"You will now answer to the charge of being a grievously savage race."
In the very beginning of Star Trek: The Next Generation, all of humanity is put on trial before a cunning and fiendish god named Q. Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his crew are transported to the past and made to answer for the crimes of the late 21st century: a fiction that represents the sum of all modern fears. According to Star Trek lore, the century we live in now was something like Gattaca meets Fallout — a period of eugenics, nuclear cataclysm, genocide, and totalitarian militarism. In this first episode, Q exposed Star Trek's spine by forcing Picard to demonstrate moral and professional competence under the threat of extinction (and an allegorical dilemma). Picard, of course, passes Q's test by freeing a space jellyfish from slavery and demonstrating the evolved wisdom of a 24th century meatbag, teaching everyone the value of being Patrick Stewart under pressure.
Star Trek has always been a lens for examining politics
But Star Trek has been relevant to contemporary politics from the beginning. The original series ran during the Vietnam war and often found ways to comment on the US fight against communism; The Federation and Klingon Empire had their own Cold War, and Kirk and his comrades even found themselves fueling a proxy war in an episode that aired during the Tet offensive. And the series' Law and Order in space format has always given it the ability to explore a wide range of political quandaries. Hopefully the new series that's coming in 2017 carries on this proud tradition.
Unfortunately, Star Trek's frightening fictional past sometimes looks like the actual present day. With people like Ted Cruz suggesting we need to "carpet bomb" the world, and Donald Trump proposing prejudice as policy, it's enough to raise the eyebrows of our favorite fictional aliens. So we're going to put the early 21st century on trial, wearing the masks of major characters from the Star Trek universe.
Grab a glass of bloodwine and join us on Tuesday at 8:30PM ET to find out if the Klingons see honor in Cruz, or if the Ferengi think Trump has the lobes for business.
Disclaimer: Needless to say, this parody is unaffiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or the United Federation of Planets.