role on a made-for-television film introduced him to producer Bob Justman, who later arranged for him to meet with Gene Roddenberry during pre-production on The Next Generation. All of these anecdotes went a long way to humanising Gene Roddenberry the man – we can often get lost in the legacy and philosophy he left behind, and how Star Trek and the world he created has influenced and impacted us, but this was a rare opportunity to hear small, personal stories about the man himself. I greatly appreciated that.

LeVar Burton spoke about working with Gene Roddenberry before giving a speech about The Next Generation.

George Takei got one of the biggest applause lines of the evening when he spoke about the importance of Star Trek’s fans, in particular Bjo Trimble, on popularising The Original Series and getting a nationwide fan community started. Decades before the internet came along to make fandoms and fan communities a part of many peoples’ lives, Star Trek was already developing its very own devoted fan community thanks to people like Bjo Trimble, and for George Takei to take time to acknowledge the role fans have played in Star Trek’s ongoing success was wonderful to hear.

As I’ve said before, The Motion Picture was the culmination of this fan-led journey for Star Trek, but the film also laid the groundwork for much of what we’d come to know as Star Trek in the eighties and nineties. Many sets and design elements were in continuous use in some form from The Motion Picture’s premiere in 1979 right the way through to the cancellation of Enterprise in 2005, and much of the aesthetic and feel of Star Trek is owed to what The Motion Picture pioneered. George Takei acknowledged that, and that was a pretty cool moment. The Motion Picture is one of my favourite Star Trek films, and a 4K remaster was briefly shown off as well – the 4K blu-ray set of the first four Star Trek films is out now, so Star Trek Day took a moment to plug it!

There was a brief glimpse of the remastered version of The Motion Picture from this new box set.

The panel that seemed to get the most online attention was, I felt, one of the worst and most cringeworthy to watch! The Strange New Worlds panel was followed up by a pre-recorded video that introduced new members of its main cast, who joined Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, and Rebecca Romijn. Among the newly-revealed characters were an Aenar (an Andorian race introduced in Enterprise) a possible descendant or relation of iconic villain Khan, and three characters from The Original Series who are returning to Star Trek: Dr M’Benga, who appeared in a couple of episodes, Nurse Chapel, and the one who got the most attention: Cadet Nyota Uhura!

Uhura blew up online after the announcement, and it’s fair to say that I was not expecting this! There was scope, I felt, for Strange New Worlds to bring back classic characters, but the choices they made seem to be pitch-perfect. I’m especially excited to see more from Dr M’Benga – he was a minor character who feels ripe for a deeper look. The same could also be said of Captain Pike and Number One!

Uhura’s return pretty much broke the internet!

As I predicted a few months ago, the uniforms for Strange New Worlds have been slightly redesigned from their Discovery style. I was never wild about the asymmetrical collars; they worked okay on Discovery’s all-blue uniforms but looked perhaps a little clumsy on the recoloured uniforms worn by Pike and the Enterprise crew. So to see the teaser show off a redesigned style that keeps the bold primary colours but ditches the Discovery style was pretty great! As with any new uniform I think we need time to see them in action and get used to them, but there’s already a lot to like. In addition to the V-neck style worn by Pike and Spock, we saw a white medical variant worn by Nurse Chapel, another medical variant with a broad crew collar worn by Dr M’Benga, and a zipper style worn by Number One. Starfleet uniforms – like any aesthetic or design element – are of course subject to personal taste, but from what we’ve seen so far I like the Strange New Worlds uniforms.

The Strange New Worlds live panel was not the best, though. Anson Mount, who is usually so full of life and happy to talk about all things Trek, sat in silence for large parts of it, deferring to the rest of the panel to answer questions. He may have been trying to avoid jumping in too fast or dominating proceedings, but it led to several very awkward silences that weren’t fun to watch. I got the sense that perhaps he wasn’t feeling well.

Anson Mount was not on his best form for the Strange New Worlds panel, unfortunately.

The producers – Akiva Goldsman, who has previously worked on Picard, and Henry Alonso Myers – gave us a few tidbits of information about the series. I was very pleased to hear so much positive talk about returning Star Trek to a more episodic format. Goldsman, who had been instrumental in crafting Picard’s serialised story during Season 1, seems quite happy to return to episodic television. There are a lot of advantages in a show like Strange New Worlds – i.e. one about exploration – to using a more episodic format. Episodic television can still see wonderful character growth – I’d point to Ensign Mariner in Lower Decks as a recent Star Trek example – so it was great to see how positively the cast and crew talked about that aspect of Strange New Worlds.

The producers and cast seemed very keen to embrace the legacy of The Original Series in more ways than one. Without looking to overwrite anything, they want to bring their own take on classic characters, and I think that’s great. Spock benefitted greatly from the expanded look we got at him in Discovery’s second season, and there’s no reason to think characters like Nurse Chapel or Cadet Uhura won’t likewise get significant character development that plays into the characters we know and love from their roles in The Original Series.

Jess Bush will be taking on the role of Nurse Christine Chapel in Strange New Worlds.

In terms of aesthetic, Strange New Worlds is trying to walk a line between embracing the 1960s style of The Original Series and also updating the show to a more modern look. There was talk about the design of sets, in particular Captain Pike’s quarters, and how the designers had been keen to return to the 1960s for inspiration. Likewise hair and nail styles were mentioned by Rebecca Romijn for Number One – a ’60s-inspired, “retro” look seems to be on the cards for the character, but not to such an extent that it becomes distracting. Walking that line is a challenge – but one I’m glad to see the show tackling!

We didn’t get a full trailer for Strange New Worlds, and the character introductions were cut in such a way as to minimise what we could see of the USS Enterprise. However, we did get a decent look at the transporter room set, which looks really cool, and when we met Dr M’Benga we got a glimpse of what I assume to be sickbay – and it looks like the colour scheme from The Original Series is still present in some form. We also got to see the logo and typeface for Strange New Worlds.

The Strange New Worlds logo.

So an underwhelming panel in some respects led to one of the biggest reveals of the night! Uhura, Chapel, and Dr M’Benga make welcome returns to Star Trek, that’s for sure. And there’s a particular genius to choosing these three characters in particular: they’re all ripe for more development and exploration. Uhura was a mainstay on The Original Series, but compared with the likes of Kirk and Spock there’s still plenty of room to explore her characterisation, background, and learn more about who she is in a way that will inform the original character and portrayal. Likewise for Nurse Chapel and Dr M’Benga – in many ways these two characters are near-blank slates for the new writers and producers to mould into their own creations.

I’m more excited today for Strange New Worlds than I was 24 hours ago, and that’s really saying something! I loved how Mount and the producers spoke about how his portrayal of Pike and Pike’s leadership style led them to redesign parts of his quarters so he could accommodate more of his crew around the table. Cooking was a big part of Captain Sisko’s character in Deep Space Nine, and I picked up at least a hint of that in some of the things said about Pike.

Dr M’Benga, despite being a returning character, offers a lot of scope for further development by a new team of writers.

The panel also discussed how the USS Enterprise is a “star of the show” in many respects, and how episodic storytelling will allow the series to return to Star Trek’s roots in terms of producing entertaining stories with morals. As I’ve said before, Star Trek has always used its sci-fi lens to shine a light on real-world issues, and to learn that Strange New Worlds is embracing that is fantastic news.

Spock’s characterisation was mentioned by Ethan Peck and the producers, and there was talk of how we’d see different facets of his personality. The Cage was mentioned as showing us “smiley Spock,” and I liked how the producers have a keen knowledge of how Spock and other Vulcans perceive and experience emotions – Spock is an emotional person, even if he suppresses those emotions much of the time. An exploration of that aspect of his character – informed by his experiences in Discovery Season 2, perhaps – will be truly interesting to see play out.

Captain Pike and the crew of Strange New Worlds will be on our screens in 2022.

Finally we come to Star Trek: Picard. This was the final event of the evening, and unfortunately the way it was teed up felt incredibly rushed. Jeri Ryan – who will reprise her role as Seven of Nine in Season 2 – raced onto the stage to introduce the new trailer, and it just seemed very obvious that the people running the event were acutely aware of time constraints and wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. There was no Picard panel, no appearance from Sir Patrick Stewart (even by video-link or in a pre-recorded message), and though the trailer was very interesting the way Picard Season 2 was handled felt rushed right at the end of Star Trek Day – ironic, perhaps, considering the rushed way Season 1 also ended!

We’ll get to the trailer in a moment, but it was great to see that Picard Season 3 has been officially confirmed. We knew this was coming – Season 3 is already in production, and filming has already begun. But to get an official confirmation was good, and it drew a huge cheer from the audience. There’s clearly a big appetite for more Picard!

Picard is coming back for a third season!

Onward, then, to the trailer. This is one that I’ll have to return to for a more detailed breakdown in the days ahead, but for now here are my summarised thoughts.

A return to the 21st Century is not what I would have chosen. Time travel isn’t my favourite Star Trek storyline, and in particular time travel stories which return to the modern day can feel awfully dated very quickly. Look, for example, at Voyager’s two-parter Future’s End, or Star Trek IV as examples of that. Star Trek feels like the future – one of the reasons I love it so much – and when it comes back to the modern day I think it risks losing something significant. It’s possible that only a small part of the story will be set in the modern day, but even so I wasn’t exactly wild about this story element, unfortunately.

