Thursday, March 11, 2010

Star Trek by the Minute 086: Regulation Six One Nine

Spock pontificates: "Under no circumstances can he be made aware of my existence, you must promise me this."  An inexplicably broad and absolute statement from someone who is supposedly a genius and intelligent enough to draw fine distinctions.  Again, it appears that the writers' reach exceeds their grasp as it seems they simply have no point of reference to distinguish good, well-reasoned statements from bad.

Spock clearly indicates he believes in some form of deterministic "destiny" that smacks of Calvinism, even though his actions and even existence in an altered reality refute the claims inherent in his nonsensical claims.  In the Jewish traditions allied with Pirkei Avoth 3:15, (http://sichosinenglish.org/books/ethics/03-15.htm) the paradox of "the future is foreseen" and existence of "free will" is assumed to be "beyond human understanding", which translates roughly to mean "Will you shut up with the questions?" or "Close your eyes and repeat 'there are no contradictions' until it feels right.  This is known as self-delusion under normal circumstances, in the sense that "normal" indicates situations where people are thinking in a way we might call "downright reasonably".  Ah, clear, strong thinking!  So powerful, so noble! ...so rare... especially during the writing of this mess.

Kirk, appearing rightfully confused at this point, asks "You're telling me that I can't tell you that I'm following your own orders?  Why not?  What happens?"  If Spock's destiny story were true, and if Spock knew what dire consequences would result from Kirk revealing what new Spock already knows, it could be invaluable to Kirk.  Of course, this precludes the idea of Kirk doing anything to change it because "destiny" would be violated.  However, we know that Spock's destiny reference was only inserted because the writers were unable, for whatever reason, to provide sensible dialog to justify the avoidance of characters taking the most obvious course of action.

In a failure of common sense so profound that Spock fails to even commit a fallacy, he insists "Jim, this is one rule you cannot break."  He follows that ludicrous claim with a completely unjustified, untrue, non-sequitur of "To stop Nero, you alone must take command of your ship."  In the first place, the Kirk he knew was a very different Kirk than the one to whom he is speaking, just like this Vulcan system is a very different place than the one he knew.  The previous Kirk was deliberately designed as a character who would embodied virtues such as mercy, intelligence, poise under pressure and careful thought in balance with action-oriented military virtues.  This nuKirk is a drunken, violent, tantrum-prone child  who is now claimed to be the ONLY person in the universe who can stop Nero?  That's a pretty large, steaming pile of manure Spock is trying to sell on the big screen, along with the implied claim that stowing away by faking an injury and deceiving Starfleet officers to do it qualifies an alternate Enterprise as "Kirk's ship" takes a non-trivial stretch of imagination and ignorance.  What about the idea that Kirk "alone" must command.  "You must be captain" might seem sensible only by comparison - but honestly: to make a statement indicating no other command officers can support the ship's mission on a team as relative equals?  That's another silly line. 

Kirk, seeming to accept Spock's lunacy, asks "How, over your dead body?"

"Preferably not...  However, there is Starfleet regulation Six one nine.  Six one nine states that any command officer who is emotionally compromised by the mission at hand, must resign said command."  The idea that a commander must RESIGN his entire command if emotionally compromised at ANY point in ANY mission is a ludicrous plot sham for two reasons: practical and philosophical.  The practical objection is that no organization of biological creatures could function this way unless everyone in command of every team followed something better than  Vulcan emotional control perfectly every time, so the rule would force massive turnovers (and likely confusion) in the most stressful situations: emergencies.  The philosophical objection is that the regulation is based on an unreasonable standard to expect from people.

Jumping out of the story universe, using this plot device is inconsistent plot-wise since Kirk has demonstrated even greater emotional compromise on the mission by getting into more fights, having greater violations of protocols, insubordination and refusing to obey a host of lawful orders.  

Kirk stutters: "So you...you're saying I have to emotionally compromise you...guys."

