Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2 and the trailers, teasers, and announcements for Season 3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Prodigy.
A few days ago I picked out a dozen Star Trek episodes (and a couple of films) that I thought would make good background viewing ahead of Star Trek: Picard’s upcoming third and final season. Since then, we’ve been treated to the final Season 3 trailer, and while I wasn’t exactly blown away by the trailer itself, it raised a couple of potentially interesting points that made me think of a few more Star Trek episodes. So on this occasion we’re going to add five more Star Trek episodes to the list!
I had quite a lot to say about the final Season 3 trailer, so if you missed my thoughts and analysis you can find that piece by clicking or tapping here. And to see the first part of this list, containing other episodes and films that I think will be good to watch ahead of Picard Season 3, click or tap here.
There’s still an awful lot that we don’t know about Picard Season 3. Although we have a sense of who the main characters will be, there are still some question-marks about how they will all work together – and even which side everyone will be on. There are also, in my opinion at least, a couple of potentially-open character slots on the villainous side of the season – particularly if Captain Vadic has, as I have posited, put together a kind of “rogues’ gallery” of past Star Trek baddies!
A couple of caveats before we get started. First of all, I have no “insider information,” and I’m not trying to claim that any of the episodes listed below definitely will have a bearing on the storyline of Picard Season 3. This is guesswork on my part – and nothing more! Secondly, all of this is simply the subjective take of one person. I’ve picked a few episodes that I think could be relevant, but if you disagree with my picks or if I exclude something you think is blindingly obvious, that’s just the way it goes! This is just one person’s opinion – and it’s meant to be taken in the spirit of fun.
With that out of the way, let’s get started!
Story #1: Coming of Age and Conspiracy The Next Generation Season 1
Coming of Age is primarily about Wesley Crusher and his first attempt to get accepted into Starfleet Academy. However, the episode’s secondary plot sets up the story of Conspiracy, the penultimate episode of The Next Generation Season 1. In Conspiracy, a race of parasitic aliens infiltrate Starfleet Command, taking over senior officers, including admirals, as part of a plot to subjugate the Federation. Though the parasitic aliens would claim that they sought “peaceful coexistence,” their actions clearly showed that they planned to take over Starfleet – perhaps as a first step to conquering the Federation.
Before their “mother creature” was killed it was able to send a signal into deep space, and Data believed that the parasite-aliens would one day return. This story was originally intended to set up the Borg storyline in Season 2, but I think everyone can agree it’s for the best that that didn’t happen! For our purposes, there was something about Captain Vadic in the Season 3 trailer, and particularly Dr Crusher’s line about Picard being unable to trust anyone within Starfleet, that made me think of Conspiracy. I think it would be an incredibly bold and unexpected move to return to what was, let’s be honest, not one of The Next Generation’s finest or best-remembered stories. But at the very least, the episode’s concept of a conspiracy within Starfleet itself could be worth checking out… even if the parasite-aliens aren’t going to make a comeback!
Story #2: The Enemy The Next Generation Season 3
The Enemy is a great Star Trek episode, and an absolutely classic example of how the franchise uses its sci-fi setting to tell stories that reflect the real world. When considering what may be to come in Picard Season 3, it’s also a strong Geordi La Forge story, and one that sees him interacting with a Romulan. The Romulans were a big deal in Picard Season 1, and if we take Geordi’s role in the spin-off comics and novels that have been released in recent years, he may have been present on Mars when the Zhat Vash caused the synths to attack. He may feel he has unfinished business with the Romulans, or lingering trauma over those events, so stepping back to see Geordi’s first big meeting with a Romulan could be worthwhile.
Geordi is one of the characters whose role in Season 3 feels totally ambiguous. All we know at this stage from the trailers and teasers is that he seems to have been promoted to the rank of commodore and that he may have a senior position on board Spacedock or another similar starbase. I like the idea of revisiting an earlier Geordi story to see how far he’s come – and The Enemy is one of his best episodes in The Next Generation.
Story #3: You Are Cordially Invited, Change of Heart, and Tears of the Prophets Deep Space Nine Season 6
This trio of episodes, spread across Deep Space Nine’s fantastic sixth season, focus in large part on Worf’s relationship with Jadzia Dax. Worf and Jadzia got married at the height of the Dominion War, not long after the Federation had re-taken DS9 from the Cardassians and the Dominion, but their marriage was, sadly, not to last – Jadzia was killed at the end of the season. I remember Jadzia’s death coming as a huge shock when I first watched Tears of the Prophets; although we knew actress Terry Farrell would be leaving the series, the decision to outright kill Jadzia was still a bold one – the first main character death in Star Trek since Tasha Yar at the beginning of The Next Generation a decade earlier.
With Worf coming back in Season 3, there’s a chance, at least, that his marriage to Jadzia will be referred to. Showrunner Terry Matalas has suggested that part of Worf’s arc will connect back to his experiences not just on Deep Space Nine, but specifically to his service in the Dominion War – and although Worf did a lot for the war effort, the biggest emotional moment for him has to be his marriage and the subsequent death of his wife. Although Deep Space Nine’s seventh season explored this through Worf’s conversations with Ezri Dax, there’s definitely scope to see how Worf would have processed his grief and loss after the war’s end.
Story #4: What You Leave Behind Deep Space Nine Season 7
Picking up that same Dominion War theme, we come to the finale of Deep Space Nine and the final engagement of the conflict. The episode ends with the Dominion’s defeat and Odo choosing to return to the Founders’ homeworld to share his knowledge of living in the Alpha Quadrant – as well as Captain Sisko’s departure to the realm of the Prophets! There’s a lot to unpack in this complex and emotional feature-length episode, but for our purposes we’re focused on the Dominion War and its ending.
It’s possible that Captain Vadic will have some connection to the war – she certainly seems old enough to have potentially served in it. She could be a Founder, perhaps, and if the changelings are once again on the move, that could explain why Dr Crusher warned Picard about not trusting anyone. Or Vadic’s connection to the war could come from the other side: she could be a Federation or even Romulan officer who served. Either way, some kind of Dominion War connection has been teased – so seeing how the war came to an end could be important.
Story #5: Human Error Voyager Season 7
I didn’t really pick any Seven of Nine episodes on my last list – which is kind of an oversight, given that she will be returning in Picard Season 3! Voyager’s later seasons included quite a few Seven-focused episodes (if you’d have asked me at the time, I’d have definitely said there were too many!) but for today, I want to take a look at Human Error.
Part of Seven’s story this time around is sure to focus on her new role within Starfleet, and although Picard’s first two seasons already gave her a deeply cathartic arc and plenty of development, her change of circumstances this time around could be very interesting. Human Error shows Seven of Nine trying to hone her social skills on the holodeck, as well as setting the stage for a potential romance with Chakotay. Of all the “Seven of Nine learns how to be human” stories – of which there were a lot – Human Error is one of the more interesting, and perhaps some of the themes it touches on will be relevant this time around… even if the main plot points themselves are unlikely to be!
Bonus: Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1
I almost included this as an “official” entry on the list, but I’m not sure I could justify saying that all of Prodigy’s first season is going to make for necessary or even relevant background viewing ahead of Picard Season 3! But there are a few points of note that, while unlikely to come up in a big way, would be worth keeping in mind – especially for Seven of Nine’s story. Prodigy’s first season serves as a sequel, of a sort, to Voyager – and we learn what happened to Chakotay and Admiral Janeway in particular over the course of twenty episodes.
This isn’t Prodigy’s main focus, but it’s a story that’s weaved through the entire season, setting up the story and taking it to its end point. Seven of Nine may or may not know all of the details of what happened, and the events of Prodigy take place almost fifteen years before Picard. But as someone who was close with Janeway and Chakotay, Seven may have come to know about their adventures with the USS Protostar. I really doubt that there will be a major connection, but there could be a name-drop or some other hint at the events of Prodigy through Seven’s story arc.
So if you have time and you haven’t seen Prodigy yet… now could be the right moment!
So that’s it!
Unless I think of any more episodes – or come up with any of my patented (and usually wrong) theories – I think this is it! Between this list and the one I published a few days ago, these are all the stories that I think could make for useful background viewing ahead of Picard Season 3.
As I said last time, I’m less “excited” for this new outing than I want to be. Two difficult, muddled, mismanaged seasons of Picard have been, on the whole, a pretty big disappointment, especially when I consider that this was the series – and the Star Trek concept – that I was most interested in and had waited almost twenty years to see. Season 3, rather than being one more fantastic adventure, feels more like the last chance saloon – not only the final opportunity for Picard to tell a decent, well-paced, exciting story, but perhaps the last good opportunity for the Star Trek franchise as a whole to demonstrate to parent company Paramount that it’s worth investing in this early 25th Century setting in a big way.
But despite all of that, I’ve vowed to give Picard Season 3 a fair shake when it debuts in a couple of weeks’ time. Whether any of the stories and episodes we’ve talked about today will be relevant or not, I still think they’re all enjoyable and well worth a watch. If nothing else, they can give us a bit of a baseline to see where these legacy characters were in their prime.
Don’t forget to check out the first part of this list, which contains another batch of Star Trek stories that I think could make for useful background viewing ahead of Picard Season 3. You can find it by clicking or tapping here. And when Season 3 premieres, I hope you’ll check back for weekly episode reviews – and perhaps even a few theories!
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 will premiere on Paramount+ in the United States on the 16th of February 2023, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and around the world on the 17th of February 2023. Seasons 1 and 2 are already available to stream or buy on DVD/Blu-ray. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-4, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Star Trek: Picard, and Star Trek: Prodigy.
In 2017, Star Trek returned to the small screen after a twelve-year break. Star Trek: Discovery picked up the baton for the long-running franchise, and thanks in part to a deal with Netflix, scored a decently high budget for its first season. Bryan Fuller, who had written and produced a number of episodes of Deep Space Nine and Voyager, initially spearheaded the project, and it was on his stories and ideas that the show’s characters, story arcs, and settings were based – even though he stopped working on the show while it was still in early production.
Discovery proved controversial in some corners of the Star Trek fan community right from the start, and today I want to consider one of the reasons why that was the case. In addition, I want to ask a deceptively simple set of questions: should Star Trek: Discovery have left the 23rd Century alone? Would the show have been better-received by fans, and won more support, if it had been set after the events of Nemesis instead of a decade before The Original Series? Would fans have found things to pick on and argue about anyway? Was Discovery’s setting in its first two seasons a net positive, negative, or something mixed for the show? And did sending the ship and crew into the far future at the end of Season 2 come as a tacit admission from the producers and showrunners that Discovery should never have been set in the 23rd Century to begin with?
Before we go any further, a few important caveats. This is a controversial topic; Discovery elicits strong opinions from fans on both sides of the debate. The fact that we’re considering, hypothetically, whether Discovery might’ve been a better show – or might’ve been received with less hostility by fans – had it employed a different setting doesn’t mean it’s a perfect idea that would’ve massively improved its first two seasons. Regular readers will know that I’m a Discovery fan not a hater; while there are areas where the show could improve, generally I like and support it and I’m glad to have it as part of the broader Star Trek franchise.
Secondly, these are just the subjective thoughts of one person. I’m not trying to claim that I’m right and that’s the end of the affair! Other folks can and will have different opinions – and that’s okay! There’s room enough within the Star Trek fan community for polite discussion and disagreement.
Finally, I’m not trying to attack Discovery, nor any of the creative team, actors, or those involved in its production. This is a thought experiment; a hypothetical question to consider what Discovery – and the wider Star Trek franchise – might have looked like if different decisions had been taken at a very early stage.
First of all, let’s consider some of the arguments and points of contention. By deliberately choosing a setting ten years before the events of The Original Series, Discovery ran into some issues with Star Trek’s internal canon. Some of these points matter far more than others, and I tend to take a somewhat nuanced approach to canon. I’m not a “purist,” claiming that the tiniest minutiae of canon must be “respected” at all costs – but at the same time, I believe that the world of Star Trek needs to be basically internally consistent. Internal consistency is the foundation of suspension of disbelief, and messing too much with established canon can, in some circumstances, be to the detriment of a story.
Is that what happened with Discovery, though?
We can set aside arguments about aesthetic elements like uniforms, starship designs, and even special effects. To me, none of those things are relevant, and all that’s necessary to overcome those hurdles is to say that, much like out here in the real world, things like design, fashion, etc. are always changing. Who’s to say that the look of the 2260s wouldn’t be radically different from the 2250s? Considering that there have been leaps and bounds in visual effects, CGI, and cinematography since The Original Series aired, it would be profoundly odd for Discovery to have tried to emulate that 1960s style.
So I’m content to put visual style to one side. But there are other elements of canon that the show arguably stumbled over in its first two seasons. The biggest issue that I can see is the USS Discovery’s spore drive – a brand-new piece of technology that had never been seen or heard of in Star Trek before.
The spore drive effectively made warp drive obsolete, and considering that the show was set a decade before Captain Kirk’s five-year mission – and more than a century before The Next Generation era – that obviously didn’t make a lot of sense. Sure, the spore drive was a classified piece of kit, and across Season 1 we came to see some pretty serious drawbacks, but such a phenomenally useful technology isn’t something Starfleet would simply abandon – or so fans believed. Even if the spore drive had issues, it was such a game-changing piece of technology that persevering and working through those problems would almost certainly be worthwhile.
As Season 1 demonstrated, the spore drive’s military applications were incredible. The USS Discovery could jump around a Klingon vessel with ease, basically becoming invulnerable, and the spore drive could be used for rapid hit-and-run attacks, destroying enemy ships before they even had a chance to register what was happening. And for an exploration-focused organisation, the spore drive opened up the entire galaxy, allowing distant worlds to be visited at a moment’s notice. Planets that were decades away from Federation space by warp drive could be hopped to in an instant, and then the USS Discovery and her crew could be back home in time for tea! We saw this in Season 2, with planets like Terralysium able to be visited easily with a single spore jump – instead of the decades of warp travel that would have normally been required.
To the show’s credit, Discovery found uses for the spore drive in this period – but I confess that I found the spore drive to be a gimmick, one that had been clearly and pretty obviously designed to allow the ship to travel to the Mirror Universe in Season 1. In fact, it’s the Mirror Universe – and more specifically, the idea of having an impostor from that parallel world who was trying to blend in and find a way home – that I would argue led to many of the decisions in Discovery’s early production.
Choosing a Mirror Universe character in Captain Lorca arguably determined when Discovery would need to be set. In order for Lorca to be a soldier of the Terran Empire, Discovery would have to be set in an era where the Terran Empire existed – and as Mirror Universe stories in Deep Space Nine categorically established that the Terran Empire had long since fallen by the 24th Century, in order to return to that setting, stepping back to the 23rd Century was required. If having a Terran impostor was one of the first narrative beats written for the season – and I believe it was – then many other elements of the show had to be built around that, including its 23rd Century setting.
As an aside, I would say that the Mirror Universe really isn’t worth all this fuss and bother! It’s a bit of fun for occasional, one-off stories in longer, more episodic seasons, but building an entire story around the Mirror Universe and Terran characters was probably Discovery’s first mistake. This is a setting that easily falls into overacting and pantomime, with one-dimensional villains who love murder, torture, and murderous torture all for their own sake. There’s very little room for manoeuvre in the Mirror Universe, and as we’ve seen in Discovery – and in past iterations of Star Trek too, to be fair – it can trick even competent actors into putting out incredibly over-the-top, hammy performances.
But that’s my own personal lack of interest in the Mirror Universe showing through, I suppose!
When Star Trek: Picard’s second season premiered, I think it brought to the table something incredibly interesting that’s relevant to this conversation: the Confederation timeline. The Confederation wasn’t the Terran Empire, and its setting wasn’t the Mirror Universe, yet it borrowed a lot from that setting both thematically and stylistically. An authoritarian, fascist dystopia was on full display – and it was in the late 24th/early 25th Century, and managed to be there without treading on the toes of anything that had been previously set up in past iterations of the franchise.
Although the Confederation timeline story was a bit of a misfire in Picard, I think it stands as testament to what’s possible with a little creative thinking. Star Trek doesn’t have to keep going back to the same previously-established time periods and settings, and even in those that are superficially similar, new and different creations can be brought to the screen. Very few things in Discovery would have needed to change had the show’s first season adopted a setting inspired by the Mirror Universe instead of lifting it directly from The Original Series.
And that statement could apply to other elements of the show’s production as well. The idea of a protagonist who was human but raised by Vulcans is a fun and interesting one, a character type that was new to Star Trek – if we don’t count the PC game Hidden Evil, that is! What would have changed about Michael Burnham had her adoptive parents not been Sarek and Amanda but two new Vulcan characters?
Spock’s family is something that Star Trek has messed about with more than once! We could even argue that, as far back as Journey to Babel, it was nonsensical to suggest that Spock’s connection to Sarek would be something that Captain Kirk would have been unaware of. But setting that aside, the film The Final Frontier gave Spock a half-brother who had never been mentioned. Adding Michael Burnham to his family felt, to some fans at least, like yet another retcon; an addition that certainly came very close to treading on the toes of Star Trek’s past because of how closely it involved a very familiar character.
It was clear that Discovery’s writers and creators wanted to tie the show to past iterations of Star Trek, but rather than coming across as respectful homage, some of these decisions felt nakedly commercial – it was as if CBS didn’t trust the Star Trek brand to stand on its own without myriad references and close connections to its earlier iterations. This didn’t sit well with a lot of fans, and when Spock had already had a missing half-brother, giving him an adopted sister who he’d also never mentioned began to feel gratuitous.
And for a lot of folks, it came back to that same argument: what would change about this new character if her parents were inspired by Sarek and Spock’s family? The introduction of Spock in Season 2 definitely shook things up in that regard, but by then a lot of the damage had been done and some fans had already decided not to tune in.
Going all the way back to The Next Generation’s creation in 1987, Star Trek had struck out in bold new directions and tried to do things differently. Every Star Trek show prior to Discovery had cameo appearances, name-checks, and even character crossovers in some episodes, but by and large, the franchise’s different shows stood up by themselves. Would The Next Generation have been improved if the captain of the Enterprise-D had been Kirk’s grandson, for instance? I don’t think anyone would make that case – the show needed the freedom to do its own thing away from those familiar characters. And while Deep Space Nine’s premiere, Emissary, brought Captain Picard on board, thereafter the new series also struck out on its own – as did Voyager and Enterprise when they came along.
For some fans, Discovery crossed a line between finding a connection to what had come before and using it as a crutch, and where past iterations of the Star Trek franchise had been connected to one another through common themes, locales, and even characters, none had ever gone back to retroactively change so many different things as Discovery. Coming off the back of the three Kelvin timeline films – which were also controversial in some quarters because they had re-cast the characters from The Original Series – that felt like a bridge too far for some folks.
Retcons can happen in any franchise, but it’s not unfair to say that some work better than others. Prequels almost always end up bringing more retcons to the table than sequels do, and when we’re talking about a universe that was over fifty years old and had more than 700 stories under its belt at the time Discovery premiered, for a lot of fans, those retcons to Star Trek’s past were too unpalatable.
The Star Trek franchise, much more so than Star Wars, has always felt like it was looking forwards and to the future rather than backwards at its own past. But by 2017, there hadn’t been any Star Trek stories that moved the overall timeline of the franchise forwards in fifteen years. Aside from a short sequence in 2009’s Star Trek reboot film (which told us of the destruction of Romulus), everything that the franchise had done since Nemesis and Voyager’s finale had been a prequel.
After Enterprise had underperformed and the franchise faced cancellation, the Kelvin timeline came along and rebooted things. But both projects proved to be controversial in some quarters – fans were clearly less keen on a prequel show, as Enterprise’s viewing figures demonstrated. And while the Kelvin films were successful with general audiences at the cinema, there were many Trekkies who were unimpressed with the new action-oriented approach and the decision to recast fan-favourite characters.
Along came Discovery – and it incorporated many of the same issues. Here was another prequel, another Star Trek project that was stepping back in time and not taking the opportunity to pick up the story of the Star Trek universe that had come to an abrupt halt with Nemesis. And not only that, but it then emerged that the show’s protagonist would be a hitherto-unknown relative of one of Star Trek’s most iconic characters – a character whose history and family had already been messed with on more than one occasion.
In 2016, I recall making the facetious point that Discovery seemed to be combining everything that Trekkies didn’t like: a plot point from The Final Frontier – which is widely regarded as one of the least-successful Star Trek films, a prequel setting like in Enterprise – which had demonstrably been the least-successful Star Trek series, and both an aesthetic and action focus that were borrowed from the Kelvin timeline films – films which weren’t popular with a lot of fans. That was a joke; some black humour as we looked ahead to the show and as news was trickling out. But I think that it encapsulates how many fans were feeling at the time.
More than anything, I wanted to see Star Trek move forwards again. Despite knowing a number of Trekkies who either hated or outright refused to watch the Kelvin timeline films, I felt that they were decent additions to the franchise. But if Star Trek was to return to both the small screen and the prime timeline, my preference in 2016-17 would have been for a new show to pick up the story in the years after Nemesis, not another prequel set before the events of The Original Series.
Discovery’s prequel setting quickly became a weight around its neck; a barrier that didn’t stop the excitement from building, but that certainly slowed it down. On the one hand, the show’s writers and creative team were constrained by more than 600 stories that were set after Discovery, and on the other, everything that they tried to do that was new or different was subject to intense scrutiny and criticism by fans. There was no way to win – either the show would have to tell less-interesting stories as a result of being cornered by canon, or it would be nitpicked to death by fans who felt it was overstepping its bounds and treading on the toes of stories that had already been told.
Had Discovery’s first season been set in the same time period as Star Trek: Picard later was – the late 24th Century or early 25th Century – a lot of those issues would have disappeared. The spore drive could be Starfleet’s new initiative, with its potential unlimited and the genuine possibility of this interesting piece of technology going on to become the Federation’s new way of getting around. We knew, even before a single minute of Discovery had aired, that the spore drive wouldn’t take off in the 23rd Century – because if it had, all of Star Trek wouldn’t be able to exist as depicted. A post-Nemesis setting would have completely negated that issue.
Then there was the question of character. Michael Burnham could have been exactly the same person – a human raised by Vulcans with Vulcan instincts. But instead of being the second addition to Spock’s increasingly soap opera-like family, her adoptive parents could have been new characters who were inspired by characters from Star Trek’s past, or even Vulcan characters from the 24th Century that we’d met before if an overt connection was deemed necessary. The war with the Klingons could have broken out in much the same way as we saw on screen – all it would have taken is a brief word of explanation saying that the Klingon-Federation alliance of the late 24th Century had broken down in the intervening years.
Star Trek had an opportunity to advance its timeline, and to take into account events like the Romulan supernova. With relatively few changes to how the story of Season 1 played out, it could be the Romulans, not the Klingons, who went to war with Starfleet. Or it could have been that the Klingons wanted to reassert themselves in the aftermath of the Romulan catastrophe, perhaps seizing former Romulan territory as their empire collapsed. And the idea of having an impostor as the ship’s captain – someone from an alternate reality – could have also been made to fit without returning to the Mirror Universe.
Discovery could, for example, have taken the idea of a more militaristic Starfleet that had been seen in the Kelvin timeline in Into Darkness as a starting point, and said that the Kelvin timeline would develop into the same kind of dystopian setting as the Mirror Universe. Captain Lorca could have originated from a late 24th Century Kelvin timeline, from a Federation that was much more authoritarian in nature. That would have tied together the two most recent parts of the Star Trek franchise while still leaving open the possibility of a fourth Kelvin film starring the reboot cast.
In short, there were plenty of ways that Bryan Fuller’s initial concepts and ideas could have been made to fit a post-Nemesis setting rather than a pre-The Original Series one. Some changes are bigger than others, and in hindsight we now know that we’d miss out on the recasting of Captain Pike and Spock that paved the way for Strange New Worlds… but at the time, without that foreknowledge, I really do believe that it would have been worth considering.
Season 2, which focused on the Control AI, could have also been a good fit for a late 24th/early 25th Century setting. In fact, I doubt I’d be the only one to suggest that the Control story might’ve been a better fit for that time period! This idea of essentially a rogue supercomputer is one that Star Trek has tackled before, with episodes like The Ultimate Computer and even some of the stories about Lore in The Next Generation. Control’s schemes could have absolutely worked in a post-Lore environment.
I’ve talked before about how the Control storyline in Season 2 felt like a potential Borg origin story – or at least a story with superficial Borg similarities. Because of Discovery’s place in the timeline, those references were only ever tiny little hints to us as the audience; no one within the show could say “hey, this looks an awful lot like Borg assimilation” because none of them knew who the Borg were at that point. But if the story had been set in that post-Nemesis era, the similarities between Control and the Borg could have been made more overt – even if a full “Starfleet accidentally created the Borg” story had been taken off the table.
At the end of the day, though, Discovery wasn’t only controversial because of its place in the Star Trek timeline, and while replacing its 23rd Century setting would have blunted some points of criticism, fans would have found others. Things like the redesign of the Klingons, the more action-heavy storyline, the show’s shorter serialised seasons and more would all remain, and a potential post-Nemesis setting would’ve probably thrown up a bunch of new things for people to pick on, too.
In hindsight, we now know that if Discovery had been set in the years after Nemesis, we’d have missed out onStrange New Worlds – a show that I’d argue is probably the high-water mark of modern Star Trek, at least at time of writing. That alone should make Discovery and its complicated relationship to canon and Star Trek’s internal timeline absolutely worthwhile!
But on the other hand, who knows what we’re missing out on? Potential crossovers with The Next Generation and other 24th Century shows would have been on the table, and while Discovery’s third and fourth seasons have tried to pay lip-service to that era, by shooting so far forward in time, it’s once again ruled out any significant crossovers and link-ups.
In addition to obvious characters like Jean-Luc Picard or Kathryn Janeway, dozens or even hundreds of secondary characters and guest stars from that era could have been incorporated into Discovery to tie Star Trek’s newest adventure to what came before – with fan-favourite characters (and the actors who played them) potentially returning. Picard, Lower Decks, and Prodigy have all shown just how much of an appetite there is within the Star Trek fan community to bring back characters as diverse as Q and Captain Jellico, just to give two examples.
When making those very early decisions about Discovery, one of the fundamental mistakes executives at CBS (now Paramount) and the creative team made is failing to recognise Star Trek’s real “golden age.” The Original Series in the 1960s may have gotten things started – and it’s remembered fondly, don’t get me wrong – but for many fans, especially fans in their thirties and forties, it’s The Next Generation and the other shows of the 1990s that are best-remembered. Discovery jumped back in time to draw inspiration from and connect up with The Original Series… but I’m not sure that’s where the majority of the fan community was in 2017 – or is in 2023, either.
Whatever we may think of the arguments surrounding canon and the so-called integrity of Star Trek’s internal timelines, a more basic question is this: what setting and what era would most Trekkies choose for a new series? There are some fans, of course, who want to see more of Enterprise’s 22nd Century, some who want to see a far future that shoots past the 24th and 25th Centuries, and certainly there are fans for whom the 23rd Century has its own unique appeal. But many, many Trekkies who first came to the franchise during The Next Generation era – myself included – wanted and still want to see Star Trek pick up where it left off after Nemesis and Endgame. That was doubly true in 2017, when the franchise hadn’t touched that time period in fifteen years.
When it became apparent that Discovery was going to be yet another prequel – the third in a row – it meant that there was still no chance of the timeline advancing. It meant that the return of fan-favourites from Benjamin Sisko to B’Elanna Torres was completely off the table. And it meant no explanation of the Romulan supernova that had been glimpsed in 2009’s Star Trek. We subsequently got to see some of those things in Picard – but it wasn’t obvious in 2016-17 that that series was going to be made, and there was, in some quarters at least, a sense of disappointment that Star Trek was once again doing this kind of navel-gazing at its own history and backstory instead of moving forward. That planted the seeds of unhappiness for some Trekkies – a seed that would grow as more details were revealed about the series, its setting, its technologies, and its characters.
And I feel that this is really the key point. On their own, many of the criticisms levelled at Discovery in its first season were overblown nitpicks. The spore drive was never considered by the crew of the USS Voyager as a way to get home quicker. Spock didn’t have an adopted sister in that one episode of The Animated Series that aired in 1973. Did the Klingons and the Federation really fight a war in this era? And so on. But those criticisms found fertile ground in the disappointment that fans were already feeling – and the “snowball” started to roll.
This “snowball effect” is something that I’ve talked about before here on the website. In brief, it refers to how a production can find itself subject to more and more points of criticism once a few big ones start to build up. The “snowball” starts rolling, picking up more and more nitpicks and amplifying them. Relatively minor things – like Discovery’s all-blue uniform designs, for example – end up being nitpicked to death in a way that they never would have been in a production that didn’t have those original, fundamental points of criticism to get the “snowball” rolling in the first place.
And that’s what happened with Discovery in 2016-17, in my opinion. Its place in the timeline became the initial source of disappointment for a fanbase that comprised more fans of The Next Generation era than higher-ups at CBS realised. Those fans would have preferred to see a series set after Endgame and Nemesis, and the disappointment they felt began to set the stage for many other points of criticism that, in a different production, would never have been mentioned.
There are, of course, some self-proclaimed “fans” of Star Trek for whom the race and gender of Discovery’s protagonist was the issue. Those people would never have been placated by changes in the show’s setting, and the hate, abuse, and toxicity spewed by that thankfully small section of the show’s audience would have remained regardless. I see no way to avoid that; just as there were viewers in the ’60s who objected to Uhura’s presence on the bridge of the Enterprise, there were some in 2017 who felt that women, people of colour, LGBT+ people, and others shouldn’t be part of “their” entertainment products.
Such folks would often try to cage their attacks in the language of media criticism, using expressions like “bad writing” to criticise Discovery. I think we’re all able to tell the difference, though, and I don’t really see much point in addressing this part of the attacks on the show. It isn’t relevant to what we’re talking about today, as the minority of viewers who objected to Michael Burnham because she was a black woman in a leading role would have felt the same way regardless of when the show was set. The only thing that would have changed would have been the way in which those folks would have tried to cover their tracks when attacking Discovery.
