Time Is The Fire In Which Generations Can Burn – Part 3

Having destroyed the Amargosa star, kidnapped Geordi, and escaped on a Klingon vessel, Soren is looking… annoyed. He’s not happy with the Klingons, who turn out to be Lursa and B’Etor the Duras sisters, for having been sloppy enough to allow the Romulans to find out where their missing Trilithium might be. Yes, it appears that the Duras sisters are stealing from the Romulans. That relationship hasn’t half gone downhill since the Klingon civil war, eh?!

Apparently that’s what this is all about. Having lost out to Gowron in that civil war, Lursa and B’Etor are now hoping to use Soren’s research and the Trilithium to take control of the empire. It’s never clear what their plan is, but I can’t imagine it’s blowing up the star of the Klingon homeworld. Although, who knows, they might be that mad.

The last time we saw Lursa and B’Etor they were being accused of plotting to kill Worf and his son Alexander, but that turned out to be nonsense as it was actually a ploy by a future Alexander to get younger Alexander to be more of a warrior. What that episode did reveal though was that Lursa was pregnant, with what was going to be a son according to future Alexander. Whatever happened to that son? Who knows, it’s never brought up. Lursa is clearly not pregnant at this point so either she lost the child during the pregnancy or she’s left the baby somewhere. Actually, given the speed at which Alexander grows throughout Star Trek I wouldn’t be surprised if Lursa’s son is a member of their crew already.

Anyway, missing son aside, the Duras sisters grudgingly set course for the Veridian system as Soren tells them he wants to go there and if they don’t help him then they won’t get his research. Meanwhile, Soren goes elsewhere to torture Geordi into giving up some information about Trilithium, and also to mess about with his VISOR for a bit. At this point it seems like the VISOR might be part of the torture but it’s never that clear. In fact, in the final cut of the movie we never actually get much detail about the torture, save for one throw away line from Crusher later on. If you read the book, you find out Soren has implanted a nanoprobe that stops Geordi’s heart by remote control – a pretty effective form of torture by the sound of it.

Speaking of Crusher, she’s actually done some investigation into who Soren is! Nice to know there’s one person on board the Enterprise who’s thinking straight. She’s learned he was on board the ship that was rescued by the Enterprise-B – so clearly Harriman senior didn’t cover up Johnny’s mess after all – and also told Picard who else was on that ship. So that’s Picard’s next stop – go talk to Guinan. Nice to have some old fashioned investigating in this movie.

Guinan very quickly reveals all. That energy ribbon is a doorway to another realm of existence which they call “The Nexus”, and she went through that doorway before she was “pulled, ripped” away from it by the Enterprise-B. She didn’t want to go at the time as the Nexus was a blissful place that she describes as being like “inside joy”. Sounds like a drug with no comedown really.

The fact Guinan gives up this information so easily just goes to strengthen what I said earlier. Did NO ONE ask any of the survivors about their experience after they were rescued? Really?! Not even the guy screaming “let me go back”? No one asked “back where?” at any point? I can’t believe that. I also doubt very much it was a secret, even if adjusting to being ripped away from it was difficult.

So having told Picard all of this, including how hard it was to forget about it, both of them reckon Soren is trying to get back to the Nexus. Guinan warns that if he is that determined to get back there he’ll stop at nothing to do it. So that explains why he’s happy to destroy stars, but how does destroying them help?

Picard meets Data in Stellar Cartography to try and piece the puzzle together. Data’s emotion chip has been fused into his neural net, so he’s stuck with the emotions that crippled him earlier – and as Picard soon finds out he is indeed still crippled by them. Fear has been replaced by remorse and regret as he remembers how he let Geordi be captured while cowering in the corner. After acting distracted by these emotions, Data finally loses it and angrily blurts out that he wants to be relieved of duty and deactivated until someone can work out how to removed the emotion chip. He doesn’t want the emotions any more.

Picard’s response? Boo hoo, grow up. You’ve spent years saying you want to be more human, well here you are. We all have to deal with emotions, so now you do too.

