Hello and welcome to Truth OR Myth, a Star Trek web series that looks at the Truth, or canon, information to dispel any myths that have surfaced on any given topic. In today’s episode, we’re taking a look at the character of Icheb and the events and reaction to those events after Voyager returned to Earth from it travels through the Delta Quadrant.
With Star Trek: Picard, Episode 5, ‘Stardust City Rag‘, we get some unexpected news about the future of the Character Icheb from Star Trek: Voyager. And in today’s episode, we’ll take a deep dive into the implications of that news…
Just a warning, this episode DOES contain spoilers from Star Trek: Picard, so if you haven’t seen it yet then now’s the time to look away, plug your ears and hum your favourite Star Trek Theme song. And so with all that out of the way, let’s begin.
Originally I had intended to make this a Trek Facts episode, giving a historical view of the character and the events that would lead to this characters death. However, after researching and writing a great chunk of it I realized, I couldn’t, because of what I had to say was outside of the in-universe commentary that I designed Trek facts to be about it, and so here we are.
Apparently, after Voyagers return, Icheb would go on to become a full-fledged Starfleet officer. One that would, of course, excel at it and eventually become a full lieutenant.
Unexpectedly, however, this was not to last. In order to gain a few strips of latinum, Icheb is kidnapped, and his Borg implant are stripped from him one by one for sale on the black market, apparently, Borg Implants fetch a high price for some unknown reason there.
Coming to rescue, Seven of Nine is just a little too late to save him. Bleeding, dying, in immense pain, Seven grants Icheb’s request for a quick death, and that’s that.
Well not exactly, as with most things Trek related, fans flocked to social media everywhere to either exclaim how great the episode was or how wrong the characters death was and how Star Trek: Picard is too dark, that Starfleet would never act the way it was acting in the show, neither would Seven. And so here I am weighing on this entire issue.
The Character of Icheb is an interesting one. I remember when Icheb was introduced into Star Trek: Voyager and watching him develop I was immediately struck by the hope this character held and what I believed at the time to be how I would react if suddenly I got a chance to be on a Federation Starship exploring the universe, one of me wanting to sign up right away.
And we see this with Icheb. He WANTS to be a part of Starfleet badly, and on Voyager, he sets that course and engages, seemingly on his way to doing just that.
Star Trek: Picard, of course, gives us the end of that journey.
The death of Icheb makes sense in the grand scheme of the storyline. It makes sense to have it happen to harden Sevens character and of course, provide the essential motivation for her characters story arc. I accept that I even like it in a strange way, but for me, this death symbolized so much more.
I’m a HUGE fan of both DSC and Picard. I think they’ve made Star Trek Relevant once and continuing to expose younger Generations to thought-provoking discussions Just like the 1st golden era of Trek had done for me. It’s just different, a completely different style of storytelling and visuals that I can absolutely understand why some people, who were fans of what Star Trek was, would be turned off about…
In this episode of Picard however, in a less than 5-minute scene the past ERA of Trek is ceremonially ended. Icheb’s character lived his dream… Becoming a Starfleet officer, exploring the unknown, even becoming a full lieutenant.
Then one day, All that hope, all that naivety about Space, about exploring is snuffed out. Starting to see the parallels here?
For me, this scene symbolized the end of that Star Trek. The end of everything is all wrapped up and happy when the episode of the week is done. The bright Starfleet Future that we all believed Icheb would have, has been killed, destroyed in a small effective scene.
It symbolizes the end of that era, no doubt. At least for me… I don’t know if that’s what the writers intended, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had. because I think all long term Trek Fans probably believed in their own headcanon that Icheb, like Nog or Wesley, would have some sort of bright future in the Star Trek universe, becoming the model Starfleet officer and eventually a hero ship Captain, but not anymore, all of that is over.
And to make it even more shocking, the dialogue about the search for Icheb’s cortical node is brilliant. As long term fans know, he didn’t have one. He removed his cortical node and had given it to seven of nine so that she could live back in the Voyager episode ‘Imperfection‘.
So, in essence, the thing that they were attempting to find, probably one of the most valuable Borg components Icheb could have had to harvest, didn’t exist. Making his death that much more pointless in-universe but so much more devastating to the audience.
Star Trek: Picard shows the imperfect side of the Federation and it’s surrounding Space, something we got hints of in all the other Trek shows but were never really given a focus on because we as the audience were simply following what the writers were showing as perfect model Star Trek officers, at least for the most part.
But to those fans that say that this type of gore or violence never existed in Star Trek before, or that Starfleet wouldn’t turn it’s back, or go rogue, or be “bad,” at all really need to go back and watch the TNG era treks again. All of that was always there, it was just simply shown differently as network censorship of the time could only show so much.
Episodes like ‘Conspiracy‘, where Remick’s head is blown off, episodes like ‘In the Pale Moonlight‘, where Starfleet approves a plan to lie to turn factors into their favour in the Dominion War. ‘The Siege of AR558‘, showing one of the most realistic sides of how war can affect the model Starfleet officers.
Voyager’s 2 parter episode ‘Equinox’, where a scientific Starfleet Captain is willing to commit genocide to get his crew home, and even tries to justify it by using Starfleet own regulations.
