Top 5 Favorite Factions in “Star Trek”

We continue “Star Trek Week” with my Top 5 Favorite Factions in “Star Trek.” In this case I’m taking factions beyond just government though government is listed and not just specific species either as some of these factions contain multiple species within them. I’m also counting factions that allied with others seperatley like The Cardassian Union and Breen Confederacy in regards to the Dominion as they were allies but still function as their own government and group within the Dominion.

First honorable mentions to The Federation, Cardassian Union, Tholian Assembly, Vidiians, and Hirogen all of whom are interesting and have compelling members within them but weren’t enough to make the list as far are my interest goes.

Also talking about these factions will contain SPOILERS related to said factions.

So without further ado here they are:

5) The Klingon Empire

I was torn between whether the Klingons and the Klingon Empire should be 4th or 5th on the list. Their honor driven culture and politics are fascinating but they also lack the dynamism and mystery of the others on the list. The Klingon Empire seems to always be at war as it is in battle honor is won and this has made peace treaties difficult or not long lasting as the Klingons went to war against the Federation for helping the Cardassian leaders escape during the Klingon-Cardassian War. This makes them complicated allies as the easiest path to honor in Klingon culture is war, which Gowron knew all to well and used to keep power as Chancellor through both “The Next Generation” and “Deep Space Nine.” This war does have a cost though and so far the series hasn’t shown us an alternate path beyond war for this warrior people. Worf as diplomat might help but it is no garauntee as his adopted father Chancellor Martok is very much defined by war as his rise came as a General and at the end of the Dominion War failed to see the tragedy in all the dead on Cardassia. I’m curious to see where their story goes next with Martok and Worf shaping their people moving forward and if a post-war Klingon Empire will be found.

4) The Borg Collective

I’m not a fan of the Borg Queen as the Borg were always most interesting as a Collective will assimilating and adapting because of the multiple minds as one not driven by a single ego. I do think she can still work though and she was shown to be good in “First Contact” and “Dark Frontier Parts 1 and 2.” The big question is where are the Borg now? Are they defeated or have they adapted and chosen a new Queen to lead after the failures of the ones in “Unimatrix Zero Part 1 and 2” and “Endgame” on “Voyager.” I think they can as the limits of beings and technology is vast as is the Borg power in the Delta Quadrant. They are constantly consuming, adapting and assimilating and it makes them a terror even with a flawed ego at the helm of the Collective. We see how much they’ve incorporated into them as they continue to assimilate across the universe and I’m intrigued to see what plan they will have next and what their next form in adaptation will be. They are one of the most alien factions and it makes them fascinating and I’m curious to see what stories come next.

3) The Breen Confederacy

The Breen are one of the factions who are filled with the most mystery while remaining active on the galactic stage. We don’t know why they wear their suits as Weyoun says their worlds are habitable and Confederacy implies an alliance among them in a way which is interesting as after they join the Dominion 2 different leaders are leading one after the other. Was the past one killed or defeated in some way? We see how ruthless they are with their dissipator technology and attack on San Francisco and in each appearance they are shown to be one of the more physically powerful of the aliens in “Star Trek.” I’m curious to see what we learn next. I love their ship designs and how independent they functioned within the Dominion, even going over Weyoun’s head to ask worlds of the Founders. They don’t care and everyone fears them. Can’t wait to see where their story goes.

2) The Dominion

The Dominion are interesting as they are founded by changelings who fear solids after how they were hunted who are spoken for by the Female Changeling. This lead them to shape the members who they could control making loyal soldiers in the Jem’Hadar addicted to Ketracel-white and the Vorta their kind face to put to the worlds they conquer and to govern over their domains with the most iconic being those of the Weyouns. Their military machine is unstoppable and their infiltration of governments weakens the Alpha Quadrant powers before the armies even arrive from the Gamma Quadrant. The stories around the Dominion and how they relate to the Alpha Quadrant powers eventually leads to the best story arc in “Star Trek” in the Dominion War arc. Now with the war over I’m hoping we get more stories as I’m curious how Odo rejoining the Founders may have changed their perspective or how they might have changed him. I can’t wait to see what stories come next from this fascinating faction.

