Star Trek: Generations (1994) (part 10 of 12)
After a moment with his nephew, Picard goes back to Guinan, who for some reason is riding a carousel. I don’t know why, I didn’t write the damn thing. The writers cringe at this, too, on their commentary track.
Guinan says he can go to any point he chooses, and that time has no meaning in the Nexus. This is sort of lame, since it means all the hero has to do is think of the place he wants to go to and he’s there. When the only obstacle for a character is his own imagination, that’s not really a good thing.
Picard wants to go back to the moment just before the missile is launched, though why he would pick this point and not a point that doesn’t happen seconds before the end of the world is beyond me. I guess he likes a challenge.
Also, I assume being inside the Nexus is what allows a person to travel back in time, so even if he does go back to that moment, wouldn’t he still just be inside the Nexus, reliving a fantasyland version of the events? It’s really a plot hole that no amount of bullshit exposition can plug up. I think I’ll just stop here and move on myself. I’m starting to get a headache from this goddamn movie.
Picard asks Guinan to help him back on Veridian III, since he knows Soran will just beat him up again (wuss). But since Guinan’s already left the Nexus, she can’t very well leave again. She does know of someone who can help, and the next thing we know, we find Captain Kirk outside a cabin, chopping wood.
Yes, Kirk made it into the Nexus, though this revelation completes the debunking of the “we can’t fly a ship into it” idea. Damn, this movie is stupid in ways that haven’t even been invented yet!
Still, I’ve never been happier to see a hammy Canadian actor with a hairpiece and a bizarre acting style in all my life. This was a pretty big deal when the movie came out, the two captains meeting. It’s still pretty cool, though naturally the movie screws this up, too.
Part of the problem is that Picard spends more time trying to get Kirk to help him out then he spends actually working with the man. Picard is absolutely fixated, to the point of alienating Kirk and coming off like a tool. At best, the sequence is an interesting study in acting technique, as we have Stewart’s more reserved yet authoritative style rubbing up against Shatner being Shatner.
At worst, it’s a disappointing cop-out for the die-hard fans who anticipated this for years. There’s probably fanfiction of Trek captains meeting that’s ten times better than this scene.
Kirk begins a running gag of being so uninterested in whatever Picard is saying that he’s distracted by the slightest thing. Which, conceptually, is kind of funny. (Kirk gets all the points in these scenes.) Here, he interrupts Picard’s first attempt to talk to him when he smells something burning inside the cabin. It turns out to be some eggs, and the cabin used to belong to Kirk. Strangely enough, Kirk seems quite conscious of the strangeness of the situation but is also perfectly okay with it. Well, he did see Uhura doing that fan dance (from below!), so at this point I doubt there’s much that can faze him.
Picard begins to explain things, but Kirk is walking around the cabin in amazement. His old dog appears (“But you’re dead!”), and we hear, from upstairs, the voice of a woman named Antonia that Kirk has never mentioned before, that he was in love with at some point in his history when we weren’t looking.
Kirk has been with a lot of women, and is presumably deeply grateful for whatever eliminated STDs in Gene Roddenberry’s universe, but Antonia here is being suddenly presented as Kirk’s One True Love. So it’s rather odd that she’s being retroactively penciled into Kirk’s history in his last movie, just before his big exit.
(Naturally, there’s more about her, though not much more, in the non-canon Trek novels.)
And what about this whole moving in with a girl and planning a life together thing? He always struck me—and, c’mon, everyone else—as the love ‘em and leave ‘em type. Hey… maybe this Nexus thing is really a nightmare machine! Think about it. Kirk settling down with one woman? Picard surrounded by kids and haunted by the ghost of Whoopi Goldberg? Whoa, now the movie makes sense! That explains the presence of Malcolm McDowell, too! This is actually Fantasy Island, and Mr. Roarke is totally fucking with you!
Kirk, musing aloud more than he’s actually talking to Picard, identifies the time as nine years earlier. He had temporarily retired from Starfleet after the events of Star Trek I, and we’re now around the time he decided to return to duty as an Starfleet admiral, not long before the events of Star Trek II. You can sense the writers very carefully establishing the timeline because they, and everyone watching this, were trying to figure out, “When did Kirk have time to fall in love with The One?”
Kirk also finds some eggs he was planning to cook for Antonia, in order to “soften the blow” of his leaving to go back to Starfleet.
Blowhard Picard doggedly tries to explain the situation, but Kirk keeps blowing him off, which is fun. Picard even gets roped into helping Kirk prepare the eggs. Seeing the gentle approach isn’t working, Picard turns on the “authoritative voice”, which slams right against Kirk’s brick wall of smugness.
Picard: You’re a Starfleet officer, you have a duty!
Kirk: I don’t need to be lectured by you. I was out saving the galaxy when your grandfather was in diapers. Besides which, I think the galaxy owes me one.
And yes, the lack of exclamation points in Kirk’s lines is an accurate representation of the performance. Shatner goes low key here, which is brilliant, especially after Picard’s pompous speechifying. And it works—Shatner gives probably the best performance in the movie here, just by calmly shutting down Picard. I love how Kirk feels the galaxy owes him one. It’s just a wonderfully amusing touch.
Kirk softens his tone a bit as Picard turns away (that man has an awful lot of quit in him), and remarks that he plans to do things differently this time, announcing his plan to ask Antonia to marry him. And Shatner’s performance is strong enough here for me to almost believe Kirk would actually want to get married.
He heads upstairs, and after a beat, Picard follows him into the bedroom. To do what? I’m picturing Kirk and Antonia making love while ignoring Picard as he stands there, sputtering about duty. Now that would have been a great scene.
But instead of a bedroom, they end up in a barn with some horses. I would imagine this is one of the big reasons they were able to lure Shatner back for one more movie, since he’s a well-known horse enthusiast. In the featurettes for the remastered TOS DVDs, pretty much all he talks about is horses.
The main title theme blasts as Kirk rides off, again completely snubbing Picard, forcing Picard to steal a horse to gallop after him (“Stop! I’m not done speechifying!”). And while the horses and scenery are nice, I can’t help but wonder if this screen time could be better spent on other things. Not only that, but the urgency here is a little skewed: Picard is desperate to drag Kirk back to reality because he’s such a wuss he needs help beating up a 50 year old scientist played by Malcolm McDowell.
The chase comes to an end when Kirk’s horse makes a huge leap over a steep drop. Kirk makes the reverse jump as Picard approaches, and it now seems Kirk realizes this place isn’t real, and nothing matters. He’s made this jump a bunch of times and was scared out of his mind when he did it in reality, but not here in the fantasy world.
He and Picard proceed to have a nice little chat, which features an amusing bit of acting from Kirk’s horse as it sidles up to Picard’s steed, nicely echoing the rider, although I’m sure the “nuzzling the other horse” part of it was just a horse thing. At least I hope it is.
Talk of the captain’s chair comes up, and Kirk advises Picard to not let the guys in charge do anything to take away his command, because he can make a difference if he’s there.
I really have to say that this is probably one too many character arcs for one movie. The film tries to dovetail Kirk’s story about regretting retirement and/or becoming an admiral and Picard’s regrets about not starting a family, but it just muddies the waters too much.
Kirk finally agrees to help out, giving us a nice line for the end of the scene.
There’s nothing wrong at all with this scene, either. It’s a nice bit of acting from both men, and it ties in nicely with the opening of the movie. Once again, it belongs in a better movie than this.