We knew from the earlier trailer that there has been some kind of change or damage to the timeline. It now seems as though Q may be more directly involved, as Picard blamed him for breaking the timeline. Whatever the change was, it seems to be centred in our own 21st Century (though it could be anywhere from 2020-2040, I guess) and resulted not in the creation of the Federation but a “totalitarian state” by the 24th Century. I don’t believe that this is the Mirror Universe that we’re familiar with, but rather a change to the Prime Timeline itself – perhaps caused by Q, but earlier comments seemed to suggest that Q wasn’t to blame, so watch this space.

A visit to the 21st Century would not have been my choice… but I will give it a chance!

In voiceover we heard Laris questioning Picard’s motivation for wanting to join Starfleet or leave Earth, something we’d seen him talk about in episodes like Family and again in Generations. She seemed to question whether he’s “running” from something in his past – could it be some darker impulse or perhaps a family secret that’s connected in some way to the creation of the totalitarian state? Could it be, as I suggested recenly, tied into World War III?

One of the things I was most curious about was the role of the Borg Queen, whose return had been signalled a few days ago via a casting announcement. It seems as though Picard has access to the incarcerated remains of a Borg Queen – somehow – and that she may be vital to allowing the crew of La Sirena to travel through time. Rather than the Borg themselves playing a role in the story, then, this may be a battle involving Picard and Seven – victims of assimilation – and a captured, damaged Borg Queen.

What role will the Borg Queen play? She appears to be a captive of some kind.

There’s a lot more to break down from the Picard trailer, and in the days ahead I’ll put together my thoughts in more detail – as well as perhaps fleshing out a theory or two. For now, I think what I want to say is that I have mixed feelings. The big drawback I can see is the modern-day setting for part of the show. I hope I’m proven wrong, but to me Star Trek has never been at its best with these kinds of stories, and I’m concerned that it’ll stray from being a Star Trek show into something… else.

On the other hand, there are many positives. The return of Laris, who seems to have an expanded role compared to where she was in Season 1. Q’s mysterious time-bending role, too. Is he the villain of the piece, or is his latest “trial” something that he believes will help Picard and humanity? What role will he play – ally, adversary, or something in between? The “totalitarian state” definitely channelled some elements of the Mirror Universe, but also seems to have put its own spin on this concept, taking it to different thematic places. I’d be curious to see what role the Picard of this timeline has in the government of the totalitarian state.

Something has broken the timeline – leaving Picard and his crew trapped in a “totalitarian” nightmare.

So that’s all I have to say for now. In the days ahead I’ll take a closer look at the Picard trailer, as well as talk about other things we learned at Star Trek Day.

Although it was a late night and a long broadcast, I had a good time with Star Trek Day overall. There were some moments that didn’t work well, some unprepared interviewees and some segments that dragged on too long, but on the whole it was a fun and incredibly positive celebration of Star Trek. I came to the broadcast hoping to see more from upcoming shows, but I was blown away just as much by the celebration of Star Trek’s past as I was by the look ahead.

The hosts, presenters, and most of the speakers and guests showed off their passion and love for Star Trek in a very positive way. There was a lot of talk about returning the franchise to its roots, celebrating the legacy of Gene Roddenberry and his original vision for Star Trek and what made it so appealing to people of all ages across multiple generations. As we look ahead to Star Trek’s future in 2021, 2022, and beyond, taking these moments to look back at what got Star Trek to where it is today was fantastic, and well worth taking the time to see. Above all, Star Trek Day shone with passion and positivity, and that’s just what the franchise needed as it marked its fifty-fifth birthday. Here’s to the next fifty-five years of Star Trek!

Star Trek Day was broadcast online and on Paramount+ on the 8th of September 2021 (9th of September 2021 in the UK). At time of writing the event can be re-watched on the official Star Trek website; panels and trailers are supposed to be available via Star Trek and Paramount+ official YouTube channels. Clips may also be available via official social media pages and channels. The Star Trek franchise – including all properties and series mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Five television shows that ended too soon

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the titles on this list.

A few days ago I put together a list of five television shows that ran too long. This is the counterpoint to that list, because today we’re going to look at five television shows that ended too soon! As I said last time, I’d always rather be in a position of lamenting a show cancelled before its time rather than feeling a series dragged on too long and ran out of fun material. As we’ve recently seen with Game of Thrones, a bad ending can sour audiences on the entire show, and even shows that started off great can be a chore to go back and re-watch if they got worse as time went on.

So speaking for myself, I find it better for a show to end too soon, while it’s still good, rather than run and run until storylines are exhausted and the show becomes a shadow of its former self. But that doesn’t mean seeing a favourite series unceremoniously cancelled is a nice feeling! All of the shows we’re going to look at today had potential to be so much more than they were, if only they’d been able to run for at least one more season apiece.

Game of Thrones didn’t drag on too long, but its disappointing ending means going back to re-watch it isn’t something I’m keen on at the moment.

There can be different reasons why it feels like a show ended before its time. In some cases it’s obvious – a major storyline unresolved, mysteries still unexplained, and a narrative unfinished. Some of the shows on this list fall into exactly this category. But other shows conclude having generally wrapped up most of their narrative elements and after resolving character arcs and points of drama, yet still the feeling of wanting more can persist.

As always, this is just one person’s opinion. If you disagree, or if you think these shows ended at just the right time, that’s great! We’re all entitled to our opinions about entertainment and media, and if my opinion doesn’t align with yours this time, that’s okay! So without further ado, let’s take a look at my picks.

Number 1: Terra Nova (2011)

Promo poster for Terra Nova.

Terra Nova began with a very interesting premise – the discovery of a wormhole-like singularity that allowed humans to travel to the distant past and establish a colony. The 22nd Century, when part of the series is set, was nightmarish and dystopian due to overpopulation and pollution, which is what drove protagonist Jim and his family to make the dangerous journey back in time.

I mentioned Terra Nova last time, and it was only when I thought about the show again – ten years after its cancellation – that I considered putting together this list! As with other entries on the list, lower than expected viewing figures almost certainly explains the show’s premature cancellation. Perhaps we can blame that on the shift in viewing platforms in the early 2010s away from broadcast television toward streaming, but even so perhaps Terra Nova’s premise was just too niche for mainstream audiences.

Stephen Lang as Nathaniel Taylor in Terra Nova.

What I liked about Terra Nova is the creativity in its premise. Not only was there some kind of conspiracy tied to the faction operating the time-wormhole, but events at the colony were unpredictable as well, with a renegade faction battling the established leadership. In addition, Terra Nova introduced new fictional species of dinosaurs to its prehistoric setting, something that the Jurassic Park franchise wouldn’t do for another four years!

Terra Nova ended on a very strange and tantalising cliffhanger, but with its cancellation, that story was never resolved on screen. In a half-hearted effort to reach out to fans of the series, the DVD box set came with a “make your own motion comic” feature, allowing fans to download some artwork to make up their own continuations – but by all accounts, the motion comic was pretty limited in its options. Thus the Terra Nova story ended in disappointing fashion, despite showing promise. It’s worth a watch if you’re interested in sci-fi and dinosaurs, but if you do sit down to watch the only season of the show, just be aware that its story was never finished.

Number 2: Space Precinct (1994-95)

The opening title of Space Precinct.

Gerry Anderson is renowned among a certain subset of sci-fi fans – most of whom are probably British – for creating shows like Space: 1999, as well as “supermarionation” (i.e. filmed with puppets) kids shows Thunderbirds, Stingray, and Captain Scarlet – all of which were mainstays of my childhood television viewing! In the mid-1980s, Anderson began working on the concept that would eventually become Space Precinct – a police procedural show set in space.

Space Precinct is set in the year 2040 – which means, in 2021, that we’re closer to when it was set than when it was made! Just in case you didn’t feel old enough already! Main protagonist Patrick Brogan transfers from the New York City police force to a role in the Demeter City police on the planet Altor – a kind of “space ’90s New York” complete with rampant crime and corruption!

Captain Podly – a Creon. The design of both the aliens and costumes in Space Precinct were unique and fun, and while arguably “of their time” I think they still look pretty good today!

What I appreciated about Space Precinct when I watched it in the mid-1990s was the blend of sci-fi and policing. Almost every episode could have been, with a few tweaks and a few less aliens, part of a modern-day police procedural, and that gave it a unique selling point. The show had some wonderful alien designs, realised with physical prosthetics for the most part, and the way aliens like the Creons and Tarns were created could have become iconic.

Sadly, Space Precinct only got a single season before it was cancelled – allegedly due to poor viewing figures in the United States. Sky and the BBC, who broadcast the show here in the UK, invested a decent amount of money in the project, and I remember collecting a number of action figures based on the main characters – though goodness only knows where they are now! It’s still possible to pick up the series on DVD, and if you can find it it’s well worth a watch, and easily holds up when compared to other early/mid-90s sci-fi fare. Oh, and it has a great theme tune!

Number 3: Firefly (2002)

Promo photo showing the cast of Firefly.

No list of prematurely cancelled shows would be complete without Firefly. A truly bizarre decision on the part of schedulers and executives at American broadcaster Fox saw Firefly’s first few episodes aired out of order. Though the show does have episodic elements, some storylines work far better when viewed in the correct order, and that may be one reason why the show failed to connect with audiences first time around. Rather than give it time or make another attempt, Fox cancelled the series before the first season had even concluded.

Firefly was a fascinating mix of sci-fi and western, with a far greater western emphasis than the likes of Star Trek and Star Wars. It had a fun cast of characters and the excellent writing was backed up by some beautiful world-building, leading to the world of Firefly feeling genuinely real in a way few franchises ever manage to pull off. It was such a shame that it didn’t get a fair shake from its broadcaster and original audience.

Nathan Fillion as Mal in Firefly.

