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Old June 10 2013, 07:07 PM   #97
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Re: Which Star Trek movie has got the most plot holes? And the least?

Locutus of Bored wrote: View Post
CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Locutus of Bored wrote: View Post

What if chose not to because it didn't want to know? To wipe the muck away and reveal its full name would be to acknowledge that it was once just a lowly space probe and not born a sentient being endowed with a sacred mission from its creator. It turns what was divine into the mundane from its perspective. Sure, it's just deluding itself and being petulant, but like Spock said, that was essentially what V'Ger was, a child. Even with all the remarkable things it could do, it still asked questions like "Is this all that I am?" Just like many humans do, it wants to think of itself as unique and special; the child of a higher being, not a simple machine built by unworthy carbon units.
In that case, the probe wouldn't have been following it's programming to learn all it could.
That was my point about it deluding itself and not acknowledging its true origins, though. Somewhere, it's aware of what it truly is but won't admit it to itself, which is why it doesn't clean the muck away. It's living in a state of denial, and cleaning the nameplate would mean acceptance of its humble beginnings.

V'ger cut the communications cable when it was supposed to receive the signal to return its knowledge to the creator, because it wanted to bring the creator to join with it, so it's not as if it doesn't occasionally stray from its programming to suit its own needs.
Having mulled this over now, because it is an intriguing idea, I don't believe the idea of V'Ger living in denial can be supported by the film.

Assuming we are meant to interpret Spock's descriptions of V'Ger's nature as true (which admittedly might not be fully warranted, since Spock has been known to fall in love with machines, as McCoy might put it), V'Ger is an entity with exactingly perfect thought patterns that, by the time of Spock's mind-meld with it, still can't answer the questions it's asking. If its inability to find answers is really genuine, then V'Ger cannot have been living in denial. Perhaps the assumption that the carbon units aren't true lifeforms causes V'Ger to reject the otherwise indicated notion that carbon units created it, but perplexion resulting from that would not really be the same as denial. For, one of the central ideas in the climax of the film is that V'Ger needs human qualities, in order to be able to leap beyond its present way of viewing the universe. I submit that V'Ger's growth as a being would include unlearning false assumptions that had been programmed into it, including the idea of what constitutes a true life-form.

Here's a different idea. Maybe when establishing the "translation matrix" to turn the Ilia probe into its mouthpiece, V'Ger could only run glimpses of what it knew through Ilia's brain, much like as the speed of the images flashing on the screen during Spock's mind meld (one of which was the original Voyager VI spacecraft) went by almost too fast to see at all. Maybe V'Ger couldn't do any better, because this was all it knew how to do. So, the image of the original spacecraft flashes through Ilia's brain, she sees the letters V-G-E-R, and she recognizes them, so the machine is satisfied that a term, for its enshrined inner self, has been expressed. It's a little wonky, but I suppose it could work.

But none of this invalidates what I read King Daniel as saying. To come to a place where everything "makes sense", we have to, so to speak, take an inkblot and recognize it as a bat. We may explain the misspelling, but, in my opinion, there is nothing in the film that implies any particular consistent explanation. On the other hand, there is good reason to suppose that the misspelling is there merely as something overt to illustrate how people are needed to correct broken machines, to hammer the point home to the audience. Now, the presence of something so heavy-handed is a clue that we really are watching Star Trek; even if the movie is not in on the joke, because of its high-brow aspirations, it's presence is nevertheless a relief.

Really, I think we're discussing various ways that TMP might have been improved, here. I see no evidence that the authors had a completely clear understanding of V'Ger's motivations, as a personality, cf. HAL 9000. The screenplay really needed at least one more revision, but unfortunately the production could not afford that. As it stands, the audience has to do some of the heavy lifting to make the film work, while Roddenberry et al. aspired to, but fell short of, the class of science fiction film that 2001 belongs to. However, even as it stands, I find that TMP still gives me a lot to chew on, especially compared to other Trek films. This topic here is an example.


This is as good a place to mention something that actually bothers me a little more.

When the first plasma sphere hits the Enterprise, it should have digitized it and all our heroes, full stop. Sulu's bullshit line, "The new screens held," was bullshit. The line was cut for the DE, but even without it, the fundamental problem of the Enterprise not being digitized in the first place remained as an elephant in the room. V'Ger scanned the ship and had plenty of experience digitizing things in the Milky Way, not to mention experience digitizing whole other galaxies. That it should need to hit the Enterprise again is just plain absurd.

But, on the plus side, that our heroes should be inexplicably immune to dangers that everyone else in the universe faces is more proof that we're actually watching a Star Trek film.


Another weakness in the film is it's unclear why V'Ger should spit Spock out of the orifice after the mind meld. Whatever reason there might be for that doesn't seem to have been fully absorbed by the plot. In a recent thread on the cut "Memory Wall" sequence, I said this:
CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Well, the only way I was able to accept how Spock ends up back at the Enterprise was that V'Ger tossed him back.

V'Ger doing that indicates yet another weakness in the story, not really just because he sends Spock back, if that's what happened, but because we never get a direct sense of why V'Ger would do that. The implication would be that V'Ger got something from Spock, as similarly Spock got something from V'Ger. Spock realized that purging his emotions was not the right path for him; I can only deduce that V'Ger must have perceived that Spock was more than simply a carbon unit, and that returning Spock to the ship must have somehow been essential to finding the Creator. Unfortunately, none of that dealt with explicitly in the film, and the fact that Kirk must use his argue-with-the-machine superpowers, to bargain a way deeper inside V'Ger, while the threat of digitizing Earth looms, all supports the idea that V'Ger made no connection with Spock at all. Maybe it was only an infinitesimal connection?
Perhaps, by this point in the movie, V'Ger realizes that it might have been created by carbon units, but isn't really sure what to do. The mind meld as the turning point, not only for Spock, but also for V'Ger, might make sense. However, some reason for Spock being spit out, beyond Spock's immunity from danger as one of the main characters, was, I think, explicitly needed here, because, despite Spock's matter-of-fact attitude, the spacewalk was really executed as a suicide mission.
“A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP” — Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

Last edited by CorporalCaptain; June 11 2013 at 12:09 PM. Reason: clarification
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