Star Trek's Prime Directive Explained
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As much as the characters of “Star Trek” insist on adhering to the Prime Directive, they very rarely take their own advice. For whatever reason, it always seems to be more of a hindrance than anything else — most of the time that the Enterprise goes on a journey to help another civilization, the Prime Directive gets in the way. For instance, while attempting to stop a volcano from wiping out a primitive species — and Spock (Zachary Quinto) — in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” Kirk (Chris Pine) is the first to forgo it, leading to his temporary demotion. And while Kirk is always the first to bend the rules, he isn’t the only one. Even Captain Pike (Anson Mount), who tries to live his life to the letter of Starfleet, finds himself in situations where skirting around the Prime Directive is the only way.

In the series premiere of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” it is revealed that the Federation had accidentally made its existence known to the planet Kiley 279 during the Battle near Xahea. Having observed the 100+ warp signatures through a telescope, the Kiley were able to reverse-engineer the technology to create a warp bomb. So with Starfleet having effectively already interfered in the planet’s development, Pike and his crew reveal themselves to convince the Kiley to use the technology for exploration rather than self-destruction. Despite their good intentions and ultimate success, however, it is only thanks to a loophole that everyone involved is not court-martialed.

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