Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) (part 9 of 13)

Now that they’re warping to their new destination, Sybok gets on the ship-wide intercom and urges the crew to, no kidding, “consider the questions of existence.” As always on Star Trek, extras in Starfleet uniforms stop dead in the corridors and subside into placid-faced listening mode, rather than continuing to walk to wherever the hell they were going in the first place.

Caption contributed by scootermark

Consider the questions of existence. Like, for example, the question of why flares still exist in the 23rd century.

Sybok explains to the crew that his emotional, pre-logical Vulcan ancestors believed in a place where these questions can be answered, and asserts that despite modern debunking, this place is real. He builds exuberantly up to his announcement that they’ve all been chosen to find “Sha Ka Ree”. Yes, that’s right. Vulcan paradise was named after the guy they couldn’t get to play the role of the guy who’s obsessed with finding Vulcan paradise. Well, that makes perfect—wait, huh?

Sorry, dude, but you’ll never be able to find Sha Ka Ree. He’s busy doing television. (Is it possible for us to have an Un-Repeat Offender—someone who’s repeatedly not in Agony Booth movies? Except, starring in the sprawling mindfuck that is Zardoz should count triple, so it’s all a wash, I guess.)

But you know what would have been a way better name? Mill Wah Kee. I mean, that’s a place where cans of beer spontaneously appear in the river! How can it not be paradise?

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Sybok says the planet Mill Wah Kee lies at the center of the galaxy. In the brig, Spock comments that finding Mill Wah Kee was why Sybok left Vulcan in the first place. Wait, I thought he was exiled? No matter; Kirk says that the Great Barrier surrounding the center of the galaxy is impenetrable—which is why no ship or probe has ever returned after passing through it.

Kirk suddenly switches gears, yelling at Spock about how he’s either with him or against him. Boy, and you thought Edward Cullen had g-force mood swings.

Now, I lost my Cliffs Notes for this movie, but I think Kirk is picking up on some curiosity Spock has about what Sybok has discovered, and has gone back to questioning Spock’s loyalty, even though Spock has twice refused to join his brother’s quest. But before I can finish chanting a curse of lifetime hemorrhoids on William Shatner and everyone else responsible for the stupidity of this movie, Kirk, Spock, and Extraneous McCoy get distracted by noises coming from the back wall of the brig.

Turns out it’s Morse code, and someone is spelling out individual letters:

Spock: … K.
McCoy: “Back.” “Stand back.”
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy: Stand back??!
[wall explodes in their faces]

Oh, and on an unrelated topic, guys, how would you like a nice Hawaiian Punch?

Caption contributed by scootermark

A rare candid shot of Shatner, Kelley, and Nimoy screening the final cut of Star Trek V.

What’s really funny about this scene is that Scotty, who’s blowing up the wall to rescue them, sent them the message but didn’t give them any time to actually stand back. It’s literally, “Stand backKABOOM!” I’m starting to think that Scotty, after all those years locked away in the engine room muttering to himself, has finally snapped. Awesome.

And now Scotty and the guys are walking through a Jeffries tube the size of a city sewer, and they decide they need to reach the emergency transmitter located in the “forward observation room”, which I’m betting is the lounge with the big ship’s wheel that Spock hid in before. But the only way to get there is by climbing up an unused turbolift shaft. Kirk, Spock, and (McCoy) head off, calling Scotty “amazing” for knowing how to get to Turboshaft 3. Really? It’s amazing that your chief engineer knows the location of all the ship’s turbolifts?

Once they’re gone, Scotty mutters to himself that he knows the ship like the back of his hand. And then (wait for it… wait for it…) he promptly smacks his head against a beam with a loud klang and drops to the deck like a sack of cement. And if you think that’s hilarious, you’ll love the last third of the movie, in which Scotty gets amnesia and thinks he’s Santa Claus.

Caption contributed by Albert

Sorry, Scotty, but you’ve got to be in much better shape to do the limbo.

Having discovered the jailbreak, Mindzonked Sulu and a bunch of Sybok’s morons run through the ship, ending up at the Jeffries tube, where they discover Scotty out cold. Sulu orders Bad Teeth Guy to take him to sickbay, while he and the others continue the chase.

Caption contributed by Albert

”After them! Hey, um.. how did we end up on Picard’s Enterprise?”

Meanwhile, Kirk and (McCoy) start climbing the ladder built into the side of the turboshaft. Spock stares up the height of the shaft and walks out, and it’s almost like he looked at the climb and said, “Screw that!” Brilliant. It takes a rather long time for Kirk to notice that Spock is gone—he’s already climbed up to deck 13 (more on that in a minute). But just then, Spock floats down from above on his rocket boots, saying he’s found a faster way.

Okay, I’m calling bullshit on this one. Where did Spock get these boots? If they’re the same boots from Yosemite, they were in Spock’s gear, which should have been stowed in his quarters. How did he get to his quarters, which I would assume are at the top of the ship, and not down in the bowels of the Engineering section where the entrance to this turboshaft is?

And if they’re new boots that he got from ship’s stores, well, Mindzonked Sulu and the Morons (great name for a punk band—in fact, I hear they’re touring with Megazeppelin right now) were right behind them, and the whole ship is on alert. And yet, Spock managed to get at least 14 decks up, and get a pair of boots undetected from somewhere, and return to the turboshaft in the same amount of time it took Kirk to rapidly climb a ladder. My guess: Spock had them with him the whole time, because they’re pocket rocket boots. Just add bourbon and beans!

