Movie Reviews

8 Important Star Trek Events That Happened In The Badlands

star trek badlands historic events

WARNING: Contains SPOILERS for Star Trek: Discovery, season 5, episode 8, “Labyrinths”.

The USS Discovery returns to the Badlands in Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 8, “Labyrinths”, and it’s a location that has played a very important role in Star Trek history. Introduced 30 years ago in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 2, episode 20, “The Maquis, Part I”, the Badlands was positioned near the border between Federation space and the territory of the Cardassian Union. The astronomical location, and its powerful plasma storms, dust clouds and gravitational anomalies made it the perfect hiding place for the Maquis and anyone else who could safely navigate the treacherous region.

Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 8, “Labyrinths” reveals that, in the 32nd century, the Eternal Gallery and Archive is also housed in the Badlands. Seeking the final clue to the location of the Progenitors’ treasure, Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the crew of the USS Discovery navigate the Badlands. Their bumpy ride proves that the Badlands has lost none of its power since the time of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Not only that, but Discovery’s battle with the Breen Imperium brings conflict to the Badlands for the first time since the Dominion War.

It was revealed in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 4, episode 7, “Starship Down” that the Bajoran Resistance used the Badlands to hide from Cardassian patrols. To navigate their way to safety, Bajoran Resistance ships would use echolocation to find their way through the badlands and, crucially, detect Cardassian ships. This was during the brutal Cardassian Occupation of Bajor, which necessitated that many Bajorans, including Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor), fight for Bajoran freedom.

It’s for this reason that Major Kira was sympathetic to the Maquis in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 2, highlighting that the colonists had a right to defend themselves against Cardassian Occupation. Bajorans like Lt. Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes) joined the Maquis, so it’s possible that the old techniques from the Bajoran Resistance were passed down to the Maquis. This would explain their similar usage of the Badlands during their ongoing conflict with both the Federation and the Cardassian Union.

One of the Maquis’ first official acts of terror was the kidnapping of Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) from Deep Space Nine in “The Maquis, Part I”. The Maquis hoped to use Dukat to gain intel on the Cardassian plot to smuggle weapons into the demilitarized zone. As Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), Major Kira, and the Cardassian Central Command argued about leaving Dukat to his fate, the Cardassian was held on a barren asteroid somewhere deep inside the Badlands.

Dukat’s imprisonment in the Badlands was a hugely important event in Star Trek history because it was the first major act of hostility by the Maquis. While Sisko and the crew avert war from breaking out at the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 2, episode 21, “The Maquis, Part II”, they’ve only postponed the inevitable. In the months and years after Dukat’s kidnapping, the Maquis situation only gets worse, and the Badlands take a central role in events.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s next major skirmish with the Maquis was early the following year, when Maquis member Thomas Riker (Jonathan Frakes) infiltrated DS9 disguised as his doppelgänger, Commander William T. Riker. Thomas’ plan was to steal the newly launched USS Defiant and take it to the Badlands for a rendezvous with other Maquis ships ahead of a major operation. The Maquis wished to expose attempts by Cardassian extremists to abandon the peace treaty with the Federation by building a huge invasion fleet at the Omekla III shipyards.

Deep Space Nine’s Defiant was needed by the Maquis, because it was an incredibly powerful warship, capable of launching an attack on a Cardassian shipyard. Thomas Riker succeeded in his mission to expose the covert attempts to rearm the Cardassian Union, but had to sacrifice his freedom to preserve peace and save the lives of his crew. As Thomas Riker hasn’t been seen since Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 3, episode 9, “Defiant”, the Badlands are a notable location because they launched his last on-screen mission.

As the situation with the Maquis worsened, Starfleet Intelligence placed Lt. Tuvok (Tim Russ) undercover in the organization. Tuvok earned the trust of Chakotay (Robert Beltran), and the two men served on the Val Jean together alongside B’Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) and Seska (Martha Hackett). The Val Jean was forced to seek refuge in the Badlands to evade the Cardassian warship, the Galor-class Vetar, commanded by Gul Evek (Richard Poe). However, the ship went missing, and Starfleet were keen to discover what had happened to their missing operative.

As Tuvok was one of her closest friends and advisors, Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) was assigned to locate Tuvok and the missing Maquis ship. The treacherous trip to the Badlands was the first mission of the brand-new, top-of-the-line Intrepid-class USS Voyager. If this wasn’t enough to guarantee the Val Jean’s disappearance a place in the history books, then what happened next would seal the deal for Voyager’s Maquis crew members.