When Season 2 rolled around, it wasn’t apparent at first that Discovery’s creative team had taken on board much of the feedback and criticism that had been levelled at the show in its first season. In fact, they seemed to double- and even triple-down on making these overt connections to The Original Series by introducing Captain Pike and Spock.
I have to confess something at this point – something which, in light of how darn good Strange New Worlds was in its first season, I’m quite embarrassed about: I didn’t like the idea of Pike and Spock joining Discovery in 2018-19 when that news broke. I’d been a fan of The Cage since I first watched it, and there was something about Jeffrey Hunter’s portrayal of Pike, and the differences between him and Captain Kirk in particular, that occupied a unique place in Star Trek’s history. Here was an “alternate timeline,” and just like hearing a different version of a familiar song, all the pieces were there, but they were different. Pike stood as this kind of “what-if” for the Star Trek franchise; what might have been if history had taken a different course.
Furthermore, I found Bruce Greenwood’s take on the character in Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness to have been one of the highlights of the Kelvin timeline. Recasting the character so soon after this portrayal wasn’t something that I was wild about either, and I felt that the whole thing rather smacked of desperation on the part of CBS/Paramount; an attempt to bring more eyes to a show that had proven controversial and that probably hadn’t brought in the numbers of subscribers and viewers that they and Netflix had hoped to see.
I was wrong about that, of course – so very, very wrong!
But I wasn’t alone in feeling that way; that Discovery was reaching for a crutch as its second season dawned. Fans who had been left unimpressed by the show in its first season – and particularly at its perceived “violations” of Star Trek’s internal canon – were not looking forward to seeing what would become of Captain Pike, a character who had a certain reverence from at least some in the fan community as Star Trek’s “first” captain, but more importantly of Spock – one of the most important foundational characters in the entire franchise.
Whether we agree or not that Discovery’s second season shook up Spock’s characterisation for the better – which is something I absolutely believe it did, by the way – something very interesting happened at the end of that season: Michael Burnham and the USS Discovery left the 23rd Century altogether. Opening a time-wormhole, Burnham led the ship and crew into the far future, and the show has remained in that time period ever since. By the time Season 5 arrives later this year, Discovery will have spent longer in the 32nd Century than it did in the 23rd.
Does that decision stand as an admission from Discovery’s creatives and producers that the 23rd Century was never a good fit for the show? Is it more a case of exasperatedly saying to fans and critics “you wanted us to be set in the future? Well here ya go!” Or is it simply a creative narrative decision that would have been taken regardless of how Seasons 1 and 2 had been received?
Let’s rule out that latter point immediately! If Discovery’s place in the timeline was uncontroversial and hadn’t been commented on and criticised from the moment it was announced, we’d have seen Discovery remain in the 23rd Century – I am as certain of that as I can be. The decision to take the series out of the 23rd Century was, at least in some way, a response to these criticisms and/or a way to pre-empt or shut down further such nitpicks.
We’ll have to talk about this in more detail one day, but there’s a phenomenon that I call the “prequel problem” that affects a lot of prequel stories. In short, at the back of our minds as viewers, we know that certain storylines have to end in particular ways; tension, drama, and stakes are all lower in certain prequels – whether we’re conscious of that fact at the time or not. This goes double for a show like Discovery where galactic-scale apocalyptic disasters are the bread-and-butter of its stories.
When it seemed as if Control was going to wipe out all life in the galaxy, we knew that it wasn’t possible. The details of how Pike, Burnham, and the crew were going to prevent it were still to be revealed, but because we’d seen the galaxy in the 24th Century, we knew at the back of our minds that there was no real danger. Likewise with Season 1’s Klingon war – we knew that the Federation wouldn’t be defeated, because we’d seen Captain Kirk’s five-year mission taking place a mere decade after the events depicted in the show. Those “prequel problems” took at least some of the tension out of Discovery’s main narratives – and in a show that wants to turn the tension up to eleven, that’s not ideal to say the least!
If Discovery was the kind of show that told stories that were smaller in scale, we could disregard this point altogether. But for the kind of series Discovery aimed to be, a setting that was constrained by stories set decades and centuries later was problematic – and it had been since day one.
So let’s start to wrap things up.
The saving grace of Discovery’s 23rd Century beginning is, as I see it anyway, the existence of Strange New Worlds as a spin-off production. Bringing in Captain Pike and Spock proved to be an unexpected masterstroke, thanks in part to some inspired casting. Had Discovery always been set after Nemesis in the late 24th Century, we would never have seen Anson Mount and Ethan Peck take on those roles, and from there we’d never have gotten to see the masterpiece that was Strange New Worlds Season 1. That would have been a huge loss for Star Trek – and I feel that alone more than justifies Discovery’s first two seasons in the 23rd Century.
But it’s clear that being set in this time period caused the show a lot of issues, particularly because of the kind of storytelling it employed. Big, bold stories that focus on end-of-the-world type threats and a serialised framework in which only one or two main stories were told per season combined with a prequel setting to cause some major stumbling blocks. Some of these were bigger than others, and some minor points definitely saw their status overinflated by fans and viewers who were “snowballing” and picking on anything and everything to criticise a series that they already didn’t like. But some of those points of criticism were genuine, and the internal consistency of the Star Trek franchise and its timeline was challenged by some of the narrative decisions that Discovery took.
With Strange New Worlds serving as a huge caveat, I still believe that if I’d been in charge of things in 2016-17, I wouldn’t have created a series set in the 23rd Century. It remains my view that at least a plurality of fans, if not an outright majority, would have preferred to have seen the overall timeline of Star Trek move forwards, and that creating a series set sometime after Endgame and Nemesis would have been the best call. There’s a lot of leeway if all we say is “after Nemesis,” and I’d have entertained pitches and ideas for both the late 24th Century as well as for decades or centuries in the future, far beyond The Next Generation era.
Bearing that in mind, I’d say that practically everything that Discovery did in those first two seasons could and would have worked in a post-Nemesis setting. Some story beats would have had to change to accommodate being set further forwards in time, such as Captain Lorca’s universe of origin. But even if the brief required the creative team to use elements that the Star Trek franchise had already created, I think it would have been possible to tell those same stories in a very similar way.
The big twist in Discovery’s first season was Captain Lorca’s true identity – but I’m not really convinced that this story beat was worth all the fuss. It was certainly fun and unexpected to find out that the character had crossed over from another universe, and that he was responsible for stranding the ship there as he tried to get home – but after Lorca’s true origin was revealed, his characterisation took a turn for the worse, and he ceased to be the complex, nuanced, hardball Starfleet captain in favour of being a rather one-dimensional villain caricature. So maybe all of this hassle wasn’t even worth it after all!
Season 2 introduced us to Pike and Spock, and set the stage for Strange New Worlds – something which, in hindsight, we know now we’d have missed out on if Discovery didn’t take place in this time period.
Shooting forwards in time, well past the 24th and 25th Centuries, has allowed Discovery much more creative freedom, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of the show’s best episodes have come in the last couple of years rather than in those first two seasons. Even in an established, long-running franchise, writers and creatives need to have the freedom to branch out, to add wholly new elements, and to tell stories that go to completely different thematic places. Some of that was possible in the 23rd Century – and we’ve seen Strange New Worlds succeed in that setting by taking on a more episodic approach – but for the kinds of large-scale, dramatic stories that Discovery wanted to tell, a setting unconstrained by having to fit in with 600+ episodes and films set after the events of the show has undoubtedly opened up a lot more possibilities.
So the question posed is a tough one. Discovery set the stage for Strange New Worlds, and that really is a huge point in favour of its initial 23rd Century setting. But Discovery also reinvigorated the Star Trek franchise for a post-Game of Thrones television landscape, one in which ongoing serialised stories with big, bold storylines was the order of the day. Without Discovery doing what it did in 2017, who knows whether the Star Trek franchise would have continued at all, and whether the likes of Picard, Lower Decks, and Prodigy would have been created as well.
Just like the Kelvin films kept a torch burning for Star Trek and proved that there was life in a franchise that had burned out by 2005, perhaps what we should say about Discovery’s first two seasons is that they led to bigger and (mostly) better things, both for the show itself and for the franchise as a whole. Messing with that too much, or trying to create something “better,” may not have had the desired result!
But all of that is with the benefit of hindsight. In 2016-17, I wasn’t alone in wishing that Star Trek would move forward instead of creating yet another prequel. And it wasn’t possible to know at that time where Discovery might lead or what kind of spin-offs might be created in the years ahead. Although I did enjoy what the show did in its first two seasons overall, for much of the time I couldn’t shake the feeling that these stories would still have worked – and in some ways at least, would have worked far better – if the show was set after Nemesis.
Furthermore, I feel that Discovery’s producers felt that way too, especially after Bryan Fuller left the project and after the show premiered to a rather divisive reaction in some quarters of the fan community. Some of the people in charge may have underestimated just how detail-oriented some Trekkies can be, and in an age of social media, online fan communities, and continuous discussion and debate, small nitpicks about the series and its relationship to past iterations of Star Trek became amplified, making some of these controversies grow larger.
Any time a franchise expands, it leaves some folks behind. There were always going to be Discovery-haters; folks who, for any one of a number of reasons, didn’t want to see Star Trek doing something new and different. But did the show itself provide ammunition to those critics and others by its 23rd Century setting? Absolutely. Leaving the 23rd Century behind was clearly the right decision, and in some ways we can argue that it came two seasons too late.
So there we have it. In my view, Discovery could and perhaps should have been created as a post-Nemesis series instead of one set before The Original Series. With relatively few tweaks to the stories of its first couple of seasons, the same cast of characters, the same starship designs, the same technologies, and the same narrative beats could have all been present, and perhaps interesting new connections could have been found that would have tied the series into the events and even characters of The Next Generation era.
I hope this was an interesting thought experiment! I’ve been wanting to talk about Discovery’s creation and its early seasons for some time now. Because I only created this website in late 2019 I missed the opportunity to write up my thoughts on Discovery as it was being teased and as those first two seasons were broadcast, so this was an opportunity to step back and begin to rectify that! I hope you won’t interpret this as me “hating” on Discovery. Although I wasn’t wild about every decision taken or every character and storyline, I feel that we got two decent seasons of Star Trek, and a show that certainly wasn’t afraid to try new things. This hypothetical question is really just an opportunity to talk about the series some more and highlight some of what I feel were the key decisions taken during its creation.
I’m glad that Discovery remains a part of a very broad, varied franchise. But I think I’m also glad that the show’s producers took it out of the 23rd Century – not because I’m desperately angry about “the purity of canon” or other such things – but because its new era, free from any such constraints, has allowed for the creation of some genuinely different stories.
Star Trek: Discovery is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, United Kingdom, and other countries and territories where the platform is available. The series is also available on DVD and Blu-ray. The Star Trek franchise – including Discovery and all other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the entire Star Trek franchise, including the most recent seasons of Discovery, Picard, and Strange New Worlds. There are also spoilers for upcoming and unreleased Star Trek projects.
By almost every conceivable measure, 2022 has been a fantastic year for the Star Trek franchise. We’ve seen new projects become successful, ongoing series really hitting their stride, and more seasons and individual episodes of Star Trek than at any time in the past. Barely a week has gone by without a brand-new episode to get stuck into – and with different shows targeting wildly different audiences, it really feels like Star Trek in 2022 has had something to offer to practically everyone.
But that isn’t the whole story, and unfortunately it feels as though 2022 has also been a pretty dark year for Star Trek – one in which major mistakes have been made that could very easily lead to serious consequences in the medium-to-long term, and perhaps even premature cancellations for some or all of the shows currently in production.
On this occasion, I want to look back at 2022 from the perspective of a Star Trek fan, and draw attention to both the highs and lows of a rollercoaster year for the franchise. And there’s quite a lot to say, so make sure you’re sitting comfortably!
My usual caveat applies: everything we’re going to talk about today is the subjective opinion of one person. There are a lot of reasons to think positively and optimistically about Star Trek, and the fact that I have some negative or uncomfortable points to raise shouldn’t be interpreted as me being some kind of “hater” of new Star Trek. I love the franchise, I want to see it succeed, and I raise these issues not out of spite but out of genuine concern. If you don’t agree with me, that’s okay. There’s room within the Star Trek fan community for polite discussions and civil disagreements!
Now that that’s out of the way, we can begin.
It seems only fair to allow the Star Trek franchise to put its best foot forward, so we’ll start with what went well in 2022. And there are several incredible highlights, any one of which alone would ordinarily mean we’d consider 2022 to have been a huge success for Star Trek.
Some of the best entertainment experiences that I had all year came from the Star Trek franchise, and those incredible episodes and stories weren’t limited to a single season or a single show. In fact, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that all five of 2022’s Star Trek productions had some fantastic high points; episodes or at least moments within episodes that had me on the edge of my seat, jumping for joy, or in tears.
Strange New Worlds Season 1 was fantastic:
The first season of Strange New Worlds was, without a doubt, the best that modern Star Trek has had to offer – and one of the finest seasons in the entire fifty-six-year history of the franchise. A triumphant return to an older, more episodic style of storytelling that still retained many modern serialised elements represents a model that I genuinely believe every other current and upcoming project in the franchise needs to seriously consider adopting. The diversity of stories on display in Strange New Worlds Season 1 was unprecedented in the franchise’s modern era.
Strange New Worlds’ premiere was also the culmination of a fan campaign to get Anson Mount and Ethan Peck to reprise their popular and incredibly successful roles from Discovery’s second season. The show’s very existence is testament to Paramount’s willingness to take on board feedback from Star Trek fans and a wider audience, and the fact that the corporation backed up this relative gamble by awarding the series a decently high budget should be acknowledged. Paramount didn’t have to make Strange New Worlds – plans were afoot for other Star Trek shows and spin-offs, but the corporation reacted positively to feedback from fans and viewers, and the result was an absolutely outstanding season of television that has hopefully laid the groundwork for one of the best Star Trek series of the current era – if not of all-time.
It really is hard to overstate just how incredible Strange New Worlds’ first season really was. In my spoiler-free review I talked about how the show enthusiastically tried out different genres, managing to thread the needle of staying close to Star Trek’s roots while still feeling like a thoroughly modern production. There were ten fantastic episodes – and while I had a few story nitpicks, overall the season has to be considered the best since Star Trek returned to the small screen in 2017.
So Strange New Worlds is definitely one of the highlights of 2022 – not just for the Star Trek franchise, but in the entertainment space in general. It’s a show that should be accessible to new and old fans alike, with the potential to expand the Star Trek fandom beyond its current niche.
The Strange New Worlds-Lower Decks crossover announcement:
This is something that I genuinely was not expecting – but it’s a fantastic idea! Star Trek did a fair few crossover episodes in its heyday, and while I guess we can consider parts of Discovery and Strange New Worlds to have crossed over with The Original Series, it isn’t the same as bringing together two shows that are currently in production. With five shows occupying five different time periods and regions of the galaxy, a proper crossover felt like a remote possibility – until this announcement came along at Comic-Con in July.
I mentioned the diversity of genres that Strange New Worlds dabbled in in its first season – well, one of those was comedy! We had two episodes that had overtly comedic premises, and many other moments of humour throughout much of the season. A crossover with Lower Decks – an animated comedy series – is thus not as far-fetched as we might think!
As always in Star Trek, technobabble can account for most things! The crew of the Cerritos could find themselves in the 23rd Century thanks to all manner of phenomena, so there’s no real barrier to bringing the two shows together. With some creative scriptwriting, a solid foundation should be able to bring Boimler, Mariner, and perhaps other members of the Cerritos’ crew aboard Captain Pike’s ship.
This announcement has got a lot of Trekkies very excited, and that’s a great thing. Paramount needs to make moves like these to keep the fan community engaged, and while a crossover may feel very much like fan-service, there’s also a huge potential benefit to bringing together two different parts of the Star Trek franchise. Fans of Lower Decks may check out Strange New Worlds for the first time – and vice-versa. Crossover stories have the potential to benefit both shows and increase viewership, potentially turning casual viewers into fans of the franchise as a whole. If Star Trek is to survive long-term, we need to see more moves like this.
Visual effects and CGI:
Although Discovery’s first season felt like it brought to the table some excellent visual effects, there were some definite disappointments thereafter. The Romulan and Federation fleets seen in the finale of Picard Season 1, for example, were pretty lacklustre; copy-and-paste starships that all looked the same and, in the case of the Starfleet vessels, didn’t even have names and NCC numbers. There were also some pretty sloppy CGI moments in Discovery’s third season – one example that comes to mind is a digital sword that supposedly stabbed a character, but just looked awful.
But in 2022, all that changed. We had a big, beautiful Starfleet armada in Picard’s season premiere and season finale. We had other CGI moments in the Confederation timeline that looked spectacular. Strange New Worlds did some incredible things with practical puppets in conjunction with CGI and visual effects to create some wonderful moments. And Discovery brought to screen one of the most “alien-looking” alien races ever seen in the franchise: Species 10-C.
Both Discovery and Strange New Worlds made excellent use of Paramount’s fancy new AR wall, too. When the AR wall first debuted, I felt there were definitely a few moments where its use was noticeable. But by the time we got to 2022’s Star Trek productions, the creative team and effects artists had clearly grown in both confidence and ability, taking advantage of the AR wall to craft some wonderful environments.
Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention the digital de-ageing of John de Lancie in his initial appearance as Q. That moment, which came at the end of the Picard Season 2 premiere, was absolutely fantastic!
Some of these technologies are very expensive, and Paramount doesn’t have the same resources as the likes of Disney or Netflix, so I can understand why they’re used sparingly in some cases. But overall, I’d give Star Trek’s visual effects and CGI work an A grade for 2022.
Discovery Season 4 ended on a spectacular high:
Although Discovery’s fourth season seemed to drag in places, there’s no denying that the way the season ended was pitch-perfect and went at least some way to making up for earlier narrative missteps. Coming Home (the season finale) was an incredible episode: deeply emotional, visually stunning, and tied up all of the season’s loose ends.
The way in which Season 4 ended showed off the Federation at its very best, racing in to help a planet that had left the organisation simply because they needed assistance and it was the right thing to do. I still get chills just thinking about it, and the way Admiral Vance led the charge, bringing Federation HQ to Earth in its hour of need… it’s one of the best story beats in the season.
After the drama with Unknown Species 10-C was resolved, an epilogue saw Earth coming back into the fold, rejoining the Federation, and this has set the stage for what promises to be a different kind of story in the show’s upcoming fifth season. I would challenge any Discovery-avoider to watch Coming Home and not feel that the show has grown spectacularly since its premiere almost six years ago.
By expanding its cast with some genuinely interesting secondary characters, Discovery is starting down the Deep Space Nine road, where characters outside of the main headliners could be just as important to stories. Although it’s still “the Burnham show” in some ways, there’s movement away from a laser-focus on one character, with others being given moments in the spotlight. That’s all to the good – and as Season 5 approaches, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
So that’s what Star Trek got right.
There are some really amazing highlights, and were it not for some of the things we’re about to discuss, they’d have meant that the year 2022 would’ve gone down in history as one of Star Trek’s finest; the beginning of a new “golden age” that would rival the franchise’s 1990s heyday. Strange New Worlds truly excelled, Discovery did some bold and interesting things, and Picard put together a Starfleet armada that was big, diverse, and beautiful. And that’s not even mentioning solid seasons from both Lower Decks and Prodigy that continue to branch out in very different directions.
But that isn’t all there is to say, and now I’m afraid we have to consider some of the ways in which Star Trek went wrong in 2022.
Paramount did serious, almost catastrophic harm to Star Trek in 2022, and I genuinely fear for the franchise’s longer-term prospects. I had felt all but certain that we’d make it to the 60th anniversary in 2026 with new seasons and perhaps even new films being created… but that goal feels pretty far away right now, even with the promise of unannounced projects being worked on behind the scenes.
The simple truth is this: I have no confidence in the leadership team at Paramount. It seems as if they don’t know what they’re doing; they leap from disaster to disaster, damaging trust and confidence in the Star Trek brand, harming the Star Trek fan community, and above all, it feels as if 20th Century thinking is trying – and desperately failing – to lead Paramount into the 21st Century. Without a major change in direction at the top and a serious rethink of the corporation’s attitude and approach, Star Trek will not succeed and will not survive.
The international rollout of Paramount+:
If you’ve been a regular reader here on the website, you may remember that I’ve had a lot to say on this subject. The fact that Paramount was unable to speed up the painfully constipated rollout of its streaming platform – and crucially, the corporation’s unwillingness to broadcast Star Trek on other channels or streaming platforms in countries and territories where Paramount+ isn’t available – has been a dead weight around the neck of the Star Trek franchise, pushing Trekkies away… or into the arms of piracy.
Paramount sits atop a global media empire, and owns television channels in dozens of countries around the world. If the rollout of Paramount+ was so slow, the corporation had months or years in which to make other arrangements to broadcast Star Trek. Prodigy, for instance, is produced in part under Paramount’s Nickelodeon brand – and there are Nickelodeon channels available in more than 100 countries around the world. Why was Prodigy not broadcast on any of them until months after its first season had gotten underway? And why was Strange New Worlds not made available here in the UK on one of the dozen or so channels that Paramount already owns?
These decisions hit the Star Trek fan community hard. But more than that, they greatly harmed Strange New Worlds and Prodigy in particular. In a 21st Century media landscape, word-of-mouth on social media makes all the difference – and Paramount has consistently failed to learn that cutting off a huge portion of the potential audience for its shows means that posts get fewer likes, hashtags don’t trend, and the resulting lack of online chatter harms these shows in the United States as well. The blinkered, short-sighted “America First” approach that the corporation has adopted may have worked fine in the 1980s… but it isn’t the ’80s any more. The internet is one single worldwide audience, and by denying a huge portion of that audience access to Paramount+ and the Star Trek franchise, Paramount has done immeasurable harm to Lower Decks, Strange New Worlds, Prodigy, and the entire franchise.
At time of writing, Paramount+ doesn’t even have the faintest idea about a launch in countries like Japan or South Korea, and even in western Europe, coverage is spotty. And you can forget about the hugely growing markets in places like China or Africa – Paramount doesn’t even acknowledge their existence. If there were plans afoot to get Star Trek shown on other networks in those regions – whether Paramount-owned or not – at least that would be something. But no such plans have been forthcoming, so the option Trekkies have in much of the world is to either pirate Star Trek or miss out. There’s no prospect of bringing on board new fans as long as this attitude persists.
Why did Discovery Season 4 overlap Picard Season 2 by three weeks in the spring of 2022? And why was the Picard finale shown the same day (the same minute, in fact) as Strange New Worlds’ premiere? Paramount’s scheduling decisions were pathetic in 2022, as there was simply no need for the shows to overlap like this.
Had Picard Season 2 been delayed and not run alongside Discovery, and Strange New Worlds also been delayed a mere four or five weeks so as not to overlap Picard, that would have lined up almost perfectly with Paramount+ launching here in the UK. There would have been the option for Trekkies in the UK to join in with fans in the USA, watching Strange New Worlds together. This bizarre rush saw several weeks with two different shows on at the same time, and while that did also happen during The Next Generation era, in an age of ten-episode seasons and on-demand streaming… it just shouldn’t be happening any more.
You don’t see Disney+ having The Mandalorian and Andor overlapping one another – Disney makes sure that the Star Wars shows have room to breathe. I genuinely don’t understand how a decision was taken to have these shows clash. At the very least it should have been possible to spread out the release of episodes so that they weren’t on the same day, but Paramount even failed to consider that possibility, apparently.
Were it not for the rushed scheduling meaning that Strange New Worlds debuted in the USA weeks before Paramount+ arrived in the UK, I’d still find the whole thing pretty stupid. But when a slightly more spread out schedule could have allowed Paramount+ to land in the UK the same week as Strange New Worlds premiered… I honestly can’t forgive it. Whichever idiot at Paramount (and there’s no shortage of those, clearly) signed off the scheduling decisions for 2022 needs to be fired.
A premature announcement:
One of the most basic, entry-level rules of the entertainment industry is this: you don’t officially announce anything until all of the pieces are in place. Paramount became a laughing stock in 2022 by announcing a sequel to 2016’s Star Trek Beyond… before trying to quietly un-announce it only a few weeks later.
Whatever you may think of the merits of a new Kelvin timeline film, it should be patently obvious that this was not the way to handle it. It seems as if no main cast members had been so much as offered a contract, let alone been in a position to sign one and start work on a film that had a very ambitious release date of July and then December 2023. Paramount’s failure in this regard was spectacular, and practically unheard of for a big corporation in the modern entertainment industry.
Whether a new Star Trek film gets underway in the months ahead or not, this total own-goal from Paramount’s team of corporate morons has already damaged the film – and arguably the wider franchise, too. To make an official announcement, put a film on the schedule with an expected release date, and then have to walk it all back and try to quietly brush it aside is a bad look. It makes Paramount and the Star Trek franchise look disorganised, unprofessional, and chaotic. Who’d want to go to work for a corporation like that the next time they’re hiring?
I can’t even believe we have to say this, but here we go: if you don’t have all the contracts signed, don’t announce your film. If the executives at Paramount don’t understand that, then they need to be removed immediately.
Star Trek Day:
Oh, I feel bad about putting this on the list – but I’m afraid we must. Star Trek Day was hyped up as a celebration of all things Trek… but it was a spectacular let-down. Despite promises of “announcements and reveals throughout,” nothing major was actually announced at Star Trek Day… unless we count a scripted podcast. Which we don’t.
The live broadcast was also pretty amateurish, with hosts who seemed unprepared, guests who couldn’t answer the most basic of questions about their shows, and panels that were either cut too short or that went totally off the rails and fell apart. There were a couple of teaser trailers, but even then, Paramount seems to have been saving the biggest and boldest of those for Comic-Con a couple of months later.
By some accounts, Star Trek Day didn’t bring in much of an audience, which is a shame in a way. But if Paramount isn’t going to make this kind of celebration of the franchise and its fans a big blow-out, perhaps it’s better just to skip it next year – or at least make sure that expectations are properly set in advance.
I hoped for better things from Star Trek Day, and while I don’t want to be too critical of the main figures involved, it was a pretty big disappointment.
Social media failures:
We’ve already touched on this in a couple of places, but Paramount and the Star Trek franchise really need to get a better handle on social media. The way in which they used social media in 2022 was poor, and we need to see Star Trek becoming much more engaging and interactive with fans and viewers. Social media isn’t merely a billboard on which to paste an advertisement or show off a teaser trailer; Paramount needs to start treating social media platforms as spaces to engage with fans.
To just give a couple of examples, Star Trek’s social media pages could showcase fan art, highlighting the real passion that many Trekkies have for the franchise. And they could run competitions, with giveaways of merchandise or Paramount+ subscriptions as rewards. Take a look around at other big corporations and see what they’re doing; social media is a gateway that Paramount could open, giving new, especially younger fans a first look at Star Trek.
At the very least, Paramount and Star Trek need to be more active on social media. They need to respond to genuine questions from fans as much as possible, especially concerning things like release dates and availability. Frankly they also ought to curate their social media posts better, deleting hateful comments about some of the new Star Trek shows and especially about some of the actors. LGBT+ actors and actors from ethnic minority backgrounds are particular targets, and it’s a bad look when a post has comments of that nature.
Look at television shows as diverse as Game of Thrones, Tiger King, and Squid Game. What helped them blow up and break out of their original niches to attract massive audiences? Social media! Well-timed promotions and social media teams that actively leaned into the discussion, the jokes, the memes, and everything else helped those shows – and many more. Star Trek could have that too – if only Paramount could get someone competent to manage its social media operation.
When a director with the undeniable talent of Quentin Tarantino says that he wants to make a film for you, serious consideration of the proposal is warranted. For whatever reason, higher-ups at Paramount decided not to go ahead with a film that had been pitched by the famed director of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Kill Bill. No explanation has been given – and I really do fear that this could be a huge missed opportunity.
Here’s the short version: you may not like Tarantino personally or his filmmaking style. That’s okay. Maybe you’d hate his take on Star Trek. That’s okay too. Because what someone like Tarantino has that no one else who’s come anywhere close to Star Trek has is star power and pull. Tarantino’s films are on a different order of magnitude to anything else that Star Trek has ever done, and what that would have meant for the franchise is millions of new viewers turning up for the very first time. At least some of those folks would have stuck around, gone back to watch other Star Trek films and shows, and the fan community would have grown.
The very worst possible outcome for a collaboration with Tarantino would have been a mediocre film that made a decent profit. But beyond that, the potential for legions of viewers taking a first look at Star Trek – or a second look from folks who’ve not seen it in a while – is immense. To squander such an opportunity when it was seemingly presented on a silver platter may turn out to be an unforgivable mistake.
A standalone Tarantino film need not have impacted any ongoing series or project. It could have been a one-and-done thing occupying its own little piece of the Star Trek universe, inoffensively ignoring everything else in the franchise and doing no harm. Sure, there are potential pitfalls to working with someone like Tarantino… but the gains Star Trek could have made were massive.
Where are the Prodigy toys?
It’s been well over a year since Prodigy premiered, but there are still no toys, no dolls, no dress-up costumes, no replica phasers or combadges, no teddies… nothing. Prodigy must be the only kids’ show in the world to have zero tie-in products even after its entire first season has come and gone.
There’s more to merchandise than just raw sales and profit. The way children engage with a franchise like Star Trek, especially in the moments where they aren’t sitting down to watch the latest episode, is all about play. Seeing exciting toys on shelves will literally get kids to check out the show for the first time, and seeing their friends dressed up for Halloween or playing with Star Trek dolls has the potential to expand the show’s audience.
The Star Trek franchise may be new to making a kids’ show, but Paramount isn’t. Paramount owns Nickelodeon, and has made many other films and TV series for children in the past – and knows how to make toys and merch for them. Moreover, the Star Trek franchise used to be much better at this, even giving Star Wars a run for its money in the ’90s with figures of practically every guest character, costumes for dressing up, prop replicas, and much more.
I waited and waited for Paramount to address this as Prodigy’s first season went on, then took an extended break. I hoped that we’d have gotten something before the first season finale aired… but it didn’t happen.
