01:00:01 – 01:15:00
The 15-Minute Federation docked at Starbase 1234, and we were finally able to take some well-deserved shore leave.
The base is governed by the benevolent duo known as Dave & Buster, known throughout the galaxy for their old-school video games and free-flowing beer taps.
Captain James C. Firewater also had a secret mission. He was searching for a powerful alien sphere made of some sort of hard, clear substance. He had been informed that he would find the sphere at specific coordinates, in some space station alley, and he would know the sphere because of the human skull encased within.
Even with the sphere, the captain was barely able to break a hundred after rolling ten frames, and he petulantly cancelled shore leave for everyone.
Captain Firewater is a dick sometimes.
Welcome to Chapter 5 of The Search for Spock Edition of the 15-Minute Federation.
When we left our story, it seemed that things were approaching some sort of critical mass. The Genesis Planet seems to be unstable because Dr. David Marcus—or Kirk Junior, as he’s known on our bridge—used protomatter in the Genesis matrix, unethically cutting corners to achieve his desired goal. Lt. Saavik points out that this is just like Captain James T. Kirk cheating on the Kobayashi Maru test. Like father, like son. The Spock clone discovered on the planet by Marcus and Saavik has aged to the point that he’s undergoing the agony of Pon farr, the rumored Seven-Year Itch suffered by all adult Vulcans. Saavik helped the clone by doing off-camera stuff with him that acne-riddled schoolboys will just have to speculate about.
Meanwhile, Klingon warrior Kruge accidentally destroyed the Grissom, the science vessel that Marcus and Saavik had recently been crewmembers upon, and is now on the planet surface itself, trying to find our Starfleet scientists. His goal is to obtain the Genesis weapon (Klingons believe everything is a weapon). Kruge doesn’t know anything about the Spock clone yet.
Captain Kirk and his brave bridge crew have also arrived in the area, after stealing the soon-to-be-decommissioned Enterprise. They are on a compassionate mission to retrieve what they believe to be Spock’s corpse from the Genesis planet. Spock’s katra—his soul, you may suppose—currently resides inside of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. The original plan was to transport both Spock’s body and Dr. McCoy to some mountain on the planet Vulcan, where Spock’s katra could be released to join the collective katra of all dead Vulcans, or somesuch metaphysical ritual that seems, on the surface, to defy the much-vaunted Vulcan logical thinking. The fact that Spock no longer has a dead body seems to complicate this plan, but we need to move past our immediate obstacles before we address that.
There seems to be little doubt that all of the characters who have been making their way through separate storylines, up to this point, are about to come together. This is what the action has been building up to.
Kirk is still attempting to raise the Grissom on comms as the USS Enterprise enters the Genesis Sector. Because the ship was destroyed by the Klingons, he doesn’t have much luck.
On the Genesis Planet itself, Kruge finally captures his quarry.
“I’ve come a long way for the power of Genesis,” Kruge says. “And, what do I find? A weakling human . . . a Vulcan boy . . . and a woman!” A woman who is also a Vulcan, we could point out.
When Kirstie Alley was playing Saavik, she was textually a Vulcan-Romulan female. That’s why Alley sometimes seems too mercurial for a Vulcan. It wasn’t cocaine or bad acting. We’ve often complained about the Michael Burnham character being too emotional on Star Trek: Discovery. Yes, we know she is meant to be a human raised by Vulcans, and not a true Vulcan. But, she cries in almost every single episode. Her foster dad must be so disappointed in her.
At some point, the Vulcan-Romulan hybrid idea was abandoned. Robin Curtis is playing Saavik as being a pure Vulcan. It makes her seem like a better actor than Kirstie Alley. This may or may not be true. We can’t hold Alley responsible for playing the character as originally written, or following the instructions given by her director.
Saavik dispassionately tells Kruge that the three of them are survivors of a doomed expedition. The planet is going to destroy itself within hours. The Genesis experiment has proven itself to be a failure.
Kruge disagrees with this assessment. Genesis is the most powerful destructive force ever created. He wants Saavik to give him the secret of the Genesis torpedo. When Saavik tells him that she has no knowledge, Kruge says, “Then I hope pain is something you enjoy.”
As the Enterprise approaches the coordinates of the Bird-of-Prey, the crew of the Federation starship are oblivious to the cloaked Klingon vessel. Kruge, who seems to look forward to clashing with the Federation, thinks this is the turn of luck he’s been waiting for. He returns to his ship to do battle with this new player in the game.
