ByWilliam Avitt, writer at

I am a huge Star Trek fan, and I often tend to see the good in things Trek most people, fans and non-fans, would consider garbage. My first article in what (I hope) will become a series in all things Trek was a defense of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the movie many people consider the worst (it isn't, The Motion Picture is), which was followed by an article detailing why fans should never write for Star Trek professionally, because it usually doesn't turn out well for the franchise.

This time, I've decided to go the critical route and make a list of places where Trek zigged when it should have zagged. No entertainment franchise is perfect, and Trek is no exception. Now, the entertainment industry, by nature, is hit and miss. A writer or producer or filmmaker has an idea that is awesome to them, but it is a crapshoot as to whether or not it turns out to be as awesome as the originator originally thought. I'm not going to fault Trek, or anyone, for trying something that just didn't work. The way I see it, at least they were ballsy enough to try. Playing it safe is easy, and makes for boring TV and movies and whatever have you. No, I'm not going to fault them for going out on a limb and misfiring. This list is more about things they should have KNOWN weren't going to work in the first place. Things so wrong or absurd they never should have been tried at all.

Star Trek (2009) Alternate Timeline

OK, I know where they were going with this, and the idea of an alternate timeline was actually a good idea, especially considering how rabid Trekkies (not Trekkers. I slap people who say it wrong, so don't) are when it comes to continuity. So they wanted a fresh start and an alternate timeline was an amazing and creative idea in which to do that. Bravo. The problem, however, comes from Spock-Prime (the character played by the original Spock, Leonard Nimoy). Please tell me, in what universe would Spock ever allow this alternate timeline to continue to exist? And don't give me that crap about Spock's timeship being destroyed. Horse hockey! Spock has the calculations for timewarp (a method of time travel used before, most notably in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) commited to memory! He could have taken the Enterprise back in time, stopped Nero before he destroyed the Kelvin and put history back the way it should be. You know, where Kirk had a father growing up and Spock's entire world isn't obliterated and his mother isn't killed! Spock would never, under any circumstances, allow a changed timeline to continue, and he certainly wouldn't allow a timeline where everyone's lives are WORSE OFF to continue. I guess the real boo boo here is not the alternate reality, but allowing Spock-Prime to live until the end of the movie. Spock-Prime should have been killed, thus eliminating the ability to fix the timeline. Allowing Nimoy-Spock to live forced him to act extremely out of character in order to preserve the alternate timeline. JJ, I know you're new to this universe so I'm gonna give you a pass. Don't let it happen again. Bob Orci, you're supposed to be a fan. You should have known better!

Tuvok as Tactical Officer

I'm not a Tuvok fan to begin with. Truth be told, I'm not a big fan of Voyager as a whole. It's watchable, and some episodes were downright good, but mostly it was a dip in quality from TNG and DS9. That said, one of the worst things about the show was that they had a Vulcan tactical officer. I could see a Vulcan as Chief of Security, which he was, but a Vulcan weapons officer just always seemed out of character for the species to me. Vulcans are pacifists. They don't even eat meat because they feel no one being has the right to deprive another being of life for any reason. That's one of the cornerstones of Surak's teachings. And yet, you put one of these at your tactical station? Doesn't fit. You don't want a tactical officer who wants to deal with conflict at the negotiating table. That's the Captain's job. The tactical officer's job is to fire phasers on command and kill who he's told to kill to defend his ship. Spock proved, in Star Trek V, that a Vulcan can't be trusted to have his finger on the phaser button during crunch time. Had Spock pulled the trigger, Star Trek V would have been 40 minutes long and probably have made most fans a lot happier.

"These Are the Voyages" (Enterprise series finale)

First and foremost, the final episode should have been a 2-hour double episode, like the finales of every show in the Berman era (TNG-ENT). It wasn't, it was only a single episode. Now, the producers will tell you that the two episodes previous ("Demons" and "Terra Prime"), which was a two parter, was really the show's finale and that "These are the Voyages" was just a "bonus" episode. First of all, that's ridiculous to even say. The last episode is the finale, that's how it works. This was the producers cheaping out on the finale and cheating the fans, plain and simple, and I'm not entirely convinced they didn't do it on purpose, as revenge for the show being cancelled (that wasn't our fault, by the way). And the network scheduled the finale to be a 2-hour event, but the night was wasted by having "Terra Prime" (part 2 of a 2 part episode) the first hour and "These are the Voyages" the second hour. Also, if they wanted to bring back Riker and Troi, that's great, but doing the entire episode as a holodeck program Riker was running (the TNG timeframe was during the show's seventh season episode Pegasus) was an epic fail of astronomical proportions. First off, this makes Riker (not the characters from the show they were ending) the main character and center point of the show. Secondly, Riker keeps jumping back and forth in the program, skipping ahead and going back, and this makes the story just impossible to follow. On all levels this episode falls short as a series finale. Well, all levels except one. The final shot of the three Enterprises (1701, 1701-D and NX-01) with the three Captains taking turns saying the "Space, the final frontier..." speech was great. It was really iconic and was a great last scene for ending not just Enterprise but ending the entire 40-year Star Trek franchise. And it really was the end of Star Trek as we knew it, the next time we would see Trek would be JJ Abrams' reboot.

