Star Trek Shows the Positive Side of Breaking the Prime Directive

The Prime Directive is Star Trek’s most important rule, but one Star Trek: Voyager comic showed the positive side of breaking the Directive. In the one-shot Star Trek: Voyager: Avalon Rising, the Voyager crew answers a distress call from a planet in the Delta Quadrant, only to arrive and find it the victim of cultural contamination. In order to fix it, they need to break the Prime Directive.

General Order One, or the Prime Directive as it is more commonly known, is Starfleet’s cardinal rule. The Prime Directive prohibits Starfleet and the Federation from interfering in the affairs of pre-warp or non-aligned civilizations. Of course, the Prime Directive has been violated on several occasions, and some of Star Trek’s most compelling episodes have dealt with this, such as the Original Series episode “A Piece of the Action,” as well as Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Who Watches the Watchers.” In almost every instance, breaking the Prime Directive has catastrophic results; for example, in the aforementioned “A Piece of the Action,” it leads to the creation of an entire world based around mobster culture. Yet in Star Trek: Voyager: Avalon Rising, readers see that bending the Prime Directive can have positive results.

In Avalon Rising, which was first published in 2000 by Wildstorm, the USS Voyager receives a distress call from a now-extinct species, who left behind a fantastic array of weapons and technology on a primitive, medieval world. The distress call talks of how the aliens culturally contaminated the medieval planet and if the inhabitants find the weapons, they will destroy themselves. The Voyager sets a course and upon arrival, dispatches the Emergency Medical Hologram, or EMH, to the surface. There, he befriends a young squire, and as the two make their way to the weapons stash, the EMH tells the squire stories of the Voyager’s crew. The squire and the EMH, along with a small army, find the stash–just in time for Janeway, Chakotay and Seven of Nine to beam down. They are now faced with a sticky dilemma: the planet has already been contaminated badly enough, and their presence has exacerbated matters. The people of the planet beg Janeway to lead them, but she tells them they must find the answers on their own. As the EMH leaves, he “knights” the squire, giving him the confidence he needs to lead his people. The one-shot, written by Janine Ellen Young and Doselle Young and illustrated by David Roach, concludes years in the future, where the squire has become a noble knight. He unfurls the flag of his sailing ship–to reveal Starfleet’s Delta Shield.

When Should Starfleet Officers Bend The Prime Directive?

Avalon Rising shows not only the downside of breaking the Prime Directive, but also that bending it is sometimes necessary. The stash of weapons left behind sends the planet’s inhabitants down a dark and militaristic path, but the Voyager’s influence sends them in a better direction, that of explorers and seekers. If not for Voyager’s crew “bending” the Prime Directive, this planet would hit a cultural dead-end and annihilate itself. In Avalon Rising, the Prime Directive becomes more of a suggestion than a rule, and while balance is not necessarily restored at the end, the people are on a much better path.

The Prime Directive remains, in a general sense, a good idea. It has helped the Federation and Starfleet gain the respect of cultures around the galaxy. Even the USS Voyager, marooned in the Delta Quadrant, still followed the rule. Ironically, it would be one Star Trek: Voyager comic that showed the positive side of breaking Star Trek’s Prime Directive.