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Star Trek: The Motion Picture

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Release date: 7 December 1979
  1st of 12 Star Trek films
102nd of 728 released in all
The Motion Picture artwork.jpg
Screenplay By
Harold Livingston

Story By
Alan Dean Foster

Directed By
Robert Wise

Produced by
Gene Roddenberry
7410.2 (mid-2270s)[1]
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For additional meanings of "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", please see Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

"The Human adventure is just beginning..."

"Ten years ago, a television phenomenon became a part of life, shared in 47 different languages, read in 469 publications, and seen by 1.2 billion people. A common experience remembered around the world. Now Paramount Pictures brings the memory to life."

- 1979 TV ad

After an eighteen-month refit process, the Starship Enterprise is ready to explore the galaxy once again. But when a huge, invincible cloud approaches Earth, Admiral James T. Kirk must assume command of his old ship in order to stop it. Crewmembers old and new face new challenges, and must work together to triumph over the unknown.

Summary

It is the mid-2270s[1], and an enormous, destructive cloud is passing through space on a precise heading for Earth.

Prologue

Three Klingon Template:ShipClass battle cruisers are patrolling an area of space close to the Federation Neutral Zone, led by the IKS Amar. The fleet investigates the strange cloud, scanning it with tactical sensors. After ordering the visual activated, the captain orders photon torpedoes locked on and orders Amar to fire into the cloud. When the torpedoes are absorbed with no effect against it, the captain orders evasive action.

Meanwhile, at the Neutral Zone, a Federation listening post, Epsilon IX, under the command of Commander Branch, observes the engagement. They note that the transmission of the battle was intercepted by sensor drones and located within Klingon boundaries. They cannot identify who the Klingons are fighting, but a technician establishes an exterior visual and the scene changes to show the enormous cloud that the Klingon ships are retreating from. One of the cruisers is gone, apparently destroyed. A spherically-shaped "bolt" of plasma energy emerges from the cloud and impacts another of the Klingon ships, sending electric currents all over the vessel, and once the ship is completely absorbed by the alien energy, it disappears. Another plasma energy "bolt" comes out of the cloud towards Amar. The captain orders another torpedo fired at the bolt, but it absorbs the torpedo effortlessly and impacts the ship, dissipating it. On Epsilon IX, the lieutenant informs Branch that the cloud will enter Federation space close to them. When Branch asks its heading, she reports the cloud is on a direct course for Earth.

Your Destiny Lies Elsewhere

On Vulcan, Spock has been meditating and then stands, shielding his eyes from the Vulcan sun. He meets three Vulcan elders under a large statue of an ancient Vulcan warrior holding a lirpa. The lead elder tells Spock of how their ancestors had long ago cast out all animal passions on those sands, and says that their race was saved by attaining kolinahr, which another elder describes as the final purging of all emotion. The lead elder tells Spock he has labored long and she prepares to give him a symbol of total logic. As she prepares to put the emblem around his neck, Spock reaches out and stops her, clearly disturbed by something out in space. She asks for a mind meld, to which Spock complies. She discovers that the alien intelligence which has called to him from deep space has stirred his Human half, and in so doing, she decides he has not attained kolinahr and drops the medallion on the ground. She then tells the other elders that Spock's answers will be found elsewhere and then she bids him farewell, telling him to "live long and prosper". Spock is left alone contemplating the kolinahr medallion he has now lost the right to wear.

A Plan of Action and A New Captain

Meanwhile, at the Presidio campus of Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco, a shuttle lands, with Admiral James T. Kirk on board. As he steps out, Kirk notices Commander Sonak, the Enterprise's recently-appointed science officer, according to Kirk's own recommendation, which Sonak expresses gratitude over. Kirk asks Sonak why he's not on board Enterprise and Sonak tells him that Captain Decker requested that Sonak complete a final science briefing at Starfleet before departing. Kirk mentions that Enterprise is in final preparations to depart, a procedure Sonak estimates will take a minimum of twenty hours, but Kirk overrides Sonak and tells him it will be twelve. Kirk says he is meeting with Admiral Nogura which Kirk estimates to not take more than three minutes. Kirk then orders Sonak to report to him aboard Enterprise in one hour. When Sonak questions him, Kirk explains that he intends to be on Enterprise following that meeting and repeats his command to Sonak to report to him in one hour. Kirk then walks off, leaving Sonak behind with a rather curious expression on his face.

