Sunday, July 27, 2014

Character Insight No. 106: Shinzon

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 Shinzon from Star Trek Nemesis, who comes in at number 5 on our best Trek movie villains countdown.

("Hard to Believe This Little Guy Grows Up to be Bane")

Shinzon was created to try and give Captain Picard an ultimate personal villain in the vein of Khan for Captain Kirk. However, much of his story and motivations had to be cut from this movie and that made the actual character fall flat from where he could've been, which would have ranked near the top of this list. 

Shinzon is a clone of Captain Picard who was created by the Romulan Empire as part of ap lan to replace the powerful Starfleet officer with a spy. But the Shinzon plan was abandoned by the Romulan government while he was a boy, and he was discarded to work as a slave in the mines on Remus. The human was abused there and that made him jaded against both his heritage as a human and the Romulan government.

Shinzon got his chance to become powerful during the Dominion War, as the Reman slaves were used during this engagement. He then uses the power gained during his successes in this conflict to kill the Romulan Senate with thalaron radiation and come to power as Praetor of the Empire. 

His plan was to use the thalaron weapon to wipe out Earth to exact revenge on humanity as well as become more famous than Picard in the history books thanks to taking down the mighty Federation. Unfortunately the scenes establishing this latter motive are cut from the movie, which means the viewers only get to see a hollow revenge plot as this villain's motivation.

Quote of the Week: "We will no longer bow before anyone as slaves. Not the Romulans and not your mighty Federation. We are a race bred for war... and conquest."
Shinzon lures Picard and the Enterprise by planting parts of a Data clone B4 on a planet and then offering peace talks on behalf of the Romulan Empire. As a result of his failing health, Shinzon is encouraged by his Reman colleagues to continue the plan by trying to abduct Picard and destroy the Enterprise. His ship the Scimitar has a huge advantage in being able to fire while cloaked, much like the Klingons in Star Trek VI. But Shinzon's perverse fascination with Deanna Troi does him in, as she is able to telepathically link with him to locate where his cloaked ship is, leading to the Enterprise staging a comeback highlighted by Picard ramming the Enterprise into the Scimitar.
Shinzon then decides to try and commit suicide to at least take down the Enterprise, but Data sacrifices himself to save his Captain and end the movies for this cast. Again, making another parallel with the Khan storyline and Spock's sacrifice.
Shinzon as a villain is a great idea, but the execution was not great because it is difficult to establish a compelling back story and his character motivations in a movie less than 2 hours long. Additionally, the parallels to the Star Trek II plot were too much at times, crossing the line from honoring the past to lazy copycatting.

Tom Hardy played Shinzon, and he has continued to act in movies over the past decade, really breaking through in Inception and then highlighted by his appearance as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (Your Punishment Will Be More..Severe).

Until next time, live long and prosper...

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