Original Theatrical Release Date: November 26, 1986
So my friend Legolas sent me this link, and now I'm kind of pissed off, because I want it but I don't currently have $17 in my Big-Ass Mug Fund. You should get it, though.
Okay, so where did we leave off?
Oh, yeah. Kirk Classic going on a date with an unsuspecting whale expert. Poor Gillian. She doesn't know that Kirk is the he-whore of Starfleet.
So they've dropped Spock off at the park, and now they've gone to a pizza place somewhere nearby, and I'm not sure if that counts as the "Italian" that she promised, but whatever. (Fun fact: this restaurant did not have a pizza oven, and the production company wanted one, so they paid to have a working pizza oven installed in the restaurant... which was then never shown on camera. Oh, well. Free pizza oven!)
Gillian orders a pizza and some shit-beer, which she mentions by name, so I'm guessing that the beer company paid for product placement.
Then Kirk drops the cheesiest fucking line ever, and I swear to God, if I had been Gillian, I would have just gotten up and left:
"How did a nice girl like you get to be a cetacean biologist?"
All the facepalms, Kirk. I know you probably think of the twentieth century as being primitive compared to your own time, but she's not a caveman. Terrible pick-up lines do not work in any century. Also, your tone and choice of wording imply that her job sucks. She has a PhD, you douchebag. You're not doing yourself any favors here.
He jumps right into it, and asks how they'll let the whales go. She replies that a special 747 will fly them to Alaska and release them there. They'll have radio tags on them so they can keep an eye on them over the years. Kirk, in the shadiest way possible, tells her that he can take the whales someplace where they would never be in danger of being hunted. She laughs and tells him that he's full of shit, because he and his weirdo friend don't even have a car, let alone some way to transport whales.
He kind of takes offense at this, and asks why she would have dinner with him if she has such a low opinion of him. I dunno, Kirk. Usually a girl goes out with a guy she has a low opinion of because she wants a meal and a screw. You're really not helping your case here.
Their beers come, and he takes a sip and makes a face, because, you know, it's shit-beer. Maybe that beer company didn't pay for product placement.
Gillian is conflicted. This weirdo and his friend are offering to take her whales someplace safe, but they are straight-up weirdos, despite the fact that she wants to believe Kirk when he says they'll be safe. She admits that there's a crap-ton of hunting going on right now, but humpback whales do not do well in captivity, so they're screwed either way, and that is exactly why she's having dinner with Kirk.
Scotty calls Kirk with an update, and Gillian is instantly suspicious, because she though he had a pager, but apparently it's some kind of walkie-talkie and Kirk is telling Scotty "phasers on stun"? She wants him to level with her, and makes a sarcastic guess that he's from outer space.
"No, I'm from Iowa. I only work in outer space," he quips, and I feel like that joke would have worked better in his own time.
He tells her that he's from the twenty-third century, and that he's come back in time to get two humpbacks and take them back to his time so they can repopulate. She replies in the most sarcastic way possible, and I like her better all the time.
After much pressing, she reveals that the whales are being moved the next day at noon, and he decides that they don't have a moment to waste. They get the pizza to go, and he makes her pay, because they "don't have money in the twenty-third century," despite the fact that he has some cash. Are you really gonna tell me that you spent all of your money riding the bus, Kirk? You can't even pay for your shitty beer, or cover the tip for her? Dick move, dude. You want her to give you some freaking whales after you made her buy you dinner?
A bit later, Chekov and Uhura have snuck their way onto the nuclear vessel, the Enterprise. They make it down to the reactor, and then they have to wait for the equipment to do something, based on "how many layers of shielding there are between us and the reactor."
Gillian drives Kirk back to the park. She's mildly pissed off because he made her pay for a short-ass dinner where they didn't eat anything, and now he's asking for the frequency for the radio transmitters that they're going to slap on George and Gracie. He tries to convince her again before getting out of the truck (with a pizza that he didn't pay for!) and she drives away. There's some flashing lights behind her, but when Gillian looks back, Kirk is nowhere to be seen.
