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No Sacred Cows: Stupidity in Star Trek

Welcome to the second episode of No Sacred Cows, the gameshow where we point out all the flaws in Nerdom’s greatest movies.  Why you ask?  Because we like making you cry.  Last time we ripped apart the sacrosanct Blade Runner, a 1980’s classic.  Retro is good, retro is great, but a movie doesn’t have to be 30 years old to be considered a classic, so this time we decided to go more modern and cover something a little less perfect.

Trek Lives.  I’ve been a Trekkie for a quarter century; watched my first episode, “Spectre of the Gun”, on my mother’s tiny, 9 inch, black and white TV in the living room of our home in Houston, Texas.  I remember asking my mother why the cowboys had ray guns.

I’ve seen every movie in the theatres, aside from TMP, although the Khan I saw was part of a Khan/Search for Spock double feature at the drive-in my father took me to.  I’ve loved them all, even the ones I hate (TMP, Undiscovered Country, Nemesis).  I’ve watched every episode of every series… aside from Enterprise… at least three times.  I cheered when Kai Wynn bought it, cheered when the dreadnaught Enterprise-D showed up, cheered when the Janeway offed the Borg Queen for good.  I cried when Spock died, when Jadzia died, when D Forest and Jimmy died.  I almost shed a tear for good ol Kirk.

Like all good Trekkies or Trekkers, I’ve made my lists;  Rank the Captains (Picard, Kirk, Janeway, Kirk 2, Rikker, Animated Kirk, Cisco, Pike 2, Sulu, Data, Pike 1, Kelsey Grammer, Q, everyone else ever, Archer), Rank the XO (Spock, Spock 2, Animated Spock, Chikote, Worf, everyone else, Rikker, the vulcan lady on Archer’s crew), Rank the Movies (4, 6, 2, 12, 11, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 5, Trekkies, 1), Rank the hawties… and so on.  Still, if there is one list that ranks above all others, it is rank the stupidity.

Look, Trek is great.  It is inspirational and second only to Babylon 5 as the greatest Sci-Fi series ever, IMNSHO.  Its influence is global, its legacy shall endure as long as human civilization thrives, but perfect it is not.  I loved ST11.  I did.  Watched it in IMAX opening night at 12:01.  Watched it again at noon that same day.  Watched it a third time a week later.  Loved it.  Brilliant.  And possibly the most flawed since The Undiscovered Country, which ranks as the second stupidest movie in the entire series… and certainly in the 10 ten stupidest episodes of any Trek Series.  Maybe even top 5, but I haven’t seen all of Enterprise.

So, for this edition of No Sacred Cows, and to show that a movie doesn’t have to be a from the 80s to face my wrath, I’m going to list all the really stupid parts of Star Trek 11… or at least the top 11.  And I promise, I’ll do Into Darkness soon.

Number 11: First we see a shot of IOWA.  It says so on the screen in big silver letters.  Then we see a shot of VULCAN.  Same letters.  Does Vulcan have no subdivisions, no cities or states, no provinces, territories, or neighborhoods?  Why not label IOWA as EARTH?  How does IOWA rank as equal to VULCAN?  A small point, but eh.

Number 10: Why doesn’t Vulcan have any ships? or defenses of any kind?  Nero needs codes to invade Earth Space, why not Vulcan Space?  What kind of society full of logical people thinks “Hmmm, we’ve been at war with our Romulan Cousins for more than a thousand years… who needs a defensive network?”

Number 9: Why does it take Nero’s ship, which comes from an age where Warp 9 is pretty slow, so damn long to reach Earth?  The Enterprise, which must have been travelling toward’s the Laurentian system for at least half a day, was able to catch up to Nero’s ship just as it entered LEO.  Okay, maybe it took that long to torture Pike, so I’ll give them that.  Maybe the giant mining ship is that slow.  Maybe… Still seems stupid.

Number 8: as the trio spacedrops down the umbilical towards the surface of vulcan, three stupid things happen in quick succession, so I’ll link them together.  The Redshirt… sorry, Redsuit, dies because he waits so damned long to pull his chute.  Why does he wait so long?  Apparently he’s really amped up.  Seriously gung-ho for an engineer, no?  A little stupid.  But the big stupid is yet to come.  Kirk lands, and then, at an altitude that is probably at least as high as Everest, whips off his helmet.  Apparently, Vulcan’s atmosphere is really, really thick, even above the cloud layer where on Earth a human would be suffocating in seconds.  Chalk it up to “Artistic License”.  Then Sulu lands, and the self proclaimed fencer pulls out a rapier? An Epee?  A saber?  A foil? No. its a katana!  Katana’s are used with Kendo, which is about as far from fencing as a formalized sword style can actually get.  About the only similarity is the face guard… which isn’t saying much.  It’s as if JJ said “Hey, Sulu’s Japanese… lets give him a Katana.”  Please.

