How does that iconic speech end, again? Oh yes...
It’s a brilliantly rousing statement, isn’t it? And what’s more, it's undeniably true. Star Trek was, and still is, a forward-thinking and groundbreaking behemoth of pop-culture. Not only have we followed and loved an array of charming and progressive characters, we’ve seen weird and wonderful aliens in stupendous stories which have both contemplated human morality and delivered plenty of awesome action.
We've seen so much of the fictional Milky Way in Star Trek, but fans still clamor for more. We yearn to see new characters, situations, places and eras, not to mention revisit old favorites. Star Trek Beyond is set for an imminent release, but now we have CBS’s upcoming series due out next year, and a fanbase this strong can't help but consider what we'd like to see as our beloved franchise returns to television and contemplates future films.
So hypothetically speaking, if we had a say in this future, who would we explore the quadrants with? What kind of stories would be told? Where would they take place?
Here are a few "frontiers" where, in the words of the show, Star Trek should seek out new life:
1. Section 31’s Part In Forming The Federation
The series Star Trek: Enterprise concluded with the formation of the United Federation of Planets, which is roughly a century before Kirk and Spock began exploring the galaxy in the original series. So, what happens in this intermediary time period? Wouldn't it be great for a series to bridge this gap, charting the fledgling Federation?
Gene Roddenberry’s original vision of Star Trek was one of a hopeful and futuristic utopia for humanity. However later series and movies, particularly Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, added shades of gray to the Federation. This is especially apparent with the inclusion of Section 31, the autonomous, shadowy intelligence and black ops division of Starfleet, who use any means necessary to protect and ensure the prosperity of the Federation.
The notion of following shadier Starfleet officers may alarm longtime fans; however, Trek has always thrived on moralistic predicaments such as non-interference and pacifism, and a show focused on the early Federation would have this in spades. The pitch is thus: Far away from the gleaming deck of a starship and the rigid rules that apply to the rest of the fleet, a Section 31 task force is given a ship and mission. A mission to eliminate or liaise with the galaxy’s criminals, forming alliances and brokering deals to further the fledgling Federation, without being exposed.
The most recent appearance of Section 31 was in the movie Into Darkness in the form of Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller), but these agents have never taken center stage. Now may just be the perfect time.
2. It’s The Sulu Show
In the original series and movies, Kirk and Spock are the obvious fan favorites. The focus on them (at least in the most recent movies) means we don’t get to know the other crew members in as much detail.
So why not give fans a way to be better acquainted with the great Hikaru Sulu by featuring him in his own series or film? If he was captain of the USS Excelsior (as he was in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country and in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Flashback”) it would be a fitting progression of Sulu’s character — he had expressed a liking for the captain's chair in Into Darkness after all. Many fans have already picked up on how he's perfectly positioned and long overdue for a series of his own.
Furthermore, John Cho could continue in the role if it was set in the new timeline. And with the recent news that his version of Sulu is gay, it means that there is scope for greater on-screen diversity by representing his evolving relationships with his partner and daughter. Though the CBS show's producers have indicated the show will feature new characters, an all-new crew on a lesser known ship provides plenty of newness to explore.
In this iteration of Star Trek, the future isn’t set, so these waters remain uncharted. There is a lot of potential for new and engaging stories....it’s all up for grabs!
3. Old Dogs With New Tricks
Star Trek is known for its variety of alien races — be they friend, foe or both — in its movies and television series. The Romulans, Vulcans, and Klingons are among the popular ones but have been showcased to a considerable degree. Star Trek Beyond will include an array of new characters and species, a positive sign. But as good as that may be, and as promising as it looks, producers appear to be ignoring the vast potential contained in Star Trek's back catalogue of episodes.
There are so many races in Star Trek's past which could engender fantastic story opportunities. For example, the Andorians and Tholians have rarely been examined. Andorians are recognizable by their blue skin, white hair and cranial antennae. Though they are an aggressive and honor-bound race, they are also founding members of the Federation; the way in which the intricacies of their culture contrasts with the peacefulness of the Federation could be an interesting subject to explore.
However, if it's an outright villainous race you're looking for, then look no further than the Tholians. Their non-humanoid forms would be a nice change from the normal hominoids of Trek. They also have substantial power and would also allegorically serve as a spotlight on current political developments, as they are highly suspicious and xenophobic.
TV and movie producers need not stop there. The later shows give us an array of alien nations to play with. The combative yet conniving Cardassians have long been fan favorites and have yet to be explored in the movies. Known for their grey skin and thick neck ridges, their complex society, ruthlessness and their fierce intelligence mark them as dangerous and thought-provoking adversaries for any film. They have already proven to be a fascinating race in Deep Space Nine.
Additionally, Species 8472 — a biologically advanced and very Alien-looking alien race that live in an extra dimension called fluidic space — would be a worthy inclusion as either threat or ally. Of all species, they alone can scare even the Borg.
And speaking of the Borg...
4. The Return Of The Borg
Though some fans believe that they were mishandled and overexposed in later Star Trek series — particularity in Voyager, with their purported overuse of the Borg Queen — the Borg are still one of Star Trek's most fearsome and compelling villains.
These cyborgs/zombies are a formidable threat to the Federation, and their ideology is analogous with communism, and provides an interesting commentary on modern technology use. It would be awesome to see how they are depicted in the New Timeline, with better CGI and prosthetics. Furthermore, if the Borg are involved, it would make sense for an established character to assist Kirk and his crew. I doubt many Trekkies would turn down the chance to see an older, post-Nemesis Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) return to aid them as a result of some time-travelling tomfoolery.
Indeed, the Next Generation captain deserves a better send off than Nemesis’s middling returns. Plus, it would be awesome to see an aged and wearied Picard meeting the (relatively) young Kirk in a Generations-esque encounter, in a collision of the old and new timelines, past and future, imprudence and wisdom.
If done right, there is a massive amount of dramatic potential to be mined from a Borg-Kirk-Picard trifecta.
5. “The Frontier Pushes Back”
Picture this setting: a militarized Federation, beleaguered and pessimistic after a long war. A far-flung planetary member coping with the brink of political collapse and civil war looming. An optimistic captain charged with protecting their space, yearning for adventure and exploration against the wishes of their crew and command, but aware that any small action could begin a cycle of disaster. Sound intriguing? Well, it was almost a reality in the form of an animated series, set far after the events of Nemesis in a war-ravaged galaxy.
A series that followed the above model would feature the positive spirit of the original stories but it would be, as Rick Berman outlines, like Deep Space Nine in the sense that:
"...[it's] an environment where Starfleet officers [are] in a location that they weren't happy about being in, and they [are] in a location where the people who [live] there weren't all that happy about them being there."
The format of longer story arcs and the inclusion of darker moral quandaries would reflect the current tastes in television, as well the texture of Deep Space Nine. However, while the series would revolve around the crew's posting near one planet or system, there would be a bit more variety and flexibility given that their base is on a starship, meaning that we fans would be getting, ahem, the best of both worlds.
Furthermore, it would be a really clever way to critique the fearful outlook of today's Western society and contrast it with Gene Roddenberry's vision of a peaceful future, keeping the show fresh and modern.
From these above choices, and the many more in the minds of fans, it's clear that there are many directions that Star Trek can go in. Building off its established elements — varied time frames, diverse casts, thought-provoking allegories and cool space battles — new iterations of the beloved series are endless. A responsible producer will consider the fans, and who knows, these popular fan ideas may just come to fruition.
The next few years are sure to be exciting times for Trekkies, with hours of fresh, new and electrifying entertainment heading our way to dive into. CBS and Paramount, make it so!