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On Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
by Robert J. Sawyer
Copyright © 1991 and 1994 by Robert J. Sawyer
All Rights Reserved.
I seem to be one of the few people who actually likes Star Trek
V: The Final Frontier. Two of the most frequent complaints I
hear about it, though, are that the existence of Sybok destroys
what we thought we knew about Spock's upbringing, and that
William Shatner can't direct.
I see no canonical references prior to Star Trek V to the presence
or absence of siblings for Spock. Sure, there's a note in The
Making of STAR TREK, but the old Gene Roddenberry would be the
first to say that if it makes a good story, and doesn't violate
what we've shown on screen before, then toss out the note. I
liked Sybok, and I liked in particular Laurence Luckinbill's
Indeed, the fact that Sarek's lifespan is so much longer than
Amanda's and that Vulcan's mate every seven years seems to
strongly suggest the possibility that Sarek had children other
than Spock, and mates other than Amanda. He was, after all 102
in Journey to Babel, or, judging by appearances, about double
his wife's chronological age.
Spock, clearly can't be much more than late 30s, then, if Amanda
did not conceive until she was in her mid-20s (I can't quite
imagine Sarek as a cradle-robber).
So: one has pon farr for the first time in one's 30s (the age
of Spock in Amok Time, as deduced above from Amanda's apparent
age). Sarek therefore would have been sexually active with
another female or females from about age 35 to about age 70,
prior to his presumably monogamous relationship with Amanda.
That's 35 years of sex, and since Vulcans mate every seven years,
that's five matings. The wonder would be that none of those had
produced offspring, not that one of them did.
Also, having had one kid go bad, so to speak, might indeed
explain why Sarek went loony and tried to make his second son,
Spock, behave as a pure-bred Vulcan despite the obviously
contra-IDIC nature of that, and despite the logical conclusion
that if you mate with a human, you will have a child with some
human characteristics. The existence of Sybok enriches our
understanding of Spock/Sarek, rather than diminishes it.
As for Shatner's directorial prowess, I think he did a much
better job first time out than Nimoy did. I think
Star Trek III
is the absolute dog of the movie series. Yes, Nimoy does a
good job with IV, but not with III. I cringe every time I
recall, for instance, the Trek-III Klingons whispering in each
other's ears, "Share this with no one." / "Understood, my
Lord!" and the adolescent shoot-up-at-the-giant-boobs angles used
for the female Klingon spy.
Sure, Nimoy is a more popular human being than Shatner, but the
composition of shots and the allowed interpretations by actors
which is what directors are responsible for were far worse in
III than they were in V. It's the way a scene is interpreted
that the director can be blamed for, not the fundamental content
of that scene or the specific words the actors say. Just as two
examples: the opening scene between Sybok and J'onn, and the
delivery of the hostage tape are both, in fact, brilliantly
I'd gladly go to another Shatner-directed film. He certainly
deserves a second shot at it more than Nimoy did.
More Good Reading
Rob's Star Trek novel
Rob's article about the computer graphics in Star Trek III
Random Musings index