00:30:01 – 00:45:00
Chapter 3 of The Motion Picture Edition of the 15-Minute Federation begins with the Epsilon IX listening post being assimilated by the Borg . . . Wait. Wrong era. The listening post is being wiped out of existence by the Seeing Eye cloud, which has a diameter roughly the size of our solar system. This mysterious cloud is the imminent threat that has caused Admiral James T. Kirk to demote Captain Willard Decker and assume command of the newly refurbished USS Enterprise. In what should be the ship’s shakedown run, Kirk is going to lead a crew, mostly untried except for the expected familiar faces, to take on an unimaginably powerful enemy head-on.
Business as usual.
But, 30 minutes into the movie, we’re still not out of space dock. Present company included, many viewers have complained about the deliberate pace of the first Star Trek movie. Some have called it boring.
While we’ve been watching the film in 15 minute increments, we’ve decided that’s not an entirely fair assessment. At least, not so far. There was quite a bit of action up front with the Klingon battle cruisers confronting the cloud. The pace slowed as we started bringing our favorite characters from the series on-stage, beginning with Spock on Vulcan and then moving on to Kirk and others at space dock. Will Decker was introduced and the drama was ratcheted up a notch when Kirk demoted him to take his chair.
There was also that bit of action with the two crewmembers killed in the transporter sequence. And now Epsilon IX. Things are happening. This movie isn’t boring. Not yet.
Before this chapter began, Kirk had already addressed his new crew and let them know what their mission is. We’re about to leave space dock, but we’re still missing a couple of key players on board the starship. We can only assume they’ll be here within the next couple of minutes.
And now . . . back to the show.
After the assembled crew on the Rec Deck gets to watch the destruction of Epsilon IX, Kirk orders Uhura to deactivate the viewer. He tells the crew that the pre-launch countdown will begin in forty minutes and dismisses them to attend to their duties. Not exactly a rousing pre-mission briefing.
It is at this point, approximately 30 minutes into a 2-hour movie, that you would expect your story to transition from Act One into Act Two. It’s entirely possible that the pre-mission briefing and the destruction of the listening post were intended to signal this transition. We’re not certain this was the screenwriters’ intention, however. Spock and Dr. McCoy aren’t on board yet. Neither is the new female lead. Plus, the ship hasn’t left space dock. Let’s see where the clock is at when these things have all occurred.
Later, on the bridge, Kirk has changed uniforms. Now he’s wearing a solid blue 2-piece ensemble. Uhura announces that Scotty reports that the transporter system is fully repaired and now functioning normally. Then, she reports the arrival of Lt. Ilia.
We get a reaction shot from Decker. He knows Ilia.
Uhura adds: “She’s a Deltan.” The way she says “Deltan” makes it sound somehow dirty.
Kirk responds, “And there are no finer navigators in Starfleet, Commander.”
Ilia walks onto the bridge. She is beautiful, and as bald as an egg. She reports herself for duty to Kirk. Then, she sees Decker, and it’s apparent from the following exchange that they already know each other.
Decker explains that he was stationed on the Lieutenant’s home planet some years ago. Ilia is confused about Decker’s demotion after noticing he’s been downgraded in rank.
“‘Commander’ Decker?” she says, questioningly.
Kirk interrupts. “Our Exec and Science Officer . . .”
Decker, with some bitterness, says, “Captain Kirk has the utmost confidence in me.” Still insubordinate, in our opinion.
Kirk looks from Decker to Ilia. “And in you, too, Lieutenant.”
“My oath of celibacy,” Ilia frostily responds, “is on record, Captain. May I assume my duties?”
We believe there’s a bit of the Will Riker/Deanna Troi dynamic to the relationship between Will Decker and Ilia. We’re given information about Ilia piecemeal. The romantic relationship is inferred. We’re told she’s a Deltan, a word that Uhura imbues with heavy connotation, and then we hear something about an “oath of celibacy.” What’s this all about?
Apparently, Deltans, according to Memory Alpha, are highly sexualized, which can be distracting to other species. Rather than making the other species exercise discipline and restraint, the Deltans are required to take an oath of celibacy when they join Starfleet. Presumably, that doesn’t make the Deltans any less attractive to other species, so we can’t be sure what this accomplishes. It sounds a lot like blaming a rape victim to me.
Very soon after Lt. Ilia’s arrival, Dr. Leonard McCoy beams aboard the ship, but not until after he sees others test the newly-repaired transporter first. Dr. McCoy is sporting a full mountain-man beard and is as cantankerous as ever. He’s fuming about Admiral Nogura invoking an obscure reverse activation clause that, in short, drafted the doctor back into service. He accuses Kirk of arranging his forced reenlistment, but calms down long enough to warmly greet his old friend.
As Dr. McCoy leaves the transporter room and heads for sick bay, we can still hear him grumbling. He’s heard Chapel’s an MD now, so he’s concerned about having a good nurse. He’s doing some preemptive griping about the changes he knows the Engineers have probably made to sick bay. And so on.
Kirk makes an announcement for everyone to prepare for immediate departure. The departure is another deliberately paced moment with some great model effects. The music swells. The first Normandy sequence in Mass Effect borrowed heavily from this, we’d bet.
The counter is at 00:37:30 as the Enterprise departs Earth on impulse engines. We would accept the argument that this is where Act Two begins, even though Spock isn’t on board yet.
Kirk decides to risk engaging warp drive while still within the solar system, in order to intercept the cloud intruder at the earliest possible time. While going over the computations for the jump to warp, Decker and Ilia are making goo-goo eyes at each other, celibacy oath or not. A clean-shaven Dr. McCoy comes back on the bridge, complaining that sick bay is like working in a computer center.
Scotty wants more warp simulation on the flow sensors—whatever that means. But, Kirk shuts him down. We need warp speed now!
Sulu accelerates the ship up to Warp One. We get the rainbow effects. And, then, suddenly, they end up in a wormhole. Everything goes blurry. An unidentified object is ahead of them in the wormhole, and Kirk orders phasers to fire upon it.
Decker says to belay that phaser order. He orders the photon torpedoes armed instead.
The object in the wormhole ahead of them is an asteroid. While they are targeting the asteroid, we’re treated to some irritating slow-motion and blurring effects, plus your standard shaking and leaning bridge acting.
After the asteroid is destroyed, the ship returns to normal space and speed.
Kirk tells Scotty to get them back to warp speed as soon as possible. Then he asks to see Decker in his quarters.
Once they are in Kirk’s quarters, Kirk says, “Explanation, Mr. Decker: Why was my phaser order countermanded?”
Decker responds calmly, “Sir, the Enterprise redesign increases phaser power by channeling it through the main engines. When they went into anti-matter imbalance, the phasers were automatically cut off.”
Kirk is surprised by this. “Then you acted properly, of course.”
And, around this point, we hit the 45:00 mark and the end of this chapter. The wormhole sequence was the first of many Act Two obstacles we will face. Plus, there’s still friction between Kirk and Decker. We haven’t seen Spock again since he had to leave Vulcan, but we know he’s coming. There’s just no Star Trek without Spock.
Last we heard, it was going to take about 20 hours for the Enterprise to intercept the Seeing Eye cloud. If they can ever sustain warp speed.
Until next time . . .Kirk’s Wrap-Around Green V-Neck Tunic with the Gold Applique is Forbidden at the 15-Minute Federation . . .Live Long and Prosper.