Star Trek A-to-Z


A is for Archer, Jonathan
(from Star Trek: Enterprise)
Jonathan Archer was the captain of the Enterprise, and was portrayed by Scott Bakula, who was sometimes accused of overacting (but that's a tradition that began with Shatner, so don't sweat it).  His father helped further develop the warp engine created by Zephram Cochrane, but Jonathan was the one to see the dream become reality.  He often struggled with Vulcans, but it was his diplomatic abilities despite his worst tendencies that helped form the foundation of the United Federation of Planets.

Essential Episodes:
  • "Broken Bow"
  • "A Night in Sickbay"
  • "Twilight"
  • "Home"
B is for Bashir, Julian
(from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
The good doctor of the space station located at the "edge of the final frontier" was the heart and soul of the development that took Deep Space Nine from its early rough edges to the grandiosity that it attained over seven seasons.  He grew up more literally than Sisko's kid, and never is that more apparent than in the metamorphosis of his relationships with Miles O'Brien and Garak, the "plain, simple" Cardassian tailor.  Portrayed by Alexander Siddig, who has gone off to a well-deserved career in the movies, Bashir is one of the great characters of Star Trek.

Essential Episodes:
  • "Explorers"
  • "Hippocratic Oath"
  • "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?"
  • "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"
 
C is for Chakotay
(from Star Trek: Voyager)
The definition of a stoic first officer, Chakotay left Starfleet to fight for his ideals, joining the rebels known as the Maquis until fate intervened and he once more found himself serving aboard a Starfleet vessel.  Portrayed by Robert Beltram, who exuded calm charisma, Chakotay was a major player in the early seasons of Voyager, but faded more into the background the less he was needed to provide the example a stranded crew on the other side of the universe needed to figure things out.  It's probably no surprise that he was also at the center of the worst developments still to unfold from their prior lives, when the traitorous Seska defected to the first enemies to come across our intrepid crew.

Essential Episodes:
  • "Maneuvers"
  • "Distant Origin"
  • "Unforgettable"
  • "Shattered"
 
D is for Dax
(from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Dax is a slug, a symbiont indigenous to the Trill homeworld, requiring a host body for interaction with the outside world.  Three hosts played a key role for Benjamin Sisko, the first being Curzon, who had remarkable dealings with Klingons and became the young Sisko's mentor, and was affectionately known as "Old Man."  Remarkably, Sisko got to work with the next host, too, Jadzia, once he took command of Deep Space Nine.  He called her "Old Man," too, but she wasn't.  Finally, circumstances also found Sisko working with Jadzia's successor, after Jadzia herself was murdered by the crazed Cardassian Dukat.  Ezri was a pixie who inadvertently provided closure for most of the people who knew Jadzia, and was the first host since Curzon able to pass on Klingon dishes.  A special ceremony actually allowed us to meet all of Dax's previous hosts.  Some of them were more impressive than others.  Odo probably found Curzon the most impressive.

Essential Episodes:
  • "Blood Oath"
  • "Facets"
  • "You Are Cordially Invited..."
  • "Afterimage"
 
E is for Evansville
(from Star Trek: Voyager)
From the episode "The 37's," Evansville is a descendant of the humans, including Amelia Earhart, kidnapped in the early 20th century, unwittingly giving birth to descendants who fought off the alien abductors and creating a society that would one day give a wicked temptation to the lost Starfleet crew trying to make it way back home.  Evansville just happens to have an awesome name.  It's the episode that I think is more notable, one of the more elaborate entries in the early seasons of Voyager.


F is for Future Guy
(from Star Trek: Enterprise)
The shadowy figure at the heart of the heart of the Temporal Cold War, Future Guy manipulated Silik and the Suliban in the same way the Sphere-Builders did the Xindi in the magnificent third season of Enterprise.  A recurring plot during the four seasons of the show, the TCW was another element that frustrated the fans who bothered to watch, and was blown off in the two-part opener of the final season.  Yet this was the biggest missed opportunity of the early cancellation, since it was the most ambitious and consistently rewarding element of the show, demonstrating that the prequel concept had room to look far beyond anything we'd seen before.  Who exactly Future Guy was remained a mystery, which now stands as a testament to the work and the puzzle the series can now be considered.  (And as I said, augments that third season's significance.)