Kirk, providing new fuel for the slashers, climbs on top of Spock, but when it’s (McCoy)’s turn to climb aboard the Spock Express, they’re all too heavy and they start to slip downward. (Insert joke about Shatner’s weight here.) So Kirk tells Spock to fire the “booster rockets”, which he does. Just then, Sulu enters and gets a face full of booster rocket. Given how those rocket boots are powered, that must’ve been especially unpleasant.

Caption contributed by scootermark

”Captain, may I have this dance?” “Surely you don’t mean little old me!”

They rocket straight up to the top of the ship, comically almost splattering themselves against the ceiling of the shaft before Spock can hit the brakes. Along the way they zoom past markings for each deck. Deck 10! Deck 35! Deck 52! Deck 64! Deck 63! Deck… 64! Again! Deck 65! Deck… what the… 52? Deck… okay, 77, back on track! Deck 78! Deck… 78! Again! And then finally, the STOP deck, where you’re sent for time-outs, I guess.

Wow, who the fuck edited this? Checking… checking… huh. Well, Peter Berger is actually an Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning editor, for Fatal Attraction, which came out only two years before this. So the only way this could have happened is that our director said, “Hey, Peter, make sure to throw in a bunch of continuity errors in the turboshaft scene! Trekkers will harp on it for years, and forget the stupid plot!”

This plan almost worked, because in addition to the bad continuity, the deck numbers gave fans a collective embolism over the fact that in every other incarnation of Star Trek, the ship’s decks are always numbered from the top down. Even dumber: zooming up a straight turboshaft past more than 78 decks is kind of like taking an elevator to the 50th floor of a 12-story building. Not to get too geeky here, but consider for a moment that Ten-Forward, the bar-and-grill on Picard’s Enterprise, is called that because it’s supposed to be on Deck 10, on the forward lip of the saucer section, halfway down. And Picard’s ship is supposedly much bigger than Kirk’s.

What’s irritating is that these are things that every single person associated with this film, starting with the director, the set decorator, the art director, and the production manager, should have known from their own personal past experience on Star Trek (I checked). But they were all too busy thinking about making Star Trek funny to worry about just making Star Trek.

So this brief scene, in summary, contains three different flavors of “fuck the fans, they won’t notice”, all for slapstick effect. Oh, and this is all about to become utterly and completely pointless, because Sybok is soon going to find them in the observation lounge anyway, and they’ll end up as prisoners all over again. What’s the only thing better than padding? Fuck-the-fans padding!

Kirk, Spock, and (McCoy) run into the observation lounge and contact Starfleet, giving out their coordinates. Starfleet promises a rescue. But zoinks! It turns out “Starfleet” is really Klingon Bodybuilder Chick, who somehow intercepted the call. Klaa, now unable to think of anything but fighting Jim Kirk, orders a course laid in for the Lemonprise’s coordinates, 000 mark 2. Is it really this easy to pretend to be Starfleet Command? There’s no protocols or anything? I guess anybody with a ham radio can be Starfleet. I am Starfleet! No, I am Starfleet!

Caption contributed by scootermark

”I think I’ll have the chocolate wobble and pistachio, what about you, Spock?”

But judging from these coordinates, they’re now already very near the center of the galaxy. Which they got to in a few hours. Um, yeah. So forget for a moment that TNG, set a century later, had a whole episode (“The Nth Degree”) devoted to how it would take forever to get to the center of the galaxy, and doing it in a few hours would involve the use of completely incomprehensible alien technology. Also, forget that one show whose whole premise was that it would take decades for a starship to cross the galaxy.

(Aside for the geeks: they’re traveling at warp 7, which is supposed to be 650 times the speed of light. Earth is at least 25,000 light years from the center of the galaxy. Divide one into the other, and the result is it should take them 38 years to get there. Hey, that would explain how dumb they all are: we’re not watching Kirk, Spock, and the rest anymore—it’s their inbred offspring!)

Okay, this recap will go much faster if I just say screw it, this isn’t Star Trek at all, it’s… I dunno, Jar Trek. Ooh, that’ll let me try out my favorite cuss-words, which I never get to use because ”Jar breeze!” doesn’t make any sense out of its original context. But here, it seems extraordinarily apt.

Sybok bursts in on them, and in response to Kirk’s protests about taking the ship into the Great Barrier, he starts babbling about fear, and how humanity has broken through supposedly impossible barriers before (the sound barrier, warp drive, etc.). But, but, but—in all those cases it wasn’t simply overcoming fear that broke the barriers, it was also, y’know, inventing technology that could actually break the barriers. And in this case, the Federation doesn’t have the technology, so flying the Lemonprise into the Great Barrier will still result in a great big splat, no matter how mindzonked they all are.

Mark "Scooter" Wilson

Mark is a history guy, a graphics guy, a guy for whom wryly cynical assessments of popular culture are the scallion cream cheese on the toasted everything bagel of life. He spends his time teaching modern history at Brooklyn College, pondering the ancient Romans at the CUNY Graduate Center, and conjuring maps and illustrations for ungrateful bankers at various Manhattan monoliths. Readers are welcome to guess at reasons why he's nicknamed Scooter, with the proviso that all such submissions are guaranteed to be rather more interesting than the truth. Mark lives in the Midwood section of Brooklyn with a happy-go-lucky, flop-eared dog named Chiyo who is probably, at this very moment, waiting patiently for her walkies.

Multi-Part Article: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

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