Most of Picard Season 2:
Now we’re getting into narrative decisions, which I admit is something quite subjective – but I’m certainly not alone in considering most of Picard’s second season to have been a disappointment. After a truly spectacular premiere (that I gushed over in my review, calling it “one of the best episodes of live-action Star Trek that I’ve seen in a long time”) the second season took a nose-dive, spending eight-and-a-half episodes wandering aimlessly in a modern-day setting that didn’t feel inspiring, exciting, or even interesting much of the time.
There were some highlights, and by the time the action returned to the 25th Century in the second half of the finale, things did improve. But by then it was almost too late; the damage was done. This was an experimental season, and it’s to the Star Trek franchise’s credit that the creative team are given leeway to try out different ideas. But this one didn’t work, and considering it was one of only three seasons that Picard is going to get, its failure feels all the more egregious and disappointing.
Picard Season 2 felt muddled, bloated, and unnecessarily long. Yet by the time it ended, there were still huge unanswered questions about key storylines and characters, questions that I feel all but certain the series has no answers to and no plans to even pay lip-service to in Season 3. A meandering, confused batch of episodes gave way to a rushed finale that didn’t have time to bring everything to a satisfactory conclusion.
Some storylines in Season 2 just felt confused, as if there were two writers working against one another. Rios’ story, for example, saw him experience the worst of the 21st Century, being incarcerated and deported. But a couple of episodes later, Rios was raving about how much he loves the 21st Century for the cigars and the food on offer at a fancy party. There were clearly ideas on the table that, had they been executed better, were potentially interesting. But the way the season as a whole came to screen was poor – and it’s a concept that I hope won’t be repeated any time soon.
Prodigy isn’t gaining much traction:
Right now, Prodigy is being watched mostly by existing Trekkies and some of their kids. It doesn’t appear to be finding much of an audience of its own, and there are a few reasons why that may be the case. The situation with toys and merch that we just talked about is definitely harming the show’s prospects, preventing it from reaching out beyond existing Trekkies for the reasons laid out above. But there’s more to say.
Prodigy hasn’t been marketed particularly well, with relatively few ads for the show cropping up online. Kids shows need to advertise where kids are – on apps like TikTok, for instance. Also, the show remained a Paramount+ exclusive until very recently, when a belated broadcast on Nickelodeon was announced. While I understand that Prodigy was made as a Paramount+ show, the platform itself is mostly being marketed at an adult audience.
Unlike something like Disney+, which clearly has a lot of content made for kids, Paramount+ just doesn’t have that reputation yet. As a result, I doubt most kids even know that Prodigy exists a full year and a full season later.
The question is this: who is Prodigy really made for? Is it for Trekkies who want to see more Captain Janeway and Chakotay? Is it for children of Trekkies as a way for their parents to get them into the franchise? Or does it have the ambition to bring in completely new viewers? The answer should be “all of the above,” but the way the show has been handled from its marketing and scheduling to its place in the wider franchise, it feels like a show that won’t succeed at growing Star Trek’s audience much beyond its current fans and viewers.
The Picard cast being unceremoniously dumped:
It was profoundly disappointing to me to learn that all but one of the new characters who had been introduced in Picard would not be returning for the show’s third season. That disappointment was compounded because most of them didn’t even get an ending to their character arcs/stories in Season 2.
There were some really interesting characters in the mix when Picard debuted, and over the course of two full seasons I feel that we didn’t really get to know all of them very well; after twenty episodes we’d barely spent any time with Elnor, for example, and Soji was absent for all of Season 2 bar a tiny cameo in the premiere. There was vast potential in these characters – but it’s potential that the show has now thoroughly wasted.
If the Star Trek franchise is to survive long-term, fans and viewers need to be given the opportunity to fall in love with a new generation of characters, because it’s these people who will drive the franchise forward in the years ahead. As much fun as I hope it will be to go on one last adventure with the crew from The Next Generation, it will be their final mission. That show is now more than thirty-five years in the past, and while there’s definitely still ways to bring back legacy characters, it isn’t exactly indicative of a franchise trying to move forwards.
It was my hope when Picard premiered that a new generation of fans would be just as excited in thirty years’ time to see Elnor or Rios make a return to the Star Trek franchise as we had been to see Picard come back. These new characters could and should have picked up the torch, taking Star Trek into the 2020s and beyond. Although I adore The Next Generation and will be happy to see its main characters make a return, it’s a bittersweet moment because of who had to be booted off the show to make it happen. And it’s a decision to double-down on nostalgia that I fear could have long-term ramifications for the entire franchise.
Paramount+ lost the Star Trek films. Twice:
On two separate occasions in 2022, all or most of the Star Trek films disappeared from Paramount+. Let’s restate that: Paramount lost most of the Star Trek films from its own streaming platform, sending them to Hulu or Peacock or one of those other second-tier streaming services for a number of months. Then, after getting them back, it happened again!
From the point of view of a Trekkie, we’re told that Paramount+ is going to be the place to get all things Star Trek. But that’s demonstrably not true, as some of the best stories in the franchise – and the projects which had the highest production values – have arbitrarily disappeared. If I’d been a paying subscriber to Paramount+ at that time I’d have been livid.
But it’s not just about Star Trek. It’s about Paramount as a whole, and what these mistakes say about the corporation and the platform it hopes to convince folks to sign up for. Losing parts of Paramount’s own back catalogue is something that simply should not be allowed to happen. It makes Paramount+ look inconsistent, cheap, and like a bad deal. The lack of communication about this – the announcement of the recent loss of the Star Trek films was made with just days to spare – also makes Paramount look chaotic, and Paramount+ look like a very poor relation indeed to the likes of Disney+ and Netflix.
Can you imagine logging into Disney+ and seeing a message that Beauty and the Beast, The Aristocats, Snow White, and more would no longer be available? Can you imagine Disney leasing the exclusive rights to those films to any other streaming platform? Of course not, because it undermines the entire concept of owning a streaming platform. Paramount+ is already on very shaky ground as a second-tier streaming platform in a massively competitive market. Mistakes like this cannot be repeated.
Was it simply too much?
2022 was a bumper year for Star Trek. In fact, the franchise barely had so much as a week’s break all year long – and as already noted, some weeks had two episodes at once. There were ten episodes each of Lower Decks, Picard, and Strange New Worlds, six episodes of Discovery, and fifteen episodes of Prodigy taking the total number for 2022 to a whopping fifty-one episodes of Star Trek. Is that too much for one franchise in a single calendar year?
There’s a danger, I fear, of “franchise fatigue” beginning to set in. Even the most ardent Star Trek fan would struggle to keep up with all the different productions, and I think there’s a case to be made that Paramount needs to take a foot off the accelerator and slow things down. The last thing we need is for fans and viewers to get burned out on Star Trek – or for the franchise to begin to look too complicated and too difficult to keep up with.
There is a balance somewhere that Paramount needs to find. After years in the wilderness with no Star Trek at all it may seem odd to be complaining about there being too much, but it feels as though the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. It’s good and healthy for franchises to take breaks and not to be constantly on the air, and for both the creative teams and fans, I don’t think the level of Star Trek we saw in 2022 can be maintained.
And that’s a worry because if burnout sets in, it could prove fatal to the entire franchise. Take a deep breath, slow things down, and try to spread out some of these shows a little more. Taking breaks of a few weeks in between each series would be a good start – and this really ties in with what we said about scheduling. Paramount blitzed through fifty-one episodes of Star Trek in 2022… but there’s now nothing for at least six weeks. Had things been better spread out, we could have had short, consistent breaks in between each show that would have meant the entire franchise would be more balanced.
So that’s what went wrong.
In 2022, Star Trek premiered more episodes than at any other point in its history… but the franchise was massively harmed by decisions on the corporate side that prevented millions of fans from even being able to watch any of it. The glut of episodes was arguably too much, and poor scheduling decisions saw shows overlapping one another, and too many episodes arriving all at once.
Paramount’s failures behind the scenes have seen Strange New Worlds denied to most of the world, massively harming the show’s reputation and killing much of the online chatter. On social media, Star Trek not only ignored fans, but in some cases actively attacked them, using outdated copyright laws to get fan accounts suspended. The lack of toys for Star Trek’s first kids’ show more than a year after its launch and after its entire first season has finished its run is pretty pathetic – and is just another way that Paramount has harmed its prospects.
2022 was, as the title of this piece states, a great and terrible year for Star Trek.
I can’t overstate how much I enjoyed Strange New Worlds, and how that show’s first season has to be one of the strongest debuts in the entire history of the franchise. After three seasons that were of varying quality, Discovery finally seems to be hitting its stride, too. Season 4 wasn’t perfect, but it was the best the show has had to offer so far. Lower Decks continues to do its thing and do it well, though it isn’t really reaching out beyond the existing Star Trek fan community in a big way. Prodigy is also a fun series, continuing to build up its characters. Even in Picard Season 2 there were fun moments; highlights in practically every episode even if the overall story itself wasn’t stellar.
But I can’t shake the feeling that 2022 could be both the zenith and a turning point for modern Star Trek. The sheer number of episodes and the way in which they were scheduled was enough to start the process of burnout, and one of the key lessons for Paramount has to be to better schedule the Star Trek franchise and spread it out more.
Moreover, on the production side of things, Paramount had an absolutely atrocious year. Failing to bring Paramount+ to fans around the world is a weight around the neck of the Star Trek franchise and will continue to be for years to come. The lack of communication with fans, and Paramount’s piss-poor “America First” corporate attitude is also doing considerable harm to the Star Trek fan community and the wider brand.
In a difficult economic climate, it’s hard to see Paramount+ breaking into the top tier of streaming platforms, and on current form I would be surprised if it survives the decade. When Disney+ and Netflix – platforms with many more subscribers backed up by far bigger and more successful corporations – are struggling to turn a profit, one can only imagine how much money Paramount+ is losing and will continue to lose. If Paramount+ fails, will it drag Star Trek down with it?
Pull back the curtain and I’m afraid it was a tough year for Star Trek. I don’t see anything changing in the immediate term, either, as Paramount looks set to keep doing what it’s been doing for the past few years. No major changes seem to be coming on the horizon, and teases of unannounced projects came and went in 2022 with no major announcements for new shows. And of course the Beyond sequel had to be rapidly un-announced as it became clear that Paramount had completely screwed things up.
If you enjoyed having fifty-one Star Trek episodes in a single year, I guess what I’d say is this: don’t get used to it. For all manner of reasons, I doubt we’ll see another year quite like 2022. And maybe that’s for the best.
The Star Trek franchise – including all films and television series discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
I’ve written longer articles and columns about several of the subjects discussed above, and you can find links to them here:
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2 and the teasers, trailers, and announcements for Season 3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next Generation and Voyager.
Today I’m updating one of my big Star Trek: Picard Season 3 theories and adding a second part to it! This addition is based on what we saw in the recent New York Comic-Con trailer, and if you’re a regular reader you may have seen me allude to it in my recent articles about who Captain Vadic could be and who else might be joining her on the villainous side of the season!
First of all, a recap. A few months ago I put together a theory that, if it were to pan out, would tie together all three seasons of Star Trek: Picard – which is something that hasn’t really happened so far. Seasons 1 and 2 told largely standalone stories, and it’s a distinct possibility that Season 3 will also go in its own direction – the likelihood of which was arguably raised when most of the main cast members from Seasons 1 and 2 were dumped.
But the theory that I came up with tied together Seasons 1 and 2 in a big way, and potentially set the stage for Season 3 as well.
In brief, my theory says that the super-synths from Season 1 (the faction who left the beacon on Aia and who Soji and Sutra attempted to open a portal for in the season finale) are also responsible for the anomaly that the Borg Queen and Picard joined forces to stop at the end of Season 2. After being unable to arrive at Coppelius, the super-synths used the anomaly to try to attack the Federation and/or the Romulans, perhaps in retaliation or perhaps as some kind of preemptive strike prior to an invasion.
Nothing that we saw on screen in either season would rule out the super-synths as being responsible for both attacks, and as we know so little about this faction and their objectives and motivations, it feels plausible to me that they might have left the beacon on Aia as a trap – that their real intent was not to help synthetics, but to use the presence of synthetic life as an indicator that a quadrant or galaxy was ripe for the conquering!
Enter Captain Vadic and her “rogues’ gallery.” After what we saw of synthetic life in Seasons 1 and 2, I don’t think we can entirely rule out an artificial background for Captain Vadic, even though she appears to be organic at a glance. But that’s neither here nor there, really. One thing that I find absolutely fascinating about the characters we saw joining her crew is this: they’re both artificial life forms. Professor Moriarty is a sentient hologram and Lore is, of course, an android.
I had speculated back when I made my original theory that the villain Picard and the crew would have to face in Season 3 would be the super-synths; tying together all three seasons of the show and giving Picard a truly powerful adversary to defeat. This theory now expands to include Captain Vadic – she could be their pawn, she could be a synth, or she could be someone who experienced the beacon on Aia and became obsessed with the arrival of the super-synths.
We’ve spoken before about some of the similarities between Picard Season 1 and the Mass Effect video game series, in particular the first game, and I think we can draw upon Mass Effect once again to add to this theory. In the world of Mass Effect, the Reapers – a race of sentient machines from far beyond the Milky Way galaxy – could exert influence over organic minds through a process called “indoctrination.” Indoctrinated servants of the Reapers could work on their behalf, but would eventually begin to worship the Reapers themselves before going mad.
Captain Vadic could be someone who has been indoctrinated – or brainwashed, if you prefer that term – by the super-synths. Perhaps this happened when she encountered their beacon, or maybe it happened on some other occasion – possibly during the standoff over Coppelius. Either way, Captain Vadic came to worship the super-synths and wants them to arrive in the Milky Way galaxy. Picard prevented that from happening – at least once and maybe twice – so that could explain why Captain Vadic has such a personal grudge against him and his crew.
This could also set the stage for the story of the season. Season 1 ended with Picard preventing the arrival of the super-synths, and Season 2 ended with Picard and the Borg Queen stopping the anomaly – which, as we’ve discussed, could be a super-synth weapon. Season 3 may begin with Captain Vadic on a quest for revenge against Picard, but it could also see her – and her gallery of rogues – planning to build a new portal to allow the super-synths to invade. This could be what Picard and the crew have to stop, it could even be what Dr Crusher was doing on her mission in space when she had to send a distress signal.
If I’m right, the super-synths could be behind the attack on Starfleet Command that we saw in the most recent trailer, too. We saw some kind of beam coming from above completely destroy one of the main Starfleet buildings, and that beam was superficially similar (in colour, at least) to the Season 2 anomaly. Could that be another piece of the jigsaw puzzle?
So there are really two additional components to my super-synths theory! And the story could go in either direction. It seems possible that Captain Vadic has been driven mad by the beacon on Aia, like the Zhat Vash were, but redirected her madness into some kind of devotion to or worship of the super-synths, perhaps through a process not dissimilar to Mass Effect’s indoctrination. That could explain why she wants to attack Picard and the Federation – they were responsible for preventing the super-synths’ arrival.
Alternatively, Captain Vadic could be seeking to build her own portal to allow the super-synths to travel to the Milky Way, and this could be what Picard and the crew have to prevent. Captain Vadic could be a synth herself, or she could be an organic under their thrall who’s doing their bidding.
With Professor Moriarty and Lore on her side – both of whom are malevolent artificial life-forms – Captain Vadic could be attempting to bring about a full-scale assault on organic life in the Milky Way galaxy, or seeking revenge for an arrival that was thwarted by Picard and the Federation. I could quite see Lore and Moriarty supporting this kind of “synthetic supremacy” crusade, and who knows – maybe the ultimate twist will be that the super-synths never intended to help artificial life-forms, but rather intended to destroy, conquer, or assimilate them.
So that’s my addendum to my earlier theory!
What I liked about the super-synth idea in the first place was that it would tie together all three seasons of the show in a big way, connecting everything from the attack on Mars and the Zhat Vash plot through to the Season 2 anomaly, Dr Jurati becoming a Borg Queen, and beyond into Season 3. Star Trek: Picard would be transformed from a disjointed sequence of standalone stories into one continuous story – albeit one that got sidetracked!
And at the very least, what we’ve seen of Captain Vadic and her “rogues’ gallery” – at least so far – hasn’t ruled any of that out. It’s still a viable theory, and it still seems at least possible to me that Season 3 will pan out this way. The decision to show Captain Vadic seemingly working with two artificial life-forms could even be a hint toward the idea of her working for the super-synths in some capacity.
There are other possibilities, of course, and as has happened in recent seasons of Star Trek, the show could go in wildly unpredictable directions! But I think it’s possible to tell this kind of story in a way that would still keep Season 3 approachable for newcomers and casual viewers. Because the super-synths and the Season 2 anomaly were only on screen for such a short time, and because so little was revealed about them in the first two seasons, Season 3 has a near-blank slate on which to build. The connection back to Seasons 1 and 2 would be fun for returning viewers, but wouldn’t necessarily hamper the enjoyment of anyone who missed those seasons or for casual viewers who may not remember every event that unfolded.
But as I always say: I have no “insider information,” and all of this is just for fun! I like writing, I like Star Trek, and writing up these Star Trek theories is fun for me – and that’s the spirit in which I hope you’ll take this theory. No fan theory, no matter how fun or plausible it may seem, is worth getting upset about, and it’s highly likely that Star Trek: Picard Season 3 won’t include anything that we’ve talked about today. I’m totally okay with that, and I hope that the new season will tell a fun and exciting story regardless of whether any of my fan theories come to pass!
So that’s all for today. After thinking about Captain Vadic a lot over the last couple of weeks I thought it was worth adding this addendum to my earlier super-synths theory. I’m really looking forward to Picard Season 3, which is now less than three months away from being broadcast! If we get any major news or new trailers between now and then I hope you’ll check in as I’ll be sure to provide some analysis.
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 will be broadcast on Paramount+ in the United States and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and around the world beginning on the 17th of February 2023. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the entire Star Trek franchise, including the most recent seasons of Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, and Strange New Worlds.
I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media where fans try to construct their “ultimate” Star Trek crews with characters from across the franchise, including one that popped up a few weeks ago. For whatever reason, this latest one – which was put out by the official Star Trek Twitter account – captured my imagination. So today I thought it could be fun to show off the characters that I’d pick to be in my “ultimate” Star Trek crew!
Let’s start by laying down some ground rules…
First of all, I don’t want to pick more than a couple of characters from a single series. If you’re just going to pick the entire crew of the Enterprise-D, what’s the point? We might as well just go and watch The Next Generation!
Secondly, the fact that characters come from different eras or timelines is entirely irrelevant. This is pure fantasy – though who knows, maybe one day Star Trek will do some kind of massive crossover event featuring characters from all over the place!
Third, characters have to occupy a role that we saw them fill on screen; i.e. Captain Picard can’t be a tactical officer, nor could Michael Burnham be assigned as the ship’s Chief Medical Officer!
Fourth, I want to include all of the major roles that we’ve seen main characters occupy on Star Trek – something that the Twitter post that inspired this piece didn’t do!
Finally (and most importantly), I want this to be taken light-heartedly and in the spirit of fun!
So let’s get started building the USS Trekking with Dennis!
Starship Class: Excelsior
One thing that a lot of these lists miss is the ship that the crew will be serving aboard. As many Trekkies have pointed out over the years, a starship is akin to a member of the crew; not merely a setting but a living, breathing entity in its own right. Many starship designs have become iconic parts not just of the Star Trek franchise, but of sci-fi and popular culture in general, and many Star Trek starships are instantly recognisable even to folks who aren’t fans.
The Excelsior-class has been one of my favourites ever since I first saw it. It’s a beautiful design that took the classic look of the Constitution-class and updated it, becoming an iconic piece of ’80s sci-fi in the process. It’s clearly a Starfleet ship – the design retains the saucer, neck, body, and nacelles on pylons that continue to define Federation starships, but it mixed things up for a new era. Excelsior-class ships became workhorses for Starfleet, remaining in use for decades. Picard Season 2 recently debuted an updated design, showing that the ships were still being used at the dawn of the 25th Century!
Admiral/Mission Commander: Jean-Luc Picard
In overall control of our mission at Starfleet Command is Admiral Picard! He’s level-headed, diplomatic, and willing to try to negotiate even with the fiercest adversaries. He’s also a skilled tactician in his own right, and someone who I’d trust to plan operations that involve entire fleets of starships.
Admiral Picard was initially chosen by Starfleet to spearhead the Federation’s efforts to evacuate the Romulan homeworld. While that plan ultimately fell apart due to events beyond his control, the fact that he was the right man to take charge of such a massive assignment shouldn’t be in dispute. Admiral Picard – with support from his team – will be co-ordinating our mission back at headquarters!
Captain: Benjamin Sisko
Although the question of “absolute favourite captain” is an incredibly difficult one, if I were placed under duress Benjamin Sisko is probably the individual I’d name! A battle-hardened commander who transformed a minor, obscure posting into one of the most significant strategic locations in the entire Alpha Quadrant, Captain Sisko led the charge against the Dominion during one of the Federation’s darkest hours.
As a commanding officer, Sisko inspired his crew to follow him, but he was also well-versed in dealing with alien cultures and could be both a diplomat and a deal-maker. I also feel that Captain Sisko would work well with Admiral Picard; he would command the ship while Picard was in control of the overall mission, but could also offer advice and input as we saw him do for Admiral Ross during the Dominion War.
First Officer: Jack Ransom
At the top we have two very serious people – so we need someone like Commander Ransom to balance things out! Although he can be laid-back and make jokes, when the chips are down we’ve seen Commander Ransom absolutely excel, putting the needs of his shipmates first and stepping up to tackle whatever the cosmos throws at him.
The role of a first officer in Star Trek has varied from show to show, with some taking on more away missions and others serving as advisors and confidantes. The best first officers are a mix of both, and Jack Ransom seems like someone his commanding officer can rely on to give honest, sound advice – and then lead a dangerous mission independently.
Helm: Tom Paris
The role of helm officer has been part of Star Trek since The Original Series. But it wasn’t until Tom Paris took over at the helm of the USS Voyager that I felt there was someone in the driving seat who was a bona fide pilot. Paris truly loves piloting Voyager – and any other ship or shuttle that he can get his hands on, too. That’s an impression that I never really got from Sulu, Wesley Crusher, or really anyone else who had sat in the chair before him; they seemed to see the role as a job or duty, where Paris revels in his work.
Not only does Tom Paris enjoy what he does, but he guided the USS Voyager safely home across an impossible distance. Whether it was wormholes, slipstream drives, spatial catapults, the Borg transwarp network, or a warp 10 shuttle that accidentally mutated him into a salamander, Paris navigated them all – and found redemption for his past misdeeds in the process.
Chief Engineer: Hemmer
As the first Aenar to be a major character, Hemmer had a lot of potential. The no-nonsense attitude he had stands in stark contrast to some other engineers we could think of, but when he was off-duty he was personable and friendly with his shipmates – and a guiding light to young cadets who found themselves under his wing. Hemmer’s love of science was cute, too, and he was able to take in his stride all kinds of different events that befell the USS Enterprise.
As Hemmer once told Uhura, he believed that his purpose was to fix what is broken – and he did that in more ways than one while serving as the Enterprise’s chief engineer. Hemmer helped the Enterprise survive major damage during battles against dangerous enemies, and he’s the person I’d want to rely on to keep my starship flying!
Chief Medical Officer: Dr T’Ana
Dr T’Ana is unapologetically my favourite Lower Decks character. Her gruff and grumpy bedside manner conceals genuine medical skill, and we’ve seen her treat patients with all kinds of horrible sci-fi ailments without so much as batting an eyelid. Despite her acerbic attitude, though, Dr T’Ana manages to strike up friendships with her shipmates – and has proven herself to be someone they can rely on.
We’ve also seen how Dr T’Ana is unflappable and doesn’t crack when put under pressure – something that could be important depending on how badly our mission goes! She may not be the politest doctor in the fleet, but no matter what was wrong – disease, injury, or random sci-fi shenanigans – I’d trust Dr T’Ana to patch me up. Plus she’s a Caitian, something that I appreciate as a cat-fanatic!
Nurse/Sickbay Assistant: Kes
While Dr T’Ana can be grumpy and even abrasive, Kes has a wonderful bedside manner that has a way of putting patients at ease. Although she didn’t have much by way of formal medical training when she joined the crew of the USS Voyager, she soon grew into her role as the Doctor’s assistant in sickbay. I still think it’s a shame that Kes had to leave Voyager after the show’s third season, just as she was hitting her stride and learning more about her telepathic abilities.
Kes provides a sharp contrast to Dr T’Ana, and for that reason I think the dynamic in sickbay would be a lot of fun. But Kes has also demonstrated a willingness to learn and a keen medical intuition of her own, so if Dr T’Ana (and the rest of the medical staff) were busy or indisposed, Kes is more than capable of treating patients on her own.
Counsellor: Dr Hugh Culber
Although Dr Culber is the USS Discovery’s chief medical officer, in recent seasons we’ve also seen him take on the role of ship’s counsellor to a greater degree. Not all doctors would make for good counsellors, but Dr Culber has grown into the role, taking on the extra burden of caring for his shipmates’ mental health in addition to his duties in sickbay.
In The Next Generation, Counsellor Troi had a pretty big advantage when it came to reading her patients and understanding them! Dr Culber doesn’t have that same empathic ability, meaning he has to do things the old-fashioned way! But his advice has proven invaluable to Captain Burnham, Saru, and even Book. Dr Culber throws himself into his work, prioritising his patients ahead of himself on occasion.
Tactical has often overlapped with security on Star Trek, but if you think about it, they’re really two distinct roles that require different approaches. As fun as it might be to see Worf getting angry as the Enterprise races into battle, if my back’s against the wall and I’m facing defeat, I want the cool-headed, logical Tuvok aiming the phasers and firing the photon torpedoes.
Tuvok’s temperament makes him incredibly well-suited to a position at tactical – and not only in the heat of battle, either. As a strategist who has mastered the difficult Vulcan game of kal-toh – a strategy game he’s been playing for well over a century – Tuvok is also someone I’d trust to draw up plans for everything from small away missions to large battles.
Security Chief: Odo
As above, we’re separating the roles of tactical officer and security chief. For the latter, there’s no one I can think of who’s better-suited to the role than Odo! Odo is Star Trek’s first real “policeman;” a dedicated officer of the law who was trusted by the Cardassians, Bajorans, and the Federation to be impartial when it comes to justice.
That impartiality – ensuring that no one is above the law – is exactly what our crew needs. Odo will maintain order, but he’ll do so fairly. He’ll also be able to strike up friendships with the crew while retaining that impartiality. Everyone aboard our ship – Starfleet, non-Starfleet, guests, diplomats, or anyone else we meet along the way – will know that Odo will treat them fairly. And I gotta be honest about this last point: having a changeling on the crew could come in handy in a lot of situations!
Communications: Hoshi Sato
Hoshi Sato had not only mastered forty languages – including some very alien ones – in the days before universal translators existed, but she contributed in a major way to making the universal translator itself work in the way we’ve come to expect in Star Trek. Real-time, instant translation of previously-unheard alien languages wouldn’t have been possible without Hoshi’s work.
Hoshi Sato also showed an incredible aptitude for picking up languages very quickly – notably translating languages like Romulan and both Xindi-Insectoid and Xindi-Aquatic. If there was ever a problem with the universal translator – or our mission encountered an alien race whose language and form of communication was difficult to understand – Hoshi Sato is the linguist I’d want on our crew to handle things!
Science Officer: Spock
Could it really be anyone else in this role? Although Spock would go on to be a captain, an ambassador, and a diplomat, it’s his role as the Enterprise’s science officer where he’s best-remembered and most iconic. Spock has a genuine interest in uncovering the secrets of space and the universe, and his raised eyebrow and proclamation that something is “fascinating” have become legendary parts of the Star Trek franchise!
Spock’s logical analysis of sensor readings helped out – and saved – the Enterprise on multiple occasions. Taking his time to analyse unknown phenomena, Spock would present his findings based on the available evidence, and was instrumental in missions as diverse as discovering new forms of life and shutting down ancient super-weapons. On a mission of exploration – or any mission that needs good, solid scanning and sensor work, I want Spock manning that post!
Although the role of operations or ops officer isn’t always well-defined in Star Trek, the role can involve things like power management, sensor control, deflector control, and oversight of the internal workings of the ship. We’ve seen senior officers like Data and junior officers like Harry Kim and Nog assigned to operations roles, and I’m choosing to bring Data along on this mission.
Data is an android, and he has super-human abilities and reflexes as a result. When it comes to things like systems maintenance and keeping the ship in good working order, someone like Data is ideally-suited to the role, and he’s also proven himself to be more than capable of overseeing departments and even entire crews. Data can also provide valuable insight into unfolding situations almost entirely free from bias, making him incredibly useful to have on the bridge as an advisor.
Transporter Chief: Montgomery Scott
Although Scotty is best-remembered as the Enterprise’s chief engineer, I’m assigning him the role of transporter chief this time. One of the most iconic (and misquoted) lines from The Original Series is “beam me up, Scotty,” so I think we’re on safe ground here! Scotty is nothing short of an engineering genius, and when things go wrong – as they often do with Starfleet transporters – he’s the man I’d want to fix things and keep them running smoothly.
Transporter chief is a role that can be overlooked, especially considering that transporting is a fairly quick process when everything runs smoothly. But everything doesn’t always run smoothly, and the right transporter chief with the right technical know-how can mean the difference between beaming up and having your molecules scattered across half a sector of space. Or worse!
It’s not unusual for a starship to have several cadets assigned as they complete their courses at Starfleet Academy, so I’m picking Prodigy’s Rok-Tahk for that role (even though she isn’t formally a Starfleet cadet!) Across the first ten episodes of Prodigy, I felt we got to see some genuine character growth from Rok-Tahk that I hadn’t really expected, and I think she’ll continue to develop into a truly excellent Starfleet officer one day.
We’ve seen cadets like Uhura in Strange New Worlds and Tilly in Discovery moving between departments to try their hand at basically everything aboard a starship. Perhaps Rok-Tahk will do something similar during the course of our mission, giving her a range of new experiences, and potentially bringing a different point of view to all of the departments aboard our ship.