Essential Episodes:
  • "Broken Bow"
  • "Shockwave, Parts 1 & 2"
  • "The Expanse"
  • "Storm Front, Parts 1 & 2"
 
G is for Garak
(from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Was he a spy, a former spy, a manipulator, an opportunist?  Or was he "plain, simple" Garak, a tailor operating a shop on the sprawling Promenade on Deep Space Nine?  Probably a mix of everything.  That was the strength of this character, a Cardassian who gave a good name to Cardassians, a multidimensional individual who may have done things he was not proud of in the past, who lived the life of an exile, but knew well enough when he met a new friend (Julian Bashir) who would encourage his better instincts.  There were plenty of bumps in the road ahead of him, but Garak proved to be one of the more fascinating characters of Deep Space Nine because you wanted to be sitting there right beside him at Quark's, enjoying a fine drink, good book, and some of the best conversation you'll ever experience.  As embodied by Andrew Robinson, Garak is a quintessential Star Trek character, an outsized personality not often represented on film, who can bring life to a scene simply for being there and enjoying being there.   Usually actors of this variety are confined to the stage.  When there's a Star Trek on, you can be sure to find them on the screen, too.

Essential Episodes:
  • "The Wire"
  • "Improbable Cause"
  • "In Purgatory's Shadow"
  • "In the Pale Moonlight"
 
H is for Hansen, Annika
(from Star Trek: Voyager)
Otherwise known as Seven of Nine, the Borg bombshell played by Jeri Ryan, so beloved that the actress became one of the few Star Trek alum to enjoy a thriving career on the scree after hanging up the (skin-tight) space suit.  Seven was a fascinating character, and much like Hancock was easy to make a lot of assumptions about, and you would've been wrong in just about every one of them.  Hr relationships with Janeway and The Doctor enriched both of them, but Seven herself, who was born a human and struggled to rediscover what that meant once her connection to the Collective was severed, didn't jump back into her humanity, nor did she retain every element of her former Drone personality.  Like Spock and Data and even Odo before her, Seven blended the two conflicting elements of her nature for a fascinating portrait of what it means to define the self in the face of contradiction, or otherwise, what it means to be human.

Essential Episodes
  • "The Gift"
  • "Drone"
  • "Dark Frontier, Parts 1 & 2"
  • "Someone to Watch Over Me"
 
I is for Ishka
(from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Otherwise known by her son Rom as Moogie, Ishka was the polar opposite of her other offspring, Quark.  Then again, they weren't as different as they might have thought.  Quark never really played by the rules, either.  He was as much of an outsider as his mother, who bucked all the rules of Ferengi society in pursuit of prophet.  In the end, Ishka got the last laugh, but really, Quark got exactly what he wanted, too.  Go back and watch Deep Space Nine and tell me differently.

Essential Episodes:
  • "Family Business"
  • "Ferengi Love Songs"
  • "The Magnificant Ferengi"
  • "Profit and Lace"
 
J is for Janeway, Kathryn
(from Star Trek: Voyager)
Sometimes it seems like general appreciation for the presence of Captain Janeway stops at the fact that she was the first female lead in a Star Trek.  Most of the rest from the fanboys is bitching and moaning about her command decisions, a thinly-veiled and often-disputed reaction against the right of a woman to sit in the boy's rightful place at the center of the bridge.  Janeway was often conflicted and frequently made controversial decisions, as best represented by the central premise of Voyager, stranding a Starfleet crew on the other side of the galaxy and choosing to incorporate rebels into essential ship functions.  Kate Mulgrew, who was admittedly a good match for Hollywood legend Katharine Hepburn, was a strong figure with enough heart to play Janeway with all the range she demanded.  Janeway became one of the most complex and rewarding captains on any Star Trek.

Essential Episodes:
  • "Caretaker"
  • "Night"
  • "11:59"
  • "Endgame"
 
K is for Kirk, James Tiberius
(From Star Trek)
The new J.J. Abrams movies are ensuring that Kirk becomes the cultural icon that Star Trek fans always believed him to be, taking him out from the shadow of William Shatner and allowing Chris Pine to define him in a more universal light as the adventuring, analytical, ladies man he was always meant to be.  Fearless in the face of danger and fully confident of his abilities, Kirk also became known, thanks to Shatner for believing in his own judgment sometimes to excess, ignoring the opinions of others sometimes to his own detriment, whether he realized it or not.  That was made clear as a trait in Pine's first go-around, and adds new dimensions to his relationship with Spock, who is arguably the more instantly iconic character from the original set of Star Trek characters.

