This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe. An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we profile Dr. Tolian Soran, the primary antagonist from Generations. He comes in at number 7 on the list of best Trek movie villains.
(Does this look like a face you can trust? Hell, no!)
A couple weeks ago, we profiled Soran's co-conspirators Lursa and B'Etor on this segment, but Soran is the man behind the evil plots in this movie. Soran is an El-Alurian and therefore is the perfect type of villain to span across the decades from Kirk's time to Picard's time. During Kirk's era, Soran was one of a handful of survivors of a Borg attack on his homeworld and being temporarily trapped in the Nexus along with fellow El-Aurian Guinan.
Well, it wasn't a handful exactly, was it Mr. Scott? (Quote of the Week: "I got 47, out of 150" - 47 ALARM)
Yes, even the original crew couldn't escape the power of that number in the 1990's writing room. The brief flirtation with the Nexus drove Soran crazy to get back, as that allowed him to pretend to experience a life where his family and friends were not destroyed by the Borg attack. Thus, he embarks on a multi-decade mission to find a way to get back in the Nexus.
It also leads him to some great quotes showing how crazy and dedicated he is to returning to his happy place and leaving the memories and ravages of time: (Quote of the Week 2: "They say time is the fire in which we burn"). Which is exactly what needs to be said to convince Picard, who had just experienced a similar trauma of losing his family line in a fire.
The only way Soran can figure out how to make the Nexus pass through a planet is to destroy a star to move its path, which leads him to employ the Duras sisters to steal trilithium from the Romulans to make a weapon capable of such a supernova. And indeed, his evil plot succeeds when only Picard goes down to the planet to stop him. But thankfully, the Nexus has Captain Kirk trapped within it from the initial encounter where he was lost and the El-Aurians were saved by Montgomery Scott on the Enterprise-B.
So back to reality go Kirk and Picard to beat down Soran and prevent the total destruction of a star system and the Enterprise-D crew. Soran and Kirk can then stop worrying about past painful experiences as both die rather than go back to the Nexus. But Picard lives on for more movie fun!
The character of Soran is a fresh villain to the series but he fits right in to make a story spanning the generations. He also serves as an interesting character piece for Guinan, who came away from the Borg and Nexus experiences with a totally opposite outlook and drive than he does. Like Michael Gaines, I personally enjoy Generations largely based on Malcolm McDowell's performance in this well-written villain role.
McDowell has enjoyed a long 50 year career in the acting business, including highlight roles in A Clockwork Orange and many recent movies such as Bolt and TV series such as Entourage, The Mentalist, and CSI: Miami. (Insert Yow!). He currently has about 20 projects filming or in pre- or post-production, so look for a lot more of McDowell to be out there in the future.
Until next time, live long and prosper...