The Enemy - Part 4By Fred Shedian
Posted at September 20, 2000 - 10:01 PM GMT
After discussing each Star Trek incarnation's treatment of familiar and new villains, in the forth and final part of the series I wish to discuss several villains that have survived the test of time. Although some longer than others, it is indeed clear that several races have made it through new and old writers without losing their appeal of evil.
To begin, I would like to discuss a species most have heard of before...the Romulans. This race made only three appearances during the initial run of The Original Series, with their faces being viewed only twice. Between this and several appearances during The Next Generation, the Romulan Star Empire was quickly established to have been something almost out of Earth history. The Romans and Romulans share many things in common, making me believe that the connection is direct (minus the name). Both are proud people, featuring a society of culture and a people who would do whatever it took to win.
During their thirty-four year existence, these green blooded Vulcan ancestors have yet to give up all of their secrets. This mysterious culture was one covered in lies and silence throughout all time. Even with a two part episode taking place on Romulus itself, we never really learned "that much" about this race. They are a people with a "Ruler," who reports to an elected "Senate," that broke off from the Vulcan society during a great civil war, believe that they are the right choice for the galaxy, are technologically advanced....and with those simple lines, the entire history of what we know about the Romulan Star Empire can be summarized. We do not know how big their area of space is, what exploits they have in other parts of the galaxy or even if they believe in an afterlife. These qualities make this species an excellent example of a villain, one that is "mysterious" yet "familiar" at the same time.
The Romulans are not the only species to maintain it's integrity and "mystery" over the years. Although only seen once during The Original Series, the Tholian Holdfast are a race we know even less about. For most, it was believed they were simply a "one night" fling. Yet, many believed that this race was indeed powerful. Their single appearance had established them as perhaps TOS's version of TNG's Cardassians. Their reappearance after almost thirty years of silence on Deep Space Nine made these theories fact. It was established that the Tholian Holdfast indeed had a "section" of territory, including a "Tholian Neutral Zone" with the Federation. They had also even established a nonaggression treaty with the Dominion, showing that they had at least something of an empire. With a cloud of mystery surrounding them, I must estimate that this race may indeed be one of the last surviving members of the countless we've saw over thirty-four years ago.
Although they are not as old, many aliens during Deep Space Nine also survived the writer's exploits. To start, one that was close to ten year old quickly became villain...yet wasn't destroyed in the process. The Breen were a race mentioned several times in TNG and Season 5/6 of DS9. Before consideration could even be given to trying to establish this race as a presence near the Bajoran sector, they were a military friend with the Dominion. While making close to 15 appearances during the final season of Deep Space Nine, they were quickly established as a "modern" version of the Romulans. This was a powerful race, one not much was known about. They wore containment suits wherever they went, had a homeworld which was supposedly beautiful and an empire that no one even knew existed. Unlike many other races, they were developed...but not spoiled. The need to help make them a viable threat was completed without giving away information to the point of destroying the society's mystery.
And although the Breen are a good example of quality species development, the Dominion War also brought forth another race which survived with "mysterious" yet "familiar" recognition. The Founders are a species we know nothing more about now than we did after Season 4 of Deep Space Nine. They are a race with a "Great Link," a powerful concern for their own kind and an annoying superiority complex. Beyond these three traits, nothing else was ever really established about the race itself. Where they ever solid? How old are they? How are their young born? This mysterious quality, in part, helped to keep the trials and tribulations of Odo during the last three seasons so intense. This is a race that could still be a viable threat to the Federation if explorers ever show up in the Gamma Quadrant.
There are two other races I would like to make note of. First, Star Trek: Voyager has made several quality aliens but spoiled then by thirty minutes past the hour. One race that doesn't fall into this category is the "Ba'Neth." This race of "invisible" creatures was only featured once, but quickly established as a viable threat to....everyone. They were an ancient species, technologically advanced and who valued their privacy. The Ba'Neth are a race which could easily show up in the Alpha Quadrant and no one would know....or think twice about it. I find it interesting and sad that Voyager writers finally reach the stage where they can create aliens without destroying them in a single episode only when the series itself is about to come to an end.
Finally, I would like to touch upon the Son'a. This is a race we knew nothing about until Star Trek: Insurrection. Yet, in this movie, several key points were established. They were an old race, bent on revenge and getting young, who apparently failed to have enough medical experience to investigate plastic surgery. They were related to the Baku and appeared to have some sort of empire which controlled at least several conquered civilizations. Beyond this, nothing else was ever really established about this "alien threat," not even where their "empire was." Initially believed to be a friend of the Federation, this race quickly became a friend of the Dominion in Deep Space Nine. With a mention of Jem'Hadar being sent to assist/support Son'a soldiers guarding a Dominion facility, even most mystery was created about this race. It was pleasing to see that writers still have the capability to create an alien race without spoiling it, yet keep it a viable villain.
I wish to thank all of those individuals who wrote in with recommendations about species to discuss in this edition of the series. Part four will conclude "The Enemy," a selection of columns I sincerely hope you enjoyed. I do apologize, as I was not able to include all of the recommendations...although I am looking to create a new column series in the early part of next year that may indeed use your recommendations. Next time, I will turn my attention to Star Trek gaming in a two part series. I will be looking at several recent computer game releases and the release of a Star Trek title that may indeed be the best "Trek game ever created." In addition, please look forward to a new edition of the Take On Trek Mailbag.
As always, I do welcome your comments, questions, suggestions, complaints, bribes and winning lotto numbers. Please feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to include your name and full e-mail address so I know how to address you when responding to your letter. In addition, if you would like your letter not to be posted to a future edition of the mailbag, please be sure to note it.
Once again, I sincerely hope you enjoyed this A Take On Trek series "The Enemy."
Until next time...
Fred Shedian writes a weekly 'A Take On Trek' column for the Trek Nation.