Essential Episodes:
  • "The City on the Edge of Forever"
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Star Trek (2009)
 
L is for Locarno, Nicholas
(from Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Easily one of the more fascinating characters on Voyager was Tom Paris, who never quite had the ability to have the full arc of his story explored, given that his past was something he was trying to live down and his future would never really be resolved until the crew got home.  Played by Robert Duncan McNeill, Paris became an instant surrogate for anyone who remembered "The First Duty," which featured Nicholas Locarno, who was also played by McNeill and had a similar incident that was for most people the defining moment of an inglorious Starfleet career.  Paris wasn't Locarno, it should be stressed (though it'd be easier if there had ever been a definitive account of just how Paris ended up in that penal colony), but he was still one of the more intriguing characters in Star Trek, a rebel who played by his own rules and occasionally got burned because of it.  Locarno was just a self-serving jerk, who expected everyone to hide the truth of a mistake that ended in tragedy, and was disappointed when it didn't work.  Yeah, it would have been nice to see if anything ever came of him, but Paris quickly proved to be a more interesting variant, especially given his connection to Captain Janeway and the fact that his father was a Starfleet admiral.  Circumstances helped Paris stand out, his odd association with another character played by the same actor.  But don't make the mistake assuming that you know everything about him just because you saw "The First Duty."  Tom Paris is not Nicholas Locarno.

Essential Tom Paris Episodes:
  • "Ex Post Facto"
  • "Threshold"
  • "Thirty Days"
  • "Drive"
 
M is for Mayweather, Travis
(from Star Trek: Enterprise)
Mayweather is the only recurring character to ever be featured in every episode of their Star Trek series.  Everyone knew that Berman & Braga intended Enterprise to primarily feature the Big Three format of the original series, which meant that Archer, T'Pol & Tucker were always going to be the stars, with the rest of the cast filling in around them.  Mayweather had a specific purpose, as did every other character, a particular vantage point to fill out, and in the first two seasons, he had a few episodes that fleshed out where exactly he came from and what it meant for him to have joined the fledgling Starfleet.  The fans weren't too interested (I was), so that element of the series disappeared, and like Chakotay before him, bereft of what truly made him significant Mayweather faded ever more into the background.  Played by Anthony Montgomery, he was never one of the more flashy personalities, but in the third season, he helped represent the alternative to all those MACOs that drove Reed up the wall (he did the same thing in the Mirror Universe episodes in the final season).  Most of the supporting cast took a back seat in the last season, actually, so Mayweather was no exception there.  But it's high time that people stop ridiculing Enterprise for its treatment of a character that was built for exactly the purpose he fulfilled.  He still got more work than the ones he was patterned after (Sulu, Chekov, Uhura), after all.

Essential Episodes:
  • "Fortunate Son"
  • "Horizon"
  • "Harbinger"
  • "Demons"
 
N is for Nerys, Kira
(from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
In Bajoran culture, the first name goes last, so every time you heard "Major Kira," you were hearing her last name, not the other way around.  Only people she's close to know her as Nerys (that'd be, um, Vedek Bareil, before his death, and Odo).  Played by Nana Visitor because Michelle Forbes opted out of continuing in Star Trek as Ensign Ro, the first officer of station Deep Space Nine had as hard an edge to her as any character ever seen in the franchise, but that was just one of her many facets.  After appearing in the first season episode "Duet," Major Kira could no longer hide as one of the show's greatest assets, though many fans didn't enjoy the  Bajoran episodes, so the later Dominion War arc saw her transition into a much more pronounced relationship with Odo.  It didn't help that her earlier boyfriend was turned into a cyborg at the insistence of the vile Kai Winn, not that it helped him survive...Anyway, if you want to know about Deep Space Nine, you definitely need to know Major Kira.

Essential Episodes:
  • "Duet"
  • "Necessary Evil"
  • "Ties of Blood and Water"
  • "His Way"
 
O is for O'Brien, Miles
(from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine)
Debuting in the very first episode of Next Generation, O'Brien took a long time to get a name, but actor Colm Meaney was so beloved that he became a regular and acclaimed commodity in film (just not in any Star Trek films, strangely or not), and eventually a lead actor in Deep Space Nine, where Lets-Torture-O'Brien episodes became an artform, beginning with the unlikely bond that formed between the stalwart engineer and obnoxious doctor Julian Bashir.  Anyone who doesn't love O'Brien shouldn't be reading any of this, so I won't try to talk too much about him.

Essential Episodes:
  • "Data's Day" (TNG)
  • "The Wounded" (TNG)
  • "Hard Time" (DS9)
  • "Honor Among Thieves" (DS9)
 
P is for Picard, Jean-Luc
(from Star Trek: The Next Generation)
There would be no Star Trek today if not for the gentleman captain played by Patrick Stewart.  And funny enough, Star Trek would not need to have been reinvented by J.J. Abrams had it not been for the same character.  Simply put, Picard was a force of nature, the total opposite of James T. Kirk, and while his series launched to dubious acceptance from existing Star Trek fans, Picard became a phenomenon unto himself.  And his success was so great, Star Trek expanded and then contracted around him.  The only way to recover from this phoenix was rebirth.  And there is no Picard without Patrick Stewart, so long as he's still living (even Tom Hardy couldn't change this Prime Directive).  So the story went back to Kirk.

