Star Trek V: Kirk manoeuvres his way into the director's chair
March 9, 2015 9:15 AM   Subscribe

In response to a perhaps unsurprising takedown of Spock in the wake of Leonard Nimoy's death from the Washington Free Beacon, Daniel Drezner at the Washington Post takes a hard look at the career of Captain Kirk (with a particular focus on the films), the neo-conservative's more obvious spirit animial. Kirk doesn't come out looking very good.

Star Trek I: Kirk forces his way into command of the Enterprise.
Star Trek II: Kirk passively-aggressively navigates his way into command of the Enterprise.
Star Trek III: Kirk illegally commandeers and captains the Enterprise.
Star Trek IV: Miraculously, at the end of the film, Starfleet Command gives Kirk another Enterprise!
Star Trek V: Nope, life is short, I’m not watching this piece of dreck ever again. Ever.
Star Trek VI: Kirk is close to retiring, but manages to take the Enterprise out for one last mission.
Star Trek VII: Kirk comes this close to usurping command of the Enterprise B from its captain before realizing what a total dick he’s being.
Star Trek Reboot I: Kirk goads Spock into a fight by taunting him about the death of his family to get back command of the Enterprise
Star Trek Reboot II: Kirk proposes an illegal, personal mission of vengeance to claw his way back into the command chair of the Enterprise.
posted by dry white toast (189 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Kirk was always a complete dick. No analysis needed.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:20 AM on March 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


And that's why he's the captain.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:24 AM on March 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


There's something about Kirk's behavior which has always screamed "the distilled essence of the wet dream of American Exceptionalism".

And unrelatedly, note the absentee-father factor.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 9:26 AM on March 9, 2015 [29 favorites]


Oh, Checkmate, Drezner. Checkmate.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:29 AM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Kirk is awesome because he's not willing to let regulations or directives get in the way of kicking ass and getting shit done. If he was in the present day he'd be a silicon valley brogrammer disrupting incumbent industries while bedding countless supermodels. Of course he's a neo-con wet dream.
posted by vuron at 9:29 AM on March 9, 2015 [31 favorites]


Star Trek V: Nope, life is short, I’m not watching this piece of dreck ever again. Ever.

Star Trek V: Captain Kirk is climbing a mountain. Why is he climbing the mountain?
posted by dng at 9:30 AM on March 9, 2015 [21 favorites]


There's a part of the Free Beacon piece that feels a lot like he's trashing Spock as a reflexive response to something Obama likes.
posted by dry white toast at 9:30 AM on March 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


There's a part of the Free Beacon piece that feels a lot like he's trashing Spock as a reflexive response to something Obama likes.

I thought that more or less went without saying.
posted by holborne at 9:32 AM on March 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


Well said Vuron.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 9:32 AM on March 9, 2015


Kirk in TOS is quite similar to Virgil's Aeneas: wander around Mediterranean/Galaxy until an interesting island/planet is reached. Land on beach/beam down to surface. Trojans/redshirts die, Aeneas/Kirk gets laid, or at least has some fabulous adventure. Back to the ship for the next adventure.
posted by thelonius at 9:33 AM on March 9, 2015 [28 favorites]


There's a part of the Free Beacon piece that feels a lot like he's trashing Spock as a reflexive response to something Obama likes.

It's what's known as 'conservative intellectualism'.
posted by Think_Long at 9:33 AM on March 9, 2015 [31 favorites]


The questions of whether it'd be fun to be Kirk and whether it'd be fun to be anywhere near Kirk are very different indeed.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:40 AM on March 9, 2015 [57 favorites]


Neither Spock nor Kirk can hold a candle to Riker when it comes to good old fashioned captainly incompetence.
posted by dng at 9:43 AM on March 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


*cough*
posted by Sys Rq at 9:44 AM on March 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Ugh, please do not include the latest "Star Trek" movies in any analysis of the characters from the original series or its movies. Seriously. They are a bad impression at best, a wholly different franchise with familiar stickers plastered on for marketing purposes at worst.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:50 AM on March 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


I think Kirk is best understood as the asshole in high school who had the cool car.
posted by srboisvert at 9:50 AM on March 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


One of the things which made Boston Legal so fun was it brought together two of the best practitioners of the dark art of making irredeemable fucksticks likeable.
I just wish conservatives would realise you're supposed to like them despite the fact they're assholes.
posted by fullerine at 9:58 AM on March 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


> I think Kirk is best understood as the asshole in high school who had the cool car.

Quite.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:01 AM on March 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Star Trek V: Captain Kirk is climbing a mountain.

Captain Kirk trying to free solo El Cap? Sure. Just the sort of thing he'd do.

William Shatner? Nope Nope Nope.

That's why that scene didn't work. If 1967 Shatner was doing that scene? It might have worked.
posted by eriko at 10:02 AM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't know about anyone else, but I am tired as hell of seeing political wonks using fictional characters I like to score rhetorical brownie points.

Anyway, Kirk is not a goddamn dudebro. He was a closet nerd, a self-described 'stack of books with legs--positively grim.' He was rico suave with the ladies, and he had swagger to spare, but for the love of God, he was not some Red Bull-chugging chucklefuck.

I didn't read the Beacon thing, but anyone who bad-mouths Mister Spock, so soon after Nimoy's passing, well, they can just die immediately and decay.
posted by KHAAAN! at 10:04 AM on March 9, 2015 [77 favorites]


I've always thought TOS-era Kirk as more thoughtful nerd than an asshole - certainly he's socially adept (and uh, can throw a... grapple), but he never struck me as a meathead. How pop culture perception has changed him though... is it because it was impossible to consider a 'cool' lead without associating a character with traits of a jock/meathead? in any case, as a consequence, I present you... reboot!Kirk.
posted by cendawanita at 10:04 AM on March 9, 2015 [17 favorites]


on preview -- jinx!
posted by cendawanita at 10:05 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


All you really need to know about Kirk if his resume ever comes across your desk is that his main claim to fame as a graduate student was brazenly cheating to pass his final exams.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:06 AM on March 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


It's what's known as 'conservative intellectualism'.

In other words, an oxy moron.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:08 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Attention, Lurkers: "Red Bull-Chugging Chucklefuck" is still an available username!
posted by Navelgazer at 10:08 AM on March 9, 2015 [28 favorites]


In a similar vein, I am naming my (currently imaginary) indie rockabilly band "The Chucklefucks." Attempt no landings there -- that name is taken.
posted by mosk at 10:22 AM on March 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


1 All you really need to know about Kirk if his resume ever comes across your desk is that his main claim to fame as a graduate student was brazenly cheating to pass his final exams.
posted by saulgoodman


Hey, man, he received a commendation for original thinking.

2. I love Wrath of Khan fiercely, but it does pretty seriously underplay a major Kirk fuckup. If he'd followed Starfleet regs and put his shields up (as Saavik points out right there in the goddamned scene) upon Reliant's approach, things shake out differently. Khan takes a shot, and then Reliant immediately gets dusted by the vastly superior Enterprise and is boarded, with Khan and crew going right into custody. Kirk's (pointless!) fuckup costs all kinds of lives, and he gets off with nothing more than a quick line telling Saavik she was right. The third movie probably should have been called Star Trek III: Kirk Gets Hauled in Front of a Starfleet Tribunal for Court Martial.

I'm not a big headcanon guy, but I do assume that in the ST universe there's a little subculture of Kirk truthers desparately and frustratedly trying to get out the word about what really happened with the Reliant incident.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 10:23 AM on March 9, 2015 [40 favorites]


There's a part of the Free Beacon piece that feels a lot like he's trashing Spock as a reflexive response to something Obama likes.

There's also an Iran subtext here: "An appeasing arrogant jerk...Spock spends most of his life as a freelancing diplomat eager to negotiate with the worst enemies of Starfleet."
posted by Iridic at 10:24 AM on March 9, 2015


I think TOS!Kirk is being posthumously (?) tarnished by his association with AOS!Kirk.

Pine's Kirk is an asshole who should never have been given a command (at least not without first suffering through some pretty significant punishment for gross insubordination).

Shatner's Kirk was a cowboy who cared more about his people and his ship than his own safety. Arrogant, yes, but he would never have done what Pine's Shatner did in the first reboot movie. (I couldn't bring myself to watch the second one.)
posted by suelac at 10:25 AM on March 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I've always had those same issues with Kirk. It never really affected my enjoyment of the show or films, and I've come to appreciate him more with age, but "deeply flawed hero" just begins to scratch the surface. And like so many heroes of legend, his tragic flaw is his own hubris.

Spock spends most of his life as a freelancing diplomat eager to negotiate with the worst enemies of Starfleet.

And he's mostly SUCCESSFUL at it! His efforts usually work out to be mutually beneficial for all parties involved!

Kirk is awesome because he's not willing to let regulations or directives get in the way of kicking ass and getting shit done.

Where that becomes problematic is that he appoints himself judge, jury, and executioner - he unilaterally decides which asses should be kicked and what shit should get done. Hubris again.

But damn, he was charming. If I was a pastel-hued space lady in a tinfoil bikini, even knowing that I'd probably conveniently die afterwards, I can't say I wouldn't be tempted.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:31 AM on March 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


If he'd followed Starfleet regs and put his shields up (as Saavik points out right there in the goddamned scene) upon Reliant's approach, things shake out differently.

Funny thing there is watching Kirk totally fall prey to familiarity bias. Even though everything about the situation screams take defensive action, even though he senses it, he can't overcome the voice in his head saying "Federation ship, good."
posted by dry white toast at 10:31 AM on March 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


In a similar vein, I am naming my (currently imaginary) indie rockabilly band "The Chucklefucks." Attempt no landings there -- that name is taken.

