Mar 26, 2020
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) (part 2 of 13)
The movie starts off with a cloud of dust that resolves into the blighted landscape of Nimbus III, which a caption informs us is inside the famed Neutral Zone. A further caption elaborates that this is “The Planet of Galactic Peace”, and yes, the caption even includes the sarcastic quotes. Throughout the movie, Nimbus III is referred to periodically as “The Planet of Galactic Peace”, and every time someone says it, you can actually hear the Quotes of Bitter Contempt. Peace! Ptooey. Listen, sport, if God had meant for us to be peaceful, he wouldn’t have given us phaser rifles.
In the midst of this dolorous waste (the landscape, not the movie), a wretched, hairless man with bad teeth is twisting a waist-high, metal device into the ground. It’s not at all clear why. After seeing the movie a few times, I’ve decided he’s trying to dig for water, but really he could be burying doggy bones for all we know.
Bad Teeth Guy is distracted by a distant figure on horseback, galloping dramatically toward him, silhouetted in the dust. The editing cuts from the figure on horseback to Bad Teeth Guy staring at him, and back, in a way that effectively (and rather unfortunately) reproduces the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the guards at Swamp Castle watch Lancelot run toward them for a good five minutes.
Bad Teeth Guy is played by Rex Holman, one of several original series actors who resurfaced in the Trek films. He’s actually pretty good here, given that he’s essentially playing a talking prop. Holman had previously played Morgan Earp in ”Spectre of the Gun” (The One with the O.K. Corral), and was a stalwart of TV westerns in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Star Trek V was his last movie. Wow, that’s the saddest sentence I’ve ever typed.
As we’ll soon discover, Bad Teeth Guy is the first of many characters in this movie who are given no story, no development, and no depth at all. He exists purely to give Sybok someone to talk to. In fact, as if to underline his irrelevance, he doesn’t even get a name. In the script and novelization, he’s called J’onn, but it’s never said in the movie, probably because Martian Manhunter thought the script was stupid and refused to sign off.
The newcomer’s horse runs toward the camera is slow motion, and for some reason it’s roaring like an enraged tauntaun. These roars conspire with the increasingly frantic background music to desperately try to infuse tension into a scene where characters we don’t know do things we don’t understand.
And in keeping with Star Trek’s Forehead of the Week policy, the horses on Nimbus III look just like Earth horses, except for a little horn above their eyes. Oh, and the horse’s coat and mane are dyed blue. A blue horse! Preposterous. Such a thing, if it did exist, would indeed be truly disturbing.
Bad Teeth Guy starts to get jittery and runs for his weapon, which is a pathetic little pellet gun. He nervously points it at the approaching rider. Look, dude, even if you kill the special guest star, chances are we’ll still have to endure two hours of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy acting like those aging uncles of yours who think it’s absolutely hilarious to regale you with ancient jokes at family reunions. So resistance is futile.