Although Quark is a worthy contender to bring along, I think it’s not unfair to say he’s a bit of a troublemaker! Guinan can be relied upon to create a welcoming environment in her bar for when our crew need some time to relax, but she’s also far less likely to cause problems during our mission!
Guinan can draw upon the experiences of her centuries-long life to offer advice and support to all members of the crew, and we’ve seen moments where her words to Captain Picard ended up completely transforming the outcome of a story. As someone who not only tends the bar but also listens and occasionally has something of value to add, Guinan is the perfect complement to any Starfleet crew.
Non-Starfleet Crewmate: Garak
Since The Next Generation premiered, most Star Trek crews have included at least one non-Starfleet or non-Federation crewmate. When I think back over these characters, few stand out more than Deep Space Nine’s Garak. Garak also brings a lot to the table for our crew! His previous life as a spy saw him develop a completely unique set of skills ranging from technical to combat and beyond – and in a pinch, he could be very useful.
However, Garak will need to be carefully monitored during our mission, as he can be rather slippery and self-serving. Although his service toward the end of the Dominion War saw him firmly allied with the crew of DS9 and the Federation, Garak has gone off-script on a number of occasions. He doesn’t always willingly share everything that he knows, so having someone else on board who knows how to handle him and how to get the best out of him could be important! But when a crisis looms, I think Garak can be counted on to find unconventional – and often un-Starfleet – ways to solve problems.
Villain: The Borg
There have been some wonderfully iconic villains in Star Trek, like Khan or Gul Dukat, and it can be hard to pick an absolute favourite. Purely in terms of the scale of the threat they pose, though, few Star Trek adversaries can compare to the Borg Collective. A vast army of billions or perhaps trillions of assimilated drones, a fleet of thousands of identical cube-shaped ships… the Borg are a faction that could wipe out the Federation in a matter of days without seriously overtaxing themselves.
We’ve seen Starfleet ingenuity and individuality overcome the Borg on a handful of occasions, but I’ve always wondered what it would look like if the Borg ever tried to invade en masse. Would a one-sided rout be inevitable… or will our cobbled-together crew find a way to save the day?
So that’s it!
Those are the characters that I’m choosing for my “ultimate” Star Trek crew.
There are no right answers to the question of which characters make for the “best” crew, and in addition to individual characteristics it’s worth considering how different characters would interact with one another and how well they’d work together. For my two cents, practically every Star Trek show has managed to get a good balance of characters and deployed them successfully. There are a handful of characters who didn’t really get enough time in the spotlight to truly shine, but even so, the franchise as a whole has done a fantastic job – and there are plenty of wonderful characters to choose from when making a list like this one!
I hope this was a bit of fun – and not something to take too seriously or get upset over! I was inspired a few weeks ago by that post from the official Star Trek social media team, and this is my (lengthy) response. It took a while to put this list together and really think about which characters I’d want to include – and which I’d have to exclude. For practically every position on the list above, there was at least one and often two other characters that I strongly considered including. I hope that the final list feels balanced between different shows and different eras, and was, if nothing else, a bit of fun to read!
Until next time!
The Star Trek franchise – including all characters, television series, and films mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2 and the trailers, teasers, and announcements for Season 3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Discovery, and Lower Decks.
Last time we talked about Captain Vadic – the mysterious villain who will appear in Picard’s third and final season next year. We considered a few possibilities as to who she might be and what her grievance might be with Admiral Picard, so if you want to check out those theories – some of which are more plausible than others – you can do so by clicking or tapping here.
This time I want to move beyond Captain Vadic. Taking the most recent trailer as a starting point, I thought it could be fun to look back at other characters from The Next Generation and beyond who might have a bone to pick with Admiral Picard. The most recent trailer for Season 3 included two pretty big surprises: the return of Lore and Professor Moriarty, both of whom seem to be allied with Captain Vadic. So here’s my theory: those two won’t be the only villains on her team!
Could Captain Vadic have put together what I’ve termed a “rogues’ gallery” of Star Trek villains? If so, it could make for an even more explosive and exiting final season – and there’s certainly no shortage of candidates for such a team. Like Marvel’s HYDRA or DC Comics’ Legion of Doom, perhaps Captain Vadic has managed to create her very own rogues’ gallery!
So today, I thought it could be fun to consider which other characters could be included – if indeed this is part of Captain Vadic’s scheme. During his adventures aboard the Enterprise-D, it’s not unfair to say that Picard made more than his share of enemies, and it stands to reason that many of them would jump at the chance to seek revenge.
As always, a caveat: this is just for fun! I don’t have any “sources” or “insider information,” and I’m not trying to claim that any of the characters below definitely will appear in Season 3 of Picard. I don’t even know for sure that there will be any other villainous characters besides those we’ve already glimpsed, so please take all of this with a healthy pinch of salt! With that out of the way, let’s get started!
Rogue #1: Toral, son of Duras
The two-part episode Redemption, which closed out Season 4 of The Next Generation and kicked off Season 5, introduced us to Toral, son of Duras. The House of Duras made several attempts to take over the Klingon Empire and to cover up their family’s collaboration with the Romulans, including at the attack on Khitomer in which Worf’s family was killed. Although Toral was relatively young during the events of Redemption, and was merely being used by his more powerful and manipulative aunts, there’s no denying his ambition.
Toral’s father and his aunts were killed by the crew of the Enterprise-D, and both Toral and his house were left disgraced and without a future in Klingon politics. If given the chance, Toral – or perhaps another member of the House of Duras – would surely be on board with a mission to destroy Admiral Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D.
Rogue #2: Ro Laren
Although Ro Laren, a former Starfleet officer and Maquis defector, didn’t hate Picard the last time they met, subsequent events could certainly have changed her opinion. In the years before the Dominion War, Picard was very much in favour of maintaining peace with the Cardassians at all costs – even if that included abandoning Federation colonies in Cardassian space. The former Ensign Ro took a different approach, ultimately defecting to the Maquis and abandoning Starfleet.
As we learned in Deep Space Nine, following their alliance with the Dominion the Cardassians were able to wipe out nearly all of the Maquis, leaving only a few survivors. Starfleet was unable to help, and given how bad relations had got between the Federation and the breakaway Maquis, it stands to reason that any survivors would carry a deep hatred for the Federation. If Ro Laren survived the Dominion War, maybe she’d try to seek revenge on her former captain and the organisation that abandoned her friends to their fate.
Rogue #3: The Remans
The Romulans treated the native Remans horribly, essentially using them as a class of slave labourers. The Remans’ only real chance to overturn this came when Shinzon – a Romulan-created clone of Picard – seized power on Romulus and uplifted many Remans, putting them into positions of power. Picard defeated Shinzon and his Reman Viceroy, potentially restoring the status quo on Romulus and relegating the Remans once again to their enslavement.
Not only that, but Starfleet’s decision to abandon the Romulan rescue armada that Picard was in charge of arguably cost Reman lives. The Romulans would surely have prioritised saving their own citizens ahead of saving Remans, so it stands to reason that many Remans were killed during the supernova. Although there are no remaining Reman main characters (the Viceroy was killed in Nemesis) I think it’s possible that we could see a Reman figure who wants to get revenge on Picard.
Rogue #4: Sela
The half-Romulan daughter of an alternate timeline’s Tasha Yar was an adversary for Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D on more than one occasion. Picard prevented her from interfering on behalf of the House of Duras during the Klingon succession crisis, and then thwarted her plans again when she tried to use Ambassador Spock’s peace process to invade and conquer Vulcan. Sela survived – but her authority within the Romulan hierarchy was surely undermined by these major defeats.
Sela would almost certainly want revenge on Picard for those incidents, and I could absolutely see her teaming up with someone like Captain Vadic. Assuming that Sela survived the Romulan supernova, Picard must be right at the top of her enemies’ list! Furthermore, Picard disrupted yet another Romulan scheme back in Season 1, and while we can’t say that Sela was involved with the Zhat Vash, it’s possible that she was privy to their plans or involved, to some degree, in the mission to Coppelius.
Sela and Tasha Yar actress Denise Crosby has teased a possible appearance in Season 3, too… so I think Sela showing up is a distinct possibility!
Rogue #5: DaiMon Bok
While in command of the USS Stargazer – about ten years before the events of The Next Generation – Picard defeated a Ferengi vessel, and in doing so killed the son of DaiMon Bok, a Ferengi captain. Bok attempted to get his revenge on Picard on two subsequent occasions, firstly by sabotaging the wreck of the Stargazer, which he had salvaged, and secondly by convincing Picard that he had a son. Both times, Bok was defeated.
However, Bok survived his run-ins with Picard, and as I noted last time, the grudge he carried is deeply personal and feels like it would be something he would never be able to let go of. Like Sela above, Bok has a personal vendetta against Picard, and if the opportunity were to arise to join a mission to kill or defeat him, I could see Bok signing up in a heartbeat!
Rogue #6: The Conspiracy parasite-aliens
After thirty-five years, could a continuation of the story begun in The Next Generation first season episode Conspiracy finally be on the agenda? Anything’s possible, right?!
The Conspiracy parasite-aliens attempted to take over Starfleet and the Federation before being thwarted by Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D. Although their “mother creature” was killed, before it died it was able to send a message, presumably to its home world or others of its species… but the story was never continued (although the parasite-aliens were recently referenced in an episode of Lower Decks).
The parasite-aliens were originally conceived as part of the storyline that would eventually lead to the introduction of the Borg in Season 2, but this connection was written out of the series before Q Who entered production. So the parasite-aliens have remained a mystery ever since – but would surely want to gain revenge on the people most responsible for foiling their plans. Maybe Captain Vadic and others on her crew have been taken over by these parasitic beings.
Rogue #7: Norah Satie
Rear Admiral Norah Satie was sent to the Enterprise-D to investigate an apparent act of sabotage. However, she massively overstepped her brief and became paranoid, treating the entire crew with suspicion and using her power to drag innocent officers before a hastily-arranged “drumhead” trial. Picard was eventually able to outmanoeuvre her at the trial, ending her investigation – and possibly her career as well.
We don’t know what became of Norah Satie after her humiliation, but it’s at least possible that she would hate Picard as a result. Perhaps her actions led to her being kicked out of Starfleet, or at least losing her investigative position, and after having had years in which to build up resentment, she might be ready to seek revenge.
Bringing a Federation officer into the “rogues’ gallery” (if Captain Vadic is not a former member of Starfleet herself) could lead to some really interesting and complex storytelling.
Rogue #8: Altan Inigo Soong and/or the Coppelius synths
Although we’ve seen Brent Spiner as Lore in the most recent trailer, could he also be back as Season 1’s Altan Inigo Soong? One line from the first teaser trailer really stood out to me (as I flagged up at the time) and that line came from one of Spiner’s characters: “evolution is not an act of preservation; it’s addition.” I’ve wondered ever since if that line could be Dr Soong – or one of his synths – arguing in favour of some kind of organic-synthetic synthesis.
Connected to this idea is something we touched on last time – my theory that Captain Vadic could be motivated by the Season 1 super-synths. Both of the characters we know of so far in her “rogues’ gallery” are synthetic: Lore is an android and Moriarty is a hologram. If her crusade against Picard and the Federation is somehow connected to the super-synths from Season 1, perhaps other synthetics will join her cause, such as the ones on Coppelius.
Rogue #9: Captain Benjamin Maxwell
Captain Maxwell was a fascinating character in his sole appearance. A renegade Starfleet officer who took his ship on an unsanctioned mission into Cardassian space, Maxwell held a personal grudge against the Cardassians for the deaths of his family. He found it hard to adjust to peace with the Cardassians, and sought to expose their secret military build-up – something that he was, in the end, right about.
Picard was sent after him, and with the help of Miles O’Brien, Maxwell was taken into custody before peace between the Cardassians and Federation could be jeopardised. But Maxwell wasn’t exactly wrong about the Cardassians – something that feels even more significant in the aftermath of the Dominion War. Would someone like Maxwell – an otherwise upstanding Starfleet officer – want to get revenge on Picard and his crew? It’s got to be at least a possibility!
Rogue #10: T’Paal (also known as Tallera)
T’Paal used the assumed identity of “Tallera” to track down an ancient Vulcan weapon called the Stone of Gol. She hoped to use the weapon to purge Vulcan of all alien influence, believing that contact with non-Vulcans was “polluting” her planet and culture. Picard, on an undercover mission of his own, managed to stop her, and she was taken into custody by the Vulcan authorities.
I’d consider T’Paal to be a real zealot, someone completely dedicated to her cause and her scheme. When Picard thwarted her attempts to use the Stone of Gol to rid Vulcan of all alien influence, she became enraged – and someone like that could hold a grudge for a very long time indeed. Though perhaps not as iconic or well-remembered as some of The Next Generation’s other adversaries, T’Paal could certainly make a return and join Captain Vadic’s mission.
Rogue #11: Kelsey the mercenary
Known only by her first name, Kelsey was presumed to have been killed when her ship was destroyed near Arkaria Base – but maybe there’s some way she could have survived! Picard thwarted her plot to steal a valuable and highly dangerous substance called trilithium resin from the Enterprise-D when it was undergoing maintenance at the base, allowing her to escape with a sabotaged canister that caused her ship to explode moments later.
If Kelsey survived somehow – such as by boarding an escape pod – it stands to reason that she’d be furious with Picard. Not only did he prevent her from getting the trilithium resin, he was responsible for the deaths of several of her friends, and the destruction of her ship. Although we’ve considered her dead ever since Starship Mine aired, it’s possible that there might be an unexpected resurrection!
Rogue #12: Commodore Oh
One of the primary antagonists in Season 1 was the Romulan spy Commodore Oh. Oh infiltrated Starfleet shortly after the discovery of Data, playing a very long game to sabotage the Federation’s work on developing synthetic life. She was responsible for the attack on Mars, the death of Chris Rios’ captain aboard the USS Ibn Majid, and the attack that claimed Dahj’s life.
Commodore Oh was also a zealot, completely dedicated the Zhat Vash mission to prevent and exterminate synthetic life. Although she was convinced to withdraw from Coppelius, I see no evidence whatsoever that she or the Zhat Vash would abandon their anti-synthetic crusade. Having been exposed, the Zhat Vash may be on a quest for revenge – and as the person who stopped them and exposed their secrets, Picard would surely be at the top of Oh’s list.
Rogue #13: The Control AI
Returning to the theme of artificial life that we discussed above, one other “evil” AI that springs to mind is Control, which was the primary antagonist for much of Discovery’s second season. Control wanted to evolve and become fully sentient, so if it had the opportunity to contact a race of super-synths, that seems like something it would have tried to do! Although the end of Discovery Season 2 implied that Control was completely and utterly dead (or shut down), it’s not implausible to think that it could be revived.
One thing that I’ve been disappointed with in modern Star Trek has been a lack of major points of connection between the franchise’s main live-action shows. Discovery and Picard have run alongside one another since 2020, and four seasons of television have been produced in that time. But aside from a couple of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it references, there haven’t been any major connections or crossovers. If Captain Vadic is on a mission connected to the Season 1 super-synths, synthetic life, or building a crew of artificial life forms, including Control would be a way of rectifying that.
Rogue #14: The impostor known as “Ardra”
“Ardra” – whose real name remains unknown – was a con artist who attempted to prey on the Ventaxian civilisation in The Next Generation Season 4 episode Devil’s Due. She claimed to be the Ventaxian devil, and tried to force the entire population into slavery to enforce a “contract” that they had signed in the distant past.
Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D were able to expose “Ardra” for what she really was, denying her the chance to rule over the Ventaxians. She was subsequently arrested – and I’m sure she’d hold a grudge against Picard for that! Although “Ardra” isn’t one of the most iconic Star Trek villains, I could entertain the idea of bringing her back as part of a team-up against Picard.
Rogue #15: Nicholas Locarno
Nicholas Locarno is probably best-known to Trekkies nowadays because he was portrayed by future Tom Paris actor Robert Duncan McNeill. But he was a complex and interesting character in The First Duty, an episode of the fifth season of The Next Generation, and I could conceivably see him holding Picard responsible for his expulsion from Starfleet Academy.
Locarno was the head of Nova Squadron – an elite flight performance team at the Academy – when he covered up the death of a fellow cadet. Wesley Crusher, after a major dressing-down from Captain Picard, eventually told the truth at an inquiry into the cadet’s death, leading to Locarno’s expulsion.
Rogue #16: Narek
I was disappointed that Narek’s story was abandoned partway through the Season 1 finale of Picard. Could Season 3 bring back Narek in some form – if for no other reason than to bring some kind of closure to his narrative arc? I’m not sure… but if we’re considering characters from within Picard who might want to join a crusade against the retired Admiral, Narek has to be in contention.
Like Commodore Oh above, Narek was a true believer in the Zhat Vash cause to the very end – and while I know some fans didn’t like his storyline, for me it was at least interesting that he stuck to his mission and didn’t fall into the clichéd trap of being the “spy with a heart of gold” who falls in love with his target. I’d quite like to see Narek again, and if Captain Vadic is putting together a squad, his unique skillset could make him an invaluable addition.
Rogue #17: The Ux-Mal prisoners
After more than five hundred years imprisoned on a moon, stripped of their physical bodies, a group of prisoners belonging to a race called the Ux-Mal came very close to escaping. Using the bodies of several Enterprise-D officers and crew, they hoped to transport their fellow prisoners away from the torturous moon that they had been confined to – until the rest of the Enterprise-D’s crew thwarted their plans.
If some of the Ux-Mal prisoners were able to escape the moon of Mab-Bu VI, it’s at least possible that they would want to get revenge on Picard and the others who stopped their earlier escape attempt. Captain Vadic could even turn out to be “possessed” by one of the prisoners in the same way as they took over the bodies of Data, Troi, and O’Brien.
Rogue #18: Thomas Riker
Like Ro Laren above, Thomas Riker was a Starfleet officer who defected to the Maquis in the years before the Dominion War. A transporter clone of William Riker, Thomas spent years in isolation on the planet Nervala IV before being rescued by the crew of the Enterprise-D and resuming his Starfleet career. He would later attempt to steal the USS Defiant from Deep Space Nine – exposing a fleet of ships that the Obsidian Order had been building in secret.
Thomas Riker was arrested by the Cardassians and sent to a labor camp – with the approval of the Federation. It’s unclear what happened to him during and after the Dominion War, but if he survived he may very well hold a grudge against the Federation and his doppelgänger – as well as Picard.
Rogue #19: Jev
Jev was an Ullian, a member of a telepathic race whose job was to gather memories. However, he abused his powers, telepathically assaulting dozens of people across multiple star systems. His crimes were brought to light when he tried to attack Deanna Troi and other members of the Enterprise-D’s crew. Jev was arrested by the Ullians and was expected to receive a harsh punishment for his crimes.
As a classic narcissist who put his own pleasure ahead of the basic rights of others, Jev may well blame Picard and others for his downfall rather than being able to admit his own wrongdoings. Although the episode in which he appeared, Violations from Season 5, may not be as well-remembered as some others, Jev is certainly a slimy, nasty villain who could be interesting to revisit.
Rogue #20: Admiral Erik Pressman
In the late 2350s, before Picard assumed command of the Enterprise-D, Admiral Pressman was in charge of a secret project to design and test a cloaking device – despite the Federation being prohibited from doing so under the terms of a treaty with the Romulans. The mission went wrong and a young Ensign Will Riker was one of the few survivors. Years later, Pressman came aboard the Enterprise-D to go looking for his old ship, the Pegasus, and recover or destroy its prototype cloak.
Riker, along with Picard, was instrumental in exposing Pressman to both Starfleet and the Romulans, and he was taken into custody to face a court-martial. Although we don’t know what became of Pressman after the events of The Pegasus, it stands to reason that he lost his reputation, and possibly his position in Starfleet as well. If he suffered major repercussions, he could blame Picard and Riker for his troubles and want to get his revenge.
So that’s it!
We’ve considered quite a few candidates for Captain Vadic’s “rogues’ gallery” – some of whom, I freely admit, are more likely to appear than others! But it was a bit of fun to put together this list and to speculate about what kind of team Captain Vadic might have put together, as well as what her criteria could be for choosing people.
As I said at the start, I’m not convinced that we’ve seen every member of what I’m calling the “rogues’ gallery” just yet, and there may be more surprise casting announcements to come either before Season 3 premieres or saved for surprises after it kicks off. I quite like the idea of a team-up of some of Picard’s enemies from his many Star Trek appearances, as that’s something that has the potential to be explosive and exciting.
Last time we talked about Captain Vadic as having a Khan-esque obsession with Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D. While we still don’t know why that is, there are many events that we’ve seen on screen that could connect to the story of the new season, and while it’s still possible that Vadic is someone new whose grudge against Picard and the crew originates with some hitherto-unseen occurrence, it would be an absolute blast if it turned out that something we’re already familiar with from a past episode or story was her driving force.
I hope this was a bit of fun while we wait for Season 3, if nothing else! Please remember what I said at the beginning: all of this is pure speculation and the opinion of just one person. It’s quite likely that none of the characters discussed above will appear in Season 3, and that’s totally fine. As much fun as it is to speculate – and to occasionally get things right – it’s also fantastic when Star Trek can take us on adventures to truly unexpected places.
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 will stream on Paramount+ in the United States and on Amazon Prime Video around the world beginning on the 16th of February 2023. Seasons 1 and 2 are available to stream now and are also available on DVD and Blu-ray. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2 and the trailers, teasers, and announcements for Season 3. Spoilers are also present for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager.
At New York Comic-Con back in September, Paramount showed off a new trailer for the upcoming third season of Star Trek: Picard, and I’m finally getting around to taking a look at it! This time, I’m going to give my thoughts and analysis of what was shown off in the trailer, as well as speculate a little about what the plot of Picard’s final season might end up looking like.
The first thing to say is that Season 3 appears to be another standalone story, one that doesn’t follow on directly from the events of Season 2. Does that mean that we’ll never know who or what caused the anomaly that was so central to kicking off (and resolving) last season’s main story? And does it mean that the dangling story threads from Season 1 will also be left unresolved when Picard comes to an end? I hope not – but I have to say that, based on what we know of Season 3 at this stage, my hopes of the unresolved storylines from Seasons 1 and 2 being addressed are fading fast.
And before we go any further, I want to address that. Picard, despite having a lot of promise when it was announced and when it premiered, has been hit-and-miss so far; a rather disconnected series that has boldly tried some new and potentially-interesting ideas, but that hasn’t always managed to pull them off successfully. I still haven’t written up my full thoughts on Season 2 as a whole, but suffice to say that there were some pretty significant problems that seriously hampered my enjoyment. If Season 3 is, as I suspect, leaving all of that behind to rush off into another new story, for me that’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, spending too much time looking back at the underwhelming elements of Season 2 isn’t what I’d want to see… but on the other, Season 3 represents Star Trek’s last chance – at least in this iteration – to make more of some of those unresolved storylines. Season 2 could end up looking better in retrospect if it turns out to be one piece of a greater whole… but if Season 3 drops those stories to do its own thing, it will remain a disappointment.
I’ve already shared my thoughts on the way the casting situation has been handled, but as we’re diving back into Picard Season 3, I think it’s worth pointing out again that the return of The Next Generation’s main characters – all of whom got some screen time in the new trailer – has come at the expense of several genuinely interesting characters from Seasons 1 and 2 of Picard that we were only just beginning to get to know. As it seems unlikely that most of them will be seen in the franchise again – at least, not for a long time – I think it’s worth reiterating just how much potential has been squandered.
If the Star Trek franchise is to survive long-term, it can’t simply coast on nostalgia. Trying new things, innovating, and introducing new characters has been what the franchise has done since the 1980s, but the current crop of Star Trek shows all seem to be falling back on nostalgic crutches in a way that they really shouldn’t. Picard Season 3 may be the epitome of this backwards-looking take on the franchise, but it’s certainly not the only example.
But that’s enough about that for now! We’re here to look at the trailer rather than talk about Picard or the franchise in a general sense, and the New York Comic-Con trailer definitely raised a lot of interesting (or potentially-interesting) points!
First of all, the season’s main villain, played by veteran actress Amanda Plummer, will be called Captain Vadic. Vadic was seen briefly in the trailer, and seems to have an almost Khan-like obsession with getting revenge on Picard and his former Enterprise-D crewmates. Exactly what her beef is with the retired admiral is unclear… but given who else is involved, surely there has to be a connection to The Next Generation, right?
Well, not so fast! In both Seasons 1 and 2, key storylines were ultimately not connected in a major way to Picard’s past… or at least, not to elements of his past that we were already familiar with. Speculation abounded regarding the Coppelius synths, the mysterious super-synths, the Borg Queen, the anomaly, and Q, but ultimately in both seasons the writers chose to go in a different and new direction. Captain Vadic could be connected to Picard either because she’s a returning character utilising a nom de guerre or because she’s related to or otherwise connected to a classic character. And don’t worry, I have plenty of ideas in that vein that we’ll talk about on another occasion! But I think we have to consider the very real possibility that this character, as well as whatever may have caused her to hate Picard and his crew, will be something entirely new to us as the audience.
I liked what I saw of Amanda Plummer’s performance in the trailer. She brought a ferocity to Captain Vadic that straddled the line between dedication and obsession, and had an almost animalistic or beastly quality that echoed not only Khan, but other great Star Trek villains too. Vadic has been described as an “alien,” though what species she could be if not human wasn’t clear. Could her scars suggest some kind of ex-Borg origin, perhaps?
Vadic’s ship, the Shrike, seemed to draw inspiration from Nemo’s Narada that we saw in 2009’s Star Trek reboot film, as well as perhaps from the Romulan vessels seen in Nemesis, which could all hint at a Romulan (or Reman) origin or connection. The sweeping, blade-like lines of the Shrike give the vessel a genuinely threatening appearance, and if what we saw from Picard and Riker in the trailer depicts them and their vessel in combat against the Shrike, Vadic’s ship seems to have the weapons to back up its intimidating look!
Speaking of starships, we got a closer look at the USS Titan in the new trailer – and it looks absolutely fantastic! One of the criticisms some fans have had of Picard – especially with last season’s 21st Century story – has been the lack of starships, and in addition to the Titan we also caught a glimpse of Star Trek Online’s Enterprise-F. Though I dabbled briefly in Star Trek Online, MMO games aren’t really “my thing,” but I’m nevertheless happy to see the creative team take inspiration from the game on this occasion. Fans of Star Trek Online will be thrilled, undoubtedly!
La Sirena was also present, and may be being used by Raffi and/or Seven of Nine. I like the design of La Sirena and I hope the story will find a way to include the smaller vessel alongside bigger ships like the Titan and Enterprise-F. Rounding out the “starship porn” in the trailer was a beautiful shot of Earth Spacedock – bringing back memories of both The Next Generation and some of the Star Trek films in which the massive station was featured. Could a Search for Spock-inspired starship heist be on the cards? I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
Although the producers are keeping a pretty tight lid on the season’s story, the trailer did actually give us quite a lot to go on. Captain Vadic seems to be chasing Dr Crusher – perhaps to get to Picard or get his attention – and her reason for doing so seems to be connected to her hatred of Picard and his Enterprise-D crewmates. As I said, we’ll speculate more about her possible reasons in the days ahead.
As part of her anti-Picard vendetta, Captain Vadic appears to have put together what I’d describe as something of a “rogues’ gallery” of The Next Generation’s villains. We saw Professor Moriarty – the sentient hologram created in the Season 2 episode Elementary, Dear Data – as well as Lore, Data’s “evil twin.” Could there be more villains from The Next Generation era who’ll be brought on board? I think that’s a distinct possibility!
Captain Vadic was seen speaking to a group of characters – most of whom had their faces covered or obscured – promising “vengeance,” so I think it’s at least possible that we haven’t seen the last big or surprising announcement of a returning villain! Several of the characters with Vadic seemed to be aliens, and I can think of no shortage of alien adversaries that Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D tackled during their adventures. Could the promise of revenge combined with Captain Vadic’s powerful personality have convinced them all to work together?
Any time a television show brings back a number of past characters all at once, there’s a risk of some of them being overshadowed. If, as I suspect, Captain Vadic is someone wholly new connected to a hitherto-unseen event in Picard’s past, her dominant role as the leader of the rogues’ gallery could end up relegating the likes of Lore and Professor Moriarty to smaller cameos. Depending on how it’s handled that could be fine – or it could be a little underwhelming. Paramount is promising big things from this “explosive” final season of Picard… so I hope the series can deliver!
We saw quite a lot of Riker in the new trailer, more than almost anyone else aside from Picard himself. The relationship between Riker and Picard was, in my view anyway, beautifully restored in the Season 1 episode Nepenthe, which saw the two men reuniting for the first time in almost twenty years (at least on screen). After seeing Riker out of uniform enjoying his family life and retirement, it’ll be great to see him back in action once more.
I feel that Worf’s appearance has the most potential to cause controversy out of all of the returning cast members. His statement in the trailer that he “prefers pacifism” and has abandoned the way of violence was played for laughs at first, but it represents a major departure from the character we knew through seven seasons of The Next Generation and four of Deep Space Nine. It’s definitely something that could feel like a natural progression if it’s suitably well-explained – some older Klingon characters, like Kor, for instance, seemed to mellow with age and become less quick to anger – but it’s definitely a move that could be controversial in some quarters. Could this be the producers and creators potentially setting up a calmer, more level-headed Worf for a leading role in his own series or film?
We didn’t see too much of either Dr Crusher or Deanna Troi, though the former seems to be a major driving force in kicking off the storyline. I expect we’ll hear of her distress signal in the season premiere, and that could be the moment where an off-duty Picard was approached by two Starfleet officers (was that scene in Guinan’s bar? I couldn’t tell!) As for Troi, she seems to be along for the ride with Riker, and her Betazoid senses were put to use describing the mood on what could be the Shrike as an “all-consuming darkness.” This ties into the themes of obsession and revenge that I touched on earlier.
Seeing Dr Crusher in some form of stasis pod was interesting; could her distress signal have been the lure to get Picard (and the others) back out into space? If Dr Crusher was the only one of the Enterprise-D crew who was on a deep space assignment, she would seem to be the logical target – as bait in a trap!