In a very short scene, Scotty and Bones tell Kirk that their whale tank will be ready by morning. Kirk is concerned that that's cutting it too close. A frustrated Kirk yells at Spock for not being more moved by the fact that, if they fail, all life on Earth will cease to exist. Kirk, you idiot. If it comes down to crunch time, who do you want helping you to run the show? A weepy first officer, or someone who will simply put his nose to the grindstone and unemotionally get his job done?
|I'm pretty sure that Bones isn't doing anything but watching Scotty work.|
Bones is supervising.
Uhura and Chekov are still next to the reactor on that ship. They finish collecting the energy they need, but the officers on the ship have noticed an internal power drain and have gone to investigate it. Uhura tries to call Scotty, but when she gets a hold of him, the message back is staticky and he says that he can only beam them back one at a time. Chekov gives her the collector thing and Scotty beams her off the ship. Chekov cannot get a hold of Scotty again. Scotty is frantically trying to raise Chekov again. But here come the guys with the guns. Oops.
He's taken upstairs for interrogation, where, like anyone captured during military service, he gives his name, rank, and service number. The guy who's questioning him is getting frustrated because Chekov won't say what he's doing there, or what his phaser and comm are. but this idiot has two pieces of info: Chekov is Russian, and clearly part of some kind of military operation, because civilians don't give rank and service numbers.
Chekov threatens to stun the guy, but when he tries, it makes a squeaking noise, Chekov says he guesses it's the radiation. He tosses the phaser at the guy and takes off running through the ship, getting a head start when it takes the guys in charge a bit to make an announcement over the PA.
|Also, can I just say how excited I am that vest and tie combos are coming back?|
This guy looks dapper as fuck.
There's some jaunty chase-scene music (because this is a fun movie) and the military police chasing Chekov are yelling "hit the deck!" as they go along. I was surprised that this was actually a thing, but it totally is. The other sailors literally dropped to the deck, which was convenient for the MPs, as that made Chekov really super-obvious out in the open. They're about to catch up to him when he slips and falls over the edge of some railing. He's unconscious when they collect him.
Uhura is fretting over leaving Chekov, who they've been unable to raise. Kirk calls Scotty and asks how it's coming with the crystals. Scotty replies that it will probs take him until tomorrow to complete the process, and Kirk says that's not quick enough.
Kirk, you a-hole. You want Scotty to regrow un-growable crystals and build a fucking whale tank in an alien ship, and both deadlines are tomorrow morning. How about, an hour before these projects are due, you beam a whole bunch of hay on board, and make him fish through it, looking for a needle? Kirk is like every shitty manager I've ever known. Later, when Scotty has finished these monumental tasks, Kirk will congratulate him and then give him a smaller-than-usual raise, just because he can.
The next morning (probably around the same time that Kirk is beaming that hay on board), Gillian arrives at the institute. She parks in a red zone and also at the bus stop, which means that her day is going to get progressively shittier as she realizes that she's gonna have to get her truck out of tow and also pay double fines. You'd think she'd know better.
Anyway, she goes out to the whale tank outside and discovers a lack of whales and a water-draining in progress. She rushes inside, where she encounters Bob, the guy who insinuated that whales are dumb. Bob tells her the whales were moved the night before, in order to head off the media, and also because they though it would be easier on her. Gillian's palm meets the side of Bob's face when he says that last part, and it was totally improvised. The guy playing Bob didn't know that was coming, and you can see the surprise when she slaps him.
She rushes out to her crappy truck to cry on the steering wheel, but then it hits her that she knows a crackpot who lives in the park, and that he and his Mormon-fucking friend told her that they would like to kidnap her whales and take them to the future. She speeds off, thus avoiding a massive ticket.
When she gets to the park, she starts running around yelling for "Admiral Kirk!" Much to her surprise, the top half of a dude appears in mid-air, and a stolen Huey helicopter lowers a huge piece of Plexiglass into... something.
What's really hilarious is that she runs forward and smacks into the invisible ship.
"Well, shit," says Scotty, and he yells down to Kirk that his new conquest is outside looking for him.
So Kirk just freaking beams her on board.
Gillian has one of those moments like on Doctor Who when a human enters the TARDIS and is all transfixed, because ermagerd! Aliens! And bigger on the inside!
