//\\ 15-Minute Federation //\\ presents . . . Star Trek: The Motion Picture — Chapter 8: . . . And Then Decker Does Something (Or: Wait. What? And, Everyone Lived Happily Ever After)

01:45:01 – The End

We beamed our landing party down to Homeus Depotus VI on a routine surveying mission. The landing party consisted of the following crewmembers: Captain James “Claudius” Firewater; Commander Spork; Dr. Dylan “Ribcage” Macklemore; a pretty female yeoman the captain recruited from Risa; and, two red-shirted dayworkers the landing party picked up in the parking lot of Homeus Depotus.

Lt. Hulu, our helmsman, was left in command of the 15-Minute Federation, which angered Chief Engineer Lionel Smith, who says, as third in chain-of-command, he should be the one calling the shots. Hulu told Smith to go shove a dilithium crystal into the warp core and shut up, which made Lt. O’Hara snicker. Hulu, who just may be power-mad, told O’Hara to shut up as well or he’d have to put on the miniskirt. O’Hara shut up and adjusted the stainless steel honey spoon in his ear.

Welcome to the final chapter of The Motion Picture Edition of the 15-Minute Federation, where we rejoin V’ger and the crew of the USS Enterprise at the front doorstep of the planet Earth. V’ger is unhappy that the “Creator” isn’t responding to its hails over the radio waves and is about the rid the planet of its pesky infestation of carbon-based life forms.

After Spock’s mind-meld with V’ger, in which he suffered—according to Dr. McCoy—”massive neurological trauma,” the consensus is that V’ger is a huge artificial life form. Since Captain James T. Kirk has shown considerable skill in talking computers to death in the past, he’s giving it another shot with V’ger.

V’ger doesn’t consider the crew of the starship to be true life forms. It has convinced itself that its creator must be another machine.

So, that’s where we stand in this, the last half of the final act of the movie. All life on the planet Earth is about to be unceremoniously wiped out by the giant green Tron grid covering the planet unless Kirk and his crew can find a way to save the world. Again.

Mr. Spock gives the advice that V’ger is a child, and should be treated accordingly. McCoy points out that this “child” is about to wipe out all life on Earth.

Kirk tells the Ilia-Probe that the carbon-based units know why the Creator hasn’t responded to V’ger’s repeated messages. V’ger wants to know what Kirk knows. Kirk refuses to answer and orders the bridge cleared. V’ger cuts off all communication with Starfleet and repeats its demand to disclose the information. When Kirk refuses again, V’ger’s attack rattles the ship, which McCoy says is the child having a “tantrum.”

Ultimately, V’ger agrees to comply with removing all orbiting devices from Earth if Kirk agrees to disclose the information he knows about the Creator.

Kirk says that the information can’t be given to the Ilia-Probe. Only to V’ger directly.

The aperture ahead of them opens and a tractor beam begins to draw the Enterprise deeper into the living machine that is V’ger. As they are moving closer to the central complex that is “V’ger,” Kirk calls Scotty and tells him to stand by to execute Starfleet Order 2005, which is the self-destruct command. If all else fails, Kirk hopes that the ship’s self destruction will also destroy the intruder.

Kirk catches Spock weeping, but “not for us.” Spock is crying for V’ger, as he would for a brother. Spock feels a kinship with V’ger, because V’ger is now in the same state Spock found himself when he rejoined the Enterprise. Empty, incomplete, and searching, because logic and knowledge just aren’t enough.

The source of the radio signal lies directly ahead. Ilia indicates the structure that she refers to as V’ger.

Chekov confirms that an oxygen/gravity envelope has developed outside the ship. Looks like we’re about to have a landing party.

V’ger, a gracious host, forms a passageway outside the ship leading to the “brain” of the living vessel. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Decker, and the Ilia-Probe are the landing party. At the end of the path is a concave structure, and at the center of this structure is a 300-year-old NASA probe. Kirk begins rubbing away smudges from the NASA nameplate, and the letters V G E R first become visible. A bit more cleaning reveals that the probe was Voyager 6. So, V’ger is actually Voyager. This was our Statue-of-Liberty-sticking-out-of-the-sand moment for this movie. Aha! V’ger = Voyager.