Raffi also seems to be being hunted – can we assume it’s by the same adversary? If so, Captain Vadic may be doing more than simply targeting the crew of the Enterprise-D – she may be trying to get to Picard by attacking anyone he’s worked closely with in the past. As his former aide-de-camp from his time as an Admiral, Raffi certainly fits the profile!
But there could be more to it than that. We’re getting into some seriously speculative territory, but if the story of the new season involves a villain (and/or a rogues’ gallery of villains) trying to hurt Picard by targeting those close to him, we could potentially learn of the deaths of some friendly faces. Elnor and Soji spring to mind as possible victims – both worked closely with Picard and neither are scheduled to make a major appearance this time around. Could one or both of their deaths have sent Raffi into hiding? Or put her on the revenge trail?
Finally we have Geordi La Forge. In the trailer his main moment came when he seemed to criticise Picard for dragging Worf and Riker into whatever crisis is going on… but it doesn’t end there. We know from casting – and briefly from an appearance at the Titan’s helm in the trailer – that Geordi will be joined by two of his children. One of his daughters will be played by LeVar Burton’s real-life daughter Mica, which is neat. Mica Burton hosted Star Trek Day 2021 alongside Wil Wheaton, and has been a fixture in the expanded Star Trek community ever since the franchise returned to the small screen.
Having covered the main characters – and speculated a little about some of them – we still have a few disjointed clips and images to assess from the trailer before we wrap things up! Starfleet Academy or Starfleet HQ appears to be attacked and destroyed at one point, but for some reason my gut instinct is to say that that may not happen in the real world. We could be looking at a simulation, dream, or plan rather than an actual attack. I don’t know exactly why I feel that way… but I do!
Amongst some wreckage in space we caught a glimpse of a derelict or abandoned starship. Could this be Dr Crusher’s ship – the one from which she sent the distress signal to Admiral Picard? The name and registry number was hard to make out from the trailer, and the design seemed similar to the USS Titan. The field of debris in which the ship was drifting seems too large to all have come from one (largely intact) vessel, so could this be the aftermath of a larger battle in which other ships were destroyed?
As mentioned, I can’t quite tell if the trailer’s opening shot sees Picard at Guinan’s bar on Earth (“Ten” on Forward Avenue in Los Angeles’ historic district that was featured in Season 2), but it certainly could be. Starting Season 3 in a location that was central to the story of Season 2 would go some way to tying the stories together if there isn’t a bigger connection between what seems to be two separate stories.
Some of the shots of the Shrike and Titan chasing one another and battling seem to be reminiscent of the Briar Patch from the film Insurrection, so could that be a clue? Starship battles that take place in nebulae have been a part of the franchise from The Wrath of Khan all the way through to Discovery’s most recent outing, so it’s by no means a cast-iron statement. But the colour and appearance of the clouds in the nebula certainly brought back memories of Insurrection for me.
The Shrike having the power to outgun the Titan could mean that the ship is incredibly powerful – like Nero’s Narada or Shinzon’s Scimitar, for example – but it could also speak to the Titan potentially being an older vessel, perhaps one that has been recently taken out of mothballs and potentially with only a skeleton crew aboard. While the Shrike definitely has the appearance of a warship or a hunter, it could be worth keeping in mind the Titan’s potential condition!
After being given a field commission last season and assuming command of the USS Stargazer, Seven of Nine appears to wear the rank pips of a commander rather than a captain, though she does still seem to be on the command track. It wouldn’t be the first time that an officer below the rank of captain has been given a command, though, so Seven may yet prove to be in command of a vessel. Geordi, meanwhile, appears to hold the rank of either a commodore or perhaps a one-star admiral based on the single pip seen on his uniform collar.
I find it interesting, too, that Seven has chosen to remain in Starfleet while Raffi appears to have taken La Sirena on a mission of her own. Is this something that we’ll see her do during the season, or is this where her story will begin? If so, what could have caused her to abandon Seven, Elnor, and her role in Starfleet? And could this connect with my theory above about Captain Vadic potentially having attacked, kidnapped, or killed the likes of Elnor and Soji?
By far my biggest question at this stage is this: who else, besides Moriarty and Lore, might be joining Captain Vadic’s rogues’ gallery? I feel all but certain that we’re going to see other villains of The Next Generation era coming on board if this is a quest for vengeance against Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D. From the Duras family and Sela to DaiMon Bok and even the Maquis, Picard and his crew thwarted the nefarious schemes of many villains during their adventures – and if Captain Vadic is indeed putting together a crew of her own to seek revenge, there must be no shortage of applicants!
If Picard and the crew are going to go out with a bang, as we’ve been promised, facing off against a team of their most powerful and feared adversaries could absolutely make for an exciting, tense, and explosive season of Star Trek. After the slower pace of Season 2 and its focus on Picard’s innermost thoughts and his personal family history, something a bit more action-oriented this time around could be just what the doctor ordered. Although I’m still upset about the decision to ditch most of the main cast members from Seasons 1 and 2 in favour of this return to The Next Generation’s characters, I’m hopeful that what we’ll get will be a fun ride and a great way to say goodbye.
The trailer shown off at New York Comic-Con looked action-packed and exciting, so hopefully that’s representative of the new season. Although Picard has its problems and I have some gripes, the trailer itself has raised my hopes, and I’m now definitely looking forward to the new season.
So that’s it for now! Although this summer and autumn has seen me writing less and making fewer posts here on the website, when Picard Season 3 kicks off in February I still plan to review each episode in turn, as well as crafting a few theories and giving my thoughts on how the season as a whole shapes up. So I hope you’ll stay tuned and join me for that in the new year!
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 will stream on Paramount+ in the United States and on Amazon Prime Video around the world beginning on the 16th of February 2023. Seasons 1 and 2 are available to stream now and are also available on DVD and Blu-ray. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the Star Trek franchise, including Picard Season 2, Strange New Worlds Season 1, and Discovery Season 4.
It’s been known for a while that there are unannounced Star Trek projects that are being worked on behind-the-scenes, and from time to time someone senior at Paramount will re-confirm this fact in public! Just last month at Comic-Con, we got yet another statement about these secretive projects, this time from Alex Kurtzman himself – the man who’s in charge of the overall direction of the Star Trek franchise. Kurtzman stated that there are two unannounced series that are in active development, so today I thought it could be a bit of fun to speculate about what exactly those projects could involve!
In the past I’ve put out lists of prospective Star Trek shows, but this time I want to be more focused. Rather than wild speculation or pure fantasy, I want to stick as close as possible to what we know based on statements that have been made in public, filings by Paramount, and plausible rumours from around the Star Trek franchise. Rather than saying “here’s a list of my fantasy Star Trek projects,” I want to try to stay realistic and consider some projects that feel genuinely plausible. So that’s what we’re going to do today – no “hospital ship” or “colony world” concepts here! As nice as those would be from my perspective, they don’t seem like ideas that are being actively considered by Paramount at the moment.
Despite wanting to stick to the real world as much as possible, my usual caveat applies: I have no “sources” close to the production of Star Trek nor any “insider information.” I’m not trying to say that any of these projects are definitely going to be made, let alone that an announcement may be imminent! I’ve tried to base the entries on this list on statements from people involved with Star Trek, official notices and filings from Paramount, and plausible, persistent rumours – but all of it could be easily wrong or otherwise untrue. So please take all of this with more than a few grains of salt!
The reason why I’m putting together this list now is twofold. Firstly, Star Trek Day is coming up in just under three weeks from now, and there’s the possibility of a big announcement as part of that event. Secondly, Season 3 of Picard will be that show’s last, so in my view Paramount will already have something lined up to replace it – and an announcement of that project may be forthcoming sooner rather than later. Announcing Picard’s replacement too close to its third season risks overshadowing the show as it comes to an end; getting the announcement out of the way ahead of time will give fans time to properly digest it.
So with all of that out of the way, let’s jump into the list!
Series #1: Section 31
Although a series based around Section 31 has technically been “announced,” the lack of any official news for almost four years at this point clearly means that the series has hit some bumps in the road. While I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that it’s been cancelled altogether, it’s still possible that the Section 31 series will be reworked and perhaps even re-announced along with a premiere date.
As I’ve said more than once, the Section 31 series was announced far too early. Not only was it completely overshadowed by the hugely positive response from fans to Captain Pike and Spock in Discovery’s second season – something that seemed to catch Paramount completely off-guard – but its main character desperately needed the development she would receive in Discovery’s third season in particular before she could begin to feel like someone who could carry her own spin-off.
When the Section 31 series was first discussed, Michelle Yeoh’s Empress Georgiou was about as flat and one-dimensional as Star Trek characters get. Moreover, she wasn’t just a villain, she was a psychopathic, genocidal monster who kept slaves, ate sentient beings, and seemed to revel in torture, violence, and death. Even for an organisation as roguish and off-the-books as Section 31, Empress Georgiou seemed extreme – and asking fans to support a series centred around a character like that was, for many, too much.
It wasn’t until the two-part Season 3 episode Terra Firma that we really saw a change in Georgiou. After spending time away from the Mirror Universe she began to view aliens as equals rather than sub-human, and had even adopted some Federation-inspired ways of thinking. By the time she stepped into the Guardian of Forever’s portal she had changed just enough that she could be an anti-hero rather than an out-and-out villain, and both she and the Section 31 series needed that development.
My gut still says that the Section 31 series isn’t going to happen, and we should brace for a quiet cancellation sometime in the future rather than a big announcement. I haven’t heard anything about the series since its premature announcement back in January 2019 that sounded even slightly positive, and with Star Trek branching out in different directions, it’s possible that Section 31 simply missed the boat.
However, at time of writing the Section 31 series still exists, Paramount has retained the trademarked name, and it isn’t impossible to think that it will be revived. Perhaps a new team of writers and producers will take over the project and rework it in some way – potentially even without Empress Georgiou.
Series #2: Seven of Nine and Raffi
With Picard concluding its run before any of the other current Star Trek projects, a spin-off from that series feels like a distinct possibility when considering its replacement. The time period that Picard established – the dawn of the 25th Century – is not represented by any other current Star Trek project, so if Paramount wants to keep that era alive – and potentially bring in more legacy characters from Deep Space Nine and Voyager – then a series occupying the same timeframe could be a possibility.
A lot of work went into Picard Season 2 in terms of sets being constructed for the brand-new USS Stargazer – but those sets were only used in the premiere and the second half of the season finale. That seems like a lot of work for relatively little screen time, so part of me has been wondering ever since whether those sets may be destined for use in a spin-off project!
With Seven of Nine being awarded a role in Starfleet at the end of Picard Season 2, she could be being groomed for command. Depending on how she and Raffi get on in Season 3 – which we’ll see in the first half of next year – a spin-off could see those two characters headline a new show, perhaps one set aboard the USS Stargazer.
Seven of Nine was, at one time, my least-favourite Voyager character. But Picard has given her some much-needed development that led into a wonderful arc across both seasons of the show so far, culminating in her taking the Stargazer’s captain’s chair in the Season 2 finale. I would never have expected to write these words in 2000-2001, but I think I’m ready for a Seven of Nine series!
Both Seven and Raffi have tactical backgrounds, so we could potentially see a series set aboard a kind of rapid-response vessel. The Stargazer’s mission could be less about exploration and more tactical in nature, potentially serving as Starfleet’s “muscle” in dangerous situations. That concept isn’t one that Star Trek has done before (not as a whole series, at least) so it would be something different for the franchise.
There are other 25th Century concepts that could replace Picard, but a direct spin-off featuring at least one new character that was introduced in that series could be just what the Star Trek franchise needs. Keeping some consistency and some ties between different projects isn’t a bad idea, and I’m sure that a Seven and Raffi series could find a way to stand on its own two feet without the presence of Admiral Picard.
Series #3: Project Khan and/or Ceti Alpha V
Earlier this year it was reported that Paramount had trademarked the name Project Khan. This follows on from a pitch by The Wrath of Khan writer/director Nicholas Meyer, whose project would focus on Khan’s life in between the events of Space Seed and The Wrath of Khan. Although these two ideas could be totally separate, there does seem to be an appetite from someone at Paramount to see this iconic villain make a comeback.
If we take the two ideas as separate for now, Project Khan could be connected to the Eugenics Wars, and could even be a spin-off from Picard. Season 2 antagonist Adam Soong very prominently picked up a folder titled “Project Khan” at the end of his storyline, with the series seeming to imply that he plans to resume working on some kind of genetic engineering.
This is a complete hypothetical, but if we were to get a series starting from that point, Khan himself may not appear. This could be a Brent Spiner project with Adam Soong attempting to recreate Khan’s work in the 21st Century, and could potentially see things like the outbreak of World War III, which purportedly happened in that era. Such a series could see the return of Chris Rios and Dr Teresa Ramirez – they could be trying to stop Dr Soong’s work.
Alternatively, Project Khan could step back to before the events of Picard and focus on Khan’s rise to power in the 20th Century. This would be an interesting concept, but it would have to be handled delicately. In short, the Star Trek timeline has, until now, been pretty vague about events in the modern day and how they relate to real-world history. If it were set in the 1990s, Project Khan could completely transform our knowledge of that era – but it could also tread on the toes of a number of other Star Trek stories.
Then we come to the Ceti Alpha V pitch. As much as I admire Nicholas Meyer’s work on Star Trek, I have to be honest: this isn’t a series I would give the green light to if I were in charge. We’re talking about the least-interesting chapter of a story where the ending is already known, and I just don’t see what Ceti Alpha V could tell us about Khan or his ambitious plans that we don’t already know from Space Seed and The Wrath of Khan.
There is the tantalising possibility that a Khan-focused project could connect with Strange New Worlds, though, as the character of La’an Noonien-Singh is a descendant of Khan. That could certainly be a point in favour of doing a new Khan story. Last year I took a longer look at the Ceti Alpha V concept, and you can find that article by clicking or tapping here.
Series #4: Starfleet Academy
Last year (at Star Trek Day) Alex Kurtzman came pretty close to confirming that a Starfleet Academy series may be in the works. It’s certainly the nearest we’ve gotten to any kind of outright confirmation – and as above, Starfleet Academy is a title that Paramount has trademarked, this time all the way back in 2018.
Combine that with what felt like a bit of a backdoor pilot during Discovery’s fourth season, and I think we have a solid case to make that a Starfleet Academy series could be in the works! The Discovery Season 4 episode All Is Possible featured Lieutenant Tilly heading off on an away mission with a trio of new Starfleet cadets at the recently-reopened Starfleet Academy. It ended with her deciding to take up a permanent teaching post at Starfleet Academy and departing the USS Discovery – although she would reappear in the season finale.
All Is Possible definitely feels like a backdoor pilot, although the attention wasn’t on Tilly and the cadets all of the time. Tilly’s presence would connect the series to Discovery in a major way, and there’d be the possibility of crossover episodes with both shows set in the same 32nd Century time period. A Starfleet Academy show could also feature David Cronenberg’s character of Dr Kovich – a somewhat mysterious character who I still can’t figure out!
Alternatively, a Starfleet Academy series could ignore the 32nd Century and instead be set in the 25th. This version of the series could feature characters like Raffi and Elnor – the latter of whom is a cadet, and who was resurrected at the last minute in a sequence in the Season 2 finale that feels seriously underwhelming right now. Perhaps Elnor’s survival could be given new meaning and purpose if he were to be a major character in a Starfleet Academy series.
As a series concept, Starfleet Academy has been around the longest! While The Original Series was still in production in the 1960s, Gene Roddenberry came up with the idea of a show that would have focused on young Kirk and Spock during their Academy days – something we eventually saw (albeit in an alternate timeline) in 2009’s Star Trek reboot film.
I feel like a Starfleet Academy series could be a strong addition to the franchise. Not only would it be something different, but it could also be a great first contact for younger viewers – and perhaps even a second port of call for those who’ve recently become fans of Prodigy, too – as they find their way into the Star Trek fandom. Having several cadets as major characters would mean younger viewers could find this iteration of Star Trek easier to relate to and get started with, and that can only be a positive thing. I took a longer look at the Starfleet Academy concept last year, and you can find that article by clicking or tapping here.
Series #5: Enterprise Season 5/The Earth-Romulan War
This one is a bit more speculative, but I’m not the only one to wonder if there may be an attempt to bring back the 22nd Century in the near future. Calling this one “Enterprise Season 5″ might be a bit of a stretch, but any 22nd Century project could bring back at least some of the characters from that series for another adventure.
Prior to its cancellation in 2005, there were plans being drawn up for a fifth season of Enterprise. According to one of the show’s producers, if it had gone ahead Season 5 would’ve shown more of the origins of the Federation, and particularly the Earth-Romulan War that was first referenced in The Original Series. That could be the starting point for a revived Enterprise or a new 22nd Century series.
The Earth-Romulan War is a major event in Federation history, one that pushed the founding members of the Federation closer together. It was also a devastating conflict in its own right, and a series focusing on the war could have echoes of Deep Space Nine’s Dominion War arc. Star Trek can do war stories incredibly well – as we’ve seen in episodes of Discovery and Strange New Worlds just in the last couple of years – so this could be a great fit for an expanding franchise.
Any franchise has to be careful about coming across as too backwards-looking and introspective if it dives deeply into chapters of its own lore and backstory, but I think there’s space as Star Trek continues its renaissance to potentially step back to the time of the Earth-Romulan War. I know a lot of fans would happily welcome back Captain Archer or any other members of the Enterprise crew, so this project could be a real “love letter to the fans.”
There were a number of factors that led to Enterprise’s cancellation in 2005, and although it was sad at the time, in many ways the Star Trek franchise needed a break and a reset. But maybe the time is right to bring back some of the characters and stories that had been conceived for unproduced seasons of Enterprise now that the franchise is back on solid ground.
There are definitely arguments to be made against establishing yet another different time period for Star Trek, as the franchise can already feel overcomplicated, especially for newcomers. But there are points in favour of returning to the 22nd Century, too, particularly if a series had a relatively tight focus on something like the Earth-Romulan War.
Series #6: Captain Worf
Along with most of the rest of the main crew members from The Next Generation, Worf will be returning in Season 3 of Picard next year. It’s no secret that actor Michael Dorn has been talking up his own “Captain Worf” idea for the better part of a decade, and with the casting announcements for Picard, part of me has been wondering if that show’s final season might lead into a Worf spin-off.
As the character with the most Star Trek appearances to date – 274, in case you were wondering – we’ve spent a lot of time with Worf already! We’ve seen our favourite Klingon wrangle with his heritage and his duty to Starfleet, gain promotions, establish friendships with two different casts of characters, become a father, get married, become a widower, and much more besides. Is there room for another chapter in Worf’s life after the events of Deep Space Nine? I still think that’s an open question!
This one really depends on how Picard Season 3 goes down. Executive producer Terry Matalas has described Picard Season 3 as being a “send-off” for the crew of The Next Generation, presumably including Worf, and that sounds pretty definitive and final. We may see some characters killed off as the season goes on, especially if Picard and the crew are facing off against some kind of galaxy-ending threat. Even if Worf survives, it’s possible that all of the characters’ stories will come to a conclusive end, and if that’s the case there may be no room – and no need – for a Captain Worf series.
But it’s also possible that Picard Season 3 will be testing the waters to see whether certain spin-off ideas are viable. We’ve already considered the possibility of a Seven of Nine and Raffi series, and that’s one possibility. But maybe there’s a chance that, if fans respond incredibly positively to Worf in his new role, he could finally take the lead in his own series.
For me, I feel that Worf in a leading role is an untested idea, and one that may not work. Although there are nuances in Worf’s characterisation, many episodes of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine played up his Klingon traits, and while I’d never call him something like “flat” or “one-dimensional,” there’s definitely a case to be made that a character like Worf works best in a supporting role rather than a leading one.
But we can reserve judgement on that until we see what role has been created for Worf in Season 3 of Picard. Maybe he’ll get a fantastic ending to his decades-long story, one that feels conclusive and satisfying, rounding out his arc and tying up loose ends from both The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. But maybe, just maybe, he’ll establish himself as the next character deserving of a spin-off project.
So that’s it!
Paramount (and subsidiary CBS Studios) has trademarked other names associated with the Star Trek brand that may be connected with shows or films that are currently in development, but it’s very difficult to know what to make of some of them! Vague titles like Star Trek: Destiny, Star Trek: Revolution, or Star Trek: Reliant have all been trademarked over the past few years – though several of these have now lapsed and haven’t been renewed. It isn’t clear whether any or all of these names were even intended to be used for films and television shows, or whether they were meant for merchandise and other projects. The interesting-sounding Star Trek Continuum trademark, for example, isn’t connected with a film or TV show at all, but is instead an official line of awful-looking NFTs.
For now at least, these are the Star Trek projects that seem to be the most likely based on what we’ve heard through official and unofficial channels. It’s definitely possible that work is ongoing in secret to develop some completely different Star Trek projects that we can’t predict at the moment, but in terms of what may be announced in the weeks or months ahead, the projects we’ve talked about today feel the most likely.
Although trademarks exist for Ceti Alpha V and Starfleet Academy, if it were up to me I’d pick a 25th Century series to fill the hole that will be left when Picard finishes its run. Lower Decks and Prodigy will still be representing the late 24th Century, but I think it’ll feel like something’s not right if the 25th Century that Picard has only just begun to explore is abandoned with that show’s conclusion. Not only because we won’t get to carry on the journey, but because that era feels like the natural next step for a franchise that found so much success in the 1990s with shows set in the 24th Century.
But we’ll have to wait and see what the creative team at Paramount has in store! I think it’s possible – but by no means guaranteed – that an announcement could come as soon as next month. The Star Trek Day live broadcast has promised “announcements, reveals, and surprises” in its official press release, and the inclusion of certain actors – such as Jeri Ryan and Michelle Hurd – could hint at something big to come.
I hope this has been a bit of fun! I tried to steer clear of baseless rumours and fan-fantasies to focus instead on concepts and pitches that are known to exist and that seem plausible. But we’ll have to wait and see whether any of them are really going to happen!
The Star Trek franchise – including all properties (and potential properties) discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the Star Trek franchise, including recent seasons of Picard, Discovery, Lower Decks, and Strange New Worlds.
The 8th of September is Star Trek Day! On that date in 1966, The Original Series premiered in the United States with the episode The Man Trap, kick-starting a franchise that’s still going strong fifty-six years later. Last year, Paramount organised a major broadcast to mark the occasion, hosted by Wil Wheaton (The Next Generation’s Wesley Crusher and host of The Ready Room) and Mica Burton (daughter of Geordi La Forge actor LeVar Burton). It was a fun event – albeit one that probably went on a little too long – that celebrated all things Star Trek. With Star Trek Day coming back this year, I wanted to look ahead to the event and consider what we might see when it arrives in just under three weeks’ time.
My usual caveat for these sort of things applies: I have no “insider information,” and I’m not trying to claim that anything discussed below will definitely be included in this year’s Star Trek Day broadcast. This is speculation from a fan – and an opportunity to talk Trek – and nothing more! With that out of the way, let’s get started!
First of all, I think it’s worth talking about some of the big announcements we’ve seen over the past few months, because Paramount hasn’t been shy when it comes to making headlines for the Star Trek franchise. We’ve had major announcements about Picard Season 3, including who will be part of – and excluded from – the main cast, we’ve seen trailers, clips, and teasers for Lower Decks, which will be a couple of episodes into its third season by Star Trek day, we’ve had plenty of news about Strange New Worlds Season 2 – including the surprising return of a fan-favourite character… and much more besides. Events like last month’s Comic-Con saw big panels featuring main cast members and major announcements, like the Strange New Worlds crossover with Lower Decks.
In short, I’m not so sure that we should expect a glut of trailers and teaser clips and a plethora of massive announcements! Paramount could’ve saved things like the Picard Season 3 teaser and posters that were shown off at Comic-Con for Star Trek Day, but in a way it makes sense to use an event like that – where all eyes are on the world of entertainment – to make waves and show off Star Trek’s renaissance. Star Trek Day itself, at least based on what we saw last year, is more of a celebration for Trekkies and the Star Trek community.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be anything of substance, and the official press release for Star Trek Day promised announcements, reveals, and surprises! With Season 3 being Picard’s last, and principal photography already having been completed, I can’t help but wonder whether we might get an announcement of what could replace it in the lineup. When Picard disappears from the schedule next year, there will be a gap – and as Alex Kurtzman (head honcho of Star Trek for Paramount) has previously told us, there won’t be any new Star Trek until one of the current shows has ended its run. Well, something’s going to have to fill the Picard hole in late 2023 or 2024… so could the announcement of a new project be imminent?
I note that the official press release for Star Trek Day specifically mentioned that Michelle Hurd (Raffi) and Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine) will be present to talk about Picard. I know I’m not the only one who’s talked up the possibility of a “Seven and Raffi Show” as a spin-off from Picard, so it’s interesting that these two actors will be present together at Star Trek Day. Sure, they could just be there to talk about Picard Season 3… but maybe, just maybe, there’s more to it than that!
There are at least two unannounced Star Trek projects in the works at Paramount, again according to Alex Kurtzman. I don’t think we’d get two massive announcements like that at Star Trek Day, and if I had to put my money anywhere I’d say that a Picard spin-off or at least another show set in that same 25th Century era is the most likely. But you never know! There are rumours of a Khan-focused project and a Starfleet Academy series, the latter of which may (or may not) be a Discovery spin-off set in the 32nd Century with Mary Wiseman reprising her role as Lieutenant Tilly.
Does the untitled Section 31 series still count as having been “announced,” given that there’s been no official news for almost four years at this point? We could finally hear something about that project, too, I suppose. But I’m not holding my breath on that one.
So there are a few different possibilities for a major announcement. A brand-new series would be a heck of a way to celebrate Star Trek Day, especially if the announcement came along with things like concept art or maybe even casting information.
The other big project that’s currently up in the air is the untitled feature film Star Trek 2023. As we recently discussed, I seriously doubt whether the film will make its intended December 2023 release date given that most of the main Kelvin timeline cast don’t appear to be on board yet, but Star Trek Day could surprise us with some more information about the project.
So those are the potential projects that I think we could hear something about. As I said, my money would be on some kind of 25th Century Picard replacement if you forced me to make a bet… but there are definitely cases to be made to hear something about a Starfleet Academy series or perhaps a some kind of Khan project, too.
This year’s Star Trek Day will be hosted by Tawny Newsome (Ensign Mariner on Lower Decks) and Paul F. Tompkins (Dr Migleemo on Lower Decks) who co-host The Pod Directive, Star Trek’s official podcast. I’m sure they’ll make a great presenting duo – though part of me feels a little sad that Wil Wheaton won’t be on hosting duties. His energy and passion for Star Trek really elevated last year’s event.
I’m curious to see what may be teased about Discovery Season 5. Filming is currently underway in Toronto, and a behind-the-scenes tour hosted by Wilson Cruz (Dr Culber) promises appearances by some of the cast members and a look at new sets. I’m not sure when Discovery’s fifth season will make its debut; it seems right now as if Picard and Strange New Worlds will be ready first, even though Discovery Season 4 wrapped up back in March, so we could see one or both of those arrive before Season 5 is ready. Still, it’ll be neat to catch a glimpse behind the curtain – and maybe there’ll even be a teaser of some kind!
We’re edging closer to the first anniversary of Prodigy’s premiere, and we’ve been promised a second batch of ten episodes to round out that show’s first season before the end of this year. With a Prodigy panel on the agenda for Star Trek Day, I have to assume we’ll get some more details about those episodes – hopefully including a premiere date. If I had to guess, I’d say that the second half of Season 1 could directly follow on from Lower Decks, which could mean a premiere date in late October or early November.
Prodigy has not been particularly well-supported by Paramount, in my view, at least not so far. Splitting up its first batch of episodes into chunks of four and five respectively with a long gap in between is not a great way for a new series to gain traction – especially with its young target audience. There’s also a lack of toys and tie-in products, and while there are plans in place to address that, at time of writing none of those items are available for purchase. Paramount has a lot of work to do to really sell Prodigy – and I really hope they get on with it, because it’s a unique project within the Star Trek franchise and one that could turn a whole generation of kids into Trekkies if handled better.
Either Lower Decks or Strange New Worlds stars could go into more detail about the upcoming crossover, and although it’s still early days we could get some kind of teaser for Strange New Worlds’ upcoming second season. I don’t expect to see any clips from the crossover at Star Trek Day – that’s just a hunch, of course, but something tells me it’ll be kept under wraps until much closer to the episode’s premiere. But we could learn more about Season 2, including whether any new cast members will be coming on board. There’s at least one and perhaps two spots open if the producers wanted to make additions, although I hope they don’t go overboard and try to cram in too many new characters – especially not characters from The Original Series.
Season 1 managed to strike a good balance between legacy and new characters, and I’d hope that would continue in Season 2. There must be a temptation to add characters like Scotty, for example, in engineering, but I hope that the show’s writers can resist – at least for now. There may be scope to bring in more legacy characters in later seasons, but for now I’d like to spend more time with some of the newbies who we’re just getting to know.
There’s also a decent chance, in my view, that we’ll hear about a Season 3 renewal for Strange New Worlds. Season 2 has already finished its main production phase, and with Discovery Season 5 well underway, it’s definitely time for those conversations to be happening behind-the-scenes. It seems utterly unfathomable to me that there won’t be a third season (and a fourth…) given how well Season 1 was received. Pre-production may be already happening, so it wouldn’t shock me at all to get a formal announcement at Star Trek Day.
In a similar vein there could be announcements for a fifth season of Lower Decks, a third for Prodigy, and perhaps even a sixth for Discovery – though the latter may be premature at this stage. As Discovery has been running since 2017 (and in production since 2016), it’s not an absolute certainty that we’ll get more after Season 5, but at the same time the 32nd Century feels like a really interesting setting to spend more time in, so I’m hopeful that there’ll be more to come from Captain Burnham and the crew.
So those are my main thoughts/predictions. I’m also looking forward to some of the other events that will be part of the live broadcast, including a tribute to Nichelle Nichols, as well as a couple of fan-focused events, some music, and even some stand-up comedy. Star Trek Day’s stated runtime is two hours, and that feels about right for something like this. As mentioned, last year’s event may have dragged just a little – at least for me – so it seems as though some lessons may have been learned from that. But as they say, live events have the potential to take unexpected turns, so I won’t be shocked if Star Trek Day ends up running a little over that time limit!
