In which I am compelled by my sense of personal honor and loyalty to finish what I started… ladies.
When last we chatted, I declared this movie non-canon and tried to stop watching it. Oh, how I wish it were that simple.
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy reach the communications center and send a message off to Starfleet. Unfortunately, it is responded to by Klaa. Sybok doesn’t seem to care when he catches Kirk, and gives a glorious speech about breaking boundaries. Sybok is in search of a mythical land he calles Sha-Ka-Ree, the source of creation. To be fair to him, he seems incredibly sincere. He’s not in this for personal power, and if he’s not drinking his own kool-aid his brainwashing technique makes his victims face the pain of their lives, all at once and without cognitive defenses. He makes McCoy watch his father on his deathbed, makes him live through euthanizing his father, just before a cure was found for his condition.
Sybok takes Spock to his own pain next, and we witness Sarek’s disgust that his newborn son is so human. With all of Sarek’s disdain, it’s kind of confusing why he took a human wife and then had a baby with her, when apparently he also had a baby with a Vulcan Princess and had Sybok as a son as well. We don’t get to see Kirk’s ‘pain’ but at least Spock, having had a long, hard journey to discover his mixed-species identity, is at peace with his pain and not susceptible to brainwashing.
So, I could rail on about how the center of the galaxy is apparently a few meager hours away from the middle of the Neutral Zone at achievable warp speeds and how, if this were true, it would make political barriers between galactic powers basically useless. Or I could talk about how the Enterprise has already survived an encounter with a Galactic Barrier twenty years before this, in “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and nobody was affected except some humans with meager ESP. Or I could (and will) mention that the Next Generation novels starting with Q-Space give a far more satisfying back-story for why the Barriers are there than the resounding nothing anywhere else in the canon. But instead of most of those things, I will say “ooh, look at the pretty effects” and pour myself some more bourbon.
The ship powers through the barrier without so much as an exploding console. You know what, I’m willing to forgive a whole lot of blipping consoles if they finally installed surge protectors. Presumably, however, the Federation would rather a bunch of low-level crewmen got plasma burns and that their ships were functional the rest of the time, which is why we’ll go back to good old exploding consoles pretty quick.
Sybok gives the ship back to Kirk, trusting that he’ll finish the mission out of sheer curiosity. Not a bad guess. Kirk allows Sybok to go with him on the first foray down to the planet, along with the other two halves of his consciousness, Spock and McCoy.
Sha-Ka-Ree, or Eden, or whatever your culture wants to call it, apparently looks a lot like the goddamn Vasquez Rocks. Everyone is enraptured by how pretty the blasted desert wasteland is except Scotty, who’s fixing the transporter. And the computer, which registers the approach of a Klingon ship and recommends raising shields. So it seems that the fact that no ship ever crossed the barrier is really more of a mental thing, if the Enterprise has no problems and the Klingons make it through with apparent ease as well.
Sybok calls to God, and after a few anticlimactic moments, the ground shakes and huge rocks explode out of the ground to form a henge like the ribcage of Cthulhu. Mystical lights play, a lasershow happens, and the Voice of God welcomes them.
God’s first question is if he can hitch a ride on the Enterprise. No, seriously. Kirk gets it. Kirk has dealt with weird, strange, malevolent, amoral, and generally inclement energy beings before. Trelane, Gorgan, the Beta XII-A entity, Redjac, the magnetic entity from “Beyond the Farthest Star,” all spring to mind. So when God says “your starship will be my chariot out of here,” Kirk knows enough to say “lol u wot m8?”
God hits Kirk with eye lightning. He is displeased when he’s questioned, and complains that he’s been imprisoned for a very long time. (Imprisoned by whom?) Sybok, fanatic that he is, retains enough sanity to question the vailidty of a god that would condemn people for doubting him, and tries to brainwash god. It distracts the entity long enough for Kirk to call down a photon torpedo strike on the area.
So, in the past, we’ve seen how the kind of energy a photon torpedo carries around is, you’ll pardon the pun, hellish. So massively destructive that it will rip through hull metal like tissue paper. So high-yield that Kirk, Spock, and McCoy dive for cover and are perfectly fine. Wait what?
The Enteprise is able to beam up Spock and McCoy, but the Klingons fire before they get Kirk, so he has to make a break for it while the god-entity blasts him with lasers. He makes it to a ridge just in time to get god disruptored by Klingon weaponry. They beam Kirk aboard and reveal that Spock was manning the guns.
Political fallout: the Klingon government has been embarassed by Klaa’s pursuit of Kirk, but Kirk and the Klingon counsil to Nimbus III did each other a couple of solids, so relations could go either way. The Terran and Romulan counsils, meanwhile, look like they’re on course to bump uglies after their shared ordeal, which could lead to the two governments at least being on speaking terms in the future.