Actually, his response was to order him to do it and Data responded with “I’ll try” but it amounts to the same thing. I preferred my first suggestion though. Still, Picard seems happy with “I’ll try” as he says that takes courage and, after all, that’s an emotion too. This seems to do the trick and Data gets on with the task at hand. Ahh, can’t beat a Picard speech to fix everything. Must be an Enterprise captain thing…

Picard and Data slowly piece things together. First they work out every affect destroying the Amargosa star had on the area. The key one they pick up on is that the USS Bozeman – presumably a new one and not the 80 year old one we saw in Cause and Effect commanded by Captain Frasier Crane – had to make a course correction due to the change in gravity in the area. So having figured that out, they bring up the energy ribbon’s last known location and course and find that it’s course has altered too! That’s it, that’s what Soren is doing!

Wait, why is he doing that? Why doesn’t he just fly into with a ship?

Yes, exactly. That’s how he got there the first time! Yes, as Data says, every ship that has approached the ribbon has either been destroyed and severely damaged. We know, the one Soren was on was destroyed but that didn’t stop him ending up in the Nexus anyway, did it? Soren will stop at nothing to get there, surely the most obvious way to get there is to get there the same way he got there the first time? He clearly has no problem destroying whole solar systems to get his way, I’m not sure he’d be too worried about losing one tiny little ship!

This, for me, is the single biggest plot hole in the entire movie. Soren doesn’t need to be destroying stars to get what he wants, he just has to do what he did the first time. It worked, he knows it works, it will very easily work again. It’s a lot less risky that what he is doing, and a lot less destructive as well. He can fly into the Nexus in a ship on his own and not hurt a fly. But no, he’s destroying entire solar systems and making pacts with renegade Klingons who are stealing from the Romulans to give him the same ultimate goal. That is utterly ridiculous and kills this movie stone dead for me.

I’m not sure any of the other Star Trek movies has a hole this big. V’Ger being lost in a black hole? Okay, bad science, but if they meant wormhole then it works anyway and it’s fine. The whole Genesis project? A bit far fetched as science goes but it’s more of a leap of faith than a massive hole. Time travel to retrieve whales? We’ve done time travel using solar gravity in the original series.

No, the Final Frontier is the only one that comes even close to having this big a plot hole. It’s pretty dreadful thanks to the idea of being able to travel to the centre of the galaxy in a matter of hours – ruining the entire premise of Voyager in the process – but even that plot hole isn’t as ridiculous as this one given that the speed and distance throughout the whole of Star Trek has been pretty variable.

Incidentally, if you want a plot hole about speed and distance then Generations has another stinker coming up later.

The other one you often hear about The Final Frontier is the one that suggests the whole movie boils down to it being “Kirk versus God” – which to me is only ridiculous until Spock’s line “this is no God of Shakaree nor any other God” nails it. Yeah, it wasn’t God at all, it was just a very powerful being who had been imprisoned there.

The difference can be boiled down to two questions in the movies. “What does God need with a starship” is a funny question that not only makes that movie a little better by making it quotable but it even gives you a massive hint at what’s going on. “God” wouldn’t need a starship. “Fake God” would. “Why doesn’t he just fly into it with a ship”, on the other hand, is a terrific question which utterly destroys the entire plot of the movie.

So, anyway, assuming Soren is the worst scientist in the history of science and therefore too thick to realise all of this, just where is he heading?

Well, the ribbon passes quite close to Veridian III, but not close enough… unless you destroy the Veridian star as well that is, in which case it passes right through the planet. Fortunately, Veridian III is uninhabited and so it doesn’t really matter if Soren gets his way. Oh no, wait, Veridian IV has a pre-warp civilisation on it at around 230 million of them. Suppose we better go and stop him killing off that entire species then!

There is another point that gets raised during the Stellar Cartography scene that gets brushed under the carpet. Data says that the ribbon passes through this area of the galaxy ever 39.1 years. This makes sense given we’re 78 years after the incident with the Enterprise-B by this point, but it does raise one question – what happened the last time it passed through this area of the galaxy? Did Soren miss it? Did he really spend 39 years missing the Nexus after being ripped away from it by the Enterprise-B, but at no point realise when it would be back? Was he not ready to blow stuff up then? Wouldn’t he just have flown into it with a ship at this point?!