I guess that’s about all there is to say. I’m glad Paramount is doing this, and I’m glad the event will be free to stream on the official Star Trek website instead of being locked behind a Paramount+ paywall. It’s a nice way to celebrate all things Star Trek, and even if there are no massive announcements about brand-new shows or films, I still think it’ll be a fun time. There’ll be glimpses behind-the-scenes, chats with cast members, and hopefully a lot of positivity and excitement about the Star Trek franchise.
I’m looking forward to Star Trek Day, and when the event is over I’ll be sure to share my thoughts on the broadcast, as well as perhaps take a longer look at any major trailers, teasers, or announcements. Stay tuned here on the website in the next few days because I have a list of a few potential upcoming Star Trek projects currently in the works – and who knows, we may hear about some of those at Star Trek Day!
Star Trek Day will be live-streamed on the official Star Trek website and social media channels on the 8th of September 2022 beginning at 3:00pm Eastern Standard Time/8:00pm British Summer Time. The Star Trek franchise – including all shows and properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: Minor spoilers are present for Star Trek 2009, Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond, and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
It’s been a while since we last talked about the currently-untitled Star Trek 2023. The most recent official news we got came back in February of this year, when it was announced that the film would involve a return to the Kelvin timeline that had been established by 2009’s J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek reboot. Since then there’s been very little official news from Paramount – and some of the unofficial news and soundings from some of the actors supposedly involved with the title have been very strange indeed for a film that’s supposedly been greenlit.
Several members of the Kelvin timeline cast – including Karl Urban, who plays Dr McCoy, and Chris Pine, who plays Captain Kirk – have given cryptic, non-commital statements when asked about the film, and it seems as if Paramount may have jumped the gun and announced Star Trek 2023 before everything was officially in place and ready. That’s certainly the impression I’ve been getting.
Making a film is complicated, and I think it’s imporant to stress that. It takes a lot of effort to get contracts in place, to agree the division of profits, to line up the schedules of actors and directors, and to cover all of the legal, contractual, and economic bases – and that’s before anyone can begin rehearsing and learning their lines, let alone be on set ready to get started. There’s a reason why so many people are named in the end credits of a film; many of those jobs begin years before production gets underway.
One thing that we can say for near-certain is that, as of August 2022, Paramount doesn’t have all of the main Kelvin timeline actors signed on to Star Trek 2023. For a film with a preliminary premiere date of December 2023, that’s not good – and it almost certainly means, at a bare minimum, that we shouldn’t expect the new film to make that deadline. Perhaps we’d better start calling it Star Trek 2024… or more realistically, Star Trek 2025.
Then there’s the question of a script. Last year we got two announcements about a new Star Trek film being written: one by Discovery and Short Treks writer/producer Kalinda Vazquez, and another by Geneva Robertson-Dworet (who co-wrote the scripts for Captain Marvel and 2018’s Tomb Raider) and Lindsey Beer. It wasn’t clear, following the second announcement, whether that meant the Vazquez project is not progressing, whether two Star Trek films may be in early production, or what exactly is going on.
It isn’t unusual for a big film studio to commission scripts, change their minds, and go in a different direction. The film industry can be brutal like that, so we can’t really infer much from the fact that two different scripts appear to have been commissioned – nor that their announcements came within weeks of one another. But the script situation certainly doesn’t help clear things up!
At this point, though, we should be seeing some progress on whichever project ultimately became Star Trek 2023. We’re less than eighteen months away from the film’s currently-scheduled premiere – at which point all three previous Kelvin timeline films were already shooting. 2009’s Star Trek took 141 days of filming (not including reshoots and pick-up shots) between November 2007 and March 2008, and the film wasn’t ready until May 2009.
While I could entertain the notion that Star Trek 2023 is working to a tighter schedule – not unlike some past entries in the cinematic franchise, such as Generations in 1994 – even then we’d expect to have heard a lot more positive noises about the film’s pre-production. At the very least I’d have expected all of the principal cast members to have confirmed that they’re signed on to the project, even if other aspects of production are still up in the air.
As recently as last month (July 2022), Kirk actor Chris Pine said the following about reprising his role: “If it happens, I think all of us would come back.” That doesn’t exactly sound like someone who’s signed a contract – or is even getting ready to sign one. That sounds speculative, hypothetical, and it’s not the only comment from a Kelvin timeline star that raises concerns.
“As soon as they can figure out our moment we can we could all be together, I’m sure we’ll do it.” So said Scotty actor Simon Pegg in June of this year, and a month earlier in May, Dr McCoy actor Karl Urban said “I have heard that it is happening, but I’ve been hearing that for the last three years… All I know is they are developing it, they’re writing a script…” From these comments, it sounds like neither has signed on to the project officially.
While none of the actors have ruled out working on Star Trek 2023, it’s significant at this stage that none of them have committed to it, either. According to some reports, earlier attempts to get the film made in the immediate aftermath of Star Trek Beyond in 2016 were hampered by financial issues, and actors and their agents have a history of using public statements as part of salary negotiations. Perhaps that could account for some of what’s been said – but again, that means the film is clearly at a very early stage with no guarantees of going ahead.
If we were to see Star Trek 2023 arrive on time in December next year, realistically the film should be on the verge of beginning principal photography. That would mean not only would the script be finished but sets would have been built, outdoor filming locations secured, costumes sewn, and all of the actors would need to have cleared their schedules and be ready to go. The fact that we’re still hearing comments from members of the cast that seem to confirm that they haven’t made any significant commitments or made space in their schedules tells me that the film is nowhere near that stage – and that means that its December 2023 release date feels completely unrealistic.
I have to be honest: if I’d been in charge of the Star Trek franchise for Paramount, I wouldn’t have greenlit this project. Don’t get me wrong, I wish it well and I hope it succeeds both as a fun Star Trek story and as a film that turns a tidy profit and brings new audiences to the franchise. But with so much other Star Trek on our screens from Prodigy to Strange New Worlds and beyond… I can’t help but feel that the money thrown at this project could be better-spent.
The Kelvin films were undoubtedly what Star Trek needed in 2009, not only rebooting the franchise but showing that there was still life in it. We would never have got Discovery, Picard, Strange New Worlds, and the rest of modern Trek without the Kelvin films’ success on the big screen. So in that sense I thank them for carrying the torch and paving the way for the current renaissance that Star Trek is enjoying.
But as I’ve argued before on more than one occasion, there are drawbacks to a new Kelvin timeline project. A new film set in the alternate reality risks overcomplicating what can be an already convoluted franchise, with different projects occupying different time periods and timelines. The unique premise of the films also no longer exists, taking a look at “young” Kirk and Spock in their Academy days and youth. And with Strange New Worlds coming online – and blowing up to become the most-watched Star Trek show on Paramount+ in the United States – there’s a real risk that a new Kelvin film would retread too much ground with many of the same characters also appearing in that series.
So if Star Trek 2023 is faltering, could it be for the best? Aside from the fact that Star Trek Beyond seemed to tease a sequel, is there really a pressing need to revisit this alternate timeline right now? With so much else happening in the Star Trek franchise, I think I’m inclined to say “no.”
I will always support Star Trek as best I can, and I always feel that more Star Trek is good news! If Star Trek 2023 manages to get off the ground, I’ll wish it all the best and do what I can on my small corner of the internet to get hyped up for it. But at the same time, I wouldn’t be devastated to learn that it isn’t going to happen. With so much other Star Trek on our screens, I just don’t feel that another Kelvin film is a necessary addition to the franchise’s current and upcoming lineup. And with Strange New Worlds in particular including characters like Spock, Uhura, and even Captain Kirk, there’s a danger that it could feel underwhelming, as if the two projects are stumbling over one another without offering anything new to say about these characters.
There’s definitely room in the Star Trek franchise for a new film or two – whether they get a full cinematic release or end up going straight to Paramount+. But maybe it would be better if Paramount redirected its efforts into new projects, or perhaps a film based on Discovery, rather than pressing ahead with this new Kelvin timeline project. If things seemed to be going smoothly I guess I wouldn’t be thinking that way, but if the film is already struggling and looks set not to make its intended release date, maybe that’s a sign that it isn’t meant to be.
Regardless, I’ll keep my ear to the ground! If there’s more news about Star Trek 2023 in the weeks and months ahead, I’ll do my best to cover it here on the website.
Star Trek 2023 is currently scheduled to premiere on the 22nd of December 2023. The Star Trek franchise – including all films and series discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
What can be said about Nichelle Nichols that hasn’t already been said over the last few days? Her loss is felt profoundly by the entire Star Trek fan community – a rare moment of togetherness in what can be a divided fandom at times. But beyond that, news of her passing has resonated across the world of entertainment and beyond. She was a unique person, someone whose influence and hard work may not have been centre-stage for everybody, but whose tireless commitment to the causes she supported – and to fans of Star Trek – will never be forgotten.
At a time when the United States was still in the process of outlawing racial segregation, Nichelle Nichols became an icon for the civil rights movement. The character of Uhura took her place on the bridge of the USS Enterprise not as a servant or a maid, not as a subordinate, but as an equal member of the crew; an officer with the respect of her shipmates. Such roles were incredibly rare on American television at that time, and the statement made by Uhura’s presence on Star Trek was one of racial equality and hope for the future.
There’s a frequently-cited story that it was Martin Luther King who convinced Nichelle Nichols to remain on Star Trek when she considered leaving to return to the stage after the show’s first season. Star Trek, according to King, was one of the few shows he allowed his children to watch – and Uhura’s role was the reason why.
Star Trek told morality tales and gave commentary on contemporary issues of race and civil rights across its three seasons, and Uhura was a powerful presence in many of those stories. Nichelle Nichols brought the character to life with a quiet, understated charm, and quickly became an irreplaceable part of Star Trek.
While we as Trekkies might remember Nichelle Nichols from her role as Uhura, her legacy extends far, far beyond the Star Trek franchise – and even beyond the realm of entertainment itself. Beginning in the 1970s, she worked with NASA to help drive the recruitment of new, younger astronauts from diverse backgrounds. The first African-American, Asian-American, and Hispanic-Americans to travel into space joined the space programme as part of Nichelle Nichols’ initiative. She quite literally changed the face of NASA and diversified space exploration.
The documentary Woman in Motion goes into detail about Nichols’ work with NASA, and if you haven’t seen it it’s well worth a watch. I love a good documentary, and Woman in Motion presents her story in an understandable way. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t know much about her involvement with NASA prior to watching Woman in Motion, but it’s a story that absolutely should be told – and I’m glad it was able to be told before Nichelle Nichols passed away.
Over the past few days we’ve seen an outpouring of grief and remembrance from Nichelle Nichols’ Star Trek co-stars, actors and creatives in the Star Trek franchise, many others from the world of entertainment, and countless people who felt inspired by her. Many people have shared their own stories of what it meant to see Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise, how Nichelle Nichols inspired them to get started in their chosen career, or the words of advice she had from those lucky enough to have met her in person.
For one person to have such an impact and leave such a legacy is phenomenal, and the thousands upon thousands of tributes that we’ve seen are just a small fraction of the lives that Nichelle Nichols touched in one way or another. Those lives were changed not because she played a role on Star Trek, but because of what she did with that role, that fame, and the spotlight that was placed upon her. Other actors could’ve happily taken their pay and done nothing more – and there’s nothing wrong with that at all – but Nichelle Nichols went the extra mile. She recognised what her role meant to millions of people across the United States and around the world, and she did everything that she could to make it matter. That’s why it’s been so hard to know what to say, and why her loss hits so profoundly. She wasn’t just another performer – she was so much more than that to so many people.
We’ve been lucky to have Nichelle Nichols with us for as long as she was. It was only in her final couple of years that she began slowing down her activities; she attended her final Star Trek convention less than a year ago. In all of that time she offered to fans and everyone else the kind of boundless, unbridled optimism that defines Star Trek itself: always smiling, always happy to be seen with fans, co-stars, and new actors alike.
I’m going to miss Nichelle Nichols. I’ll miss hearing about her appearances at conventions and the interactions she had with fellow fans and friends of mine within the Star Trek fan community. I’ll miss the stories she could tell about working on the show and its films. And I’ll miss seeing her with the likes of Sonequa Martin-Green, Zoe Saldaña, and Celia Rose Gooding. The comfort I take is that she lived a full life, one in which she put her talents to good use both on-screen and off. She leaves behind a legacy most people could only imagine, and her impact on the worlds of Star Trek, entertainment, and even space exploration itself will outlive her, continuing long into the future.
Some images used above courtesy of Star Trek/Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Lower Decks Seasons 1-2 and the following Star Trek productions: The Original Series Season 2, The Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine Season 3.
With Lower Decks’ third season fast approaching, I wanted to write up a theory that I’ve had kicking around since the second episode of Season 2. Lower Decks’ episodic nature hasn’t lent itself to a ton of theory-crafting so far – although I do have at least one more in the pipeline, so stay tuned for that! – but this one feels plausible; it’s the kind of narrative choice that I could see the show’s writers making.
First of all, let’s briefly recap what happened to Ensign Boimler from the end of Season 1 to the beginning of Season 2. After impressing Captain Riker, Boimler took a transfer to the USS Titan at the very end of Season 1, leaving Mariner and the Cerritos behind and being promoted to the rank of lieutenant. Boimler would serve under Captain Riker for a short while, and one of the Titan’s assignments at this time involved following up with the newly-aggressive Pakleds.
Lieutenant Boimler was assigned to an away mission to the planet Karzill IV as part of this assignment, and after getting caught in a firefight he was able to save the day and allow the rest of the team to make it back to the Titan. However, as this mission drew to a close a transporter accident created a duplicate – or clone – of Boimler, resulting in two identical Lieutenant Boimlers, indistinguishable from one another.
For seemingly arbitrary reasons, Starfleet decided that only one Boimler could remain aboard the Titan, and the other would have to take a demotion back to the rank of ensign and return to the Cerritos. After one Boimler returned to the Cerritos we’ve followed his actions, and the second Boimler hasn’t been mentioned since. But could that be about to change?
Although we were told that the two Boimlers were indistinguishable from one another – totally identical – the second Boimler, the one who remained aboard the Titan, seemed much more outgoing than the Boimler we’ve gotten to know. Not only that, but he seemed more than a little devious in tricking “our” Boimler to return to the Cerritos so that he could continue on the Titan and advance his career. Could we be looking at the beginnings of an “evil twin” (or “evil clone,” I guess) storyline?
It wouldn’t be the first time that such a story has appeared in Star Trek! Going all the way back to The Original Series we had stories like The Enemy Within that split Captain Kirk into two distinct personalities, one “good” and one “evil.” And of course there’s the classic Mirror, Mirror that showed our heroes’ evil alternate universe counterparts.
The Next Generation followed this up by creating Data’s own “evil twin” – Lore. Lore would tangle with the crew of the Enterprise-D on more than one occasion, doing things like allying with the Crystalline Entity and raising an army of abandoned ex-Borg, as well as trying to corrupt Data and sway him to his cause.
Most significantly we have Thomas Riker, the first transporter duplicate in Star Trek and whose character clearly inspired the Boimler storyline in Kayshon, His Eyes Open. Not only was Thomas difficult to work with for William Riker after being rediscovered, but he would go on to rebel against Starfleet, join the Maquis, and even steal the USS Defiant from Deep Space Nine.
Lower Decks has brought back a lot of Star Trek tropes and story beats, and many of them have been used for one-off gags or as cute callbacks to past events. It can be difficult to tell whether there’s some deeper meaning to the whole transporter duplicate story because of that. In the episode Kayshon, His Eyes Open it worked well as a surprising twist, a way to kick Boimler back to the Cerritos, and as a cute wink to fans of The Next Generation, especially considering Riker himself was present. The storyline could end there with Boimler’s twin never being mentioned again.
But at the same time, Lower Decks has used some of these classic Star Trek moments and story beats to set up longer arcs, or returned to them later. There’s a symmetry to some of the show’s episodes and storylines, too. The way the Cerritos saved the USS Archimedes in the Season 2 finale after having to be saved in the Season 1 finale is one of the best examples of this – and we could also point to the Pakled storyline itself as an unfolding multi-episode arc.
I think we’ve laid out how it’s at least possible that there could be something more going on with the transporter clone and looked at previous examples of “evil twin” tropes in Star Trek. So that answers the question of “could it happen?” quite nicely – but that’s really just the beginning.
The matter at the heart of this theory is what direction such a story would take, how it could potentially impact (our) Boimler, and what it could do for the series as a whole.
If we look back to episodes like Datalore or Second Chances, I think it’s not unfair to say that those storylines didn’t go on to have a lasting effect. The creation of twins, clones, and duplicates hasn’t actually come to matter in a significant, ongoing way for any Star Trek character so far. Even when those twins made repeat appearances their stories tended to be confined to a single episode – or perhaps a two-parter.
It was never really explained in any detail what impact Thomas’ emergence had on William Riker after the events of Second Chances. Even when Thomas returned in Deep Space Nine’s third season episode Defiant, the story unfolded from his perspective without any input from his doppelgänger.
Data’s conflict with Lore is perhaps the biggest of these storylines, with Lore being mentioned a handful of times outside of his main appearances. But because of Data’s nature, he wasn’t as emotionally impacted by Lore’s behaviour as other characters in a similar situation might’ve been. Data even expressed confusion in Second Chances as to the nature of the dispute between Will and Thomas Riker!
Although Lower Decks has been largely episodic, we’ve still seen some impressive character work across its first two seasons. The way Ensign Mariner in particular has grown into her role and come to resolve some of her issues with her mother, her friendships, and her position in Starfleet has been wonderful to see – and it’s this more serialised approach to characterisation (a hallmark of modern television storytelling) that could make an “evil Boimler” storyline different to what we’ve seen before in Star Trek.
Boimler’s issues with his transporter duplicate could have an impact on him that extends beyond a single episode – and that could take his character on a journey. Beginning with the sense of betrayal he surely felt at the duplicate’s duplicity aboard the Titan, Boimler could begin to forgive him, only to discover he’s up to no good. He could find it difficult to convince his friends at first, before showing them irrefutable proof of the clone’s misdeeds. And the whole experience of having to face off against someone who literally knows him inside and out and has shared every experience he ever had could both challenge and change him.
We could see a more confident Boimler emerge from under such a storyline – but someone whose friendships have been pushed and stretched before eventually settling. Or we could see Boimler begin to second-guess himself; if the “evil” clone was Boimler himself, perhaps he’d wonder if being “evil” is part of his own nature, and that could cause him to freeze or find it hard to make decisions.
In short, there are a lot of ways that such a story could go – but almost all of them would be good for Boimler’s characterisation in the long run. We’d get a fun episode with the evil twin that could harken back to the likes of The Enemy Within, Mirror, Mirror, Datalore, and others – but the impact of that episode could reverberate across an entire season, giving Boimler a character arc that could be very satisfying to see unfold.
So that’s it for now! The theory is that Boimler’s transporter duplicate will – in classic Star Trek tradition – turn out to be evil!
For the reasons laid out above, I think such a story could be fun and interesting. Moreover, I like the idea of the fallout from Boimler’s conflict with his “evil twin” not being confined to a single episode and potentially setting him on a season-long arc as he processes what happened and what it means for himself and his friends. Going down that road could feel deeply cathartic – with Boimler filling in for other Star Trek characters in similar situations who never got the chance to deal with the longer-term implications of what they went through!
I hope this was a bit of fun. Please keep in mind that I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that any of this will happen in Lower Decks either imminently or in Season 4. I just think it’s a fun concept, and while all the pieces seem to be in place for such a story, it could be that the transporter duplicate will (in the best tradition of Star Trek) never be mentioned again!
Star Trek: Lower Decks Seasons 1-2 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and around the world. Season 3 will premiere on the 25th/26th of August 2022. The Star Trek franchise – including Lower Decks and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the following Star Trek productions: The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, and Discovery. Minor spoilers are also present for Strange New Worlds Season 1.
Strange New Worlds was absolutely fantastic across its first season, hitting ten for ten and leaving me – and many other Trekkies – clamouring for more! This time, I thought it could be fun to put together a list of a few episode concepts that I would love to see in future seasons of the show as Captain Pike’s adventures aboard the Enterprise continue!
There are so many different alien races, stellar phenomena, factions, puzzles, and more from past iterations of Star Trek that I’d love to see a new and different take on that one list may not be enough! While we do have to keep in mind that Strange New Worlds takes place before the events of The Original Series – and thus the vast majority of Star Trek stories – there’s still plenty of room for writers, creators, and fans like us to play around in the vast sandbox that is the Star Trek franchise!
So the obvious caveat here is that I have no “insider information.” I’m not trying to claim that any of the story pitches below will ever make it to screen; I just think they’re neat ideas that I personally would like to see. And as I always say, everything here is entirely subjective! If you hate all of my ideas, or if I don’t include something that seems obvious to you, that’s okay! There’s plenty of room in the Star Trek fan community for respectful disagreement and civil conversations – and there’s absolutely no need to get upset about fan-made episode ideas that almost certainly won’t ever make it to the screen.
So with all of that out of the way, let’s jump into the list!
Pitch #1: Reintroduce the Xindi.
Although a character supposedly representing the Xindi was briefly glimpsed in Discovery Season 4 last year, they’ve only appeared in a big way in Enterprise. The Xindi served as primary antagonists for much of the show’s serialised third season, and had been plotting to destroy Earth under the manipulation of time-traveling aliens. With Strange New Worlds being set a full century after those events, it would be great to catch up with the Xindi and see what came next for them.
As of the 26th Century, the Xindi were supposedly Federation members – so perhaps we could see moves in that direction. Maybe the Xindi have entered a period of isolation, and that could explain their total absence from Star Trek stories set in the 23rd and 24th Centuries – not that such an explanation would be strictly necessary.
Either way, I think it could be fun to bring back the Xindi for a one-off story, particularly one in which they aren’t just an antagonist.
Pitch #2: Save Captain Lorca!
This could be a great way not only to bring back an interesting character, but also to give at least some Strange New Worlds characters a chance to cross over to the Mirror Universe. At the end of Discovery Season 2, Captain Pike heavily implied that he was aware of the existence of the Mirror Universe, so that could be an interesting angle to work if a crossover were on the agenda.
In short, I don’t believe that crossing over to the Mirror Universe was the death sentence for Captain Lorca that other characters in Discovery Season 1 believed it to be. I think that someone with Lorca’s skills could have found a way to blend in and go into hiding, and if he could find a way to send a distress signal from the Mirror Universe that could lead to Captain Pike planning a rescue!
Captain Lorca was one of the highlights of Discovery’s first season, and it would be fun to get a look at the prime version of the character.
Pitch #3: Make first contact with a faction from The Next Generation era.
Captains Picard, Sisko, and Janeway made plenty of first contacts during their respective missions in the 24th Century, but they also introduced us to a lot of factions that Starfleet had already met. We had, for instance, the Cardassians, the Lurians, and the Sheliak – all of whom were new to us as the audience, but not to the characters on the show.
So it could be fun to see a mission of first contact with an alien race like the Cardassians. Did first contact go well? Could there be some foreshadowing of events that will unfold in the 24th Century? How would Captain Pike deal with one of these races that we’ve seen before? I think it could be a neat concept, if done right, and one that would tie together different eras of Star Trek in a big way.
If I had to pick one race or faction for this episode, I’d pick the Cardassians.
Pitch #4: Bring back a main character from Enterprise.
Another “crossover” idea, this episode would bring back one of Enterprise’s main characters for one last assignment. As we’ve seen from episodes like Relics, creative use of technobabble can be used to bring in basically any character, so I don’t think we can really rule anyone out! That being said, there is one character more than any other who could still be alive in this era and who could have a major role to play: T’Pol.
As the first Vulcan to work extensively with humans and Starfleet, T’Pol could have a lot of advice to give to this younger version of Spock. As Spock continues to wrangle with his human and Vulcan heritage, someone like T’Pol could step in to offer guidance. She could do this independently, or we could see her included as part of a Vulcan delegation that the Enterprise has to deliver.
It would be fascinating to learn what came next for the entire crew of the NX-01 Enterprise, but if I had to pick one character this time it would be T’Pol.
Pitch #5: Battle the Borg!
I would absolutely love to see Captain Pike and the crew take on the Borg. I think this one would have to be set in some kind of Borg-dominated alternate reality, though, rather than being set in the prime timeline. Although Star Trek has made a huge mess of Borg-Federation contact, I’d still rather avoid treading on the toes of The Next Generation in that regard.
But it could be amazing to see the Enterprise crew having to figure out how to make it home safely while having to defend themselves against one of the most terrifying adversaries in all of Star Trek. Season 1 already showed us a great take on the horror genre – and bringing in the Borg could really succeed at ramping up the fear factor.
With the Borg having made relatively few appearances in modern Star Trek, this could be a fun and unexpected way to include them.
Pitch #6: Set up a story that will be paid off in The Original Series.
There are a number of episodes from The Original Series that could be expanded upon and given new backstory. We could visit Deep Space Station K-7, for example, from the classic episode The Trouble With Tribbles. Or Captain Pike could escort the lawyer Samuel T. Cogley to his new posting at Starbase 11.
There are dozens of such examples; stories that The Original Series has already told that could be fleshed out. Even if a wholly new story was concocted for a character or location that was visited – as we’ve seen in Season 1 with the Gorn, for example – it would still be a cute nod and wink to longstanding Trekkies.
Strange New Worlds has leaned on The Original Series for inspiration already – so this would really just be more of the same!
Pitch #7: A backdoor pilot for the Section 31 series.
At time of writing, it feels as though the purported Discovery spin-off based around Section 31 won’t be going ahead. But Strange New Worlds could change that by reintroducing the shadowy organisation. After Pike and Spock tangled with Section 31 during Discovery’s second season they might have a score to settle, and it could also be fun to bring back Ash Tyler for a guest appearance – he was named Section 31’s new leader after the battle against Control.
A Section 31 episode that brings back Ash Tyler – and perhaps even Georgiou – could test the waters to see whether the concept still has potential. Strange New Worlds is definitely the Discovery spin-off that fans wanted, but particularly in light of Georgiou’s character development in that show’s third season, the Section 31 idea shouldn’t be written off and feels more viable now than it did when it was first announced.
Even if no spin-off happens, it would still be nice to get some furtherance of the Section 31 storylines that we saw a couple of years ago.
Pitch #8: What happened between Sarek and Spock?
As Strange New Worlds continues to develop Spock’s character, it would be interesting to see his conflict with his father. This was first broached in The Original Series episode Journey to Babel – Sarek’s first appearance – but a canonical reason for it has never been established. It’s been implied that Sarek disapproved of Spock joining Starfleet instead of enrolling at the Vulcan Science Academy, but it’s never been fully confirmed.
James Frain put in a decent performance as Sarek in Discovery’s first two seasons, and with Spock being a big part of Strange New Worlds he seems like a logical choice to bring back. Spock has stated that he and Sarek were “estranged” during this era, but there’s still the possibility of some kind of contact between the two.
I’d be curious to see if there’s more to the Spock-Sarek split than we’ve seen so far!
Pitch #9: Travel back in time.
Time travel stories – especially those that involve visiting the modern day – are seldom my favourites in Star Trek. But time travel has been part of the franchise since its inception, and even more than half a century and 850 episodes later, there are still ideas that haven’t really been tried. We’ve seen practically every Starfleet captain visit modern-day Earth – but we’ve only seen a handful of episodes set in Earth’s past.
I’d be interested to see Captain Pike and the crew visit the middle ages, the 1700s, or the First World War, just to pick three examples. How did they get there? I don’t know. What would they have to do there – aside from figure out a way home? I don’t know that either! But taking time travel to an era that Star Trek has never explored would be fascinating.
Maybe Captain Pike could even view time travel as a way to postpone his inevitable accident?
Pitch #10: A “bottle episode” set during a long voyage.
In Star Trek we often see our heroes warping from one destination to the next at the drop of a hat, and while travel times between locations are occasionally mentioned, we don’t often get to see the reality of some of these long-distance voyages. The Season 5 premiere of Voyager perhaps came closest to this (before it introduced us to the Malon) but if you think about it there must be a lot of downtime for the crew of the Enterprise in between missions.
So this episode would focus on different members of the crew and how they spend their free time. The Enterprise is en route to deliver supplies or conduct a scientific experiment, but that just serves as background to show us how Captain Pike and the crew handle a weeks-long voyage across space with nothing to do. We could see the Enterprise’s recreational facilities, learn some of the characters’ hobbies, and generally slow things down and take a break from the action for a while.
Being set entirely aboard the ship could also cut costs – allowing for more of the budget to be allocated to other, more demanding stories!
So that’s it!
Those are ten of my ideas (or “pitches”) for Strange New Worlds episodes that I’d like to see in future seasons of the show. I doubt any of these will ever get made… but you never know! It’s fun to speculate and come up with episode concepts regardless.
If you missed my spoiler-free review of Season 1, I had an amazing time with Strange New Worlds and I can’t recommend the series highly enough! I’ve been telling as many people as I can to give it a shot, because I feel it has the potential to be a gateway into the Star Trek franchise for newcomers.
So I hope this was a bit of fun for today! There will be more Strange New Worlds content to come in the months ahead as we await Season 2 – so stay tuned!
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, United Kingdom, and other countries and territories where the platform is available. Further international distribution has not been announced. The Star Trek franchise – including Strange New Worlds and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are major spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1, including the season finale. Spoilers are also present for Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: Discovery.
This theory is going to get into major spoiler territory for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, including the very last scene of the final episode of Season 1. If you aren’t fully caught up on the events of Season 1 – and you decided to ignore the spoiler warning above – this is your last chance to nope out!
So today I thought it could be fun to speculate about Una Chin-Riley – a.k.a. Number One. Captain Pike’s first officer had an interesting season, with a truly unexpected backstory that connected back to the events of Star Trek: Enterprise while simultaneously setting the stage for some significant development in her relationship with La’an in particular.
The decision for Una to be an Illyrian was a genuinely interesting one, and I felt sure that there’d be something more to come after the revelation of her true heritage in Ghosts of Illyria. It took until the closing moments of the season finale, but eventually we got there! Una’s arrest was the perfect tease on which to end the season, setting the stage for what will presumably be the first part of Season 2 in truly spectacular fashion.