I only encountered the series a couple of years after it went off the air, when a colleague recommended it to me. Like many folks, I discovered Firefly thanks to the DVD box set, and even though I knew going in that the series had no ending, it was still disappointing to reach the final episode and have to leave Mal and his crew with no conclusion.

As you may know, however, a fan campaign succeeded in reviving Firefly for a one-off film. 2005’s Serenity wrapped up the story in a bittersweet way. Considering the original plan was for a seven-season run, one season plus a feature film still leaves me feeling short-changed, even if the film was a solid conclusion to the original characters’ stories. So far, the world of Firefly has never been revisited – but I truly feel there’s scope to do so. A spin-off or a show set in the same universe would make for a wonderful addition to Disney+ – and I believe that The Walt Disney Company will own the rights to the show following their acquisition of large parts of Fox. Will it ever happen? Doubtful, but a fan can dream!

Number 4: Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-05)

The Season 1 cast of Star Trek: Enterprise.

It wouldn’t be a Crazy Uncle Dennis list without at least some Star Trek, right? Unlike other entries on this list, Enterprise managed a decent run at four full seasons and just shy of 100 episodes. And also unlike the other shows we’ve talked about, I actually fully understand the decision to cancel it. By 2005, Star Trek had been in continuous production for almost twenty years – longer, if we trace production back to the films as well as television shows. And there was a sense that audiences were beginning to get burnt out after four television shows and six films.

Enterprise had been threatened with cancellation going back to at least its second season, but had managed to survive two prior cancellation scares. However, its fourth season would turn out to be its last. Because we’ve subsequently learned about potential storylines for the unproduced Season 5, I think Enterprise warrants a place on this list – because it sounds like a season of television I’d have loved to see!

The NX-01 Enterprise.

According to some of the production staff who have been interviewed in the years since Enterprise went off the air, Season 5 would have focused on the Earth-Romulan War, a conflict first mentioned in The Original Series. And if we look at some of the events in Season 4, notably the trio of episodes The Forge, Awakening, and Kir’Shara, we can see what could be argued to be the beginnings of a Romulan storyline in the show.

I’ve explained previously that I wasn’t a huge Enterprise fan during its original run, only tuning in sporadically. But despite that, Enterprise’s cancellation struck a raw nerve in 2005, and it seemed for a time that Star Trek was dead and never coming back. Ultimately, though, Enterprise being cancelled led to a reimagining of the franchise, culminating in Discovery, Picard, and the other shows and films we’re enjoying currently. So while I can say I regret not seeing this unproduced Earth-Romulan War story in Season 5 of Enterprise, things worked out alright for Star Trek in the end!

Number 5: FlashForward (2009-10)

Title card for FlashForward.

FlashForward had a unique premise, one which took sci-fi and time travel concepts but mixed them up in a way I had never really seen before. The basic premise was that practically everyone on Earth lost consciousness at the same moment and experienced the titular “flash forward” – with everyone seeing what appeared to be a vision of their lives around six months in the future. The show follows a team of FBI agents as they try to unravel the mysterious event.

I’d really never seen anything quite like FlashForward, which I watched at the behest of my partner at the time. We got very into the series when it was running, and we were both disappointed to learn it had been cancelled. The first and only season of the show ended on a cliffhanger, with a second “flash forward” event taking place.

Peyton List in FlashForward.

FlashForward had a great cast, including John Cho (Sulu in the Kelvin films) and Peyton List (Rizzo in Picard Season 1). It was a well-financed production with great special effects and set designs to compliment its exciting premise, and felt like a show that was headed for success. At the time, around the turn of the last decade, shows like Fringe and Lost were showing that sci-fi shows with different and unique settings could be a success – but sadly, FlashForward was only given a single season.

Initially a ratings hit for network ABC, FlashForward saw a big drop in viewership as its season rolled on, and its this decline that led to it being axed. Unfortunately the story was already set and the final episodes had already been filmed, meaning there was no way to conclude the story.

So that’s it. Five shows that ended too soon to stand in contrast to the other list of five shows that outstayed their welcome!

Season 33 of The Simpsons is coming up later this year, while most of the shows listed above only managed one season. Life is so unfair sometimes!

Though it’s always better for a series to end on a high note leaving fans clamouring for more, rather than running too long and seeing a decline, the entries on this list were cancelled prematurely. Television executives always seem very quick to pull the plug on an underperforming series, even when there seems to be genuine potential for a revival.

Most television shows take at least a full season to establish themselves. It takes time for actors to get to know their co-stars, for audiences to familiarise themselves with aspects of the story and setting, and thus it’s often not until a show hits its second or even third season before everything falls into place. Some executives don’t allow that to happen, which is a shame. And sadly we’ve begun to see this attitude spill over to streaming services, with Netflix in particular killing off several of its own shows while they were still very popular with fans. Hopefully it’s a trend that will decline as audiences find new ways to access entertainment and media – but I’m not holding my breath!

I enjoyed all of the shows on this list, but sadly that enjoyment is tinged with at least a little disappointment at the stories we never got to see, or the mysteries left unresolved. While I can heartily recommend all five, that recommendation has to come with a caveat as a result of their being cut short.

All titles listed above are the copyright of their respective network, broadcaster, studio, and/or distributor. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Will we ever see the Suliban or Xindi return?

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek: Discovery, and for other iterations of the franchise.

Star Trek: Enterprise is the only series in the franchise to be set in the 22nd Century. As such, it exists semi-independently, with very few opportunities for characters, factions, themes, or storylines to cross over an appear in newer Star Trek projects. As a prequel, many of the characters and events that debuted in Enterprise were not mentioned or referenced in shows that supposedly took place years later – as those storylines had not yet been conceived.

Enterprise thus exists in a strange place in Star Trek’s broader canon. There was a brief mention of Captain Archer in both Season 1 of Discovery and the 2009 film Star Trek, but both were little more than blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affairs.

Captain Archer’s name was briefly seen on a monitor in the Discovery Season 1 episode Choose Your Pain.

I’ve written about this phenomenon before in relation to Star Wars, where I termed it the “prequel problem.” Introducing wholly new story elements in a prequel is a risky storytelling strategy, as not only might it adversely impact the original work (or franchise, in this case) but it could also cut off the prequel in terms of story, isolating it and making connections with the original work difficult.

While Enterprise managed to avoid most of the pitfalls that befell the Star Wars prequel trilogy, one area where I feel the “prequel problem” is noticeable is in terms of two of the main antagonist factions the show introduced: the Suliban and the Xindi.

A Suliban…
…and two of the five extant Xindi races.

Both factions played significant roles in Enterprise across its first three seasons in particular. The Xindi, it could be argued, became one of the key driving forces in the expansion of Starfleet, leading to early deep-space exploration and allowing Starfleet to hone many of the skills and technologies it would use in future missions of exploration and discovery.

The attack by the Xindi on Earth was also a significant moment, one which history should preserve for future generations of Starfleet officers and Federation citizens. While some of the events of the Temporal Cold War (or Temporal Wars, as Discovery called them) may have arguably been classified, the existence of the Suliban clearly was not, and both factions could – and almost certainly should – still be around in the 23rd, 24th, and 32nd Centuries.

The Xindi weapon-probe which attacked Earth.

Setting aside the obvious production-side reason that the Suliban and Xindi were created for Enterprise years after The Original Series and The Next Generation went off the air, in order to answer my question of whether we’ll ever see either return we need to consider possible reasons for their absence. In short, is there anything we could point to from an in-universe point of view to indicate why these major factions would have simply disappeared by the 23rd or 24th Centuries?

There are many factions and races seen in Star Trek that have only made a single appearance in the franchise so far, including many that could easily be revisited. The First Federation, encountered in The Original Series Season 1 episode The Corbomite Maneuver, are one example, as are the Sheliak, from The Next Generation Season 3 episode The Ensigns of Command. While we know the Milky Way galaxy is populated by a large number of alien races, some simply choose not to have much contact with the Federation.

The First Federation appeared once in The Original Series and have yet to return to Star Trek.

Location is an issue in this case, though. Enterprise depicted Earth’s first major mission of exploration, and the races encountered in the show – presumably including both the Xindi and Suliban – can’t have been located that far away (relatively speaking). The NX-01 Enterprise had a maximum speed of warp 5, limiting its possible range.

Star Trek has kept many locations and their distances from one another deliberately vague to allow for maximum storytelling leeway, and that’s probably no bad thing. I don’t want to get into the weeds on just this one point, but in short what I’m trying to say is that both the Suliban and Xindi are likely to be much closer to Earth than, for example, Bajor or Talos IV.

The planet Talos IV – a long way from Earth.

We’ve never seen it suggested that the Suliban ever joined the Federation in future, but the Xindi certainly had. Xindi were known to serve in Starfleet by the 26th Century – according to the time-travelling Crewman Daniels – and this further suggests that Federation-Xindi relations existed and grew over the years, even if they didn’t officially join up until centuries later.

In the aftermath of their conflicts with Earth, both of which were due to external manipulation by time travelling factions, it’s possible that both the Suliban and Xindi simply chose to cut off all contact, isolating themselves and maintaining no relationship with the Federation, and this is arguably the most likely in-universe explanation for the lack of appearances in the 23rd and 24th Centuries.

The Suliban Helix – their mid-22nd Century base.

However, it’s still possible that there were accidental encounters out in space, or that the Federation pursued a policy of attempting to reestablish contact and diplomatic relations behind the scenes, even if those attempts were rebuffed. Discovery’s Season 1 premiere gives us an interesting glimpse at how Starfleet handled the reappearance of a faction they had no contact with – let’s hope that second contact went better with the Suliban or Xindi than it did with the Klingons!

