If Brannon Braga Wrote B5...
We read in the trades this month that Star Trek: Voyager has decided to dispense with exec producer Jeri Taylor's services and bump staff writer Brannon Braga up to the top spot. And we read on another page that Babylon 5 has finished its run at last and that creator/producer/writer J.Michael Straczynski is looking forward to the comparatively easy task of producing Crusade.
With all due respect to Mr. Braga, wouldn't it be interesting to see what JMS would do if Paramount said, "Joe, here's Voyager. Run with it." What WOULD he do? What COULD he do?
First of all, Voyager wouldn't be wandering aimlessly any more, although it might seem that way for a while. JMS would use the existing Star Trek continuity as free exposition, making it appear that the entire history of Star Trek, all the way back to James T. Kirk, had been planned to culminate in Voyager's epic saga.
Voyager is fleeing the Delta Quadrant, home of the Borg. But what if Voyager discovered the home world of the Borg, and saw an opportunity to defeat the Borg before they inevitably sack the Alpha Quadrant and everything in it. The catch, of course, is that Voyager will never get home, since their plan of attack involves using Voyager's computers to generate incredibly complex mathematical puzzles and nests of illogic, so when the Borg "assimilate" this mess, they'll be paralyzed long enough for Voyager to finish them off.
Chakotay argues that Voyager's chances of pulling this off are slim to none, but they've got to try. Janeway, ever fixated on the lives of her crew, calls it a dangerous gamble and refuses to go along. So Chakotay hijacks the ship, imprisoning Janeway and her faction and heading deep into Borg space.
Tuvok and Seven of Nine agree with Chakotay; any chance to stop the Borg, however slight, must be taken, because "the good of the many outweighs the good of the few", which is perfect Borg as well as Vulcan logic. Harry Kim and Tom Paris are on Janeway's side, albeit for different reasons, and B'Elanna is torn, but has to ultimately side with Chakotay. The Doctor's opinion is odd, and no one can be sure where he stands.
Voyager still has to survive long enough to reach the home world. They run into horrors beyond imagining on the way: Borgified Kazon, Borgified Hirogens, Borgified Species 8742's, even the horror of a Borg-implanted Ocampa, chained to her flesh, unable to "go beyond" as Kes did.
Janeway's loyal crew tries to retake the ship. But Neelix switches sides; anyone who would do what the Borg did to Kes, carving away all her uniqueness of wit and innocence into mere meat and bones, has to be destroyed. With Neelix betraying them, Janeway's faction is captured by Seven, who proposes they be surgically altered to make them harmless. Chakotay's not willing to go that far, but Tuvok proposes a mind-meld, in which he will implant the suggestion that Chakotay, not Janeway, is the ship's rightful captain. That would set up a neat episode in which Janeway slowly comes out of the delusion, all the while battling Borg and Borg-hybrids as Chakotay's loyal First Officer.
Voyager arrives, and the Borg effortlessly take control of Seven of Nine and make her take over the bridge. But Seven feared they might do that, and instructed Tuvok to implant a suggestion in her mind that if Tuvok ever said the word "Remember," she would revert to the little girl she was before the Borg came. The little girl's terror is able to overcome the Borg's commands, but now Seven can't operate the controls. Chakotay has been relying on Seven far too much; Janeway demands he turn command over to her, and he does, as the Voyager dives toward the Borg homeworld's surface for its final battle.
I'll bet JMS would also pull out a rabbit, well-foreshadowed earlier in the season, allowing our heroes to survive. Perhaps Tuvok and Seven are pulled into the Borg collective consciousness, though Tuvok's mind-link to Seven, who is the bridge between the Borg and humanity. Janeway (and only Janeway) can use her long friendship with Tuvok to go in after them, and together they help the Borg find their way out of the endless maze of mathematics laid for them by Chakotay. They transcend pure mathematics, you see, learning that there can be more to sentient experience than manipulating matter. Ironically, Tuvok and Seven, the coldest Voyagers of them all, help the Borg realize they, too, have a soul.
Voyager would go on, but minus their Vulcan and their Borg. Janeway has taken back her ship, cleared up any lingering doubts about her fitness to command, and turned the Borg from a menace to a potential neighbor. Chakotay has both stood up for what he believes, and found his limits.
Now they can REALLY get to work ... next season, Voyager tackles the Dominion from behind!