Essential Episodes:
  • "Family"
  • "The Inner Light"
  • "Tapestry"
  • Star Trek: First Contact

Q is for Q!
(from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager)
"What a Q?"  "It's a letter of the alphabet as far as I know."  The signature of John de Lancie's signature role is that you never see him coming.  All-seeing and all-obnoxious, Q was the god figure taken from the pattern established in the original series to the nth degree, an imp who felt entitled and surprisingly chummy with both Captains Picard and Janeway, neither of whom were amused for one second (also, Sisko hit him; Picard never hit him!), even though clearly he was a fan favorite from the start.  The best thing about Q was that he had considerable range, having managed to introduce the Borg, pose as the Sheriff of Nottingham, walk Picard through a near-death experience, and even have a philosophical debate on the merits of suicide.  The fact that he was never featured in a movie baffled some fans.

Essential Episodes:
  • "Deja Q" (TNG)
  • "All Good Things..." (TNG)
  • "Q-Less" (DS9)
  • "Death Wish" (VOY)
 
R is for Riker, William Thomas
(from Star Trek: The Next Generation)
The first officer who was repeatedly offered his own command but chose to stick with his family (even though he and Deanna Troi had some pretty bad commitment issues), Riker is one of the reasons Picard's crew and Next Generation ultimately proved such a worthy follow-up to the original series.  For one thing, he was in many ways a reincarnation of Kirk, and yet never came off as a carbon copy.  If anything, his studied cool in most situations helped set the tone of his series almost as much as his captain.  Jonathan Frakes went on to direct his castmates in two of their movies, including the excellent First Contact, and appeared in all three subsequent TV shows in one incarnation or another.  This guy, in fictional and real-life form, is arguably the MVP of the modern set.

Essential Episodes:
  • "11001001"
  • "A Matter of Honor"
  • "Second Chances"
  • "The Pegasus"
 
S is for Sisko, Benjamin Lafayette
(from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
What I love about Sisko so much is that he's the most nuanced of any Star Trek captain to date.  You may not see it at first, because he spends most of his time fairly reserved, because he didn't after all accept the Deep Space Nine assignment willingly.  In fact, you could say he really didn't want it.  So at best he can come off as bemused.  In the first episode, in flashbacks to his time as first officer of a ship lost in the famed Battle of Wolfe 359, Sisko comes off with more active confidence, and you can see what he could have been like in different circumstances.  And once he becomes comfortable, Sisko is the most warm individual to ever fill the captain's role.  You can see it anytime he interacts with his son Jake, or romancing Kassidy Yates.  He can also be ruthless and cunning, as when he duels with Dukat or Eddington.  He can be your best friend, as when he spends a few moments with "Old Man," Jadzia Dax.  And he can be exasperated, especially when confronting his father.  He's the very center of his corner of Star Trek, and Avery Brooks makes you wish the series had gotten more love.  His crew would have shined on the silver screen.  By the sixth season, it seemed like they were already there.

Essential Episodes:
  • "Emissary"
  • "The Visitor"
  • "Rapture"
  • "Far Beyond the Stars"
 
T is for T'Pol
(from Star Trek: Enterprise)
You might be mistaken to believe that T'Pol was just the next version of Seven of Nine, the token catsuit hottie.  Yet even moreso than Jeri Ryan, Jolene Blalock had an infinite amount of talent and was integral from the start in the success of her Star Trek series.  The first Vulcan since Spock to have real significance in the franchise, T'Pol was the rare adherent to the party line who came to understand the flaws in the system, and embraced new possibilities, even if the initial opportunities were forced on her.  She originally found almost everything about humans to be repulsive, but chose to embrace logic so thoroughly that she came to find value even in the most human crewmate available, Trip Tucker (the real star of Enterprise), discovering a balance in her emotions that she never thought possible.

Essential Episodes:
  • "Stigma"
  • "Home"
  • "The Forge"
  • "Terra Prime"
Essential Tucker Episodes:
  • "Shuttlepod One"
  • "First Flight"
  • "Similitude"
  • "These Are the Voyages..."
 