This is something they just gloss over and ignore entirely, but I can’t help but think Soren wouldn’t have let that opportunity pass him by. It would have been a lot easier to suggest the energy ribbon only passed through this area of the galaxy every 78 years, but no they had to clever about it.

Oh yes, and I’d love to know where it is the rest of the time. Elsewhere in the galaxy? Just how fast is the energy ribbon travelling that it can run around the galaxy in 39.1 years? Voyager, at maximum warp, would take twice that long to get home! And of course they’d be going the quickest way possible in a straight line! The Nexus must be both coming and going! So the Nexus is likely covering twice the distance in half the time? How does anyone even notice this ribbon when it’s whizzing around the galaxy at four times the speed of maxmium warp? Well, it clearly isn’t as we’ve seen already and will see again.

Back on the Klingon ship, they’ve just arrived at Veridian III. But no sooner have they done that but the Enterprise shows up! So despite having a head start on the Enterprise, the Klingons only just got there first? I’ll accept that the Enterprise is a faster ship, but that still seems a little odd. It’s fine though, we’ll let them have this one for the sake of the plot. This isn’t the speed and distance thing I mentioned earlier, that’s still to come. Still, it was nice of the Enterprise to show up and blindly broadcast to them.

Yes, blindly. The Klingon ship is still cloaked. Obviously the Enterprise figured they’d probably been here for some time too. At least that makes sense given the head start, although maybe they didn’t realise how much faster the Enterprise might be than the Bird of Prey.

So what are they going to do? Well, Soren has a plan and it seems to involve Geordi getting his sight back. Meanwhile, Lursa and B’Etor decloak the ship and decide to have a conversation with the Enterprise. They claim Geordi has been a guest but quickly change their tune when Picard demands him back. Of course he’s not a guest, he’s a prisoner. Well, how about a prisoner exchange? Data is quick to volunteer, clearly still guilty about how Geordi ended up a prisoner in the first place, but Picard overrules him and offers himself as a prisoner. The Duras sisters like the sound of this as he’s a much more valuable prisoner and they agree.

Okay, so how does this help? Well, somehow Picard convinces the Duras sisters to let him go and talk to Soren on the planet’s surface. No explanation for this agreement, it just appears to be part of the deal. Why would you let a prisoner go somewhere else? How is he still a prisoner if you do? What exactly do Lursa and B’Etor get from Picard going down to speak to Soren?

What makes this even worse is that Memory Alpha claim that it was the Enterprise that then beams Picard directly to the location of Soren on the planet. Now, in my head, Picard always beamed over to the Klingon ship and they then sent him down to the planet to talk with Soren. That at least makes very slightly more sense as I’ll reveal shortly. But the fact the Klingons are even prepared to let Picard go to the planet has never made any sense to me. Part of the deal or not, why would they agree to it? They hold all the cards as they’re the one’s holding Geordi prisoner!

Anyway, as Picard beams off the Enterprise so Geordi beams onto it. It’s simultaneous, as you’d expect with a prisoner exchange, but as Geordi finishes materialising he collapses and has to be taken to sickbay.

Down on the planet, Picard materialises near the top of a mountain – without his communicator. Well, he had that when he beamed off the Enterprise. Maybe the Klingons took it off him? How would they have done that if he’d beamed there directly? Of course, Soren is up there as well, working away at a control panel. Picard can’t get to him thanks to a big forcefield in the way, so he has to make do with trying to talk him out of doing what he is planning to do. As Soren says, it’s a “nice try” as he points out that what he’s doing is just as bad as what the Borg did to his world, but Soren isn’t for stopping now. Unlike so many times in the TV series, and of course with Data earlier in Stellar Cartography, Jean Luc isn’t going to talk his way out of this one!

Back on the Klingon ship, we see what Soren’s plan was as the Duras sisters watch Geordi-vision. Not the “Heart of Glory” or “The Mind’s Eye” multi-coloured Geordi-vision, but a regular camera view. I can only imagine it’s a hidden camera rather than a proper interface to the VISOR then, but maybe others would argue that this is yet another minor oversight.

