So two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about how, if I could, I would reboot the Star Trek TV franchise with a show set at Starfleet Academy. This wouldn’t be a spin-off of J.J. Abrams’s movies. Instead, it would be a continuation of the other TV shows that had gone before, set
approximately 20 years approximately 14 years (thanks for the catch, Adam!) after the conclusion of Voyager. Obviously, the Star Trek universe will have gone through some significant changes. A lot can happen over two decades.
Before we get into what’s happened, I want to offer the following caveat: this little snapshot will not take into account anything that has happened in any novels, comics, or video games. For the sake of this hypothetical exercise, only the TV shows and movies will be considered canonical.
That being said, let me share what I think could have happened in the intervening years since we were last in the 24th century.
The Klingons have always been one of my favorites. I don’t know why, but they are. So I’m not going to mess with them too much. They’re still belligerent, a race of honor-bound warriors, and a staunch ally of the Federation in spite of the hiccups they experienced during the Dominion War.
Only some members of the Klingon Empire are getting a little restless. Since the end of the Dominion War, the Alpha and parts of the Beta quadrants have known relative peace. Sure, there have been some minor skirmishes between various races here and there, but there hasn’t been a great need for fighting. That’s the worst thing that can happen to a race that prides itself on its martial prowess.
This has led to some Klingons turning their backs on the warrior lifestyle, seeking more peaceful pursuits. Some, though, are hoping that their Empire can find new enemies to fight. Or, if that isn’t possible, maybe they’ll need to turn on some old enemies again…
One of the most intriguing developments of the Dominion War was the fact that the Romulans eventually set aside their distrust of the Federation and worked with them to defeat the Dominion. Granted, they needed a little help from a certain commanding officer/religious figure to get there, but that’s neither here nor there.
In the aftermath of the Dominion War, the Federation did their best to keep the Romulans on their side. After all, the Federation is all about peaceful coexistence and cooperation. They wouldn’t want to slip back to the Cold War-like tension.
The Romulans, on the other hand, have always been a bit isolationist in their tendencies. They’ve gone along with the continuing alliance, but on numerous occasions, they have tried to let the alliance with the Federation lapse. Each time, though, the Federation has convinced them to stick with it. Thanks to the working of Ambassador Spock behind the scenes, the Romulans have stuck with the Federation. But there are indications that the Romulans are growing tired of being allied with the Federation and may want to change their relationship in a significant way.
At one point, just the mention of the Cardassians was enough to strike fear in the hearts of people, especially after the Cardassians joined the Dominion. But that was before the Dominion and the Breen turned on the Cardassians at the end of the war. That was before their supposed allies savaged them and used them as cannon fodder against the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans.
Now, fourteen years after the war’s end, the Cardassians are the pariahs of the galaxy. They are blamed for the death and destruction of the Dominion War. After all, if the Cardies hadn’t invited the Dominion to come through Bajor’s wormhole, things might have gone differently. No one is willing to trade with the Cardassians, not even the Ferengi. Most people would much rather see them fade out of existence entirely.
It hasn’t helped that the Cardassians have experienced a great deal of political chaos in the intervening years. Gul Damar, who initially led the Cardassian resistance at the end of the war, tried to rebuild his people but hardliners within the military had him assassinated. Since then, would-be despots and tyrants have tried to rule the Cardassians, only to be killed and replaced by rivals. The resulting chaos has hurt the average Cardassian citizens severely.
While one would think that the Federation would step in and intervene, they don’t. That’s partially because of the Prime Directive. But it’s also because there are so many war widows, widowers, and orphans who still despise the Cardies and all they stand for. The only people who seem to be willing to help are, surprisingly, the Bajorans, who have been secretly shipping aid to their former oppressors at the direction of the current Bajoran Kai.
At the end of Deep Space Nine, Grand Nagus Zek retired and named Rom his successor. It was a bold choice. After all, Rom was married to a Bajoran woman who he treated as an equal. His son is a Starfleet officer, the first Ferengi to attend the Academy. And Rom himself never had a head for business. In my mind, Rom would have tried to be a reformer. He would have encouraged women to earn profits if they wanted to, and he would have encouraged altruism and fair trade.
Naturally, that means that he would be despised by most of the Ferengi.
