The absolute worst captain in Star Trek

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Mr Silver, Sep 8, 2011.

  1. Cyke101

    Cyke101 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Now that I think about it, when was the last time that we saw a non-hero captain in a Trek movie? Harriman's been discussed to death here. At best we had a couple crooked admirals and that's it. At least when it comes to movies, we didn't have a non-hero captain on screen who came across as remotely dignified as Robau or Pike, and the movies generally get more attention than the TV shows.

    But even in TV, thanks to Star Trek's long hiatus, that also means that the last dignified, competent non-hero captain we've seen was probably Hernandez of the Columbia, last seen on screen almost 9 years ago. So even Robau's turn on screen comes after a long absence of competent captains.
     
  2. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Commander Donatra of the IRW Valdore in Star Trek: Nemesis. Arguably, Captain Sulu in Star Trek VI, since he wasn't Kirk or part of the Enterprise crew anymore. Captain Margaret Alexander of the U.S.S. Saratoga and Captain Joel Randolph of the U.S.S. Yorktown in Star Trek IV, even if we weren't exactly seeing them and their crews in the best of circumstances.

    I can think of some examples from TOS, TNG, and DS9, too, but you said "movie".
     
  3. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'll give Harriman a pass on this. We have no idea what his career pre-STG was like. For all we know he could have been an awesome captain - I mean, he got an Enterprise, and that alone must mean something...

    But nobody's perfect, Harriman included. He can't be expected to solve everything himself, and the fact that he asked for Kirk's help (which takes some courage in and of itself) doesn't mean Harriman was any less of a captain. Harriman realized he was in over his head, so he buried his pride and did not panic - he asked for assistance. I'd call that dignified.

    Besides, the ship wasn't exactly in tip top shape anyway, of course.
     
  4. Cyke101

    Cyke101 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I should have clarified, I meant "Starfleet" captain -- non-Starfleet captains as on-screen characters in movies are a dime a dozen. But even then, if we want to count Sulu, that's still a couple decades ago. I also don't count captains that we don't see on screen, because frankly we know nothing about them other than their command (for all we know, Alexander is just as good as any captain during the Battle of Sector 001, but we clearly know less of them than Terrell, Esteban, Styles, Harriman, Sulu, Decker, Spock, Kirk, et all and their command styles).

    I also specifically said movie because obviously TV would have much more material, and Robau and NuPike are movie products. As I mentioned with Hernandez, she's the most recent TV example of a good non-hero captain, and even then that was nearly a decade ago.

    *I also count Sulu as a hero captain though, because he was an integral protagonist in TUC and was among the senior crew since the 60s. It's not very fair to compare Harriman's foibles to someone of Sulu's stature and screen time.
     
  5. Armored Saint

    Armored Saint Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I agree. The "Not until tuesday" is a "Blame-it on Starfleet" case. This PR exercise turned into a real-ife Kobayashi Maru because someone at Starfleet command decided that was okay to not having any fully fonctionnal ships in this area. The Enterprise-B was an empty shell.
    The Commodore Stocker of this story was not Harriman, but the ones who made these bad decisions.
     
  6. USS Excelsior

    USS Excelsior Commodore Commodore

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    And not having any other starships around Earth of course. And Captain Kirk gets lost in the line of duty because they can't find at least one engineer to crawl into Engineering to do that job.
     
  7. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'll allow the stipulation about meaning Starfleet captains, but we DID see Alexander and Randolph on screen - and in Alexander's case, for probably just as (insignificantly) long as we saw Robau. Both seemed competent and businesslike, for the little bit of time we saw them.

    I started to mention Bateson, since you brought up Sector 001, but apparently Grammer's vocal appearance is "unconfirmed". Whatever. :D

    Edit: By humorous coincidence, I posted this while experiencing a "Whalesong Incident" of my own - our power is out, only my Internet router and a lamp are on battery power. ;)
     
  8. Ensign_Redshirt

    Ensign_Redshirt Commodore Commodore

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    My personal theory regarding Harriman is that his daddy (or mommy) probably sat on the Federation Council or something like that and pushed for his/her son to get command of the Enterprise. :p

    I also second the sentiment that Jellico was a competent officer although not very likable. Then again, he didn't exactly try to run for office there, he was assigned by Starfleet to get a specific job done. And at the very least, he and Geordi seemed to have developed some sort of bond after Jellico had settled down a bit. Had he stayed on longer he'd probably managed to establish a rapport with most of his officers, except maybe for Riker who I see easily requesting a transfer to a different ship. But some people just don't get along with each other very well, no matter what.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2013
  9. Cyke101

    Cyke101 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Sure, I stand corrected, but that's still 27 years ago, however. I'm not trying to say that competent non-hero captains were non-existent before Robau, I'm saying that they're few and far between in Trek overall, especially in movies. Having Robau and Pike come across as captains who know what they're doing is generally the exception rather than the rule when it comes to non-hero captains per movie.