What’s a far bigger oversight is that no one has thought to check that Geordi’s VISOR hasn’t been tampered with. Seriously, after “The Mind’s Eye” where he nearly assassinated someone thanks to a combination of mind control and someone interfering with his VISOR, you’d think it would be standard procedure on the Enterprise to check his VISOR for tampering if at any point Geordi went missing! But no, no one even considers it. More amnesia from the crew no doubt.

Still, on the plus side, this is the last time we see Geordi’s VISOR. Clearly someone thought about it after the even and decided that for security purposes he should have implants instead of a VISOR – which is exactly what he has in First Contact.

Anyway, the first thing the Duras sisters see through Geordi’s VISOR is Dr Crusher hanging over him.

Now, I dunno about you, but that’s not exactly the worst sight in the world. Certainly Scotty thought the Enterprise doctors were a lot prettier in the 24th century! But Lursa and B’Etor seem to think she’s repulsive. I’d suggest that’s a lot more “not funny” than when she was pushed into the water earlier.

Of course, the payoff for the Klingons isn’t long in coming. Well, not from our perspective anyway. For some reason he wandered around for a bit before going to Engineering. Bathing I could understand after his ordeal, but the wandering about for a while made little sense given the Enterprise was hunting for Captain Picard’s location.

Yes, they don’t know where he is. Despite Memory Alpha claiming the Enterprise beamed him down, the Enterprise has no idea where Captain Picard would be. That’s just not possible and so that should convince you that the Klingons beamed him to Soren’s location and he didn’t beam there directly! However, maybe this is just Memory Alpha being wrong and not the movie itself. It is possible you know!

Anyway, not knowing where Picard is also poses another issue. Worf and Riker discuss the problem on the Bridge. Apparently it will take 11 seconds for the Enterprise to detect the launch of a solar probe, lock its weapons on the probe and destroy it. Okay, fair enough. Worf then claims that the solar probe could take anywhere between 8 and 15 seconds to reach it’s target.

Cool, faster than light solar probes!

Veridian III, and no doubt Veridian IV, look like nice and hospitable planets for human beings to live on. The star itself looks pretty much like ours, so lets just assume that Veridian III is as far away from the Veridian star as Earth is from the Sun. It takes light eight and a half minutes to travel the distance from the Sun to the Earth. So you’re telling me these probes do it over 30 times quicker than that?

Okay, so we’ll assume these solar probes really do travel faster than light for now. They don’t look like they’re capable of it, but as we have no other evidence to go on, we’ll park that one for now.

Trying to get the odds back in their favour, Riker orders Data to start scanning the planet for lifeforms. Data, obviously happy that Geordi is safe, starts playing the console like a piano and singing a song he’s just made up about lifeforms. His sense of humour isn’t any better than it was on the Amargosa Observatory then.

But hang on, how come we can’t find these lifeforms quickly? Veridian III is uninhabited apparently, so it should be relatively quick to find the one spot on the planet that has two lifeforms on it. We’ve seen them do it before after all! Remember Kevin and Rishon Oxbridge? Apparently the only two survivors on an entire planet after a Husnock attack. Well, it was pretty quick to find them and confirm they were the only two lifeforms on the whole planet. Okay, so Rishon was a fake, but that just makes it worse!

Nope, that’s just yet another TNG episode we’ll conveniently forget about for the sake of this movie’s plot. Okay.

Actually, in this case they do explain it a bit. They tell us that the sensors can’t penetrate the ionosphere of the planet. They never explain why this is the case, or why the ionosphere of an otherwise perfectly nice M-class planet is even an issue in the first place, they just leave it there for the importance of the plot. At least they thought about it I suppose.

Down in Engineering, Geordi has finally arrived. Hurrah! Nothing like a crisis or two to ensure that your Chief Engineer gets to Engineering with a matter of urgency, eh?

Actually, no. Even now that he’s arrived on duty, the first thing he gets to do is run a diagnostic on some bit of the ship. Never mind everything else that’s going on like trying to stop Soren or worrying about the Klingons that are still around and had until recently just captured Geordi himself, no lets run an unimportant diagnostic! Lets face it, if it was really that important she wouldn’t have been asking for his permission first!

