[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
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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 portrayal.

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 directed.

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

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