4 stories we'd like to see in the expanded Star Trek universe

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Aug 3, 2018

Over the next five years, CBS is going all in on the Star Trek franchise. Alex Kurtzman, who was recently tapped to take over as showrunner for Star Trek: Discovery, signed a five-year, $25 million deal to bring more Star Trek stories to television.

Rumors have already started flying about which stories will be forthcoming. The most titillating of the potential resurrections might be the return of Jean-Luc Picard. Who wouldn’t watch Patrick Stewart reprise the Enterprise’s captain as he, well, does just about anything?

We love ourselves some Star Trek as much as the next FANGRRL, so here are the stories we’d most like to see hit the small screen.


Klingons Done Right

Straw men erected to serve as the evil, fascist enemies, and later reluctant allies, to the Federation’s freedom-loving utopia, Klingons have pretty much always been a vehicle for one flavor of racism or another. From being heavy-browed and dark-skinned to smacking of general orientalism, their portrayal has long been problematic. Most people know that Klingons love fighting, honor, and burying their emotions under a thick coat of rage, even if they know little else about them.

Kurtzman’s expansion offers an opportunity to do better by people of color. Star Trek: Discovery has already made strides in that regard, giving us a diverse ensemble including the fantastic black female lead, Michael Burnham. The show has drawn ire from some fans in part for its diverse depiction of crew members, but the importance of creating empowering depictions of people of color and queer people (and, hallelujah, people who are both) in the Star Trek universe cannot be overstated.

It’s time for the new wave of Star Trek wokeness to reach the Klingon narrative. Sure, Klingons are an established race of people who have a distinct culture. However, we have seen some complicating of the narrative of the “beastly” Klingon race thanks to B’Elanna Torres (Voyager) and Worf (The Next Generation). Each is at least in some way human, though, with Torres being half-human, half-Klingon and Worf having been raised by humans, and each struggles with the warring natures inside of them.

Wouldn’t it be incredible to see the universe of Star Trek through the eyes of the Klingons? Rather than choosing a bunch of marauding caricatures or half-human exceptions, that show could take us into completely unexamined lives. Viewers could explore the voyages of the crew of a Klingon resistance ship. (There’s always a resistance in the face of a fascist regime.) Or, maybe we’re provided with an intimate portrayal of Qo'noS, the Klingon homeworld, where we see young Klingon warriors attend their version of the Starfleet Academy. Or, in another hundred or so years into the future from the time of The Next Generation, the Klingons could be the universe’s premier scientists and innovators—and maybe they always were. Maybe what we currently know about Klingons is more a matter of propaganda than reality. Now, that would be a Star Trek worth watching. - S.E. Fleenor


The Lower Decks

One of the most unique concepts for a Star Trek episode ever was in the final season of The Next Generation, an episode called “The Lower Decks.” In it, we shifted the focus away from our bridge crew regulars and instead focused on some junior staff members of the Enterprise and followed all of them in their stories for a short while. As interesting as it was, it’s a brief glimpse and nothing more. We care about these characters in as much as a single episode arc can make us care, but then we leave them again. I want to see a show where we really get to know these types of characters. We’ve seen so many great shows that revolve around the command team and bridge crews of a respective setting. But is that the only story there is to tell within the universe?

I get the desire to show the command center as the core of the series. It has built-in stakes when the core protagonists are all making the decisions that impact the lives of the entire crew and often times the galaxy itself. But those are not the only kinds of stakes for storytelling. I would be fascinated with a show, even perhaps just a shorter-run, 10-ish episode series that shifted the bridge crew entirely into supporting roles and instead centered itself on the lives of low-level crew members.

The best part about an idea like this is that it could potentially run concurrently with another show, one that follows the traditional Trek format and even is set on the same ship. We could see the same events happening on both shows but get two totally different perspectives on them by showing what the other crew members are doing. Episodes could play out like the famous “Zeppo” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the Doctor-light episodes of Doctor Who, where the major events that normally happen in a Trek story still can and do occur, but they’d be the flavor and surrounding events to more personal stories happening to the officers serving on one of the hundreds of other decks of a Federation starship.

So many new Trek shows have come and gone and all of them have used their setting to make their mark, be it a fixed point in space or a point far away in space or time from what we know. But what if the revolutionary new way to tell a Star Trek story isn’t about where or when it’s set, but about whose story it is to begin with? - Riley Silverman

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Section 31

Section 31 is a shadow organization that was initially introduced as canon on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but has since gone on to earn a mention in other shows (like Enterprise and Discovery) and their tie-in novels, as well as 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness. It's always depicted as operating outside of Starfleet rules and regulations, and characters who are revealed as belonging to Section 31 frequently butt heads with those within Starfleet Intelligence. Put simply, this group usually does whatever it wants and by any means necessary, and that's why it would make a really compelling Star Trek spinoff series.

We've already seen how Starfleet conducts intergalactic interactions with other planets, other species, etc. Shows like The Next Generation heavily emphasized the code by which the Federation normally operates, and while there are occasions when high-ranking officers either choose to obey or ignore Starfleet regulations (looking at you, Ben Sisko), it would be a particularly bold storytelling move to create a show entirely around an intelligence agency that is permitted to bend the rules.

Given that Star Trek: Discovery most recently teased a potential link between the Mirror Universe version of Philippa Georgiou and Section 31 in a deleted scene that made the rounds after the release of Season 1, a show delving into the gritty origins of this mysterious shadow organization would be a great change of pace for this long-standing franchise. - Carly Lane


Captain Nyota Uhura

Since I started watching Star Trek as a kid, Uhura has been my favorite character. While she was seldom the star of any episodes, and her role as communications officer generally kept her out of the action, she was awesome and always down to perform a song for the crew in their hang out time with Spock backing her up on a Vulcan lyre. Everyone on the original crew was pretty great, but Uhura was the coolest.

Although she took the helm in the original series in times of crisis, and in The Wrath of Khan we learn that she has been promoted to the role of Commander, the only time Uhura ever took command of the Enterprise onscreen was in one episode of the animated series, “The Lorelei Signal,” in which the men of the Enterprise become entranced — and therefore useless — by a group of what turned out to be basically space sirens. While quality is subjective, Uhura leads the female officers of the ship against the sirens; then, once they've defeated the women, she becomes friends with them. This leads me to the conclusion that Uhura is clearly the greatest commander of all time. 

Uhura is one of the most underexplored characters in the main cast of any Star Trek series. While the character is rightfully given credit for breaking ground in sci-fi and television history overall, the era in which she was created drastically limited her potential as a leading character. While I am interested in new characters and concepts for the franchise, when I honestly ask myself what my heart truly desires from Star Trek, the answer is the same it's been since I was a kid: the adventures of an older, wiser Captain Uhura, and a new cast of characters in her crew, leading a non-Enterprise ship. - Sara Century