Of course, now that Geordi is actually in Engineering, Lursa and B’Etor very quickly get everything they need – like the Enterprise’s shield modulation frequency. A quick alteration to the photon torpedoes and the Klingons open fire. The torpedoes go straight through the shields like they’re not there, and no one on the Enterprise has any memory of the other times the shields get penetrated like this.

“Rotate the frequency of the shield harmonics”

Nope, no one ever remembers uttering this phrase. I’m pretty sure it was a standard procedure when facing the Borg, but no one even thinks of it here. Nope, just let them fire through the shields while trying to figure out a way to even the score. Well, at least Riker has the sense to tell them to try and break orbit, something Troi has to attempt after one shot causes half the bridge to explode and kills the helmsman.

While she tries to get them out of there, Riker asks Worf if he knows any weaknesses about the Klingon ship. Why would he know, he’s been in Starfleet all this time! I doubt the Klingons would have broadcast what the issues might be. But no, Worf remembers that these old ships were retired due to defective plasma coils.

What good is that? That only affects their cloak. Well, trigger their cloak with an ionic pulse and their shields will fall leaving them vulnerable. That’ll do! Data sets up the pulse, Worf gets ready with the photon torpedo and then the plan goes into action just as another console at the back of the bridge explodes and sends another crew member flying.

Over on the Klingon ship, things are a lot happier. “Fire at will” is uttered in what I can only assume is another comedy line given he’s in command of the Enterprise at the moment, but that comedy line is very quickly countermanded by a very shouty Klingon informing everyone in three sectors that they are cloaking!

What follows is the longest cloak in the history of Star Trek.

From the point that the Klingon shouts “we are cloaking” to the time that we cut back to the Enterprise and Riker orders Worf to fire – with no urgency in his voice whatsoever – most Klingon ships would already have cloaked. But we’re not even close to over yet as the torpedo fires and takes the longest time any torpedo has ever taken to go anywhere. And I include the heat seeking torpedo from the previous movie in that! It zig-zagged it’s way to Chang’s cloaked bird of prey and STILL got there quicker than this normal torpedo managed to find it’s target.

It gets better though. Remember how Chang’s Bird of Prey got hit by that one torpedo, only to then get bombarded by both the Enterprise and the Excelsior firing a full volley of torpedoes at it to destroy it? Well, we’ve obviously advanced quite a bit in the 24th century because now a single photon torpedo can do the trick. With just one torpedo, the Duras sisters are blown to bits. How many did the Enterprise take? I lost count.

Oh yes, and just to finish the comparison, the makers of this movie obviously decided to save money by blatantly reusing the same shot of Chang’s bird of prey exploding. In case you hadn’t already thought about the comparison of shooting down a cloaked Bird of Prey. I don’t know about you, but I’d have wanted to distance myself from that vastly superior battle.

Back on the Enterprise, Data clenches a fist and exclaims “yes!” in delight. Ugh. Apparently if you give Data emotions he takes great delight in killing Klingons while everyone else on the ship has a feeling of relief. Obviously the emotion chip didn’t come with tact. Thanks Doctor Soong.

Back on Veridian III, Picard is now bored. Having tried to talk Soren out of doing his terrible deeds, he’s now pacing about and throwing stones at the forcefield that separates him from Soren. Even Soren asks him “don’t you have anything better to do?” It’s a good question. He’s obviously given up trying to talk to Soren, which must be a first for Picard who went seven seasons of The Next Generation giving speeches to save the day, but he doesn’t seem to have any other plan. Obviously the “nice try” earlier was his lot.

At least he doesn’t have another plan until he accidentally stumbles on a conveniently positioned rock that has created a gap between the forcefield and the ground!

Seriously, Picard stumbles upon it. He doesn’t go looking for it, he only finds it after Soren tells him off for throwing stones at his forcefield. He really had run out of ideas entirely. Which, amusingly, means everything that happens after this point is completely irrelevant because Soren would have been successful and both Soren and Picard would have gone into the Nexus anyway.

