STbtM 040: Engines at Maximum Warp
Previous: STbtM 039: Stalled Flagship
In a more straight-sounding voice, the helmsman turns to face the skipper and reports: "I'm Hikaru Sulu." Pike posits: "…and you are a pilot, right?" Sulu flashes a sheepish grin and replies: "Very much so sir," as he swivels his seat back to forward, and stammers "I'm…uh, not sure what's wrong…" Pike looks around at the Bridge crew and jokingly asks: "Is the parking brake on?" Sulu chuckles "Um no – I'll figure it out, it's just…" Spock at this point cuts in with "Did you disengage the external inertial dampeners?" and we get another closeup of Zachary Quinto with those fabulous Spock ears, they really do look great. Mortified, Sulu stares incredulously ahead as his hands operate the controls by automatic reflex. Summoning what courage he can, he announces with unconvincing bravado: "Ready for warp, Sir." Pike smiles back "Let's punch it," and the silly boat throttles are pushed forward again. I suppose that having a new kid at the helm of an unfamiliar ship might be a fig leaf of an excuse for an obvious blunder, but the simple fact is that a mistake like that would fail a pilot today for a simple passenger certification on merely a private jet. Are we to believe that standards are so low, that skills less competent than the minimum for a small aircraft today are going to be considered acceptable for the Flagship of a Federation / Starfleet armada? Hundreds, and perhaps billions of lives could depend on this ship's actions, and the person at the helm is unable to follow basic standard procedures without error?
This time, the heavily-chromed controls work, and from behind the captain's Chair, we see a nice stretching effect of going to warp, although having the image red-shift into the distance would be slightly more scientifically correct for what they appear to be trying to show. Externally, the Enterprise whips past us, and we quickly cut to Bones dragging in Kirk from one of another lift with lighting capable of producing crunchy brownies in 10 minutes. Kirk apparently can not only get drinks in bars faster than a Maxim cover model, he can also change clothes much faster than they do, even when that's their job, and in spite of being so clumsy he is unable to stand, but this seems merely a normal continuity error nearly all films have. Kirk asks: "Where are we?" "Medical bay." This exchange seems like the sort of thing that a real estate agent would love to have with a potential buyer touring a home. Normally when showing a home, agents will tell perfectly normal, intelligent people: "This is a kitchen…and here is the bathroom" as if people do not recognize such rooms when they enter them. You would think that all the staff in medical uniforms, medical equipment, examination tables and lights, etc. would be sufficient for a halfway conscious person, even without years of Starfleet Academy training (which increasingly seems unable to actually teach anything), but perhaps it was felt that fans of the film would need this location information spelled out, and evidence supports that impression of fans was, in some measure, accurate.
Kirk asks "This is worth it?" McCoy tells him "A little suffering is good for the soul," as Kirk tries to flirt with a nurse, offering "Hi, how ya doing?" I'm pretty sure I would not want to serve in this timeline's Starfleet: officers and crew routinely refer to supernatural, invisible friends as "God" and doctors who talk about "souls" is troubling. For example, if one believes in an eternal soul, treating and protecting that would be much more important than the physical shell they inhabit for the wink of an eye. That shell is going to die anyway, so medicine is largely futile in the grand scheme. There was a time when this model of reality was popular, and one result was that burning people's living bodies in order to save their eternal souls was deemed by the best minds to be virtuous, or sometimes even heroic. I would really prefer a scientifically minded doctor who looks at the world more conservatively, preferring empiricism to religion based magic. Mother Theresa may have preached enduring the hardships of infirmities as the path to God for others, but even she always chose the best science-based medicine for her own ailments, but of course with an unlimited expense account, such care is easy to afford.
"My mouth is itchy, is that normal?" Clearly, the whole Levaran Mud Flea vaccine sequence is intended to be humorous, but like the characters, effects, soundtrack and drama, I was unable to overlook the profound problems in the story and appreciate the humor, which came off as poorly done buffoonery but then again, I admittedly hated what I saw of "Married with Children", despite its status as THE top show last time I checked sitcoms, and to this day I'm unable to enjoy practical joke shows where unsuspecting people are actually terrorized and frightened for profits and amusement. One can't help but suspect fans of this film appreciate and enjoy prank shows as medical shenanigans, pain, and loss of motor control are apparently considered appropriate material for jokes. McCoy advises Kirk that "Those symptoms aren't going to last long. Let me give you a mild sedative." Kirk, in obvious pain, groans: "I wish I didn't know you." "Don't be such a such an infant," Bones admonishes, before slamming a hypo into Kirk's neck. Our future skipper yowls and convulses before slurring "How long's it supposed to taaayyy…." At which point he flops over backwards on the table, unconscious." (39:50) "Unbelievable!" scoffs McCoy. This is a pretty arrogant doctor; without good reason, he has just violated medical ethics in an effort to smuggle a personal friend aboard a starship in the middle of an emergency rescue operation, and he chose to do this by using an exotic vaccine with potentially dangerous side effects in order to defy the rules of the Academy for cadets. This doesn't seem much in character, if character actions are assumed to have some rationality or consistency associated with them. If McCoy's love of Kirk is so great that he just couldn't handle Kirk feeling forlorn about not being pulled from the Academy for the rescue, he certainly has changed his tune with Kirk showing and reporting major discomfort, and possible warning signs. Showing great concern for a friend's minor disappointment but ignoring their medical complaints that could indicate a threat to their life seems more than a tad inconsistent. Aside from this, the actual level of joke makes the old slipping on a banana peel gag seem like Kovacian genius!
We cut to the bridge, where Sulu reports: "engines at maximum warp, Captain" a ridiculous and useless statement. Pike says: "Russian whiz kid, what's your name? Chenko? Chirpov?" The navigator turns around and in a fabulous Russian accent he proclaims "Ensign Chekov, Pavel Andreievich, sir." "Fine Chekov, Pavel Andreievich, begin shipwide mission broadcasts." Apparently, "whiz kid" is exposition clumsily inserted to foreshadow HIS inexplicable abilities, unlikely posting to navigation of the Federation flagship, and because this film doesn't bother to actually develop characters, the whole film just weaves one miraculous coincidence after another, regardless of how unlikely. It's kind of like believing oneself to be one of God's chosen race: irrational, arrogant, and self serving - but a habit that you'll probably be able to use without getting called on it if you talk fast enough. One interesting note is that this Chekov and Walter Koenig are both come from Jewish Russian ancestors.
A few women are in miniskirts as scenery, but only men speak in this segment.
Next: STbtM 041: Kirk's ESP