//\\ 15-Minute Federation //\\ presents . . . Star Trek III: The Search for Spock — Ch. 4: Scotty Makes a Plumbing Metaphor (Or: Vulcan Hand Sex)

00:45:01 – 01:00:00

Dr. Macklemore went to Captain James C. Firewater’s ready room, which was a small office adjacent to the bridge of the 15-Minute Federation. Pleased to find the captain alone, Doc pitched his voice real low and whispery so that the rest of the bridge crew wouldn’t overhear their private conversation. We all heard everything, of course. The acoustics are strange in this place.

“Have you noticed anything different about Spork?” the doctor asked.

“Different?” Captain Firewater said. “Different how? Did he buy new ear points?”

“No. He’s just been acting fidgety lately. Like a cat on a hot tin roof, if you know what I mean.”

“I seldom know what you mean, Ribcage. Spork is a Vulcan. Acting different than the rest of us is something we should expect.”

“That’s the thing, Jim,” the doctor said. “I’m saying he’s acting more human than Vulcan lately. He seems on edge and frustrated. He curses under his breath sometimes.”

“You mean, like Vulcan curses. You would think that a society that prides itself on being without emotion wouldn’t have expletives in their language. Klingons, on the other hand—”

“No. These were good old Anglo-Saxon words of the four-letter variety. Very un-Spork like. What I’m saying—not a medical diagnosis, you understand, just a feeling—is that Spork—”

“—is going through Pon farr?” The captain sounded happy.

“—needs to get laid,” Dr. Macklemore finished. “Same thing, I suppose. Although I’m no expert on Vulcan biology.”

“This. Is. Big,” the captain said. “I was wondering what sort of adventure we’d have in this episode. Pon farr is always a fun thing. You know what this means, don’t you?”


“We need to plot a course to Risa. Spork’s life depends on it.”

Welcome to Chapter 4 of The Search for Spock Edition of the15-Minute Federation.

Where did we leave off last time? The Genesis planet has gone haywire, with severe weather changes, and Dr. David Marcus, who is Captain James T. Kirk’s illegitimate son, and Lt. Saavik, who is no longer Kirstie Alley, are on the planet, where Spock’s torpedo coffin from the last movie is curiously empty.

And, Kirk and his loyal bridge crew have stolen the Enterprise, which is scheduled to be decommissioned, and are planning to take Dr. Leonard McCoy and Spock’s body to Vulcan, so that Spock’s soul can be put on Mount Seleya (or something like that). First, they have to locate Spock’s body. Since we’ve already seen that his coffin is empty, this may just be a tall order. Leonard Nimoy was only six-feet tall, so it’s not too tall an order. He just looked taller standing next to William Shatner and DeForest Kelley, who were both 5’10”.

Someone at the 15-Minute Federation passed a note, reading: “SFX showing their age — ships look like Colorforms cutouts.” You have to be a person of a certain age to know what Colorforms are. What this means is that the images of the starships seem to have that rotoscoped outline that ages the effects somewhat. Not that they didn’t still look good. They just didn’t look quite as good as modern CGI.

We join the Enterprise breakout scene, already in progress. The first officer on the Excelsior is played by the late Miguel Ferrer—who passed away four years ago now. Ferrer had memorable appearances in the original 1994 mini-series version of The Stand (he played Lloyd Henreid), and the 1990-91 Twin Peaks (FBI agent Albert Rosenfield). His breakout role was as Bob Morton in the 1989 science-fiction movie Robocop. He spent his final years playing NCIS assistant director Owen Granger on NCIS: Los Angeles. If that’s not enough for you, Ferrer was the child of José Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney, which makes him George Clooney’s cousin.

Once the Enterprise is through the space dock doors, Capt. James T. Kirk orders helmsman Sulu to take them to full impulse power. The Excelsior (which really needed a Stan Lee cameo as one of the bridge officers) is in pursuit, powering up its transwarp drive. Capt. Styles orders his crew to stand by on the tractor beams and remarks that the Enterprise will be in for a surprise if they try to go to warp speed.

From the Excelsior, Capt. Styles says, “Kirk! If you do this, you’ll never sit in the captain’s chair again.”

Kirk tells Sulu to go to warp.