There are a few points to consider before we jump into the main theory list. First of all, the fact that Captain Pike visited an alternate future in which Una is still incarcerated almost a decade after the events of Season 1 does not, in itself, mean that that will be her fate. That was an alternate timeline, after all, one which Pike’s actions have now erased. So I don’t think we can dismiss Una, saying “that’s it, she’s off the show” and close the book! There’s obviously going to be something more to come – though whether it will fully restore her to a leading role in Starfleet is still an open question.
One of the interesting things about a show like Strange New Worlds is the potential it has to explore different aspects of Star Trek’s 23rd Century and answer questions that most fans didn’t even know they had! One such question could be “where was Una after the events of The Cage?” She didn’t participate in Spock’s off-the-books quest to transport Captain Pike to Talos IV, despite being one of only a handful of people who knew about his impending disability and the powers of the Talosians.
Una was also never seen, nor even mentioned, during the entire run of The Original Series and its films. On the production side of things that’s at least partly because Majel Barrett, who was the first actress to take on the role, was playing the character of Nurse Chapel. But again it leaves the question of Una’s fate open-ended. A senior officer with such promise serving on the Federation flagship would usually be gunning for a promotion and their own command; was that what Una hoped to do?
It could be that the explanation for Una’s absence from the events of The Menagerie and other significant moments in the second half of the 23rd Century is that she was either locked up or exiled for her deception and illegal genetic enhancements. That would be a pretty depressing way for the story to go, but it wouldn’t contradict anything we know of from other Star Trek productions. Personally, I’ve never felt any of these absences were glaring omissions that have been crying out to be explained away – but perhaps some of the show’s writers disagree.
There’s also a potential narrative reason to shuffle Una out of the way, and that comes from the character of Spock. Firstly, Spock long ago took over Number One’s original “cool and logical” persona that debuted in The Cage. And secondly, while Captain Pike was surprised to learn in A Quality of Mercy that Spock was his new Number One, as Trekkies we know that Spock’s arc will take him through being Captain Kirk’s first officer and trusted confidante all the way to becoming a captain in his own right, an ambassador, and beyond. Perhaps part of the next chapter of Strange New Worlds will involve setting the stage for Spock to step up and grow into that kind of role, either by serving as Pike’s XO aboard the Enterprise or potentially by pairing him up with a younger Jim Kirk.
However, I’m not convinced that we’ve seen the back of Una just yet. Strange New Worlds already killed off Hemmer – in one of the most shocking and tragic sequences in the entire season – and La’an’s request for a leave of absence to track down the family of Oriana could mean that she will have less of a role to play in future, too – potentially being absent for some or all of next season. With at least one and possibly two characters already gone, it would be one heck of a shake-up to lose Una as well.
With the exception of Lower Decks, modern Star Trek shows have struggled with consistency. Discovery has famously had four different captains across its four seasons, and Picard took two very different approaches to its characters in the two seasons that we’ve seen so far, with some noteworthy absences in Season 2. In short, it would be to the benefit of Strange New Worlds – and the Star Trek franchise overall – to settle down and to find room to breathe; to expand and develop the characters who are already in play before rushing off to make more and more changes. So if I had a vote, I’d find a way to keep Una around!
All of this leads up to my theory list about Una. The first part of the list will consider possible culprits for grassing her up to Starfleet Command and getting her arrested, and the second part will consider possible outcomes and options for Season 2 that could either bring her back into the fold or see her depart the series.
My usual caveats apply: I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that anything discussed here will be part of Season 2. This is pure speculation from a fan and nothing more! If Season 1 is any indication, Una’s story in Season 2 will go in a wildly different direction that I won’t be able to predict! Secondly, all of this is the subjective opinion of one person. If you hate all of my ideas (or I don’t include your current pet theory) that’s okay! There’s room within the Star Trek fan community for civil conversations and polite disagreement.
With all of that out of the way, let’s look at some theories!
Culprit #1: Captain Pike
I don’t believe that Captain Pike would have intentionally told Starfleet about Una’s Illyrian heritage. But in the course of his duties as captain, he may have had to log or otherwise record Una’s disclosure to him – or may have done so in a personal log. If those logs were then sent to Starfleet, it could be that Captain Pike inadvertently flagged up Una’s true origin.
There was room in Season 1 for more development of the relationship between Una and Captain Pike – a relationship that seemed well-established when they appeared together in Season 2 of Discovery. In a busy season, though, their time together was somewhat limited, and I’d like to see more interaction between the Enterprise’s captain and first officer going forward. Making Pike the one who got her arrested – even if it was completely accidental – would risk damaging that relationship. While that could give them a starting point to rebuild from, it wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice.
Culprit #2: Dr M’Benga
As with Captain Pike above, I don’t believe that Dr M’Benga would deliberately reveal Una’s secret to Starfleet. Just as Una had something to hide, so too did Dr M’Benga, and Una was the only one who knew about his daughter being kept suspended in the transporter buffer. He would have no motivation to expose her, and from his perspective doing so may have compromised himself and his daughter’s safety.
However, Dr M’Benga is responsible for the ship’s sickbay and the health of all its personnel, so perhaps he logged somewhere that there’s an Illyrian aboard. Maybe Dr M’Benga noted that the treatment for the contagion that broke out aboard the Enterprise came from Illyrian antibodies; Starfleet Medical must surely keep records of these dangers and their cures for the sake of other ships and crews.
Culprit #3: La’an Noonien-Singh
La’an is really the only character who would have any motive for deliberately and maliciously telling Starfleet the truth about Una. Although the two had resolved their differences by the end of Ghosts of Illyria – and grew closer over the rest of the season – La’an was incredibly angry at first upon learning who Una really was. It seems possible to me that La’an contacted Starfleet sometime during the events of Ghosts of Illyria, possibly while under the influence of the contagion.
This could set up La’an and Una for a confrontation, but one for which La’an already feels guilt and remorse. If she is responsible, I think there’s a pathway for forgiveness – and perhaps she’ll find a way to make it right, such as by advocating on Una’s behalf or even trying to break her out of prison.
Culprit #4: Spock
On a number of occasions we’ve seen how Spock is a stickler for the rules – particularly at this early point in his life and career. In Star Trek Into Darkness, his decision to be completely truthful in a mission report ended up getting Captain Kirk in a lot of trouble, so even if Pike, M’Benga, and everyone else had chosen to conceal the truth in their logs, it’s possible that Spock wouldn’t. He may not even see it as a bad thing at first, regarding telling the full, unvarnished truth as part of his job.
One of the interesting things about Strange New Worlds is how it’s taking Spock on a journey; building him up to become the character we’re familiar with from The Original Series. Perhaps one of the lessons Spock will learn in Season 2 is how to bend the rules, how loyalty to one’s friends and the need to keep certain things private can superscede the official rules. That could make for an interesting story and a chance for growth.
Culprit #5: Una herself
Maybe Una was sick of hiding. Maybe she wanted to get caught. Maybe she hoped to give herself an opportunity to defend her people against Starfleet’s hardline anti-genetic engineering rule. There are a few different reasons why Una might have turned herself in, or anonymously submitted the evidence to get herself arrested.
This would be a bit of a twist, but it could lead to a wonderfully complex story and character arc for Una if it’s handled well. The idea that she was fed up with having to live a lie, or even that revealing the truth to Captain Pike, La’an, and some of her other shipmates was a weight off her shoulders could be an interesting angle to explore. It would also absolve anyone in the crew of any wrongdoing – intentional or not!
So those are the culprits!
Up next we’re going to look at a few different ways that Una’s story could go from here. As above, please keep in mind that all of this is speculation; I’m not claiming that any of these things will happen.
Theory #1: Una will stand trial with Captain Pike defending her.
Star Trek can do courtroom drama exceptionally well, and perhaps we’ll be treated to an episode that blends the likes of The Measure of a Man and Court Martial. I can absolutely see Captain Pike stepping up to be Una’s advocate – like Captain Picard did for Data or Captain Sisko did for Worf. How exactly this trial would go is unclear, but with Spock and the rest of the crew also working on it, maybe there’d be a way to win – or to convince Starfleet to make an exception for Una.
That wouldn’t be unprecedented in the Star Trek franchise. Dr Bashir, who was also genetically engineered and didn’t disclose that fact to Starfleet, was permitted to continue to serve after the truth came out. Perhaps what Captain Pike will have to do is convince Starfleet that Una is irreplacable and should be forgiven for her deception.
Theory #2: Una will be broken out of prison – but will have to go into exile.
If Starfleet insists that Una needs to be locked up and won’t budge, maybe La’an and some of Una’s other friends will stage a break-out. It wouldn’t be easy – and they could all end up in hot water if things go wrong – but they may see it as a last resort if the alternative is Una being locked up for years in a Starfleet penal colony.
However, even if they succeed it seems unlikely that Una will simply be able to return to the Enterprise. She may have to go into exile, either by returning to the Illyrians or by striking out on her own. Either way, that could mean Una will be departing the series.
Theory #3: Una is found guilty and imprisoned.
With the major caveat that what Captain Pike saw took place in an alternate timeline that has since been overwritten, this was Una’s destiny in that version of the future. Captain Pike, La’an, Spock, and the rest of the crew seemed to have come to terms with her imprisonment by that point, and while we don’t know what happened at the time of her arrest and trial, any schemes that Pike and the others may have had to get her released clearly didn’t work.
Again, this would surely see Una leaving the show, perhaps after one final episode in which she comes to terms with being locked up. I don’t think that would be a fun or satisfying end for her character, though. It would tie up the loose end of Una’s whereabouts as of The Menagerie – but as stated above, I don’t think anyone has ever really challenged or questioned that, making it a solution to a non-existent problem. If Una is to leave the show, I’d rather see her go out in a blaze of glory, saving the ship and crew!
Theory #4: Diplomacy with the Illyrians.
If Una is still in contact with her family or other Illyrians, perhaps the Illyrian government will attempt to intervene on her behalf. Just because the Illyrians are not permitted to join Starfleet that doesn’t mean that formal diplomatic relations between the Federation and the Illyrian government don’t exist, and perhaps they’d have something to say about one of their own being arrested, especially if the reason is basically “because she’s an Illyrian.”
This could lead to some kind of diplomatic mission for Captain Pike, and again it could conclude with Una being given some kind of special exemption and being permitted to remain in Starfleet. Having revealed Una’s true heritage, it would be interesting to see more Illyrians show up in Strange New Worlds – perhaps they still hold a grudge after their meeting with Captain Archer during the events of Enterprise!
So those are the theories!
There are lots of different paths that the story could take from this juncture, and the question of whether Una will be back in a big way in Season 2 feels kind of open right now. Along with the departure of Hemmer and the potential absence of La’an, that would be a pretty radical shake-up of the main characters after only one season of the show.
I suspect that Una will be back aboard the Enterprise before too long, though. There’s untapped potential in her relationships with La’an, Spock, Captain Pike, and everyone else that would be wasted if she were to leave so soon. I’d love to spend more time with Una, perhaps seeing her in temporary command of the ship, leading an away mission, or doing other things that first officers in Star Trek are often seen to do. So it’s my hope, at least, that we haven’t seen the beginning of the end for Una on Strange New Worlds.
I hope this was a bit of fun. I haven’t had many opportunities to dive so deeply into Strange New Worlds thanks to the frustrating and disappointing international distribution situation, but with Paramount+ now here in the UK, that’s all changing. Hopefully by the time Season 2 rolls around we can talk about more theories like these during the show’s run instead of having to wait until the dust has settled!
I had a great time with Strange New Worlds Season 1, and the fact that it ended on this shocking cliffhanger was fantastic. I’m looking forward to welcoming back Captain Pike, Una, and the rest of the crew – and getting a satisfying end to this storyline, too!
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other countries and territories where the platform is available. Episodes of Season 1 are being released weekly in the UK. The Star Trek franchise – including Strange New Worlds and all other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: Although there are no major plot spoilers for Strange New Worlds Season 1, the inclusion of particular episodes on this list may hint at certain themes, characters, storylines, etc. There are also spoilers below for the episodes and stories on this list.
I haven’t been able to talk about Strange New Worlds as much as I would’ve liked thanks to Paramount taking an “America First” approach to the series, the Star Trek franchise, and pretty much everything else on Paramount+. However, with Paramount+ having now arrived here in the UK, I hope to slowly begin to rectify that situation and make up for lost time. On this occasion, I’ve put together a list of ten episodes that I think make great background viewing for Strange New Worlds Season 1.
You can absolutely watch these Star Trek stories before diving into the show’s first season, but if – like me – you’ve already watched Strange New Worlds Season 1, there’s still value in going back to some of them to expand on what the new show’s first season delivered. Ordinarily I’d have written a list like this before the season aired, but having already seen Strange New Worlds that’s allowed me to adapt the list and include a couple of episodes that I would have never considered!
Strange New Worlds was absolutely fantastic in its first season – and it has me lamenting the truncated ten-episode seasons of modern Star Trek as I could’ve happily enjoyed at least ten more! If you missed it, I’ve already written up my spoiler-free thoughts on the show’s first season, and you can find that piece by clicking or tapping here. At the risk of repeating myself, Strange New Worlds hit ten for ten in its first season – ten outstanding episodes that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I can’t recommend Strange New Worlds highly enough both to fans of Star Trek and to newcomers to the franchise. If you’re new, or if it’s been a while since you last saw some of these episodes, watching them will provide some additional background and backstory heading into Strange New Worlds – or will expand somewhat on some of the stories, factions, and characters if you’ve already watched Season 1. However, nothing below makes for essential or unmissable viewing; Strange New Worlds is a very accessible series that newcomers to Star Trek shouldn’t feel intimidated by!
As always, please keep in mind that all of this is just the subjective opinion of one person. I’ve chosen episodes that I generally enjoy and that I feel connect in significant ways to Strange New Worlds Season 1. If you don’t like my picks or I miss something you would’ve included, that’s okay! There’s always room in the Star Trek fan community for discussion and polite disagreement.
I’ve tried hard to avoid major plot spoilers for Strange New Worlds Season 1, but the inclusion of certain episodes here may hint at the inclusion of factions, aliens, characters, and storylines. If you don’t want to risk any of that, this is your last chance to nope out!
With all of that out of the way let’s take a look at the episodes I’ve chosen, which are listed below in no particular order.
Episode #1: The Menagerie, Parts I-II The Original Series Season 1
Technically speaking, The Menagerie was Captain Pike’s first Star Trek appearance. The episode incorporates most of the footage left over from The Original Series’ unsuccessful first pilot, The Cage, but uses a frame narrative to include Captain Kirk and Spock as they look back on the events of Captain Pike’s mission to the planet Talos IV.
After network NBC had spent a significant amount of money on The Cage, one of the conditions attached to The Original Series’ first season was that Gene Roddenberry and his team find a way to use the footage left over from the original pilot. It was either impossible or prohibitively expensive to bring back The Cage star and original Captain Pike actor Jeffrey Hunter for the role, and the recasting of the character is part of the reason for Pike’s severe disfigurement and disability.
We could do an entire article on the production history of The Cage and The Menagerie – and maybe one day we should! – but for now, the important thing to keep in mind is that this is Captain Pike’s ultimate destination. The Menagerie exists as a reminder of where Captain Pike’s arc will ultimately lead him, but it’s also an interesting episode in its own right.
The Original Series was beginning to find its feet by this point in its first season, and a two-parter like The Menagerie could’ve blown it off-course. However, the way The Cage was incorporated into the story made for a fascinating and somewhat mysterious presentation, and Spock’s characterisation and his dedication to his former captain in particular are noteworthy. It’s a fascinating episode that managed to be so much more than just a recycling of a failed pitch and that found a unique and innovative way to accomplish what could have been a difficult and annoying task.
Episode #2: Trials and Tribble-ations Deep Space Nine Season 5
Trials and Tribble-ations was created for the Star Trek’s thirtieth anniversary in 1996, and it was a fun celebration of the franchise’s roots. The crew of the USS Defiant – led by Captain Sisko – find themselves displaced in time, arriving during the events of The Original Series episode The Trouble With Tribbles.
Sisko and his crew have to preserve the timeline – a nefarious villain is attempting to use a Bajoran Orb to alter the past to his advantage. What results is a genuinely fun romp, and seeing the two crews from two different eras coming together was quite something. I’ve always held Trials and Tribble-ations in high esteem ever since I first watched it!
On the technical side of things, Trials and Tribble-ations was incredibly ambitious for its time. Using the same technology that had been used to place Tom Hanks alongside real-world historical figures for the film Forrest Gump – which had been released only a couple of years earlier – the creative team managed to seamlessly blend the Deep Space Nine characters into The Original Series. Some excellent work with costumes and sets – including a recreation of the original USS Enterprise’s bridge – really sold the illusion.
The only character from Trials and Tribble-ations to appear in Strange New Worlds is Spock, with the episode taking place after Pike’s tenure in the captain’s chair. But as a celebration of all things Star Trek, and one of the few stories to bring together the 23rd and 24th Centuries, it’s one you shouldn’t miss! There are also some interesting time travel and timeline-integrity angles to the story’s frame narrative that may just prove interesting to viewers who pay attention.
Episode #3: Q & A Short Treks Season 2
Q & A steps back in time to before the events of Strange New Worlds and Discovery Season 2 to show us Spock’s arrival aboard the USS Enterprise while still an ensign. It’s a cute short story that shows off a younger Spock while also introducing us to Una – a.k.a. Number One. Una had far less screen time than Spock or Pike in Discovery’s second season, so Q & A was one of the first stories to feature her in a big way.
There are some great shots of the internal workings of the USS Enterprise’s turbolifts – something that a geek like me is always going to be interested in! In fact, Q & A must be one of the very few episodes, along with parts of The Next Generation’s fifth season episode Disaster, to make a turbolift its primary setting. That format could feel restrictive, but Q & A makes it shine through some excellent character work and occasionally hilarious writing.
Q & A was one of three episodes of Short Treks to bring back Pike, Spock, and Una – and these short stories began to expand upon their roles and set the stage for Strange New Worlds. They were also experimental; teases to fans that also served to see whether the much-requested “Captain Pike show” was a viable concept. Short Treks did some genuinely interesting things in its second season – which is why I’ve argued that the concept should absolutely be revived!
Captain Pike is less of a presence in Q & A than he would be in Ask Not, but that’s no bad thing. We got to spend more time with Una, and seeing her in her role as first officer – in part through the eyes of a young Spock, fresh out of Starfleet Academy – was fascinating!
Episode #4: Unification, Parts I-II The Next Generation Season 5
We just talked about how interesting it was to see young Spock when he was first assigned to the Enterprise – so now let’s jump forward in time by more than a century to see a much older Spock in a completely different chapter of his life! The two-part episode Unification brought Spock into The Next Generation in a truly interesting story that built upon the Vulcan-Romulan connection that had been introduced in The Original Series.
I adore crossovers, and aside from a brief cameo in the premiere of The Next Generation, this was the first crossover involving main characters that the franchise had attempted. Its success laid the groundwork for the likes of Relics, Flashback, Defiant, Caretaker, These Are The Voyages, and many more.
Unification found a way to give Spock genuine development to reflect decades of his life that we hadn’t seen on screen. It was great to see him alongside not only Captain Picard but also Data – the two characters share many characteristics and filled similar roles in their respective series. The mystery at the heart of the episode and subsequent revelations about Spock’s work and the Romulans’ schemes made for a story that was tense, dramatic, and exciting.
Strange New Worlds isn’t all about Spock, but seeing what his life would be like decades after the events of the series is worthwhile. It puts into context not only the stories that unfold around Spock, but his own actions, behaviours, and thoughts. The Spock we meet in Unification is different from the Spock of Strange New Worlds – but not unrecognisable.
Bonus Episode #4½: Unification III Discovery Season 3
The two-parter became a three-parter when Discovery added to the legacy of Unification in its third season. Taking Spock’s work with the Romulans as a starting point, Unification III shows us how subsequent generations of Romulans and Vulcans looked to Spock as an inspiration. His legacy is all over this story – and it would carry through into future episodes of Discovery in its third and fourth seasons.
Spock would go on to be an important part of Vulcan history, remembered fondly even centuries after his death for the process that he started. Seeing Michael Burnham react to that was sweet, and knowing that Spock has a legacy within the Star Trek timeline that extends far beyond his own lifespan is something incredibly meaningful.
Episode #5: Arena The Original Series Season 1
An absoloute classic of The Original Series, Arena features Captain Kirk’s iconic battle against an unnamed Gorn captain – the first Gorn encountered in Star Trek. I might be in the minority here, but I absolutely adore the way the rubber-suited Gorn looks. There’s something menacing about its tyrannosaurus rex-like head, its silvery, almost insectoid eyes, and its sharp crocodilian teeth. But at the same time, there’s a light-hearted campiness to the way the Gorn comes across on screen thanks in part to the limitations of 1960s special effects – and perhaps also due to the bold pattern on his (or her?) costume!
There’s more to Arena than just the scuffle at Vasquez Rocks, though! There’s a more philosophical side to the story, one that shows how far humanity has come by the 23rd Century – and how far there is still to go to make progress. Despite the conflict, both Spock and Kirk demonstrate a willingness to try diplomacy and show mercy – something that impresses the highly-advanced Metrons.
The way in which Captain Kirk was able to outsmart and defeat the Gorn captain shows his ingenuity at its best – and presents a contrast between “brains” and “brawn” that made it clear how even a strong and physically imposing enemy can be defeated. There’s a great metaphor there for dealing with bullies!
Arena is one of those episodes that I believe every Trekkie – even those who aren’t fans of The Original Series – needs to see at least once. Despite the Gorn not becoming a recurring villain in The Original Series or even during The Next Generation era, the original design of these reptilian aliens has become iconic, and as a story that fully encapsulates the Star Trek franchise’s approach to science-fiction, Arena has it all.
Episode #6: Damage Enterprise Season 3
Damage comes quite late in the fully-serialised story of Enterprise’s third season, but it’s worth a watch regardless. At this point in the story, Captain Archer and his crew are running out of time to prevent the Xindi from launching a super-weapon against Earth, and Archer’s desperation to do anything to complete his mission forces him down a very dark moral path.
In essence, Captain Archer must choose between failure – which will almost certainly lead to the total annihilation of Earth itself – and his morality, leading to him basically turning to theft and piracy in order to survive in the harsh Delphic Expanse. It’s a fascinating story that features a brand-new alien race, but also one that’s an introspective character piece focusing on Archer’s decisions.
There are other story threads in play in Damage, including T’Pol’s exposure to Trellium-D – a compound toxic to Vulcans that caused her to begin to lose control over her emotions. The way in which Vulcans suppress their emotions in favour of logic is something that Enterprise explored in depth, and it’s a fascinating part of Vulcan culture that subsequent Star Trek projects have also touched upon.
Enterprise’s third season was a tense and exciting one overall – and Damage is one of the highlights for its strong character work and examination of how Starfleet’s enlightened morality can end up falling by the wayside when the going gets tough. Captain Archer is pained by the decision he makes – but that doesn’t stop him from making it.
Episode #7: Through the Valley of Shadows Discovery Season 2
Although I’d encourage you to watch Discovery Season 2 in its entirety, I felt that Through the Valley of Shadows was really the only episode that had a significant impact on Strange New Worlds. It’s here where Captain Pike has to make a decision about his fate and his future that sets him on a particular path – one that will culminate in devastating disability.
Although Pike was willing, in the moment, to make the sacrifice in order to obtain the time crystal, the decision he made has a huge impact on him. With only a couple of episodes left in Season 2, Discovery didn’t have a lot of time to address how this would affect him – but Strange New Worlds certainly does, and this is really the starting point for Pike’s season-long arc.
Discovery’s second season was a big improvement on its first, and I think it’s fair to say that bringing Captain Pike and Spock into the show in a big way was a masterstroke! Through the Valley of Shadows reframes Pike’s accident and disability in an entirely different way, and while there are sci-fi trappings of time-travel macguffins and talk of fate and destiny, what lies just under the surface is a story that I find incredibly relatable.
I’ve been Captain Pike at this moment. Sitting down with a doctor, hearing bad news about my health, knowing that things won’t get better but will get worse, that my ability to do basic things like walking will become increasingly difficult… these are all experiences that I’ve personally had and that I saw reflected in Captain Pike. Whether intentional or not, the decision to have him become aware of his future – and choose to embrace it for the greater good – kicked off a story about disability and declining health that really resonated with me. Its approach to this complex topic was sensitive, understandable, and darkly beautiful.
Episode #8: Prime Factors Voyager Season 1
Prime Factors flips Starfleet’s Prime Directive on its head. The Prime Directive is Starfleet’s most important standing order, and it states that “no starship may interfere with the normal development of any alien life or society.” We’ve seen the Prime Directive – and the principles upon which it is based – play a huge role in episodes of practically every Star Trek series, with captains having to decide whether to interfere, how to interfere, and what the consequences may be.
Prime Factors takes the opposite approach, and asks how it would feel to our heroes if they were on the other side of this kind of policy. How would Starfleet react to being denied a request for help or trade because it conflicted with an alien society’s principles? The resultant episode was absolutely fascinating.
At this relatively early point in Voyager’s run, the fact that Captain Janeway and her crew really are stranded on the far side of the galaxy with no way to get home is beginning to sink in. Prime Factors is one of several episodes that teased the crew with a potential way to complete part of that journey – before yanking it away again.
The episode is also an interesting one for Harry Kim, who we get to see at his most eager to get home, and for the relationship between Captain Janeway and Tuvok. Although Chakotay would really take over the role of “trusted advisor” as Voyager got settled, initially it was Tuvok who was being established as Captain Janeway’s closest confidante and most reliable friend.
Episode #9: Balance of Terror The Original Series Season 1
Balance of Terror is the episode that first introduced the iconic Romulans to Star Trek – as well as revealing their connection with the Vulcans that we talked about in Unification above. Inspired by war films – particularly naval war films and those set aboard submarines – from a generation earlier, there’s a really tense, claustrophobic feel to the conflict between the Enterprise and this new, terrifying threat.
Balance of Terror expertly sets up the background of Federation-Romulan relations and uses that to create tension and conflict on the bridge of the Enterprise when a surprising connection between the Romulans and Spock’s own Vulcan people is revealed. The episode also raises the stakes by giving the Romulans not one but two super-weapons: the devastating plasma torpedo and a cloaking device. This was the first on-screen appearance of a cloaking device in Star Trek.
Of particular note here is Captain Kirk’s approach to the conflict. After discovering the Romulan vessel and its technology, Kirk decides to pursue it, hoping to intercept it before it can cross back into Romulan space. Was this uncompromising approach the right call?
Balance of Terror is a fascinating episode for its tone, for its approach to bigotry and prejudice in the enlightened future Star Trek presents, and for its introduction of a faction that would go on to play a major role in the Star Trek franchise. It’s another episode of The Original Series that I consider to be a must-watch for all Trekkies.
Episode #10: Star Trek 2009 Kelvin Timeline film
Technically a film rather than an episode, 2009’s Star Trek kicked off the Kelvin timeline with a soft reboot of the franchise. It’s a textbook example of how to write a successful reboot, and after the Star Trek franchise had begun to fade and lose viewership toward the latter part of Enterprise’s run, the 2009 reboot came along and definitively proved that there was still plenty of life in it yet! We wouldn’t have Discovery, Strange New Worlds, and the rest of modern Star Trek without this film and its two sequels.
For our purposes today, though, 2009’s Star Trek shows us a different timeline with alternate versions of Captain Pike – who plays a prominent role in the story – as well as Spock and Uhura. Seeing these versions of the characters and noting their differences and similarities to their prime timeline counterparts could be worthwhile going into Strange New Worlds.
Star Trek 2009 also chronicles the next chapter of Spock’s life after the events of Unification (which we took a look at above). Spock’s relationship with the Romulans and his plan to help them avert a catastrophe are what led to him being dragged into the alternate reality, and the meeting between the older and younger versions of the character is a powerful moment.
Seeing Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and others in their Starfleet Academy days was a concept that Gene Roddenberry had toyed with even as far back as The Original Series in the 1960s. 2009’s Star Trek took that concept and put a spin on it, updating the franchise for the 21st Century and introducing it to legions of new Trekkies. It’s a good film in its own right, and one whose legacy is the rejuvenated Star Trek franchise that we’re continuing to enjoy today.
So that’s it!
Those are my picks for ten episodes to watch before Strange New Worlds to prepare for what the series will bring – or afterwards, if you prefer, to lend some context to some of the character arcs and storylines.
There are at least ten more episodes and films that I could’ve chosen; it wasn’t easy to whittle down the list to the ten picks above. Having already seen Strange New Worlds Season 1, I confess that I picked several different episodes that I might not have chosen otherwise. But that’s the benefit of hindsight!
As I said in my spoiler-free review of the first season, Strange New Worlds is utterly fantastic and well worth a watch for Trekkies and newcomers to the franchise alike. I can’t praise it highly enough – and I can’t wait for Season 2!
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is available to stream now on Paramount+ in countries and territories where the service is available. New episodes are being released weekly on Paramount+ in the United Kingdom. Further international distribution has not been announced at time of writing. The Star Trek franchise – including Strange New Worlds and all other episodes, films, and shows discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: Although there are no major plot spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1, spoilers are present for other iterations of the Star Trek franchise, including Discovery Seasons 1-4 and Short Treks.
Despite Paramount’s best efforts to keep Strange New Worlds away from fans in 95% of the world, I’ve been able to watch the first season over the past ten weeks. With the finale recently airing and the curtain falling on the show’s first season, I thought it would be worthwhile to share my spoiler-free thoughts on each of the episodes.
I had hoped to write full reviews of every episode of Strange New Worlds as they aired, as well as perhaps concocting a few theories along the way, but the show’s unavailability internationally has made that difficult. As much as I love Star Trek and want to see it succeed, I felt unable to offer Paramount and the series my support due to the offensive and misguided way the corporation has treated its non-American fans – treatment that is regrettably still ongoing at time of writing.
