//\\ 15-Minute Federation //\\ presents . . . Star Trek: The Motion Picture — Chapter 4: Hey, Look Who’s Back, Y’all! (Oh, Spoilers . . .Spock Joins the Party and He’s a Pooper)

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00:45:01 – 01:00:00

Captain James “Claudius” Firewater briefly called a red alert earlier today when Communications Officer Lt. O’Hara (who got the job because his name most closely resembled Uhura’s) spilled his pumpkin spice latte on the communications station board. There were a few sparks and O’Hara dropped the stainless steel honey spoon he keeps in his ear for some reason onto the carpeted deck of the bridge. The captain canceled the alert when he realized we weren’t under attack, then we all went back to our routine mission of measuring the energy output of the quasars of Festus VII. Oddly enough, from the front viewscreen of the bridge, the quasars resemble a FedEx Office Print & Ship Services Center (which will always be Kinko’s to many of us) and a Jimmy John’s sandwich place.

Welcome to the next chapter of The Motion Picture Edition of the 15-Minute Federation. At the 45-minute mark of the movie, we got James T. Kirk’s reaction to Commander Decker belaying his order to fire phasers. We also learned that there was such an English word as “belay,” which we’ve discovered is nautical slang for “Stop!” or “Enough!” Who says you can’t learn anything from watching Star Trek?

The wormhole sequence was the first speed bump in Act Two, if we’re counting the beginning of our second act at the point the USS Enterprise leaves spacedock.

After Kirk admits that Decker acted properly, we get the following exchange between the two men:

Decker: “I’m sorry I embarrassed you.”

Kirk says, “You saved the ship.”

I’m aware of that, sir,” Decker says, with more than a hint of sarcasm.

Stop competing with me, Decker!” Kirk says, angrily.

Permission to speak freely, sir?”

Reluctantly, Kirk says, “Granted.”

Sir,” Decker begins, “You haven’t logged a single star hour in two and a half years. That, plus your unfamiliarity with the ship’s design—in my opinion, sir—seriously jeopardizes our mission.”

Kirk controls his response, asking his First Officer to nursemaid him through these difficulties. After Kirk dismisses Decker and he’s alone with McCoy, the doctor says, “He may be right, Jim.” McCoy is allowed to say things like this.

We get a face-to-face scene between Decker and Ilia. There’s very much a Will Riker/Deanna Troi vibe here. Decker left Ilia’s planet without saying goodbye. There’s still a lot of unspoken feelings between the two.

Let’s put a pin in that and get back to Kirk and McCoy.

McCoy questions Kirk’s fitness to command. He accuses Kirk of being the one who’s competing with Decker. Kirk “pulled every string in the book short of blackmail to get the Enterprise—maybe even that.” He thinks Kirk is in the throes of an obsession.

This intense conversation is interrupted by a message from Uhura. A Federation-registered vessel is asking permission to come alongside and lock on. We are treated to yet another lingering shot of this new ship approaching the Enterprise. Lingering shots were Robert Wise’s specialty to pad this movie, we think.

This is another important plot point. Spock is the character on board the vessel. He asks Chekov permission to come aboard, which is, of course, granted. Spock goes immediately to the bridge and asks Decker’s permission to assume his place at the science station.

Spock is being very cold and unemotional. Even for Spock. He says he’s been monitoring their Starfleet transmissions and is aware of their engine design difficulties. He offers his services as Science Officer. Kirk asks Decker if he has any objections. Of course, he doesn’t. Now Decker can go back to doing one job.  Kirk orders Chekov to log Mr. Spock’s Starfleet commission reactivated and list him as Science Officer, both effective immediately.

McCoy and Chapel come onto the bridge, and both are happy to see Spock. But, Spock is not the same person they used to know. His coldly unemotional response to their happy greetings leaves everyone confused.

Spock asks Kirk’s permission to discuss the fuel equations he’s come up with the Engineer.

When we see Spock next, he’s in regulation uniform and haircut. The starship engines have been rebalanced to full warp capacity, which means that they’ll be able to intercept the intruder cloud when it’s still more than a day from Earth. Old Star Trek music plays in the background during this engine repair sequence.

The ship returns to warp speed, gradually accelerating.

Kirk summons Spock to the officer’s lounge, where McCoy is present also. The three men discuss Spock’s failed Kolinahr test. Spock says he still contains fragments of his human half, but he senses an “almost omniscient pattern of perfect logic” in the intruder cloud. Spock thinks that the object that’s approaching Earth could help him where the Vulcan Masters could not. Spock has a selfish, ulterior motive for rejoining his old crewmates. He’s definitely not getting too emotional over the reunion.

It turns out that Uhura is the best at scene transitions in the movie. She calls again, letting Kirk know that they have made visual contact with the Seeing Eye cloud.

More lingering shots. Uhura is sending forth friendship messages on all frequencies. When the cloud begins to scan them, Kirk orders no screens, no shields. He doesn’t want to do anything that might be misinterpreted as hostile actions. Even after this, Chekov asks if he should go to battle stations. Negative, Mr. Chekov.

Decker reacts to this. He recommends a defensive posture.

Spock says that the cloud is composed of a twelve-power energy field. Decker says that ten thousands of starships couldn’t generate that much energy. Spock suspects that there is something at the heart of the cloud. Kirk orders a flight path that will take them into the cloud and parallel to whatever they may find inside.

Spock suddenly seems enthralled by the cloud on the big viewer. He rises from his seat.

They have . . . they have been communicating with us. I sense . . . puzzlement. Why have we not replied?”

Before anyone can digest this sudden turn of events, the cloud fires at the ship. There’s a bunch of green lightning and systems begin overloading. A burst of energy from Chekov’s console injures his arm.

Dr. Chapel (not Nurse Chapel any longer, thank you) heals Chekov’s arm. Spock, who suspects the messages they’ve been sending have been too slow for the intruder to notice, programs the computer to send linguacode at their faster rate.

And this is where Chapter Four of the 15-Minute Federation comes to an end. Some important things have happened as we reach the one-hour mark of the movie. The internal conflict between Kirk and Decker has reached a new plateau, with McCoy weighing in with his opinion that a lot of the conflict is Kirk’s fault. Spock arrives and rejoins the team, which means all of the old gang are reunited again. But, Spock doesn’t seem pleased to see anyone. We know Vulcans have a reputation as cold fish, but the old Spock was positively a party animal compared to this aloof guy. The external antagonist of this movie, the Seeing Eye cloud, is finally approached and our crew, through Spock, are beginning to communicate with it, or—at least in Chekov’s case, so far—are getting injured by it.

Things are in motion. We are roughly four minutes away from the midway point of the movie, which should correspond with the midpoint of Act Two. Something big should be about to happen. You’ll have to return for our next chapter to find out.

Technically, I guess you could just watch the movie to find out, if you don’t already know. But, selfishly, we’d prefer it if you’d return here.

Until next time . . . This Entire Chapter of the 15-Minute Federation was Shot on Location at Vasquez Rocks. . .Live Long and Prosper.

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