This ran at the beginning of the month on Vox, and I only just got around to reading it after hearing David Loehr mention the article that episode of Counter Clockwise about Star Trek.
I think there are other avenues that can be explored, but like everyone else, I’m just itching to have Star Trek back on the air.
Today, news circulated that Idris Elba was in talks to appear in the next Star Trek movie. I will be doubly sad to see the 50th anniversary of Star Trek celebrated with another Khan knock-off villain plot. Another Earth-in-peril film. Perhaps it will be more, but the last two installments were literally about vengeful men trying to blow up San Francisco. Two of them! San Francisco’s not that bad.
Villains have their place, and can be used to great effect, but not recently. Here’s a recap of film antagonists, and a projection:
- V’Ger — A machine seeking perfection.
- Khan — Vengeful megalomaniac.
- Kruge — Selfish megalomaniac.
- Probe — Accidental destruction.
- Sybok, Klaa, God — Selfish megalomaniacs.
- Chang — Homicidal war hawk.
- Soran, Lursa and B’Etor — Obsession, and power, respectively.
- Borg, Borg Queen — Complete assimilation, and domination.
- Ru’Afo, Dougherty — Vengeful megalomaniac. Ends justify the means.
- Shinzon — Vengeful megalomaniac.
- Nero — Vengeful megalomaniac.
- Khan, Admiral Marcus — Vengeful megalomaniac. Homicidal war hawk.
- Someone? — Vengeful megalomanic?
If this was a TV series, anthology or not, there wouldn’t be so many vengeful nuts. Indeed, Star Trek’s history is full of episodes that have very abstract notions of villains. Many times villains are inserted as a mirror for us, and our society. Some episodes are about broken components, and natural disasters. Antagonists are not the only source of conflict.
One of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation is “Cause and Effect” where there’s plenty of tension, and not a single villain, or hint of malice.