Can I still call my popcorn company "Orville Chucklefucker?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:32 AM on March 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Kirk was never supposed to be anything other than a figurehead, a pretty boy in charge of a flagship starship that was meant ceremonially, for research, and for diplomatic trips. Lucky for him, Starfleet surrounded him with one of the best crews ever assembled, because he kept stumbling into circumstances well beyond his mission. But Kirk is a cowboy who got lucky a few times and started believing his own press. Talk to any member of Starfleet, privately, at a bar, and they'll tell you the same thing after a few drinks. His nickname is hornblower, and I thought it was because he blows his own horn so much, but, in fact, Starfleeters who use that term are referring to Horatio Hornblower, who I understand Kirk modeled himself after -- he has actual vintage first editions of the Hornblower books in his collection. Never mind that Hornblower came from crushing poverty while Kirk was handed his position due to his lifer Starfleet father and his infinitely superior brother George. Never mind that Hornblower slowly rose through the ranks through a combination of skill and daring, while Kirk cheated his way up -- which his father managed to get passed off as "creative thinking." Never mind that Kirk was handed control of the Enterprise after a far more skilled commander, Pike, was injured under mysterious circumstances.

There's some hogwash floating around about Kirk helping Pike go to a planet where all of his dreams come true, but that sounds like the puppy heaven story people tell kids when their pet dies. I think Kirk just jettisoned him out the airlock.
posted by maxsparber at 10:36 AM on March 9, 2015 [30 favorites]


Can I still call my popcorn company "Orville Chucklefucker?"

Well, OK, but he's also our banjo player...
posted by mosk at 10:36 AM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


You know, I get that Kirk screwed up royally in their first encounter with the Reliant, but to be fair, I think the point was made that he'd been flying a desk for quite some time, and maybe he was a little rusty. He certainly beat himself up for his screw-up afterward. It was a necessary mistake, in terms of compelling storytelling, I think.
posted by KHAAAN! at 10:39 AM on March 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


If he'd followed Starfleet regs and put his shields up

I have been watching TNG with my girlfriend lately, and the number of times Picard fails to raise shields (in a universe where it is repeatedly established that shields down = total [or near total] destruction) in situations where it would be completely prudent is astonishing. Just last night, we watched the Redemption two-parter, and when the Romulan warbird decloaks and it's all "raise shields, Captain?" and Picard just says, "no" or "not yet". What the hell, man? Why would you NOT raise shields? It's not like raising shields blows a Kitten Fuse or anything.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:41 AM on March 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


"What dies god want with a starship?" Is probably the only memorable line of the franchise not in II.
posted by Artw at 10:42 AM on March 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


In fact, it really seems like there is just no reason to ever have your shields down at all. Blip them off to use the transporter. Why are they ever down?!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:43 AM on March 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


What the hell, man? Why would you NOT raise shields?

This is TNG. There's probably a conflict resolution textbook that says it signals fightiness.
posted by Artw at 10:43 AM on March 9, 2015 [18 favorites]


"What dies god want with a starship?" Is probably the only memorable line of the franchise not in II.
posted by Artw


Nah:
"The only choice that's left to us /
how many megatons? /
And IIIIIII hate you /
And IIIIII berate you /
And IIIIIIII say SCREW YOU!"
posted by the phlegmatic king at 10:43 AM on March 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


Hey, man, he received a commendation for original thinking.

Because he was the first person to get the idea to hack an important computer test to make sure he passed it? I'm skeptical the hacker community was in such a state of decline by 2364 that this idea could still have qualified as an example of "original thinking."
posted by saulgoodman at 10:45 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have been watching TNG with my girlfriend lately, and the number of times Picard fails to raise shields (in a universe where it is repeatedly established that shields down = total [or near total] destruction) in situations where it would be completely prudent is astonishing.

One of those random TNG novels ends with a cute Superfriends/South Park "I've Learned Something Today" moments on the bridge. Someone says a thing. Someone else says a thing. And then Worf [who recommended blowing up the alien bad guy from the word Go] says, "I, too, have learned something from all this."

Picard and Riker look to Worf with thoughtful surprise. "You, Worf?"

"Yes. I have learned that if you people would let me shoot things when I want to, we would have fewer problems on this ship."

And you know what? He's irrefutably right.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:45 AM on March 9, 2015 [25 favorites]


I'm not really big on the 2009 franchise but I thought the first one captured Kirk being a jerk real well.
posted by Artw at 10:45 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's probably a conflict resolution textbook that says it signals fightiness.

I mean, it surely is an act that says, "I am ready to not let you kill me with no resistance whatsoever," but that's pretty weak. The communications still work when the shields are up.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:46 AM on March 9, 2015


What the hell, man? Why would you NOT raise shields?

Could it be because the shields are energy hogs that, if left in the "on" position, would run down their fuel resources? Maybe they keep the shields turned off for the same reason the display on my phone goes blank after three seconds--ie, to conserve power.
posted by Gordion Knott at 10:51 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but TNG. Probably they have to offer. Free counseling to anyone who feels a bit intimidated by a shielded ship.
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Could it be because the shields are energy hogs that, if left in the "on" position, would run down their fuel resources?

It usually seems like as long as the warp core is engaged, their available energy is effectively infinite, but this is the most plausible chunk of handwavium for sure.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:53 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Steely-eyed Missile Man: "Why would you NOT raise shields?"

It's called Narrative Priorities. Got dang nerds nerding things up with their nerdy nerding. All your argue about was shorthanded in the scripts with "(tech)". Nobody wants to watch the adventures of the Sensible Captain who didn't get his Shit Wrecked and Learned Valuable Lessons.
posted by boo_radley at 11:01 AM on March 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


> That's why that scene didn't work. If 1967 Shatner was doing that scene? It might have worked.

The true horror of that scene is the way the closeups of of Shatner clinging in podgy, red-faced sweatiness to some rock alternate with long shots of a fit twentysomething in a Kirk wig actually doing the climb. Getting fans who are willing to accept mid-1960s low-budget space scenes cringe at the fakery of something takes quite a bit of doing but that scene does it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:05 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


You know, I get that Kirk screwed up royally in their first encounter with the Reliant, but to be fair, I think the point was made that he'd been flying a desk for quite some time, and maybe he was a little rusty. He certainly beat himself up for his screw-up afterward. It was a necessary mistake, in terms of compelling storytelling, I think.
posted by KHAAAN! at 1:39 PM


Eponysomewhat suspicious
posted by saturday_morning at 11:07 AM on March 9, 2015 [26 favorites]


Why would you NOT raise shields?

Raising shields could be seen as a prelude to opening fire and a belligerent act. Sometimes you are better off presenting your neck instead of your teeth.
posted by Renoroc at 11:08 AM on March 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Never mind that Hornblower came from crushing poverty while Kirk was handed his position due to his lifer Starfleet father and his infinitely superior brother George. Never mind that Hornblower slowly rose through the ranks through a combination of skill and daring, while Kirk cheated his way up -- which his father managed to get passed off as "creative thinking." Never mind that Kirk was handed control of the Enterprise after a far more skilled commander, Pike, was injured under mysterious circumstances.

I'm sorry, that shows up where in canon? (by which I mean the real canon, and not the re-boot)

Drama is made out of mistakes, and TOS follows quite explicitly in the tradition of Greek Tragedy, Shakespeare, and whatnot in that humanity is often the cause of and solution to all of the universe's problems.

The Kirk character is much maligned, for complex reasons, but Spock liked him. That's enough for me right there.

Here's to ya, lads.
posted by allthinky at 11:08 AM on March 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


> "Could it be because the shields are energy hogs ..."

If you had to leave your shields down most of the time to conserve energy, you know one of the times you'd still want to put them up? STARSHIP OF A HOSTILE EMPIRE DECLOAKING OFF YOUR BOW.

"Well, yes, Admiral, my entire starship got blown up because I didn't put the shields up that *one* time, but I must hasten to point out that during the three incidents previous to that, all of which turned out to be false alarms, I saved the Federation 38 cents!"
posted by kyrademon at 11:10 AM on March 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


One thing I noticed in III was they went our of their way to make all the other captains pompous and ineffectual jerk-offs.
posted by Artw at 11:11 AM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why would you NOT raise shields? It's not like raising shields blows a Kitten Fuse or anything.

It would explain a lot, though. Like, when Scotty said stuff like, "She'll nae hold, cap'n! I'm givin' her all I got!", what exactly was he giving?

He was giving kittens. Scotty and the engineering interns were shoveling kittens into the deflector manifolds as fast as they could.
posted by Iridic at 11:17 AM on March 9, 2015 [28 favorites]


Phlegmatic King:

That's the song the stereotypical 80's punk is listening to on the bus in ST IV, isn't it?
incidentally, the guy who played said punk wrote & performed the song. I think his name was Kirk Thatcher.
I didn't google that. That's off the top of my head, God help me



Everybody else:

I am pleased how quickly this thread has progressed to a nuanced discussion of a starship's shield-raising policy.

everyone's mental picture of me is going to be the simpson's comic book guy now, I'm sure of it
posted by KHAAAN! at 11:18 AM on March 9, 2015 [24 favorites]


I was getting ready to bluster and sputter about how energy-intensive it is to keep your shields up, but then I went and read the specs on the matter-antimatter reaction assembly, and it turns out: there's no real reason not to run with your shields up all the time you're not at warp speeds. It takes a couple of gigawatts to keep them running, sure, but your typical Galaxy-class starship has a warp core putting out 975,000 gigawatts. Kirk was just a dumbass.

