star trek

There Are Four Lights! Chain Of Command

By Lindsay Thomas

There Are Four Lights: Free Will in the Context of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Hidden beneath the malevolence of the Borg Collective I always felt, what I can only describe to be, a disjointed sense of innocence. There was no fundamental free will, there was no morality or ethical reasoning; The Collective was merely doing what it was programmed to do – one might even say, it was simply succumbing to its intrinsic nature in the purist sense. The Borg was terrifying in its relentless pursuit – exhibiting no sympathy, no second thoughts, no potential for reasoning or negotiating, just cold industrialized space aged metal grating upon what was once warm, pulsing flesh. Up until the sixth season of TNG I had found the Borg, in its efficient approach to assimilating life, to be the most terrifying antagonist ever to appear on the show.


However, it was in the sixth season of TNG that I began to question the fragility of our own feeble psyches. “Chain of Command” was dark – potentially the darkest episode of the whole series. It was in this episode during which I questioned the idea of free will – this time at the hands of the Cardassians and not the dreaded Borg Collective. They generated a new layer of repulsion to what depriving someone of their free will actually meant.

Captain Picard’s experience with the Cardassians was vastly different than his experience as Locutus. I found something particularly chilling about the idea that not only could your free will be taken away from you, you could willingly allow it to slip away given the proper nurturing circumstances.

The Borg, unlike the Cardassians, were not concerned with military secrets or brainwashing, it simply fed parasitically on other races, extracting their very identities. It had less to do with free will and more to do with the actual function of the species itself. You could almost exchange the words, “Resistance is futile” with, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.”


Picard’s Cardassian tormentor, Gul Madred, was methodical and inexorable – he had a point and purpose to every painful and torturous procedure inflicted upon the Captain. It was a perverted game of sorts that was intended to rob the victim of the desire to preserve their sense of free will. It was never a question of Captain Picard’s integrity as a Starfleet Officer, nor was it a question of whatever information he did or did not have access to, nor was it a matter of one race systematically assimilating another. The question was – would Captain Picard acquiesce in his fight to maintain free will, sincerely believing that the reality right before his eyes differed from the subjective truth that was being dictated to him?

Lit up before the Captain were four lights. He counted them, he knew the truth, 2+2=4, a graceful nod to George Orwell’s 1984. The torture began and Gul Madred insisted there were five. Through starvation and manipulation and dehydration and humiliation, Gul Madred again questioned the Captain, insisting that the truth was other than what it was– that there were five lights. Finally, he resorted to promises of relief – of warmth and peace and solitude. Surely, surely the Captain must now see five lights?


The episode hauntingly climaxed with Captain Picard, appearing to be resolute in his stance against Gul Madred and his fondness for mind control, crying out, “There are four lights!” His words evoked such a response in me that every intonation is burned into my memory. Even more memorable, and also terrifying, was the Captain’s subsequent confession to Deanna Troi, that he did indeed see five lights and not four. Upon hearing Picard’s revelation, I suddenly felt vulnerable, naked and strung up as the Cardassians had previously kept him. The darkness of the episode dawned on me as I realized what exactly his concession meant.


Having watched TNG closely for the first six seasons, I found myself – for the first time – realizing just how susceptible our human Captain was to the violent seductions of other races. It was the first time that I felt any kind of despair in relation to the show, knowing that even the strongest of us can be broken. This translated into questions in my own mind – how much do I believe simply because it is the truth that is presented to me and how much of that truth is the factual reality? It was a cautionary tale, if you will, about asking questions and taking the time to think about my beliefs instead of simply relying on blind faith, cultural conditioning or other external factors to support these beliefs; a cautionary tale that reminds us of just how fragile and precarious life can truly be.



Hey, gang. Welcome back to Talking The Orville on Egotastic FunTime.

Today we’re gonna have a great time talking about one of the biggest questions I hear the most about The Orville… Does Star Trek exist in The Orville universe?

And the answer to that question is unequivocally, Yes. It does exist. Here's why...

STAR WARS EXISTS. In the episode, Command Performance, Alara reaches out to Dr. Finn for advice. Dr. Finn says, "I can't tell you what to do but I can be your Obi Wan". 

A universe where Star Wars exists and Star Trek doesn't is a bastard universe that nobody would ever want to live in.

I could only imagine a universe without Star Trek looking a lot like this...



STAR TREK & SEINFELD. In the episode Pria, the story begins with the crew of The Orville watching an episode of Seinfeld. So Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer exist in this world. Ok? Then I remembered an episode of Seinfeld when George and Jerry were discussing The Wrath Of Khan.

If Star Trek exists in Seinfeld and Seinfeld exists in The Orville then Star Trek also exists because reasons!

DOCTOR WHO'S TARDIS. In the episode New Dimensions, when the crew is trying to figure out a way to travel through 2 Dimensional space without being crushed, Captain Mercer mentions Doctor Who's Tardis. 



Since Doctor Who's revival in 2005, there have been many references to Star Trek in the show. Most notably, this scene when we're first introduced to The Silence. 

Also, there was an official Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover released in comic book form called Assimilation2 (Squared). This was approved by both The BBC and CBS. 


Another reason I know that Star Trek exists in The Orville universe is because of Kermit The Frog. Kermit sits right on Ed's desk and is beloved by the captain. 

If Kermit The Frog exists, that means The Muppets exist, which means that Miss Piggy exists and Miss Piggy was in Pigs In Space which is a direct parody of Star Trek The Original Series. Therefore Star Trek exists in The Orville Universe. 

And on that note...


Ok. That's it. That's all I wanted to talk about today and I talked about it. How about you? Can you think of more examples that prove Star Trek exists in The Orville Universe? You can let me know by joining the conversation below. 

I’ll see you soon and as always, I hope all your times are egotastic funtimes. Love you. Bye bye.

Shaka When The Walls Fell on Jeopardy?

Darmok  Tee available now on  Teespring...

Darmok Tee available now on Teespring...

Jeopardy! hasn’t been a stranger to covering Star Trek before, but a recent episode might take the prize for hiding, in plain sight, one of the coolest The Next Generation references ever seen on the show.

Viewers pointed out that the second round of Jeopardy included two categories that, by themselves, weren’t all that conspicuous. One was covering Shaka, the Zulu king and conquerer. The other was about war and conquest. However, when their powers combined, they took on a whole new meaning... one that seemed tailor-made for diehard Star Trek fans.



Wait for it...

Wait for it...



“Shaka, when the walls fell” is a reference to Star Trek: The Next Generation’s season 5 episode “Darmok.” The episode, a favorite of fans and critics alike, is about Captain Jean-Luc Picard learning to communicate with an alien race called the Children of Tama, who speak an allegorical language incompatible with Starfleet’s universal translator. The episode brilliantly tackles differences in language and thought, and the power of compassion and understanding. 

By the end of the episode, as shown below, Picard manages to tell the Children of Tama (in their form of language) that he and Tamarian captain Dathon successfully established communication— although Dathon ended up losing his life in the process. It was recorded in Tamarian history as the story of “Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel,” a testament to their hard work and cooperation.

It’s unclear whether this was an intentional addition on part of the show, or something a writer or producer snuck in for fellow Star Trek fans. We’ve reached out to Sony for clarification, and to give whoever made the reference a high five. Truly, all we can say is: “Temba. His arms open.”