The new “Star Trek” series starring Sir Patrick Stewart isn’t being explicitly billed as “woke,” but it seems the series’ star, who will reprise his role as the legendary Enterprise captain, Jean-Luc Picard, believes “Star Trek: Picard” will have a message for anti-immigrant leaders and global isolationists.
The series will have a “more pessimistic take” on Starfleet, the quasi-military arm that handles discovery, research, and, generally, law enforcement duties for the United Federation of Planets, according to Newsweek. Stewart described the fictional organization, now years past the events of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and the subsequent Star Trek films, as hopelessly corrupt and cruelly “isolationist” in the face of a galactic refugee crisis.
“Picard, which will debut January 23 on CBS All Access, portrays a corrupted federation, which has turned isolationist in response to a Romulan refugee crisis, caused by the destruction of their home world by a supernova in the year 2387. That same event spawned the parallel timeline setting for 2009’s “Star Trek” reboot movie and its two sequels,” the outlet reported late last week.
Stewart’s Picard, whom Stewart refers to as a paragon of virtue (a description that fits the character as he’s long been portrayed) will stand up “for the federation, for what it should still represent,” as the character says in a clip from the show: “Everything he does is filled with innate integrity. He fights for the things he believes in. And he’s very willing to collaborate once you’re on the same wavelength.”
But Stewart will play the role, he says, as a way of injecting some of his own virtue into a world torn by Brexit and by President Donald Trump, he tells Variety Magazine in an extensive profile.
“Picard,” he notes, is “me responding to the world of Brexit and Trump and feeling, ‘Why hasn’t the federation changed? Why hasn’t Starfleet changed? Maybe they’re not as reliable and trustworthy as we all thought.”
Stewart goes on to describe both the United Kingdom and the United States as “f***ed.”
But even if “Picard” depicts a United Federation of Planets beseiged by a refugee crisis, there’s little to compare what’s happening to the worlds of “Star Trek” to the world of today. For starters, the Federation has unlimited resources, both real and manufactured, to provide a struggling group of aliens (even if the “Prime Directive,” which prohibits Starfleet from taking an active role in a species’ development might present some ethical issues with a major recovery effort). The United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe as a whole do not.
And that’s if you don’t consider precisely what the Romulans are — a long-term villian in the Star Trek universe, whose efforts at fomenting unrest and even civil war are well documented.
But how the “refugee crisis” in “Star Trek” is treated remains to be seen. A series true to Gene Roddenberry’s vision would take the history of the show and its characters into account, but it also wouldn’t shy away from having a political point of view — perhaps even one that differs from Stewart’s own.