Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Star Trek by the Minute 067: Nero’s Plan

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Nero declaring that he prevented genocide by obliterating Vulcan makes about as much sense as the claim that "the death penalty is our way of affirming the sanctity of life" or that wars are justified by the expectation of future peace. It reminds me a bit of Alberto Gonzalez, (former Atty. general of the United States), declaring on television that the tree huggers who were camped out in a forest to prevent logging old growth, were "terrorists" (before a single one had been proven guilty of anything).

In this segment, Nero continues his monologue but before we go on with that, let's take a look at his claim that the Narada is a simple mining vessel. It seems hard to believe that one vessel designed for simply extracting and transporting minerals would have combat capabilities more than a match for fleets of Klingon battle cruisers and waves of Federation starships. A simple vessel that is able to attack and destroy entire planets without getting a scratch or taking a single casualty? A simple vessel that just happens to have miners aboard who are able to calculate time warp trajectories through red matter singularities better than the galaxy's top expert, a Vulcan super genius? We are also supposed to believe that this simple mining vessel can outmaneuver and capture the fastest ship the Federation has to offer without any apparent fuss, and is armed with a bazillion photon torpedoes? Well, to me it doesn't seem the adjective "simple" applies too well, but neither does "mining vessel", so there it is…

Nero turns on a blinding interrogation light pointed down at Captain Pike, and steps back. Rather than turn away from the spotlight as would be normal, Pike turns toward it for some reason. Perhaps he knows he needs to move quickly if he wants to see the projection of a pointy eared blond which then appears right where he is looking; Lucky timing, I guess.

Nero says: I chose a life of honest labor to provide for myself and the wife who was expecting my child. I was off planet doing my job while your Federation did nothing and allowed my people to burn while their planet broke in half - and Spock? He didn't help us. He betrayed us!" In a way, it is probably good that the elements of the story are presented in disjointed bits and pieces because otherwise suspending any disbelief would be all but impossible, and the film would be unwatchable for a large percentage of the audience. For example, the claim that the Federation did nothing does not appear accurate since we later learn that a sophisticated operation was undertaken to prevent the catastrophe, although this "plot" element contains profound defects as well that we have come to expect, like really bad science, inappropriate actions by participants, and nonsensical contradictions as we will see.

Pike replies "No, no, you're confused... You're misinformed: Romulus hasn't been destroyed; it's out there right now. You're blaming the Federation for something that hasn't happened."

Nero starts screaming "It has happened, I watched it happen, I saw it happen. Don't tell me it didn't happen!" Here again, we have Nero contradicting what he's done before as previously, he has described events from the future as being in the future, whereas now he insists on describing the destruction of Romulus as in the past based on his personal observation rather than the reality that everyone now inhabits including him, and which he has previously acknowledged.

Nero continues "...and when I lost her, I promised myself retribution and for 25 years I've planned my revenge against the Federation, and forgot what it was like to live a normal life. Again we have to ask: Is that believable? What kind of revenge could possibly take 1/4 century to plan, especially when there are no apparent defenses to anything the Narada has attempted against the Federation and their most powerful enemy, the Klingon Empire. Speaking of the Klingons, what was the purpose of the attack on the Empire? OK, it is conceivable that such a raid could have been for the purpose of obtaining supplies, but still...

Nero adds: "I may not forget the pain. It's a pain that every surviving Vulcan now shares." As mentioned before, here we have a motivation which is clearly insane. There can be no doubt that Nero is a homicidal madman, dangerously destructive, and should be restrained for his own safety and that of everyone else yet, this obvious common sense fact has eluded everyone aboard this gigantic ship. Not a single officer or member of the crew has acted sensibly to take appropriate action, and this oversight and inaction has continued every day for 25 years, as thousands of helpless individuals both inside and outside the Federation have been slaughtered, and now billions have been murdered by this lunatic. The idea that people would go along with this without a credible belief that their survival was at stake is ridiculous. At least when Khan was chasing Kirk, his Brekkian first officer ;) raised sensible alternatives and objections to which Khan had to finally respond with threats and violence to suppress.