Following the meeting, Kirk transports to the orbital office complex of the San Francisco Fleet Yards, near the drydock where Enterprise is preparing for launch. Montgomery Scott greets Kirk on the complex and asks about the departure orders, saying that Starfleet can't be serious about departing in twelve hours. Kirk asks why the Enterprise transporters aren't operating and Scotty explains "oh, a wee problem sir, just temporary" and then proceeds to comment on how they have just finished redesigning and refitting the Enterprise, a process that took eighteen months, and so Scotty wonders how he's supposed to have the ship ready in only twelve hours. Stepping into a travel pod, Kirk asks Scotty to take him over to Enterprise. Scotty protests that the Enterprise needs more work and a shakedown cruise. Kirk plainly tells Scotty that "an alien object of unbelievable destructive power is less than three days from this planet. The only starship in interception range is the Enterprise. Ready or not, she launches in twelve hours."

Scotty detaches the travel pod from the office complex and begins the trip toward the drydock housing Enterprise. Scotty explains the crew hasn't had enough transition time with the new equipment and that the engines haven't even been tested at warp power, not to mention that they have an untried captain. Coyly, Kirk tells Scotty that "two and a half years as Chief of Starfleet Operations may have made me a little stale, but I wouldn't exactly consider myself untried." He turns to Scotty, who looks surprisingly at Kirk once he grasps what he said, and tells Scotty excitedly that they gave the ship back to him. Scotty comments that he doubts it was so easy with Nogura and Kirk tells him he's right, in a faux-Scottish accent, which the two men laugh over. Scotty tells Kirk that any man that could accomplish such a feat he'll not dare disappoint and he confidently promises Kirk that Enterprise will launch on time and be ready.

Scott indulges his once and future captain with a thorough inspection of the redesigned and rebuilt Enterprise. Visible differences include two new warp engine nacelles atop swept-back pylons, a recessed navigational deflector beneath a prominent new dual-photon torpedo complex, a new impulse drive system, and a new bridge module.

Upon boarding the ship, Kirk and Scotty are greeted by an ensign who tells Scotty he's immediately needed in engineering. After a momentary look at some of the ship's cargo bays and hangar deck, the ensign offers to show Kirk around but Kirk says he'll find his own way and walks to a turbolift and heads for the bridge.

On the bridge, it is a scene of (somewhat) controlled chaos, as everyone is scrambling feverishly to get the ship ready for launch. The noise on the bridge fades as Kirk arrives. Uhura tells Kirk that Starfleet Command just signaled the transfer of command orders and she, along with several other crewmembers including Sulu and Chekov, step forward to greet Kirk, who appreciates the welcome but wishes it were under more pleasant circumstances. He tells Uhura to keep a channel open to Epsilon IX as they are monitoring the intruder. Kirk asks where Captain Decker is and Sulu tells Kirk that Decker is in engineering and somewhat carefully points out that he doesn't know about the change in command. Kirk tells Chekov to have the crew assembled on the recreation deck at 0400 to show them what they are facing. He then heads for engineering. Sulu mentions how Kirk wanted the ship back and that he got it. A young ensign wonders about Decker though as he's been with Enterprise all throughout the refit. Uhura tells the ensign that with Kirk on board, the possibility of their returning from the mission in one piece may have just doubled.

Kirk makes his way to the new engine room, where Captain Decker is assisting Scotty with launch preparations, helping him repair a transporter malfunction. Decker is cordial in his greeting, calling it a "top brass send-off." Decker assures Kirk that Enterprise will launch on schedule even if they have to tow her out by their bare hands. Kirk asks to speak privately with Decker and he agrees. When they're alone, Decker tells Kirk that he's too busy for a Starfleet pep talk. But Kirk tells Decker that he's taking over as captain of the Enterprise, and that Decker will stay on as executive officer and temporarily demoted to commander. Decker asks why Kirk is personally assuming command and Kirk mentions his experience, how he spent five years dealing with unknowns such as the intruder. Kirk also cites his familiarity with the Enterprise and its crew. Decker interrupts Kirk to tell him how this is an almost totally new Enterprise and how Kirk doesn't know the ship even a tenth as well as he does. Kirk acknowledges that's why he's staying aboard. Kirk then tries to apologize, but Decker rebuffs him, saying he doesn't think Kirk is "one damn bit" sorry. Decker then remembers how Kirk personally recommended him to be captain and how Kirk told him how envious he was and that he hoped to find a way to be a starship captain again and that it looks like he found it. Kirk coldly tells Decker to report to the bridge immediately, highlighting his grade of "commander" to get his point across. Decker acknowledges his new status with a rather bitter-sounding "Aye, sir."

