Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

In which I spend a lot of time not watching the movie, Starfleet Security must be worth something now, and it looks like a lot of things won’t make it to the end of the film.

So far I have been pleasantly surprised by the movies. Wrath of Khan is, of course, a strictly speaking good movie, but even the Motion Picture was more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be. Whether that was because of the whisky or not, I leave as an exercise to the reader. But I digress. I’ll start out TSfS with a He’Brew Belgian Dubbel brewed with dates and figs, and let you know how this whole thing turns out.

Remember that when we left our heroes, Spock died saving the Enterprise from Khan’s final spiteful move, by repairing the warp engines and letting the ship escape the blast radius of a weapon which reconfigured a nebula into a lush planet. Where does the sunlight come from? Don’t ask. Spock was given a funeral and his body was loaded into a torpedo and shot onto the Genesis planet. He’s dead, but he also did some weird mind meld with McCoy and told him “remember.” So that is what they call Chekov’s Phaser. Wait, am I doing it right?

The movie opens with basically this recap, but done with much more solemnity, and the opening credits are over the torpedo casing and a flyover of the Genesis Planet. This is the one with Christopher Lloyd, so even if this one does turn out to be terrible, it’s got that going for it. Also, directed my Nimoy. Anyway, on to the main movie. I bet you thought I was just going to do an entire post of preamble. Well, watch out, Lettie-May. I just might.

This is what onboard repairs look like.

This is what onboard repairs look like.

We open with SadKirk talking about how they’ve repaired most of the damage and are going home for real repairs. This looks like more damage than the Enterprise ever received while he was rightful captain. (Remember, he’s an admiral, Spock was the captain of the Enterrise after it had been basically retired to serve as a training scow, after that time Willard Decker atomized himself in a poof of transubstantiation.) Maybe they were right to take it away from him. Currently, Kirk is operating a skeleton crew, with Saavik and his son David wandering around the Genesis Planet. Everyone is trying to be upbeat about how they’ve survived, and Kirk is just pooping on the party.

But what’s this? a non-Starfleet design out in deep space. Looks like a Klingon agent, and they’re buying data on the Genesis device. Another power thinking of it as a weapon, just because it has the power to reconfigure literally anything into organic matter. This is why Starfleet can consider itself a non-military force, by the way, despite having cruisers designed to carry civilians that’s capable of taking on two main battleships of other Alpha Quadrant powers in the 24th century, by the way. They’re all about applied science. Ever played Civilization? Remember how powerful your units get when you’re attempting a Science victory? Yeah…

I would never get tired of this view.

I would never get tired of this view.

The Enterprise docks and everyone admires the Excelsior, partly because it has transwarp drive. Today’s first shot of gratuitious starship porn, however, comes from a lounge shot from inside Spacedock Earth. Speaking of overwhelming Federation superiority, the Enterprise is indoors. It’s inside a cavernous chamber which looks big enough to hold at least twelve of them without anyone risking bumping into anyone else. Probably thirty or forty before it starts to feel crowded.  Given the resources it took to build that, we’re definitely looking at industrial replicator technology by the point this was built – pre-forming massive segments of mass into shaped structural hull in space. Imagine the industry to takes to build something that can make the Enterprise look small, and imagine it turned toward military conquest. The Federation could lose it’s values of peace and idealism, or it could lose an extended military conflict, but not both. This will come up when I tackle Deep Space Nine.

Before we reflect too much on the majesty of technology, there are lifesigns coming from inside Spock’s quarters, and holy shit someone gave the redshirts body armor. It’s about time. Maybe by now the segment of the population that Starfleet was trying to gently exterminate is gone, and the security forces are no longer just meat. I digress. McCoy appears to be speaking with Spock’s voice.

The debriefing of the Enterprise crew proceeds, and it develops that the Enterprise is being decomissioned, and Genesis completely classified. Which is unfortunate, because Krudge the Klingon has access to that data and is heading toward it. And as badass as the Enterprise and other Federation battleships are, this little scout/science Oberth-class will probably get its shit wrecked. (It may or mayt not be worth noting that Saavik is a different person because Kierstie Alley did not like working with The Shat.) Her survey of the planet shows a whole bunch of different weather patterns within close proximity, which sounds unstable. Sensor readings also detect an animal lifeform. In close proximity to Spock’s torpedo tubes.

Sarek shows up at Kirk’s place to castigate him for not bringing Spock’s Katra back to Vulcan. Normally I would make a crack about Vulcan dogma, but in this case, they are telepathically capable creatures who can literally interpret neural patterns of other creatures, so it would be irrational to dismiss the possibility of imprinting a personality onto an appropriate receptacle. And whaddya know, it turns out McCoy is the receptacle, if not exactly the most appropriate. Kirk pledges to Sarek to bring McCoy to Vulcan to save the sum total of Spock’s experiences. As a starfleet admiral, one would think he could just requisition any ship he wants for the purposes of maintaning healthy relations with the Vulcan ambassador by honoring his war hero son according to the traditions of his people. Of course, Kirk doesn’t want to go to Vulcan. He wants to go to Genesis.

Meanwhile, on the Genesis planet, the microbes that lived on the tube have evolved into dozens of disgusting little worms due to the power of the Genesis effect, and the tube is empty. Also, the planet is undergoing earthquakes. Clue 2 that the project may be incomplete as a terraforming device. So far, anyway.

There’s an adorable scene here where McCoy is trying to charter a flight to Genesis from some Yoda-talking mercenary, and when he’s accosted by Federation security he tries to nerve-pinch the guy. The fact that it doesn’t work indicates that it appears to be a function of Vulcan physiology, rather than mere pressure points and knowledge. He gets taken into custody and while Kirk breaks him out, Sulu distracts the guard by hitting on him. (Less Than Three, George!) Sulu is, in fact, a little too good at prison breaks. Thus begins Kirk’s legendary hijacking.

The Great Experiment

The Great Experiment

Scotty, new captain of the Excelsior engineering crew, is not happy at its onboard computer being all talkative, nor at her new captain putting down the Enterprise, howsoever gently. Some young Lieutennant is calling Uhura an old has-been. She takes quite a lot of satisfaction from pointing a phaser at him when Kirk shows up. With the core group of Sulu, Chekov, McCoy, Kirk, and Scotty aboard an Enterprise that’s now mostly automated, Kirk steals a starship. It’s very fitting that one of the codephrases he uses to orchestrate everyone is Kobiyashi maru, because this is a continuation of the mataphor from The Wrath of Khan; despite losing Spock, Kirk does not believe in a no-win scenario and is here trying to keep the scenario going long enough to upgrade from ‘costly victory’ to straight-up victory.

The only problem is, of course, that he doesn’t know the Genesis planet has resurrected Spock yet. He has to mechanism for finding that out, and this part of the plot relies on you not noticing that you know something he shouldn’t.

To be continued…

 

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