Star Trek: Discovery kicked off season 4 with a look at the Federation, not really seen since the show's time shift in season 3, and revealed that the Federation is run by a president with Cardassian ancestry. Star Trek: Discovery is the sixth TV show in the Star Trek franchise, starting with Star Trek: The Original Series created by Gene Roddenberry in 1966. The franchise has also seen 13 movies and spawned many adaptations and spinoffs, creating one of the most well known and versatile science fiction sagas of all time.

Star Trek: Discovery follows Michael Burnham and the various adventures abroad the USS Discovery, set 10 years before Star Trek: The Original Series. The show's season 3 began with the crew being transported 900 years in the future. This shook up the Star Trek: Discovery formula and allowed for new storytelling beats, far away from any established canon of previous Star Trek works. The change in setting also allows for previous Star Trek species to be revisited in unique and interesting ways.

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One such way is the aforementioned Cardassian president of the Federation, as discussed by show runner Michelle Paradise in an interview with Indiewire. Paradise discussed how, in the past, the Cardassian and Federation were enemies. Therefore, having a new Cardassian president in Laira Rillak allowed for many storytelling opportunities about how the two parties had changed over 900 years. Paradise also talks Burnham's promotion to Captain at the end of season 3, and how it'll set up the character's arc on what it means to be a leader in Star Trek: Discovery season 4. Read Paradise's quote on the Cardassians below:

“Historically, the Cardassians and the Federation are opposite ends of the spectrum. With Rillak as President, it felt very interesting to us as a way of telling a story without telling a story. It represents a coming together in some way. We do think a lot about the connections, this is an entire universe of shows, and because we are so far ahead in the future, we have a lot of places where we can play and a lot of fresh snow ahead of us, but we never want to lose sight of the fact that we are part of a larger universe. It is very important to use that when appropriate for our own storytelling.”

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Star Trek: Discovery has marked itself different from other Star Trek shows, such as Burnham not being promoted to Captain until later in the series, creating a more dynamic arc for its protagonist. The reintroduction of the Cardassians is also significant, having been antagonists in previous series with their occupation of Bajor and siding with the Dominion in the Dominion War, the central conflict of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Cardassians remain one of the more nuanced enemies seen in Star Trek lore, opposed to the more two dimensional enemies of the Klingons and Ferengi.

Ever since its inception, Star Trek has always offered a commentary on modern societal issues, with Discovery allegorizing the COVID-19 pandemic through an unknown anomaly that left nothing but destruction in its wake. Science fiction has always more easily allowed such critiques, because its very nature sees humanity overcoming its differences to make a glorious future, an optimistic tone that Star Trek has always maintained. Star Trek: Discovery, though far from perfect, continues the long running tradition of promoting peace and prosperity through the joy of discovery and exploration, and will continue to boldly go where no one has gone before.

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Source: Indiewire

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