He takes her on a tour and she forgets about the whales until he shows her the in-progress tanks, and she freaks out again.
"That sucks," he replies. "One of our guys is missing, and now we have to go to Alaska to get our whales?"
Uhura comms Kirk. She's been monitoring things, and has found that Chekov has been taken to a hospital for emergency surgery and is not expected to survive.
"I have to go on this rescue mission," says Bones. "Medicine in this century is scary."
Spock concurs, and Kirk asks Gillian if she can help them look like doctors from the 1980's.
Kirk, Bones and Gillian show up at the hospital in surgical scrubs. They split up to find Chekov and Bones encounters a woman on dialysis for kidney failure. He's horrified at the thought of her going through this treatment, and gives her a pill to take.
Kirk and Gillian find out where Chekov is having surgery, and they snag Bones and an empty gurney. Gillian hops on and they cover her with a blanket. They climb onto an elevator, where two other doctors are talking about ways to treat cancer, and Bones is clearly going to bust a gut. He's been here for ten minutes and already referred to "modern medicine" as being in the dark ages and also as the Spanish Inquisition.
The group encounters cops at the entrance to the OR, and Bones yells at them in doctor-speak in order to get the gurney inside.
"What the hell did you say?" Kirk asks once they pass the cops.
"Cramps," shrugs Bones.
Then he and the main surgeon get into it, because the surgeon wants to drill a tiny hole in Chekov's head to relieve the pressure. Kirk forces the other doctors and nurses into a side room at phaser-point, then uses said phaser to melt the lock.
Bones mutters angrily to himself while slapping a medical thingy on Chekov's forehead. This is a funny movie, so I guess we can forgive some things, but where did Bones get this stuff? So far, he's handed out miracle pills to cover dialysis and had a thing in his bag of tricks to cure whatever head trauma Chekov has suffered. Did he grab these things from the E's sickbay before they blew up the ship? Does the Klingon Empire have a fully-stocked infirmary that he raided? Did he get these things from Vulcan before they left?
After a moment, a groggy Chekov wakes up and tells them that he's an admiral. They wheel him out of the OR, and the cops have the wherewithal to look back and see that the other doctors are locked in the back room. The cops let them out and then give chase. Our protagonists haul ass with the gurney. They pass the old woman who got the miracle pill from Bones. She's all excited because she grew a new, fully-functioning kidney.
They climb into an elevator, and Kirk calls for a beam-up. When the cops get downstairs and the doors open, the lift is empty.
Our heroes appear in front of the Bounty, which is sitting visible in the park.
Kirk breaks the bad news to Gillian: she isn't going with them to get the whales. They're going straight back to the twenty-third century, and she doesn't belong there. But Gillian is pretty sure that she wants to go with them, so when he calls for a beam-up, she jumps on him and yells "Surprise, motherfucker!" as Scotty transports him.
They stroll onto the bridge.
"Spock, where the hell's the power you promised me?"
"One damn minute, Admiral."
Yay, Spock learned how to swear!
They take off from San Fran, Uhura dialing the radio to correct frequency to find the whales. Kirk asks Scotty if the tanks are ready, and he replies that they are, but that he's never beamed up 400 tons of weight before. The admiral is confused because he forgot that - hello? - Scotty has to beam up the water, too. That's kind of freaking important, Kirk. Forgetting about that can fuck up all of the shit.
Bones approaches Spock, saying that Spock appears to have a problem.
Spock confirms this, replying with a bunch of calculation-speak that basically leads to: "The acceleration is different this time than last time. But I was using the calculation from before to get my answers for this time."
"You're gonna have to guess," Bones answers. He seems tickled that Spock is out of his element here. Normally, I'd say his glee is kind of douchey, but that's just Spockoy for ya.
They locate George and Gracie, and because it just can't be that easy, there is (of course) a whaling ship following our whales.
Seriously? Weren't they just dropped off? Seems like the people from the Institute would have dropped them off and stuck around for quite some time to make sure that they were "settling in." Now it seems like they just opened the plane doors and pushed them out next to a whaling boat. Damn.
There's kind of an extended scene here where Sulu points the ship down and flies real fast toward the whales while dramatic music plays. The whalers point a harpoon at George and Gracie. The whales, for their part, are just swimming and minding their own beeswax.