It seems that Voyager 6 disappeared in a black hole. Apparently it traveled to the far side of the galaxy and was discovered by the planet of living machines. V’ger was constructed to fulfill its original programming: to collect data and return that info to its creator. It amassed so much knowledge that it gained its own consciousness during the journey to Earth. Because that’s how artificial intelligence works. Most libraries and, of course, the Internet are on the verge of gaining consciousness.

Kirk calls on Uhura, our communications expert, to locate the old NASA codes that will allow V’ger to transmit its data and fulfill its mission.

Kirk, while waiting for the info from Uhura, decides to take the “V’ger, I AM your father” route. The Ilia-Probe repeats her assertion that this statement is illogical, because carbon units are not true life forms. Kirk says, “Oh yeah? I’ll prove it!” and gets the code he needs from Uhura. They are about to transmit the signal on the appropriate frequency when V’ger burns out its own antenna leads to prevent reception.

Wait. What?

We really don’t follow the logic in everything that happens next, and Spock doesn’t take the time to explain it to us. Watching this movie 15-minutes at a time really didn’t make it any clearer.

But, here’s what happens.

The Ilia-Probe says that the Creator must join with V’ger. Apparently, the only way V’ger can be fulfilled is if the Creator, for lack of a better word, mates with it. This entire 300-year journey has basically been a salmon swimming upstream to spawn. Or something like that. After the landing party talks about it, they come to the conclusion that V’ger’s knowledge has reached the limits of the universe and it must evolve. But, in order to evolve, V’ger requires a human quality. Are you following this? No? Don’t worry about it. You are not alone.

Decker decides that he will be the one to join with V’ger, by manually entering the rest of the code directly into the computer. This will reunite him with his one true love Ilia (who, we should remind you, is quite dead). Then we get some semi-mystical special effects where man and machine are merged in a way that may remind you, unpleasantly, of the ending to Mass Effect 2 (or, one of the endings, at least). There is movement and bright lights, and Decker and the Ilia-Probe appear to merge. The light continues to expand, like a nuclear blast radius. Kirk, Spock and McCoy—forever our Trek Trinity—beat a hasty retreat back to the Enterprise.

V’ger explodes, but the ship is left above Earth, unharmed. Kirk, Spock and McCoy determine that they just witnessed the beginning of a new life form. Awww. That is sweet. Confusing, but sweet.

Kirk initially reports Lt. Ilia and Captain Decker as casualties. Then he corrects his statement and changes their status to “missing.” Once again, we must remind everyone that Ilia is dead. Period. V’ger killed her and then created a replica of her. Chances are, Decker is actually dead now as well. Won’t reporting them as “missing” just make things more difficult for Ilia and Decker’s families? Will it effect how Starfleet death benefits are paid to the survivors? No one should ask these sort of questions of their fictional entertainment.

Crisis averted, our Enterprise crew now plan to take the ship on an official shakedown run. Spock says his task on Vulcan is completed and he doesn’t need to return there. Kirk gives Sulu the order to proceed at Warp Factor One. His heading? “Out there, that-away.”

And zoom, our favorite Starfleet ship rainbows away out of frame, and the movie is over.

And so is The Motion Picture Edition of the 15-Minute Federation.

While this is not our least-favorite of the Star Trek movies, it is not our favorite either. In many ways, it doesn’t feel like Trek, and the ending seems to be striving too hard to be Spielberg and falls a little flat. We’ll rank all the Trek movies at some point far, far in the distant future and see how Star Trek: TMP fares when compared to the rest.

Next, we have Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan on deck, and we don’t mind telling you up front that it is one of our favorites—if not clearly our favorite. It even has an ending that we understand.

Until then . . . We Like Our Potato Chips—and Our Klingons—With Ridges at the 15-Minute Federation . . .Live Long and Prosper.

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