As Kirk and Scotty exchange a rather sorrowful look in regards to Decker, a console erupts as part of a transporter malfunction in progress. Lieutenant Cleary tries to urgently call the transporter room, calls Scotty over and tells him there's a red line on the transporter. Scotty gets on the intercom and tells the transporter operator not to engage, but Cleary tells him it is too late and transport is already in progress. Kirk and Scotty rush to the transporter to help Chief Rand. Kirk and Scotty take over the controls, Kirk calls Starfleet and tells them to boost the matter gain, that they need more signal. Scotty exclaims that the two are losing their pattern and Rand is horrified at how they're beginning to form. As they begin to materialize in their now-twisted humanoid form, they both scream out in horrid pain as they begin to shrink in size and finally disappear. The two people in transport were Commander Sonak and another officer. Kirk asks Starfleet if they have them back and a chilled officer on the other end of the stream reports, "What we got back... didn't live long, fortunately." Kirk asks Starfleet to express his condolences to their families and that Commander Sonak's can be reached through the Vulcan Embassy. As he turns to leave, Kirk tells a traumatized Rand that it wasn't her fault and there was nothing anyone could have done. Kirk then exits to the corridor, dismayed by the deaths. Disoriented, he asks for directions, and as he turns to head for the turboshaft as directed by a yeoman, he realizes that this weak moment was witnessed by Decker. Refusing to acknowledge embarrassment, Kirk tells Decker that they need to replace Sonak and that he'd still like a Vulcan there if possible. Decker says none are available and that there's no one that's fully rated on this new design. Kirk mentions that Decker is, and so he'll have to double as science officer.

Kirk Addresses the Crew

On the recreation deck, the assembled crew witnesses a recording of the destruction of the Klingon vessels by the intruder cloud. Kirk tells the crew that's all they know about the intruder and that it is now 53.4 hours from Earth and that Enterprise is the only Federation starship standing in its way. They believe that some type of vessel must exist at the heart of the cloud and their orders are to intercept, investigate and take whatever action is necessary and possible. Kirk tells them that "we can only hope that there is a lifeform aboard that vessel that reasons the way we do." The briefing is interrupted by a call from Epsilon IX, which Kirk has put on the rec deck viewer. Commander Branch reports to Kirk that the intruder cloud is definitely some kind of power field measuring over 82 AUs in diameter (only 2 AUs in the director's edition). He also reports that their repeated friendship messages have garnered no response. The lieutenant reports that further scans indicate something inside the cloud, but all scans get reflected back. Branch speculates that the intruder may be mistaking their scans as a hostile act and their last view of Commander Branch is him ordering shields raised to full power and telling Kirk they are under attack. Kirk calls for an external view and they see the cloud approaching the station and seeing the results of another plasma bolt fired, which destroys the station without leaving a trace. When the station disappears, nothing is left but the cloud. As a stunned crew stares at the screen, Kirk composes himself and orders the viewer turned off. After a moment, he tells the crew that "pre-launch countdown will commence in forty minutes."

