“Star Trek,” when it’s operating at the height of its powers, is careful to present a great deal of philosophical ambiguity in its stories. In “Star Trek,” there are rarely instances of outright heroes or villains. Instead, characters are stronger when they merely have a deadlocked devotion to a notable, seemingly noble goal. Also, “Star Trek” ostensibly takes place in a post-war universe, meaning even the ignoble characters rarely long for petty goals such as violence, destruction, or revenge.
After “Star Trek II,” however, villainy became more common and revenge became a regular practice. Stuart Baird’s 2002 film “Star Trek: Nemesis” featured a vengeance-minded villain armed with a warship that got into a scrape with the Enterprise in a nebula. The 2009 “Star Trek” film likewise had a vengeance-minded supervillain at its core. “Star Trek Into Darkness” brought back an alternate universe version of Khan, and a crazed vengeance-minded villain (who captained a ship called the U.S.S. Vengeance). “Star Trek Beyond” was about an abandoned villain who sought vengeful destruction on the Federation. Four films in a row copied “Khan.”
Additionally, the third season of “Star Trek: Picard” featured a cackling villain who faced off against a Federation ship in a nebula. And now, with “Old Friends, New Planets,” exact shots from “Star Trek II” are deliberately repeated. When Mariner’s Genesis Device is switched on, the effects resemble those from the 1982 film.
With “Lower Decks,” however, the effect is more whimsical … and grounded. While Mariner’s enemy is not so much a revenge-crazed villain but a flawed man who needed to reassess his motivations. Imagine “Wrath of Khan” if Khan merely had a wounded ego.
In brief, he can be talked out of his plan.