Live and learn.
posted by Mayor West at 11:24 AM on March 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


The novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture has an interesting and relevant take on Kirk. It states that Kirk was made a captain because of his impulsive, emotive, dickish man-of-action behavior. According to the book, as the Federation was branching further out into the galaxy, Starfleet found itself overpopulated with space hippies who were incapable of handling the dangers of hostile contacts and such. They wanted a manly-man at the helm of the Enterprise, someone who would rely on gut instinct, who made snap judgments, who wasn't afraid of combat -- even to unnecessarily escalate a situation to combat. Starfleet wanted a brawler instead of a negotiator.

Kirk is a rule-breaking, uncontrollable, hot-headed dick. I think that's exactly what he's meant to be.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 11:26 AM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am pleased how quickly this thread has progressed to a nuanced discussion of a starship's shield-raising policy.

We are one, big happy fleet!
posted by Artw at 11:27 AM on March 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


Iridic: "
He was giving kittens. Scotty and the engineering interns were shoveling kittens into the deflector manifolds as fast as they could.
"

There's your cookie clicker sequel.
posted by boo_radley at 11:29 AM on March 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


Picard knows that the Romulans don't give the command of their huge space warships to any old moron, and by not raising his shields, he's signaling that he knows that the alien space commander knows that to blow up the Federation flagship when it hadn't even raised shields would be a declaration of war, and that nobody in the alpha quadrant could win a war with the federation.
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:30 AM on March 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


The kittens are antimatter, and therefore anticute.
posted by Artw at 11:34 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Continetti's piece is inherently bogus, because it's a neocon piece, first and foremost. Here are the typical neocon culture columns/posts:

1) Ruminating over the need for more conservative popular culture artifacts, both in the sense that they need to be more conservative and more popular.

2) Taking the opportunity to talk about pop culture as an excuse to troll straw liberals.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:35 AM on March 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


That's the song the stereotypical 80's punk is listening to on the bus in ST IV, isn't it?

Yep. That and the ultimate achievement of punk rock.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 11:36 AM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Raising shields is obviously a gesture that can be interpreted as open hostility. It's clearly not something to be done just for the hell of it.

Kind of like how a cop doesn't just preemptively draw his gun for every traffic stop.

(You know, in theory.)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:36 AM on March 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


It's funny how this thread (myself included) has ended up dwelling on one of the instances of Kirk messing up by inaction.

He may just be a shitty captain with one and exactly one redeemable skill: figuring his way out of Kobayashi Maru scenarios.
posted by dry white toast at 11:38 AM on March 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


He may just be a shitty captain with one and exactly one redeemable skill: figuring his way out of Kobayashi Maru scenarios.

Realistically, I imagine much of the crew would desperately want to see him court martialed and/or removed from command. Kirk is entertaining to watch from the outside. Actually working for him would likely be a terrifying and infuriating experience, particularly as you watched one co-worker after another die because the boss is a reckless ass.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:43 AM on March 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Raising shields is obviously a gesture that can be interpreted as open hostility.

This has been stated several times in the thread as bald fact, but respectfully, it's total bullshit. A purely defensive measure is not a "hostile act," and there are plenty of times in Trek when a ship has its shields up without everyone flipping their shit. A hostile act is charging the phaser arrays or, even more so, achieving a weapons lock, both things that it seems everyone who has spaceships is able to tell are happening. Raising shields just says, "I'm going to go ahead and tie my camel, here," and I doubt anyone but the most milquetoast of races (certainly not a category the Romulans fall into) would interpret that as "open hostility".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:46 AM on March 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


None of this is as confusing as to why they fire torpedos instead of teleporting them
posted by dng at 11:50 AM on March 9, 2015 [19 favorites]


He was giving kittens. Scotty and the engineering interns were shoveling kittens into the deflector manifolds as fast as they could.

Oh god. Was this why Data let Spot reproduce?
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:50 AM on March 9, 2015


There doesn't seem to be any kind of media in the ST universe but you could totally imagine a retired Kirk making the talk show circuit as a neo-con pundit.
posted by octothorpe at 11:52 AM on March 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


None of this is as confusing as to why they fire torpedos instead of teleporting them

Well, once they finally get around to raising shields, transporter beams can't go in or out.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:54 AM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Picard knows that the Romulans don't give the command of their huge space warships to any old moron, and by not raising his shields, he's signaling that he knows that the alien space commander knows that to blow up the Federation flagship when it hadn't even raised shields would be a declaration of war, and that nobody in the alpha quadrant could win a war with the federation.

Exactly. Not raising the shields is an expression of imperial/political power. It would debase the entire Starfleet to the level of common junk scavengers if they had to go around with their shields up all the time.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:56 AM on March 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


No. No no no no no.

Can people really list occasions wherein Kirk was a scary, reckless ass and people died because of it?

Meanwhile, I'll be in my bunk.
posted by allthinky at 11:58 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Seventeen separate temporal violations – the biggest file on record."
"The man was a menace."
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:00 PM on March 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


There's some hogwash floating around about Kirk helping Pike go to a planet where all of his dreams come true, but that sounds like the puppy heaven story people tell kids when their pet dies. I think Kirk just jettisoned him out the airlock

I would SO read that story. IJS.
posted by suelac at 12:02 PM on March 9, 2015


He may just be a shitty captain with one and exactly one redeemable skill: figuring his way out of Kobayashi Maru scenarios.

Also making computers explode using illogic and debating sentient clouds.
posted by Artw at 12:03 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Not raising the shields is an expression of imperial/political power. It would debase the entire Starfleet to the level of common junk scavengers if they had to go around with their shields up all the time.

This hardly seems like the kind of attitude Picard would have.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:04 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nobody wants to watch the adventures of the Sensible Captain who didn't get his Shit Wrecked and Learned Valuable Lessons.

Know what? At this point, I kinda do.

The cliché of the Loose Canon who Doesn't Play by the Rulebook But Dammit He Gets Results is utterly bankrupt dramatically. That the new Star Trek movies are prime examples is only an indication of how pervasive it's become in pop culture as a lazy shorthand for hero (and Abrahms and Lindelof are all about lazy shorthands).

Without a sense of their own hubris, this kind of hero doesn't merit a tragedy, just a comedy.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:06 PM on March 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


I will say this: It increases my enjoyment of Trek (or a lot of stuff, generally) if I don't try to analyze plot devices as real-world choices.

as a neo-con pundit.

It's practically canon, after all: "I've never trusted Klingons, and I never will. I can never forgive them for the death of my boy. It seems to me our mission to escort the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council to a peace summit is problematic at best."

And there's that wonderful invention that sounds like it should have existed before, "Only Nixon could go to China."

But this speaks to one of the worst issues with the original piece, i.e. that a) Spock was a "freelancing" diplomat, and b) that he was doing that thing that neo-cons hate, "appeasing" (although I have been assured that selling weapons to Iran via Nicaragua does not count on this score, as it is categorically impossible for Saint Ron to have been any kind of appeaser). First of all, it's abundantly clear that the Enterprise, at least, has tremendous autonomy to be a roving diplomat. (Remember when neocons were promoting US military regional commanders as our new "proconsuls"? Yeah. Good times. Screw those professional diplomats!) Second, final decisions were always in Kirk's hands as Captain, that is also abundantly clear. You just do not see Spock going behind Kirk's back to cut a deal with the Romulans. (The one time he was arguably doing that, Unification I/II in TNG, he was an Ambassador appointed by the Federation!) Third, though, this is the thing, you only negotiate with enemies, unless you really think that getting into war is a good thing we should be doing more of. But that's the neocon schtick, that enemies we are not yet at war with are enemies we are not yet at war with, and we should probably get a move on. Trusting this sort of analysis to be serious is hardly worth the attention it's given.

Anyway, canon has always been that Kirk needed Spock and vice versa. And ignoring Roddenberry's own vision for the series -- a peaceful, paramilitary force exploring the universe, not a shoot-first-ask-questions-later imperial/colonial conqueror -- seems like a whooshy hand-over-the-top-of-your-own-head. Why do that?
posted by dhartung at 12:07 PM on March 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


A purely defensive measure is not a "hostile act,"

Sure it is. Why do you think the US signed a treaty with the Soviets agreeing not to develop anti-ballistic missile systems? And why do you suppose the Russians were so upset when George W. Bush unilaterally withdrew from the treaty?
posted by indubitable at 12:08 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


What would Mirror Kirk do?
posted by Artw at 12:09 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nobody wants to watch the adventures of the Sensible Captain who didn't get his Shit Wrecked and Learned Valuable Lessons.

The seven year run of TNG says otherwise.
posted by dry white toast at 12:09 PM on March 9, 2015 [22 favorites]


You know, I get that Kirk screwed up royally in their first encounter with the Reliant, but to be fair, I think the point was made that he'd been flying a desk for quite some time, and maybe he was a little rusty. He certainly beat himself up for his screw-up afterward. It was a necessary mistake, in terms of compelling storytelling, I think.

In the extended director's cut - which I came across in a fluke at a 2nd hand store - there's a great moment in the aftermath of the death of Scotty's nephew in which Bones tries to reassure an upset Kirk. "You gave as good as you got," he tells Kirk. Kirk very rightly points out that he was only able to do what he did to Reliant because he has the advantage of knowing the technology of the ships better than Khan, and that edge is now gone. He's apprehensive of the next encounter with Khan; he's not sure he can beat him.

