Time Is The Fire In Which Generations Can Burn – Part 4
Of course not. Instead we get a little insight into the mind of Jean Luc Picard. Apparently he’s a traditional Christmas type person, and when I say traditional I mean he dresses up his family like they’re from the 19th century. This whole scene reminds me of Kathryn Janeway’s Governess holonovel, and I didn’t understand her love of that either.
Okay, so I understand why Picard might be craving a family at this particular moment. He’s still stricken with the grief of losing his brother and nephew so family is foremost on his mind. But I really don’t understand why they seem to be from a time period a full 500 years in the past. We’ve seen Picard likes aspects of the past, from Dixon Hill to his archeology, but even when he visited his brother on his vineyard on Earth after the Borg has assimilated him it was more modern than this!
Of course, the blissful happiness for Jean Luc Picard lasts about five minutes. Earlier in the movie, Guinan described the Nexus as being wrapped inside joy, but good old Captain Picard sees through the whole thing the minute he sees a flash of light in a Christmas bauble. Oh yes, about those stars blowing up…
Oh, hiya Guinan.
Literally from nowhere, Guinan shows up. Not that she’s the only thing to show up out of the blue, as Picard’s communicator is with him for the duration of his stay in the Nexus. No explanation, so we can only imagine that he’s imagined he has one and the Nexus was only to happy to oblige. But back to Guinan’s sudden appearance.
Well, it is and it isn’t Guinan. She explains that she’s actually an echo of the person that he knows, no doubt a call back to her other description of being “ripped” away by the Enterprise-B’s transporter. Pesky things those transporters, they have a habit of leaving behind duplicates. Good and evil Kirk, Will and Thomas Riker, now two Guinans.
Hang on though, doesn’t that also mean there’s two Sorens? After all, he was ripped away at the same time as Guinan. Indeed, there should be two of every one of those 47 survivors that were rescued earlier in the movie.
Why is that important? Well, in the conversation that follows Guinan tells Picard that she can’t go with him as she’s already there. What, the two of you can’t exist in the same place at the same time? Well how come Soren was able to enter the Nexus then? He’s already in there! That would have been a real blow to his plans. Can you imagine him going through all that star destroying only for the energy ribbon to pick up Picard and not him?! The look of horror on his face as it would have kept going and he realised he was about to be destroyed himself. You could have done that little extra bit and not even had to change the movie!
Anyway, never mind that as we’ll just assume the Nexus is different and will re-integrate the two Sorens when he returns. No, there was a far bigger point made in that same conversation that blows yet another massive hole in this already flimsy movie.
Guinan tells Picard that in the Nexus time has no meaning. Okay, so what does that mean? Well, that means that if Picard wants to leave the Nexus then he can go to any place, any time.
Okay, first, how does that work? Any time I can accept if “time has no meaning” there. But any place? Surely you’d need to go somewhere that the energy ribbon was? That’s the gateway to the Nexus after all! So you’re trying to tell me that you need to be in the right place at the right time to get into the Nexus, but if you want to leave you can literally go anywhere? I’m not buying that at all. But lets just pretend that it’s a magic gateway where the ribbon’s location only matters for those wishing to enter the Nexus but not those wishing to leave it, all for the sake of argument number two.
Picard decides he wants to go the mountain top on Veridian III just before Soren destroys the star.
Really? You can go anywhere, any time, and you choose the battle you lost already when the odds were stacked in Soren’s favour?
Not, say, to that point in time when you were talking to him in Ten Forward? Never mind not destroying the Veridian star, how about not destroying the Amargosa star either? In fact, lets go back to before the Romulans attacked the observatory and maybe stop that particular tragedy happening. I don’t think they ever said how many casualties there were on the station, but there were certainly a few.
Actually, how about we remember that Picard is standing in his family house because family is on his mind and we head back to Earth to stop the fire that killed his brother and nephew? Do that and he can phone in the issues with Soren! That way his family are safe, the Amargosa and Veridian stars are still intact, Soren gets taken into custody for stealing the Trilithium and – unknown to Picard at this point in time – the Enterprise-D stays in one piece too!
No, instead, lets go back to the most ridiculously difficult bit of the day. Screw Robert and Rene, the Amargosa observatory staff, and making life easy for himself. Utterly, utterly unfathomable. And don’t tell me it’s a temporal investigations issue, because wanting to go back and stop Soren will be breaking their rules anyway! If you want to avoid them, you’ll have to leave the Nexus at the point you entered it.
So, Picard has decided where he wants to go and Guinan can’t help him. But she knows a guy who can…
Suddenly the scene changes and we’re outside a nice little cabin tucked away in the woods with mountains off in the distance. Picard sees someone chopping wood and quickly realises who it is. It’s Captain Kirk!