I think there would have been a civil war between Rom’s “New Ferengi” and the “True Ferengi.” It wouldn’t have been fought by warriors (although I suspect Nausicaan mercenaries might have clashed with Klingon hired guns at some point or another), but it would have been a war fought by economic means. Now the Ferengi are split into two very different factions. Grand Nagus Rom’s New Ferengi are more than willing to work with the Federation. The True Ferengi, however, are still up to their old tricks and are trying actively to bring Rom down.
Since the end of the Dominion War, the Dominion have retreated to their part of the galaxy. No one has seen a Founder, a Vorta, or a Jem’Hadar soldier since then. People who cross through the Bajoran wormhole don’t report any contact with them. The few times the Federation has tried to open communications, they’ve been told to leave the Dominion alone “or else.” Still stinging from the memories of the war, the Federation has taken that warning seriously, although there are many within Starfleet who worry that the Dominion might possibly be mustering their strength for another fight.
I’m not entirely sure what to do with this one. In the finale of Voyager, it certainly seemed like future Admiral Janeway managed to finally destroy the Borg Queen once and for all. Granted, there have been lots of times where the Queen has seemingly died only to come back (just think of her conversation with Captain Picard in First Contact about her presence with him when he was Locutus). But her destruction at Janeway’s hand seemed awful final to me.
So as my hypothetical series opens, the fate of the Borg would be a giant question mark. No one has seen or heard any sort of hint of Borg activity or presence since Voyager returned to Earth. But it could be that the Borg are simply rebuilding, licking their wounds, and preparing for another confrontation. But even if they have been destroyed, that could pose all sorts of new challenges. After all, nature abhors a vacuum, and the destruction of the Borg would leave a gaping hole in the Delta Quadrant. Who knows what might fill the gap, especially if they have access to Borg technology?
In many ways, the Federation could be said to be experiencing a sort of golden age. They’ve faced down and defeated some of their greatest threats in the Dominion and the Borg. Old enemies like the Klingons and the Romulans are now their allies. In some ways, the Federation would be in the same position as the United States was in the mid- to late-’90s after the fall of the Soviet Union. No real enemies to speak of with themselves at the top of the world.
And we all know how that turned out for the U.S.
I think the same thing would be true for the Federation. While they wouldn’t be facing any obvious threats, there would be plenty of new threats bubbling under the surface: newly belligerent Klingons, aloof Romulans, desperate Cardassians, greedy Ferengi, resurgent Dominion or Borg forces. Or, more likely, the threats could be developing from within…
So there we go. That’s just a snapshot of how I think the Star Trek universe would shape up in this hypothetical new show. This is how I would build it if I were in charge. And hey, if some decision maker has seen this and is intrigued, call me!
Next week, I’ll start talking characters for the show. I’ve got a few in mind already. In the meantime, let me know what you think of my ideas. Did I miss anything? Would you take it in a different direction?
Star Trek Online takes the opposite route, making the post-Voyager galaxy unstable and politically volatile. They also used the Abramsverse plot point of the destruction of Romulus, which I think is a good point of continuity that helps bring the Romulans into focus. And we need more Romulans, because they’re the species that has consistently gotten less screen time than their coolness should deserve.
A stable Federation makes sense for your setting at Starfleet Academy. The unfolding plot could show students reacting to a galaxy that is suddenly becoming more chaotic (again) — facing the realization that they’re going to be called on to face difficult times after they graduate. This would be a very relatable premise for the audience — many of us were studying or preparing for careers in some capacity when the planes hit the Trade Center. (I was in fifth grade.)
Don’t forget the Bajorans! I’ve been wondering what their society would be like now that they’ve finally joined the Federation. (Or have they?) I imagine that Starfleet would have let them have all-Bajoran in acknowledgement of their ancient culture, just as there are some all-Vulcan crews. Perhaps the Bajoran Militia would have been placed under Starfleet command but might have remained mostly autonomous, with Bajoran Militia rank being equivalent to parallel Starfleet rank. This would not have been entirely without precedent in the Trek universe, because Starfleet itself was originally an Earth-based institution that served the original member planets of the Federation. Maybe there’s a conflict regarding whether Bajoran recruits should have to go to San Fransisco to study at the Academy.
That makes a lot of sense with Star Trek Online. You want your game world to be filled with danger.
But your comments have been very helpful in refining what some of the larger themes would be for this hypothetical show. But more on that in a few weeks. Starting Friday, we’re talking characters. 🙂