U is for Uxbridge, Kevin
(from Star Trek: The Next Generation)
(photo from durfee.net)
I rarely include images on my blog, but Kevin Uxbridge, from the episode "The Survivors," merits one thanks to a disproportionately awesome wardrobe.  Maybe it looks a little saggy now, but just imagine what he looked like in his prime.  Kevin is actually a Douwd, an omnipotent being who ended up falling in love with a mortal and decided to pursue a mortal life with her.  Only problem was she was murdered by aliens, and his response was to wipe out their whole species.  Picard runs into Kevin and a facsimile of his dead wife, and eventually figures out what's going on.  I was always impressed with the scope of this character, and so he gets to be one of the few relatively obscure characters referenced in this A-to-Z effort.

 

V is for Vorik
(from Star Trek: Voyager)
After being something of a taboo following Spock's unexpected breakout status as Kirk's rival in popularity, Vulcans started making a resurgence in the last two Star Trek TV shows, snaring regular series roles as well as recurring characters like Vorik, who could wig out in all the ways that would be unseemly for Tuvok.  Introduced in the third season of Voyager and portrayed by Alexander Enberg (who happens to be the son of Jeri Taylor, one of the chief architects of the third Star Trek era), he got to fulfill the promise of "Amok Time" and actually suffer all the worst effects of the famed pon farr (much to the chagrin of B'Elanna Torres) before fading back into the lower decks of the ship.

(That last line contains a deliberate joke; Enberg portrayed a different Vulcan in a Next Generation episode called "Lower Decks.")

Essential Episodes:
  • "Blood Fever"
 
W is for Weyoun
(from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
One of the signature roles for journeyman Jeffrey Combs, Weyoun was one of the main representatives of the Dominion, the evil coalition on the other side of the wormhole that sent the Federation into an extended war and produced the best drama on what some fans argue to be the best Star Trek series.  Weyoun was a Vorta, and was actually divided into several iterations, because he could be cloned, and so was seen as dispensable even by his own people if necessary.  The episode "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River" represents his best, most defining appearance.

Essential Episodes:
  • "To the Death"
  • "Ties of Blood and Water"
  • "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River"
  • "Strange Bedfellows"
 
X is for Xon
(from Star Trek: Phase II)
This was going to be Spock's replacement in the planned second TV series once Leonard Nimoy decided to walk away from the budding franchise, before plans reshaped into The Motion Picture, Nimoy came back, and David Gautreaux was saved for a future that never quite happened (he does make a cameo in the film, but as a human).  Xon was going to be a younger, full-blooded Vulcan, and so he was going to be, hopefully, completely different from Spock.  But as such, he doesn't really exist in Star Trek canon, so there's not a whole lot to say about him.  Maybe J.J. Abrams will resurrect the character?


Y is for Yar, Tasha
(from Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Stop me if you've heard this one.  Series regular begs to be released from what will in two years have been indisputably the biggest success of their career.  Isn't it ironic, doncha think?  It's true, Denise Crosby was miserable, after just a handful of episodes into the first season of Next Generation.  I don't mean to whitewash history, because the second Star Trek series was not a guaranteed success, and in fact took two seasons to really get a handle of itself, but not even in hindsight it seems rash for Crosby to have decided that she couldn't make it work as security officer Yar, no matter what her personal expectations were for the role.  Just as ironically, "Skin of Evil" is arguably the best episode to that point in the series, and that's the one that marks Yar's death in a random incident that gives Deanna Troi her first meaningful moment, and also elevates Worf to a position of significance.  Crosby did get the chance to make periodic visits, notably in "Yesterday's Enterprise" and the series finale, not to mention as Yar's Romulan daughter, but she basically threw away the role of a lifetime.  I personally wonder if she will ever admit to regretting it.

Essential Episodes:
  • "The Naked Now"
  • "Skin of Evil"
  • "Yesterday's Enterprise"
  • "Redemption, Part 2"
 
Z is for Zimmerman, Lewis
(from Star Trek: Voyager, Deep Space Nine)
Eccentric and egotistical creator of the Emergency Medical Hologram, Lewis Zimmerman was also played by Robert Picardo and managed to make a number of appearances, first as a delusion and then in the flesh, thanks to Voyager's increasing links to home (in one episode, "Life Line," The Doctor gets to actually save him), not to mention a fun little visit to Deep Space Nine, in one of the franchise's most welcome bits of continuity.  Perhaps one of the best-known bits of trivia was that "Zimmerman" was also going to be The Doctor's name until the producers scrapped the idea and instead made a running joke of the fact that he could never bring himself to choose one (until an alternate future timeline in the final episode, in which he anticlimactically goes with, simply, "Joe").

Essential Episodes:
  • "Projections"
  • "The Swarm"
  • "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?" (DS9)
  • "Life Line"
Essential EMH (The Doctor) Episodes:
  • "Heroes and Demons"
  • "Living Witness"
  • "Latent Image"
  • "Author, Author"

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