1)The Romulan Star Empire

The Romulans have been the most interesting faction since their first appearance in “Balance of Terror” in “The Original Series.” This is a people who have clashes between the civilian government of the senate, the military and the Tal Shiar who also aren’t a unified force. All groups are united though in believing they fight for the Romulan people. This has lead to some great espionage plots over the course of the show and the Romulans being an offshoot of Vulcans adds even more depth as their passion contrasts with the dispassionate Vulcans. The Romulans are usually potrayed as powerful without being stupid. They are also cautious too which is one reason they’ve probably held onto their territory for so long. They never had the most iconic of individual villains but as a faction I’ve always loved seeing their stories play out and the power plays they make in different regions. I can’t wait to see more as well and where the Romulan story is taken fully after the Romulan Supernova and all we learned in “Picard.” I want more Romulan characters and more of their independent desires and plans as they are and continue to be my favorite faction in “Star Trek” as a whole.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Season 6, Episode 26 – “Tears of the Prophets” – Bittersweet Victories and Tackling Purpose

“Star Trek Week” continues with “Tears of the Prophets.” “Tears of the Prophets” is a great episode but not a favorite. This is a story with some great ideas and consequences but doesn’t fully explore what those exactly are. This is in Season 6 so the Dominion War is in full swing so we see what cost the war is having on our characters. Both the heroes and villains have moments to shine and the action is fantastic and an episode I recommend.

The episode was directed by Allan Kroeker and written by Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler.

The Federation has an opportunity to turn the tide in the Dominion War but the choice to do so may lead to unintended consequences in the War.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – The idea of a chance for a great victory for the Federation but at a cost both known and unknown is compelling. We are deep in the war and the episode doesn’t shy away from that.

The Action – The action in Chin’toka against the Dominion fleet and Cardassian orbital weapons platforms are great. We see so many ships destroyed and victory is won through intelligence and outsmarting the weapon platforms. The united fleet is shown to be needed too as Klingons, Romulans and Federation all lose ships in the battle to win.

The Defiant Crew – We got Garak onboard who expresses that not everyday one can liberate one’s own homeland. He also finds the vulnerability to the platforms as Nog is at the helm and O’Brien is the ones ro come up with the plan to trick the weapons platforms to destroy their own power source as Major Kira leads after Captain Sisko needs to leave the battle. The crew are all fantastic and Captain Sisko is great at leading the initial battle.

Weyoun and Damar – Combs’s Weyoun and Biggs’s Damar continue to be two of my favorite characters on the show and it was fun to see them in action this episode. We see Weyoun doubts about the Cardassians as allies (they were losing to the Klingons and had lost to the Federation in an earlier war so that should have always been there to some degree I’m guessing). I loved Damar doubting the Founders and continuing to try and show-up Weyoun who was consistently trying to find reasons to put him down. They really have a great dynamic and I love where their story ends up.

The Federation Alliance – We have Senator Letant and the Romulan Star Empire as the cautious party that is needed to win, General Martok who is reckless and Admiral Ross and Captain Sisko as the middle perspective of the need to win against the Dominion to stop their production of ships and soldiers. The Alliance politics are handled well and I like how Letant and Martok both get the chance to throw in some good barbs against each other as the Klingons and Romulans really do hate each other.

Gul Dukat – Alaimo continues to be amazing as Dukat as after “Waltz” he has become a Pah-Wraith cultist seeing them as his way to destroy Bajor and Captain Sisko. He clearly wielded influence still too as Weyoun and Damar both agreed to help him get the artifact and Damar still believes in him to some degree as you see Dukat as his mentor still meant something. He is very much a villain but it was the Pah-Wraith who wanted Jazdia dead not Dukat, which was an interesting touch and showed Dukat still was complex.

Jazdia Dax – This is Jazdia’s last episode and in this she has so much hope before here death as she learns her and Worf can have kids together. It is so sad that she dies and Terry Farrell owned this character so well. She captured her brains, caring, passion and drive so well and I like that Jazdia got moments with her friends through the episode before a Pah-Wraith possessed Dukat killed her. Dax does still live on though as Dr. Bashir does save the symbiont.

Captain Sisko – Avery Brooks plays a Captain conflicted so well as in this the Prophets warn him not to lead the mission to take Chin’toka. In the end he does after Admiral Ross forces him to choose though as we learn he’d been covering for Sisko being both Emissary and Starfleet Captain. Jazdia’s death breaks him though as he takes his baseball and leaves to his father’s restaurant on Earth as the Prophets have gone silent and he sees himself as the reason why.

The Cons:

Lovesick Quark and Dr. Bashir – I thought they were over this and good with being her friend. This is a writing cliche I hate and I didn’t like seeing Quark and Dr. Bashir being so immature. The hologram lounge singer Vic Fontaine was right to call them out for being clueless in the episode.