Number 7: On the subject of Artistic License… unless Delta-Vega is a moon of Vulcan, there is no way in hell Spock could have seen the planet fold in on itself like that.  None whatsoever. Even Luna isn’t that big in Earth’s sky.  Never mind the fact that Delta-Vega appears to be an Ice Ball that somehow, even though it lacks any visible plants or small wildlife can still support not one but two massive apex predator species (the Hengrauggi and the Drakoulias).  Earth can’t even support one predatory land species that size.  Never mind that if it was a moon it’s gravity would probably be a lot lower than is shown.  According to Memory Alpha, Delta-Vega (the second Star Trek planet with that name, it should be noted), is an Icy M-class planet whose orbit carries it close enough to Vulcan that the two can be seen from each other’s surface.  Astrophysics has something to say about that; if two M-Class Planets pass that close to each other, they’re either binary planets or something’s gone very wrong with the universe.   If Delta-Vega mark 2 is, in fact, a binary planet in the Vulcan system, why is it locked in an ice-age while it’s sister planet is a desert planet?  Well, originally, DV2 was supposed to be a desert too, but things change.

Number 6: The Narada is, in my opinion, the worst worst designed ship ever.  It has a lot, a lot, a lot of useless spines.  So many that the exact shape is lost.  It has water everywhere for no reason, even in areas with electrical lines and control panels.  Since when are Romulans aquatic?  It has walkways that have inconvenient ledges, steps, no rails, and smooth, slightly convex surfaces.  Even Scotty agrees, since he says that he’s beaming them into what should, in a logical ship, be a cargo bay.  And there is absolutely no good lighting.  Do Romulans like everything gloomy and lit by green light?  And why do none of these Romulans have hair?  Must be more AL.

Number 5: Are Nero’s crew really that stupid?  These are a bunch of Miners.  They actually willingly waited around for 25 years…. 25 years…. to get revenge for Nero’s Wife?  Seriously.  They must have been seriously bored.  Why not just go back to Romulus, hand over the Nerada and it’s mega tek, use the red matter to eliminate the star before it can go Super Nova, and have a big party while the future weapons on the Nerada allow the Romulan Empire to crush every other star faring power like bugs.  Sure, Nero is a nutball, and the stupidest villain (not worst, just stupid) ever, but the entire rest of the crew are that dedicated to his insane revenge scheme?  At least James Bond’s villain’s henchmen are well paid or actually believe that a colony in space is a good thing.

Number 4: Timefleet? Come on!  It’s canon that they exist, so where are they?  Or the Q’s, who seem to value the continuum so much.  Or the Enterprise-E, which went back and stopped the Borg in 8?  Or the Star Fleet Observers at the Guardian of Forever?  Where did all these beings go?

Number 3: Okay, a speck of Red Matter can destroy a planet.  A similar dot can dispel the Supernova that, somehow, is threatening the entire Galaxy (Never mind how stupid that idea is, Larry Niven couldn’t even sell that idea convincingly in Ring World and that was a chain reaction of Supernovae at the galactic core).  So why does Spock’s ship have a mega ball of Rimbaldian proportions on board?  What possible need could anyone have for producing soooo damn much Red Matter… and what the hell is Red Matter anyway.  It might as well be “Black Box” technology…. except that JJ likes giant floating incomprehensible red spheres.

Number 2: Okay, Vulcans are the most logical race in the Star Trek Universe, right?  They’ve had spaceflight for a thousand years or more, right? Well, humans realized about a century ago that if Earth got hit by an ELE before we had colonies on other worlds that the human race was pretty much screwed.  So why don’t the Vulcans have even 1 colony world?  Seriously.  6 Billion superlogical genii and no one thought up the expression “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”?  IDIOTS.

Number 1: And I quote “Then the Unthinkable Happened!”  Okay, a supernova explodes, big boom.  The explosion travels outward very fast.  Let us even say it travels out at the speed of light.  How does it suddenly accelerate and unexpectedly destroy a star system.  It’s like looking both ways before crossing a street, seeing that the only car coming is 2 miles away, stepping into the street… and being hit by that same car because it suddenly teleported up on you.  Supernova shockwaves don’t travel faster than light.  In a universe with Warp 9 and Transwarp technology, anything moving at light speed is pretty much crawling.  And those idiotic Romulans were like… Hmmm, I hope this works, let’s not bother to evacuate our planet… just in case.  Seriously,  The supernova snuck up on Romulus?  I love this movie, but my god, that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in this series… including the fact that in Undiscovered Country, using the Enterprise-A, top speed far lower than Voyagers, it takes them a few days to reach the Galactic Core… which we know is a Supermassive Black Hole known as Sagittarius A, despite the fact that Earth is 33000 Light Years from the center of the Galaxy… a trip which would have taken Voyager about a quarter of a century.  This wasn’t just dumb, it was mega dumb.  It was dumber than God needing a spaceship!

I nominate the “And then the Unthinkable” happened moment as the single stupidest moment in all of Star Trek history… including all non-canon novels, comics, cartoons, and even that fanfiction where the 12 year old girl becomes a star fleet captain… with the possible exception of those idiotic aliens who fell for the Corbomite Maneuver (or their counterparts in TNG).  Everytime I think about it, it’s like someone’s firing a giant mining laser right through logic and into my brain.

Still, mad props to JJ and Crew and I look forward to mocking you again when Star Trek 12: The Khan of Wrath, comes out on DVD.

No Colonies?  Sheesh.  Stupid, Stupid Vulcan Creatures.

About the author

Jesse Grant

PJ likes to claim he's a mad genius. We'll agree to the "mad" part. He is a novelist, game designer, and a decent cook. He's a fan of RPGs (traditional and video) as well as board, card, video, and mind games. Trained from an early age, he has mastered the GMing Arts, having attained at least the rank of "Half Gygax". Also, he can be bribed with teriyaki jerky or Lion bars.

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