Star Trek Movie Retrospective–Star Trek: Nemesis

“To absent friends. To family”

Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s toast for his deceased friend Data

nemesis posterThere is a superstition among Star Trek fans and others that the odd-numbered Star Trek films are bad and do poorly at the box office, while the opposite applies to the even-numbered films. Star Trek: Nemesis disproved that belief, at least when it came to box office returns. As for its quality, well it’s not a bad film at all. It has its flaws but as the last film to feature the characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) it’s actually underrated.

The beginning takes place on the planet Romulus, the heart of the Romulan Empire. The Romulans are an evil offshoot of the peaceful, pointy-eared Vulcans and are bitter enemies with the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire. In the Romulan Senate, a coup d’état occurs where the praetor and the Romulan government are killed by a device that emits an energy field that turns everyone in the Senate into ashes.

ash romulan

Next, the film jumps to Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), who is on Earth giving a best man toast. He and his fellow Enterprise-E crewmembers are at the wedding reception of the Enterprise-E’s first officer Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and the ship’s counselor weddingDeanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). We learn that Riker has been promoted to captain and is about to take command of his own ship. Deanna will be joining him there while the android officer Data (Brent Spiner) will become the new first officer of the Enterprise-E.

The ship departs for Betazed, Troi’s home planet, so the newlyweds can have a traditional Betazoid wedding. As the senior bridge crew joke about the prospect of appearing naked in the Betazoid wedding as per custom, the Klingon tactical officer Worf (Michael Dorn) gets an alert that the ship picked up a positronic signature from a nearby system. That is the same kind transmitted by androids like Data, which is a rarity. With his and Data’s interest aroused, Picard orders the Enterprise-E to divert to the planet of the signature’s origin.

Picard, Data and Worf arrive on the desert planet. These scenes on the world looked otherworldly thanks to the harsh, washed out lighting from the planet’s sun. They find scattered pieces of an android who is a replica of Data and take him back to the ship.

He is assembled and activated. This android is B-4 and is a prototype android created by Data’s “father”. B-4 has no memory of how he wound up on the planet and in fact seems a bit slow. Data decides to download his own memory into B-4 in the hope that his added memories and information will help B-4 grow and become more productive.

janeway

As this is going on Picard receives a message from Admiral Janeway (Kate Mulgrew reprising her role from Star Trek: Voyager) and is ordered to go to Romulus because the new praetor has requested a Federation envoy. Both are surprised that the praetor is a Reman.

remanThe Remans are slave caste members of the Romulan Empire. It’s never explained if they are in fact of the same race as Romulans because they look so drastically different. They seem more like the vampiric Nosferatu with their bat-like ears, fangs and pale skin. The coup d’état at the beginning of Star Trek: Nemesis was orchestrated by Shinzon (Tom Hardy) in order to liberate the Remans and seize control of the empire.

The Enterprise-E arrives on Romulus and after a long wait, this huge, hideously designed war craft de-cloaks in front of them. It’s the Scimitar, a ship secretly built by the Remans but looking more like a demented Lego toy. Picard and his senior staff are invited to beam aboard to meet Shinzon.

meeting shinzonOnce on the Scimitar, Picard and his Away Team are shocked when they discover that the new praetor is actually a young, bald human with a striking resemblance to Picard. Shinzon is gracious if a bit off–he is obsessed with Deanna, having never seen a human before, even though she is half Betazoid. He tells Picard that he wants to open peace negotiations with the Federation and offers a sample of his blood to Picard and the others.

Back on the Enterprise-E, the ship’s doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) examines the blood sample and confirms Picard’s suspicions: Shinzon is Picard’s clone.

The next day over dinner, Praetor Shinzon explains to Picard what happened. Years ago, the Romulans took a sample of the captain’s DNA and cloned him in order to have the clone replace Picard and infiltrate Starfleet. This plan was eventually abandoned, as was Shinzon who was exiled to the Remans’ homeworld to work in the dilithium mines. A Reman (Ron Perlman), who is now Shinzon’s viceroy, took pity on young Shinzon and took him under his care.

Shinzon again proposes peace with Picard. The captain politely turns him down saying that trust must be earned but leaves the door open for more dialogue.

At the same time, B-4 receives a mysterious signal and begins working on a nearby computer to access information. The crew learn of this subterfuge and takes action.

Meanwhile, Shinzon, with the viceroy’s help, forms a telepathic bond with Deanna and tries to mentally rape her through her husband when they’re in bed. Shinzon is interrupted when he gets word picard shinzonthat B-4 is ready. The android is beamed aboard the Scimitar and downloads confidential Starfleet information. After this is done, Shinzon forcibly beams over Picard in order to have a medical procedure done.