Time for Launch

Later, on the bridge, as Kirk arrives (having changed from his admiral's uniform to a standard captain's uniform) Uhura reports that the transporter has been fully repaired and is functioning normally. Sulu reports dock signals clear and Kirk tells Uhura to inform Starfleet they are awaiting final crew replacements and are holding position until then. Uhura reports that the navigator, Lieutenant Ilia is already aboard and en route to the bridge. Uhura then tells everyone that she's Deltan. When she arrives on the bridge, she causes a stir among the male bridge crew. She reports to Kirk and Kirk welcomes her aboard. Decker steps up and greets Ilia and she is clearly pleased to see him. Decker explains that he was stationed on Ilia's home planet some years previously. Ilia is curious to note Decker's rank as commander and Kirk quickly interrupts to tell her Decker is first officer and science officer. Decker tells Ilia (with lightly shielded sarcasm) that Kirk has the utmost confidence in him and Kirk (not acknowledging Decker's tone) tells Ilia he does in her too. As if a reassurance, she tells Kirk her oath of celibacy is on record and she asks to assume her duties and Kirk permits her to do so. Uhura tells Kirk that Starfleet reports the last six crewmembers ready to beam up except that one person won't step into the transporter. Figuring out who that could be, Kirk chuckles and says he'll see to it that person beams up and heads for the transporter room.

After Kirk leaves the bridge Decker turns to Sulu and, after getting his attention away from Ilia, Decker asks Sulu to take Ilia in hand. Sulu stumbles over the board but shows Ilia that her pre-programming is all on the computer and that she shouldn't have any problems just as he accidentally hits a button causing something to go off, much to Decker's amusement. He turns it off quickly and apologizes to Ilia. She tells Sulu that because of her oath of celibacy she's as safe as any Human female. Decker steps down to Ilia and tells her he's sure that Kirk didn't mean anything personal by what he said. Ilia says she'd never take advantage of a sexually immature species and asks if Decker can surely assure Kirk that that's true.

Upon arriving in the transporter room, Kirk asks a yeoman what the problem was and she says that the man insisted they go first because he wanted to see how this new transporter "scrambled [their] molecules". After everyone walks out, Kirk and Rand exchange a smile, recognizing the familiarity of that statement. Kirk then tells Starfleet to beam the officer up. On the transporter pad, a bearded Dr. McCoy materializes. Kirk steps out and tries to make a cordial bit of small talk about McCoy swearing never to return to Starfleet, but McCoy interrupts Kirk, telling him "Just a moment, captain, sir! I'll explain what happened. Your revered Admiral Nogura invoked a little-known, seldom-used, reserve activation clause. In simpler language, captain, they drafted me!" But immediately Kirk admits that "they didn't." McCoy realizes that Kirk is responsible for the draft, and as Kirk tells him that there's something out there, McCoy interrupts, wondering why every object they don't understand is automatically called a "thing." Kirk tells him that the "thing" is headed toward Earth and that he needs McCoy. Kirk reaches out for McCoy's hand and after a moment, he takes it and asks permission to come aboard. Rand happily grants it to him. McCoy then tells Kirk that now since Chapel is an MD now, he wants a top nurse, and not some doctor who'll argue every little diagnosis with him. As he starts out the door, he looks back at Kirk and tells him "and they probably redesigned the whole sickbay too! I know engineers, they love to change things!"

Now with everyone aboard, preparations are made to get underway as the drydock lights are deactivated and all the CMUs and travel pods clear the drydock. All report ready and yard command signals clear. As the ship's external lights are activated, maneuvering thrusters are held at station keeping. Shortly thereafter, Kirk orders Sulu to "take us out" and the Enterprise begins moving out of drydock for the first time in eighteen months. After the ship clears the drydock and moves around the Earth, Scotty tells Kirk that the impulse engines are ready and Kirk tells Sulu to move ahead at warp point five. At full impulse, Enterprise makes its way to the edge of the solar system, passing through the Jupiter system on its way out.

"Captain's log, Stardate 7412.6. 1.8 hours from launch. In order to intercept the intruder at the earliest possible time, I must now risk engaging warp drive while still within the solar system."

Decker reports that if the ship has full warp capability, as soon as they leave the solar system, accelerating to warp 7 will allow them to intercept the intruder in just over twenty hours, a figure that Ilia confirms, which draws a smile from both. A clean-shaven McCoy steps onto the bridge for the first time and Kirk asks if he approves of the new medical facilities. McCoy says he doesn't and that it's like working in a computer center. When Kirk asks if warp drive is ready, Decker tells him that programs are all set for engaging warp speed, but that he still recommends further simulation study. Kirk is impatient to get to warp, knowing that the more they delay, the closer the intruder will be to Earth. Kirk calls Scotty and tells him to prepare for warp speed and Scotty protests just as well, saying they need more simulation on the flow sensors, but Kirk's impatience rules out and that he wants warp speed immediately. McCoy gently whispers to Kirk that he's pushing them and that his crew knows their jobs.

