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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Movies > Star Trek Movies XI+

Star Trek Movies XI+ Discuss J.J. Abrams' rebooted Star Trek here.

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Old November 15 2014, 09:04 PM   #1
HigHurtenflurst
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How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

New-ish here, don't know if this is beating a dead horse, but for the life of me I can't understand how anybody can accept the way new Kirk got promoted. I want to like the new films, but this is a brick wall for me.

The thing I enjoyed most about TOS is how they tried to be consistent, as far as possible, with reality. From the plausibility of the design of the E, to the Starfleet command structure and the likely paths and back-stories of the characters. Starfleet ranks and protocol followed established naval traditions and hierarchy, and it lent the show credibility. TNG varied from that only a little, the most obvious IMHO being that every single person on the ship (except Chief O'Brien) was an officer. Huh?

It was that consistency that made the show feel credible, and it's a part of what made Kirk a character you could really believe in. He had a history. He was a serious cadet -- a walking pile of books. He had previous space assignments. He had an established, plausible past, so when he pulled a miracle out of his arse and saved the day, it was believable.

New Kirk. Oh, er, he's a "genius." Good enough. Give him the ship.

Give me a break!!!!

So many things are broken here it's difficult to know where to begin. Since WHEN (answer:NEVER) does the Captain's absence mean an automatic promotion!? "I'm not the Captain anymore, you are. Literally." Uh, no, you're still a Commander or lieutenant or whatever, in temporary command. Your rank doesn't change. The new films utterly destroy any notion of proper command structure which undermines the credibility of this new universe. Commander Spock stays Commander Spock but assumes temporary command. And the cadet becomes XO because he knows... something?! Stretches credibility too far.

I could handle it to this point, by trying really really hard, but then Spock steps down and let's a cadet assume command? Chekhov is more senior than Kirk. Kirk's not an officer!!!!

And then they give him... A letter of commendation? An "Attaboy!" and send him back to the academy until he can actually qualify as a commissioned Ensign and begin establishing a career path? Command of Starfleet's newest, largest, very expensive flagship!!??

New Kirk has no background, no experience, and absolutely NO credentials to be Captain of a starship. This new Kirk character is a punk with no depth, no backstory, and no believability. Practically the exact opposite, in every way that matters, of what made James T. Kirk a character to respect and admire. And yes, I acknowledge they had to rush him into the seat for movie purposes, and I know in ST 2 Pine briefly mentioned his promotion may have been a teensy tiny little bit of a mistake, but it utterly ruined the entire premise for me.

Any thoughts, justifications etc to help me like the new guy, even just a little? I'd really like to get over this....
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Old November 15 2014, 09:31 PM   #2
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Re: How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

This is one of the hardest things for me to get past, and I say that as someone who likes a lot about the Abrams movies. I think it would've been very easy for them to insert a gap of about 4 years between the Academy sequence and the attack on Vulcan, giving Kirk time to gain experience and rise to lieutenant commander rank so that he'd be a plausible second-officer candidate (as well as restoring Chekov to the correct age). There was really no good reason for them not to do that, aside from their desire to keep up a fast pace.

Although I do give them credit for building the second movie's plot around a tacit admission that they'd made a mistake promoting Kirk so fast in the first movie, that he hadn't really earned that authority and needed to learn humility in order to really deserve it.

I rationalize Kirk's insta-promotion in two ways: One, that Spock Prime put in a good word for him and maybe pushed Pike and Starfleet to give him the Enterprise, and two, that Starfleet saw Kirk as just "keeping the center seat warm," serving as the temporary steward of Pike's ship while Pike recovered from his injuries. Which is consistent with the way he was so swiftly removed from command after his actions on Nibiru. It was never really more than a probationary posting.

For what it's worth, though, Picard got his first command in almost exactly the same way: He took over the Stargazer when its captain and first officer were killed. But at the time, Picard was a lieutenant commander six years out of the Academy, so it's not quite the same.
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Old November 15 2014, 09:46 PM   #3
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Re: How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

HigHurtenflurst wrote: View Post
New-ish here, don't know if this is beating a dead horse
Yeah.

HigHurtenflurst wrote: View Post
Any thoughts, justifications etc to help me like the new guy, even just a little? I'd really like to get over this....
We are talking about a show where spaceship go faster than light without breaking the universe, people are scrambled and reassembled at the atomic level and feel fine afterwards, and aliens from different worlds look suspiciously like guys with rubber foreheads. Let it go and enjoy the run.
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Old November 15 2014, 09:48 PM   #4
Mr. Laser Beam
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Re: How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

@Hig: Kirk was, in fact, an officer for most of this film. It's of course important to realize that Kirk didn't go from *cadet* to Captain, he went from *lieutenant* to Captain. I refer you all again to the transporter readout screen when they're beaming him and Sulu up from the drill. It clearly gives Kirk's rank as Lieutenant.

