Star Trek Movie Retrospective–Star Trek Generations

Captain James T. Kirk: “I take it the odds are against us and the situation is grim.”

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: “You could say that.”

Captain James T. Kirk: “Sounds like fun.”

Casual conversation between two starship captains on horseback

“It was…fun. Oh my…”

Captain James T. Kirk’s last words

generations poster 2The Star Trek franchise was at its high peak in 1994. Later that year came Star Trek Generations, which was supposed to be the start of a new film era starring the characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), but instead signaled the long, slow decline of the franchise.

Let’s get to the point and have it known that the only great thing about the seventh Star Trek film was Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner). By himself he nearly saved the film. That is because Star Trek Generations only seemed to come to life whenever he appeared, which was to bookend the film.

It begins with the christening of a new Federation starship: the Enterprise-B. Joining the celebration are former crewmembers of the Enterprise-A, Kirk, Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scottie” Scott (James Doohan) and Commander Chekov (Walter Koenig).

Kirk is clearly uncomfortable being at this Enterprise, since he isn’t in command and is reminded of how empty his life has become. These are magnificent scenes with superb acting by William Shatner. He doesn’t have many lines but you could see on his face that longing to sit in the captain’s chair again. Clearly, retirement doesn’t suit him well. The captain of the vessel is John Harriman (Alan Ruck), who seems a bit like a dweeb. He isn’t a bad person, just too cautious and inexperienced. How did he get this prestigious assignment? Perhaps he’s related to someone important.

The Enterprise-B is officially launched from Earth orbit for a quick tour of the solar system and back. But the ship receives a distress call from ships with El-Aurian refugees. Harriman is hesitant to commit the ship, but as with your typical Star Trek plot inconvenience, even though they’re in Earth’s solar system, there aren’t any nearby ships that can help. Reluctantly, Harriman orders the ship to warp over to the refugees’ location.

enterprise b at nexusUpon arrival, they find two ships caught in the gravity field of the nexus ribbon. It’s a swirling, flaming band of energy that oscillates and spews out tendrils of energy, which destroys one transport ship. Harriman is clearly out of his depth and asks Kirk for help. Kirk, Scotty and Chekov spring into action. Scotty manages to beam aboard some refugees before the last ship explodes. Chekov assembles a makeshift medic crew to help the survivors. One of them is a hysterical mad man (Malcolm McDowell) who is begging to go back to the nexus. Chekov helps another refugee who turns out to be Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg), the ancient bartender seen on TNG.

The Enterprise-B becomes trapped in the same gravity field. The only means of escape is to fire an energy pulse from its deflector array located in the engineering hull. Harriman volunteers to kirk harrimanmodify the array but Kirk realizes that the Enterprise-B isn’t his ship. He tells Harriman to remain on the bridge and leaves to work on the array. Kirk makes the modifications and the ship pulls free, but not before an energy tendril strikes the engineering hull, which causes a hull breach.

Once it’s realized that Kirk was in the area of the breach, Scotty, Harriman and Chekov rush down to the engineering section and can only stare horrifically at the remains of the area Kirk was on. Only outer space held back by a force field greets them as they grasp that Starfleet’s greatest legend is gone…

old shipThe film jumps ahead 78 years later from outer space to tranquil ocean waters and a quaint sailing ship named Enterprise commandeered by officers in old-fashioned naval uniforms. The entire thing is a simulation on the Enterprise-D’s holodeck. The senior Enterprise-D crew members including Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), First Officer William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and the android Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) are celebrating the promotion of their Klingon crewmate Worf (Michael Dorn), who is dunked into the water. Data is perplexed by the humor of the situation especially after his attempt at humor fails to produce laughs.

old uniforms

Captain Picard then receives a personal message from Earth and becomes gloomy for most of the film. Moments later, the ship gets a distress call from the Armagosa Observatory. The Enterprise-D heads to the Armagosa system and the floating observatory, which was attacked. The crew find a survivor in the observatory, a scientist, Dr. Tolian Soran, who happens to be the same lunatic rescued on the Enterprise-B.