In the engine room, an engineering tech tells Scotty he's got it as good as he can and Scotty tells Kirk he can't guarantee that the warp drive will work properly. Despite this, Kirk orders Sulu to warp one. The Enterprise achieves warp speed at first looking successful. However, the ship's imbalanced engines create a wormhole. Kirk orders them back down to impulse. Sulu reports negative helm control and Uhura reports all subspace frequencies are jammed, all as a result of the wormhole. Decker reports it'll be 22.5 seconds before their inertial velocity slows to sub-warp speeds. Unfortunately, they don't have the time to simply slow down as Ilia reports an asteroid at the end of the wormhole. Kirk orders shields up and then asks about manual override on the helm, but it doesn't work. Decker reports distortion from the wormhole is overloading the main power systems and Ilia reports the navigational deflectors are inoperative. With about twenty seconds to go, Kirk orders Chekov to stand by on phasers, but Decker asks Chekov to belay the order and asks him to fire photon torpedoes. With only four seconds to spare, the asteroid is destroyed and the Enterprise is set free from the wormhole.

Now out of the wormhole, everyone reports all systems back to normal. Chekov reports no damage and tells McCoy there are no casualties to which an annoyed McCoy replies "Wrong Mr. Chekov, there are casualties, my wits! As in 'frightened out of,' captain, sir!" Decker reports Enterprise's velocity at warp point eight. He calls engineering for a status report and Scotty asks for a second as the engine room is a scene of relative chaos. Kirk, finally speaking, quietly tells Scotty they need warp drive as soon as possible. Scotty tells Kirk that it was the engine imbalance that created the wormhole in the first place and that it will happen again if they don't correct the problem. Kirk, his anger being tightly controlled, tells Scotty that with the intruder only two days out from Earth, they need to intercept it while it's still out there. Kirk rises out of his chair, tells Ilia to set a new course to match their original interception point with the intruder, and tells Sulu he has the conn. He then asks Decker to see him in his quarters. McCoy comes along with them and they head into the turbolift.

Confrontation with Decker

Once in Kirk's quarters, Kirk angrily asks Decker to explain why he countermanded Kirk's phaser order. Decker explains that the refit Enterprise channels energy through the main engines, and because of the antimatter imbalance, the phasers were cut off. An embarrassed Kirk realizes Decker acted properly and admits it to him. Decker apologizes if he embarrassed Kirk. Kirk quietly tells Decker that he saved the ship and Decker smugly replies that he's aware of it. Kirk, who is getting more than a little fed up with Decker's attitude, tells Decker to stop competing with him. Decker asks to be able to speak freely and Kirk grants it. With that, Decker reminds Kirk that he hasn't logged a single star hour in two and a half years and that, plus Kirk's unfamiliarity with Enterprise's redesign is placing them in serious jeopardy, in Decker's opinion. Kirk considers this and gently asks Decker if he will "nursemaid" Kirk through these difficulties and Decker says he will. With that, Kirk firmly says he won't keep Decker from his duties any longer and dismisses him, turning his attention to McCoy. With that, Decker leaves Kirk's quarters. McCoy waits until Decker is gone to tell Kirk that Decker may be right.

Decker walks down the corridors of deck five, only to meet up with Ilia at the turbolift. She asks if his meeting with Kirk was difficult and he says it wasn't any worse than what he expected. He also says it was about as hard as seeing her again and he apologizes to her. She asks if it is because he left Delta IV or if it's because he didn't even say goodbye to her when he left. He then asks her if she could have said it if he had seen her again. She gently replies "No" and goes to her quarters.

Meanwhile back in Kirk's quarters, McCoy is reading Kirk the riot act. Kirk, in no mood for McCoy, tries to throw him out, but McCoy is now talking about the subject of command fitness. When Kirk tells McCoy to make his point, he accuses Kirk of being the one who's competing, not Decker. McCoy alleges that Kirk is obsessed with keeping Enterprise no matter what, saying Kirk rammed getting this command down Starfleet's throat. McCoy believes Kirk's obsession is dangerous enough to blind him to much more immediate and critical responsibilities, citing Kirk's reactions to Decker as an example.