Bringing either the Suliban or Xindi into modern Star Trek would be a huge way to connect the ongoing franchise back to Enterprise in a way that hasn’t yet been attempted. I think it’s absolutely worth doing for that reason alone, and in a way, just as Discovery did with the Klingons, the two factions could be changed to fit the needs of a new story.

Degra, a member of the Xindi Council in the mid-22nd Century.

In fact, there’s arguably far greater scope to reimagine both the Suliban and Xindi than there ever was with the Klingons! The Klingons had been thoroughly established across fifty years of Star Trek before Discovery came along, and while the show managed some aesthetic changes (I genuinely loved the ancient Egyptian influence in parts of the Discovery redesign) it was constrained by both past and future depictions of the Klingon Empire. There are two huge reasons why the Suliban and Xindi don’t have similar constraints.

The first is that both the Suliban and Xindi were only seen in the 22nd Century. Depending on which series they were to reappear in, there’s been either a century, two-and-a-half centuries, or an entire millennium for their cultures to have changed, allowing the writers of modern Star Trek to adapt either faction to a far greater degree than the writers of Discovery Season 1 could with the Klingons.

The Klingon redesign was controversial when Discovery made its debut.

Secondly, this will be our first time seeing either faction free of the manipulation of time travelling villains. The changes made by interference in the timeline to both the Suliban and Xindi is impossible to overstate, and after finally freeing themselves from their time travelling benefactors, we simply don’t know what position either faction would be in.

Both of these reasons mean that, in my opinion at least, there’s a lot of potential in both the Suliban and Xindi if they did return. Since we know that the Xindi joined the Federation, perhaps Discovery Season 4 could bring back at least one Xindi character in the 32nd Century, establishing that the Xindi remained loyal even in the aftermath of the Burn.

Daniels explained to Captain Archer that the Xindi joined the Federation by the 26th Century.

The Suliban are more complicated, and could make for a return either as an antagonist or ally of the Federation, depending on which way the writers and producers wanted to take things. There’s no proof that the Suliban would simply become friendly toward the Federation and Earth, even after Silik’s death, and if they had withdrawn and cut off ties as I suggested above, they may have continued to have a burning hatred of Earth and the Federation.

Strange New Worlds could see the return of the Suliban, perhaps through the kind of deep space encounter that I mentioned. If such a story makes clear that it’s the first time anyone from the Federation has seen a Suliban in roughly 100 years, this would go some way to closing the hole their absence in the 23rd and 24th Centuries generated.

What might the Suliban be like a century or a millennium after we last met them?

I could see Pike trying hard to establish some kind of diplomatic ties with the Suliban, only to see his efforts fail and the Suliban attacking the Enterprise. A skirmish like this wouldn’t lead to a larger conflict necessarily, but it would again confirm that the Suliban remained isolated and unfriendly well into the 23rd Century.

Discovery, as mentioned above, could bring back the Xindi. While we certainly could see them on friendly terms with the Federation, we could also see either the Suliban or Xindi looking to exact revenge for the Burn – an event I’m sure at least someone blames the Federation for!

A Xindi-Aquatic.

Given that Enterprise is less well-remembered than the Star Trek shows of the 1990s, perhaps we won’t see a major tie-in any time soon. There have been a couple of name-drops as mentioned, with the Suliban being mentioned once in Lower Decks. But so far, no major connection has been made. While we can say that the setting of modern Star Trek shows precludes all but a few major character crossovers, I think the absence of major factions like the Suliban and Xindi is more obvious, and at the very least, establishing an in-universe reason for why they disappeared after the mid-22nd Century would be worth doing.

Both factions have interesting elements that could be explored. The Suliban – or at least, some individuals – had undergone extensive genetic engineering at the behest of someone from the future, and the impact of that genetic engineering on Suliban society could be explored. Did they, as their one reference in Lower Decks seemed to hint at, retain some of their abilities, like shape-shifting? If so, did those traits get passed down to future generations? What are the consequences of their involvement in the Temporal Wars and their fight with Earth?

Hardly anything from Enterprise has appeared in modern Star Trek… yet.

The Xindi are not a single species. They are, in fact, five different species that evolved together on one planet. A sixth species had been wiped out by the mid-22nd Century. In a way, the Xindi could be a microcosm of the Federation – different species working together. There’s potential for the Xindi to be an analogy for real-world problems of different races and groups working together, and thus the faction presents a way for Star Trek to do something it’s always done: use its sci-fi setting to look at real-world issues.

I would make the argument that there are good reasons to bring back either faction. Not only are they relatively blank slates – getting blanker the further into the future their reappearances end up being – but bringing them into a current Star Trek project would connect back to Enterprise, something which hasn’t been done since Star Trek returned to the small screen almost four years ago.

Discovery had opportunities in its first two seasons to make reference to either the Suliban or Xindi – or other factions or events from Enterprise – but failed to do so in any significant way. With Strange New Worlds (and possibly the Section 31 series) picking up the baton for the 23rd Century, it perhaps makes arguably the most sense to bring them back there. But I could also see it being possible for an appearance in Picard, Discovery, or even Lower Decks or Prodigy. In short, there are many ways either faction could come back.

Whether the Suliban or Xindi ever will come back, though… well, that’s up to the creative team in charge of Star Trek!

Star Trek: Enterprise Seasons 1-4 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other territories where the service is available. Further international streaming is available via Netflix. The series is available on DVD and Blu-ray too. The Star Trek franchise – including Enterprise and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Five secondary characters from Star Trek’s past that I’d bring back

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1, Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-3, and the casting of Star Trek: Prodigy. There are further spoilers for older iterations of the Star Trek franchise.

A few days ago I took you through a short list of five main characters from past iterations of Star Trek that I’d love to see come back. This time, in a similar vein we’re going to look at five secondary or recurring characters that likewise could make for interesting returns to the franchise. Though most Star Trek shows have primarily focused on a main cast of characters, every series to date has featured at least one or two recurring characters as well.

For this list, I’m counting characters who appeared on more than one occasion – not one-off guest stars. And as with my previous list on this topic, these are characters I’d like to see return to the franchise in a general sense, not characters I’m predicting will appear in any specific upcoming show or film.

As always, I have no “insider information!” This is purely for fun and a chance to highlight some of these characters, as well as speculate about what their futures (or pasts) might be like beyond what we saw of them in their original appearances.

Number 1: Shran

We don’t know for sure how long Andorians live, but it’s at least a possibility that Shran – who appeared in Enterprise as an antagonist and later ally to Captain Archer – could still be alive in the 23rd Century. If he is he’d be well over 100 years old, but that doesn’t necessarily count against characters in Star Trek!

Jeffrey Combs played Shran, and also played recurring characters Brunt and Weyoun on Deep Space Nine. As someone who has close ties to the franchise, it would be wonderful to bring him back. It was amazing to hear JG Hertzler’s voice in Lower Decks last year, and it would be amazing to welcome back Jeffrey Combs as well.

Shran offers the Star Trek franchise an opportunity to tie in Enterprise in a significant way. At the moment, Enterprise is very much an outlier in the Star Trek canon; cut off all on its own in the 22nd Century. Despite there being opportunities in the three films and two seasons of television set in the 23rd Century, only the briefest references to Enterprise have been made since it went off the air in 2005.

Strange New Worlds is the prime candidate for Shran to reappear, but if the untitled Section 31 series uses a 23rd Century setting, he could potentially appear there as well. Shran was depicted primarily as a soldier, but the passage of time could have softened that side of him, and I would love to see him occupy a less-aggressive role, perhaps as a Federation ambassador. However, if there were a story featuring the Andorians in a major way, we could certainly see him included there as well.

Number 2: Garak

We got to know Garak very well across the latter part of Deep Space Nine, and his backstory as a spy was given plenty of attention. What we don’t know, of course, is what came next – what happened to Garak after the Dominion War was over?

Sooner or later, I hope Star Trek takes us back to Bajor and Cardassia in a major way, looking at the aftermath of that conflict. I know that the Dominion War wasn’t wildly popular with everyone – some of my Trekkie friends regard it as the worst part of ’90s Star Trek! But it was a major event in the fictional history of the franchise, one which seriously impacted the Federation. Exploring its aftermath, and looking at how the Federation managed to rebuild, would be worth doing.

Garak was last seen on Cardassia Prime at the end of the Dominion War. With Damar dead and the Dominion withdrawing, it’s possible he would have been in some kind of leadership role, at least temporarily. His years living with the Federation on DS9 would have put him in a unique position to liaise between Cardassia and the Federation alliance.

However, I don’t think Garak would have necessarily stayed in a leadership position. As a former agent of the Obsidian Order he represents Cardassia’s past – an empire governed from the shadows. Having fought hard to overthrow their Dominion oppressors, the Cardassians may have wanted to look to civilian leadership. I doubt Garak would have been re-exiled or returned to DS9, but may have gone into quiet retirement instead.

Number 3: Morn

Morn was really just a background character in Deep Space Nine, but the fun alien design was unique and made him instantly recognisable. As a result he became a somewhat ironic fan favourite, and ultimately got his own episode in Season 6: Who Mourns for Morn? Though he never spoke a line in the series, Morn was a significant character at points, and during the Dominion War smuggled information to the Federation from the occupied station, allowing for the success of Operation Return.

In at least one future timeline, Morn took over Quark’s bar, so perhaps a story that revisited DS9 could see him in that role. If Quark’s is still around, perhaps Morn is simply seen there as a regular patron – he appeared to be semi-retired, after all. Even if a return to DS9 simply saw him in his familiar background role, that would be good enough!