STII is an interesting film to me, because I find so much of it undermines the "Kirk as brash, arrogant, overconfident captain" wisdom. In many of his private moments with Bones or Spock, particularly in the first half of the film, Kirk is actually quite vulnerable and somewhat uncertain of himself. We are watching Kirk in a midlife crisis and the mistakes of his past coming back on him, with consequences for everyone around him. Even in the final fight with Khan, Kirk isn't acting rashly and with reckless disregard - he seeks advice and input, he listens, and he makes calculated decisions. I would argue that Kirk during that final confrontation is probably the best he's ever been: taking risks, but not blindly; maintaining his calm and control; using his understanding of the enemy to inform his actions.

Anyways, there's probably a big long essay in there to write about Kirk and the male mid-life crisis, regrets, identity and second chances; with Khan as counterpoint. But I will have to write that some other day.
posted by nubs at 12:10 PM on March 9, 2015 [33 favorites]


Nobody wants to watch the adventures of the Sensible Captain who didn't get his Shit Wrecked and Learned Valuable Lessons.

But TNG is the best one
posted by dng at 12:10 PM on March 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Remember he took the Kobayashi Maru test three times until he found a way to beat it; this gave him a taste for do-overs. Encountering the Guardian of Forever sealed it: his mystifyingly successful career is pretty well explained by simply going back there and fixing his mistakes as many times as he needs to until he has the most spectacular service record in history.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:14 PM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


the only good thing about Star Trek V is that I was working for VH-1 at the time and was handed the assignment to make the 1/2 hour, making of show on the movie. which meant I interviewed every key cast member from the old Star Trek days, and Gene Roddenberry, and the PhD linguist from Berkeley who created the Klingon and Vulcan languages and attended my first and only Star Trek convention - a wonderful real-world example of what was captured so perfectly in Galaxy Quest. so for those reasons I love Star Trek V. but as a movie it's pretty awful.
posted by TMezz at 12:21 PM on March 9, 2015 [21 favorites]


Star Trek Reboot I: Kirk goads Spock into a fight by taunting him about the death of his family to get back command of the Enterprise

I must come to NuKirk's defense a bit: Baby Kirk should NOT have been put in command of Enterprise here, but he was accurate in pointing out that emotionally-compromised Baby Spock was doing the equivalent of driving directly at an iceberg while chanting "LA LA LA I AM FINE LA LA LA," and everyone else (who was not a giant jerk like Kirk) was too afraid or too fond of Spock to push him on it. Uhura could've really called him out eventually, but maybe not before they hit iceberg.

But by the same token, Kirk was also too emotionally compromised to be useful, since Spock Prime had just showed up with his mind-meld and hastily shoved 100+ years of alternate-universe memories/sensations/whatever into Baby Kirk's fluffy blond brain. Kirk should've been catatonic or trying to open doors that don't exist in this reality or talking to strangers he's never met like they're old friends because he can remember their entire lives.

Sadly the mind-meld stuff is apparently gone by NuTrek 2, since Kirk doesn't immediately NOPENOPENOPE out of there when Khan shows up. I enjoy / admit to enjoying Reboot Trek more than a lot, but I would've liked to see a Baby Kirk a bit more warped by Spock Prime's influence. "We're doing this stupid thing because my exciting captain instincts say so!" is clearly inferior as a Stupid Plot Point than "We're doing this stupid thing because the elderly AU Spock sorta in my head kinda vaguely remembers something similar that happened, only in reverse!" (crew reaction in both cases: "oh great the captain's lost his mind again")
posted by nicebookrack at 12:22 PM on March 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


I am pleased how quickly this thread has progressed to a nuanced discussion of a starship's shield-raising policy.

I think my favorite shield-raising tradition is the way Riker always orders it with text painting. The word "up" always goes up in both pitch and volume. If he held the word "shields" a few beats longer, he'd be verging into game-show-announcer territory.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:22 PM on March 9, 2015 [15 favorites]


Sure it is. Why do you think the US signed a treaty with the Soviets agreeing not to develop anti-ballistic missile systems?

I wondered if anyone would bring this up. Are we just going to pretend there's no difference between individual and geopolitical actions? Are you going to argue that the activation of a ship's Phalanx (and Star Trek shields are even less offensive than that!) on contact with a ship belonging to a power that has been overtly hostile in the past has the same implications as building Star Wars?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:22 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


This hardly seems like the kind of attitude Picard would have.

No, but it would explain it being Starfleet's policy. And Picard, while generally admirable in his personal conduct, is nothing if not a stickler for diplomatic protocols.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:24 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Raising shields is essentially the first notch on the available use of force spectrum for a captain of such a starship, no?

Though yes, it is prudent (for us gutless people standing aside merely watching ;), it also signifies several things;
a lack of trust in those one (Captain) is encountering
a sign that things ought to escalate, and probably other things as well.

It is only stranded and far from "home" or on a border zone of a cold war, that a Captain might need to use such offensive (as in oppositional, not 'disgusting') tools.
posted by infinite intimation at 12:25 PM on March 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Why wouldn't you just have some version of shields up all the time, like the space equivalent of an antivirus program or firewall? It would drain a lot of power, but the ships could be designed to compensate.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:29 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I must come to NuKirk's defense a bit: Baby Kirk should NOT have been put in command of Enterprise here, but he was accurate in pointing out that emotionally-compromised Baby Spock was doing the equivalent of driving directly at an iceberg while chanting "LA LA LA I AM FINE LA LA LA," and everyone else (who was not a giant jerk like Kirk) was too afraid or too fond of Spock to push him on it. Uhura could've really called him out eventually, but maybe not before they hit iceberg.

Apparently you guys have never heard of the Idiot Plot:

In most adventure films and novels, the writers and directors have an imperative to keep their protagonists in jeopardy. This becomes difficult if they are surrounded by skilled professionals, paid to intervene and help, if called. Hence, storytellers feel compelled to separate their characters from meaningful help, so that any assistance they receive is either late or else below the level of danger offered by the antagonists. The more powerful the villains, the more competent that help is allowed to be. "But for the most part, institutions and your neighbors are portrayed as sheep, so that only the hero's actions truly matter."
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:30 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't you need shields just to be able to fly at warp speeds and not have space dust puncture a billion holes in the hull?
posted by octothorpe at 12:32 PM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I always kinda assumed those sudden looooong light streaks when you went to warp were actually the space dust specks warping with you. (yes I know they were supposed to be stars)
posted by nicebookrack at 12:34 PM on March 9, 2015


When I was a child, I thought Spock was cool and Bones was superfluous. Kirk baffled and confused me.

As an adult woman, rrrrow KIRK!!! (TOS only of course)

A leader, loyal to his crew, kind to children, sexy if he had to be, thoughtful, balanced his head and his heart, action-oriented... yeah I'm Team KIRK all the way.

the reboots can rot in hell... can't wait to see him defecate all over star wars /sarcasm
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:34 PM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't you need shields just to be able to fly at warp speeds and not have space dust puncture a billion holes in the hull?

That would be the Warp Field's job.
posted by dry white toast at 12:34 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't you need shields just to be able to fly at warp speeds and not have space dust puncture a billion holes in the hull?

That would be the Warp Field's job.


Actually, it's a complex automated system involving the main navigational deflector (the dish), the ship's shields, and support from the phasers to get rid of stuff bigger than a peanut.
posted by General Tonic at 12:39 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Warp field is firewall, shields are the antivirus?

Maybe for shields you could do the invisible space equivalent of a ha-ha.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:41 PM on March 9, 2015


Picard knows that the Romulans don't give the command of their huge space warships to any old moron, and by not raising his shields, he's signaling that he knows that the alien space commander knows that to blow up the Federation flagship when it hadn't even raised shields would be a declaration of war

Or, it's an opportunity for a canny Romulan commander to dispose of the Federation flagship out where nobody will notice it. "Gosh it's funny how many of our ships experience warp-core breaches out near the Neutral Zone. Must be some weird space-time thing.

Of course nothing Kirk did was as stupid as Picard's first encounter with the Borg. "Oh hey, we managed to partially disable the alien ship that attacked us. Instead of completely disabling it, let's act like a bunch of tourists and beam over!"

Nothing Kirk does compares to that blunder and the millions of lives lost from it.
posted by happyroach at 12:50 PM on March 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


As an adult woman, rrrrow KIRK!!! (TOS only of course)

even chunky perm Kirk, in the gold velour top?
posted by thelonius at 12:57 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


nicebookrack: I must come to NuKirk's defense a bit: Baby Kirk should NOT have been put in command of Enterprise here, but he was accurate in pointing out that emotionally-compromised Baby Spock was doing the equivalent of driving directly at an iceberg while chanting "LA LA LA I AM FINE LA LA LA," and everyone else (who was not a giant jerk like Kirk) was too afraid or too fond of Spock to push him on it.

Also, he basically did it at Old Spock's urging. It wasn't a bit of dickishness that sprang out of nowhere.

But by the same token, Kirk was also too emotionally compromised to be useful, since Spock Prime had just showed up with his mind-meld and hastily shoved 100+ years of alternate-universe memories/sensations/whatever into Baby Kirk's fluffy blond brain. Kirk should've been catatonic or trying to open doors that don't exist in this reality or talking to strangers he's never met like they're old friends because he can remember their entire lives.

