King Daniel wrote:
I suspect the Nibiru people will see the Enterprise fly over the volcano and rescue Spock - but I don't think it's the "big mistake" Kirk makes. Other than better effects it's not much different to the PD-smashing Kirk did in The Original Series without getting in any trouble.
Agreed. I think the purpose of the scene is to drop us into a "typical" mission to show us that Kirk has had his share of adventures and risk over the last year. And, he's still a little raw around the edges.
The debate over whether or not to save Spock, and what Spock's ultimate reaction to Kirk's "illogical" decision to save him at the risk of the ship and violating the PD could provide a thematic element for the movie, though.
But I can't imagine him being punished for not just "flying by" a planet with intelligent life and not trying to do something to help behind the scenes.
If the Vulcans knew of an asteroid that would hit this planet and destroy mankind, and they could prevent it, would you want them to let it happen anyway just because we're a pre-warp society?