Who Mourns for Morn already explained a lot of his backstory, so there really isn’t a lot of room to go into more detail in that regard. A story that brought back almost any of the Deep Space Nine cast could include Morn, though, perhaps as a trusted confidante. With Picard and the crew of La Sirena operating outside of Starfleet, if they found themselves in Bajoran space perhaps they’d need someone like Morn – he seems like the type who could be very helpful at flying under the radar!

Maybe this would completely ruin things, but I would dearly love to see Morn speak if he did return. Even a single line of dialogue would be more than enough! I’m sure some fans will scream and say “no! Leave Morn alone!” but I think it could be a really sweet moment if done well. If we did return to DS9, seeing Morn sitting on his usual barstool would feel like a homecoming of sorts – almost as though no time had passed.

Number 4: Naomi Wildman

Naomi Wildman made 19 appearances across Voyager, the majority of which came in Seasons 5 and 6. The show tried to explore the idea of her being the only child on a ship full of adults, but only really managed to land that kind of story once – in the episode Once Upon A Time. The introduction of Icheb and the other ex-Borg children potentially gave Naomi playmates, but we never truly saw much of this. And on at least one occasion, Naomi was not included in a story that focused on the Borg children – the episode The Haunting of Deck Twelve.

As a character who quite literally grew up in space, and aboard the lost USS Voyager no less, Naomi may have a rather unique perspective after growing up. How did she react to Voyager’s return to Earth – which would have happened when she was around six years old? In at least one future timeline she’d joined Starfleet, but whether she’d do so in the prime timeline is unknown.

Naomi had a close relationship with Seven of Nine, who is currently a recurring character in Picard. She was also close with Icheb, who we know was killed a few years prior to the events of Picard. Exploring her post-Voyager relationships with those two characters could prove very interesting. If Picard Season 2 – or any future seasons of the show – spend more time with Seven, we could be reintroduced to Naomi and learn what she’s been up to.

The death of Icheb, if explored in more detail, could also be an opportunity to bring her back. Did they remain in touch after returning to the Alpha Quadrant? Icheb joined Starfleet – did Naomi join too? If so, maybe they served together before Icheb’s untimely demise. Otherwise we could see Naomi return in any story featuring main cast members from Voyager. So perhaps an appearance in Prodigy – where Captain Janeway is set to return – is on the cards?

Number 5: Jack Crusher

Jack Crusher was the deceased husband of Dr Beverly Crusher and father to Wesley Crusher. He served on the USS Stargazer under Captain Picard’s command, and that’s about all we know. He was killed during an away mission, and it was at least implied that Picard bears a degree of responsibility for that, either through something he did or didn’t do.

As a deceased character, Jack Crusher could only come back via a flashback, time-travel story, or story set in the past. But where I think there’s scope to see more of him is in Star Trek: Picard, particularly if Beverly and/or Wesley Crusher return. We could learn the circumstances of his death, and it could be a very interesting story if Jack Crusher’s death were somehow connected to some event taking place in the current Picard era.

For example, Picard, Dr Crusher, and the crew of La Sirena may have to travel to the world where Jack was killed, only to learn that the beings responsible for his death were the super-synths, the Zhat Vash, or someone else that we met in the new series. There would be something cyclical about bringing back, even if just in flashback form, Jack Crusher.

In the future timeline shown in The Next Generation’s finale, Picard had married Dr Crusher. While there was no evidence for or against that outcome in Picard Season 1, any story that explores Picard and Dr Crusher’s post-Nemesis relationship could be made to include flashbacks to Jack. He was a significant character in both of their lives, and in addition, his legacy may have been a factor in Picard and Dr Crusher never taking their relationship beyond friendship in the prime timeline. A story that took them back to his death could be interesting for both of them.

So that’s it! Five recurring or secondary characters who I believe could be welcomed back to the Star Trek franchise in some form.

This was the second part of a two-part miniseries looking at the possibility for certain characters to reappear in the franchise. It’s unlikely to be the last time we talk about such things – with so many different Star Trek projects on the go, practically anyone from the past could come back in some capacity!

Aside from those who have been definitively killed off within the prime timeline, I would argue that basically any character could return. Not all of them would be suitable for the current crop of shows, but if the franchise continues its renaissance… who knows? Maybe we’ll finally get Star Trek: Morn after all!

The Star Trek franchise – including all series mentioned above – is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other territories where the service exists, and on Netflix in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The Star Trek franchise – including all properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Five main characters from Star Trek’s past that I’d bring back

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, and for other iterations of the franchise.

This is going to be the first part of a short two-part series in which I look at a few significant characters from past iterations of Star Trek that I would love to see return. Rather than tying these characters to a specific series, film, or ongoing project, this list is more general. I’m not advocating, for example, for any of these characters to necessarily appear in Picard or Strange New Worlds, but rather to return to the franchise at some point, when a suitable story could be written.

The Original Series Season 2 cast (without George Takei).

It goes without saying that practically every major character (at least those who weren’t killed off) could be brought back in some capacity, and with the franchise continuing to expand I think it’s increasingly likely that we’ll get some significant moments where characters reappear. For the sake of this list I’m not counting characters who are starring in shows that are currently in production, so I’ll be limited to characters from The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and the films.

The Next Generation cast in Season 4 – plus Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan.

By my count there are 42 characters across those five series that we could call “major” – i.e. they regularly had their names listed in the main credits, and weren’t considered guest stars or just recurring secondary characters. This time I’m picking on just five, and my usual caveat applies: I don’t have any “insider information!” This is just a short list of characters that I think could be fun to bring back in some capacity, nothing more.

The Deep Space Nine cast in Season 4.

Of the 42 characters that occupied major starring roles in at least one season of the five aforementioned shows, I’m excluding five: James T Kirk from The Original Series, Data and Tasha Yar from The Next Generation, Jadzia Dax from Deep Space Nine, and Trip Tucker from Enterprise. All the exclusions are for the same reason: those characters have died in-universe. While there could be convoluted ways to bring back alternate versions (such as we saw with Sela, for instance) the original character can’t return after death.

The Season 2 cast of Voyager.

Though it may be controversial, I don’t believe that the death of an actor necessarily excludes a character from returning. The Kelvin films recast the entire main cast of The Original Series, and Star Trek: Picard recently recast a couple of legacy characters as well. So characters whose primary actors have passed away are still in contention.

Now that we’ve laid down the ground rules, let’s take a look at my choices.

Number 1: Chakotay

This one is inspired by the return of Seven of Nine in Season 1 of Picard. I’ve written about this before, but Seven’s return to Star Trek was cathartic for me, because the passage of time allowed her to be a very different, more emotional, and much more human character than she ever was in Voyager. Seven was sometimes annoying and difficult to root for, especially toward the end of Voyager’s run, and basically the reason was that she’d always seem to “reset” after learning what should have been a big and important lesson in how to be human. It made her character bland and repetitive. But we’re not here to talk about Seven of Nine!

Chakotay didn’t have a lot to do in Voyager, despite being the first officer. There were a handful of episodes in which he was given a storyline, but a lot of the time he was just a presence, someone there for other characters to bounce ideas off or to tell Captain Janeway he didn’t recommend she do something we all knew she’d end up doing anyway. In short, bringing back Chakotay is something I would see as a chance for his character to get a Seven of Nine-like “redemption,” with some genuine development and a significant storyline.

One thing Voyager touched on briefly but never really explored was the way Chakotay felt about the deaths of the Maquis. The episode Extreme Risk focused on B’Elanna as she struggled to come to terms with what happened to their former colleagues, but Chakotay never really got a similar moment. As part of a larger story looking at the aftermath of the Dominion War, learning what happened to the Maquis’ colonies in the aftermath of that conflict could include Chakotay, as one of those worlds was his home.

We could also learn that Chakotay was allowed to remain in Starfleet following Voyager’s return to the Alpha Quadrant, and may even have been given his own command. Given that Voyager quite quickly dropped the Maquis angle, I’m not sure this is the route I’d go down because it doesn’t seem like it offers a lot of development or growth potential for his character, but it’s a possibility.

The final few episodes of Voyager’s seventh season saw a burgeoning relationship building between Chakotay and Seven of Nine. With Seven now a recurring character in Picard, and with the possibility of her entering into a relationship with main character Raffi, we could potentially explore what happened between Seven and Chakotay. Voyager’s finale certainly suggested that he had strong feelings for her, even after her death in that timeline.

Unfortunately, for reasons that aren’t especially clear, the producers of Voyager lost interest in – or didn’t know what to do with – the “one ship, two crews” concept that had been part of the show’s inception. Chakotay and the rest of the Maquis were absorbed into the crew by midway through Season 1, and while lip service was paid to Chakotay’s Maquis past at numerous points, I think that’s one aspect of his background that would be ripe for exploration. In any 24th or early 25th Century story that looked at Bajor, Cardassia, and the aftermath of the Dominion War, I’d spend at least an episode or two considering the legacy of the Maquis, and Chakotay could play a major role in such a story.

Number 2: T’Pol

I’ve mentioned T’Pol before in relation to Strange New Worlds, and that series is certainly one where we could see her crop up. Because of Enterprise’s place in the timeline, unless Star Trek plans on returning to the 22nd Century for some other story, there aren’t many characters who could realistically still be active and able to play a major role. The 23rd and 24th Centuries (as well as Discovery’s 32nd Century) are where current Star Trek projects are focused – and I have to say I think that’s the right call. Enterprise was an interesting experiment, but I see no pressing need to return to the 22nd Century at this stage.

