Star Trek Clones Attack With Life Lessons” width=”560″/>
They say you are your own worst enemy, and nowhere is such a truism (read, cliché) more visible than in the Star Trek universe, where characters run into their devious doppelgangers on a daily basis. Indeed, the crews of the Enterprise have faced many a clone or sinister self in their travels. Each encounter for them is a lesson — a glimpse into their soul that gleans important truths. Let’s look at some of the insights our stalwart starship-goers have learned.
Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart)
It’s no surprise the Next Generation Captain has been doubled and corrupted given his predilection for Shakespeare (Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night). The first incident occurred when Picard was transformed into Locutus of Borg, a spokesman for the evil cyborg race hell-bent on enslaving humanity. In this situation the honorable Captain realizes that evil resides in all of us, but ultimately it’s the choices we make that define us (his active resistance, the Borg Queen later admits in Star Trek: First Contact, was the lynchpin to their downfall). In Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard has to deal with his own potential for evil with Shinzon, his evil Romulan clone. Shinzon argues that with a violent upbringing Picard too would be capable of genocide — a frightening thought for a self-fancied explorer. But from his clone he learns just the opposite: Despite Shinzon’s misdeeds, he too has the capacity for good, as do we all.
Kirk (William Shatner)
Captain Kirk has also encountered his fair share of evil doubles, the most famous of which was induced by a transporter accident that split the gallant Captain into his good and evil sides. There’s not a person out there who doesn’t wish at one point to rid themselves of their darker half, but what the Good Kirk discovers as his evil half roams the ship in search of booze and broads is that he becomes weak and passive. Ultimately, the two Kirks learn that they need each other — that we all need both good and evil within us — to survive. That’s all well and good, but perhaps the most entertaining of Kirk’s alternate selves appeared when he was tricked into an alien brain-swapping device by his former lover. Now possessing his body, she proceeds to parade around the Enterprise and profess her love for another man. This of course teaches Kirk that — well, it’s not quite clear what it teaches Kirk. But we learn that Shatner is very convincing playing a woman trapped in a man’s body.
Data (Brent Spiner)
The Next Generation‘s android science officer constantly struggles with what it means to be human; whether he has a soul, or if he’s merely the sum of his programming. Along this path of self-discovery Data encounters Lore, an identical android “brother” who has embraced emotions and taken the path of evil. Through Lore Data finds that even androids are the result of their choices, not their programming. In Star Trek: Nemesis Data meets another brother, B-4. This less sophisticated android gives Data a glimpse of himself without ambition: Unemotional, Naïve, Robotic. Choice and ambition make Data more human than he ever thought possible — a realization that allows him to make the most human sacrifice at the end of the movie.
Spock (Leonard Nimoy)
Slightly sillier than the rest are Spock’s doubles: In the original Star Trek series, the crew encounters a “Mirror Universe” where instead of serving a Federation of Planets, Starfleet enforces an Empire. In Spock’s case that means that his double is evil, emotional, and most importanly sports a goatee. The lesson here is simple: Don’t trust Vulcans with beards. (Why do you think Star Trek V‘s Sybok was such a kook?) Meanwhile in the brief Star Trek: The Animated Series, Spock encountered Spock 2, the first in a race of gigantic Spock clones who lived on the planet Phylos as prospective Universal peacekeepers. But given that there was already a universal peacekeeping force (Starfleet), the clones were totally unnecessary, proving that just because you can animate a series doesn’t mean you should. And of course we could talk about the time Spock died in Star Trek II then came back to life as a younger version of himself in Star Trek III while his soul was trapped in Dr. McCoy. But then we’d have to get into the whole Pon’far thing, and this column is Rated G.