Styles attempts to engage his transwarp drive. Have we talked about transwarp drives yet? It was designed to leave traditional warp drives, like the one in the Enterprise, in the dust. The USS Excelsior NX-2000 was designed to test the Federation’s version of the transwarp drive. Ultimately, this test was a failure. According to Memory Alpha, the dilithium in the warp core became unstable at the high warp frequencies. The Excelsior will never achieve Warp 10.

That’s why all the ships in the Trek series set in the future aren’t using transwarp drives.

We don’t get to see it work at all this time, because Scotty sabotaged the ship to allow the Enterprise to escape.

Here’s where Scotty makes his plumbing metaphor. He tells Kirk: “The more they over-think the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.”

Kirk commends his bridge crew, promising to recommend them for promotion . . . in whatever fleet they end up serving. The stakes are pretty high. They’ve just stolen expensive Federation property, and they should all be facing court martials and possible jail time. This kind of devotion to a crewmember is why people will follow a blowhard like Kirk.

Meanwhile, back on the Genesis Planet, Lt. Saavik and Dr. David Marcus discover a Vulcan youth in the snow among the cacti. Saavik attempt to communicate with the child in Vulcan. The boy doesn’t talk. Marcus suggests that Spock’s cells could have been regenerated by the Genesis Wave, the same thing that created the planet.

Saavik communicates with Capt. Esteban on the Grissom. She informs the captain about their discovery and Dr. Marcus’ theory. She also requests permission to beam them all aboard immediately. Esteban says that he’s going to contact Starfleet Command for further instructions before they do anything.

The communications officer on the Grissom, honeyspoon in ear, tells the captain that something is jamming their transmission. An energy surge coming from astern.

The Klingon Bird-of-Prey decloaks. Kruge orders his gunner to target the ship’s engine only.

Saavik and Marcus can hear what’s going on over their communicator. Capt. Esteban tells them that they are under attack.

Kruge orders his gunner to fire. The Grissom is suddenly, surprisingly, destroyed.

Kruge says (in Klingonese, of course), “I wanted prisoners!”

To which the Klingon gunner replies, “A lucky shot, sir.”

Kruge vaporizes his own man. Swift, brutal punishment. Another Klingon, treading carefully, tells Kruge that there are life signs on the planet surface. Perhaps the very scientists that Kruge seeks. Kruge lets this one live.

Meanwhile, in that typical dispassionate Vulcan way, Lt. Saavik deduces that the Grissom was destroyed by an enemy attack. She suggests that she and Dr. Marcus should go, because the assailants will soon be after them.

Act Two is all about having obstacles put in the path to your objective. Our main story objective is to get Spock’s corpse and his katra (embedded in Dr. McCoy’s head), to Vulcan, where he can get a proper Vulcan send-off.

What about the obstacles to reaching this goal?

Springing McCoy from the funny farm and stealing the Enterprise were huge obstacles. Could they have found an alternate form of warp-capable transportation, to avoid perhaps eighty-sixing all of their careers and freedom? Possibly, but where’s the fun in that? This raises the stakes even further, and makes things more exciting. Besides, McCoy tried to make underworld arrangements to travel to the now-quarantined planet; it’s how he got thrown into lockup in the first place.

On the Genesis Planet side of things, which is the Enterprise crew’s immediate destination, the inclusion of Kruge in this story suddenly pays off. The Klingons destroyed the Grissom, which strands Lt. Saavik and Dr. Marcus on the surface of the Genesis Planet. Saavik and Marcus are now in danger from the Klingons and from the violent changes happening to the planet at the same time.

Also, Spock’s corpse—which Kirk’s gang needs to take to Vulcan—has been replaced with what is quite possibly a clone of Spock, the cells regenerated by the Genesis Wave. Is this an obstacle? Well, yeah, because New Spock is in the same danger as Saavik and Marcus. Plus, he appears to be a living being. Doesn’t that complicate the whole Spock’s corpse thing?

We rejoin the Enterprise bridge crew, who are now only 2.9 hours away from the Genesis Planet at their present speed. How fast is the ship travelling? We don’t know for certain, but it must be at pretty high warp, because Kirk makes sure that Scotty isn’t worried about maintaining speed.

Kirk asks someone to scan for vessels in pursuit. McCoy, speaking in Spock’s voice again, says, “Scanning . . . Indications negative at this time.”

