There are very few things people find odd in the Star Trek community, and celebrating First Contact before it’s even happened doesn’t seem to be one of them. Though, you’ll notice that we Trekkers/Trekkies celebrate the canon universe First Contact Day, when Humans and Vulcans became friends. But we definitely do not celebrate the Mirror Universe First Contact Day, which is really First Dead Alien Day… because… you know… Zefram Cochrane shoots the Vulcans in that timeline. So if you’re a fan of the mirror universe, maybe that’s really the day you should be celebrating.
Every wonder why, of all days, First Contact Day is April 5th? Well, according to StarTrek.com, it’s Ronald D. Moore’s oldest son’s birthday.
In any case, if you’re interested in living out the entire First Contact “saga” again, it’s important to remember that the Star Trek series are available for free on hulu up until the release of Star Trek Into Darkness, and have been in order to celebrate another Trekkie holiday, Shatner’s birthday.
The first episode you have to watch is naturally “Metamorphosis” from the original series, though if you’re from the The Next Generation generation, you may not recognize Zefram when you first see him. If you plan on watching this episode and feel more enlightened about Zefram, be warned: his character was significantly rewritten for the First Contact movie.
The most obvious change is that this guy:
Becomes this guy:
You’re second big hint is that the the original series Zefram isn’t even from Earth which pretty much contradicts the entire setting of the the movie, First Contact.
Anyway, in the original series, Cochrane’s story lands him on a desolate and out of the way planet after he journeys out into space in order to die. There on the planet, he is rejuvenated (which would explain why he looks so much younger, and oh so much more handsome) and made to stay in order to keep the alien he named “The Companion” happy… which, tangentially, puts a whole different spin on Doctor Who if you feel like thinking about it.
But I think we all know the most memorable Zefram will always be from First Contact, the second movie from The Next Generation. his character becomes far less clean cut and adventurous, and falls more into the realm of dirty drunkard with genius intellect interested only in making more money to buy more alcohol, which let’s face it… makes him a far more interesting character to watch, if not mess with the entire idea of how we idolize heroes form the past.
While Cochrane’s original story line was a sort of asinine allegory about love, Cochrane’s story in First Contact is introduced in a far more interesting context, namely a second Cold War that gets interrupted by the time-traveling Borg. In the end, the two characters don’t really compare, but I think it’s safe to say that the second Cochrane is the fan favorite of the two.
Unfortunately, Hulu chose not to celebrate Shatner’s birthday with the Star Trek movies, but if you have Netflix streaming, I would definitely check, or re-check if they case may be, the movie out. Don’t want to do that? Buy a DVD! Can’t? Find a friend who has it and be their friends for the rest of your life because they clearly have excellent taste. Barring that… well.. I just don’t want to know you.
May you have a fantastic year until the -49 anniversary of First Contact as we count down each year until the Vulcans finally come.