Star Trek Has Forgotten Its Infamous Pleasure Planet

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Despite its immense potential, the Star Trek franchise seems to have forgotten about its most infamous pleasure planet. Although Star Trek is mainly about space exploration and scientific discovery, all Star Trek TV shows have had an episode where the crew is allowed to blow off steam, and no shore leave planet has become more famous in the franchise than Risa. First introduced in the Star Trek: The Next Generation season 3 episode, “Captain’s Holiday,” Risa has become synonymous with vacation and tourism, although it was only included in a handful of episodes across multiple series.

Over about four episodes, TNG and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine showed the planet’s status as a popular shore leave destination in the 24th century, with characters like Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), or Worf (Michael Dorn) and Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) vacationing there. Star Trek: Enterprise also fleshed out Risa’s backstory, showing that it had once been more inhospitable before the native Risians had terraformed their planet into a paradise with advanced technology. Risa had enormous potential for Star Trek, but in recent projects, the franchise seems to have sidelined it.

Star Trek Has Forgotten Its Infamous Pleasure Planet Risa

Risa Hasn’t appeared in Star Trek for ages

Aside from a brief appearance in Star Trek: Discovery season 3, modern Star Trek has completely forgotten about Risa as a setting for any of its episodes. The planet has been mentioned once or twice in episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek: Picard, and Discovery provided two more concrete references to it. These took the form of briefly showing the Mirror Universe Risa in Discovery season 3’s “Terra Firma, Part 2” and the character of Ruon Tarka (Shawn Doyle), a native Risian, in season 4.

Although the Enterprise episodes that depicted Risa technically aired after DS9 , the events in them took place chronologically over a century before.

However, no Star Trek main character has been shown visiting the planet since Worf and Dax vacationed there in DS9’s “Let He Who Is Without Sin…” Although the Enterprise episodes that depicted Risa technically aired after DS9, the events in them took place chronologically over a century before. The lack of Risa in newer and upcoming Star Trek projects is disappointing, especially because the franchise now has the ability to expand the planet and make it more interesting.

Modern Star Trek Could Actually Make Risa More Inviting Than Ever

The franchise has better capabilities to depict Risa than before

Thanks to CGI technology and special effects abilities in 2024, newer Star Trek shows could flesh out Risa in ways that weren’t possible in the 1990s. The recent slate of Star Trek streaming shows has adopted technology called the AR wall, which consists of large LED screens that allow shows to create enhanced visuals, letting actors see their surroundings unlike green screens, and building more interactive environments without the need to shoot on location. Using the AR wall to depict Risa would be a chance to make the planet feel more real.

While the visuals in the 90s-era Star Trek shows were cutting edge at the time, the production team often relied on 2D matte paintings for wide shots, and rarely shot on location, instead shooting on sound stages and artificial environments. This didn’t help make Risa feel particularly fleshed out, but with bigger budgets and better technology like the AR wall, the possibilities for the planet in modern Star Trek are endless. If the franchise brought Risa back, it could finally depict the planet in all its glory.

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