Quiet as a mouse, a new episode landed in Star Trek Online last week. It snuck in when I wasn’t looking.
The episode was mathematically inevitable. According to Trek lore, the energy ribbon known as the Nexus manages to cruise its way around this region of the galaxy every 39 years or thereabouts. The last time it managed to blow up a planet-or it would have, if not for the efforts of Enterprise captains Jean Luc Picard and James T. Kirk. 39 years after that?
2410. Or, in other words, the time and setting of the back portion of the Star Trek Online storyline. A story concerning the Nexus was inevitable-especially in light of the 30th anniversary of the Star Trek: The Next Generation series.
For all of that, the newly released episode-Beyond the Nexus-isn’t exactly the most impressive episode written. It’s another episode that feels like filler, taking away from the still-developing Lukari/Tzenkethi storyline (although that story does get name-checked, which means this episode will likely be slotted in the Lukari arc when it ends its feature run). There’s nothing inherently wrong with fillers; but there didn’t really seem to be much effort put into the development of the story and mechanics of the episode. The art was nice, but for the most part, there was little “wow” factor to be found here.
In some ways, you can’t do much with the Nexus. How are you going to replicate paradise for your character? Everyone has a different conception of what their character’s idea of paradise would be. You could go into someone else’s version, of course-like Picard did with Kirk’s-but Picard still had to resist his first. So a trip into the Nexus proper probably was never in the cards. Then again, this episode turns the idea on its ear a bit: someone who saw the Nexus as a prison wants out. And let’s face it: an ideal prison is the kind the prisoner doesn’t want to escape. That’s food for thought as to the purpose of the Nexus, hm? (That’s just me rambling; no evidence that more than one person sees it that way in the game, but it’s an interesting thing to consider.)
The plot for this episode is pretty straightforward: ship researching the Nexus stopped communicating after encountering a ship that had previously been lost to the Nexus. Your ship is sent to investigate. Expect exchanges of fire between ships and their crews after being boarded. It’s not quite as monotonous as the old exploration missions of “find 5 of this, kill 5 of that”, but it’s definitely a step down in quality. I hope this is because the devs are putting their A-game on next year’s probable Dominion-themed expansion (which I don’t believe has technically been confirmed yet). Despite this, the resolution of the episode is very much in the spirit of ST:TNG (did I mention an anniversary? I think I must have), and could possibly lead to a follow-up at some point in the future. I can’t believe this will be the only time we get the Nexus referenced in 2410. And I will admit, too, that there’s a section in the episode that put a smile on my face that involves one of the most infamous purveyors of holodeck content in Star Trek lore; the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Oh, there is one more thing that makes the episode stand out a bit more than some; it features the second voiced appearance from a member of the Enterprise-D/E crew, Geordi La Forge. (The first, of course, was Worf, and we also had a silent, not-confirmed-but-heavily-implied appearance from Geordi’s closest friend.) There’s a strong implication that we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the ongoing story arc, and very likely beyond; I did mention an anniversary, didn’t I? We still are missing a number of the big names doing voice-overs, but I don’t believe it impossible at this point; after all, they managed to get most of the crew of Voyager in the game. Surely they can pull off a few more. I doubt they could get Picard in, but I could see Troi, Crusher (either one), and maybe even Riker to make appearances here.
We can hope, anyway. In the meantime, we still have a new Season that’s coming up in October, which will have another episode which is likely going to be more involved than this one, plus a new major fleet holding (something more on the scale of the fleet starbases than the other holdings), which should make life interesting on the final frontier. And as I recall, we can expect something in another week or two. Something to do with an anniversary….