No women speak in the segment or appear on screen.

In our next episode we have another homage to (rip-off of?) Wrath of Khan in Star Trek by the Minute 068: Sushi

12 comments:

muser said...

Actually doesn't a projection of Nero's "pointy eared blond" wife count in some way as the appearance of a woman on screen? Although she is not given a name but is referred to as "the wife who was expecting my child".

BurntSynapse said...

A bit less perhaps than a centerfold counts as a real Playmate of the Month in one's room...

;)

muser said...

Well said. Of course if I had a centerfold in my room and then filmed a movie in there I couldn't really say she appeared in the movie, but I'll bet she could sue me for royalties if the movie made any money! :)

Whether this counts as an appearance (non-speaking) of a woman or not, I agree with your primary point: even when a woman appears and is alleged to be the driver of a plot point (Nero is at least in part avenging his wife) in this movie she still doesn't merit a name. He refers to her more as a thing that's carrying his child. Who refers to their wife without mentioning her name? (To be fair I tried to find the name of Annorax's wife from Voyager's "Year of Hell" and she's only credited as "wife" so maybe it's normal not to tell your enemy your wife's name when you're avenging her death. Still, I think Annorax's wife was portrayed with more depth, and the portrayal of women in Abrams' Star Trek is quite chauvinistic).

BurntSynapse said...

I look forward to rewatching all the Treks one day, and I recall "Year of Hell" as being a really depressing two part (or three?), very memorable segment.

Flashman85 said...

I've now read Star Trek: Countdown and Star Trek: Nero, two comics with story by Orci and Kurtzman (though written by other people) that add a numerous plot details that would have helped to make this movie a lot more coherent. In case you're at all interested, here’s more than you ever wanted to know about Nero:

Back in the Prime timeline, some time after the events of Nemesis, Nero's mining ship observes a violent eruption from a star (on the verge of going supernova) convert a nearby planet's mass into energy and effectively increasing the destructive power present. Spock, who is now a legal resident of Romulus (lots of progress since "Unification"), addresses the Romulan Senate about the unusual threat the about-to-supernova star poses, and proposes a plan to use some rare Romulan ore to create "red matter," which can create an artificial black hole to devour the supernova before it spreads.

The council is skeptical and unwilling to hand over its rare ore to a Vulcan (apparently, not *that* much progress has been made), but Nero, leader of the mining guild, is in attendance and strikes a secret deal with Spock to obtain and deliver this ore to him. Nero has seen this destructive power firsthand, and Spock seems to be the only person on Romulus who is actually going to do anything about it.

Long story short, Nero and crew obtain the ore, and are escorted to Vulcan by the Enterprise-E. As a show of good faith, Nero is allowed to come aboard and is given full access to the ship's database (d'oh!), and he takes advantage of this to learn about anything and everything he can, including James T. Kirk.

[Continued…]

Flashman85 said...

After trekking all the way to Vulcan, the Vulcan High Council starts deliberating about the wisdom of sharing the top-secret secrets of red matter with the Romulans when the supernova might burn itself out on its own. Nero is upset that two governing bodies in a row have failed to take action when his home is in peril. Spock convinces him to leave the rare ore with him so that there's still a chance of carrying out this plan, and as Nero storms off to his ship to go pick up his family and take them away from Romulus, he warns Spock that he'll hold his entire people responsible if they fail to save Romulus.

However, with all this deliberating, Nero doesn't make it back in time before the star goes supernova and takes out Romulus, along with his family. He blames everything on the inaction of the Romulan Senate and especially the Vulcan High Council, and gets his hands on some Borg technology to turn his ship into the Borgtapus of Death so that he can seek vengeance, starting with Vulcan.

Another long story short, Spock uses red matter to contain the supernova before its effects reach Vulcan (and Nero notes that Spock conveniently saved Vulcan but not Romulus), Spock and Nero get sucked into a singularity, and get tossed into nuTrek.