Spock replies "Jim, I just lost my planet.  I can tell you, I am emotionally compromised." If we take this as true, then this Spock shouldn't be deciding what personnel are the galaxy's "only hope", and the specific assignments they need (of say, starship command) in a universe about which he is missing important information, nor usurping Starfleet's authority over its own  command. Then he says "What you must do is get me to show it."  Another nonsensical plot fraud skewed in order to escalate conflict.  The far more accurate and sensible plan would be for Spock Prime to explain to his younger clone the appropriateness of recusing himself temporarily from duty, but in Abrams' nuTrek violence and conflict are overwhelmingly preferred over principles, cooperation, respect for others, and other traits traditionally considered noble, but now we are told in the slick, corporate promotional propaganda those are just boring, stale old ideas left over from "your father's Star Trek."

From off-screen, Scotty announces "All right then laddie, live or die, let's get this over with..."  and Kirk steps into what must be a transporter platform, although we do not see much to suggest what these alcoves do, but it must be said they do look much like climbing frames.  

Keenser tries to join Scotty for the beam out, but is pushed back with Scott saying "Go on, ye canna come with me - go on." 

In the last ridiculous plot twist of the film, officer Scott is here actually shown preparing to abandon his duty post during an emergency, as suggested in Kirk's earlier conversation.  We can add Scott to those who would seem to need a Federation lawyer soon.

No women speak or appear in this segment.

Miracles never stop, even when they're not used to advance the "plot" with our next episode of Star Trek by the Minute 087: Transwarp Beam, in which Scotty survives materializing inside a starship engine's cooling system.

4 comments:

Charles Austin Miller said...

Again, the uptight criticism here is over-the-top, putting it mildly.

What we know about Spock Prime is that, in his own universe, he inexorably strayed away from the tight-assed Vulcan ideal of "pure logic"... Spock LEARNED a great deal from observing and serving with the HIGHLY illogical James T. Kirk.

In fact, by the end of his service with Kirk in the Prime universe, we know Spock was not only cracking jokes but was outright lying his ass off. James Kirk was far more an influence (a bad influence) on Spock than Spock ever was on James Kirk.

So, in what predicament did Spock Prime find himself in the NuUniverse? Well, he discovered, too late, that his actions and interactions with Nero had resulted in the DEATH of the planet Vulcan and its 9 billion inhabitants, and in a similar threat posed to the center of the Federation, Earth. Spock Prime also discovered that this skewing of the timeline had thrown a wedge between NuSpock and NuKirk.

In short, Spock Prime discovered a NuUniverse that was rapidly departing from any resemblance to his Prime Universe. So... Spock resorted to what he had learned from Jim Kirk so long before — Spock lied his ass off to achieve a desired objective.

Spock CHEATED.

And THAT is what this scene was really about. Of course, this is no great insight... When the two Spocks confront one another at movie's end, NuSpock flatly ACCUSES Spock Prime of lying, and Spock Prime sputters something illogical in return: That it was more important for NuKirk and NuSpock to remain friends than enemies. They had a GREAT DEAL to learn from one another — actually, Spock Prime understood that NuSpock would be a shitty Vulcan AND a shitty human without Kirk's influence.

BurntSynapse said...

Let's assume you are correct about Spock's motivation.

Why might we think it plausible that in the entire alternate universe the only method of improvement for nuSpock would be nuKirk's influence, and no other interaction might have sufficient merit?

Unknown said...

We don't need Kirk's influence to be the only possible method of improvement, merely for it to be a sufficient method of improvement. Given the choice between a proven technique and and the possibility of something else maybe turning up, it would be illogical to reject the bird in the hand...

Of course, that assumes that 23-yr-old nuKirk is sufficiently equivalent to 35-yr-old original Kirk...

Starship Vlog said...

Maybe...I tend to think anyone (e.g.: Spock) would trust an older version of themselves better than someone with whom they've had lots of conflicts (Kirk's)...but I don't think there's anything definitely to be said since the dual reality conditions are so inconsistent.

This is why I don't like dream movies where anything goes. The writers can simply have anything happen and for me, there's no reason to care.

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