However, stay tuned in the weeks and months ahead, because I daresay I will eventually publish individual episode reviews. Paramount+ has finally landed here in the UK – though it didn’t bring all of Strange New Worlds with it – so I can go back and re-watch the episodes any time. As Paramount+ continues its international rollout, I hope that Trekkies who avoided piracy will be able to watch the show.
The international broadcast situation and Paramount’s failings in that regard feel all the more egregious because of just how damn good Strange New Worlds has been across its first season. This is the Star Trek show that fans have been asking for and waiting for, a show that recaptures the episodic nature of The Original Series and The Next Generation but updates it with season-long arcs and modern trappings. It’s a show that feels so very similar to those classic stalwarts of the Star Trek franchise, and one that definitely has huge potential to reach out across the growing divide in the fan community to bring back into the fold people who felt disappointed or uninterested in Discovery, Picard, and even Lower Decks.
Strange New Worlds updates the look of Star Trek, retaining some visual elements from Discovery and the Kelvin films, but blends that look with a very classic aesthetic with a clear inspiration from The Original Series. After the bland all-blue uniforms of Discovery, the bold primary colours are unapologetically back. The USS Enterprise is brightly-lit and colourful too, with some wonderful sets that have updated the look of areas like the bridge, sickbay, and engineering while retaining key design elements to make it clear that this is a Star Trek show.
The use of practical special effects and puppets has created some really incredible creatures and aliens, some of which have had a genuinely “old-school” feel that reminded me of some of the alien races from The Original Series and The Next Generation era. These effects have combined with some excellent CGI animation and increasingly creative use of the expensive AR wall. It’s clear that Paramount’s visual effects artists are becoming more and more comfortable with this fancy piece of kit, and Strange New Worlds has found some fun ways to blend in the AR wall and make it seamless.
Like classic Star Trek shows have always done, Strange New Worlds tried its hand at some very different genres across Season 1. There was plenty of sci-fi, exploration, and action, but the show also dipped its toes in comedy, drama, warfare, and even horror at one point. Combined with a diverse range of planets to visit and alien races to meet, this gave Strange New Worlds an incredibly varied feel. A worse show might’ve ended up feeling jumpy or even unsettled, but the characters at Strange New Worlds’ heart kept it on track throughout thanks to some truly wonderful writing and world-building.
The theme music that has been composed for Strange New Worlds jumped right up the list to become one of my absolute favourite Star Trek themes. I felt an influence from the classic Superman theme by John Williams that blended perfectly with elements from The Original Series theme to create an exciting, adventurous up-tempo piece of music to really set the stage for every new episode. It’s a wonderful piece of music that I just know is going to become a celebrated part of the franchise.
I’d happily recommend Strange New Worlds to any fan of Star Trek, and I’d challenge even the most ardent Discovery-hater to give it a fair shake. More than that, I feel that Strange New Worlds has huge potential to bring in new Star Trek fans alongside Lower Decks and Prodigy, as it’s a very accessible show. Perhaps folks who’ve tried Star Trek in the past and found it wasn’t to their taste won’t be swayed, but for anyone who’s been on the fence or curious about where to start, Strange New Worlds would make for a wonderful and engaging first contact.
For longstanding Trekkies like myself, Strange New Worlds feels like a return to a long-forgotten format, but not in a way that’s regressive. Strange New Worlds has taken the episodic, exploration-oriented format that was at the heart of the franchise in its golden age but updated it for 2022, keeping things like character growth and arcs while still finding ways to play in different genres and with different aliens and settings. It’s the best of both worlds, and while the series builds on what Discovery, Picard, and even Lower Decks and Prodigy have achieved, for me it surpasses all of them.
I’ll hold up my hands and admit to having found a few nitpicks across the first season, including a couple of character arcs that either felt under-developed or rushed, but generally speaking the quality was high and the episodes outstanding. It’s rare for me to be able to say this, but Strange New Worlds hit ten for ten in its first season – ten genuinely great episodes that I thoroughly enjoyed.
What I’ll do now is briefly summarise my spoiler-free thoughts on each of the episodes in turn.
Episode 1: Strange New Worlds
The season premiere was an episode that showcased Captain Pike. We got to see his internal struggle as he wrangled with the knowledge of his impending disability, and we got to see him at his best as he resumed command of the Enterprise. There are parallels to Picard Season 1, particularly the contrast between where Pike began the story in terms of his emotional and mental state and where he finished it; finding his place and restoring his confidence were absolutely crucial parts of the episode.
Strange New Worlds was a strong premiere and a great way to kick off the series. It took Star Trek back to its roots and showcased the exploration and missions of first contact that were key parts of the shows that we remember. There were moments of action and humour as we were introduced to most of the new crew for the first time, and what resulted was a solid foundation for the season to build upon.
Episode 2: Children of the Comet
Children of the Comet had an interesting premise and pitted the Enterprise against an adversary who was able to easily overpower the Federation flagship – and yes, Strange New Worlds has confirmed that the Enterprise is the flagship in this era! There were some truly outstanding visual effects both practical and animated, and we got to see a really beautiful episode that, as the title suggests, focused in large part on a comet.
Uhura was a big part of this story, and this new, younger version of the character has a lot of space to grow into the person we remember with fondness from The Original Series. Celia Rose Gooding stepped up and put in an outstanding and complex performance as we saw the young cadet navigate her first away mission to a very alien environment.
Episode 3: Ghosts of Illyria
I have to confess that I’d almost entirely forgotten about the Illyrians prior to watching Ghosts of Illyria. The alien race appeared once in Enterprise’s third season – so I really recommend checking out the episode Damage for context before watching this one! Nothing in Damage is essential, but having that extra bit of background was definitely useful.
This was a big episode for Una Chin-Riley – a.k.a. Number One – as well as for the relationship between Captain Pike and Spock. Ghosts of Illyria also told us something important about Dr M’Benga that would go on to define his arc across much of the rest of the season. There were some clever and innovative concepts here, and what resulted was a fun episode.
Episode 4: Memento Mori
Memento Mori raised my first real nitpick of the season! But despite that, it was a tense and thoroughly enjoyable ride that drew inspiration from battles in classic Star Trek stories like Balance of Terror and The Wrath of Khan – as well as the war films that served to inspire those episodes. Throughout Memento Mori there was a sense that everyone was in danger and that not all of our favourite characters would make it out alive.
We got to see Captain Pike at his absolute best in Memento Mori, showing off why he’s long been considered one of Starfleet’s finest commanders. It was also a great episode for Lieutenant Ortegas – the Enterprise’s navigator – and for La’an Noonien-Singh, who had to confront her own inner demons and traumatic memories.
Episode 5: Spock Amok
An episode about Spock confronting his conflicted inner nature and the way he feels about the human and Vulcan sides of his heritage doesn’t seem at first like it would be the foundation for a comedic story, but Spock Amok ended up being absolutely hilarious with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that could rival even Lower Decks for its unapologetic sense of fun. Spock Amok had emotion at its heart, though, with Spock’s struggle played for more than just a cheap laugh.
The episode’s B-plot featured Captain Pike attempting diplomacy with an unusual alien race who felt like they couldn’t possibly be from any other science-fiction franchise. In that sense, Spock Amok is a Star Trek episode through and through!
Episode 6: Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach
This episode’s title feels like it was lifted directly from The Original Series – as does the concept it brings to the fore. Captain Pike finds himself caught between his feelings for an alien woman he met in the past and his duty to the Federation. There’s a continuation of Dr M’Benga’s character arc from earlier in the season, one that flips the idea of the Prime Directive on its head in a way that reminded me very much of the Voyager Season 1 episode Prime Factors.
Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach pushed the limits of narrative complexity within a single episode, with a dramatic mystery involving the attempted kidnapping of a young boy who was destined to play a key role in the leadership and future of his planet. A worse episode could’ve made its central mystery feel convoluted or even rushed, but Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach balanced this complexity perfectly, despite having other storylines in play.
Episode 7: The Serene Squall
I didn’t think I was going to enjoy The Serene Squall based on its premise and the teases we got prior to its broadcast – but I was wrong! The crew face off against space pirates in what was both a tense and fun story that also found time to throw in an unexpected twist. Perhaps the resolution to the narrative was a tad rushed in its final act, but that would be my only real criticism.
There was an incredibly powerful moment with Spock early in the episode that reframed his internal human-Vulcan split, and without giving too much away, it was something I found absolutely fascinating – and more than a little relatable! I think Spock’s characterisation here was the highlight of the episode for me, and pairing him up with Nurse Chapel was a great creative choice.
Episode 8: The Elysian Kingdom
The Elysian Kingdom is two very different episodes rolled into one. On the one hand, there’s a funny, almost pantomime story in which the entire crew – sans Hemmer and Dr M’Benga – take on roles from a children’s story book. On the other, there’s an intensely emotional story with Dr M’Benga.
The Elysian Kingdom follows on from episodes like Mirror, Mirror or Bride of Chaotica insofar as it allows all of the main cast a chance to play around and step out from their usual roles. I have no doubt that it was an incredibly fun episode to work on – and that comes across in the performances from practically everyone involved. My only real gripe is that the final act and conclusion wrapped up very quickly.
Episode 9: All Those Who Wander
Of all the episodes in Season 1, the most important one to go into un-spoiled has to be All Those Who Wander. It’s an incredibly powerful episode with a thrilling horror theme, and there’s clear inspiration from the film Alien throughout. It’s also an episode that builds to a shocking emotional climax – and I won’t say any more about that lest I risk spoiling it!
Star Trek can do horror really well, as episodes like Empok Nor demonstrated years ago. For me, All Those Who Wander takes the horror angle right up to the edge of my personal comfort zone – but never beyond it. It’s not the most kid-friendly episode, that’s for sure, but it’s an incredibly tense and thrilling ride from start to finish with a wonderfully atmospheric setting.
Episode 10: A Quality of Mercy
Captain Pike receives a visit from, well, “The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.” That’s about the best way I can describe A Quality of Mercy! There are some outstanding visual moments that really show off the USS Enterprise, a callback to a classic episode of The Original Series, and a storyline that furthers Captain Pike’s season-long arc.
A Quality of Mercy sees Season 1 end on a high note – and with a little tease for something more to come. It’s an action-packed episode with some real emotional punches, and a love letter to fans of The Original Series in particular. All in all, an absolutely outstanding episode and a great way to close out one of the best seasons of Star Trek ever put to screen.
So that’s it!
Strange New Worlds is off to a roaring start, and I can’t wait for Season 2 already! Good news in that regard – the show’s second season recently finished filming and will be broadcast next year. Here’s to Season 3 – and beyond! Hopefully Paramount will have gotten its act together by then, ensuring that this amazing series is available to audiences all around the world.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is the show that fans had been asking for since Captain Pike and Spock appeared in Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery in 2019. Its mere existence would already be a massive win for Star Trek fans and proof that Paramount is willing to listen to feedback, but the fact that the show has been such an amazing experience across its first season and exceeded expectations that were already sky-high is absolutely fantastic!
Not only has Strange New Worlds Season 1 laid the groundwork for future stories with Captain Pike and co. aboard the Enterprise, but I feel it offers a template that future Star Trek projects should take a serious look at. The serialised season-long stories of Picard and Discovery have been interesting – and some have worked better than others – but Strange New Worlds’ more episodic approach has been absolutely wonderful, allowing for a more diverse array of stories that both revisited elements from Star Trek’s past while also introducing us to brand-new aliens, planets, and cultures.
I was bitterly upset that Paramount’s pathetic and indefensible “America First” attitude cut off Strange New Worlds from so many of the fans who campaigned to make it happen, and unfortunately I can’t deny that that has tainted the experience. But if we can look past the corporate nonsense, Strange New Worlds itself has been an absolutely phenomenal show, one that I hope will continue for at least four more seasons to fulfil Captain Pike’s promised “five-year mission.”
Whether you’re new to Star Trek or whether you’ve enjoyed past iterations of the franchise, it’s easy to recommend Strange New Worlds. I sincerely hope you’ll give it a try.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in countries and territories where the platform is available. Episodes are being broadcast weekly on Paramount+ in the UK. Further international availability has not been announced. The Star Trek franchise – including Strange New Worlds and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Paramount+ will officially arrive in just a couple of days’ time here in the UK, and there are a lot of questions over its viability as well as its short- and longer-term prospects. The fact that the UK is currently experiencing some of the worst economic issues of the past forty-plus years is going to have a massive impact, and that’s not Paramount’s fault nor is it something that the corporation could have done anything to avoid. But it’s far from the only issue that looks certain to affect the new streaming platform… and practically all of the other problems we’re going to talk about are Paramount’s fault.
In early 2021 I wrote an article here on the website titled The ad campaign for Paramount+ has been surprisingly strong. In that piece I took a look at some of the advertisements that had been created in the run-up to the US launch of Paramount+, some of which featured the likes of Anson Mount and Sir Patrick Stewart. Paramount (which was still known as ViacomCBS at that time) even spent an insane amount of money to advertise during the Super Bowl in 2021 – and Super Bowl adverts are the most sought-after and expensive in the United States.
I complimented Paramount at the time for not only the scale of the advertising campaign – which appeared to be pretty extensive over in the United States – but also for the content of some of the ads. The aforementioned Super Bowl commercial played the song Sweet Victory from SpongeBob SquarePants (as a Nickelodeon production, Paramount owns SpongeBob) and that was a masterstroke!
But with the launch of Paramount+ mere hours away, it’s hugely disappointing to have seen nothing of the sort here in the UK.
If Paramount+ is to stand a chance in a hugely competitive streaming market during the worst cost-of-living situation in decades, at the very least there should’ve been adverts for the service somewhere. Paramount+ is launching years behind its competitors, so if viewers are to be expected to take the plunge and part with our cash, Paramount needed to step up weeks ago and do something – anything – to sell it to us.
Star Trek’s use of social media is awful, I don’t think anyone would dispute that. And in a broader sense, Paramount hasn’t got to grips with social media in the same way as some of the other big entertainment companies. So it’s no surprise to me to have seen practically nothing from any of the official accounts – even the official Paramount+ UK Twitter account has only half-heartedly tweeted out a couple of messages “counting down” to the platform’s launch. There’s been radio silence elsewhere (though I have to credit some particularly dedicated Star Trek fans for doing the job of Paramount’s marketing team for them!)
This is purely anecdotal so take it with a grain of salt, but no one I’ve spoken to has seen any promotional material or advertising for Paramount+ either. I have several friends and neighbours who are subscribed to Sky TV – a well-known satellite television provider here in the UK – and they have likewise seen or heard nothing about the impending arrival of Paramount+. Why does that matter? Well, Sky TV and Paramount+ have teamed up to offer subscribers to certain package deals access to Paramount+ at no additional cost. I would have expected Sky TV subscribers to have seen something – an advert, a reminder… anything at all, really – with Paramount+ so close to its official launch.
Perhaps Paramount has already given up on the UK, at least for 2022. Knowing how bad the economic outlook is, and looking at how big streaming platforms like Netflix have been losing subscribers may have caused some in the Paramount boardroom to hit the panic button. As a result, a large-scale advertising campaign – something that costs a lot of money no matter how you do it – may have been taken off the table. Paramount may simply be content to get the biggest fans of its biggest franchises on day one, and save the advertising push for a future date when the cost-of-living crisis and inflation have settled down somewhat.
That’s my generous assessment. Now for the less-generous possibility: this is just the latest in a long line of decisions that show how Paramount doesn’t actually value non-American consumers nor the marketplace outside of the United States. The board may see the international launch of Paramount+ not as an exciting opportunity to bring in profit, but as a tiresome chore that must be completed in order to shore up their share of the domestic American market. In order to make Paramount+ look like a good investment, a safe long-term subscription, and a genuine competitor to the likes of Disney+ and Netflix (which, incidentally, it is not), they took the decision to roll out Paramount+ internationally. They did so not because they care one iota about viewership outside of the United States, nor even really to turn a huge profit, but simply to make Paramount+ look better to investors.
We’ve talked at length here on the website about the absolutely disgusting corporate attitude present at Paramount, an attitude that says “America First!” with Trumpian gusto. The Paramount board clearly and demonstrably does not care about non-American fans, viewers, or the marketplace in the wider world, and the state of Paramount+ when it lands in the UK this week is yet another testament to that. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which has broadcast seven episodes at time of writing, will arrive in the UK not with all seven episodes available, but with just three. The recently remastered 4K version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture – which was literally created exclusively for Paramount+ and has never been available or broadcast here in the UK – will likewise be unavailable when the streaming service arrives. The Halo series that I recently reviewed has already concluded its first season – but again, only three out of nine episodes will be available to UK subscribers this week.
Paramount has made a conscious choice to make its streaming service worse in the UK – with less content available – than it is in the United States. The corporation and its leadership continues to double-down on this selfish “America First” attitude, so in a way I shouldn’t be surprised that they can’t be bothered to launch even the most basic of advertising campaigns to promote Paramount+. That doesn’t make the situation any less disappointing, though… and this short-sightedness will have serious long-term consequences for the platform’s viability.
As things sit right now, I would wager that most folks in the UK are completely unaware of Paramount+. Some super-fans of franchises like Halo or Star Trek may have heard of it through the course of pursuing their fandom, but your average viewer knows nothing about an American-only streaming service. In order to simply raise awareness of the existence of Paramount+, some kind of advertising campaign was necessary. There needed to be television ads, cinema ads, radio ads, ads and promoted posts on social media, banners on websites, and perhaps some kind of “stunt” akin to SpongeBob at the Super Bowl to get people talking. Paramount has done none of that, and the result is now predictable: the service will land on the 22nd of June to absolutely dire subscriber numbers.
Obviously it costs money to advertise on television, in cinemas, online, and so on. But Paramount has had an ace in the hole that they could’ve taken advantage of: the advertisements and promotional material that they put together for the platform’s American launch. Those ads, as I noted when I took a look at them last year, were pretty good – and with a small amount of work they could’ve been repurposed for the UK market. Paramount would’ve still had to pay to air those ads, of course, but they wouldn’t have had the expense of creating them from scratch.
Here in the UK, Paramount has a significant media presence already. Their biggest property is free-to-air broadcaster Channel 5, but they own a number of other channels both on Freeview and cable/satellite such as 5Star, Nickelodeon, MTV, and the Horror Channel. At the very least you’d think there’d be a significant advertising presence on Paramount-owned channels in the days leading up to the launch of Paramount+. Doing so would be relatively inexpensive as Paramount wouldn’t have to pay itself to advertise on its own channels! But again, at least as far as I’ve seen, there’s been nothing – or next to nothing – to promote Paramount+ on any of these channels.
Paramount has recently announced plans to market Paramount+ “throughout the summer,” including setting up some in-person events in London, and that’s a positive noise from the corporation. But the time to get people excited for a new streaming platform is really in the days and weeks leading up to its launch – now is the time to have been pushing and seriously trying to sell people on Paramount+ as being the next “must-have” streaming service in their lives. Doing so slowly over the course of the summer isn’t bad… but it may be too late.
As a Star Trek fan (and a casual fan of other Paramount properties), I’m invested in the success of Paramount+. I want it to succeed and be profitable – including here in the UK – because that seems like the best way to guarantee the future of Star Trek and other franchises. I don’t want to see Paramount+ crash and burn – despite the insulting moves the corporation has made and its appalling attitude towards people like me – because that could very well mean the end of the Star Trek franchise. So I want to see a successful, profitable Paramount+ that brings in loads of subscribers. There are some great shows that either are or will be on Paramount+ that have genuine potential to blow up and become huge successes.
But the question is, does Paramount want that? Does the corporation see this international rollout as a glorious opportunity… or is it a torrid chore? Do they care about viewers outside of the United States… or is this merely an expensive exercise in branding? Does Paramount have a genuine ambition to compete against the likes of Netflix, Disney+, and UK television broadcasters… or has the board already resigned itself to lacklustre subscriber numbers for at least the rest of this year?
I wish I knew the answers, and I wish I understood why there’s been so little fanfare for Paramount+ with the service now only a couple of days away from its launch. But one thing is certain: Paramount has done everything in its power to make this launch as difficult and low-key as possible.
Paramount+ will be available in the UK from the 22nd of June 2022 as either a standalone subscription or as part of a Sky TV package. All franchises and properties discussed above – including Paramount+ – are the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Here on the website I often talk about potential Star Trek projects, storytelling and narrative choices, and some of the things that I’d like the franchise to do in upcoming series and films. This time I thought it could be interesting to do things a little differently – today we’re going to look at some technical and production-side changes that I think would benefit Star Trek going forward.
The renewed Star Trek franchise hasn’t been shy when it comes to trying new and different things since its return to the small screen in 2017, and while there are some ongoing issues – particularly relating to the way parent company Paramount is handling things – there are still a number of successes that deserve to be commended. This piece isn’t meant to detract from the accomplishments that Star Trek has made in recent years.
But there’s always room for improvement and new ideas! Sometimes that might mean pushing the boat out further and trying genuinely different things – a lesson that another sci-fi franchise could learn from Star Trek, in my opinion! Other times, returning to something that has previously been demonstrated to work well or be popular could be the way to go. There are different ways to approach such a big subject – and naturally, everyone is going to have different perspectives based on their own ideas and preferences.
I’m not an entertainment industry professional. The closest I came to that was working in the video games industry some years ago, and even then I was working in marketing rather than in a creative or technical capacity. So I’m categorically not an expert at how television shows are created and brought to screen! But I know what works for me, what I personally think looks and feels good, and I have some ideas for what I’d like to see from Star Trek in future. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
My usual caveats apply: I have no “insider information,” nor am I in a position to set policy at Paramount! So it’s quite likely that much of what we talk about today will never make it to screen. This is a wishlist from a long-time fan, and nothing more. It’s also entirely subjective – so if you hate all of my ideas or I don’t include things that seem like common sense to you, that’s okay! We all have different perspectives and points of view; these are mine, and I share them in the spirit of civil and polite discussion about the future of Star Trek.
With all of that out of the way, let’s take a look at ten technical and/or production-side changes that I’d like to see the Star Trek franchise make.
Number 1: 4K and HDR.
If you’re unfamiliar with these terms, “4K” is a screen resolution also known as “ultra-HD.” Whereas a standard HD video image might be 1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels high, 4K video footage is typically 3840 pixels wide by 2160 pixels high. The increased number of pixels means that image clarity is massively improved, and more detail can be shown with each frame.
“HDR” is an acronym that stands for “high dynamic range,” and in basic terms it makes bright colours brighter and darker colours darker, making for a more true-to-life image on screen. When viewed on an HDR-compatible television or screen, HDR footage looks significantly more real than non-HDR video.
Both 4K and HDR are increasingly common in home entertainment, and streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+ are offering an increasing amount of their new content in 4K with HDR support. So far, no new Star Trek shows have been created in 4K HDR, despite the technology being available, and Paramount+ doesn’t support it right now. This has got to change – and soon – in order for Paramount+ to offer a comparable service to its competitors, and the Star Trek franchise is a great place to start.
There have been a limited number of 4K re-releases, such as the Director’s Edition of The Motion Picture, but realistically it’s now time for Star Trek to transition to producing its newest content in 4K HDR.
Number 2: Go big for the sixtieth anniversary.
At time of writing it’s just over four years to go before the Star Trek franchise will celebrate its sixtieth anniversary. At the time of the fiftieth in 2016, Discovery hadn’t yet premiered and while there was a whole lot of celebrating, it wasn’t possible to do a lot on screen. Star Trek Beyond was the only project to release that year.
But the sixtieth should be different! There are currently five Star Trek projects in production, with at least two others supposedly being worked on behind the scenes. By the time we get to 2026 the franchise should still be going strong, and that raises the possibility of some truly spectacular events to mark the milestone.
The 30th anniversary of Star Trek in 1996 saw projects like Trials and Tribble-ations and Flashback from Deep Space Nine and Voyager respectively that paid homage to the franchise’s history. Bringing back classic characters, telling fun fan-servicey stories, and more could all be part of a big sixtieth anniversary celebration – but I’d like to see some kind of major crossover event!
Imagine how much fun it could be if a crossover special were created that featured characters from every iteration of Star Trek. Star Trek’s version of The Avengers, where characters from every show and film found themselves – somehow – in the same timeline and era, needing to battle some nefarious villain. It might be terrible, it might be criticised for being too heavy on the fan-service, but as a one-off project there’s nothing I’d like to see more!
Number 3: Make better use of indoor sound stages and the AR wall.
To be fair, I think the investment that Paramount has made in the AR wall is already beginning to see some results (though I can’t be the only one playing a game of “spot the AR wall,” can I?) But since Star Trek returned to the small screen, it hasn’t been smooth sailing in terms of getting diversity in filming locations.
I felt this most acutely during Season 1 of Star Trek: Picard, and if you’ve been a regular reader since 2020 you may recall that I commented on it in my reviews as the season wore on. In short, every planet that Picard and the crew visited was a barely-disguised southern California, and in a ten-episode season that took them to a new locale almost every week, that became painfully obvious to the point that it detracted from the story in places.
This has also been something I’ve started to notice with Discovery, too. Certain filming locations (like a disused quarry) crop up multiple times, supposedly representing entirely different planets, and there’s just no need for it. Some of the outdoor shoots that I’ve felt were problematic barely lasted five minutes, so for the sake of a short sequence or a handful of scenes, making use of an indoor sound stage is preferable.
Partly this is because we’ve been spoilt by the likes of Game of Thrones with its multi-national filming locations all across Europe! But partly, it must be said, it’s because Star Trek’s producers have lacked either the budget or the creativity to do something different. The AR wall will be a big help going forward, I have no doubt, but getting diversity in the franchise’s filming locations is a big request of mine. Once you start to notice these things, you can’t un-see them!
Number 4: Make better use of social media.
Star Trek’s social media has been atrocious over the past couple of years, and in 2022 there’s no excuse for that. Social media can be a massive asset to any franchise, particularly in the run-up to big releases. But the way Star Trek has handled it has been poor.
Star Trek’s official social media channels – and the rest of Paramount’s, too – need to coordinate better. If a trailer is broadcast for a new or upcoming project, it needs to be available on every platform within minutes. Official Star Trek and Paramount+ YouTube channels don’t do this for some incredibly stupid reason, and it can be hard to find a good-quality copy of the latest trailers sometimes – something that I notice because of trying to get screenshots and still frames to use here on the website.
Moreover, Star Trek needs to be more conversational and interactive. Social media isn’t just a billboard; an empty advertising space to display posters and teasers and talk about what’s coming up. It’s a place to interact with fans. That means that when fans have questions, someone needs to be there to provide answers. If fans make art or jokes or memes, someone needs to react and respond to those.
In 2022, social media can literally make or break a television series. Projects as diverse as Game of Thrones and Squid Game blew up thanks to social media, and Paramount has continually failed to recognise what an asset social media could be if they used it right. This is one example, in my opinion, of how Paramount’s leadership remains stuck in the past. 20th Century thinking won’t cut it anymore, and wasting money on things like billboards in Times Square or posters on the London Underground won’t bring in viewers. Social media is where it’s at – so a complete overhaul of the way it’s handled is a must.
Number 5: Ditch the cinematic “letterbox.”
I admit that this one is very much a matter of personal taste, but I find that the “cinematic” format used for modern Star Trek episodes is just a bit… gimmicky. Most television shows use a 16:9 or maybe a 16:10 aspect ratio; modern live-action Star Trek episodes have insisted on using a 2.4:1 aspect ratio that’s more commonly seen in films.
If you’re watching a film at the cinema, that’s basically become the industry standard. But most televisions – and even many fancy home theatre setups – still use 16:9 or 16:10 screens, meaning that Star Trek episodes have awkward and ugly black bars above and below the picture. I just feel that this is an unnecessary gimmick, and that I’d prefer to see episodes in a standard widescreen format.
To be fair, this isn’t an issue that’s exclusive to the Star Trek franchise, as it’s been seen in shows like The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi over in the Star Wars franchise as well, and seems to be increasingly in vogue for modern television series. But to me it still feels like a gimmick at best, and something that may end up making TV shows of this era feel dated in years to come.
Any time I watch a video with ugly black bars around it, it makes me feel like I’m not seeing the full picture; as if something has been cut off. This applies when watching older shows in 4:3 as well. So if everyone could stick to a standard widescreen format that would be great!
Number 6: A return to more episodic storytelling.
To be fair, this has already happened with the likes of Lower Decks and, of course, Strange New Worlds. But it would be great to see more of a focus on episodic, “monster-of-the-week” storytelling from Star Trek going forward. That was where the franchise began, and there are many benefits to this approach.
In the wake of projects like Lost and Game of Thrones we saw a lot of television shows try to take a more serialised approach – with varying results. Some series and franchises can pull it off more successfully than others, but the fundamental weakness in this approach – as Lost, Game of Thrones, and some recent seasons of Star Trek have shown – is that you have to absolutely nail the full story, and particularly have a well-written, thoroughly planned ending.
In short, the weakness in serialised storytelling is that one or two bad episodes, particularly if they come at the end, can sour an entire season or even an entire series. Look at how the two-part finale of Picard Season 1 put a downer on the whole season, or for a more extreme example how Game of Thrones’ eighth season effectively killed off the entire series.
Episodic storytelling is less risky in that regard! One bad episode doesn’t ruin an entire story, and that’s a big point in its favour. But moreover, the Star Trek galaxy is well-suited to these kinds of one-and-done stories. It allows for a lot more freedom and creativity, and would allow us as the audience to take a look and many more aliens, many more planets, and to get a much broader perspective. There’s a place for serialised storytelling within Star Trek – but not in every project.
Number 7: Properly address international distribution issues.
One of the main weights around the neck of the Star Trek franchise right now is the appalling international distribution situation. It really feels like Paramount doesn’t care in the slightest about any non-American fans – and in the globalised, connected marketplace we’re in in 2022, that’s not acceptable.
Star Trek is one of the big selling points for Paramount+… but if the streaming platform isn’t available and there are no concrete plans to make it available in the short-term, Paramount needs to do something else to ensure non-American fans can watch the latest episodes of Star Trek. As I’ve already pointed out, Paramount Global owns or co-owns a massive number of television channels all across the world, and they have the ability to do deals with the likes of Netflix, Google, Amazon, and others.