Anyway, having confirmed that it actually is a hole by throwing a stone through the gap, Picard waits for Soren to move away so he can make use of it.

Back on the Enterprise, Geordi’s day is getting worse. The Klingons might have been destroyed, but the damage they did is extensive. So much so that while reporting to the Bridge about one problem another one occurs. The dreaded coolant leak. Well we’ve seen this before from the TV series.

And I mean that literally.

Geordi can do nothing about it, rolls under the door just as it’s closing like he’s Indiana Jones, and Engineering is evacuated. Now, not only does Geordi do that barrel roll on several occasions in The Next Generation, but this whole series of events happens exactly the same in Yesterday’s Enterprise! Oddly, despite things being exactly the same, in that episode there was two minutes until a warp core breach. This time there’s a whole five minutes. Phew!

Everyone piles into the saucer section and the Enterprise-D separates into two for the last time. As the saucer section pulls away, the warp core breaches and the stardrive section explodes… causing a shockwave that knocks the saucer section out of orbit and diving towards Veridian III!

“Oh shit” exclaims Data. Right, who taught him to swear? And how come his use of “colourful metaphors” is so much better than Spock’s was in The Voyage Home? Data spent seven years of the TV series showing a lack of basic understanding of cultural language and a complete inability to use contractions, but suddenly he can swear perfectly at just the right time? No tact, but swears like a trooper. Thanks Doctor Soong.

Back on Veridian III, Picard’s chance to sneak through the hole is a short one, and as he does so Soren catches him with his usual accuracy of shooting. There’s that Imperial Stormtrooper accuracy again. He NEVER hits the target with his first attempt. In this instance, he hits below the hole which causes the rocks to collapse – and probably frees Picard who was a little stuck at the time (you need a diet Jean Luc) – before his next shot hits the hole and the forcefield reshapes to fill it.

On the Enterprise, they’re screwed. The saucer section is going down, and despite the crew trying to steer it they’re now managing a crash landing. In the lower decks, the rest of the people take shelter in what I can only imagine are decks higher up than the lowest just in case the crash collapses them. The saucer section clips a mountain on it’s way down before sliding to rest through a big forest that is dwarfed by the saucer section. As the final lurch forward oddly rips seats and consoles from their fixtures on the Bridge, the crew recover enough to stare out of the broken window in the roof… giving a nice view of the beautiful blue sky beyond.

I’m not sure why the lurch forward was so violent, it’s not like they hit the brakes! But for some reason it was enough to send everyone on the Bridge flying, along with consoles that have been fixed to the floor since the Bridge was built. Everything that the ship has been through and sliding to a halt is what does that? Well, it looked good on screen. A bit like the smashing of glass windows – which of course we all know to be made of transparent aluminium and not glass. Again, it looks good on screen.

So the Enterprise is down, and now the fate of the entire crew lies in the hands of Picard. No warping away at the last second this time! Can he do it? Well, he has a go. He comes face to face with Soren, has a quick fight with him… and loses. Soren knocks Picard rolling down a hill and seconds later the solar probes launch. In just seconds they reach their target – without going to warp at any time – and we see the star extinguished immediately.

Yep, immediately.

Never mind those 8 and a half minutes for light to travel from the star to the M class planet, we’ll just forget about that. In fact, lets be generous, this is Veridian III not Veridian IV. We’ll call it 7 minutes. That’s just a guess of course, but it’s still a lot closer to the truth than INSTANTLY!

Honestly, the faster than light without going to warp torpedoes is bad enough, but the faster than light… eh… light?! Come on.

The darkness doesn’t last long though as the energy ribbon arrives, heads straight through Veridian III and scoops up the willing Soren and the bystander Picard before heading off to wherever the energy ribbon is heading next. They never do explain why it’s travelling about the galaxy, just that it is.

As it leaves, the shockwave from the dying star arrives to rip apart the planet, Enterprise-D saucer section and all. End of the movie, Soren wins, right?

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About Krys

I rant. On twitter, at work, on message boards... well, now I rant here too.

Posted on 18 November 2014, in Geek, Rants, Reviews, Star Trek. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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