So, we were watching the TNG episode ‘Reunion’ http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Reunion_%28episode%29, and it got us thinking about what TNG might have been.
K’Ehleyr was such a big and interesting and *alive* character. Imagine if she had been a cast regular. The place she seemed to fit best in our mind was replacing Riker as the Enterprise First Officer.
First, a bit of backstory to set the stage:
It’s often been said that the original Star Trek was based around a ‘Freudian Trio’ of the Ego (Kirk), the Superego (Spock), and the Id (McCoy).
Gene Roddenberry’s vision for TNG was that humans would have evolved to no longer ‘need’ the interpersonal bickering which characterized the Spock/McCoy interaction. Some say that this led to ‘too safe’ personal interactions amongst the crew, with the only sources of conflict being Worf’s conservatism, Riker’s devil’s advocate, and the management/engineering interaction* between Picard and Geordi.
This made the writers need to look outside the main cast for sources of conflict. This generally worked well, but wasn’t Wesley’s best performance in the series when he played the sulky teenager being called on the carpet by Picard?
All this is a long winded way of saying that it could have been a very different series with a more varied and emotionally expressive cast.
Back to Susie Plakson as K’Ehleyr as First Officer. You would have a very different take on the ‘Freudian Trio’, with the calm and rational emotional readings from Troi, and the more aggressive emotions from K’Ehleyr, with Picard bringing it all together. There’s a beautiful scene with K’Ehleyr and Troi talking just after K’ehleyr has broken a glass table in anger. So much interesting emotional depth to discover and explore!
Also, you’d have the fun dynamic between K’Ehleyr and Worf, with her as his superior officer, much more interesting than the never-really-explored-outside-of-the-book-Imzadi relationship between Riker and Troi.
But alas, TNG was a product of its time and executives. Riker with his daddy issues (which are important, and he carried the part well) must have spoken to those casting, and it must have not just been because he had the second highest rank on the ship that he got second billing, above all the ‘supporting cast’.
Also, the two women who were most like what we’re suggesting for K’Ehleyr were both written out of the show after the first season, both because they wanted more from their parts on the show. Denise Crosby left to pursue feature films, and Gates McFadden was pushed out because she was insisting on more substantive parts for her character.
It wouldn’t be until Kira Nerys that we would have a character close to what could have been with K’Ehleyr. Maybe in a Mirror Universe someday…
*It’s actually really fun to watch this, especially in the early episodes, where they have a number of classic ‘management/engineering’ conversations, including such gems as ‘I don’t want you to use the word impossible’.
Other interesting notes:
Apparently, ‘Wesley Crusher’ was almost ‘Lesley Crusher’: http://trekmovie.com/2010/08/26/1987-paramount-memo-reveals-actors-auditioning-for-star-trek-tng-cast/
Interesting notes include the fact that each of the actors had to pass personal interviews with the studio execs, that Marina Sirtis and Denise Crosby were originally cast in the opposite parts, and that Gene had to be convinced at length to choose Patrick Stewart.