Anyway, that's what I'd do if I were JMS and I were King of Voyager. Which is why he's producing Crusade and I'm not...
My colleague Steve believes Voyager would be improved if Joe Straczynski took over and put Chakotay in command. Yep, JMS would find a way to put a man in charge. I didn't buy the Chakotay-hijacking-the-ship routine on the holodeck set during the first season, so I doubt it would be remotely plausible fifth season...but abrupt changes in characters in order to fit story arc demands are not unheard of for Straczynski. I'm sure that with him at the helm, though, we'd get a much better buildup to Voyager's return to the Alpha Quadrant...though in the end, it would be anticlimactic and over too fast.
What would be even scarier, however, is a Babylon 5 series penned by Brannon Braga. Imagine...
Sheridan still has a piece of Vorlon in him, which in the Braga Universe would cease to be dormant and take over his brain, mutating him into a power-hungry dictator with superhuman powers. He'd also become verbally abusive to Delenn, who would first snivel and beg to talk about her feelings, then create a holographic counselor (male, very handsome, all-knowing) which would advise her to get over Sheridan and take over the leadership of what's left of the Alliance.
This arc will be disrupted by an episode in which Londo and G'Kar return from Centauri Prime, find themselves faced with an entire space station of humanoids devolved into giant gnats, and determine that only a group game of Twister will cure them. Elsewhere, Captain Lochley will adopt a young genius telepath who knows everything and can avert all crises before they begin; the girl's ruthless methods will give the captain a few bad moments, but male viewers will write in enthusiastically about her costume, and that's all that will matter in the end.
The Rangers, who will appear sporadically as a deus ex machina to rescue the station when Lochley uses the self-destruct code, will acquire a new megalomaniacal leader who will challenge Sheridan, but ultimately the group will become enlightened after listening to a rousing speech by Zack (who's in line to take over when Lochley falls apart) espousing the value of refusing to interfere with developing cultures except when it's in everyone else's best interests to do so. Lennier will go home to Minbar to brood. When episodes about the main cast defending said enlightened philosophy - with side crises involving giant space slugs - fail to bring in high ratings, a new villain will be introduced: the Honkers, a race of women with enormous bustlines and powerful cybernetic implants capable of frying the brains of telepaths and turning ordinary humans into quivering lumps of jelly. Sheridan's fling with the head Honker will signal the end of his relationship with Delenn and the beginning of a long period in which he makes no intelligent decisions whatsoever, even for a power-mad part-Vorlon dictator.
At this point, the secret child of Marcus Cole and Susan Ivanova (who looks just like Marcus, and is played by Jason Carter) would have to show up. Announcing that he was the result of a despondent Ivanova having stolen Marcus's genetic material after his death and impregnating herself with it, then giving her offspring to a rebel Shadow faction hiding out among the Drazi, who bought illegal technology to develop him into an adult in a mere two years, he will ultimately prove to be a trained assassin being used to destroy Sheridan before his twenty years are up. Foiled by a hologram and genetically manipulated by Franklin using a [technobabble] particle which warps space-time, he would then travel back in time to become Marcus Cole, whom it turns out actually died saving Babylon 4 in an alternate universe. Thus Marcus would become his own father. At this point, Ivanova would return to consummate their incestuous love, but the unexpected and unexplained reappearance of Talia would lead to a reconciliation and more onscreen same-sex kissing than Deep Space Nine got away with in "Rejoined."
Since this brings us through spring sweeps month, there would then be a four-episode arc during which an artificial being of some sort - hologram, android, shapeshifter - would offer the only voice of reason in the chaotic struggle of humanoids over some silly ephemeral goal like an artifact that doesn't work the way it's supposed to. The resulting success, and the inexplicable defeat of a heretofore indefatigable villain, would allow a complete restructuring, with Garibaldi both taking over Lochley's position and becoming Sheridan's vice president. The season would end with the entire Honker race being possessed by aliens which make them get naked, while the delegates of the newly-reunified Alliance eat worms together, catch a sex disease, and declare peace during the embarrassing aftermath. In the closing cliffhanger, Sheridan will forget everything he did the past several years and lead the White Star Fleet against Earth, with a witty tag between G'Kar and Londo about the failings of humans.
And the next season, Ron Moore could come aboard and have the Klingons save the universe.
This column was originally written for AnotherUniverse.com.