    I'm of the attitude that it's not NOT Bateson ;)

    Whenever a power outage would happen to me as a kid, I'd call the battery "auxiliary power" and the lamp "emergency lights." Oh yes, Trek has much to answer for with my childhood :guffaw:
     
  10. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    They later confirmed in TrekLit that he *was* in the battle, and so of course *I'm* going to believe it.

    <----------------- :D

    And you're not the only one who spoke Star Trek growing up - although mine was mixed with Star Wars and BSG (the original). ;)
     
  11. Mr Pointy Ears

    Mr Pointy Ears Captain Captain

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    Have to go with harriman,how he got promoted to captain and captain of the newest enterprise are separate questions by their selves.
     
  12. The Old Building & Loan

    The Old Building & Loan Auld Lang Mod Moderator

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    For the general question, I tend to want to go with Esteban. Harriman was obviously inexperienced and his hesitation was informed by his knowing full well how unequipped the Ent-B was. Tracey was corrupt and evil, which seems like a different category.

    As you said, there was a hiatus, during which there was no opportunity to see new captains, good or bad. In addition, the 9-year figure includes the years since ST09. So I'm not sure that the figure really means anything. As far as installments go, Hernandez and Robau were practically back-to-back (last season of ENT, first movie after ENT).
     
  13. TheSubCommander

    TheSubCommander Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I can't buy that as an explanation. If Harriman was an ensign or LT, that would be one thing, but he was a captain. Captains are supposed to handle stressful situations of all types. The real answer is of course, the writers wanted Kirk to look badasssssss in comparison, but really there is no in-universe explanation good enough to explain away Harriman's incompetence.

    Intimidated by living legends? Maybe, but by the time he has reached captain, he should have bumped into enough other captains and admirals to not be scared stiff like that.

    BTW, I agree how Scotty was treated was the exact opposite, especially on the part of Geordi, who was uncharacteristically an asshole.

    Can't handle reporters on the bridge during a crisis? Then clear the bridge. Kinda simple. When one is the captain, they can do that.

    As far as thinking of Spock and Decker goes, a Starfleet officer knows from the time they are in the academy that death can happen on the job. By the time the one makes captain, one probably has seen people die, if not faced the possibility of one's own death.
     
  14. Cyke101

    Cyke101 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    How fortunate then, that after the hiatus, the Trek screen franchise immediately opens up not just with a competent captain, but also with a heroic XO who clearly showed signs of being a great captain himself (albeit briefly).
     
  15. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oh, sure. I'm certain every Captain in Starfleet is trained to handle being on the equivalent of intergalactic television.

    People react differently to different stresses. I've met Presidents and foreign royalty and been far less nervous than I was when I asked my wife out the first time. Harriman might face a Klingon fleet with calm determination, but have stage fright.
    How many of those captains and admirals have saved the universe? How many of them are the man whose boots he's been called on to fill?
    Yep. :)
    Well, sure - but there's a difference between knowing "we're in the danger business" and thinking you're about to, specifically, fall prey to the curse of terrible things that happen to captains of the Enterprise not named Kirk. ;)

    Oh, c'mon. You saw them for ten minutes or so, and Robau got himself killed during them, heroically or not. It's easier to be "hero" for a few minutes or an episode, harder to sustain it for a series. You might as well judge Lt. Barclay entirely on the episode "Realm of Fear". For all we know, George Kirk had an uncharacteristically heroic moment in an otherwise lackluster career.
     
  16. Cyke101

    Cyke101 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Kirks are NEVER lackluster!

    (but if you take on the surname Marcus, you might as well just sign a death sentence. Heck, Carol's leg was broken -- after she revealed her real name! That's three generations of Marcuses getting physically harmed in the movies!)
     
  17. TheSubCommander

    TheSubCommander Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    So you don't think that part of the decision process to promote someone to Captain isn't going to be some kind of psychological component, like a test to see how they handle certain situations, including talking to the media? And they had better be prepared because in the Trek world, or in the real one, someone who shuts down like Harriman did, regardless of what stress triggered it, doesn't need to be captain. Indecisiveness like that gets people killed.

    The thing is to get to that level, those captains and admirals are going to have done some important stuff, themselves, to even get to that rank. Regardless of whether they saved a universe or single life, a person is just a person. A captain is an authority figure and should recognize this. This isn't to say one wouldn't be inwardly nervous, but it is how they handle the situation.

    Technically, even Kirk died for like 5 minutes in STID :P. But like the real world equivalents, military and first responders, they train for such situations to help minimize the risk. Someone constantly dwelling on dying, or getting superstitious feeling liek they are going to get it because a predecessor did, won't likely make it to captain in the first place.
     
  18. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Peter Kirk had two unnamed brothers who died on Deneva. Unnamed is pretty lackluster. :p
     
  19. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't remember any of Kirk's nephews dying on Deneva, just his brother and sister-in-law.

    :)
     
  20. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Exactly. My point is made. SOOO lackluster you don't even *remember* them!