I got the impression that Spock only gave him the memories he needed for that one situation. The wormhole, Romulus, etc.
posted by brundlefly at 12:58 PM on March 9, 2015


More morally fucked up in my view was how Kirk (and by extension Spock) threw a ton of torpedoes at the already doomed Narada. Just as a final fuck you. I mean, yeah, they declined your offer of help, but you can walk away without kicking them.
posted by brundlefly at 1:01 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


and support from the phasers to get rid of stuff bigger than a peanut.

Belay that order!
posted by Artw at 1:02 PM on March 9, 2015


Reading the shields thread I'm beginning to see Mefites as to space-diplomacy as D&D players are to high fantasy. Buncha murder hobos...
posted by Artw at 1:05 PM on March 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Warp Field must be a TNG thing, don't remember it in TOS.
posted by octothorpe at 1:09 PM on March 9, 2015


If you guys really want to get into it there's the question "why doesnt the Enterprise go Warp 9 everywhere?" and the horrible, horrible answer they came up for that in TNG.
posted by Artw at 1:13 PM on March 9, 2015


(NuTrek has "why doesn't everyone just teleport everywhere without spaceships?" and there really isn't an answer for that.)
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on March 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


"why doesnt the Enterprise go Warp 9 everywhere?"

I just figured the engines cannae take it
posted by thelonius at 1:15 PM on March 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


If you guys really want to get into it there's the question "why doesnt the Enterprise go Warp 9 everywhere?" and the horrible, horrible answer they came up for that in TNG.

I don't think we've gotten there, yet. I always thought it was accepted that warp 9 put a lot of stress on the ship and was therefore to be saved for emergencies, but warp 5 or so seemed to be standard cruise. On the other hand, sometimes they go somewhere at warp 2, just because. Maybe it's to give people more time in the holodeck before they hit space dock and have to do an overhaul.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:20 PM on March 9, 2015


If you guys really want to get into it there's the question "why doesnt the Enterprise go Warp 9 everywhere?"

Even before the pollution angle came into play, I always assumed sustained faster warp speeds put more strain on the engines and on ships' systems in general (like the structural integrity field and stuff), and it had been decided that it was a more efficient use of labor, dilithium, spare parts, downtime used in repairs, etc. to only go top speed when needed.

Of course, I'm no rocket surgeon, or even a Fungineer.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:22 PM on March 9, 2015


STII is an interesting film to me, because I find so much of it undermines the "Kirk as brash, arrogant, overconfident captain" wisdom. In many of his private moments with Bones or Spock, particularly in the first half of the film, Kirk is actually quite vulnerable and somewhat uncertain of himself. We are watching Kirk in a midlife crisis and the mistakes of his past coming back on him, with consequences for everyone around him. Even in the final fight with Khan, Kirk isn't acting rashly and with reckless disregard - he seeks advice and input, he listens, and he makes calculated decisions. I would argue that Kirk during that final confrontation is probably the best he's ever been: taking risks, but not blindly; maintaining his calm and control; using his understanding of the enemy to inform his actions.

Anyways, there's probably a big long essay in there to write about Kirk and the male mid-life crisis, regrets, identity and second chances; with Khan as counterpoint. But I will have to write that some other day.


For me, that's what makes it so great. For the first time, we see Kirk actually grappling with problems and not just breezing through life with a wink and a smirk. He has to deal with death, and fatherhood, and aging, and comes through it all as a wiser person and a better leader. And then the next movie completely resets all of those buttons and makes the whole thing pointless because I guess we just wanted 60s cowboy Kirk the whole time, but it's a damn shame.
posted by Copronymus at 1:23 PM on March 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Regarding raising shields, first, a single volley is unlikely to destroy a Galaxy-class ship. Second, the Enterprise was leading a fleet in that instance. I think not raising shields under the circumstances was a calculated act of bravado which had its intended effect. Once again demonstrating Picard's superior leadership.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:23 PM on March 9, 2015


This:

I'm not a big headcanon guy, but I do assume that in the ST universe there's a little subculture of Kirk truthers desparately and frustratedly trying to get out the word about what really happened with the Reliant incident.


and this:

There doesn't seem to be any kind of media in the ST universe but you could totally imagine a retired Kirk making the talk show circuit as a neo-con pundit.

are combining in my mind to form the world's most interesting Borgen-style post-scarcity political drama. Representative Jim Kirk is now an elder statesman, and his past is catching up to him. Gone are the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants adventures. Now his enemies are the press, the Federation Assembly, families of deceased red-shirts, green-skinned illegitimate children and a surly, surprisingly obstreperous Admiral Uhura. He keeps up a strained relationship with Ambassador Spock, but only communicates with McCoy if necessary. His relationship with Carol is deteriorating, his son won't speak to him, and now that he has transitioned to the civilian side, he is truly alone.

Alone at the top.
posted by eclectist at 1:25 PM on March 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


even chunky perm Kirk, in the gold velour top?

They call him The Velour Fog!
posted by Navelgazer at 1:28 PM on March 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


As an adult woman, rrrrow KIRK!!! (TOS only of course)

>> even chunky perm Kirk, in the gold velour top?


once he started wearing the girdle I was all "la-la-la i can't see youuuuu"

also I never really watched the movies more than once or twice.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:29 PM on March 9, 2015


Oh right - the perm toupee wasn't until the first movie
posted by thelonius at 1:30 PM on March 9, 2015


Warp is causing some buildup of something that is tearing the galaxy in on itself, mostly...

It should be accepted that there is no "canon" (cannon?) and it is a bunch of fairly amazingly well strung together and latticed, but independent sets of stories— at the base really nifty and awesome and complex morality questions, sometimes the writers posit "right answers", the best of times they don't, or leave open a/an ambiguity— sometimes the fans have run really far looking at the ethics of small situations. That is an amazing "outcome" of any media project. And like most of the media we see around us, IMO it asks questions of "what is love", it sees questions of 'what is family' what does family mean, or crew or shipmates, or away team members etc., in all the possible forms, love and loyalty, and devotion, and also going outside of the rules... of course far too often the consequences for 'boldness' or going around rules and "betting all in" so to speak are a little too frequent and broad as to fit cohesively into a "reality" that observes the rules of "chance".

I still like one answer to all the questions of "unbelievability". All the episodes (media) we have seen are what they are "in-universe media-visions of mirror universes in a multi-verse", or like, "meta-media" so it allows for a new reboot 20 years 10 years from now. That reboot will show that all those episodes are episodes from the real prime universe—historical relics— they will start the universe in some dim-present, maybe getting back into the old spirit of the original and "shaking up star trek" by making it about a "pitch" for a multi-national world that "starts doing space" (grim and gritty like geiger) and run up through time (emphatically not being to the point of being some self-parodic ultra thing like that punisher or power rangers fan films), telling the "prime" story starting from a hopeful near-present (this can be done several times).

Wait, we are about to enter into a real world situation where the world of "space" is militarized— that US X-1something space drone; and whatever other states have in parallel to it... does that mean there are jobs for space-diplomats in the near future? Cool times.
posted by infinite intimation at 1:33 PM on March 9, 2015


There was no perm toupee in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. That was much more a Wrath of Khan and beyond thing.
posted by hanov3r at 1:33 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


a single volley is unlikely to destroy a Galaxy-class ship

I don't know, I can recall several episodes where the shields were failing, and Worf mentions that one more hit will destroy them. A single hit from a Klingon disruptor vaporizes a shields-down Bird of Prey in the Redemption two parter. It seems a pretty stable supposition in the series that compared to the energy level of their weapons, the ships are made of tissue paper and the shields do all the heavy lifting, re: protection.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:46 PM on March 9, 2015


Metafilter: But then I went and read the specs on the matter-antimatter reaction assembly.
posted by saturday_morning at 1:55 PM on March 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Can I still call my popcorn company "Orville Chucklefucker?"

Anyone else notice the ads are just calling it "Orville popcorn" now?

Anyone else notice that "Orville popcorn" sounds an awful lot like "horrible popcorn" if you're not paying attention?

(Also, um, something something Star Trek.)
posted by Sys Rq at 1:58 PM on March 9, 2015


}} Also, he basically did it at Old Spock's urging. It wasn't a bit of dickishness that sprang out of nowhere.

What a weirdly specific goal for Spock Prime, too. "Go kick my emotionally-crumbling baby-self off the bridge so you can take over the Enterprise, Baby Kirk." One of the other officers who hadn't just had their species genocided couldn't take over instead? Come to think of it, IIRC I think Spock was the only experienced officer on that ship of tiny baby newbie cadets. Wow, that was a terrible idea.

It was apparently important to Spock Prime that Baby Kirk get control of the enterprise right now and not, I dunno, graduate from Starfleet like a normal person (like Kirk Prime?), because an Enterprise with Spock + Uhura + et al but no Kirk = just WRONG. Spock Prime is clinging to sentimentality here. Maybe Baby Kirk could've hung out in undergrad with Baby Sisko and Baby Worf and been just fine.

I got the impression that Spock only gave him the memories he needed for that one situation. The wormhole, Romulus, etc.

Maaaaybe this is possible (I forget how mind-melds work exactly), but I definitely got the impression that Spock Prime shoved stuff about his EPIC LIFETIME BROMANCE with Kirk Prime into the emotional mix, which again I definitely would've liked to see throw Kirk off his game more. It would feel like an incredibly awkward arranged marriage in which only one of you knew about the arrangement. "So, hi, Spock, apparently we're supposed to be Super Best Friends Forever? Except you are a huge jerk, and you think I'm a huge jerk, so clearly what the hell are you smoking, senile old Spock dude?!"
posted by nicebookrack at 2:16 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


As a lifelong Trekkie the very idea of Kirk as some sort of neocon fantasy makes me ill. F this spin, so hard.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:16 PM on March 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


For me, that's what makes it so great. For the first time, we see Kirk actually grappling with problems and not just breezing through life with a wink and a smirk. He has to deal with death, and fatherhood, and aging, and comes through it all as a wiser person and a better leader.

