Oct 10, 2019
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), a recap (part 5 of 10)
NOTE: This article is a work in progress.
Please check back soon for more installments!
Welcome back to my latest patron-only recap! The full recap is available to those who pledge just $1/month on the Agony Booth’s Patreon page.
Previously: The Slow-Motion Picture literally went into slow-motion as the Enterprise fell into a wormhole created purely by Kirk’s hubris. Decker agreed to “nursemaid” Kirk to prevent this sort of mishap from happening again, which isn’t quite as freaky as it sounds.
A shuttlecraft approaches the Enterprise, which is currently just hanging out in space. And this shuttle design is something that’s never seen again in the franchise (well, a model of it shows up in the guest quarters on TNG, apparently): The cabin on top disconnects from the warp nacelles, and the nacelles float off while the cabin spins around and docks with the Enterprise, and this action takes a full minute to unfold. This shuttle has its own entry on Memory Alpha which is quite lengthy, but the gist is that the shuttle is called the Surak, and the idea was that the extra-large nacelles are what allows the shuttle to travel long distances.
Chekov goes to greet the visitor, even though he still has no idea who’s aboard the shuttle, but the computer voice tells him the shuttle contains “one boarder” and identifies the person as “Starfleet, inactive.” The door opens and out steps Spock dressed in what looks like black tights and a black cape covered in Vulcan writing. It’s very medieval looking; it’s like he’s about to bust out a lute and start singing “Bitter Dregs” again. Chekov is stunned to see him, but Spock nonchalantly asks for permission to come aboard and then walks away without another word.
Spock steps onto the bridge and Uhura gasps upon seeing him, and Sulu says, “Why… why, it’s Mister…” Kirk leaps to his feet to complete Sulu’s sentence: “Spock!” Spock has no reaction whatsoever to seeing Kirk or his comrades again after all these years, which is understandable, since he just underwent the Kohlinar to purge himself of all emotions. But… not even directly addressing Kirk with some sort of greeting? That’s a bit weird. Spock only talks to Decker, asking if he can take over the science station. And here we get a particularly useless split-diopter shot of Kirk (did we really need to see this random alien extra in the background in focus for some reason?) as he lovingly stares at Spock.
Spock sits at the science station and pushes a few buttons, then finally says he’s been monitoring communications between the Enterprise and Starfleet Command and he’s aware of their “engine design difficulties”, so he’s here to offer his services as “science officer”. Yes, as science officer, not as an engineer, but as we all know, Spock can do every job on the ship anyway. Kirk immediately has Spock’s active status reinstated and officially makes him the Enterprise science officer. Just then, Dr. McCoy and the doctor formerly known as Nurse Chapel rush onto the bridge, clearly ecstatic to see Spock. Spock, in return, just stares at them vacantly. Does the Kohlinar give you Aspberger’s or something?
Uhura says they’re all just really happy to see him, and Spock ignores her too and tells Kirk that he’s going to go discuss the “fuel equations” with “the engineer”. Geez, is it even too much for him to say “Mr. Scott”? Before he steps into the turbolift, Kirk says, “Welcome aboard!” Whoa there, Kirk, enough with the friendly words; any more kindness and this guy is liable to snap and go on a shooting spree. Spock says nothing in return, of course, and continues into the turbolift.