The story I’d include T’Pol in would go something like this: she’s a senior Federation ambassador by the mid-23rd Century, and accompanies Captain Pike on a diplomatic mission. The mission would make first contact with a race we met in The Next Generation era, such as the Cardassians. We’d thus tie together all three of Star Trek’s eras in one story! I think an episode like that would be incredibly rewarding for longstanding fans of the franchise; a “love letter” to the fans.

But there are many other roles T’Pol could occupy. Having spent so long with humans during those early days of humanity striking out into space, she could prove an invaluable guide or advisor to a young Spock. Whether Spock is “the first Vulcan in Starfleet” is a point of contention without an obvious answer, but even if he wasn’t it’s clear that the Vulcans continued to operate an independent fleet into the 23rd Century, and thus Vulcans serving in Starfleet seem to have been rare. T’Pol is well-placed to be a kind of mentor to Spock for this reason.

However, both of those story concepts take T’Pol out of her usual scientific role, and perhaps a story could be devised which would be better-suited to her career as a scientist. I’m still thinking of a 23rd Century story, but one which perhaps requires high-ranking Federation scientists to work on a mystery or puzzle.

Number 3: Dr Pulaski

I’ve never met a fan of The Next Generation who likes Dr Pulaski as much as I do. I understand why she wasn’t popular with fans, replacing Dr Crusher after one season and especially because of her early run-ins with Data that amounted to anti-android bigotry. But where Dr Crusher could be fairly bland, Dr Pulaski had a really strong personality that shone through.

On another occasion we’ll talk about Dr Pulaski and how her introduction in Season 2 of The Next Generation was an attempt to shake up the new series and bring in a Dr McCoy-type character. But for now I want to consider how she could return, and what sort of role she could have.

Picard Season 1 missed an opportunity to bring back Dr Pulaski – or another medical officer from The Next Generation like Alyssa Ogawa – in the second episode. Picard receives bad news from a doctor he knew while serving aboard the USS Stargazer, Dr Benayoun. This was a new character created for Picard, and if I’d been writing it I might have chosen to bring back Dr Pulaski at this moment instead. I don’t know if that was ever suggested, because it’s well-known that actress Diana Muldaur didn’t have a great time working on The Next Generation. But it would have been neat to see!

One series that has been doing great with references to less well-known parts of canon is Lower Decks, and perhaps that means Dr Pulaski would be a good fit to return there. I don’t know if Diana Muldaur is still working, nor whether she’d be well enough or willing to reprise the role. But it was at least a little sad that Dr Pulaski was dropped in The Next Generation Season 3 with no explanation. There’s scope, I feel, to learn what came next for her – even if the character has to be recast.

Almost any medical story or story involving characters from The Next Generation Season 2 could see Dr Pulaski return, and of course Star Trek: Picard has to be the prime candidate of the shows currently in production. She could, for example, be one of the chief medical officers assigned to help the surviving ex-Borg now that they’re (presumably) under Federation protection. Or how about this: in a storyline that clearly shows how much she’s changed her attitude to synthetic life, she could be the head of a Federation medical team sent to Coppelius to help the synths. This would cement her “redemption” from her earlier interactions with Data, and would perhaps provide a suitable epilogue to her role in The Next Generation Season 2.

Number 4: Benjamin Sisko

Captain Sisko is probably the character whose return I’ve touted the most! Because of the unique nature of his disappearance in the Deep Space Nine finale – vanishing into the realm of the Bajoran Prophets – he could return literally anywhere, in any time period. The Prophets don’t experience time in the same linear manner as humans, so they could send him to a point in his future, his past, or anywhere along the Star Trek timeline.

This is why I’ve proposed Sisko as a character who could appear in Picard, Strange New Worlds, and Discovery – because he could be sent back by the Prophets at any moment in time. I would argue he would have more to do in a story set in the late 24th or early 25th Centuries than he might in the 23rd or 32nd, but in any story that brought back Bajor, Sisko could play a major role.

He could also be part of a story looking at the aftermath of the Dominion War, at Cardassian relations with the Federation, and of course at Deep Space Nine itself. I think Sisko has the potential to be a useful character too. If he joined the story right at the moment of his return to normal spacetime, he could potentially be a point-of-view character, and an excuse for a film or episode to dump a lot of exposition that could otherwise feel clunky and out-of-place. This would be done under the guise of other characters bringing Sisko up to speed on what he’s missed – and we could catch up on galactic affairs right along with him!

Of all the characters on this list, Sisko is the one whose story feels the most unfinished. There was almost a cliffhanger ending to his role in Deep Space Nine, with a tease that one day he’ll be coming back. Whether we’ll ever see that on screen is another matter, of course, and Avery Brooks has seemed less willing to reprise the role than some other Star Trek actors. But you never know!

Number 5: Montgomery Scott

It would be relatively easy for Scotty to crop up in Strange New Worlds as a junior engineer – or in any other 23rd Century series, for that matter. But that’s not really what I’m proposing this time. That idea has merit, and I think I included Scotty in one of my character ideas lists for Strange New Worlds. However, this time what I’m suggesting is Scotty in the 24th Century.

Relics, the Season 6 episode of The Next Generation, established that Scotty had been kept alive in a form of transporter stasis of his own devising for over eighty years, finally rematerializing when the crew of the Enterprise-D encountered his crashed ship. After working briefly with Geordi La Forge, Captain Picard, and others, Scotty was given a shuttle and set out to explore the new century on his own. We would later learn in 2009’s Star Trek that Scotty had gone back to work, developing a method of “transwarp beaming” that became important to the plot of that film.

After that, however, what became of Scotty is a mystery. He had initially intended to retire, so did his stint with Starfleet continue? Or did he resume his planned retirement in the 24th Century, catching up on the eight decades of galactic history that he’d missed? He reunited with Spock, apparently, and it’s at least possible he would have been able to visit the elderly Dr McCoy as well.

Scotty offers a “coming out of retirement” story, perhaps prompted by some horrible event or disaster that requires an engineering solution. We could learn, for example, that he’d worked alongside Geordi La Forge in preparing the Romulan rescue fleet, or even that he was helping to rebuild the Mars shipyards after the attack by the Zhat Vash. Those are two ideas based on events from Picard Season 1, but of course there are many, many other ways Scotty could have contributed to Starfleet and the Federation in the late 24th Century.

So that’s it… at least for now. The second part of this short series will look at five secondary or recurring characters who I also think could be fun to bring back!

With so many ongoing and upcoming Star Trek projects occupying different places in the timeline, there really is scope to bring back almost any major character, and I hope the creative team don’t feel constrained! As a Trekkie I think I’d be happy with literally any of them making an appearance, though of course it would have to make sense in-universe as well as not be offputting for casual viewers.

The cast of Enterprise during Season 1.

We mentioned the episode Relics, and I think that story manages to walk that line exceptionally well. For fans of The Original Series, Scotty’s return was an amazing treat. But for folks who weren’t familiar with the older series, his inclusion in the episode still managed to make sense. The story was well-written, and while knowing more about who Scotty was and where he’d come from certainly added to it for Trekkies, it didn’t put off casual viewers by demanding a lot of knowledge of Star Trek canon. That’s the kind of model any future episode, film, or story that brings back a character should try to emulate.

We can also point to If Memory Serves, from the second season of Discovery. That episode began with a short recap of the events of The Cage, establishing what happened to Captain Pike on Talos IV, who the Talosians were, who Vina was, and so on. By beginning an episode which features a returning character with a clip or compilation of their past Star Trek exploits, almost any character could be integrated into an ongoing production.

The Discovery Season 1 cast (without Wilson Cruz).

The Star Trek franchise has been running for over five decades, and has a huge roster of wonderful characters. The fact that there are too many to put on the list – or the fact that the list could literally include every single one – is testament to the quality of the franchise and the creative teams who’ve contributed to it over the years.

Stay tuned for the next part in this series, where I’ll look at five secondary or recurring characters who I’d also love to see come back!

The Star Trek franchise – including all series mentioned above – is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other territories where the service exists, and on Netflix in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The Star Trek franchise – including all properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Ten great Star Trek episodes – Part 5: Enterprise

Spoiler Warning: In addition to spoilers for the Enterprise episodes on this list, further spoilers may be present for other iterations of the Star Trek franchise.

My relationship with Star Trek: Enterprise hasn’t always been smooth. I was listening to the radio sometime in either late 1999 or early 2000 when news was breaking that a new Star Trek show was entering production. Here in the UK, Deep Space Nine and Voyager were still on the air – but were approaching the end of their runs. It wasn’t clear what would come next, and as a teenager who was a big Star Trek fan, I was naturally curious and anxious to see what we were going to get. I was definitely expecting a new Star Trek show sooner or later – the franchise had been on television for practically my entire life up to this point, so the idea that it might go off the air never even crossed my mind!

However, when the show was revealed to be a prequel (I can’t remember if that was part of the initial announcement or was something that I found out later) I was less than impressed. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace had been in cinemas around this time, and I just remember feeling that prequels as a concept were not something I was a fan of. This was a pretty childish reaction: “The Phantom Menace was bad, therefore all prequels must be bad!” Nevertheless, that’s how I felt at the time. Enterprise would also be shown not on the BBC, which doesn’t have advertisement breaks, but on Channel 4, which does. Having seen all of the other Star Trek shows free of ad breaks I wasn’t especially keen to have them in Enterprise.

