Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Star Trek by the Minute 005

Previous: STbtM 004
How exactly does a shuttle get this damaged in a pristine hanger bay
As the former captain boards the dark, evil ship, back on the Kelvin we see that the bridge has got a medical reading on "Robau, R. CAPT[LV01c]". That's a pretty good capability for a ship in pieces and on fire 60 seconds earlier!

With sensors this good, wouldn't we rather check out the other ship, its occupants, or something that might, um, you know save us all from… what is it that's on the tip of my tongue - uh, it's what they call that thing that we don't like… wait a sec..Oh, now I remember! "Hideous slaughter". Might it have been nice if an officer had spoken up with something like: "Any orders to improve our chance of survival, Captain?" Seriously, even if our new skipper is emotionally unable to develop the confidence for a single good idea of his own, does following Robau's direct order to prepare for evacuation take a Vulcanian leap of logic?

Our new leader, Captain George Kirk chooses instead to invest the precious seconds of his bridge crew's time staring at Robau's medical status. OK, dramatically staring, although epileptic catatonia from all the lights appears possible…at least he doesn't start talking about God as Robau had. Nevertheless, the useless information that Robau has an "elevated" heart rate takes top priority for Kirk, apparently judging something to help save everyone's lives as less urgent - wow. 

 Meanwhile, Robau is escorted by guards to a platform where he is asked about a strange looking ship. OK the holographic interface that lets his interrogator throw the ship icon in front of him is pretty sweet. The next version of a Wii attachment? The projected icon looks like another "homage" to the recording of the princess that R2D2 played.

Commanders and envoys need "situational awareness", and Robau is no exception. Unfortunately, he misunderstands whether he is Grand Inquisitor for the Pope, or helpless prisoner who needs sharp wits and carefully chosen actions in a deadly situation with a powerful opponent. He also seems to have forgotten his goal is to negotiate the survival of hundreds of lives now resting on his deportment and every word. Tactically, he has a chance to survive: his captors just revealed that killing him is not their top priority - they want something else. We know it has somthing to do with the ship he is being shown. He should use this to his advantage and offer assistance in locating this ship with Federation resources, stall for time, and gather more information. His choice? Ignore his situation, his goals, the politely offered question, and incredibly, he asks: "Who is your commander? Is it him?" While not abusive in tone, he has no good reason to believe his interrogator is not the commander nor any reason to ask such a question. By doing so he might reasonably be perceived as undermining the authority of his host and insulting him at the same time. Clearly Robau was not given captaincy based on diplomatic skill. Perhaps being heir to the fortune made by his grandfather in the Mabellineum mines of Risa played a role?

We learn "Nero" is the ship captain, as Robau loses another opportunity to save everyone, and in an incredibly stupid way: by trying to question his captor's judgment - he orders his interrogator: "Ask Captain Nero: what gives him the right to attack a Federation vessel?" They now ignore his question, and apparently having forgotten to take today's methylphenidate, the interrogator also forgets about his own unanswered question regarding the mystery ship. There seems to be a lot of that ignoring – but as badly as the dialogue has gone so far, back and forth non-sequiturs almost feel like an improvement.
The interrogator, we later learn is a Romulan, now tosses a holographic icon of Spock's head and asks Robau whether he knows the "location of Ambassador Spock".


crone51 said...

Yeah, all true- but he's kind of cute, too. George, I mean. I'm shallow.

muser said...

I assumed (that word again) that the vital signs were being broadcast by some device on Robau's person (ala "Space 1999" biomonitors). No great trick to put a portable monitor on him with an encoded transmitter (also used in "Aliens" to monitor the vitals of the Marines). Of course then you have to ask why he didn't take a mini camera...

BurntSynapse said...

That sounds reasonable, but having the entire bridge staff just sitting there doing nothing in an emergency like that drove me crazy.

muser said...

I know, I know. I used to yell at the TV when the Enterprise-D crew just stood around and maybe Riker yelled "Damage Report!" whenever they were attacked. Sometimes they'd fire a shot or two. Remember when they were taken over by some Ferengi with two obsolete Klingon warbirds? Argh!

BurntSynapse said...

I think that was "Rascals".

Bad episode, but it had one of my all-time favorite lines from TNG...
"That's the good thing about crayons: they can take you more places than starships."

Great writing there...helps me overlook the hideously incompetent transporter de-aging debacle.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"That sounds reasonable, but having the entire bridge staff just sitting there doing nothing in an emergency like that drove me crazy."

Honestly, with a properly trained crew, it's amazing how little there is for the people in charge to actively do during an emergency. At that point, damage control crews are puttig out fires, sealing hull breaches, etc.; the chief engineer is in the upper hull coordinating with his people to get systems back online; and so on. At this point the Romulans have stopped shooting, and they have demonstrated pretty effectively that they can easily destroy the Kelvin before it can get out of weapons range. Doing anything active might cause them to do just that, so there's not that much for the bridge crew to do. They are watching Robau because he is in the best position to save the ship, and his medical readouts give them the best picture of what's going on (though a headcam would be better).

John C. 'Buck' Field said...

Hi Jake!

True, "with a properly trained crew, it's amazing how little there is for the people in charge to actively do during an emergency", HOWEVER:

We are not dealing with that. We are dealing with a film created by people who, unlike Roddenberry, have NO military or combat command experience, and here: it shows.

Kirk and others on the bridge have duties they need to perform which are of higher importance. Kirk cannot command effectively without knowing such things as: Are the shields up? (He doesn't know.) How far along is evac prep? (Unknown) Hull breaches? (Unknown) Atmosphere loss rate? (Unknown) Expected survival? (Unknown) Antimatter containment? (Unknown)

Actually, if containment goes, there's really no point to anything but a subspace transmission.

This is what I came up with in 60 seconds. The creators are simply unable to put themselves into the characters and have them act sensibly. Instead, they seem to think first of what emotional effect they want to manipulate the audience in to, then write something they think will do just that.

Note: this is entirely consistent with their pre-release statements and many others made within the first 3 months post-release.