Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
Disclaimer: This is not connected to James Daniel Walsh’s popular blog series in any way. Neither am I trying to cash in on the name in the hopes you clicked his instead of mine and it’s too late to do anything insert evil laughter here. I just can’t think of a better title.
When we look back on The Original Series of Star Trek we’re quick to associate it with the Cold War. And, you know, it really isn’t that hard. Starfleet is America, Klingons are Russia, Romulans are Asia and Tribbles are New Zealand (since we will crush you when you least expect it). So if the 60s series reflects the Cold War, how would it look today?
Now I feel this should be prefaced with such: Although I’ve seen every episode of The Original Series, I’ve only watched the best stuff from the other 4 shows (though for the record I think Deep Space 9 is the best out of all of the shows, but I’m a man that likes his soap operas if they’re done well enough). Plus whilst I know a passing knowledge of the 60s, I have next to no knowledge about the 80s to early 00s in relation to the world news. In fact my knowledge of those times is about as much as I know about the other series in general. So if this stuff already got covered blame me for being ignorant.
But if the Original Series was about the 60s, how would various world politics be symbolized today? Well to start of this series (which is set 95 years after Next Generation, so in other words around the 25th Century) there is a devastating attack on Earth. And I mean devastating. To the point where the Earth is almost uninhabitable. And yes, this is a parallel to the Twin Towers before anyone asks. It’s caused by an extremist within the United Federation of Planets that calls for interdependency. They have also partnered with aliens in another galaxy to help achieve this means. Thus the first season deals with Starfleet sending out the U.S.S Enterprise into this strange enemy space as reconnaissance. They are lead by a homosexual man, but it’s not like that changes much. Despite mocking the short skirts and â€œwomen are idiotsâ€ philosophy of the Original Series they were a big push in the equation of sex and race. They had a black man in charge, a woman and most shocking of all, a bald Frenchman (why on Earth would you let the French into space where they might escape and spread themselves?). Thus it makes sense that the only place they’ve yet to take the push for equality is when it comes to homosexuality (since the idea of a multi-raced and gendered cast was meant to portray the Utopian future). So we have a gay man in charge, a Romulan as First Officer (or some other race that was treated as the bad guy in the Next Generation universe), various other characters. Going to this strange new galaxy has its own problem which the crew must face and overcome before finally managing to meet up with the leaders of the strike on Earth: The Q Continuum, who fear that humanity was getting too big for its boots and could possibly threaten them. Hence why they aided the terrorists. Racing back to Starfleet with the news and impending danger (Q gives the Enterprise a boost back to the galaxy out of gratitude to what Picard did for him, whilst also delaying the attack by the Continuum for a year) when the crew discovers something horrible: Civil war has been launched amongst Starfleet. The United Federation of Planets is at war with itself.
So what does season 1 symbolize? Well it symbolizes the attack on home soil, the frantic effort to try to find those responsible, sending men out into the unknown in the hopes they’ll do good. In short the early day of the Iraq wars which, whilst outdated now, would still be a good reflection of the time. The idea of making Q al-Qaeda would be a neat twist and bring back the vengeful Gods as seen in the Original Series (of which there were many, and thus sit under my theory that they are the same beings as what is in the Q Continuum). Also by putting the Federation in the wrong by having the fighters for Independence point out the flaws with it would be a good way of showing why America’s belief that they should police the world is wrong. The Civil War split being an allegory for the lowering of public opinion the Iraq War generated. Anyway onto season 2.
Season 2 is very much about the Civil War in the Federation, but with a twist: We have two ships, one each side of the divide. You have the U.S.S Enterprise, fighting to keep the Federation together, and the U.S.S Excelsior, fighting for Independence. Two crews, with neither crew automatically being in the right or wrong. Now you’ve got a very interesting show. You can swap between crews between episodes as they tackle various real-world problems. Should they stay United, or should they supersede and become Interdependent? Again, you could milk this for all its worth if you do it correctly. While you could cast the Excelsior as the bad guys because they’re new, having them face the same dilemmas as the Enterprise crew would show that there is no right side. You can have episodes that are strong Independence, others that are strong United. You could even have the two crews interact with one another and, as the war gets worst, having to start to shoot on each other. The cliffhanger for this season can be the two ships lining up, ready to fight to the bitter end, both evenly matched. Suddenly the audience is forced to pick a side.
So the symbolization? Well tie it to the parallels that split the country every time an election comes around. Show how divided people can get. But take contemporary problems like the debt crisis or advancing foreign powers and spin a sci-fi twist onto it to make it more interesting. I’m not sure how, but you could. And ask the question about whether America’s recent policies have been as good as they thought it’d been. Anyway, onto Season 3.
The stand-off ends when the Q Continuum invades, their plan of destroying the Federation by making them turn against each working perfectly. They quickly work their way through the rest of Starfleet without much trouble, since there is nothing to stand in their way. Thus the Enterprise and the Excelsior have to work together to build up a resistance force to fight off the Q Continuum. Once again, it’ll be interesting to explore how both crews react. They now need to make allies to fight off a threat far bigger then them to handle for themselves. The Independents have to compromise on their beliefs in order to survive, whilst the Unification have to work with what were once their former enemies. However they managed to team up and end the cliffhanger having to fight up against the literal Dues Ex Machina.
Skipping the symbolizing part, lets move onto Season 4. The United Federation of Independents managed to successfully repel the Q Continuum, but only with the help of Q and a lot of luck. Now they need to destroy them forever. Fortunately the ability to do so is quite easy, it just requires them setting it off in the heart of the Q Continuum. So once again it’s the Enterprise and the Excelsior teaming up to travel into the Continuum itself to basically kill God. The ultimate example of Enlightenment over Romanticism. Do they succeed? Do they fail? Well, why don’t you decide.
So there you have it. A look at how to modernise Star Trek. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.