The inclusion of Scott Bakula, who had previously starred in an underappreciated science fiction series called Quantum Leap, did improve matters somewhat for me, but I still wasn’t sold on the premise of Enterprise. Why did Star Trek need to go back in time to before Capt. Kirk? For me, the whole point of the franchise was, and always had been, to press further forward into the future. Looking at how the Federation formed and Earth’s early missions of exploration, meeting races I’d already seen developed in other series, just didn’t hold much appeal as a concept.

Opening title card for Enterprise in its first two seasons (before the Star Trek prefix was added).

When Broken Bow premiered in late 2001 I did tune in, but for much of the rest of Enterprise’s original broadcast run I didn’t, and as a result I didn’t see well over half the series until I picked it up on DVD around 2009-10, long after it had gone off the air. This was the moment that I came closest to no longer following the franchise, as I’ve previously discussed. When I did pick up Enterprise on DVD, however, I was pleasantly surprised. While it still isn’t my favourite part of the franchise, it’s a series which has heart, and the spirit of exploration – seeking out strange, new worlds – which had been largely absent from Deep Space Nine and parts of The Next Generation and Voyager was on full display. I’ll often use Enterprise as an example whenever I hear the expression “no one asked for this”. No one in 1999-2000 was asking for a Star Trek prequel, yet the show found its feet and told some interesting and enjoyable stories with a great cast of characters. Despite my initial feelings, I’ve warmed up to Enterprise in the years since it was broadcast.

Enterprise wasn’t just controversial with me, though, and the show struggled with ratings during its run. It managed to last for four seasons – one more than The Original Series – before being cancelled in 2005. In the aftermath of Enterprise’s demise the Star Trek franchise seemed dead – until rumours of a reboot film were first heard over a year later. It would be twelve years before another Star Trek show would grace the small screen, though, and by then a lot would have changed for the franchise. The CGI used for almost all of the Enterprise‘s special effects is very much of its time, and thus looks dated by today’s standards. The late 1990s and early 2000s were, at least in my opinion, not a great time for CGI. Many shows and films – like the Star Wars prequels – tried to take advantage of the technology before it was properly ready for prime-time.

In case you missed it, here’s how this format works: this isn’t a “top ten” ranked list of my all-time favourite episodes. Instead, this is simply a list of episodes that I find enjoyable and would recommend – especially if you find that you have more time than usual for entertainment at the moment! I’ve picked stories (a couple of which are multi-episode arcs) from all four of Enterprise’s seasons, and they’re listed below in the order they were released.

You can find the first four articles in this series by following these links: The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager.

This is your final chance to jump ship if you want to avoid spoilers!

Number 1: The Andorian Incident (Season 1)

Shran would go on to be a recurring character.

One of the unexpected things about Enterprise, not just in its first season but really for its entire run, was that the Vulcans were quasi-antagonists. We’d seen human-Vulcan relations being generally good across Star Trek, and even in First Contact there was no real indication that it would be a rocky road. Nevertheless, the Vulcans are presented as being arrogant, interfering, and are suggested to have deliberately slowed the development of humanity’s warp technology. Even at this early stage in Enterprise, they’re not exactly good friends.

The Andorians had been established as one of the Federation’s core races as early as The Original Series’ second season episode Journey to Babel – which featured on my list of ten great episodes from Star Trek’s first show – and after the blue-skinned aliens were curiously absent for almost all of The Next Generation’s era, Enterprise brought them back. The show was focusing on the build-up to the birth of the Federation, and with the Andorians known to be one of the founding members, encountering them was inevitable.

Journey to Babel established that relations between Vulcans and Andorians could be complicated, to say the least! And The Andorian Incident takes that story thread and runs with it, not only telling a really interesting story that showed the Vulcans at their most arrogant and duplicitous, using a site they claimed to be a religious sanctuary as a high-tech spy post, but also laid the groundwork for the Andorians’ future appearances on the show.

Shran, played by veteran Star Trek actor Jeffrey Combs, makes his debut here and would go on to be a recurring character. Jeffrey Combs had previously portrayed Weyoun in Deep Space Nine, among several other characters, and is outstanding in the role of Shran. This Andorian commander would be both an enemy and later an ally of Capt. Archer and Enterprise’s crew, and the complex character was a perfect fit for Combs to play. Despite the difference in makeup and prosthetics from Deep Space Nine, it is clearly him, and if you’re very familiar with Weyoun from the Dominion War arc that can take a little while to get used to!

Number 2: Sleeping Dogs (Season 1)

Shuttlepod 1 departs Enterprise.

Broken Bow, which was the premiere of Enterprise, showed first contact between humans and Klingons. While this first contact wasn’t exactly smooth, the two powers maintained an uneasy peace, and the Klingons had already reappeared in Enterprise’s first season. Sleeping Dogs is another episode featuring the famed warrior race, showing an early (in terms of the in-universe timeline!) example of cooperation with humans as Archer and a Klingon named Bu’kaH attempt to free a stricken Klingon ship.

Enterprise stops to investigate a gas giant only to discover a Klingon ship trapped in its atmosphere. An away team consisting of Reed, T’Pol, and Sato is sent to investigate, but they become trapped when their shuttlepod is stolen. These three characters weren’t often working together, despite being bridge officers, so giving them a chance to interact and face adversity was a good move for a series in its first season. Recent outings aside, Star Trek has always tried to give every main cast member opportunities like this.

Bu’kaH is an interesting guest star. While the way she was ultimately convinced to help – appealing to her Klingon sense of honour and fear of a dishonourable death – isn’t original and had been done before, it was nevertheless nice to see her come around and work with Archer to rescue the stranded away team.

Number 3: Carbon Creek (Season 2)

Vulcans in the ’50s!

Prequel stories can often mess up existing canon, overwriting what we thought was the established backstory, lore, and history of a fictional universe. As a result, I find that they can be very difficult to get right, as I’ve already explained in my introduction. Carbon Creek, however, is different. The episode tells the story of the crew of a small Vulcan craft who find themselves stranded in 1950s America – in the town of Carbon Creek.

Time travel stories in Star Trek, like the film The Voyage Home or the Voyager two-parter Future’s End, feel very dated very quickly, because they dump the crew in a contemporary setting. Carbon Creek deliberately avoids this trap, putting the crew in a nostalgic 1950s setting rather than the early 2000s – when Enterprise was in production. Stories that go down that route tend to work better, at least in my opinion.

T’Pol, aboard Enterprise, entertains Archer and Tucker with a story of her great-grandmother, who happened to be one of the stranded Vulcan crew members. The episode focuses largely on this Vulcan crew, meaning T’Pol actress Jolene Blalock is the only main cast member with significant screen time. It was a great episode for her – but not one which really let her get away from the stoic Vulcan behaviour of T’Pol. The two characters – T’Pol and her great-grandmother – are essentially the same; we could do a whole article about Vulcan personalities and how easily (or not) one Vulcan could be swapped out for another!

Regardless, Carbon Creek is a sweet story, and the classic 1950s Americana setting is something I personally enjoyed. It’s definitely a different kind of episode – it’s not a time travel story, it’s something comparable to Voyager’s fifth-season episode 11:59 in that it’s a story set in the past, relayed by a character in the present. I found it enjoyable, telling a hidden story of human-Vulcan contact.

Number 4: The Catwalk (Season 2)

Mayweather and Tucker in the titular catwalk.

What I like about The Catwalk isn’t necessarily its major storyline, which sees a species called the Takret invading Enterprise, trying to catch three of their deserting officers who had been given refuge aboard the ship. Instead, what I like is the driving force behind the plot, that the crew are trapped in a storm and forced to take refuge in one of the nacelles.

To me, this is Enterprise showing off just how dangerous space exploration can be, even for a ship designed explicitly for the purpose. We’ve seen Starfleet ships face anomalies and space weather before, but this is the first time that we’ve seen them come up against something they couldn’t outrun or avoid. Instead, the crew are forced to sit through a storm, hiding in one of the most heavily-shielded parts of the ship.

Much of the plot is set in the catwalk – part of the ship’s warp nacelle. The crew take refuge there when a massive storm front hits, and we see them having to survive in very close quarters. Morale could easily dip very low under such circumstances, so this is a moment for Capt. Archer to show off his leadership abilities.

The main storyline is interesting, showing the abandoned ship invaded by the Takret, but it parallels the Voyager fourth season episode Scientific Method in some respects – particularly its resolution.

Number 5: Regeneration (Season 2)

Borg drones in Regeneration.

The Borg are one of Star Trek’s most interesting villains. I have an article discussing how they can be used as an incredibly effective storytelling device, including how they play on our collective fears of brainwashing and out-of-control technology. You can find it by clicking or tapping here. In-universe, however, the Federation’s history with the Borg only begins in The Next Generation’s era; the 24th Century. Bringing the Borg into Enterprise was a challenge, but one that the producers decided was worth trying. Even by Season 2, things weren’t going smoothly for Enterprise – the show had lost some of its core fans, and after more than fifteen years on the air, there was an element of franchise fatigue setting in, at least for some people. The Borg had usually been a guaranteed winner in Star Trek, and I’m sure that was a key production-side reason for doing a Borg story.

The story that results makes a mess of canon, but no more of a mess than the introduction of Seven of Nine’s family had in Voyager. Both of these stories shifted humanity’s first contact with the Borg to before Q Who (the second-season episode of The Next Generation which first introduced them). Setting aside canon issues, however, what results is a strong story taken as a standalone piece. Sure, the reason for the Borg’s presence is a bit of a stretch, but aside from that it was interesting to see 22nd Century humans try to deal with an enemy like 24th Century Borg.

