Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by BillJ, Jun 18, 2012.
TMP states several times that Decker, not Spock, is the XO even after Spock comes aboard.
The mission wouldn't have succeeded without Spock, regardless of whether Kirk or Decker was in command. Even if Kirk was on board in an flag officer observational capacity, his assertiveness would have counteracted Decker's cautiousness, leading to the inexperienced captain going along with whatever the more experienced Enterprise officers recommended.
Best case scenario without Kirk is probably taking V'ger out in orbit with the self destruct.
It's not clear who Decker's XO originally was, there has been conjecture that it was Sulu, seemingly the most senior bridge officer who was frequently seen to command the Enterprise during TOS.
What advice he might have given Decker as XO (instead of helmsman), kind of hard to say.
Might have been Sonak. Might have been a person we never saw, as Kirk summoned his selected specialists on a very short notice, and had no reason to summon Decker's XO because he knew he would be demoting Decker to that role anyway. In either case, we could speculate that leaving that person ashore (one way or another, dead or alive) created a serious gap in Decker's team of advisors, as the upwardly mobile clever young man would no doubt have chosen a team with complementing but not overlapping qualities...
I wonder... Was Sonak Decker's man? Or was he forced upon Decker by Kirk at the second-to-last minute, with Kirk's barging in as the CO happening at the very last minute? All we know for sure is that Kirk recommended Sonak, and that Decker had time to react to that and send Sonak to a briefing at SF HQ when the deadline was still set at 20 hours rather than 12. Sonak might have joined the team 13 hours before the actual launch, then - or 13 months for all we know.
All we know for sure is that Sonak is the science officer per dialog from TMP. But he is wearing full commander braids, and Sulu was only a lieutenant commander.
So who knows?
EDIT: If I remember correctly, the second person who died during transport was Vice-Admiral Lori Ciana. Was she coming aboard to supervise the mission in general and Kirk in particular?
Sounds like Marvel really needs to do an issue of "What If..." about this film.
That was in the novelization of TMP, but onscreen (and in the screenplay) the second person was never referred to by any name.
I did not mean to imply I thought that Spock was serving as the XO. I did, however, mean to suggest that if he came onboard with Decker in charge, he might have gotten that spot, assuming Decker didn't already have an XO.
It's been a few months since I've seen the movie, but Memory Alpha states that Sonak was given the science officer position based on Kirk's recommendation. It also states that Sonak was on Earth because Decker assigned him to the task of attending a final science briefing at headquarters. Kirk ordered Sonak to report to the Enterprise in an hour.
This leads me to believe that Sonak would not have been killed had he stayed on Earth per Decker's orders. I would assume that Decker would still have had to leave earlier than he intended to intercept V'Ger, but perhaps not as quickly as Kirk did. By the time he reported either the glitch with the transporter would have been detected/happened.
So if Sonak survived and was XO, would Decker have accepted Spock's request to come aboard? If so, what capacity would he have used Spock? I'm not sure he would have told Spock to turn around, but there would not have been a convenient opening in the bridge personnel.
This also leads to the question of whether or not they would have experienced the same problem with the Warp Drive. I don't see Decker ordering them to go to warp inside our solar system, even with the need to intercept V'Ger as quickly as possible. So, assuming that the whole wormhole incident didn't happen, Spock's help may not have even been needed to assist Scotty with the Warp Drive. All of which leads me to believe that Decker, at best, would have given Spock permission to board, but either given him some minor position or, at worst, told him to stay out of everyone's way unless he was needed. I don't mean to suggest he'd be rude about it, but I also don't see him shifting around his command staff to accommodate Spock, either.
Without Spock, pieces of the V'Ger puzzle would be missing, such as his mindmeld and, perhaps, the creation of a probe (Ilia or otherwise).
To a lesser degree, McCoy wouldn't be onboard, either. He'd be enjoying his retirement, still.
But even if Spock were accepted onboard as a mere passenger, he would probably still be capable of hijacking a thruster suit and contacting V'Ger directly. And earlier on, if Decker's team initially failed to decode V'Ger's ultimatum during the plasma bolt attack and to send a placating reply, I guess Mr Spock would have been asked to contribute even if his expertise wasn't associated with a formal position...
We get fairly good glimpses of the uniform of the second victim; it's quite unlikely that she would be of flag rank. The actual uniform on the actress was that of an enlisted person, IIRC; this is a backstage (that is, unprocessed) shot of the accident scene, as found e.g. on the 1979 Futura printing of the novelization:
Really Kirk was a jerk towards Decker in this movie.
"I'm in command."
"STFU, btw you're demoted."
Better for the Earth that he was a jerk or else everyone would've been digitized.
Don't join the military.
People have higher ranks than other people for a reason.
There are times for niceties. But an object being twenty hours away from obliterating Earth isn't one of them.
Technically, it was "Less than three days" at that point. When Spock helps fix the warp drive Kirk's log states they "will be able to intercept Intruder while still more than a day from Earth."
Slightly off-topic, but I never understood why Kirk and Decker both took "temporary grade reductions" for this mission. Is there any reason that Admiral Kirk and Captain Decker had to become Captain Kirk and Commander Decker?
For Kirk, it was voluntary, of course, but for Decker, it seems something of a slap in the face. Yes, Starfleet had decided that Kirk was the better choice to command the ship on this emergency mission. But Decker hadn't done anything wrong, and going down in rank would normally be associated with disciplinary action.
There's no reason you couldn't have someone of Captain rank as first officer. Heck, by the time of TUC, Kirk had a Captain as first officer and a Captain as chief engineer.
I think from an out-of-universe perspective, you wanted to have "Captain Kirk" in the movie and didn't want to make Decker seem more important than Spock because he outranked him.
But I really don't know.
One might quite safely speculate that Kirk had to sell his soul, his left arm and some of his rank braid in order to get command of the Enterprise. Scotty suggests as much in the travel pod dialogue...
Kirk's own demotion, temporary or otherwise, is not that big a mystery; Decker's is...
In the real world, it's a holdover from the conversion of the script for "Phase II: In Thy Image" into ST:TMP. For the aborted ST revival series, Shatner planned to stay with the show - as captain, and a regular - perhaps for 13 episodes, depending on the success of the career in mainstream feature films that he and his agent were hoping for. Nimoy was refusing to sign, thus Xon was conceived as a replacement. Decker would assume the captaincy. Kirk would have been promoted to Admiral, in hope that Shatner would be more inclined to make semi-regular "special guest appearances".
To increase tension between Kirk and Decker, the demotion stuff was added to the movie script. Another stray holdover is a line about Ilia's headband, seemingly suggesting she'd been on board long enough to have developed a friendship with Dr Chapel (as per the "Phase II" writers bible), even though we'd just seen Ilia come aboard as a new crew person.
Similarly, in the first post-movie comic strip for the LA Times Syndicate, Ilia is still alive after the departure of V'ger, since the comic had to be completed before the movie had its ending set in stone. (And, in "In Thy Image", Ilia is returned intact after the Ilia Probe, aka "Tasha", reverts to a small, burnt-out mechanism at the end of the telemovie.)
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