The battle with the Kelvin does some hefty damage to the Narada, in part because the Kelvin's warp drive was engaged at the moment of impact, nearly tearing the Narada apart with its warp field. Before the ship is fully repaired, lots and lots of Klingon ships show up, board the Narada, capture the crew, send them to Rura Penthe, and keep the damaged Narada in orbit around the planet to study it.

For the next quarter-century, Nero and crew rot in prison, and with the help of some drugs he acquires from a fellow inmate, Nero begins to develop the (weaker) psychic abilities Romulans share with their Vulcan cousins, and by the end of his stay on the prison planet, he's able to communicate telepathically with his crew and even (somehow) with his ship.

[Continued some more…]

Flashman85 said...

The crew manages to bust out of prison and board the Narada (which has now completely repaired itself thanks to the Borg technology). The Narada, acting of its own accord, then jets off to the edge of the Delta Quadrant, where it meets up with--get this--V'Ger, which sensed the Narada as a sort of kindred spirit and sought it out.

Nero finds a way to use V'Ger's superior computational power to determine when and where Spock will appear, and then he zooms off to meet Spock just in time. He brings the Jellyfish aboard, and is attacked by a slew of Klingon ships chasing him from Rura Penthe, which are promptly massacred.

Nero gives Spock a backpack of supplies and dumps him off at Delta Vega specifically because its unique orbit will give it a spectacular view of Vulcan. He also knows of the Federation outpost nearby; he wants Spock to survive long enough to see his planet destroyed (the Narada presumably leaves immediately for Vulcan to inefficiently perform this task), and to then live out the rest of his life with the feeling of loss Nero has had to deal with all this time.


So there you have it. I'm not looking for a series of "Star Trek Comics by the Page" posts in response, but hopefully this explains a few things, or at least makes some of this movie seem a little less illogical, even if any given explanation causes more problems than it solves.

At least the artwork's nice, and the writing is better, and the comics feel more like they belong in the Star Trek universe--a movie adaptation of Star Trek: Countdown would have better bridged the gap between Classic Trek and the nuTrek universe than the actual film, giving longtime fans a more satisfying conclusion to TNG and a less divisive place to jump ship on the franchise--but that's all opinion.

BurntSynapse said...

Wow Flash,

I owe you big time for that summary! Surely you didn't write all that as a response here, did you? I think it should be on StarTrek.com or something.

The story you relate is much better designed as you point out, but is an awful lot of retconning and short on details, such as: where was this star, and why was there any debate about the supernova? Its an awfully old cliche of disaster films to have the government doing nothing while the scientists plead for action, like closing the beach, quarantining the town, or checking out the abandoned ship on LV-426.

Great reply, thanks again!

Flashman85 said...

Erm...I may or may not have written up that entire summary just for this post. I do things like that sometimes.

Off the top of my head, I believe the star was far enough away from Romulus that it didn't seem like an immediate threat, and actually, the Romulans' scans didn't indicate that it was a threat at all, but they would continue monitoring it. I agree about the cliche, but at least in this case, the top Romulan scientists wanted to keep researching the phenomena, and the government failed to press the issue when confronted by a call to action, so it's not quite as bad as the cliche.

At any rate, I'm glad I could provide a little insight!

BurntSynapse said...

Yeah, the political bureaucracy may have been a bit less of a cliche, but we still are talking about supernovae: entirely predictable phenomena which do not "threaten" anything but extremely close systems, and certainly not "the galaxy".

Flashman85 said...

...unless they're SPECIAL MCGUFFIN SUPERNOVAE!

The comic made it sound vaguely reasonable within the boundaries of fiction-heavy science fiction, but they probably would've done better to pick a similar-yet-different catastrophe.

Haaris Qureshi said...

If I direct you to Star Trek Online, it is revealed there that the supernova was artificially created as part of a conspiracy, and for that reason it travelled much faster than a naturally created one.

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