The Arrival of Spock

At that moment, Kirk then receives a call from Uhura informing him that a Federation-registered long range shuttle has hailed and wishes to dock with the Enterprise. When Kirk asks why, Chekov tells Kirk his security scans show the shuttle has a grade one priority and that he has confirmed non-belligerency. With that, Kirk grants permission. Turning back to McCoy, Kirk tells him he has noted McCoy's opinion and asks if there's anything further. McCoy quietly tells Kirk "that depends on you." And with that, he leaves Kirk in his quarters alone with his thoughts.

Shortly thereafter, the shuttle docks with Enterprise. Chekov arrives at the docking hatch and waits for the boarder. The security scan identifies one boarder and his identity as Starfleet, inactive. The hatch opens and Spock comes on board. He stops at Chekov just long enough to ask permission to board, which Chekov happily grants. But with no further word, Spock walks away from Chekov, leaving him rather speechless. As the shuttle departs from Enterprise, Spock arrives on the bridge to everyone's amazement. However Spock is completely emotionless and regards his old shipmates and friends quite coldly, only speaking to ask Decker if he may take the science station. Momentarily dumbstruck, Decker realizes what Spock wants and steps out of the way. Spock begins working the library computer station and tells Kirk that he's been monitoring Kirk's transmissions with Starfleet Command and that he is aware of Enterprise's engine design difficulties. He then offers, with all due respect to Decker, his services as science officer. Decker is only too happy to relinquish the science officer's position to Spock and so Kirk tells Chekov to list Spock's Starfleet commission as reactivated and to list him as science officer, effective immediately. McCoy and Chapel arrive on the bridge and are happy to see Spock, but he only looks at them coldly and does not reply to them. Uhura tries to speak to Spock, but he ignores her and tells Kirk that with his permission, he will go to engineering and discuss his fuel equations with Scotty. As Spock walks into the turbolift, Kirk stops him and welcomes him aboard. But Spock makes no reply and continues into the turbolift, leaving McCoy and Kirk looking concerned toward him and back to each other.

"Captain's log, stardate 7413.4. Thanks to Mr. Spock's timely arrival and assistance, we have the engines rebalanced into full warp capacity. Repair time, less than three hours. Which means we will now be able to intercept intruder while still more than a day away from Earth."

With the engines fully operational now, the Enterprise accelerates to warp seven easily and with total success.

Later, Spock meets with Kirk and McCoy in the officer's lounge. Kirk tries to get Spock to sit down but he remains standing. McCoy tells Spock that he hasn't changed a bit and that he's just as "warm and sociable" as ever, to which Spock notes that McCoy hasn't changed either, as his usual mentioning of something irrelevant has shown. Before it can go further, Kirk stops them and then tells Spock as far as they knew he was on Vulcan and apparently planning on staying there. McCoy mentions how Spock was undergoing the kolinahr ritual and Kirk notes that he broke it to join them. Spock swiftly corrects McCoy on the pronunciation. Kirk finally gets a bit exasperated with Spock still standing and tells him "Will you please sit down?" Spock finally sits and after a moment tells Kirk that on Vulcan he began sensing a more powerful consciousness than he ever has felt before, and that these thought patterns were of exactly perfect order. Spock tells Kirk that he suspects those perfect thought patterns come from the intruder and that it may hold the answers Spock is searching for. McCoy quips that it's fortunate that they happen to be heading that way. Kirk tells McCoy that they need Spock, that he needs Spock. Spock notes then that his presence will be to their mutual advantage. Kirk tells Spock that if he senses any more thought patterns from the intruder, whether or not it appears to affect him personally or not, Kirk expects Spock to immediately report it and Spock agrees to do so. At that, Kirk dismisses Spock and he leaves. Before Kirk can leave, McCoy has to wonder if the intruder's super-intelligence is as important to Spock as he says it is, he has to wonder... Kirk finishes McCoy's question for him, wondering if Spock would put his own interests ahead of the ship's and that Kirk could never believe that. At that moment Uhura calls him from the bridge and tells him that their new estimate for visual contact with the cloud is 3.7 minutes. Before Kirk can leave, McCoy asks him quickly how do they know about any of them and Kirk leaves the lounge without replying.