Yeah, if you hadn’t figured out by now that he was still alive then you’ve clearly not been paying attention.
Picard helps him to chop wood for a bit before heading inside to help him cook breakfast. All the while Kirk explains how he’s just got there from the Enterprise-B and Picard tries to convince him that he needs to leave again to help him out. Kirk doesn’t really seem to be listening, but when he needs to reply then he’s quick to reference things Picard has said. For instance, Picard’s claim of being from the 24th century goes completely ignored until Kirk points out that this isn’t the future but is in fact the past. In particular, it’s the day Kirk told the woman he was living with that he was going back to Starfleet.
There’s a bit of a hole here as to Kirk’s history. A quick google tells us that this takes place somewhere between the first two movies, so somewhere along the line Kirk was on sabbatical between the V’Ger incident and teaching Saavik and co at the academy. That’s fine though, there’s a big enough gap between those two movies that it’s quite possible he did just that.
Kirk tells Picard he’s done enough for the galaxy already and instead he’s going to tell this woman that he wants to marry her. He takes the breakfast tray upstairs and into the bedroom. Creepily, Picard waits a few seconds and then follows him into the bedroom! Maybe Data learned tact from Picard…
Fortunately for Captain Creepy, the door doesn’t lead to a bedroom. Instead, Kirk and Picard find themselves in a barn. Kirk claims that this is even better than his bedroom – might have known a bed would be too simple for Captain Kirk… No, what he actually means is that this is the day that he meets this woman. He declares the Nexus a great idea as it means he can start again and do things right from day one. He then jumps on a horse and rides off. Again, Picard hesitates before deciding to follow on another horse. A bit of horse riding later and Kirk finds a ravine to jump, clearing it with no problems whatsoever.
Not physically anyway. Kirk stops, looks back, and jumps the ravine again. No problem again. At this point Picard catches up and Kirk reveals what the real problem is. He’s jumped that ravine a hundred times and been scared about it every time… except this time because it’s not real.
So there you have it. Picard snapped out of the Nexus trance in about five seconds because he just didn’t care about joy for some unexplained reason. Kirk, on the other hand, only snapped out of the joy when he realised that it was fake and there was no risk. Nothing to risk, nothing to gain. At least Kirk’s realisation makes sense to me. Picard just seemed to suddenly remember he had something better to do. Having said that, neither of them seemed overly fussed by being wrapped “inside joy”, although Kirk seemed to at least be giving it a go for a short period.
So having decided that neither the ravine or the woman in the distance are real, Kirk is ready to listen to what Picard is offering. But not before telling him not to retire because it’s utterly terrible not being on the bridge of the Enterprise, in the command chair. That’s the only place he truly made a difference. Picard uses this to suggest he come back with him and make a difference again.
Then we get possibly the only quotable bit of this entire movie – other than Data’s swearing I mean. Captain Kirk sums it all up.
“Who am I to argue with the Captain of the Enterprise?” – well, you’re benchmark for that.
“I take it the odds are against us and the situation is grim?” – only because Picard hasn’t told you that you could just go back to the Ten Forward and arrest him there, but yes. Oh, and never mind the fact that he originally asked Guinan to help him – I’m sure she’d have been useful in the ensuing fist fight with Soren. Never mind that for now…
“You know if Spock were here, he’d say that I am an irrational, illogical human being for taking on a mission like that.” – he’d be right as well, as the logical choice is to go back earlier.
“Sounds like fun!”
And with that they ride out of the Nexus.
So, we’ve reset, the saucer section has just crashed, and Soren is standing on the mountain top looking up from his watch to see… Kirk. This confuses Soren, but instead of pouncing on this moment of confusion, Picard decides to talk some more and Soren manages to evade both of them. They decide to split up, with Picard heading for the launcher to stop the solar probes firing while Kirk chases after Soren. Basically, Kirk is a distraction for Soren while Picard does the actual stopping of the missiles. Ahh, now I see how Guinan would been useful. She could have talked Soren into distraction. I’m sure he wouldn’t have paid any attention to what Picard was doing in that instance.
Of course it’s Kirk and not Guinan, so what Soren actually does is hides around a corner and points his gun at Kirk when he comes around. But just when he seems to be in trouble, Picard appears to catch him off guard. This lets Kirk get a few punches in on Soren and eventually knock him off the cliff. Unfortunately, there’s a rope and Soren grabs on to it, saving himself from a deadly fall. He gets out a remote control and cloaks the launcher.