By having a tiny number of drones and one small, sub-light ship being all there was, there was a reasonable and realistic way for Archer and Enterprise’s crew to prevail; pitting them against a fully-operational Cube and thousands of drones would have clearly been too much to handle! And the episode’s resolution does handle at least part of the canon question – by saying that the Borg’s transmission to the Delta Quadrant wouldn’t be received until the 24th Century it excuses the fact that the Borg didn’t attempt to visit Earth in the interim… though it does, perhaps, set up a time-loop paradox!

Number 6: Impulse (Season 3)

Vulcan “zombies”!

Season 3 of Enterprise was Star Trek’s second experiment with serialised storytelling, following the Dominion War story arc in Deep Space Nine. The season also saw Enterprise receive the “Star Trek” prefix, in line with other shows. In its first two seasons it wasn’t titled Star Trek: Enterprise, but simply Enterprise. The serialised nature of Season 3 makes it difficult to pick individual episodes, but Impulse is a great choice as it’s a fairly self-contained story.

While in the Delphic Expanse searching for the Xindi, Archer and the crew encounter a Vulcan ship. The crew of the ship have been driven insane by a compound that’s toxic to Vulcans but which ships traversing the region need for reinforcing their hulls. The Vulcans were unaware of the side-effects and were driven mad – coming close to animalistic or zombie-like. In fact, the 28 Days Later style of fast-moving zombies is probably a good analogy for the sick Vulcans in Impulse.

The episode focuses in part on T’Pol, and her struggles with the toxic compound. She would later develop an addiction as a result of her exposure here, something which would be detailed in later episodes in the third and fourth seasons. This set up not only an interesting new angle for her character, but a great storyline about dealing with addiction.

Number 7: Countdown and Zero Hour (Season 3)

The Xindi weapon in Countdown.

As previously mentioned, Enterprise’s third season essentially forms one continuous story. While there are semi-standalone episodes contained within, it’s by far a better experience if watched from beginning to end as intended. Countdown and Zero Hour are the culmination of more than twenty episodes’ worth of story, and really need to be viewed in that context.

At the end of Season 2, Enterprise was recalled to Earth following an attack by the Xindi. It would be revealed to Capt. Archer that the Xindi were developing another weapon, larger in scale, that would destroy the Earth, and thus the ship was dispatched to prevent this from happening. The season continues the time travel themes established in previous stories, and explains that the Xindi are being manipulated by a faction in the Temporal Cold War.

By this point in the story, Capt. Archer has managed to contact the Xindi, and the race is on to prevent them from using the weapon – which is now fully-operational and ready to be deployed. Major Hayes, who had been a recurring character throughout the season, is killed off in a pretty brutal scene, and eventually it’s up to Archer to do whatever it takes to save Earth.

A season-long arc like this needed a truly awesome ending, and Countdown and Zero Hour delivered, providing an explosive finale.

Number 8: Home (Season 4)

Tucker, Archer, and T’Pol in Home.

Home is an interesting story, dealing in part with the way Enterprise’s crew are treated after returning to Earth. As we’ve recently seen in Star Trek: Picard, and saw hints at in Star Trek Generations, some Starfleet officers and crew seem to become semi-celebrities in the Federation, or at least people whose names are known to the public. Home explores this concept in a way we haven’t really seen in any other Star Trek story, however.

While we’d seen the Xindi weapon defeated at the very end of Season 3, Season 4’s two-part premiere took the crew on another adventure, finally wrapping up the Temporal Cold War arc. As I’ve said on a number of occasions, time travel stories have never been my favourite (both within Star Trek and outside it) so from my point of view I was glad to see that element of the show brought to a conclusion. Home is thus the first episode of Enterprise taking place after the victory over the Xindi.

The episode introduces Enterprise’s sister-ship, Columbia, which would appear on several occasions before the show wrapped production at the end of the season. This story element was nice, showing humanity finally expanding its fleet and beginning another mission of exploration. Archer’s comments that the new ship would need all the weapons it had was an acknowledgement that his optimism had been tainted by his experiences in space – with the Xindi in particular.

Home would also set up what I consider to be the fourth season’s most interesting storyline: the Terra Prime anti-alien xenophobia which would be further explored toward the end of the season.

Number 9: The Forge, Awakening, and Kir’Shara (Season 4)

Tucker and Ambassador Soval in The Forge.

As I mentioned earlier, the way Vulcans were portrayed in Enterprise as pushy, rude, arrogant, and even aggressive at times may have been in keeping with some of what we’d seen previously, but it was also quite different from how we’d seen characters like Spock and Tuvok. This trilogy of episodes essentially removes many of the higher-ranking Vulcans we’d come to know over much of Enterprise’s run, setting the stage for the changes in Vulcan society that would be needed to get them closer to prior depictions.

We’d learnt earlier in Enterprise’s run that mind-melding was something considered taboo among many 22nd Century Vulcans, and given that we know by the 23rd and 24th Centuries this would no longer be the case – and would not even be referenced – that was one of many Vulcan storylines that needed concluding. Given that Enterprise’s ratings had always been shaky and cancellation was always a threat, it may have seemed to the show’s creators that the fourth season was going to be the final opportunity. Having developed the Vulcans over three seasons, with T’Pol and Ambassador Soval in particular, there was a sense that it was necessary to try to move the Vulcans themselves closer to their 23rd and 24th Century depictions.

The resulting story is a fascinating one that takes a far deeper look at Vulcan history than anything we’d ever seen, greatly expanding on the role of Surak – the legendary father of Vulcan philosophy and logic who debuted in The Original Series third-season episode The Savage Curtain. This was a great tie-in to the franchise’s past, and explored the Vulcans from a different point of view, while at the same time making that abrupt turnaround from the way they behaved in Enterprise to what we’d already seen in other Star Trek shows.

Number 10: Demons and Terra Prime (Season 4)

John Frederick Paxton was the villain in Demons and Terra Prime.

At the beginning of Season 4, Home established that there was a faction of humans on Earth opposed to any and all dealings with aliens, something which had been a minority view but had grown massively as a result of the Xindi attack. This duology of episodes explores that idea in much more detail, and continues Star Trek’s tradition of using a science fiction setting to parallel real-world issues.

I’ve written a number of times about how it’s important to consider Star Trek episodes in the context of their time when looking at real-world parallels, and Demons and Terra Prime were written and produced in the aftermath of both the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq War – both of which were major events in the early/mid-2000s. Among the many consequences of 9/11 and subsequent conflicts in the Middle East was a rise in xenophobia targeting Muslims – and I’d argue that’s what Demons and Terra Prime is paralleling with its anti-aliens storyline.

However, it’s never good enough for a story to have a moral or a message – in some cases, being too in-your-face can detract from the enjoyment. So where Demons and Terra Prime really succeed is that the story is engaging and well-told. The primary villain – John Frederick Paxton, who’s portrayed pitch-perfectly by Peter Weller, who would also play Admiral Marcus in Star Trek Into Darkness – is one of Enterprise’s best. His motivation, while abhorrent, is something we as the audience can understand because, at least in 2005, we were living through what many considered to be a similar time. Paxton is a reactionary, a far-right conservative who wants to take Earth back to an era before humans and aliens had contact. He’s by no means a sympathetic villain – as we’ve spent four years with T’Pol, Phlox, and others, we feel we know them on a personal level in a way Paxton doesn’t – but he’s a fascinating one nevertheless.

Terra Prime ends with a major emotional revelation for Tucker and T’Pol, and these two characters in particular are at the heart of the story.

So that’s it. Ten great Enterprise episodes. There’s a lot to appreciate in the series, despite my initial reaction to it all those years ago. While it can certainly be argued that Enterprise led directly to Star Trek’s second major cancellation in 2005, in other ways it laid the groundwork for what would come later. The serialised storytelling in particular went a long way to modernising the franchise from a narrative point of view, and the focus on exploration brought Star Trek back to its roots.

Prequels can be difficult to get right for many reasons, and while Enterprise does create some issues for Star Trek’s wider canon, overall there were more hits than misses. The undeveloped fifth season, which supposedly would have shown parts of the Earth-Romulan war, as well as more of the lead-up to the founding of the Federation, remains to this day something I’m disappointed we never got to see.

By 2004-05, Star Trek had been on the air approaching twenty years without a break, with two shows running simultaneously for large parts of that. The whole reason Enterprise was envisioned as a prequel, instead of making another 24th Century spin-off or moving the timeline forward, is almost certainly because the people in charge of Star Trek at that time were running out of ideas. There exists such a thing as “franchise fatigue” in the world of entertainment, and thus I’d suggest that by that time, Enterprise’s cancellation had as much to do with Star Trek as a whole needing an overhaul than the series itself.

Enterprise’s 2005 cancellation seemed to mark a definitive end to the franchise, and for at least a year it seemed as though we’d got all of the Star Trek films and shows that we were ever going to. But of course we know that it wasn’t the end: Star Trek would be successfully rebooted in 2009, and finally in 2017 would return to the small screen. Enterprise’s reputation as “the show that killed Star Trek” can thus be fully rehabilitated, and while it isn’t perfect, and much of its CGI in particular is very dated by today’s standards, it is a very enjoyable show.

There’s one more article to come in this current series, which has the working title “everything else”! I will be picking ten episodes from other Star Trek productions which currently don’t have enough episodes to have a “ten great episodes” list of their own, including The Animated Series and Short Treks. I hope you’ll stay tuned for that in the next few weeks.

Star Trek: Enterprise is available to stream now on CBS All Access in the United States, and on Netflix in the United Kingdom and internationally. The Star Trek franchise – including Enterprise – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.