Kirk and Sulu notice the spatial distortion concealing the enemy ship. Kirk orders the Enterprise to go to red alert, but doesn’t raise shields yet. Kirk has guessed that their opponent will have to decloak before firing weapons.
As the Bird-of-Prey decloaks, Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott immediately fires at the Klingon ship. Two photon torpodoes hit the enemy’s hull. However, Chekov is unable to raise shields when the Klingons return fire. Scotty says that the Enterprise‘s automation system is overloading under the strain of unexpected combat. The Bird-of-Prey’s plasma charge is a direct hit, striking the Federation vessel near the bridge and causing a lot of internal explosions.
The Enterpise is unable to fire upon the Bird-of-Prey again. Scotty announces that their automation center has been knocked out of commission. They no longer have control over anything.
“So….,” Kirk says, “We’re a sitting duck.”
I know I’m nitpicking here, but shouldn’t that be “we’re sitting ducks”?
Kruge wonders why the Enterprise, which has ten-times the firepower of the Bird-of-Prey, hasn’t destroyed them yet. Then, Captain Kirk contacts Kruge, giving the Klingon two minutes to surrender his crew and vessel, or face destruction. This is Kirk the expert poker player. We’ve seen this tactic before, with and without corbomite.
Kruge suspects that they’ve damaged the Enterprise more than Kirk is letting on. He tells Kirk that he has three prisoners from the team that created the Genesis weapon on the planet surface. Prisoners he will execute, one at a time, if Kirk doesn’t surrender.
To show that, unlike Kirk, he is not bluffing, Kruge even allows Kirk to talk to the prisoners. As Kirk talks to Saavik, he asks if David is with her.
“Yes, he is,” Saavik says. “And someone else. A Vulcan scientist of your acquaintance.”
“This . . . Vulcan,” Kirk says. “Is he alive?”
“He is not himself, but he lives. He is subject to rapid aging. Like this unstable planet.”
Then Kirk, the unwittingly deadbeat dad, talks to his son, Dr. David Marcus. David confirms (awkwardly calling Kirk “sir”) that the planet is going to destroy itself in a matter of hours. He admits that it was his mistake that caused the project’s ultimate failure.
Kruge, in order to show that his own intentions are clear, orders his men on the planet to kill one of the prisoners. He doesn’t care which one. On the Genesis Planet, David attempts to fight one of the Klingons, who was going to kill Saavik with his knife. David finds himself outmatched—he is a scientist, not a soldier—and discovers that a blade through the heart is his reward for bravery.
When a Klingon shoves a communicator in her face, Saavik says, without apparent emotion, “Admiral, David is dead.”
Which draws attention to the fact that I keep referring to Kirk as “Captain” instead of “Admiral.” You will forgive this lapse in judgment, I’m sure. Kirk is forever a ship’s captain in my mind, not some fancy uniform-wearing desk jockey.
Kirk, who is definitely not a Vulcan, responds emotionally to this turn of events.
“Klingon bastard!” Kirk says. “Klingon bastard, you’ve killed my son! . . . You Klingon bastard!”
A son who, by the definition of the word, was also a bastard, we might point out. What? Too soon?
“There are two more prisoners, Admiral,” Kruge says. “Do you want them killed, too? Surrender your vessel!”
Kirk agrees to the surrender, but asks for a minute to inform his crew. Kruge magnaminously agrees to give Kirk, and his gallant crew, two whole minutes. He tells his own small crew that he intends to take the secrets of Genesis from the memory banks of their ship computers.
Of course, Kirk isn’t the type to ever give up. He still believes they have a chance to extricate themselves from their current mess. He orders Bones and Sulu to report to the transporter room, and the rest of the crew to come with him. He tells the commander of the Klingon vessel to prepare to board their ship on his next signal. Kruge tells Kirk “no tricks,” and that he has one minute remaining.
Kirk, Scotty and Chekov activate the ship’s destruct sequence using the computer. We’ve seen this sequence before, in the TOS third-season episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.” This time, our Starfleet officers abandon their ship, and when the Klingons reach the bridge of the Enterprise, the countdown concludes.
At the 01:15:00 mark, the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) is destroyed. This is an iconic moment in the franchise. Technically, Act III doesn’t conclude until a couple of minutes after the explosions, following the reaction shot from Kirk and his gang on the planet surface, but the destruction of the Enterprise herself takes place exactly at the conclusion of this penultimate story chapter.
Twenty-four minutes remain in this third installment of the Star Trek movie series. We plan to stuff them all into one final chapter.
Until next time . . . Klingons Believe Everything is a Weapon at the 15-Minute Federation . . .Live Long and Prosper.