Okay, two things at this point. One, can the missiles fire when their cloaked? You know how that’s usually an issue for what I can only assume is Klingon technology since they are the people helping Soren. If those missiles are cloaked, then it’s not really an issue as Soren drops the control pad seconds later when the rope slips.
Secondly, isn’t this all taking a lot longer than the first time round? When it was just Picard there was a brief fight, just long enough for Picard to knock the gun out of Soren’s hand but lose the fight, before the missiles fired. Now we’ve had a bit of banter, Soren running away, Soren catching Kirk, the two of them fighting, Picard changing his mind about going to the launcher to help Kirk, and Soren cloaking the missiles. Oh, and we’re not done yet either.
The two Captains try to retrieve the control pad from one of the bridges that Soren has set up around the mountain, but Soren fires on the bridge just as they get there. After initially missing – again – he hits it and narrowly misses killing them both. Picard is safe, but Kirk is stuck and narrowly avoids slipping to his death when Picard grabs him and pulls him up.
Taking time to regroup, Picard and Kirk notice that the energy ribbon is approaching. Picard notes that they’re running out of time.
No you’re not.
Think about it, what’s the worst possible scenario here? Forgetting the fact that the missiles are still cloaked and probably can’t fire anyway, lets assume they can indeed fire while cloaked. They destroy the star, the energy ribbon swoops down and picks up all three of them. Great, you’re back in the Nexus and can start again! After all, Picard knows for a fact that he failed the first time and is getting a second shot at it. Why not have a third? Surely by the third attempt you’ve helped Kirk get to grips with the area and you can come up with some kind of plan of action before even leaving the Nexus.
Like, maybe, capturing him in Ten Forward? I know, I’m labouring that point. Well it’s a big point!
No, rather than consider that they could just wait and start again with an actual plan, Kirk decides he’s going to jump from one side of the broken bridge to the other while Picard heads for the launcher. Picard argues that he’ll never make it and they need to work together, but Kirk assures him that they are working together already! Wishing the Captain good luck, Picard heads off as Kirk tells him to call him Jim. The smile of Picard’s face clearly shows just how much that simple act means to him. First name terms with a hero, wow!
So, having had a not-real-so-not-scary jump to do in the Nexus, Kirk now has a real one. We get a close up as he realises the irony of this situation before he jumps across. Of course, he makes it, grabs the pad and decloaks the launcher. Job done, Kirk doesn’t get time to escape as this half of the bridge detaches and falls, taking Kirk with it.
Meanwhile at the launcher, Picard tries to stop the launch. Soren interrupts him from a distance, pointing the gun at him. Picard does as he’s asked and steps away, but he runs around a corner before Soren can do anything else. Soren runs up to check that the launcher is okay, only to discover that the locking clamps are engaged. With the missiles armed, the launcher explodes and kills Soren in the process.
So, what we have here are missiles loaded with Trilithium, a substance apparently so dangerous that it can stop all nuclear fusion within a star, but if it blows up on a planet it’s just a small local explosion that kills the guy standing right next to it but leaves the mountain top – never mind the entire planet – well intact.
Actually, I at least have a theory for this one. The missiles were never armed, it’s just the propellant that explodes as the missiles try to escape but can’t because they’re locked in place. Nuclear warheads would do similar if they’re not properly armed, so I’ll give this one a pass.
The energy ribbon continues to pass overhead, ensuring that there’s no return journey to the Nexus for Picard. Which is a shame, because there’s another casualty in all of this. Picard rushes over to where the broken section of the bridge has fallen and starts digging around to try and free Kirk. He does so, but it’s evident that it’s too late already. Kirk is conscious, but won’t be for long.
“Did we do it? Did we make a difference?” Kirk asks Picard.
“Oh yes. We made a difference. Thank you.” Picard replies.
“Least I could do for the Captain of the Enterprise.” Kirk gives his approval for the metaphorical passing of the baton as far as the Star Trek movies go. All very nice.
Then the writers nail it. You’re killing off the iconic Captain Kirk, the hero of the Star Trek franchise over nearly thirty years across the original series and the now seven movies, and he has the chance at some dying words because of the way you’ve put this movie together. Make them good.
“It was… fun.”
Brilliant. I love it. It calls back to his comment in the Nexus earlier in the movie, but it also fits with just how much the viewers have enjoyed the near thirty years of adventures of the original series crew. I hope that when I look back on my life in my deathbed I’m able to think it was fun too.
Yeah, you’ve fucked it. You had absolutely nailed it with the “it was fun” line and you should have left it at that. But no, you had to make him say something else.