In the prime timeline, Kirk graduated from the Academy with the rank of Lieutenant. It could very well be that, if the hearing hadn't been interrupted by Nero's attack, the exact same thing would have happened. The Academy board could have even been ready to give Kirk the same commendation for original thinking that his prime counterpart got.

I mean, it is of course a stretch for Kirk to jump in rank like he did, but at least he "only" skipped two grades (LCDR and CDR). He didn't go straight to Captain from cadet-hood.

As for Kirk's time at the Academy: We really don't know a lot about it. He is very carefree and easygoing when we see him take the Kobayashi Maru test, but it doesn't mean he breezed through the entire Academy course load like that. He could still have been the "stack of books with legs" that his prime counterpart was. He wouldn't have been able to finish so quickly if he hadn't been, I think.
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Old November 15 2014, 10:06 PM   #5
Hartzilla2007
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Re: How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

I got past it easy.

Its freaking Captain Kirk. The man kills gods for a living and saves the universe every Tuesday.
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Old November 15 2014, 10:25 PM   #6
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Re: How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

Uhura was a Lt. posted at the Academy. McCoy was a Lt. Cmdr. posted at the Academy.

In pre-release info Kirk was teaching advanced hand-to-hand combat techniques at the Academy.

It is possible that in the new universe an officer posted to the Academy for advanced training, without a ship assignment, is referred to as "cadet."

Pike had told Kirk that if he went to the Academy he could possibly have a command in four years. Kirk told him, "I'll do it in three."

If Kirk was teaching a class, he was probably a graduate assistant.

So, it's not out of the question that Kirk was qualified for a command, but he was obviously not ready for the Enterprise and was demoted when that became clear.

All this is not really a stretch for me. Star Trek isn't required to adhere to real life rules. It's just suppsed to be fun.
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Old November 15 2014, 10:38 PM   #7
Susan Sto Helit
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Re: How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

  1. Pike is Captain.
  2. Pike makes Spock captain because of logic.
  3. Pike makes Kirk XO because of favouritism.
  4. Spock goes postal.
  5. Kirk becomes Captain because of the chain of command.
  6. Kirk proves himself.
  7. Kirk stays Captain because of reputation/favouritism/Starfleet is really desperate because they lost loads of people at Vulcan.
  8. Kirk gets demoted because of recklessness/disregard for prime directive/lack of respect for the chair (is it that comfortable?).
  9. Kirk retakes command when Pike rather conveniently dies.
  10. Nobody wants to be the one who kicks Kirk again after he's lost his mentor.

Not that wild really. Especially when you consider the possibility that Kirk was academically brilliant. He also had a respected Instructor/Captain vouching for him. I called it favouritism, but to some extend it may be warranted.

HigHurtenflurst wrote: View Post
So many things are broken here it's difficult to know where to begin. Since WHEN (answer:NEVER) does the Captain's absence mean an automatic promotion!? "I'm not the Captain anymore, you are. Literally." Uh, no, you're still a Commander or lieutenant or whatever, in temporary command. Your rank doesn't change.
It's a matter of convention to refer to the commanding officer of a ship as the Captain, regardless of actual rank.
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Old November 15 2014, 10:43 PM   #8
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Re: How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

I don't see a problem with that "you are the Captain" thing - it's the position that is inherited by the lower-ranking officer, not the rank. Quite true to how things would be done today, if there ever were a situation where the CO would walk away from his or her command. And the reasons for such abandoning of post in the movie were well-founded. We shouldn't hold the use of "Captain" rather than "CO" against the movie, as this is standard Trek practice since the days of TOS.

The cadet becoming XO is much less plausible fiction, but again there's the excuse that pretty much everybody is a cadet anyway: the ship was crewed in a lottery. The chain of command is a mess, commissioned professionals are desperately needed at specialist posts such as engineering and sickbay, and yet somehow the ship has to be kept going - so cadets command officers, all over the ship. What's one more instance of that?

Beyond that, of course the new Kirk is a reprehensible character. But I have no problem with heroes I hold zero sympathy for. The new Galactica was fun exactly because I hoped against hope that cylons would kill all the human characters, if not by the end of this episode, then the next. And sometimes I got what I wished for...

I'm actually looking forward to the third Abrams film for the very reason!

In the prime timeline, Kirk graduated from the Academy with the rank of Lieutenant.
Umm, he left the Academy as Lieutenant. Doesn't mean he wouldn't have graduated as Ensign, as we know he stayed at the Academy as instructor at Lieutenant rank for an unknown period of time.