I recently watched Khan for the first time in a few years and was struck by how amazing it is that it even exists. A big budget space opera, based on a short-lived TV show, about death and aging? So strange. So wonderful.

And then the next movie completely resets all of those buttons and makes the whole thing pointless because I guess we just wanted 60s cowboy Kirk the whole time, but it's a damn shame.

God, yes. As always, I got teary at the end of that last rewatch but it was undercut by what I knew was coming. We have Kirk coming to terms with his own mortality as well as the death of his closest friend. We have him taking on the sudden responsibility of an adult son.

The next film? Both thrown out. A gutsy film followed by a cowardly one. Such a shame.
posted by brundlefly at 2:22 PM on March 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


As a lifelong fan of William Shatner, in his myriad ways...Maybe bringing in James Spader to play the bane of Kirk's elder years would be a cool movie that I'm pretty sure would bring an army of people to see and would be the best kind of cool.

Go forth and Splinter already fractured franchises!
posted by infinite intimation at 2:24 PM on March 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Personally I'm in favor of this new alternate timeline being a neocon setup, let them get emotionally invested and attached to it, then pull the rug out from under them by ending it with the court martial, trial and execution of Kirk by a joint effort of both the Klingons and the Federation when his wreckless abandon of Federation regulations results in the deaths of some diplomats, civilians and additional collateral damage.
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:25 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


The only choice that's left to us /
how many megatons? /


Memory Alpha was nice enough to point out that there was more to that song AND its on YouTube. #swoon. Dude was an associate producer for that film -- at twenty-four!
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:28 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


In addition to the Iran overtones, the author of "I don't love Spock" seems to be in favor of direct US engagement in the Syrian civil war, which should pretty much disqualify anything he says from being taken seriously ever.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:51 PM on March 9, 2015


Inaccurate depiction of ST VI, in which Starfleet Command orders Kirk to captain the Enterprise on a diplomatic mission -- one which Kirk initially opposes. He doesn't "manage to take the Enterprise on one last mission" -- he is ordered to. Lame.
posted by wuwei at 3:56 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Kirk submits to law and order the entire way, from following Starfleet orders at the beginning to taking responsibility for the actions of the unknown saboteurs on his ship.

It's Spock and the rest of the crew who sneak into Klingon space and illegally rescue him from the prison planet.
posted by brundlefly at 4:03 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Dude was an associate producer for that film -- at twenty-four!

My guess is that he was really more of a PA, and they gold-plated his credit because they didn't have money to pay him as a songwriter. Associate producer can mean doing something meaningful for the production, but often it's honorary or otherwise inchoate.
posted by dhartung at 4:06 PM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


The next film? Both thrown out. A gutsy film followed by a cowardly one. Such a shame.

Not to get too lofty, but I think the third film is about transformation, loss and rebirth. The death of Kirk's son was meant to be a horrible trauma for him, and so is the loss of the Enterprise. The genesis planet is tearing itself apart, everything is in flux. At the same time, Spock is literally being reborn and going through the agonies of his accelerated aging. At the film's end we have a reborn Spock, a reborn Enterprise, and in some ways, a reborn Kirk. It's not just a reset; Kirk, Spock and their beloved ship have all gone through hell and been fundamentally transformed, and now they are taking their first steps into a new life. It's a story about the messiness and pain of personal transformation, surviving the very worst that life can throw at you, learning from it and triumphing over it. Plus that movie has one of the all-time great James T. Kirk moments: I (face kick) have had (face kick) enough (face kick) of you!!

There is some lovely stuff, buried deep in the awfulness of Star Trek V. Shatner's not an idiot, and he had some good ideas. (A lot of classic Trek stuff was thought up on the fly by Shatner or Nimoy when they balked at something in the script. For two guys who bitched plenty about being typecast and their fans, they both took their characters very seriously and really fought to keep them consistent and interesting.) The campfire stuff at the beginning is really fun, and the stuff where McCoy and Spock relive their personal traumas ("So human...") is pretty wrenching. But the bad stuff is so bad, and there's so much of it. I do wish the budget had been there for the big rock-man fight Shatner planned for the end, because watching Kirk get chased around by some guy in a giant rock monster suit would have basically been the best thing ever.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:20 PM on March 9, 2015 [25 favorites]


Thanks, Ursula. You've given me a lot of think about regarding Search For Spock.
posted by brundlefly at 4:35 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, I do appreciate how the death of Kirk's son eventually pays off in the form of his hatred in Undiscovered Country (my second favorite ST film).
posted by brundlefly at 4:36 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Rewatching STIII recendy immediately after Khan I would say it's very clearly not as good, but it's not without some charm. And STII really does set it up to a degree where I am wondering how much they had planned.
posted by Artw at 4:44 PM on March 9, 2015


I am wondering how much they had planned

Actually, all the behind the scenes accounts are in general agreement; after Nimoy spent the whole filiming of II insisting he was quitsville, at the wrap party he shocked everyone by announcing how much he was looking forward to doing it again. So there was no deliberate setup for III in II at all; it was meant to be a great sendoff for Nimoy as he moved on once and for all to other things. It's a testament to the imagination of the writers that they managed to do as good a job as they did on the Spock return arc, because they hadn't planned on it at all.

That said, I wonder if the Genesis Planet might have had a rather different fate in canon if Nimoy had actually gone on to Broadway or whatever.
posted by localroger at 4:53 PM on March 9, 2015


Star Trek II is obviously the best film, but my favorite is number three, for personal reasons.

On June 1, 1984, Star Trek III premiered. On that same day, my family had to move.

We lived in a trailer park, and the owner of said park had sold it to a developer who was going to bulldoze everything and build a new shopping mall.

It's a complicated process, moving a full-sized, fully-furnished mobile home. My mother didn't want me around to be in the way. ( Our relationship resembles a bad Tennessee Williams play, but that's another story for another time.) Really, I didn't want to be there either, so she dropped me off at the theater early, around nine or ten in the morning. I figured I could wait there two or three hours, until the first showing.

So, I sat, and waited. I thought a lot about how my life was changing. When summer was over, I was going to be starting high school. Because of the move, I was going to have to make new friends, learn a new neighborhood, all those kinds of things. The new mall was going to wipe out almost all the physical evidence I ever existed. It was even going to kill the theater where I was sitting, musing on my future. Heady thoughts for a thirteen-year-old.

Anyway, time passed, and the movie started.

I had a good idea how the story was going to go. I'd spent most of my short life up to that point living in books, movies, and TV shows. Just from sheer osmosis, I'd picked up the basics of how a story worked, the beats, reversals, reveals. I knew Spock was going to be okay, it was just a question of when and how.

Things were rolling along fine until (spoiler alert for a 31-year old film) Kirk's son, David, was killed by the Klingons. Kirk's shock mirrored my own. Wow, didn't see that coming. I would have thought his status as the hero's son would have protected him.

And then they blew up the Enterprise.

I cried. I cried, because all at once, I knew that Spock might be okay through some writer's slight of hand, but the Enterprise, the 'real' Enterprise, was never, ever coming back. Just like my childhood home, and a lot of other things.

So yeah, Spock returned to life, he called Kirk 'Jim', and the adventure continued.

When the movie was over, my mom picked me up and took me to the new place for our old trailer, a few miles outside of town.

Everything was different.
posted by KHAAAN! at 5:01 PM on March 9, 2015 [43 favorites]


This isn't meant as an insult to Kirk, but Captain Kirk doesn't exist without Spock and McCoy as his his teammates. What makes Kirk is that he led a team, and listened to his team, and that they were his friends. The show would have made no sense with Bones or Spock as Captain, but the three of them balancing each other out? It made it brilliant.

Roddenberry was trying to say something about humanity by having the three of them bounce off each other every episode. It was for more than comedic effect.
posted by kmartino at 5:05 PM on March 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


"What dies god want with a starship?" Is probably the only memorable line of the franchise not in II.

One damn minute, Admiral!
posted by radwolf76 at 5:17 PM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


someone who would rely on gut instinct, who made snap judgments, who wasn't afraid of combat -- even to unnecessarily escalate a situation to combat.

So he's just a veloured cop then? Speaking of Spader, as someone mentioned him above, I love him and watch The Blacklist just to watch him dance, but that show is the most odious example of loose cannon, break the rules, torture-condoning, vile, macho claptrap there is. People like that sort of thing, apparently.
posted by umberto at 5:42 PM on March 9, 2015


So he's just a veloured cop then?

/reminded of James Bond being described as "a stupid policeman" by Dr. No.
posted by Artw at 5:51 PM on March 9, 2015


The questions of whether it'd be fun to be Kirk and whether it'd be fun to be anywhere near Kirk are very different indeed.

Realistically, I imagine much of the crew would desperately want to see him court martialed and/or removed from command. Kirk is entertaining to watch from the outside. Actually working for him would likely be a terrifying and infuriating experience, particularly as you watched one co-worker after another die because the boss is a reckless ass.

It would be criminal not to point out that Mefi's Own jscalzi has written a book (a very good one) on this very topic.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:01 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


This isn't meant as an insult to Kirk, but Captain Kirk doesn't exist without Spock and McCoy as his his teammates. What makes Kirk is that he led a team, and listened to his team, and that they were his friends. The show would have made no sense with Bones or Spock as Captain, but the three of them balancing each other out? It made it brilliant.

