Kate Mulgrew Says She And Patrick Stewart Were The Only Real Star Trek Captains, Seems Unclear On The Concept

By David Wharton | 9 years ago

Actress Kate Mulgrew has one of the coolest distinctions of any actor to appear in the Star Trek franchise: as Captain Kathryn Janeway, she played the only leading female commander role of the entire franchise so far. Sure, it was on what is arguably the worst of the Star Trek spinoffs, but still: it was a major landmark in fandom, and definitely something to be proud of. However, she seems to be confused about her other company in the Trek Captains Club. In a new interview she gives a confusing statement where she seems to argue that only her and Patrick Stewart’s Picard count as real captains. She then tries to clarify…and only makes things more confusing.

Mulgrew was speaking to Splitsider about her career in general, and specifically her work on the Adult Swim crime procedural parody, NTSF:SD:SUV (National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle), where she plays Kove, the eyepatch-wearing leader of the anti-terrorism task force. That show was created by Paul Scheer (Andre from FX’s The League), and the interviewing journalist asks Mulgrew about a statement Scheer made to them, where he claimed that Mulgrew has said there were only two real Star Trek captains: her and The Next Generation’s Picard.

She seems hesitant to delve into it, since she’s worried her comments will “go viral.” (Too late!) When asked to clarify, Mulgrew says:

Well, there are only two captains who were lost in space who did seven years, okay? Deep Space Nine was a space station. Shatner only did three seasons. [Scott] Bakula was cancelled after four.

The interviewer then points out — incorrectly — that Avery Brooks was only a commander (he was promoted to captain during season three of Deep Space Nine). Mulgrew then continues.

That’s what I’m saying, it was a space station. He wasn’t in space, lost in space. Patrick Stewart and I – Picard and Janeway – were the only two intrepid, lost-in-space captains. I really think that’s true, right?

And after that I’m sure many Trek fans are right there with me: scratching our heads and wondering what the hell she’s talking about. Commanding a space station doesn’t make you a real captain? Or do you have to be “lost in space” on a starship to be a real captain? If so, that description really doesn’t fit any Star Trek captain other than her, right? Next Gen was a lot of things, but a “lost in space” show wasn’t one of them.

I’m not sure if Mulgrew just wasn’t expecting the question and got flustered trying to answer, or if she just failed to communicate what she meant. Either way, her logic for discounting all the other Trek captains other than her and Picard seems inexplicable at best, and factually inaccurate at worst. It’s so arbitrary. At this point she might as well claim that she’s the only real Star Trek captain because none of the others are named Kathryn. It makes nearly the same amount of sense.

Given the meticulous nature of the fans when it comes to arguing about the facts and trivia of the Trek universe, I have a feeling those comments are going to follow her for a long time. If she wants some peace and quiet it might be time to move to the Delta Quadrant.