Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

Trek Tuesday – The Best Captain

It’s back!  Trek Tuesday has been a bit on hold for the past month or so.  With the holidays and other nuttiness the end of the year brings, I just didn’t have time to keep this feature on a schedule.  Now that things have finally simmered down, you can expect the triumphant return of our regular Star Trek Tuesday chat!

This week, I will endeavor to explore which of the Star Trek captains is the best.  Yes, I know what you are thinking, “Why are you even going there?”  Here me out, folks.  We all have our favorites.  In fact, I pretty much like all the captains the franchise has had over the years.  Instead of spouting about which actor I like best or some such, I am going to look at each captain and their qualities to see which one is the best at being a starship captain.

Hands down, it is Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation.   Again, I love the other ones too.  But, when you see how Picard handles the job in comparison to the rest, I think you’ll see that it would be best to serve under him.

kirkFirst we have James T. Kirk.  A cunning and clever commander.  Bold and took lots of risks.  Lots of risks.  He often gambled the lives of his crew in a variety of situations in order to get out of a jam.  He almost always put himself in harm’s way when he didn’t need to, and usually saved the day by the skin of his teeth.  And, usually, he didn’t seem to care that various crew members were horribly killed and would often times laugh about the episode’s events at the end when all is said and done.  Is this someone you would want to serve under?  On one hand, you get to have bragging rights and some incredible adventures.  On the other hand, don’t go down to a planet with him.

SiskoNext, we have Benjamin Sisko of Deep Space Nine.  He mostly has a laid back personality, unless you piss him off.  He’s affable and down to Earth.  Probably the most “average Joe” of all the Trek captains – except for that whole messiah thing he has going on.  Of course, he ends up various promotions and leads the charge during the Dominion War (after being the main guy welcoming people to the Alpha Quadrant).  Sounds like a remarkable guy who anyone would want to serve under, right?  Not really.  Here is the thing, Sisko really just lucked into everything that made him remarkable.  Right place/right guy.  He is given the DS9 assignment because it was going to be a shit job and Starfleet didn’t need anyone special to do it.  He just happened to find the Bajorian Wormhole which then set off a chain of events where Sisko just happened to be around for.  Some problems, I think, people would have serving under him includes, for example, him leaving his post for a variety of reasons at the drop of a hat.  From the death of a friend to go play baseball, anything is possible for him to leave during wartime.  Nice guy, but perhaps not the best to be under command of.

janewayKatheryn Janeway of the USS Voyager.  She’s loopy.  On the plus side, she was very motherly with her crew.  She cared about them and it showed.  But she is also incredibly reckless (making an alliance with the Borg – what could possibly go wrong?).  Maybe it was the situation being stranded in the Delta Quadrant that pushed her to her limits and increased her stress level making her make questionable decisions and causing her to be inconsistent with her actions.  Also what might make serving under her a struggle is that she comes from a science background, but tries to act like a combat commander.  Not that the two are not incompatible, but provide a possible reason on how Janeway commanded during the series.  Then again, perhaps this is more Starfleet’s fault for giving her that assignment in the first place.  With Janeway, you will know that she will care for you and always be willing to listen, but you’d likely be placed in a variety of unnecessary predicaments.

archerThen there is Jonathan Archer of the NX-01.  He had no idea what he was doing as a captain.  In fairness, how could he?  He was the first commander to go out into deep space.  There was no blueprint or rule book to go by.  Everyone under him was in the same boat.  And he did get by for a good portion of his command without losing anyone (and the first time he did, he was very distraught).  However, for being the first captain to go out and explore, he was awfully too proud.  He would not want to listen to anyone willing to give him advice, particularly the Vulcans.  True, the Vulcans were kind of jerks, but he almost refused to even consider what they had to say.  Archer was also a bit quick tempered and did a good job of pissing people off causing a lot of back peddling to save his skin.  A decent commander, but probably not the best for the mission at hand.  You need someone who is open arms and welcoming, but also knowing he isn’t going to take any shit.  Archer did get better as time went on, so that is something.

picardWhich brings me back to my point: Jean-Luc Picard was the best captain from an objective standpoint.  He was intelligent, cared about his crew (even if he was a bit standoffish at times), and considered his options before taking action.  He was always wanted to use his words to resolve a problem, but had no problems using force if need be.  He rarely put his crew in unnecessary danger and almost never put himself directly in harm’s way.  This is a captain you can get behind.  He had experience, and you can feel safe and comfortable behind him.  Not everything was perfect: apparently he had some sort of mid-life crisis and started to act like an action hero during that latter part of his career.  Maybe then it would be time to request a transfer.  But overall, Captain Picard gets an A+ as a starship captain!

So, what do you think?  Do you agree?  Is one of the other captains better than my choice?  Please remember, this isn’t a case of me promotion my favorite as “the best”.  And this post is largely in fun and somewhat tongue-in-cheek.  If you think Picard wasn’t the strongest commander, sound off below and tell me who you think it would be best to serve under!

And, for fun, here is a picture of all the Trek captains together!

Captains

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