I’ll be honest, there is nothing in this movie that makes me angrier than Kirk’s last words. The whole story is an absolute travesty from start to finish with more holes than Swiss cheese, but ruining Kirk’s brilliant last words with another couple more after it was just unforgivable. Even if they’d been utterly rubbish I could have let them away with it, but they actually had something I really thought was fantastic! Leave it at that for fuck sake! But no, two more words had to get thrown in there anyway.
I was thirteen years old when I saw this movie in the cinema. When people ask me who my hero was growing up, I’m just enough of a geek to admit that it’s Captain Kirk. To this day I’m not sure if I was choking back tears watching this scene because my hero was now dead, or because they’d ruined his epic last words.
Anyway, let’s finish this awful movie. Picard buries Kirk on top of the mountain.
Oh for goodness sake, haven’t you done enough already? A legendary Starfleet captain who saved Earth, Starfleet and the Federation on numerous occasions and you’re burying him on some random mountain top on an uninhabited planet? Are you kidding me? Take him back to Earth for the state funeral he deserves!
Okay, I know he probably had one after the Enterprise-B incident, but now that the truth is out and you actually have a body you can do it properly.
There is also another problem with burying him here, and it’s one that William Shatner and the Reeves-Stevens addressed in the book “The Return”. Leave aside everything that happens in that book to “resurrect” Kirk, the simple fact is you can’t leave Kirk here as it violates the Prime Directive.
Remember that pre-warp civilisation on Veridian IV? Well, you can bet that when they develop warp the first place they’re going to head is the other habitable planet in their solar system. Obviously, we humans keep talking about going to Mars and it’s far less habitable than Veridian III! Furthermore, they’ll be able to do that before inventing warp drive, so the prime directive will actually still apply to them at that time. What are they going to think when they discover an alien body buried on that mountain top?
For the same reason, Soren’s setup needs to be dismantled and the Enterprise-D saucer section needs to be taken away as well. None of this is addressed in the movie of course. No, Picard just leaves Kirk’s body on the mountain top and makes a log entry about how the Enterprise can’t be salvaged.
Oh yes and, while all this was going on, at some point the Enterprise managed to work out where Picard was. No explanation given as to how that happened given the saucer section was inoperative and they couldn’t find him earlier when they were fully operational in orbit of the planet, but never mind, eh?
As the movie winds up, Deanna Troi helps Data find his cat Spot, which of course causes Data to cry. He thinks his chip is malfunctioning, but Troi assures him it’s working properly. Meanwhile, Picard is also raking through the wreckage of his ready room looking for something important. He tosses aside several bits and pieces, including a gift the now deceased Professor Galen gave him in the season six episode “The Chase”. Clearly a gift he was delighted to get at the time, one that was rare, complete, 12,000 years old, and one that was from a friend who has since been killed, isn’t worth bothering about. He literally throws it away when Riker finds his photo book.
Okay, I get the importance of the photo book, but come on. Other things are important too!
So having retrieved the photo album, which at some point was moved from his quarters to his ready room for no apparent reason, everything else gets left behind as Picard and Riker step out onto the bridge so Riker can have a moan about never getting the chance at the Captain’s chair.
Eh… you had it, on several occasions. In fact, in the Best of Both Worlds, it was made official. Riker was wearing Captain’s pips and being stopped from going on away missions by his first officer right up until Picard was rescued. I still haven’t worked out why Riker stopped being Captain after that episode actually. He was promoted, officially!
It wasn’t even the last time. In Gambit, Picard was declared dead and Riker was given command. At least this time he wasn’t actually promoted as he investigated Picard’s apparent death, but he was definitely the Captain of the Enterprise during that time. And we’ll forget about all the times Riker passed up promotion – at least we know why. He doesn’t want to be Captain of just any ship, he wants the Enterprise.
At least he does until Nemesis, but lets not get into that. There’s enough problems in this movie already without adding in another movie.
Fortunately, not only does Riker plan on living forever – maybe he fancies living in the Nexus – but Picard also reassures his doubts that this will be the last ship named Enterprise. Well, we know it wasn’t of course. We knew at the time as well, as this movie was only ever set up to be a passing of the movie torch so the Next Generation crew could get into the movies on their own. This was clearly a not-so-subtle hint about something we all knew anyway.
Taking one last look around the wreckage, Picard contacts the USS Farragut to beam the two of them up. Clearly they’re the last two people to leave as the Farragut, along side it’s two companion ships, leave orbit and warp off to finish the movie. Well, the Captain should be the last one to leave, and standing there with his first officer beside him was a good symbolic way to say goodbye to the starship we’d watched for seven seasons.
But even in that final scene there was one final thing I had an issue with. The uniforms.
