So, I just saw the new Star Trek film today. In short, I loved it. I’ve been a huge Next Generation fan since that show aired in the late 80’s, and that show was really my introduction to Star Trek. I had seen the movies previously, but because I was just a kid, and had never seen the original show, I didn’t have that much invested in them at the time, although I liked them. Since then, I have seen all the movies multiple times, and some of the original series, even though I never got into that like I did with the Next Generation. I also really liked Deep Space 9 – I thought that show was great, and had some great writing and characters. Tried to watch Voyager and Enterprise and never really got hooked by those. Anyway, one of the best things about the new movie is how they really brought in story lines and lore from the past Trek movies and shows, and incorporated those into the new story. Also, the way in which they re-launch the original franchise and basically start over again with a clean slate is just brilliant.
If you want to avoid spoilers, don’t read any further!
First of all, the way in which they re-introduce the whole thing. If you think about it, presenting the original crew so early in the story line (even before the original TV series) poses a major problem. Since this is before the original TV series, and all of the movies, you would have to basically re-make all of the stories that had already happened, because they were going to happen – we know this. They would have Tribble trouble, they would find V-ger – Ricardo Montalban would still get pissed at Kirk, they would still save the whales, and Kirk would still usher in an era of peace with the Klingons, etc etc. So how do you advance a story line with a group of characters when you already know the story?
It was in answering this problem that the writers did such an amazing job – brilliant job. You have someone from the future come back in time and alter history, thus creating a divergent time line. History was altered at the moment of Kirk’s birth, and from that time on, the “new” history, or the new time line for this new original crew was different than the original original crew. As a result, this original crew’s history has not yet been written. It is now completely wide open to be re-told. I won’t go into detail about just how they do it, but it’s was really I think the best possible solution to the problem, and it was executed brilliantly.
The other things I wanted to talk about were some of the connections to the lore that I don’t think you would catch if you weren’t a big fan to Star Trek already.
Connection to Star Trek: The Next Generation
During the course of the movie, you find out that reason that the villain, “Nero”, has come back in time is because in the future, a supernova explosion destroys the planet Romulus. Nero, being Romulan, blames the future Ambassador Spock for the destruction of Romulus, because Spock had a plan to stop the supernova and save Romulus, but failed. Spock was on Romulus in the future negotiating a peace between Romulus and the Federation when these events occurred. This was actually happening on the Next Generation TV series, toward the end of that series. Leonard Nimoy did guest star on several episodes during this story line. The movie picks up where the series left off.
Connection to Star Trek VI, The Undiscovered Country
Nero wasn’t just royally pissed off at Spock, he also blamed the Federation as a whole, and wanted revenge on the entire Federation of Planets. It’s important to remember who made up the Federation during the time that Nero came from (Which was maybe 25 years after the Next Generation series ended – I’m just guessing at this, but roughly). At this time, the major players in the Federation were of course, Humans, Vulcans and Klingons. However, during Kirk’s time, the Federation was always at war with the Klingon Empire. The single event that started the path to peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire (and that would lead to the Klingons becoming part of the Federation) happened in Star Trek VI – the last movie featuring the original cast. In this movie, a Klingon mining colony on one of Klingon’s moons explodes due to a catastrophic industrial accident. This event leaves the Empire weakened, and forces them to negotiate peace with the Federation.
During the new movie, Lt. Uhura receives a sub space transmission from the Klingon Empire, informing her that Nero has attacked the Klingons, and destroyed their mining outpost – the very same one that years later was due to explode and usher in peace. This is presented in the new movie very offhandedly and quickly – as it would be by anyone not realizing the historical significance. In essence, Nero has taken that event out of history, possibly making peace between the Klingons and the Federation impossible. It will be interesting to see how they play that out.
There are other things that are results of Nero’s actions that separate this new time line from the original one. Such as, Kirk growing up without a father, and the biggest thing yet, the complete destruction of the planet Vulcan, leaving the Vulcan race decimated (to perhaps 10,000 – where in the original time line, Vulcan was always there, with billions of Vulcan inhabitants).
So, like I said, I thought it was brilliant, and it completely frees this group of writers and actors to forge a totally new path for the original Enterprise. I love, love, love time travel stories, and also thinking about the consequences and paradoxes that time travel can create.
Probably my favorite movie with the original cast was Star Trek IV, The Voyage Home. In this movie (from 1986), the Federation encounter an alien probe headed straight for Earth. This probe is broadcasting something on a frequency so powerful, it neutralizes all ships it comes near. When it finally reaches Earth, it starts to do massive damage to the planet because of the enormous strength of its transmission, which no one recognizes as any known language. The Enterprise crew are returning to Earth in a stolen Klingon Bird-of Prey (long story – watch Star Trek II and III) when they get a distress call from Earth, warning all ships to stay away from the planet. They analyze the transmission, and Spock discovers that the language is that of whales, which have been extinct since the 21-st century. Their only option is to travel back in time, get some whales, and bring them forward in time so they can talk to the probe. The travel back to 1986 San Francisco, and their mission through this “alien” culture is really quite funny at times. But it was really done well.
Also, one of my favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes was a 2-part episode, between seasons 5 and 6 I think. The crew discover a race of aliens that are traveling back in time and stealing the life forces of humans. The decide the only way to stop them is to follow the aliens through their own time gate, and wind up in 19th century San Fancisco (as you can see, San Francisco has a special significance in the Star Trek lore- it is also the headquarters of Star Fleet). The crew go under cover as 19th century citizens to discover how the aliens are stealing peoples life forces. It all may sound silly, but the episodes were always done so great. The way in which the episode starts is also great, when they literally find Data’s head in an old mine shaft on Earth, beneath San Francisco.
My favorite Next Generation movie was Star Trek, First Contact, where the crew must follow the Borg back in time to the mid 21st century to stop them from taking Earth in the past.
So, Star Trek + time travel = good. The movie was awesome – go see eet!!!!!