Killing James T. Kirk (Star Trek: Generations)

OK, let me first go on record as saying, I don't necessarily agree with this myself, but almost every Trekkie who isn't me seems to be cheesed off by this, and I totally see their arguments, so I added it. It should be noted that I liked Generations as a movie well enough, and I never really thought much of Kirk's death (I even teared up a bit, though not as much as for Spock at the end of WoK), so these aren't necessarily my arguments, but they are arguments I don't disagree with. Some people believe Kirk's death was the right idea, but he should have gone out in more of a blaze of glory, maybe even piloting the battle bridge while the saucer escapes (though, since the Klingons were already dead, even if Kirk had been on the ship instead of the planet there would have been no need for him to stay behind) and some believe that Kirk shouldn't have died at all and the movie should have ended with Kirk flying off into a new adventure, ala Scotty's TNG appearance. Either way, the way Kirk was killed seems to be dissatisfying for 99% of everyone involved. Even Malcolm McDowall, the man who pulled the trigger so to speak, has gone on record to say the producers really bolloxed that one up. And though the way Kirk died doesn't much bother me, I can definitely see where it could have (and should have) had a bit more meaning to it. Letter to JJ Abrams, if you're going to kill of any legendary characters in your tenure (which you should have done with Spock!), make sure you don't drop the ball.

The Death of Spock's Mother (Star Trek 2009)

OK, this is another example of a decision that wasn't necessarily bad, but the way it was executed was bad. I don't really think there was any need for Amanda to die, the destruction of Vulcan was sufficient enough to emotionally compromise Spock so that Kirk could take command, however, they wanted her to die and that's fine, but how she died needs to be criticized. She fell out of a transporter beam. That was just stupid. Once the beam starts, you are effectively held in place, locked into the beam. It doesn't matter if the world falls out from under your feet (which in this case, it literally did), you can't fall out of the beam. I don't know to blame the writers, JJ or the SFX supervisor, but someone should have caught this. She should have fallen and then the transporter effect should have materialized. As it stands, it is just one more thing to forgive. And I forgive it, because Trek09 was gobs and gobs better than it had any right to be, but if we have to keep forgiving this kind of stuff, the JJ-verse is not going to be remembered kindly.

T'Pol Suffering Pon Farr

Pon Farr is something males go through, plain and simple. Vulcan males get the "blood fever" and are driven to mate once every seven years, or die. This is clearly established in the episode Amok Time of the original series, and reaffirmed in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The females, presumably, have no sex drive and are merely there to satisfy their husbands. I don't know exactly the particulars of Vulcan sex, and I don't care to, but I do know that Pon Farr affects only males, and T'Pol, being a female, should not have been seen struggling with this issue. I'm sure it seemed like a fine idea to the writers, and maybe they knew better and decided to ignore that, but it was a crap decision. While it is true that I am personally more forgiving than most, I am but one fan. It was bad decisions like this one which turned many fans off of Enterprise, which was basically a pretty good show. In fact, most people who have no prior knowledge of Trek would probably like it as a science fiction space odyssey series. But in franchise fiction, like on politics, you can't just ignore your base and expect for them to follow you anyway. JJ Abrams and his team, while wanting to reboot the franchise and have a fresh start, did show that they had respect for what had come before. Sometimes, especially in cases like this, one has to wonder how much respect Rick Berman and Brannon Braga had for what had come before, especially there at the end. Either they didn't take the time to do their research, or knew better and didn't care. Either way, there is no excuse for this, especially not from 18-year veterans, and this was an absolutely horrible decision.

Species Indigenous to Space

I don't care if it's a giant single celled organism or a space-faring Manta Ray nursing on the Enterprise, the idea of any beings indigenous to space, or that any type of life could even survive the vacuum of space, is just dumb. And while you're at it, it's just bad science fiction. That isn't to say that The Immunity Syndrome is necessarily a bad episode, I actually happen to like it, but the premise is just silly. Now the original series, having been made in the 60's when actual science was never a factor in science fiction, is given a bit more leeway here than the Next Generation episode, but they're both guilty so they're both being called out. There is just no biology, none not any, that could permit this. Let's try to at least pretend as though we respect the laws of science, could we please?

Khan (Star Trek Into Darkness)

I don't hate Star Trek Into Darkness. In fact, if all you know of Star Trek is the JJ Abrams stuff, Into Darkness was a really good sequel to that movie, and it was a really good movie standing on its own. The problem comes when you compare it to other Star Trek, most notably, The Wrath of Khan, which also happened to be the second installment in a Star Trek film series. For the ardent fan, Star Trek Into Darkness was the Superman Returns of Star Trek. It seemed more concerned with paying homage to things that had gone before, to the extent that it was actually quoting entire passages of lines and re-enacting entire scenes, than it was in telling its own original story. All of these shortcomings come back to one really bad decision: they never should have used Khan. Now, when Khan was first rumored to have been the villain of the piece, it caused a lot of controversy. On one side were people like me who felt that there was nothing that could be added to the Khan story and that anything they could potentially do, which is what they ultimately ended up doing, was just retell the story in the context of their new continuity. On the other side were people saying that Khan was no different than the Joker and that it was no more of a remake than The Dark Knight was a remake of Batman (1989). This group, obviously, was proven wrong because STID ultimately was tantamount of a remake of Wrath of Khan in a lot of respects, even to the point that New Spock actually contacted Spock-Prime to get his advice on how to defeat Khan. Basically, tell me how you did it, so we can do it the exact same way. The writers of this movie could have told basically the exact same story without using Khan and they would not have had the baggage of rehashing everything that had gone before with Khan. So choosing to use Khan was a grave mistake for this film, detracted from the quality greatly, and I hope they do not go down a similar path with their third installment.

That's all I've got, and trust me, it was hard for me to pick that many. At any rate, I hope I've shown that even a hardcore Roddenberry Kool-Aid drinker like myself isn't going to give Trek a pass on everything and that Trek has screwed the pooch on more than one occasion. If anyone associated with Trek happens to read this, bear in mind that these are the types of things that cheese off not only the biggest fans, but the most forgiving as well, and do everything you can not to repeat such horrendous mistakes in the future.


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