Meanwhile, Data tells his friend Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge (Levar Burton) that he feels stunted regarding his attempt to grow as a sentient being. He wants to experience emotions and has Geordi implant an emotion chip into his brain. Later at the Ten Forward lounge, Data begins to experience emotions after sampling a drink offered by Guinan. Data then acts like a buffoon for most of the film.

data clown

Investigations uncover that the Romulans attacked the observatory because they were looking for trilithium. It’s an unstable compound developed by them that can stop nuclear fusion in a star. It’s revealed that Soran is building solar probes with the compound to collapse stars because he wants the shockwaves to alter the course of the nexus towards a planetary body.

After failing to convince Picard to let him return to the observatory, Soran goes anyway there and kidnaps Geordi, who was there to investigate the attack. Data was with Geordi but is so overcome with his new emotions that he can only cower in fear when confronted by Soran. The scientist then launches a solar probe with the trilithium at the Armagosa star.

enterprise d

In his quarters, Picard tells Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) why he is so morose. His brother and nephew died on Earth and he is despondent over that and the realization that he is without any family. Before the scene can devolve into an intergalactic episode of Dr. Phil, they witness the collapse of the Armagosa star. The Enterprise-D crew manages to rescue Data  and leave the system, but Geordi and Soran are beamed aboard a Klingon bird-of-prey ship.

Soran is working with the commanders of the ship, the ugly and annoying Duras sisters Lursa (Barbara March) and B’Etor (Gwynyth Walsh) who appeared on TNG. They stole the trilithium from the Romulans and gave it to Soran to develop a weapon for them. The Klingon ship leaves for the Veridian system, where Soran can continue his work.

cartographyBack on the Enterprise-D, Picard learns about Soran and his plan for the nexus. It’s made of temporal energy (don’t ask) and is actually an interdimensional realm where time has no meaning and you can live out your fantasies. Soran was briefly there before his rescue by the Enterprise-B and desperately wants to return. Picard and Data deduce that with the nexus will now travel to the Veridian system. If that star is collapsed, the shockwave will push the nexus towards a nearby planet Veridian III. Picard orders the ship to head to that planet.

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Top 25 Star Trek: The Next Generation Episodes

Star Trek Next Generation Crew

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, here’s a look at the 25 best episodes from that show’s seven-year run.

25. “Conspiracy” This paranoid episode has the Enterprise  D crew fighting against a conspiracy to takeover Starfleet by worm-like aliens.

24. “Face Of The Enemy” Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) is captured and forced to impersonate a Romulan officer to help transport Romulan defectors.

23. “Future Imperfect” First Officer Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) wakes up sixteen years in the future without a memory of what has happened in all that time.

22. “The Pegasus” Riker and the Enterprise crew must assist his former commanding officer (Terry O’Quinn) to salvage an experimental starship before the Romulans do.

21. “Remember Me” Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) finds herself in a reality where people begin to disappear without anyone remembering the losses.

20. “The Defector” A Romulan officer defects to the Federation with a warning of a pending war. Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) must decide if he’s trustworthy.

19. “The Wounded” The Enterprise is sent into Cardassian space to stop a renegade Starfleet captain with his ship from starting a war with the Cardassians.

18. “The Most Toys” The android Commander Data (Brent Spiner) is captured by an eccentric and heartless collector who thinks of him as a priceless commodity.

17. “Relics” Scotty (James Doohan) from the original Star Trek is rescued by the Enterprise crew and must adapt to a life that is very different from what he knew.

Relics Scotty and Picard

16. “The Ensigns Of Command” Data has to evacuate unwilling, prejudiced colonists from a world before a malevolent alien force arrives.

15. “Redemption II” The Klingon Civil War concludes as Picard leads an armada to aid Worf’s (Michael Dorn) side and deals with intervening Romulans.

14. “The Inner Light” Picard unwittingly lives out an entire lifetime in his mind as a member of a long-dead alien race as a means of preserving their entire culture.

13. “Cause And Effect” The Enterprise is caught in a nasty time loop where it’s destroyed over and over again.

12. “Hollow Pursuits” This episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation spotlights on Enterprise crewmember Reginald Barclay (Dwight Schultz), who is addicted to the holodeck where he creates perfect scenarios for himself.