Saavik apparently was a commissioned Lieutenant when taking Kobayashi Maru. She was never referred to as "cadet", so the test seems to have capped her postgrad studies. Then again, it was explicit in ST2:TWoK that Kirk had been a cadet when taking and beating the same test, and this was also explicit in the new timeline.

So, does "cadet" still mean undergraduate in 23rd century Starfleetspeak? Uhura was indeed considered "Lieutenant" in dialogue, but also "cadet". The other familiar heroes (Chekov, Sulu) all held commissioned rank in dialogue and sleeve braid alike, and were never considered "cadets", yet they dressed in "Academy" red at the conclusion of the movie, indicating that this red uniform proves absolutely nothing either way about Kirk's under- or postgraduate status.

Pike had told Kirk that if he went to the Academy he could possibly have a command in four years. Kirk told him, "I'll do it in three."
Actually, Pike says Kirk could "be an officer", that is, graduate and be commissioned, in four years - he could then get a ship of his own in a further four.

Doesn't mean he couldn't shorten his undergraduate studies to two and a half years and then get one promotion before taking postgrad command training including the no-win test. Perhaps he could even get two.

Edit: Huh? It took ages for this reply to make it to the thread after hitting send. A bit of redundancy there, then. Sorry about that!

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Old November 15 2014, 11:17 PM   #9
urbandefault
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Re: How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

Kirk was promoted and took command due to circumstances beyond control. He was later officially promoted and given command, and then due to his actions had that command taken away. After Pike was murdered he was given his command back.

There's a lot of plot stuff that goes on between those plot points, but the fact remains that Kirk commands Enterprise.

How he got there is irrelevant, since that is his "first best destiny."
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Old November 15 2014, 11:29 PM   #10
Greg Cox
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Re: How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

Honestly, I shrug and move on.

Is it entirely believable? Probably not. But I can't blame the filmmakers for wanting to give us "Captain Kirk" by the end of the first movie.

Yeah, they could have inserted a time jump before the final scene, but there would be both pros and cons there, with the biggest drawback being that you have to assume that all the characters and their relationships somehow remained static for how many years it took for Kirk to rise through the ranks--which would defeat the point of watching this new version of the crew come together and seeing how their relationships and lives develop in this brand-new timeline. We'd have to assume, for instance, that Spock/Uhura were stuck in a holding pattern for four years or so . . . .

So, yeah, it's a cheat, but it's one I have no trouble getting past. Artistic license and all that.
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Old November 15 2014, 11:32 PM   #11
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Re: How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

Would we really have wanted three or more films chronicling Kirk's rise to captain just to make things more "realistic?" What the hell is realistic, anyway? Napoleon was a 2nd Lt. at 16, a Lt. Col. at 23, a brigadier general at only 24, 30 when he took over France, and 34 when he made himself emperor. That's hard to believe too, but as Casey Stengal said, "You can look it up."
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Old November 15 2014, 11:35 PM   #12
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Re: How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

No less believable than the stuff that went on in TOS, including Spock tampering with Starbase computers, kidnapping his former commander, stealing the Enterprise and going to the only planet with the death penalty yet getting off scot-free at the end.
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Old November 15 2014, 11:37 PM   #13
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Re: How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

Franklin wrote: View Post
Would we really have wanted three or more films chronicling Kirk's rise to captain just to make things more "realistic?" What the hell is realistic, anyway? Napoleon was a 2nd Lt. at 16, a Lt. Col. at 23, a brigadier general at only 24, 30 when he took over France, and 34 when he made himself emperor. That's hard to believe too, but as Casey Stengal said, "You can look it up."
Good point. Given that we're only getting a new Trek movie every few years or so, do we really want to waste time getting to Captain Kirk?

Suppose Batman Begins had ended with Bruce Wayne not quite Batman yet? Or Casino Royale had ended with Bond still a junior agent who had yet to attain Double-Oh status?
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Old November 15 2014, 11:50 PM   #14
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Re: How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

Greg Cox wrote:
time jump
It would have been hilarious if they'd stuck a "Time Jump" subtitle or transition into the final bridge scene in ST09. Imagine the fan outrage at the unmitigated gall of JJA, skipping over so much important plot stuff!

ETA:

I think there was an implied time jump from the escape from the Narada-crushing singularity to Kirk's promotion ceremony. That's what I inferred.

But just because the "fans" can't grasp the concept, it doesn't mean that it didn't happen.
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Old November 15 2014, 11:58 PM   #15
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Re: How did you get past NuKirk's rise to command?

For me, it has always been a case in every incarnation of Trek, that Starfleet isn't exactly the same as today's navy and that there's no hard set rule of how fast someone can advance.
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