I haven’t mentioned them until now, but even the uniforms annoy me in this movie. Uniforms are supposed to be just that – uniform! So how come you can basically pick and choose whether you wear your department colour with black, or black with your department colour?
Prior to this movie the uniforms made an element of sense. In The Next Generation it was mainly your department’s colour with the black shoulders. That was the uniform throughout Starfleet for a while, at least until we saw that Starfleet Academy had the reverse. Of course, then Deep Space Nine started up and they had the same as the Academy, but even that seemed to make sense as starships had one and starbases had the other. Commander Sisko even switched from starship to starbase in the pilot DS9 episode Emissary, as if to indicate that his transfer was complete.
Of course, as The Next Generation finished on television, so Voyager started. But they all had the starbase uniforms despite being a starship!
But you can rationalise that one as well. The pilot of Voyager takes place around the same time that Generations takes place, so it’s quite possible that the long term plan of Starfleet was to move all of their starship personnel to the starbase uniforms. Everyone on Voyager has already made the move, and everyone on the Enterprise-D was actually in the process of changing.
So accepting all of that, why on Earth does Captain Picard switch BACK to the older style uniform at the end of the movie? He actually switches several times. From the first time we see him in his holodeck sea-faring ship uniform, he later changes into the starship uniform when he is talking to Troi about what has happened with his family. By the time he faces off against Soren he has changed into the new starbase uniform so you then accept that he’s made the change. If that’s the case, why change back again?
This isn’t the only movie that ever suffers from this problem of course. The Motion Picture didn’t seem to have any sense when it came to uniforms either, but other than that the rest all make sense. From Wrath of Khan to the first part of Generations they all wear the maroon uniforms. By the time we get to First Contact we’ve introduced another new uniform that also makes its way onto Deep Space Nine, and it’s used in both Insurrection and Nemesis too.
Throughout all of this, I’ve absolutely panned Generations. I can’t help it, there’s just so much about the movie that doesn’t make sense, goes against other ideas that have been set out previously, and basically just annoys me in general. So if it’s really this bad, then why do I care?
Well, it’s Star Trek!
I’ve already said that I grew up with Captain Kirk as my hero, but Star Trek in general has been my all time favourite television and movie franchise since I was old enough to think. My earliest memory is of seeing the bright colours of the Original Series. I couldn’t tell you what episode it is, but I know it was this show. I distinctly remember a conversation with my dad about how exciting it was that a new Star Trek show was coming soon. Specifically, how odd it would be to see a Klingon on the Bridge! So I definitely remember when there was nothing other than one series and a handful of movies. Indeed, one of the first movies I ever got taken to see in the cinema was The Final Frontier.
I might have grown up with The Next Generation being fresh, but it was always the Original Series that I preferred. It’s not perfect by any means, but I love it nonetheless. I can completely understand that people feel the same way about Generations!
But for me, Generations ruins the wonderful ending the original series had in The Undiscovered Country. They should have left it there and they didn’t. They shoehorned the two crews together to pass some baton that didn’t need passed in anything other than the closing log entry of Captain Kirk on the Enterprise-A. In doing so, they not only make the final adventures of this incarnation of Captain Kirk an absolute travesty, but they didn’t do much justice to the Next Generation crew either. After the wonderful ending to the series on All Good Things, this was an awful way to finish off the iconic Enterprise-D.
But lets not end on what annoys me about this movie. Lets remember one simple fact. Even bad Star Trek is better than most other television series and movies at their best. If you can get past all of the plot holes, this movie is actually quite good fun at times. Not as much fun as The Final Frontier in my opinion, but fun nonetheless. Data is the comedy relief, and I definitely remember impersonating “Mr Tricorder” at school for a while afterwards!
The music in this movie is brilliant as well. Dennis McCarthy did a fantastic job of scoring it and it’s the one aspect I will always defend. Good music can salvage even the worst of movies – you just need to look at Duel of the Fates from The Phantom Menace to see that! I’ll happily listen to the soundtrack of this movie, and it even stirs up all of the emotions that go with the movie when I do.
But perhaps best of all, this movie clears a path for First Contact. As much as I don’t particularly like Generations, First Contact is in my top three of Star Trek movies. The Enterprise-E is a fantastic ship, and actually it’s one that I prefer to the Enterprise-D. It would never have existed without destroying the Enterprise-D in this movie, and after all of the plot holes I’ve illustrated here I’m pretty sure that Kirk would have been alive and well in the 23rd century while the Enterprise-D would probably have had a reasonably quiet day in the 24th century. But then I would have used the Nexus properly.
Of course, my suggestions would mean there was never a crossover between the Original Series and the Next Generation. Since that was the whole point of this movie rather renders the whole thing absolutely pointless.