‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ Questions
Spoilers: the final frontier.
Just like my article on “Prometheus,” dear readers, this article is chock-full of spoilers, so if you haven’t seen “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” stop reading this instant. (Or don’t, but you can’t get upset with me when I give away the plot twists and secret identities.)
Everybody gone who’s going? Good. Let’s get to talking. My associate, Matt Frendo, recently gave us his review of “Into Darkness,” and overall, I agree with him. I enjoyed the movie; I liked the characters; I thought the world was intriguing and interesting. That being said, I had a number of nit-picky questions about certain things. Now, I know there could have been in-universe reasons for people’s actions that explain my issues, just like I know people mistakes in “Jurassic Park” because without those mistakes, you wouldn’t have had a movie.
But I am a writer, and saying, “Because the story wouldn’t have worked otherwise” doesn’t strike me as a sufficient reason for some things. Remember: I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy my time in the theater. I did like it. I paid the extra money to watch it in 3-D, and I consider that afternoon one well spent. But that doesn’t mean the analytical part of me turns off when I’m watching something. And to those who say that I’m overthinking things, I say to you the words of Howard Taylor: “If a close look ruins a thing, the thing was already broken.”
To begin with (because I’m assuming if you’re still reading this then you know the plot of the movie), I get that “John Harrison” was able to convince that Star Fleet officer into blowing up the secret weapons facility. I also understand that he did so in order to take advantage of a protocol that meant all of Star Fleet High Command would be in one, suspiciously-easy-to-shoot-with-lasers place. That makes sense to me and is a great villain strategy. What I don’t understand (in-universe, that is), is why “John Harrison” was near the scene of the crime at all.
When Kirk is looking through the pictures of the blast site, he sees “Harrison” (and so the audience knows who our bad guy is for sure). But there’s no reason why “Harrison” had to be there at all. Why tip his hand to Star Fleet that he’s involved? It’s a heck of a lot easier to commit a crime and get away with it if nobody knows you did it. Isn’t that the point of having a patsy?
But let’s say Khan’s (because that’s who he is) ego prevented him from remaining in the shadows, or that he needed to be at the building to watch his confederate enter with his own eyes (because they don’t have secret cameras in the future, apparently). I still don’t understand why A) Star Fleet Command isn’t a no-fly zone, and B) why the little air-vehicle Khan stole didn’t have any missiles.
The point of his getting the heads of Star Fleet in one place was to kill them all, right? I mean, I’m asking the question seriously. An alternate explanation that I suspect might be the correct one, is that Admiral Marcus wanted a war with Klingon; he forces Khan to be in a drone that is under Marcus’s control, not Khan’s, and then Marcus transports Khan away when the attack is finished. Maybe the admirals/captains killed (including poor Beau Billingslea) were those who would oppose a war with the Klingons, thus leaving Marcus with a majority vote and a kid who’s out for Khan’s blood.
Is that the case? I don’t know, but it makes more sense than a savage, ruthless, tactical genius failing to think of killing a bunch of sitting ducks with a missile, doesn’t it?
A few things I think “Into Darkness” did well include the Chekhov’s Gun moment with the tribble (ironically, one that involved Dr. McCoy than Mr. Chekov). I remember getting distracted by the dead tribble because of an article I did on them recently, so it wasn’t until Kirk’s death that the importance of that tribble scene really clicked for me. “Why else would the filmmakers put into our mind the notion that Khan’s blood can restart necrotic tissue if not to use it later on in the movie?” I thought. And then Kirk died, Khan turned out to be alive, and Spock was chasing after him. “Aha!” I thought. “Spock catches Khan and McCoy uses his blood to fix Kirk.” That way, Kirk can still perform a heroic sacrifice without permanently getting rid of the character.
Though I’ve never seen it, I’m familiar enough with the Star Trek ‘verse that when Kirk dies of radiation poisoning and says to Spock that it [Kirk's death to save the ship] is what Spock would do, I thought to myself, “Isn’t that how Spock died in “Wrath of Khan?” And just as I had that thought, Zachary Quinto’s Spock raises his eyes to the heavens and cries out, “Khaaaaaaan!” So that was pretty awesome.
As was having Benedict Cumberbatch play Khan at all. The actor of the original character, Ricardo Montalban, was 62 years old when he played the role in “Wrath of Khan,” and for a genetically-engineered super-human, he certainly looked his age. Not so with Cumberbatch’s portrayal. Benedict was equal parts ruthless intellect and savage warrior, and I thought he played the part well.
That being said, I had more issues with the movie. For example, Khan gives Kirk a set of coordinates, which Kirk then passes along to Scotty. Scotty heads to where those coordinates lead him, a secret starship base near one of Jupiter’s moons, and heads into the base with the rest of the construction crew. Questions abounded in my mind during this scene.
It looked like Scotty was piloting the same kind of vehicle as the rest of the construction crew, which meant he could sneak into their convoy with ease, and that’d make sense if he knew ahead of time what to expect there and planned ahead. But my impression was that there being anything at the location Kirk gave him came as a big surprise. Scotty only made the decision to head into the base on a whim in order to find out what was going on there. Doesn’t that seem a bit coincidental?
Secondly, if I’m the guy in charge of a base that builds a top-secret, militarized Star Fleet ship, I think I’d be a bit more careful about who I let onto my base. Perhaps some sort of password/code would be in order, or an ID card. Wouldn’t the people in the base at least be expecting a certain number of ships, with one more sending out some kind of warning?
As convenient as his entrance struck me, though, I could conceivably see Scotty talking his way aboard the base with little problem. In an off-screen scene (playing in my head), somebody asks Scotty why his ship didn’t come with the others, and he makes up some excuse about checking an engineering issue on the other side of the base. “We didn’t notice any problems,” some beefy guy says, eyeing Scotty with a hand on his weapon. “Thass right,” says Scotty. “And thass because I’m a great engineer, ye ken?” (Or something along those lines.)
So Scotty’s entrance into the facility didn’t bother me too much. Something I found confusing, though, were the cryogenic chamber/special torpedoes. They had enough explosive power in them to blow up (though not completely) Khan’s ship, so we know they were actually weapons, but I don’t understand why they contained Khan’s crew at all. If the Enterprise was supposed to shoot at the Klingon home planet and start a war, why bother giving their ship such strange missiles? It seems like Marcus should have just killed Khan’s crew. (Unless he was holding them hostage, in a way, aboard the Enterprise? I still don’t get that.)
If anybody can answer that question for me, I’d appreciate it. (Also, if you can answer how the people aboard the Enterprise were able to unload 72 cryo-units from 72 torpedoes and get them to the med-bay, all while the Enterprise is suffering from a massive hull breach, I’d love to hear it.)
Despite my main questions, however, I thoroughly enjoyed “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” If you have answers for my questions, or if you have answers of your own, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below. And live long and prosper.