Yeah, there was one obit of Nimoy that talked about Spock as the logical foil to Kirk's emotional humanity, and I wondered if the writer had ever really watched Star Trek. Spock was the logical, rational, reasoning part; McCoy the emotional humanist; and Kirk the balance between the two. Together, the three are a powerful team that add up to more than the sum of their parts.
posted by nubs at 6:30 PM on March 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


In fact it is Spock's "arrogant presumption" in VI that precipitates the whole misadventure. At the same time, it's also his coolheadedness after Kirk and McCoy are arrested that avoids all out war.
posted by dry white toast at 6:36 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


It should also be noted, regretfully, that Harve Bennett, the producer for films II-V died two days after Nimoy. He was widely credited for returning the franchise to it's more character-based roots after the overwrought and over-budget first film.
posted by dry white toast at 6:41 PM on March 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


My personal favorite critique of Kirk is the Zapp Brannigan character referenced earlier, which captures the 'pompousness' of the character pretty well.

And though clearly I am a Picard guy, I think an argument can be made for Kirk. For a five year mission, Kirk's unflappability/self-possession could very much be a necessary trait - which was obviously well balanced by Spock's rationality. And of course this turned out to be a good pairing, with both characters learning much from the other.

The whole 'neo-con in space' angle is pretty off IMHO, though of course being from 50 years ago some of the "retired" tropes no longer in use today are still there in TOS etc.
posted by rosswald at 6:57 PM on March 9, 2015


This isn't meant as an insult to Kirk, but Captain Kirk doesn't exist without Spock and McCoy as his his teammates.

I think McCoy being sidelined says way too much about the reboot movies. The dynamic is supposed to be Kirk as the man of action with Spock as the brain and McCoy as the heart. Abrams and his screenwriters are just fine with the man of action, and Spock is the co-star because you can't not include Spock, but they have no role for the guy who is always preaching compassion, the guy who will call Kirk on his recklessness and macho bullshit. (It's particularly galling because Karl Urban makes such a great young McCoy, too. The guy is the only one in the whole damn cast who feels like he could actually be a younger version of the original character.)

KHAAAN!, I was spared a lot of the sadness of the original Enterprise's destruction, because I didn't get that it was literally the same ship from TOS. I assumed the original ship was on display somewhere, and this was its replacement, so it was sad that the current Enterprise was going down in flames but not nearly as sad as it would've been to know this was the freakin' 1966 Enterprise going kaboom.

I insist, even now, that Star Trek: Generations is a really good Trek movie, and for me the destruction of the Enterprise at the end is powerful stuff. This is the ship we've been following since Encounter at Farpoint, and it is dying in an epic, epic way. I think they did a better job selling the death of the ship than the death of Kirk, really.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:09 PM on March 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


See, the Kirk moments that stick out for me are him refusing to execute the Gorn; Kirk convincing the Klingons that they're being played by that murderous energy being; Kirk bluffing that planet that had virtualized and sanitized warfare into actually making peace; Kirk being willing to shoot down human miners to protect the alien Horta (massive spoilers all). I think there are a couple others that I'm missing. It's the sort of thing that gets dropped from the stereotype Kirk in pop culture.
posted by Grimgrin at 7:10 PM on March 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


The questions of whether it'd be fun to be Kirk and whether it'd be fun to be anywhere near Kirk are very different indeed.

You know it looks that way, but compared to other Starfleet captains he's way under par. Sure, he goes through personnel at an alarming rate by our contemporary standards, but almost every time another federation starship comes up in ToS (and the movies!) it's a total loss. According to Memory Alpha there were 12 or so Constitution class ships, and six of them were lost with all hands in the course of the series (that's a two year period, or about one every 4 months, or about one hundred crew persons per month. Starfleet is one shitty gig). No wonder the Enterprise is the only ship available to confront V'Ger/to answer a distress call in Star Treks I and II.
posted by rodlymight at 7:11 PM on March 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


This isn't meant as an insult to Kirk, but Captain Kirk doesn't exist without Spock and McCoy as his teammates. What makes Kirk is that he led a team, and listened to his team, and that they were his friends. The show would have made no sense with Bones or Spock as Captain, but the three of them balancing each other out? It made it brilliant.

I think mostly unconsciously when I was like 8 or 9 years old, in the mid 1970s, I imagined the man I wanted to eventually be as right in the middle of a personality triangle with Kirk/McCoy/Spock at each of the corners. I reckon that actually ended up working out not too badly.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:15 PM on March 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


One of Kirk's more Picard-esque habits is he let's Spock and McCoy argue over the merits of something and uses it to inform his decisions.
posted by dry white toast at 7:29 PM on March 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


One of Kirk's more Picard-esque habits is he let's Spock and McCoy argue over the merits of something and uses it to inform his decisions.

I love the Kirk Smirk that always happens as he sits back and lets Spock & Bones go at it hammer and tongs.
posted by KingEdRa at 7:32 PM on March 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Stavros, I know it's cliche, but they, along with a few other characters from fiction, fulfilled a similar need for me.
posted by kmartino at 7:35 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Excellent point, Grimgrin! Kirk has his flaws, but he is all about doing the right thing and protecting the innocent, always. He wanted to seek out new life, not force his own way of life on others. To call him a neocon dream is just wrong, in so many ways. He would be disgusted by a needless, senseless, bloody war against the wrong damn country. I'd love to hear the speech he'd give to Bush and Rumsfeld, full of contempt and sorrow and long... dramatic... pauses.

This is a lot like one of those lists of the best "conservative" classic rock songs, the ones where the authors misread something great and claim that it supports their bullshit ideas. But the Rolling Stones were not Republicans, and neither was Kirk. Sorry, but you dopes are not on the same side as the cool people. You're not the good guys in this story. You're Scrooge. You're Mr. Potter. You're the Klingons... and not the nuanced, honor-driven, lumpy-foreheaded Mr. Worf-era Klingons, either.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:45 PM on March 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


You're the Klingons.

Surely the Ferengi?
posted by radwolf76 at 7:59 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Artw: “"What dies god want with a starship?" Is probably the only memorable line of the franchise not in II.”
“Fly her apart then!”
posted by ob1quixote at 8:11 PM on March 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


In essence, Kirk is a commander who repeatedly and recklessly disregards the rule of law, possesses an inflated sense of his own abilities, takes preemptive action before thinking, adopts prejudiced attitudes towards adversaries and nearly destroys his ship multiple times without the benefit of a well-trained crew.

Honestly, this sounds like the concluding speech of the villain as he wends his way around the courtroom, using, say, a dead crewmate as the final justification for prosecution... and as they try to work towards the downfall of a man who stands before us having just lost his hand, his shipmate, his dear friend who in ignorance of love helped Kirk learn of a slightly more humble sort of love. the audience who are in on all of the little details of this grand adventure and can see the forest despise so many listed lilting trees... I hope we don't get sucked into buying these barely buoyant charges.
posted by infinite intimation at 8:25 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think the "reality" of the character of Kirk (in TOS, at least) has been taken over by Zapp Brannigan-style parodies and Shatner's acting quirks. The stereotype of the alien babe-bedding hothead cowboy is pretty powerful, but it doesn't hold up to the actual show.

A little while back I did a rewatch of TOS on Netflix. Aside from being impressed by the remastering they had done, I was particularly struck by the nobility of Kirk. I had vaguely remembered him as the cowboy of parody and legend - not holding up to Picard, naturally - and I was amazed at how genuinely thoughtful his character was in the original series. He had an out-of-the-box approach to many situations, but he wasn't really that reckless. In some episodes, he was downright stodgy in his meticulousness. His defining characteristic was his love for the Enterprise itself, and I'd completely forgotten how often that came up during my rewatch. He was honestly a character who was a genuinely good man, and I'd sort of forgotten how good he really was. It's a shame how the "idea" of Kirk has overshadowed what he was like.

And yeah, I don't think you can leave out how vital to the show the Kirk-Spock-Bones trio was, in terms of setting the character of the series.

(In contrast, I've been doing a rewatch of TNG as well. This time I'm amused at how some of Picard's actions that I agreed with at the time don't really stand up well. I love the guy, but he could be tedious and plain wrong sometimes.)
posted by Salieri at 10:14 PM on March 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


Surely the Ferengi?

Maybe. But while the Ferengi were all about the greed, (from DS9 on, anyway) they weren't really evil. The TOS Klingons were guys who liked to crash around and kill stuff. I don't know. Maybe Romulans?

The problem with this analogy is that eventually Trek always moved beyond the surface villiany of their alien races and gave them souls. (Even the Borg had Seven of Nine.) Nobody's managed to do that yet with the neocons.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:03 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: not some Red Bull-chugging chucklefuck.
posted by zardoz at 12:14 AM on March 10, 2015


What dies god want with a starship?" Is probably the only memorable line of the franchise not in II.

I'm from Iowa. I only work in outer space.

Shatner's not an idiot, and he had some good ideas.

I'm with you here, but you can have the campfire scene all to your ownself. I like to say that V had three good movie premises within it, and managed to botch all three -- but that doesn't mean it's worthless. I think McCoy's "I need my pain" is a great line and a thought-provoking sentiment. I hated the transforming heads CGI when it came out, but I've softened on learning how difficult and groundbreaking it was to do as an effect. There are ways in which the storyline resembles the TV show more than almost any other of the films (especially a debate with a godlike superbeing, although I'm also on record that that is my least favorite Trek story genre).

