And now we come to the final voyage for the Original Series crew. Even though many of them looked ready for the galactic rest home in the sky, there’s something bittersweet about watching a movie with characters you’ve seen grow over a 25-year period knowing you’ll never spend time with them again. And that’s why watching this “last” entry was like watching some of my best childhood friends move away forever.
A Klingon moon has exploded, which is destroying the ozone layer on their homeworld. Now the Klingons have but 50 years left to their existence, crippling the balance of power they had with the Federation, their sworn enemy. With mandatory retirement approaching for the entire Enterprise crew, as well as the Enterprise itself, Captain Kirk is recommended by Spock to command a peacekeeping mission with the Klingons, despite Kirk’s powerful loathing of their species. Kirk agrees, and not long after a Klingon ship is attacked by none other than the Enterprise, or so it would seem. Kirk and Dr. McCoy are arrested, tried, and found guilty of murder. Now they must escape a frozen prison while Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew attempt to prove their innocence while unravelling a conspiracy that could result in interstellar war.
The Klingons had long been recurring villains on the old Star Trek show, so it seemed fitting that this final outing had to do with forming peace talks and ending the conflict between Federation and Klingons once and for all. Especially since The Next Generation, which was in its 5th Season at the time (though set 80 years in the future), portrayed the Klingons as allies. This movie is an appropriate way to bridge that gap. But at the same time, this one feels smaller than previous entries, and there’s not a lot of character growth aside from Kirk. Not that it isn’t entertaining. It’s got a good energy from start-to-finish, a fast-paced and interesting story, and everyone on the Enterprise gets their chance to shine. But like all good things, it must come to an end, and at least they were able to end things on their own terms in a very Star Treky way.
With 25 years under their belt, this marked an important milestone for the Original Series crew and even Star Trek in general. Right from the beginning, talks of retirement as well as the Enterprise’s schedule to be decommissioned are there to remind us that this is it, this is the final mission for these characters, with permanent changes such as now-Captain Sulu having his own ship, the Excelsior. But you also get a sense that we really have nothing more to learn about Star Trek or its characters, and now’s the time to just sit back and let them do their thing. Which is fine. It just lacks a certain depth that the “final” entry of such a long-running franchise could and should have.
Nothing beats the Original Series crew for me. Just seeing Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Bones (DeForest Kelley), Scotty (James Doohan), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Sulu (George Takei), and Chekov (Walter Koenig) together again always brings a smile to my face. It’s like hanging out with dear friends. And while they were a bit long-in-the-tooth by the end of it, their natural comradery is always there. There were many ups and downs over the years, but they had an absolutely stellar run. And Captain Kirk’s farewell voice-over at the end brings their adventures to a proper close, while leaving room for a new (or “next”) generation. If not for the later shows and movies, this would be a fitting end for the entire franchise. But regardless, at least these characters truly accomplished going “where no one has gone before”.
3 out of 5