Ask Dayton #13 – About the Captains
Question: Dear Dayton: The G and T Show has discussed all the captains in Star Trek (including the great Edward Jellico!!!) at length. How would you rank each and what are their greatest strength and weakness? How would you rate each command team as well?
You know, this is a pretty awesome question. I could probably write an entire essay or magazine article on this topic.
Wait! I DID! Indeed, my co-writer Kevin and I wrote just such an article for Star Trek Magazine a few years back. However, because I’m a big believer in recycling (translation: I’m lazy), I figure I can crib a few notes from that earlier work, and present them here in abbreviated form.
So, let’s give the first part of the question another look: “How would you rank each captain?” I don’t think it’s as simple as that. Each Star Trek captain has strengths and weaknesses which come into play depending on the situation, so I don’t think it’s fair to just rank them from “best” to “worst” and leave it at that. Instead, we’ll focus on the second part of the question: “What are their greatest strengths and weaknesses?” For example, all of the captains are decisive, brave, just, and inspire unwavering loyalty in their crews, and there are countless examples of each of them displaying such qualities.
On the other hand, each of them also has been shown to act impulsively or aggressively, even though such actions or decisions don’t always work out for the best. Kirk threatened to destroy an entire civilization in “A Taste of Armageddon” as a means of getting the planet’s leaders to pull their heads out of their asses. He later decides to arm a primitive society with advanced weapons in order to balance the scales when he finds out the Klingons are doing the same thing for a rival faction in “A Private Little War.”
Archer narcs on the Vulcans in “The Andorian Incident,” when he reveals to the Andorians that the Vulcans have been spying on them. In fact, it seemed on more than one occasion that irking Vulcans was a hobby of the good captain’s. Oh, and there’s at least one crew of a freighter in the Delphic Expanse who’d like their damned warp coil back, thank you very much. See the episode “Damage” for details on that. Pretty dick move, dude.
Many fans dispute Janeway’s decision to destroy the alien array in “Caretaker” and strand her ship and crew in the Delta Quadrant, even though she actually was upholding Starfleet and Federation ideals. And hey, let’s not forget Sisko from “In the Pale Moonlight,” who decides the Dominion War would be a lot more fun if the Federation had some play mates, so he and Garak cook up a scheme to lure the Romulans to the party. As for Picard, if he comes off as stodgy and aloof now, you can chalk that up to the big Nausicaan knife he got through his heart years earlier, during a moment of ill-advised youthful bravado. I guess you could say the man learns from his mistakes, right?
The last part of the original question also doesn’t have a single, pat answer. Rating the command “teams” against each other wouldn’t really be fair, as each faced their own unique situations and crises. Unlike Kirk and Spock, Picard and Riker, and Archer and T’Pol, Sisko and Kira were for most of the time they worked together engaged in a multi-front war. Meanwhile, Janeway and Chakotay were forced to work together as a consequence of being stranded on the other side of the galaxy.
However, Archer and T’Pol’s relationship was tested under a sustained period of hostilities as they went Xindi-huntin’ during Enterprise’s third season. Despite that, I think of their rapport as being very similar to Kirk and Spock’s, as each showcased a passionate, driven human captain benefiting from the reasoned, analytical counsel of someone used to separating their emotions from the equation. It’d be interesting to see how their friendship strengthens over a much longer period of time, as we’ve already seen with Kirk and Spock, Picard and Riker, and so on.
I like the dynamic of Picard and Riker, in that Riker, who some fans believe is something of a “modern take” on Kirk’s character, is the younger, eager officer who in turn is mentored by the more experienced, seasoned Picard. Sisko and Kira share a similar connection, as Sisko helps Kira to hone her natural leadership abilities while at the same time refocusing those rougher aspects of her character which were a natural outgrowth and intrinsic aspect of her early life. Chakotay, also a proven leader, accepts his role as Voyager’s first officer with surprising ease, learning from Janeway even while—as Kira did to Sisko on occasion—challenging his captain’s rationale and decisions from time to time.
As I said earlier, these are great questions. Thanks for sending them in, and I do appreciate the intellectual exercise they foster, but can we please get back to talking about bacon and porn now?
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He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.
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