Earlier I came across this review of the Star Trek The Next Generation episode The Drumhead. It was such a good review that I decided to look the episode up on Nexflix. It’s a classic episode, and the reviewer makes the very good point that the conclusions a viewer draws from it have never been more salient than today. In the episode, an explosion aboard the Enterprise leads to a high-level investigation headed by Admiral Norah Satie (played by the great Jean Simmons), a retired officer renowned for her skill at exposing conspiracies. Satie quickly determines that a visiting Klingon officer was attempting to smuggle diagrams off the ship, but the Klingon denies any involvement in the explosion. Satie refuses to give up on her investigation, even after the explosion is proven to be an accident, and she accuses Captain Picard of treason when he challenges her charges against an innocent crewman. Thus it is an excellent illustration of how easily things can go too far, and how the forces of fascism and bigotry don’t always come twirling their moustaches.
Such episodes are TNG at it’s best. Patrick Stewart was fantastic, especially when he gave this speech about the need for constant vigilance. While I was watching it, though, an idea occurred to me. Star Trek often teaches us valuable lessons through allegory: what if someone made a star trek episode – possibly official, possibly fanfic – in which one of the members of the Federation decides to break off from it? Perhaps the Vulcans or Andorians could have been persuaded by some extremist sect that the Federation had too much power over them, and they needed to take back control. The episode could then go into the consequences of their leaving, showing them turning inward, becoming more impoverished and isolated.
To my knowledge there hasn’t been a Star Trek episode of any series which explores this subject, and I have no idea how to go about getting it made. Part of me says I should just start typing, but I wanted to get the idea down on here first. Of course, if it ever came about at all, it would probably just be in the form of fanfic; but how awesome would it be if we could somehow get Patrick Stewart to reprise his role as Picard for it. Stewart is a determined Remainer, so I daresay he would be very game to participate in a project like this. Imagine it: Jean-Luc Picard once again on the bridge of the Enterprise, debating over the viewscreen with some isolationist fool the rights and wrongs of unity and cooperation. (Plus, if I actually wrote the episode, it would mean I could meet him again). It would be truly, truly awesome – if only I had a chance in hell of making it happen. Yet Star Trek instilled in me a value for tolerance, cooperation and the need to unite as one – values which the referendum two years ago directly insulted.