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The Lessons of Star Trek: Insurrection

For the 25th anniversary of its theatrical release, let's revisit what Jean-Luc Picard and his crew taught us with their third big-screen adventure.

Stylized still from Star Trek Insurrection featuring Jean-Luc Picard, Worf, Data, Beverly Crusher, and Deanna Troi

Star Trek: Insurrection put Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the U.S.S. Enterprise-E at odds with a controversial Federation policy involving the forced relocation of the Ba’ku, testing the intrepid crew’s dedication to defending the core values that they had sworn to uphold…

Never Leave a Friend Behind

Worf approaches as Captain Picard is at the helm of an Enterprise shuttle in Star Trek: Insurrection

Star Trek: Insurrection

When Admiral Dougherty reported that Data had malfunctioned and requested the android’s schematics, he had no intention of allowing Captain Picard to become further involved in the situation. Of course, that didn’t stop Picard from immediately altering course and warping to the Ba’ku homeworld.

Upon learning that Dougherty was willing to terminate Data, Picard emphatically volunteered to try and capture the android intact. With Worf’s assistance, Picard safely brought Data as part of a daring retrieval mission that put all their lives in danger. Regardless of Dougherty’s disposition, Picard demonstrated that one should do everything possible to save a friend.

Challenge Your Preconceptions

Picard is welcomed by Anij and Sojef, the leaders of the Ba'ku community in Star Trek: Insurrection

Star Trek: Insurrection

According to Dougherty, the Ba’ku were a pre-warp society who held his science team hostage. Once Picard beamed down to the planet, he quickly realized that not only were the Ba’ku peaceful, but they proved to be a technologically-advanced species who simply shed their attachment to automation.

On a similar note, the admiral claimed Data’s systems failure was unprovoked, yet Picard and Geordi La Forge still chose to investigate further. The chief engineer discovered that the damage to Data was caused by a Son’a weapon, even though the Son’a claimed not to have fired until after the android malfunctioned. In both cases, Picard’s crew needed to temper their own expectations by gathering evidence and making direct observations.

The Line Must Be Drawn Here

Admiral Dougherty approaches Picard in the captain's ready room in Star Trek: Insurrection

Star Trek: Insurrection

Following the revelation that Admiral Dougherty and the Federation Council planned to transport the Ba’ku against their will, Picard delivered an impassioned rebuttal pointing out the tragic history of forced relocations of indigenous populations on Earth.

Although Dougherty wished to use the planet’s metaphasic radiation to heal millions, he stated that they were only moving 600 Ba’ku. Picard wisely questioned how many people’s rights needed to be violated for the action to be viewed as wrong?

Making Sacrifices

Geordi La Forge realizes a longtime dream of his and experiences a real sunrise with his own eyes upon being healed by the Ba'ku planet's metaphasic radiation in Star Trek: Insurrection

Star Trek: Insurrection

Picard resolved to put his career on the line to help the Ba’ku, even going so far as to take the rank pips off of his collar and change into civilian clothes. The Enterprise-E’s command crew soon joined him, also willing to risk all they had worked so hard to achieve in order to aid the Ba’ku and stand up for their ideals. Geordi La Forge offered a very personal take on the situation.

La Forge, whose eyes had been regenerated by the metaphasic radiation, questioned how he could enjoy watching another sunrise while knowing what that gain had imposed upon the Ba’ku. Aware of all an unsanctioned mission could cost them, the senior officers vowed to convince the Federation Council to alter its intentions and leave the Ba’ku alone.

Taking a Moment

Struggling to keep Anij alive, as she's crushed under the cavern rubble, Picard holds her hand asking her to stay in the moment with him in Star Trek: Insurrection

Star Trek: Insurrection

The Ba’ku’s preference to take delight in life’s simple pleasures manifested physically, as Anij showed a talent for slowing the progress of time. Picard marveled at this, not understanding how such a feat could be accomplished. When a cave-in trapped the duo behind a rock wall, Anij was left with a serious wound. The only way to keep her alive long enough for Dr. Crusher to arrive was to attempt to focus on the moment once again.

Working with Anij, Picard found the strength within himself to bring time to a crawl, giving rescuers the chance to save the Ba’ku woman. Although living in the moment is a powerful lesson, the encounter in the cave also underlined the importance of believing in yourself and your ability to attain extraordinary goals.

Reconciliation Remains Possible

Sojef, Anji, and Picard witness a regretful Gallatin embracing his mother in Star Trek: Insurrection

Star Trek: Insurrection

As it turns out, the Son’a were a group of Ba’ku who had been exiled from the planet for trying to take over the colony. Picard confronted Gallatin, one of the senior Son’a officers, and recruited him to prevent Ru’afo from massacring his own people. Gallatin participated in Picard’s bid to assert control over the Son’a flagship, a deed which turned the tide in the captain’s favor.

Gallatin’s change of heart, as well as the Federation Council’s decision to halt the relocation, showcased two of Starfleet’s most basic ideals — that diplomacy can win the day and one can always redeem oneself.

In this spirit, Anij arranged to start the healing process between the Son’a and Ba’ku by reuniting Gallatin with his mother, who quickly embraced her son without judging him for his mistakes.