Before this can happen, B-4 turns out to be Data, who gave Shinzon the wrong information, and frees Picard. Then the two escape from the Scimitar.

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Star Trek Movie Retrospective–Star Trek: Insurrection

“How many people does it take admiral, before it becomes wrong? Hmmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million?”

Captain Jean-Luc Picard questioning Admiral Dougherty’s attitude about forcibly relocating 600 Ba’ku villagers

ins posterThe ninth Star Trek film, Star Trek: Insurrection, isn’t well regarded by fans and even the people who made it. However, it does have some merit. In fact, as our contributor GEO would say, here’s what’s great about Star Trek: Insurrection:

Still looking? Don’t bother. There isn’t anything great about the film.

dataIt opens in a quaint pastoral Mediterranean-looking village on an unnamed planet. The townspeople are a simple and content lot who tend to their fields, bake bread and live a quiet existence. But they’re monitored unnoticed by Starfleet personnel and mummified-looking aliens in a duck blind. They’re also tracking an invisible person who turns out to be the android Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) who has gone rogue. Other cloaked officers try to stop him from reaching the village, but the android reaches it. The villagers become aware of them, especially after Data removes his invisible suit and shoots at the invisible monitoring station, making it visible to everyone.

uniform

Meanwhile, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is hosting a reception onboard his ship, the Enterprise-E, for new members of the United Federation of Planets. He runs into his old Klingon friend Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn) who apparently dropped by the ship to visit. Worf at this time was a regular character in the show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9) but it’s never really explained what he was doing on the Enterprise-E.

sona ship enterprisePicard gets an urgent message from Admiral Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe) who is requesting Data’s schematics and informs him of the android’s behavior. He adds that Data took hostage the Starfleet observers along with the Son’a, the aliens working with the observers. The captain offers to send his ship over to help but Dougherty discourages this since the planet they’re on is in a perilous region of space nicknamed the Briar Patch.  It got that name from its volatile gases in the system’s nebula that creates anomalies like poor communication.

His interest piqued, Picard has the Enterprise-E go to the planet anyway. When they arrive, Dougherty is with the Son’a leader Ru’afo (F. Murray Abraham) on the Son’a’s command ship, which was just attacked scout shipby Data in a scout ship. Picard and Worf quickly leave their ship in a shuttlecraft and are in turn attacked by Data’s ship near the ringed planet. Both vessels enter the planet’s atmosphere during a cat-and-mouse chase. Over the radio, Picard engages Data to an embarrassingly dumb musical duet based on a Gilbert and Sullivan musical. This distracts the android long enough for Worf to board his ship and deactivate him with a modified tricorder.

Afterwards, the Enterprise-E crew arrive at the village to free the hostages. They’re surprised to find that the so-called prisoners are treated as guests and are free to leave. Picard meets one of the villagers, Anij (Donna Murphy) and a few others. They’re the Ba’ku and despite their primitive appearance are actually a warp-capable society who are up to date on science and technology but choose to live a simpler life.

Back on the Enterprise-E, Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge (Levar Burton) informs Picard that Data’s positronic brain was damaged in a firefight, which is picard data and chickwhy he was acting strangely. Data, now repaired, is activated. The android doesn’t remember much of what happened to him, so him and Picard go back to the planet to investigate. Anij and other Ba’ku, including a young boy named Artim (Michael Welch) who previously encountered Data, join them. They discover a cloaked rectangular ship that is really one large holoship that can recreate any environment inside of it. The ship has a recreated Ba’ku’s village, meaning that the villagers were to be transported there while they slept and fooled into thinking they were still in the village. The mystery just deepens.

Picard and his crew begin experiencing strange reactions to being on the planet, notably that they are getting younger. Worf breaks out in acne, First Officer William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) rekindle a dormant romance and most dramatically Geordi regains his eyesight. The scene where Geordi looks at a sunrise for the first time in his life was his best moment in all the films thanks to Burton’s quietly emotional acting.

geordi sees

Anij explains to Picard what is going on. The Ba’ku left their ruined planet centuries ago and resettled in the current world. The metaphasic radiation from the rings of the planet rejuvenated them, which explains the Ba’ku’s youthful appearance. Anij and many others are actually centuries old thanks to the rings. The Ba’ku’s world is an actual Fountain of Youth, which is why Starfleet and the sickly Son’a are so interested.

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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.

Darmok

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