One of the most common complaints you see on social media is that fantasy and science fiction shows are being “too political.” It feels especially absurd when that criticism is thrown at Star Trek, which has been openly political and progressive since 1966. The show hasn’t let up over time, either, with each separate series having its own political inclinations and outlook.
In recognition of this legacy, CBS All Access have announced a Star Trek marathon, picking 15 episodes as the most culturally impactful in the franchise’s long history. The purpose of this marathon is to raise money for Black Lives Matter, with CBS pledging to donate a dollar for each use of the #StarTrekUnitedGives hashtag (which seems like something that could backfire if bots get on it, but heyo).
Here are the episodes they’ve chosen:
Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 3 Episode 10, “Plato’s Stepchildren”
Platonians use psychokinetic power to toy with the crew.
Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 1 Episode 25, “The Devil In The Dark”
An unknown monster threatens a critical mining operation.
Star Trek: The Original Series Season 3 Episode 15, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”
Two survivors of a devastated planet remain committed to destroying one another.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2 Episode 9, “The Measure Of A Man”
When Data (Brent Spiner) refuses to be disassembled for research purposes, Picard (Patrick Stewart) is enlisted to defend his rights in court.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 3 Episode 7, “The Enemy”
After Geordi (LeVar Burton) is stranded on a storm-ravaged planet, the crew’s attempts to rescue him are hindered by an aggressive Romulan warship.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 4 Episode 21, “The Drumhead”
A search for a spy aboard the Enterprise turns into a witch-hunt in which Picard is implicated as a traitor.
Star Trek: Voyager, Season 4 Episode 4, “Nemesis”
When Chakotay (Robert Beltran) is stranded on a planet that is in the middle of a major war, he violates the Prime Directive by helping the soldiers that discover him.
Star Trek: Voyager, Season 3 Episode 6, “Remember”
After Voyager encounters a telepathic species, B’Elanna (Roxann Dawson) starts having powerful dreams that depict the life of a woman and her lover in a time of great political and social upheaval.
Star Trek: Enterprise, Season 4 Episode 20, “Demons”
A xenophobic faction of humanity threatens to undermine talks to form a new coalition of planets.
Star Trek: Enterprise, Season 4 Episode 21, “Terra Prime”
A human isolationist leader threatens to destroy Starfleet Command unless all aliens leave Earth immediately.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season 6 Episode 13, “Far Beyond The Stars”
Sisko (Avery Brooks) has visions of himself and his crew as writers for a science fiction paper in 1950’s Earth.
Star Trek: Discovery, Season 2 Episode 6, “The Sounds of Thunder”
When a new signal appears over Saru’s (Doug Jones) home planet, Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), Saru, and the crew embark on a perilous mission that puts Saru in danger and raises questions about the Red Angel’s intentions. Hugh (Wilson Cruz) struggles to come to terms with his new reality.
Star Trek: Picard, Season 1 Episode 1, “Remembrance”
At the end of the 24th Century, and 14 years after his retirement from Starfleet, Jean-Luc Picard is living a quiet life on his vineyard, Chateau Picard. When he is sought out by a mysterious young woman, Dahj (Isa Briones), in need of his help, he soon realizes she may have personal connections to his own past.
Star Trek: Picard, Season 1 Episode 2, “Maps And Legends”
Picard begins investigating the mystery of Dahj as well as what her very existence means to the Federation. Without Starfleet’s support, Picard is left to lean on others for help, including Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) and an estranged former colleague, Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd). Meanwhile, hidden enemies are also interested in where Picard’s search for the truth about Dahj will lead.
Star Trek: Picard, Season 1 Episode 3, “The End Is The Beginning”
Completely unaware of her special nature, Soji continues her work and captures the attention of the Borg cube research project’s executive director. After rehashing past events with a reluctant Raffi, Picard seeks others willing to join his search for Bruce Maddox, including pilot and former Starfleet officer Cristóbal Rios (Santiago Cabrera).
It’s a decent selection. The first, “Plato’s Stepchildren,” is famous for pushing the boundaries on 1960’s US television by showing an interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura. The rest, meanwhile, are a fairly good cross-section of allegorical tales from across the long history of the series. My only criticism would be that showing the first three episodes of Picard is a bit much. Most people will have seen them relatively recently and while they’re fun to watch, it feels like that space could be occupied by more relevant episodes.
There’s also a surprisingly weak showing from Deep Space Nine, with just one episode included. DS9 is generally considered to have some of the best Trek stories and stars Avery Brooks as Captain Sisko. If you’re doing a run in support of Black Lives Matter, maybe showcase some more of one of the most prominent black characters in Star Trek rather than retread stuff we all saw a few months back?
The marathon will commence tonight, June 17th on CBS.com and will run for a week. In addition, these episodes will be free to watch on StarTrek.com, Pluto TV and will each be streamed for a single day on Twitch.