The whalers get ready, and when one of the whales surfaces to breathe, they let fly with the harpoon, which ends up bouncing off the invisible Bounty. The Bounty de-cloaks between the whaler and the the whales, and the sailors swear and turn that shit around, because what the hell is that thing?
Fingers crossed, Scotty beams the whales and water into the hold.
Jimmy Doohan and I both agree that this is an awesome line: "Admiral, there be whales here!"
He's pretty freakin' stoked. I bet he figured that wouldn't work at all.
Kirk orders Sulu to warp, then gives him the conn so he and Gillian can make out near the whale tank. He pauses at the science station and asks Spock if he's taken whale and water-weight into account in his calculations, and Spock admits that he must make a guess on those numbers. Kirk laughs at this in the same way that Bones did, because all of Spock's friends are assholes.
Then he leaves and Spock tells Bones that he doesn't think Kirk is taking this issue seriously. Bones replies that Kirk has more faith in Spock's guesses than he does in other people's facts and that Kirk was actually complimenting him, and maybe Spock's friends are not so much assholes as they are lovable d-bags.
Kirk and Gillian go down to check out the whales, and he actually quotes whale poetry at her, which of course she knows. Dude, gimme a break. He's trying to impress a whale biologist he just met with whale poetry that he just happens to have memorized? Yeah, no. He Googled that shit.
Scotty cock-blocks him by reminding them that their chances of getting back to the twenty-third century in one piece are not that great.
Kirk tells Gillian that she probably should have stayed behind, but she points out that no one in his time is going to know jack-shit about whales, and that her being there is going to be hella helpful. She's totally right about that.
Kirk returns to the bridge for the scary part of the time travel (the slingshot-around-the-sun part), and this time, there is no ridiculous CGI scene. Nor does anyone black out. There's that same sticky moment when no one is quite sure if the braking thrusters fired, but I think it's pretty safe to say that if you're not moving, then they freaking fired.
"When are we?" asks Kirk.
Because all of the computers are down, they determine this by figuring out that they can hear the probe again. And even though it's quite a distance from the Earth to the sun, they manage to find themselves very quickly within the atmosphere.
Oops, now they're falling. Our helmsmen have no control over the ship.
Down in Starfleet headquarters, we get a brief replay of some earlier scenes: Admiral Cartwright once again yells "get them back!" which he did previously when Kirk was calling them to tell them he was going to time travel, and they lost the screen feed; and the window breaks from the wind and pounding rain.
In a new line of dialogue, Cartwright yells that the Bounty is on collision course with the Golden Gate bridge.
|You probably know Brock Peters, the guy who plays Cartwright. We'll see him again|
in movie #6. He also plays Joe, Ben Sisko's father on DS9.
Sulu manages to get enough control to make a water landing in the bay, and Kirk yells for everyone to get the whales into the water, then abandon ship. He puts Spock in charge of getting everyone outside, then Hero Kirk heads to engineering to free Scotty, Gillian, and the whales. The ass-end of the ship is heavier (being filled with whale tanks), so it's sunk further down in the water. He forces the doors open manually, and Scotty and Gillian climb out to safety. Of course the bay doors are jammed shut, the whales are trapped, and the manual override is underwater. Hero Kirk swims forward, and after much tugging, is able to get the bay doors open.
He swims out with the whales, surfacing near the front of the ship with the others, and there's a moment or two where everyone is worried about the whales, but then there's a partial breach of one, then the other and they all cheer.
The penis probe keeps up its steady stream of loud-ass noises, and the whales dip down to answer. (Whales don't sing upright. They dip their heads so they're vertical.) They do a little song, and the then the probe also dips down to reply.
There's several minutes of whale-probe conversation before the little penis retracts back into the probe and flies away silently. We don't ever find out what they had to say to one another. For all we know, the probe came to Earth to ask if it could borrow a cup of sugar.
The clouds clear. The satellites come back on line. The whales breach.
Playful music plays as Kirk pulls his friends into the drink. (This has to suck especially for Chekov, who is still just wearing his surgical clothes.) A shuttle flies down to collect them.