The Powerplay of the Pah-Wraiths – So Jazdia died and the Orbs stopped communicating with the Bajorans. I get this should feel bigger but it doesn’t given we just saw the Federation Alliance get deep into Cardassian and Dominion Space from the victory Captain Sisko was around for. For this reason they needed more of a win as they’ve done a lot less than the Prophets.

This is a great and flawed episode and one I highly recommend. This is the final of Season 6 and it has to accomplish a lot, most of what it does. It is really only the lovesickness plot and the Pah-Wraith consequence needing to be more that hold it back from being a favorite episode. “Deep Space Nine” is one of my favorite shows and the ideas and conflicts in this episode are a big reason why that is.

Final Score: 9 / 10 If Dr. Bashir and Quark had not been annoyingly lovesick and the Pah-Wraiths victory had done more this could have been a favorite episode. Still a great episode though.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 6, Episode 14 – “Face of the Enemy” – Romulan Politics and Troi’s Potential

Face of the Enemy

       Counselor Troi was really shafted throughout the entire run of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” When she was wrote it was largely romance plots or her stating the obvious on the bridge. She has extra-sensory empathy, but that is never really used in any interesting ways most of the time. This episode is an exception in regards to that. It is a good episode and a great Troi episode as we see her under pressure from being undercover and also how committed she is to her role as a Starfleet officer. This is an episode that gives us great exploration of the tension between the Tal Shiar and military and is well worth checking out for any fan of the Romulans on “Star Trek.”

The episode’s story was by René Echevarria with teleplay by Naren Shankar and directed by Gabrielle Beaumont.

The story follows Counselor Troi who has been surgically altered into Tal Shiar Agent Major Rakal. She must figure out the reasons why while facing a crew that distrusts her very presence on the ship.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Mystery and Trust – The main mystery of why Troi was turned into a Romulan by Commander N’Vek and The Enterprise-D as they work with a former Federation Ensign DeSeve who defected to the Romulan Star Empire, returning to help them find a ship going at the fastest speed. Both Picard and the crew don’t know whether they can trust the defector and Troi is in the same situation, even as she sees that the cargo they are transporting are government officials trying to get safely over to the Federation. It is powerfully done as both N’Vek and Ensign DeSeve slowly reveal more of the truth and have to give more and go against the distrusting nature instilled in them by the Empire. It is powerfully done and through it you get to see Troi come into her element as a leader.

Relationship Between Tal Shiar and Romulan Military – In this episode we get the military perspective (and from it the view of the Romulan populace) of the Tal Shiar. Everyone fears them. Commander Toreth mentions how every person on her crew has lost someone to the Tal Shiar, but in the end they still follow orders. The fear is so great that the most that can be done is verbal protest.

Commander Toreth – Commander Toreth’s father was a man who spoke up for freedom for Romulans and was killed by the Tal Shiar for it. This in many ways makes her sympathetic to N’Vek’s plot but her duty overrides all else and because of how Troi is being used, Troi can’t sympathize or help. She was a moral commander and anytime N’Vek or Troi did something she disagreed with, she’d document it and she was not afraid to confront the Tal Shiar with her disagreement over their actions, even as she continued serving the Empire. Carolyn Seymour was amazing in the role.

Counselor Troi – This is an episode where Troi gets to shine. She has to play the role of the enemy to both the Romulans on the ship and later towards her own crew in order to save innocents. The entire episode is a tightrope walk for her and Marina Sirtis does a fantastic job acting that walk. Troi’s arc in the episode involves her speaking up for herself and taking charge. First against Commander Toreth and later against N’Vek when his plans fail.

The Cons:

The Ending Actions of the Romulans – Commander Toreth’s original plan was to destroy The Enterprise-D after they learn how to track their cloak, but after getting command back from Troi she completly forgets her original aim and instead thinks that she’ll just bring Troi in for questioning. It isn’t handled well and feels rushed and sudden. The Romulans just leave and the Federation gets the escapees and no knows another way to track cloaks. Given how effective we see Commander Toreth is, this made no sense and felt like they just wanted to end the episode.

This is a good episode and one I’d recommend to any Romulan fan. You get to see how complicated relationships are between the Tal Shiar and military, Toreth is a wonderfully compelling character and the mystery plot is strong enough to keep one engaged. Marina Sirtis has to carry this episode and she succeeds in doing so. Her Troi is vulnerable but firm and adapts to the predicament she is in. I wish she had gotten more episodes like this.

Final Score: 8.6 / 10