11. “A Fistful Of Datas” One of the best broken holodeck episodes has Worf, his son and Troi trapped in a wild west setting against a town full of Datas portraying various characters, complete with all the great Western clichés.

10. “Transfigurations” In many ways, this episodes best exemplifies Gene Roddenberry’s hopeful vision for humanity. The Enterprise crew rescues an amnesiac alien with healing powers. The nascent would-be romance between him and Dr. Crusher was very tender and uplifting. As was his metamorphosis into a higher state of being and his high regard for humanity.

9. “Chain Of Command, Parts I & II” Captain Picard is unceremoniously reassigned to infiltrate a Cardassian bioweapons facility and is captured. Meanwhile, Riker has to contend with Picard’s acrid replacement (Ronny Cox). The acting by Stewart while Picard is tortured by the Cardassians was exceptional, as was the level of tension onboard the Enterprise as war loomed.

8. “Ship In A Bottle” The best holodeck episode in Star Trek: The Next Generation. A self aware holographic simulation of Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Prof. Moriarty holds the Enterprise crew hostage until a way is found for him to leave the holodeck. See the episode’s end when Picard wryly wonders if their reality is actually a form of entertainment for someone else!

7. “Parallels” Lt. Worf finds himself drifting through several different realities. One has Riker commanding the Enterprise while Worf is married to Troi. At one point, the starship’s viewscreen is filled with many alternate Enterprises. One of them coming from a shocking reality which has a desperate and haggard Riker on the run from the triumphant Borg.

6. “Tapestry” The god-like entity Q (John DeLancie) comes to Picard after the captain dies and offers him a chance to rewrite his own history. The result being that Picard’s life isn’t so wonderful. He learns the hard way that he needed pain and adversity to help him succeed in his life and career. A sobering lesson for anyone who want to play it safe in life.


5. “Darmok” This is a high bar for a first-contact scenario show. What made “Darmok” so memorable was Paul Winfield’s sympathetic performance of an alien Picard meets. The problem is that the alien speaks in confusing metaphors which cannot be translated. The alien risks his and Picard’s life by transporting the themselves down to a hostile world so that they can find a way to communicate. It’s something rarely seen in Star Trek where universal translators always come in handy.

4. ” Q Who?” The cold and powerful cybernetic race called the Borg make their debut in this second season episode. Feeling that the Federation and Picard were getting too pompous, Q transports the Enterprise into deep space and a first-time encounter with the horrifying Borg. Before long, Picard realizes that his ship is outmatched by the superior Borg cube ship and has to swallow his pride and beg for Q’s help.

3.”All Good Things…” One of the very best series finales for any show. It ended the show just right and left many wanting more. In this finale, Q returns and bounces Captain Picard across three different time periods; the present, the future and to the very first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation to figure out what will cause the universe’s destruction. It was great seeing the future versions of the crewmembers and how they looked at the beginning, which illustrated how far they and the show had come.

2. “Yesterday’s Enterprise” One of Star Trek’s best time-travel episodes mostly takes place in an alternate universe. Picard’s Enterprise is a strictly military vessel and part of a Federation that is losing a brutal war against the Klingons. The Enterprise encounters a time rift where its predecessor, the Enterprise C, emerges. It turns out that the vessel and crew were critical for cementing peace between the two galactic powers and needs to go back to its original time period to correct the timeline. Picard has to decide if he should risk sending the older ship back in time. Viewers got to see a more militant and harder edged crew including a very much alive Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby), who died back in the first season.

Yesterday's Enterprise

1. “The Best Of Both Worlds, Parts I & II” The Borg at their best! Before being overused and watered down by Star Trek: Voyager, the Borg are shown in their nearly invulnerable, terrifying glory. The third-season ender has the Borg sending a cube towards Earth. Picard and his crew grapple with the fact that they or even the Federation may not survive the invasion. The first part of the storyline ended with the best Star Trek cliffhanger as Captain Picard was captured and assimilated, forcing Riker to turn against him. The second part has the Enterprise crew desperately trying to keep the Borg from invading Earth and saving Picard. Both episodes were chilling, exciting and glued fans to the TV sets.

José Soto