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Old October 7 2013, 05:11 PM   #4
Christopher
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Re: Star Trek: TMP questions and observations

Gotham Central wrote: View Post
1) Is there dialogue missing that explains the weirdness regarding Lt. Ilia? The crew get all weird when it is announced that she is Deltan and then we get that "oath of celibacy" statement...yet it has no context. Even in expanded versions of the film where she talks about "sexually immature species" its not really explained what she means. Is this a hold over from the Phase II pilot that would have been expanded more in the series?
It's spelled out in the novelization and in the character notes reprinted in The Making of ST:TMP. Deltans are supposed to be a highly sexual species with overpowering pheromones, but with a more rarefied, spiritual, mature approach to sexuality than we have. Mating with a Deltan is an intense union with a psionic/empathic component and can cause a human to lose oneself. That's why Decker had to leave before he gave in and consummated his relationship with Ilia, and why Deltans must take the celibacy oath before serving with other species. (I've explored these aspects of Deltans in my novel Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock.)

The thing is, when Roddenberry developed the Deltans for Phase II, he was probably hoping to take advantage of the late '70s' more relaxed TV censorship and explore sexual themes more fully than he could in TOS, but then Paramount insisted that TMP had to have a G rating because ST was popular with children, so he had to tone down the sexuality quite severely.


2) Why is Decker (and Kirk for that matter) demoted for this mission? There is no reason why anyone needed to be demoted for this event. Indeed, its not totally out of the question for an admiral to take command in such a critical situation. In most instances the admiral would command the mission while the Captain would command the ship. We see this quite regualrly in other Treks and indeed this is exactly what happens in The Wrath of Kahn. No wonder Decker comes across as pissy for most of the film...there was no reason for Kirk to do what he did.
That's all true, in principle. But the idea of the story was that Kirk wasn't thinking solely about the mission, but was using the mission as an excuse to get his command back. Everyone else kept telling him that it was a mistake for him to kick Decker out of the center seat, and they were proved right when Decker needed to countermand Kirk's misguided phaser order during the wormhole incident. The arc of the story, at least its first half, is largely about Kirk coming to recognize how his obsession blinded him.


3) Where was Starfleet in this movie? The "only starship in range" is an old trope, but it seems problematic in the context of this film. Lets remember that Starfleet first becomes aware of V'Ger after monitoring the incident in Klingon space. That means that V'ger traveled between the Klingon Empire and Federation. Yet it never seems to encounter any Federation ships. Are we to assume that there are NO Starfleet vessels ANYWHERE between Klingon space and Earth? Indeed one wonders why the Klingons didn't try to follow and attack.
In earlier drafts there were one or two other ships that tried to intercept before the Enterprise did, and they fared as badly as Epsilon 9 did in the final film.

Basically the idea was that V'Ger moved far faster than any starship could, so that there wasn't enough time for other ships to intercept it. After all, space is huge and mostly empty. The later shows and movies have tended to ignore this, having ships casually traveling anywhere they need to be in a matter of hours or less (even seconds, apparently, in the new movies), but realistically space should be so humongous that even with a reasonably large fleet, it would be hard to get to any given place in less than a matter of days or weeks. And if something's coming through on an unanticipated trajectory through deep space at a velocity higher than any ship you have, it's quite possible that only one or two ships would be able to intercept it.

Where that falls apart, though, is that its destination was Earth. It stands to reason that the capital of the Federation would have a whole fleet standing ready to defend it at any given time. To the film's credit, though, it did state that Earth had a planetary defense grid protecting it, but V'Ger got the access codes from the Enterprise computer and was able to shut the grid down (much as Nero was in the '09 film when he got the codes from Pike via torture). So maybe with the grid in place, a fleet defense was considered less essential. Still, it seems you'd want to have both available for redundancy's sake.


5) Given all of the rereleases of older material with new edits, do we know what is considered "canon" about these movies? For instance...was V'ger's cloud REALLY 82 AUs or was it a mere 3 (which is still enormous...Earth should have been engulfed in the cloud long before V'ger arrived in orbit).
Canon is about broad strokes, not details. Any long-running series or franchise has contradictory assertions about various details. Was Dr. Watson wounded in the leg or shoulder? Is Kirk's middle initial R or T? Does Saavik have green eyes or brown? Can Data use contractions or can't he? Does Princess Leia remember her mother or did her mother die in childbirth? The canon is the underlying conjectural "reality" that these stories portray, but the stories can differ in how they interpret that reality because they're told by different people or because their creators reconsider their ideas. Every story is always filtered through the teller's interpretation, so different stories about the same reality -- even when told by the same person at different times -- will always have inconsistencies among them.

Generally, when a detail within a canon is reinterpreted, it's the later version that's assumed to take precedence. We accept that Data doesn't use contractions even though he used them routinely in the first half of TNG season 1. We accept that the Enterprise is a Federation ship rather than an Earth ship even though the Federation was never mentioned until the latter half of TOS season 1 (in "Arena"). We accept that Bruce Wayne's butler is named Alfred Pennyworth even though he was originally Alfred Beagle or possibly Alfred Jarvis.


6) This is more of a trektech nitpick but it seems reasonable to point out....V'ger obviously has some form of FTL propulsion in order for it to cross the vastness of space. Indeed it arrives in Earth orbit from Klingon space in mere days. Yet oddly enough, both the Klingons and the Enterprise approach V'ger at impulse. How are they not getting "run over."
It's never stated that they approach at impulse. The special effects show a static starscape behind them, but keep in mind that the depiction of warp speed was still evolving. In the case of the V'Ger encounters, it may have been deemed too complicated to combine a warp-stars effect with the other effects of the sequence.
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