Enterprise Meets the Intruder

At the cloud, the ship is on full red alert. After a moment Kirk orders the dark red lights to be deactivated and standard lighting reinstated. Then he orders full magnification on the viewer and the enormous cloud appears. Uhura reports that she's transmitting full friendship messages on all frequencies. Chekov confirms all decks on status red. Spock notes that they are being scanned and Kirk tells Spock not to return the scan as it could be misinterpreted as hostility. Spock notes the scans are originating deep inside the center of the cloud and it is of unknown energy type. Uhura reports no response to their friendship messages and Chekov asks if he should signal battle stations, but Kirk says not to as they will take no provocative action. Decker recommends raising shields, but Kirk feels that too would be misinterpreted as hostility. He then asks Spock for the cloud's composition and Spock calmly estimates it as a twelfth power energy field which stuns the rest of the bridge. Decker then again reiterates his suggestion, saying that they know well what the intruder's weapons can do and that they should do something to at least take precaution. Spock tells Kirk he suspects an object at the heart of the cloud. Kirk then turns to Decker and tells him that he will not provoke an attack and asks if that order isn't clear enough, but Decker reminds Kirk that as his exec it's his duty to point out alternatives. Kirk initially prepares to chew Decker out, but accepts that Decker is right and with a slight smile admits that he's been properly corrected. When Ilia reports Enterprise at five minutes from the cloud's boundary, Kirk orders a course that would bring them parallel with whatever would be at the heart of the cloud. Ordering a tactical plot on the viewer, Sulu puts it on the screen and the enormous size of the intruder to the Enterprise becomes clear.

Decker momentarily is astounded at how the intruder is generating twelfth power energy and that thousands of starships couldn't generate that much energy. At that moment he sees Spock staring blankly into space. Kirk steps over and tells Spock to tell him what he senses. Spock tells Kirk that he senses puzzlement because they have been contacted and that they haven't replied. Before they can think further, the alert goes off and Kirk orders full shields and evasive action. The intruder has fired a plasma bolt at the ship. Sulu and Ilia begin evasive maneuvers and Uhura attempts to contact Starfleet Command. Spock scans the bolt and tells Kirk that it is plasma energy with an unknown guidance system and composition. He also notes that it is impossible to estimate if Enterprise's shields will hold. Uhura continues to try to hail Starfleet telling them they've transmitted linguacode friendship messages on all channels and with no reply from the intruder, they are now under attack. The bolt impacts the ship. At first, the Enterprise's shields are able to deflect the energy. Scotty reports that systems are starting to overload and the console that he is at gets covered with the plasma energy. Scotty and his staff manage to get away in time, but on the bridge the energy comes out over at the weapons console and seriously burns Chekov's right hand and wrist. Kirk calls for medics as Ilia and Decker run over to Chekov. The bolt finally fades and Scotty reports deflector power down seventy percent. Kirk orders auxiliary power deflected to deflectors. At that moment, Chapel and a nurse come to the bridge and Uhura sends them to Chekov. Chapel starts to ask for a hypo but Ilia says she can stop Chekov's pain. She clutches her hands to Chekov's shoulder and as the pain finally fades, Chekov happily thanks Ilia. Chapel then continues to work on Chekov's hand.

Spock tells Kirk that indeed, the intruder has been trying to communicate. They're using a frequency more than one million megahertz and the message is being transmitted so fast that it lasts only a millisecond. Spock tells Kirk that as their previous transmissions were too primitive to be received, he will now program their computers to transmit linguacode at the intruder's frequency and rate of speed. Spock turns to work and Decker moves to help him. Then the cloud fires another bolt at the Enterprise. Kirk asks for a status report and Scotty tells him their shields will not withstand another attack. Kirk turns to Spock and tells him to "transmit now!" With just under ten seconds before impact, Spock transmits the modified message and the plasma bolt then disappears before hitting the ship. Kirk notes that their message must have been received and understood, which Spock agrees is a logical assumption.