Perhaps the most historic event to take place in Star Trek‘s Badlands is the disappearance of the USS Voyager in 2371. Tracking the last known whereabouts of Chakotay, Tuvok, and the crew of the Val Jean, the USS Voyager was caught in the Caretaker’s Array. Both the Val Jean and the USS Voyager were scanned by a tetryon beam, which brought them to the Delta Quadrant, 75 years from home in Federation space. Voyager’s mission to chart the Delta Quadrant while trying to find a way back home made the starship one of the most storied vessels in Starfleet history.

Voyager’s mission to the Delta Quadrant greatly expanded the Federation’s knowledge of strange new worlds and civilizations, and led to some major technological advancements. The quantum slipstream drive deployed by the USS Dauntless in Star Trek: Prodigy is directly influenced by Voyager’s time in the Delta Quadrant. All of which proves the importance of the Badlands in Star Trek: Voyager. If Voyager hadn’t stumbled into the Caretaker’s array, Starfleet’s knowledge of the wider universe in the 24th century would be sorely lacking.

As if being betrayed by his old friend Cal Hudson wasn’t enough, Sisko was also betrayed by Lt. Commander Michael Eddington (Kenneth Marshall). Sisko’s relentless pursuit of Eddington, and his desire to bring the man to justice regularly brought him into the Badlands. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 5, episode 23, “Blaze of Glory” brought Sisko and Eddington’s feud to a head. Following the Cardassians joining the Dominion, the Jem’Hadar laid waste to the Maquis, forcing the survivors to seek shelter on Athos IV, a small planetoid in the Badlands.

To signal for rescue, the Maquis survivors launched a dummy missile attack against Cardassia Prime to signal their location to Sisko and Eddington. Arriving to rescue the Maquis survivors slightly too late, Eddington sacrificed his life to save his wife Rebecca and his comrades from being killed by the Jem’Hadar. It was a heroic ending for the most complex of Star Trek‘s Maquis traitors, that forced Sisko to reevaluate his assessment of the man.

In the latter stages of Star Trek: DS9‘s Dominion War the Jem’Hadar attacked the IKS Koraga near the edge of the Badlands. Lt. Commander Worf was aboard the ship at the time and was listed as missing, presumed dead. Lt. Ezri Dax (Nicole de Boer) disobeyed direct orders from Captain Sisko to find Worf and bring him back to Deep Space Nine. Ezri successfully located Worf, but it was only the start of the story. When they are later captured by the Breen, Ezri and Worf discover that the enigmatic aliens were about to ally themselves with the Dominion.

While Worf and Ezri weren’t able to stop the devastating Breen attack on Earth, they did secure the crucial intel that Legate Damar (Casey Biggs) had grown disillusioned with the Dominion. Were it not for the Jem’Hadar’s attack on the IKS Koraga, and Worf’s disappearance, then this information may not have come to light until it was too late. Worf and Ezri’s ordeal also allowed both of them to move past the loss of Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) and continue as friends.

The Badlands was where the USS Discovery fought to protect history itself from the Breen Imperium by defending the Eternal Gallery and Archive. As the largest collection of historical and cultural artifacts in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, the Gallery was an extraordinary resource that was vitally important to Star Trek: Discovery‘s ongoing treasure hunt. The Badlands was the perfect place to hide this impressive collection, given the hazardous nature of the region. However, the Badlands weren’t enough to dissuade an angry and powerful Breen starship from banging on its doors with shield-tunneling technology.

The USS Discovery fought to protect the Eternal Gallery and Archive’s collection and its archivists from being destroyed by the Breen. Discovery took an incredible beating, leaving its warp drive, spore drive, and shields seriously damaged. However, it wasn’t the USS Discovery that stopped Primarch Ruhn (Tony Nappo) from destroying the Eternal Gallery and Archive, it was Moll (Eve Harlow) who launched a coup and rose to the head of the Breen party. Star Trek: Discovery‘s Breen battle and its outcome for the Imperium’s heirarchy makes it another historic Badlands moment for the Eternal Gallery and Archive to document.

Star Trek: Discovery season 5 continues Thursdays on Paramount+.