This is a lot like one of those lists of the best "conservative" classic rock songs, the ones where the authors misread something great and claim that it supports their bullshit ideas.

Yeah, pretty much. The neocon foreign policy and persona were wrought by the Cold War, and that's the only dynamic they feel America should live by. But of course Trek was itself a creature of the Cold War, and yet still it was more of a reaction and rebuke to it. Many Cold Warriors actually believed that megadeaths were inevitable, or at least that considering them inevitable was the start of a rational policy. Star Trek, simply by being set in the future, let alone by its multiracial, less gender-inequal philosophy, was a strong counterpoint to that conceptualization.

Surely the Ferengi?

More like Apollo/Adonais. "Why won't you all listen to us anymore, you puny humans!?" They know nothing of the wants and desires of ordinary people; to them, it's all mountaintops and fake classical temples.
posted by dhartung at 12:28 AM on March 10, 2015


Arghh, why can't I just sleep and avoid these threads.

Kirk did follow regulations and invoke yellow alert when Reliant failed to respond. One might wonder why "defense fields" and not full shields weren't raised as a matter of procedure, as they are in other episodes and films during yellow alert, but it is probably best explained as a plot device.

Also Kirk is a dick to Decker in STTMP, but that is just bad writing. His motivation for desiring to return to command is pretty weak, he just brass-kisses at Starfleet and shows up. Wrath of Khan conformed more closely to the original series writer's guide as a man "constantly on trial with himself" and opened the way STTMP should have.

(Double-dick move for letting the guy you replaced in command hook up with his robotic ex-girlfriend who convinces him to merge with a giant space cloud, and then never mentioning him again.)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:32 AM on March 10, 2015


(Double-dick move for letting the guy you replaced in command hook up with his robotic ex-girlfriend who convinces him to merge with a giant space cloud, and then never mentioning him again.)

And the fact that, previously, the same guy's dad sacrificed his own life to try to save Enterprise and crew from a Bugle corn chip that some how snuck out from the galaxy's largest snack vending machine, makes this a hat-trick.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:42 AM on March 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Also RIP Harve Bennett, without whom we would not have Wrath of Khan and likely nor this discussion.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:51 AM on March 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's established at some point that Kirk can beat Spock at 3D chess. I always found that plot point absurd, but it does clearly define Kirk as Not Dumb.
posted by latkes at 6:31 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


He betas Spock in chess because he is capable of making irrational, impulsive moves that Spock isn't able to predict. I don't think it has been established that he consistently beats Spock, though.
posted by maxsparber at 6:34 AM on March 10, 2015


Spock totally let him win.
posted by octothorpe at 6:51 AM on March 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


(Double-dick move for letting the guy you replaced in command hook up with his robotic ex-girlfriend who convinces him to merge with a giant space cloud, and then never mentioning him again.)

And the fact that, previously, the same guy's dad sacrificed his own life to try to save Enterprise and crew from a Bugle corn chip that some how snuck out from the galaxy's largest snack vending machine, makes this a hat-trick.


Wait. Will Decker? Matt Decker? How has it taken 30 years for me to realize this?

Mind slightly blown.
posted by General Tonic at 6:55 AM on March 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Wait. Will Decker? Matt Decker?

Even better: Matt Decker was played by Will Windom.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:01 AM on March 10, 2015


"What dies god want with a starship?" Is probably the only memorable line of the franchise not in II.

Double dumbass on you!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:17 AM on March 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Mind slightly blown. Yep, I'm right there with you. Of course, it took me years to figure out the whole Pike connection and I was even reading the books.
posted by eclectist at 8:30 AM on March 10, 2015


One of the neocon critiques of Spock is that he's a "freelancing diplomat?" That's supposed to be a bad thing? (Setting aside for the moment the question of whether it's even accurate.)

Wait, where else have I heard recently of people who are not authorized to conduct foreign policy on behalf of their government acting like they were?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:04 AM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Spock is not a "freelancing diplomat." He opens negotiations with the Klingons at the behest of his father, an Ambassador for the UFP. Starfleet works for the UFP. Unusual? Yes, but he wasn't freelancing.

I also think that Kirk's conduct throughout VI is commendable. He hates the idea of peace with the Klingons; he thinks that letting them all die is a perfectly acceptable outcome. But he gets his orders, and not only does he carry them out faithfully, he takes several steps to enhance and preserve the goal and intent of the mission: He invites the Klingons for dinner and then when things go sideways, he beams over with McCoy in a futile attempt to provide aid, and then surrenders and accepts the consequences because he knows that doing otherwise will jeopardize the process that has started. He know Spock will be plotting a rescue, but every action is aimed at furthering the mission and ensuring that the peace effort has a chance. He could've very easily sulked in his cabin and run for home when everything went bad. In fact, I can't think of a single time when either Kirk or Spock really went off on their own hook in doing something; Kirk was creative in interpreting the book, but he did follow the book.
posted by nubs at 12:32 PM on March 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


I can't think of a single time when either Kirk or Spock really went off on their own hook in doing something

"Mr. Scott, I understand you're having difficulty with the warp drive. How much time do you require for repair?"
"There's nothing wrong with the bloody thing..."
"Mr. Scott, if we return to Spacedock, the assassins will surely find a way to dispose of their incriminating footwear, and we will never see the Captain or Doctor McCoy alive again."
"Could take weeks, sir."
"Thank you, Mr. Scott."
"A lie?"
"An error."

------

"Captain, I have orders from Starfleet Command. We're to be put back into Spacedock immediately. To be decommissioned."
"If I were human, I believe my response would be, go to hell. If I were human."
"Course heading, Captain?"
"Second star to the right. And straight on 'til morning."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:13 PM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Don't call me tiny."
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:36 PM on March 10, 2015


Yeah, Kirk submits to law and order the entire way, from following Starfleet orders at the beginning to taking responsibility for the actions of the unknown saboteurs on his ship.

Yes, that was one of the most interesting parts of the movie. As Spock said, "Only Nixon could go to China." In order to convince the Klingons that the Federation's desire for peace was sincere, Starfleet needed someone the Klingons would have every reason to believe WOULDN'T submit to law and order or follow Starfleet's orders to the letter. That had to have been the hardest mission of Kirk's career, and I doubt he would have done it for anyone but Spock.

Re: The team of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, I always thought of it as a body. Spock was the brain, McCoy the heart, and Kirk the guts.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:36 AM on March 11, 2015


Spock is not a "freelancing diplomat." He opens negotiations with the Klingons at the behest of his father, an Ambassador for the UFP. Starfleet works for the UFP. Unusual? Yes, but he wasn't freelancing.

I could be wrong, but I thought that the "freelancing diplomat" comment referred to his work with the Romulans in the TNG episode "Unification" (and presumably beyond, since he stayed on Romulus to continue his work at the end of the episode.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:38 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Re: The team of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, I always thought of it as a body. Spock was the brain, McCoy the heart, and Kirk the guts.

My take has been Kirk -- Id, McCoy -- Ego, Spock -- Superego.
posted by rifflesby at 11:44 AM on March 11, 2015


Or perhaps Kirk: fire / McCoy: water / Spock: air / Scotty: earth

Now which one of them is Ringo
posted by rifflesby at 11:51 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Kirk -- Id, McCoy -- Ego

I believe this is exactly backwards.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:44 PM on March 11, 2015


Yeah after I wrote that and started thinking about it more carefully, it really doesn't hold up in any way.
posted by rifflesby at 2:10 PM on March 11, 2015


Nthing the appreciation for Harve Bennett; without him, it's possible if not likely that there not only wouldn't have been any more movies past the first one, but no spin-off series either. Star Trek: The Motion Picture had made a profit, but not nearly as big of one as the studio had anticipated, and was very expensive for the time (it cost more than four times the first Star Wars movie). Roddenberry's idea for a sequel? Basically a sequel to/ripoff of "The City on the Edge of Forever" (and imagine Harlan Ellison's reaction to that) where they have to allow the assassination to take place, with, I shit you not, Spock on the grassy knoll. Bennett watched the entire original series as prep, hired Nicholas Meyer, and made a superior movie for a quarter of the budget of its predecessor.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:31 PM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Or perhaps Kirk: fire / McCoy: water / Spock: air / Scotty: earth

Kirk is Moon, Spock is Mercury, McCoy is Mars, Scotty is Jupiter, Uhura is Venus...
posted by happyroach at 5:43 PM on March 11, 2015


That's ridiculous. Kirk has to be the Sun, since everything revolves around him. Spock is Vulcan, the hypothetical planet so close to the Sun that it can't be detected from Earth. McCoy is Chiron, the wounded healer. Uhuru is Lilith, the dark moon.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:14 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Clearly:

Uhura is Earth
Scotty is Fire
Sulu is Wind
Spock is Water
McCoy is Heart

Making Kirk Captain Planet.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:21 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


It should be accepted that there is no "canon" (cannon?) and it is a bunch of fairly amazingly well strung together and latticed, but independent sets of stories— at the base really nifty and awesome and complex morality questions, sometimes the writers posit "right answers", the best of times they don't, or leave open a/an ambiguity— sometimes the fans have run really far looking at the ethics of small situations.

How are you defining "canon"? Because the usage I'm familiar with is that "canon" is everything that happens onscreen/on the page. So yes, there is Star Trek "canon" — it's what we saw in the shows and movies and what's been written in the novelizations, etc.
posted by Lexica at 10:55 AM on March 12, 2015


Metafilter: Yeah after I wrote that and started thinking about it more carefully, it really doesn't hold up in any way.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:49 PM on March 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


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