Growing up, I always kept Star Trek at arm’s length. I was more of a Star Wars kid, but I didn’t hate people for liking Trek more. I knew of Patrick Stewart’s calming voice and William Shatner’s absurd speech patterns, but I didn’t fully understand or respect Trek. I was intrigued with the J.J. Abrams Star Trek (2009) and thought it was a fun movie. I started dating a Trekkie shortly before Into Darkness came out, and it was one of our first dates. We are getting married in two days, so when she sat me down a month ago and demanded we watched The Next Generation I did what every would-be-husband does. I shut my mouth, said “Yes, dear” and watched the pilot episode. Now I’m Trekking at 30.
We are now halfway through Season 5 of The Next Generation, have watched the first four movies and we have no plans on stopping my journey from Jedi to Trekkie. I am a Star Trek person now.
So why did it take me 30 years to get here? I think it has something to do with the fact that Star Trek, unlike Star Wars, is incredibly dense from the get go. While Star Wars has depth, you can watch the movies one at a time and get the gist of it. The novels and games and TV shows are there if you want to explore the world more, but by and large they are all additional material.
Trek on the other hand builds and grows with each episode, allowing characters to grow and change beyond the scope of a two hour film. My favourite character changes from episode to episode, and each grows as an individual and as part of the crew. Trek is about great speeches and morals, not lightsabers and galactic level daddy issues.
Honestly though, I am glad that it took me 30 years to really get exposed and embrace Star Trek. I don’t think I was mature enough, or had the patience to fully appreciate it at a younger age. And I think it comes down to the presence of one man…
Jean-Luc Picard. He is everything I want to be, and it is so odd to find this kind of longing in a character that is stoic and reasonable, instead of flashy and winking at the camera. Sure I love Iron Man and Han Solo, but they are purposefully designed to be unrealistic. And it is cool to live in fantasy land. Captain Picard though? Nearly everything he does can be pulled from in day to day interactions with others.
Instead of jumping head first into a fight, Picard is thoughtful man, who thinks first before shooting. He doesn’t resort to violence, or act based on his own needs like Kirk, especially Kelvin-verse Kirk, does. He is thoughtful, kind and firm in his decisions. This is what makes him different from most other heroes I have lost myself in. Even compared to say, Chris Evans as literal boy scout Captain America, Picard is my gold standard for who I want to be.
Star Trek has also shown that it is important to have a wide array of friends. From Riker, to Pavel Chekov, to Spock and Guinan, the crew is just as important as the Captain. Both Kirk and Picard take the advice of their crew incredibly seriously, and don’t question each other’s expertise and knowledge. They all show respect for each other, and it is a breath of fresh air. In other franchises, character growth happens when characters bicker back in forth, but in Trek they grow through their experiences together.
Diving into Trek at 30 has inspired me and will shape who I will become in the later half of my life. And I couldn’t be more inspired to boldly go into that world…