How long has the Enterprise been warping towards Genesis? The Saavik/Marcus side of this story seems to indicate hours rather than days or weeks. Without getting sidetracked by the whole Space is Big thing again, this indicates that the Genesis Planet is located relatively close to Earth. Warp 9 in TOS days would have been 729 times the speed-of-light. If the journey took a full day, that’s only around two lightyears away. Cosmically speaking, that’s right next door.

We cut back to the Genesis Planet. Kruge and two of his crewmen are now on the planet surface. Kruge is operating a scanner.

Over on the snow-covered part of the planet, Saavik and Marcus are still on the lam. Marcus carries the Vulcan child.

“This planet is not what you intended or hoped for, is it?” Lt. Saavik says.

“Not exactly,” Dr. Marcus says.


“I used protomatter in the Genesis matrix,” the human admits. Saavik gives the viewer the definition of protomatter. It’s an unstable substance which every ethical scientist in the galaxy has denounced as dangerously unpredictable.

“So,” Lt. Saavik says, “Like your father, you changed the rules.”

This is a callback to Kirk cheating on the Kobayashi Maru test. Dr. David Marcus is James T. Kirk’s illegitimate son, as you may recall. The only son that we are aware of.

Saavik sounds a little harsh here. Isn’t bitchy-ness an emotion?

Kruge and his soldiers discover Spock’s torpedo coffin. The worm-like lifeforms we saw earlier, with Saavik and Marcus, have grown to a monstrous size. Kruge takes a moment to wrestle with one of the evolved creatures. He kills it.

Night falls rapidly on Planet Genesis. Saavik and Marcus have found shelter in a cavern. They note that the planet and Spock are both aging in surges. Saavik says that the changes will be hardest on Spock, because he will soon feel the burning of his Vulcan blood. She’s talking about Pon farr here. As we all know, Vulcan males suffer from it every seventh year of their adult life.

The Klingons are getting closer to their prey. Dr. Marcus asks for Lt. Saavik’s phaser.

Back on the bridge of the Enterprise, Chekov tells Kirk that Starfleet is warning the Grissom about them, but is receiving no response. Kirk has Chekov try to contact the Grissom as well, also with no response. The audience knows that the science vessel has been destroyed by the Klingons, but no one else knows yet.

On the Genesis planet, the Spock clone begins to go through Pon farr. Lieutenant Saavik is there to help him through it, calming him the way she might a wild animal. They begin a ritual that includes holding their fingers together. Vulcan hand sex.

While it was never made explicitly clear, the implication is that Saavik and the Spock clone did indeed complete the physical and mental aspects of the Pon farr ritual. In short, they mated. Since the original plans included Lt. Saavik becoming pregnant with Spock’s child, this must have been the original intentions of the writers. However, people who dwell too much on this have sad and shallow lives.

Back to the Enterprise. Sulu announces that they are entering the Genesis sector. Kirk tells him to proceed on impulse power.

Again, we really don’t know how long this journey took, and it really doesn’t matter. In Star Trek, impulse engines are used for sublight travel, especially within solar systems. There are very detailed descriptions of things like warp and impulse drives, laced with enough technobabble to cause your brain to fog over and suspend its disbelief just to save your sanity. If your particular brand of nerdity enjoys such diversions, you can go down the rabbit hole of your choosing at Memory Alpha , the premiere repository of all things Trek.

On the Klingon Bird-of-Prey, the Klingons Maltz and Torg detect the Enterprise as it enters the sector. They engage the ship’s cloaking device before—they think—the Federation battle cruiser can detect their presence.

Of course, Maltz and Torg didn’t count on encountering the crack bridge crew of the USS Enterprise. Chekov says that, for an instant, he was sure he detected a scout-class vessel on his sensors. Kirk instantly jumps to the conclusion that this might be the Grissom. They open hailing frequencies.

And, here, we arrive at the 1-hour mark. All of the characters put in motion at the beginning of our story are about to come together. We’re not quite out of the Act II woods yet. In fact, we have at least one additional chapter of second-act complications to get through before we begin our final act.

Until next time . . . We Know the Difference between a Targ and a Klingon Monster Dog at the 15-Minute Federation . . .Live Long and Prosper.

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