Captain Archer stealing a ships Warp Coil in order to save Earth or allowing an entire race to potentially die out simply to not interfere with what Phlox says is their natural development.
What about that time when Janeway murders Tuvix, a sentient being, that by the TNG episode ‘The Measure of a Man‘ standards should be afforded all the rights and privileges, EVERYONE, in the Federation Enjoys…
And who can forget Garek going on a killing spree against all the Starfleet and Cardassian officers in deep Space Nines Empok Nor?
Or the Doctor torturing Torres after paralyzing her in Voyagers ‘Darkling‘?
Or how about poor Schmitter, burned to a crisp by the lovable Horta?
How new colony colonists, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Until they were vaporized by the Crystalline Entity in TNG’s ‘Silicon Avatar‘?
What about ALL the Admirals and the Commodores who were less than perfect model officers, Like Admiral Layton who attempted to take over the Entire Federation, or Admiral Satie who tried to prosecute Picard over nonsense, merely to make herself relevant again.
What about Admiral Jameson, who served in Starfleet for almost a century after giving weapons to both sides in a war effectively killing millions. Or Admiral Pressman, who against the treaty of Algeron ordered the development of Phase Cloaking technology that resulted in the death of all the noble Starfleet Officers who dared stand up to him aboard the Pegasus?
How about Admiral Dougherty having his face pull apart in Star trek Insurrection? Or how about the Entire Romulan Senate being turned to dust at the Being on nemesis, that’s pretty gruesome right?
How about Starfleet abandoning its colonies in the DMZ in favour of a peace treaty causing a number of loyal, good Starfleet Officers to defect and create the Maquis to protect those innocent people whose only crime was creating a new life on a distant world.
What about all the times in the Original Series that Starfleet ignored its own rules, including the Prime Directive to gain the upper hand in the Quadrant? ‘Like A Taste of Armageddon’ or ‘Errand of Mercy’ or the ‘Enterprise Incident’…
Or the agony booth as seen in TOS’s ‘Mirror, Mirror’? That was a ball of fun right? Or Kirk and Spock being whipped in ‘Patterns of Force’? Another Family-friendly outing? Imagine a 5-year-old watching TOS’s ‘Charlie X’, you know that scene where Charlie removes the woman officer’s face? That isn’t exactly what I’d call family-friendly either. Or how about Picard getting stabbed through the Heart in TNG’s ‘Tapestry’?
The list goes on and on my friends… This insidious underside of Starfleet has always been there, it’s just never been thoroughly explored like today’s streaming Television allows. The gore, the violence, has always been a part of Star Trek since its beginning, merely being seen through the eyes of the censors of network television of the day… Look at Pike impaling that giant in the Original Pilot the Cage, or the spear sticking out of a Starfleet officer in the Galileo Seven and try to tell me Star Trek has always been family-friendly, you just can’t…
Even the Great Jean Luc Picard himself had a moment of weakness, allowing his need, his want for revenge, to overwhelm his ideals against the Borg. Even going so far as to dig through his crew members guts looking for info…
And this isn’t about whether the violence was justified or not, but merely a comment on how it was always there. Just in series like Star Trek: The Original Series it wasn’t so in your face as it can be today. But TNG on was no stranger to showing a little violence and gore in all its glory! Just watch Deep Space Nines ‘Nor the Battle to the Strong’, was a Starfleet officer, a true hero, guts are practically hanging out for the world to see.
We’ve seen holes burnt into people, people committing suicide, being vaporized, tortured, cut up, stabbed, shot, blown up… These are all staples of Star Trek my friends.
All of these things have always been there for us to enjoy, the difference here though, was that in pretty much every case, the ramifications were dealt with by the end of the episode and the heroes, the models, were victorious over the darkness and we moved one.
Today’s form of storytelling is simply not like that anymore. Now an episode essentially lasts 10-15 episodes, allowing us to delve deeper into any and all particular subjects, allowing us to better understand character motivations and drives. Now we can see both sides of an argument a little better than a 45-minute episode could explore.
It’s easy for fans to ignore these facts in favour of their nostalgia… But as the Series Title of my videos suggests, The Truths are always there and even when I don’t like it, it’s my duty to debunk the myths that fandom has created to protect them from those truths.
Don’t get me wrong, I too, like older star trek fans, miss this self-contained type of storytelling, and do hope that in one of the series that are being developed by CBS we get this type back. But for me, it’s all about the journey now. Seeing Star Trek Characters internal journeys from Start to Finish. In today’s day and age, we’re given an opportunity to fully understand why a character makes a certain decision, and why they are motivated to THAT decision. And in the end, I think it IS the journey that matters.
And as for the darkness versus the light? Who better the Jean-Luc Picard himself to set the wrongs to right. And bring that shining beacon of hope for the future back to an organization that is crumbling from within?
And so, in the words of a wise man, I can live with it, I can live with it…
Thank You for watching today’s episode of Truth OR Myth, I know this one is a bit more of a contentious topic than I usually present, but I think we as a fan community should be able to discuss it like adults, I have faith in you, good viewers.
So what do you think of Star Trek: Picard? Do you understand and agree or disagree with the points I’ve made here? What other examples of violence, blood and gore, the dark side of Starfleet and the various Star Trek series do you have?
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Thanks again for watching, live long and prosper…
Watch episode 113