Now we get down to brass tacks here: the court-martial trial. Everyone comes into the tribunal in full uniform and lines up before the Federation president. Spock leaves the spectator area to stand next to Kirk, and when the president points out that he hasn't been accused of anything, Spock replies, "I stand with my shipmates."
The charges are pretty heavy: conspiracy, assault on Federation officers, theft of Federation property, sabotage of the Excelsior, willful destruction of Federation property, and disobeying direct orders of the Starfleet Commander. Kirk is authorized to plead guilty for all of them, and does so.
"So, hey. You guys saved Earth, so now we're gonna drop all of the charges but one," the president says.
The crowd is pretty excited by this.
"The last charge of disobeying a superior officer is for Kirk only," the president continues. "And we're gonna punish you by demoting you back to captain. But you're a hella good captain, and you really wanted to be there all along, so it's less of a punishment than a reward. Also, we're giving you a ship! Hooray!"
The audience applauds. Look how freaking stoked Rand is.
Then the president says that the E crew has saved the planet, and there's a standing ovation. Multiple people yell "bravo!"
I roll my eyes. Does nobody else think that this is some straight-up Dumbledore shit right here?
The trial breaks up, and the audience surges forward to pat backs and shake hands and congratulate themselves on being awesome.
Gillian tells Kirk that she's happy for him, then turns to leave.
"Where are you going?" he asks.
"I've got an assignment on a science vessel," she replies.
Kirk is kind of stunned. I think he figured that, since he had brought this woman three hundred years into the future, that she'd be grateful enough to want to do him. Instead, she's going off to have a career. In the end, he gets what he wants, but not the girl.
She kisses him on the cheek and leaves. He gets this look on his face like, "Did that really just happen?"
Spock and Sarek have a moment where Sarek says he is leaving to return to Vulcan, and Spock thanks him for coming. Sarek replies that this was no problem, as Spock is his son, and that he was impressed with his performance. He reminds Spock that he had opposed him joining Starfleet, but that he was wrong, and that his associates have good character. Spock pops and eyebrow and replies that they are his friends.
When Sarek asks if Spock has a message for his mother, Spock answers, "Tell her that I feel fine." Sarek pops and eyebrow at this, and they exchange the ta'al hand gesture.
Spock and Kirk leave the tribunal room together.
Later, everyone is one in of those little ship-to-ship shuttles going out to drydock. Bones bitches that they've probably been assigned a freighter. Sulu smiles that he's "counting on the Excelsior." (Remember: dude got promoted to captain, and is getting his own command. This means that Kirk now holds the same rank as three of his crew members - Spock, Sulu, and Scotty.)
"Meh. A ship is a ship," says Kirk.
He gets assigned to the Enterprise-A.
They climb on board and gather on the bridge. There are a small handful of short loveletter shots to the A, then Kirk orders Sulu to "see what she's got," and the Enterprise warps away.
So this, like pretty much everyone else, is my favorite of the Star Trek films. It's lighter and funnier than the others, and because of comedic aspects, I'm a willing to overlook more of the scientific crapola that they try to get away with. For instance, the possible paradox that's created when Kirk hawks the antique glasses that Bones gave him as a gift - did those ever exist outside of that loop? There's also the major Prime Directive no-no that Chekov commits while on the nuclear ship. In a goofy, slap-stick moment, he tosses the defunct phaser at the interrogator, thus giving people in the twentieth century technology from the twenty-third. Recall that a similar thing happened in "A Piece of the Action", when Bones accidentally left his comm behind on the gangster planet. Some brief concern is giving for the missing tech, but then they shrug it off again, because that episode is also a "fun one," and fun episodes don't try as hard to follow the rules.
