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5 non-”Khan” alternatives for the “Star Trek” sequel (and 5 to avoid)

That J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the “Star Trek” franchise did $76.5 million in its opening weekend should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been reading the reviews of the film and seeing the near-universal praise it’s been receiving. Also no shock: a sequel is already in the works…though, quite frankly, it received the green light several weeks prior to the debut of “Trek.” (That’s how much confidence Paramount had in the film.) It would be all too easy, however, to offer up a new “Star Trek II” and have the villain be the genetically engineered superman known as Khan Noonian Singh. That, and it would also be tempting fate. After all, Abrams just succeeded in the impossible by making a “Trek” film that pleased both the masses and the Trekkies. Why alienate them so quickly by attempting to reconceive the most iconic baddie in all of Trek-dom? Instead, here are a few alternative ideas for the sequel that can be found within the original “Star Trek” television series, as well as a few non-Khan concepts to steer clear of.

1. Trelane (“The Squire of Gothos”). A brash and impetuous being in possession of incredible power…like, on the level where he can pop onto an uninhabitable planet and create not only a bubble of breathable atmosphere but his very own mansion. So, y’know, he’s basically a proto-Q for the original Enterprise crew. After toying with Kirk and company and using them to play his own spin on “The Most Dangerous Game,” it’s revealed that, amongst his race of beings, he’s but a child, and his parents swing by to chastise their kid for acting out of turn.

This would actually be the perfect opportunity to tie in the original universe of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” since it’s long been suggested amongst the various aspects of “Trek” fiction – most notably in Peter David’s novel, “Q-Squared,” that Trelane was actually a member of the Q Continuum. Given how much fun John de Lancie always seemed to have when he was playing Q, it’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t want to join in the fun and play in Abrams’ new universe, especially since the character’s powers are so limitless that he could still be the same Q, thereby allowing him suggest that he’s just checking out this new parallel universe while still making reference to Picard and company.

2. Harcourt Fenton Mudd (“Mudd’s Women” / “I, Mudd”). He’s one of the galaxy’s most notorious con men and, over the years, has remained one of the most popular characters in the “Trek” universe, having popped up in two episodes of the original series, an animated-series episode (“Mudd’s Passion”), a novel (“Mudd in Your Eye”), and countless “Trek” comic books. (Best title: “The Sky Above…The Mudd Below.”) Indeed, his reputation is such that, in Nintendo’s “Starfleet Academy” video game, he’s considered to be required study for the cadets.

Greg Grunberg has made it known that he’d be more than happy to tackle the role of Mudd, should the character make an appearance in a future sequel, and as fair as maintaining the inimitable Mudd look, he’s even gone on record as saying, “I would go with the big mustache and an earring. Why not?” The only caution to be exercised is that Mudd is, at heart, a humorous character, and it’s always been a major tightrope walk to incorporate comedy into the “Trek” universe. Still, Abrams did a bang-up job with the lighthearted moments in this first flick, so there’s reason to be optimistic about Mudd making a successful appearance in a sequel.

3. Redjac (“Wolf in the Fold”). There aren’t many episodes of “Trek” that can match the legitimate terror inspired by this concept, which suggests that Jack the Ripper was actually less a person than an alien being known as Redjac which travels from planet to planet, possessing others and committing murder before moving onward to its next destination. (The voice given to Redjac when it infiltrated the Enterprise’s computer still freaks me out whenever I hear it.) There have been sequels in the “Trek” comics, including one where it finds Picard’s Enterprise and battles Data in the holodeck while he’s in Sherlock Holmes mode, but it screams for a darker take.

4. The Tholians (“The Tholian Web”) / Kollos (“Is There No Truth In Beauty?”). Even though he didn’t really have the opportunity to develop them, Abrams pointedly included some non-human crewmembers amongst the Starfleet cadets and the crews of the Enterprise and the Kelvin. The Tholians, which are crystalline in nature and have two arms and six legs, have been explored a fair amount in “Trek,” with references or appearances in virtually all of the series, and their so-called “Tholian Web,” so there’s a lot of stuff to mine there. Kollos, however, is an ambassador from a race of telepathic, non-corporeal energy beings called the Medusans, which have an outward appearance so hideous it drives humanoids insane but possess technological knowledge that is vital to the Federation. The Medusans are definitely a lesser “Trek” race, but it would be extremely interesting to see how the concept could be utilized.

5. Gary Mitchell (“Where No Man Has Gone Before”). There was no mention of the man who had been established years before as Kirk’s best friend in the Academy, but “Star Trek” did manage to slip in an appearance by the planet where Gary Mitchell met his maker in the original series (Delta Vega), so there’s very much an opening to be had. In the original series, the Enterprise attempted to cross through the so-called Galactic Barrier, an energy band which surrounds the Milky Way (and a very cool idea, even if it is scientifically unlikely), but while they fail in their task, the experience causes Lt. Commander Mitchell to develop tremendous psionic abilities as well as some wicked cool glowing eyes:

Before we go, let’s also just list off five possible sequel ideas that we’re not quite ready for yet…

1. The Guardian of Forever (“The City on the Edge of Forever”). We’ve just done time travel.

2. The Mirror Universe (“Mirror, Mirror”). As much as we’d like to see Zachary Quinto in a beard, we’ve just done parallel universes as well.

3. Evil Kirk (“The Enemy Within”). Right now, we really like Chris Pine. Let’s not put him in a position where he’s tempted to “pull a Shatner” and overact.

4. Tribbles (“The Trouble with Tribbles”). They did an animated-series sequel, and “Deep Space Nine” paid the greatest possible tribute to the original episode with “Trials and Tribble-ations,” so let’s just stick to the cameo appearances by the cooing furballs, shall we?

5. Dr. Sevrin, Adam, and the gang (“The Way to Eden”). Anyone who thinks the idea of the singing space hippies would be awesome to revisit is a total Herbert. Plus, the studio would try to update them into emo kids, and no one really wants to see Pete Wentz in a “Star Trek” movie, do they?

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