Having seen Star Trek: Into Darkness and as a fan of the entire franchise, I found the similarities to The Wrath of Khan almost comical. Now that set aside, watching that movie did get me to thinking. JJ Abrams’s reboot of the franchise opened up an entirely new universe; but the divergence of this universe officially begins with the destruction of the USS Kelvin while under the command of Kirk’s father.
A poem by Henry Longfellow opens with “I shot an arrow into the air / it fell to earth, I knew not where”. Since the new timeline begins with the destruction of Kirk’s father’s ship, any events that would have had to start before that moment should still be in play. So while the new universe opens up endless possibilities, it leaves some proverbial arrows that still need to fall. While I do not advocate every new movie being a rip off of old plots, here is a short list of things that may eventually need to be tackled should this new universe continue for longer than a couple of more movies.
Note: Based on the ending for Into Darkness, which completely flipped and changed the ending for The Wrath of Khan, we can pretty much assume that the events of The Search for Spock will not happen.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
• Why it’s still in play: This is the biggest example I have of an arrow that needs to fall and the story I personally would most like to see redone. V’ger is the result of the Voyager space probe going across the galaxy to a machine-world, being given sentience, huge upgrades and coming back to Earth. In addition, in the graphic novel Star Trek: Nero, Nero actually visited V’ger, which in the new universe may actually prompt V’ger to hasten its journey.
• How/If it should be redone: In redoing this story, I would go on and introduce a character like Lt. Ilia, but not necessarily her (or possibly use an existing character like Carol Marcus). I would not bring back Will Decker for two reasons. #1, we do not know what happened to his father (if he was on one of the ships destroyed by Nero) and by extension to Will, and #2, if V’ger’s journey is indeed hastened, then Will Decker may be too young to be on the Enterprise when it arrives.
In addition, it has long been speculated about a connection between V’ger and the origins of the Borg race. Should V’ger appear in a new movie, I believe the writers should once and for all canonically confirm the connection. One scene idea I have is that the Ilia-character physically takes on the appearance of the first Borg queen. And if the character ended up being Carol Marcus, provided the movie established a close relationship between her and Kirk, it would add the emotional drama to spice up the story.
The Voyage Home
• Why it’s still in play: The so-called whale probe attacked Earth because it was no longer communicating with the whales (as they went extinct before Kirk’s time).
• How/if it should be redone: This is one of those plotlines that are still in play, but I do not know how it could be redone without copying virtually the entire script. Any changes to the story, such as the probe being completely destroyed, would ruin the intent of the original film, so while the plotline should still be in play in this universe, I would not recommend using it for any future production. In addition, I do not believe the timeline as established in the new universe would have any effect on the whale probe’s arrival, meaning it’s still a long ways off.
The Final Frontier
• Why it’s still in play: This one is somewhat debatable. Since we did not know until this movie that Spock had a brother (Sybok), we do not know if he survived the destruction of Vulcan. Therefore whether or not he could factor into a future movie would obviously depend on his survival. But the way these things work, you can never be certain if someone is dead.
• How/if it should be redone: Since this was one of the worst of the original movies, I would be careful about any attempt to reintegrate this plot into the new canon. If anything, I would introduce Sybok as a supporting character in another plot rather than a main villain. But should he be a main character, the whole plot about going to the center of the galaxy should be abandoned as the whole sequence departed from the scientific principles established in the rest of the franchise as well as basic present-day science.
If he is brought back, I believe Sybok should either be one of two things:
a. the opposite of his original self
i. If Sybok is introduced as being more stoic, as Spock originally was, his introduction would create the conflict as he would inevitably butt heads with Spock who has obviously become more emotional
b. an even more extremist version
i. If Sybok is introduced as being insane, as he originally was, he should be far more so, and his insanity should be the result of the destruction of Vulcan. This instability would drive him to lash out in potentially terroristic acts, especially if he would blame Starfleet for being too late to save Vulcan.
This idea would definitely be worth consideration because if Sybok becomes a threat to Starfleet, it would put Spock under scrutiny by Starfleet Command for having blood ties to a known terrorist (possibly leading to his own dismissal/arrest) and it could potentially lead to Kirk putting everything on the line if he violates orders or even commits an act of treason in order to stand by his friend.
The Undiscovered Country
• Why it’s still in play: While we may not know how Nero’s attack on the Klingon fleet impacted the Empire, it can be reasonably assumed that the over-mining that leads to the destruction of Praxis is still happening.
• How it/if should be redone: While still a ways off in the timeline (unless Nero’s attack hastened the mining of new materials, which is very possible), this plotline should be kept in mind. The movies have not yet revealed what (if any) effect Nero’s attacks have had on the Romulan Empire itself and/or its relations with the Federation or the Klingons.
Possible ideas would be to have the Federation caught in a cross-fire between the Klingons and Romulans (the dilemma of who they should help), or have the Federation and the Klingons united against the Romulans. While this idea could potentially leave out the need for Praxis to be destroyed, its destruction would certainly help by adding the extra reason for the Klingons to turn to the Federation, especially if the Romulans are the aggressor, seizing on the chance to starve out the Klingons, as was considered by some officers during the original movie.
I’m not saying all of these should be done (although as I made clear, a V’ger remake is one I would like to happen); and I am not saying that every new movie should be a remake of an old plot. But starting the new timeline when Abrams did, this new universe is still bound to elements of the old canon; these elements should not be forgotten by writers in future productions. Any events that would have started before the timeline of the 2009 movie still need to be considered should this new universe continue.