No, my biggest pet peeve with this film is the return of douchey Classic Kirk, the guy who also saves the day at the last minute, who always gets the girl, and who always come out on top, even when he's supposedly being punished. I thought we had left Mary Sue Kirk behind in the dust when he grew as a character in "Wrath of Khan." A guy who has to face the consequences of his actions is far more interesting and believable to me than a guy who is punished with a reward. How convenient that he miraculously saved the day and then got everything he wanted. (Though I did enjoy the twist at the end where Gillian essentially ditches him to run off and have a career. I like that she had a life before he appeared on the scene, and that she continues to have one, in spite of being sort-of involved with him. I get the feeling that, while we don't dive into her personal life, if we had, this film would pass the Bechdel Test, and while that isn't a good indicator of whether a movie is good or bad, it does add bonus points when it passes.) Carol Marcus was a great girl-of-the-week for older, wiser Kirk because they had some troubled history and a great backstory with the promise of having to deal with the fall-out. What's more, though they remain on good terms, they do not take up again, and she remains a strong female character with her own life. While Gillian does have her own life and mind, she comes dangerously close to being that old damsel who falls straight into Kirk's arms and sighs. Blech.
This film also demonstrates the idea that "good writing will bolster a bad premise." If you saw a TV Guide description of this film and knew nothing of Star Trek, would you watch it? "The crew of a starship from the twenty-third century must travel back in time to bring home some whales to prevent the destruction of Earth." Let's face it: that sounds like a terrible movie - something that played very late at night, just before the Star Spangled Banner played, and the network closed up shop for the night. It's almost a Sharknado-caliber premise. In this case, good writing not only saved this film, but it made it the most popular of the franchise. It's unusual because Star Trek so often goes in the opposite direction, starting with a good premise and killing it soundly with awful writing. As reader Phil can attest, there's nothing so sad as a good premise destroyed by bad writing, but nothing to celebrate more than when a bad premise is saved by good writing. "You took something shitty and made it good. You get a gold star!"
Overall, this film is really kind of fabulous. It includes the things that Trek-lovers wanted, and threw in some bonus fun stuff. The actors all relate to one other well. It's fun and light-hearted, and a nice place to pause and breathe between the heavier films that surround it. What's more, this film helped inspire a push to "save the whales," and I really can't complain when a fun film inspires humans to do good.
- I found out on a weird tangent that Michelob, the shit-beer that Gillian orders in the pizza restaurant, is kind of a thing of the 80's. I wondered what had happened to it, as I hadn't seen it on any menus lately, and it turns out that the company tanked big-time in the mid-nineties. Anhauser-Busch still owns and makes it, but it's harder to find these days because nobody drinks it. It was one of those upper-middle-class beers that was killed by the craft beer movement, making that moment in the pizza joint kind of a tiny time capsule.
- In "The Search for Spock," Bones says he would rather have given Spock a kidney than house his soul. Given that he has pills that grow new kidneys, this is really not that much of a sacrifice.
- The up-close whale shots earned the wrath of whale rescue groups, who thought that the filmmakers had gotten too close to whale habitats. "LOL," replied director Nimoy. "Those were all models." In the end, more than 90% of the whale shots in the finished film were models or special effects.
- There's a rumor that The Shat wanted to have a love interest in this film because he hadn't had one in previous films and thought that that was part of his character, and that this is why he is paired with Dr Gillian Taylor. But writer Nicholas Meyer has said that he based Gillian on a female biologist he had seen on a whaling documentary.
- Uhura is the only crew member in a regular uniform. Scotty is wearing a "casual captain's jacket" as he has just been promoted to captain. Everyone else is wearing civilian clothes.
- An early version of the script was going to focus on the trial of Kirk, but again, director Nimoy wanted a lighter film. Kirk's trial by the Klingons was then pushed back into movie #6.
- The whalers are Finnish.
- This was the first film screened in the Soviet Union, done so in 1987 to celebrate whale conservation. The audience was particularly delighted by a line spoken by Bones: "The bureaucratic mentality is the only constant in the universe."
- This is the first Star Trek film where they talk about not having a monetary system in the Federation, despite earlier canon stating that they did. This will later butt heads with ideas in DS9, where the money-less Federation has to deal with the fact that everywhere else in the universe seems to pay for things with gold-pressed latinum.
- Though there is no mention of it, the date on the newspaper says that the day the Bounty landed in San Francisco is Christmas Eve. Oddly, there are no holiday decorations anywhere, and no allusions to it being Christmas the next day.
- This film has become known conversationally as "The One With the Whales" to such an extent that, if you Google that phrase, it will automatically link you to sites about this film.
|No, these unfinished quilt pieces belong to me now. Thanks.|