With one minute and thirty seconds until cloud boundary, Spock tells Kirk that they are obviously confronted by a highly-advanced mentality but yet, the intruder cannot understand who they are or what they want. Kirk notes that they still broke off the attack, so they must have understood the message. Decker speculates that perhaps the attack was meant as a warning to keep away. Spock dismisses that however because it would suggest a feeling of compassion. But Spock senses no emotion, only pure logic. Kirk orders Sulu to hold position and put a course projection on tactical. Kirk then asks Spock and Decker for opinions. Spock suggests they proceed but Decker recommends caution as they can't withstand another attack. Kirk says to Decker that they know nothing about the cloud, but Decker says that's exactly his point. Decker says that moving into the cloud would be an unwarranted gamble. Kirk asks how Decker defines unwarranted and Decker tells Kirk "You asked my opinion, sir." After a moment, Kirk decides to proceed and tells Sulu "steady as she goes."

The Enterprise first enters the immense cloud. As the ship continues to go in deeper, they are amazed at the size and energy of the cloud. Spock tells Kirk the patterns are unrecognizable. Finally after passing through the cloud they are astonished to see the vessel on the viewscreen. Uhura says the ship could hold a crew of tens of thousands and McCoy (who had just recently arrived on the bridge with Chekov) counters "or a crew of a thousand ten miles tall." Kirk asks for an evaluation and Spock reports that the vessel is generating a force field greater than the radiation of Earth's sun. Kirk tells Uhura to send a report to Starfleet, but she's unable to send a message back through the cloud. Kirk tells Sulu to make a parallel course that takes Enterprise over the alien at five hundred meters and eventually taking them out to one hundred kilometers.

Enterprise passes over the intruder vessel and the crew is mesmerized by what they see. As Enterprise moves in front of the alien vessel and holds position, the intruder alert alarm is activated and another plasma bolt appears to be coming toward the ship. Suddenly it stops, starts to scan the ship and then a pole of strange energy materializes on the bridge with a loud shrieking buzz. It begins moving around the bridge. Chekov wonders if perhaps it's one of the crewmembers. Spock's tricorder scans reveal it to be a plasma/energy probe. The probe stops near Chekov's station and begins shooting electric bolts at it, appearing to scan it. Decker tells Chekov not to interfere with it and Chekov says he absolutely will not. Kirk reiterates Decker's order to everyone, as the probe only seems interested in the ship and not them. The probe then moves its way around the bridge to Spock's science station. It begins scanning through the library computer and Kirk orders it deactivated. Decker tries to deactivate the library computer but is unable, telling Kirk that the probe has taken control of it. Kirk sees the probe running through their records, seeing files on Earth defenses and Starfleet strengths. At that point, Spock moves Decker out of the way and smashes the console, disabling it and severing the probe's connection. The probe responds to this by shocking Spock with several electrical bolts, making him fall to the deck. Ilia turns to render aid to Spock and as she helps him back to his feet, the probe stops in front of her. Then the probe begins sending energy bolts toward Ilia, freezing her in place. Spock tries to grab her and pull her out, but is repulsed by the electrical energy. And, just as the Klingon ships and the Epsilon IX station before, Ilia appears to be completely scanned by the probe and then disappears, as her tricorder falls to the deck where she once stood.

As Kirk reaches down to pick up her tricorder, Decker furiously says to Kirk, "This is how I define unwarranted!" Decker then waves Spock back to the science station and orders auxiliary computer circuits activated. Another alert goes off, reporting helm control has been lost. Kirk orders shields up to full power and Decker orders the crew to defensive stations. Spock reports they've been caught by a tractor beam and Kirk orders someone up to take the navigator's station. Decker orders Chief DiFalco up to the bridge as Kirk tells Scotty to take the engines to full power. Scotty then says that if they don't break free in fifteen seconds, they'll burn up. Spock reports that they only have a small fraction of the necessary power to break the intruder's tractor beam, so Kirk cancels the order and orders all main drive systems deactivated. DiFalco arrives on the bridge and Decker orders her to the navigation station. Uhura reports she's ready to launch a communications drone with all records of their encounter so far and Decker tells her to delay as long as possible as the drone won't escape the tractor beam. Decker then suggests that a maximum phaser strike at the center of the beam might weaken it enough for the ship to break free, but Spock asks Decker where would they go and tells Kirk any show of resistance would be futile. Decker comments to Spock that they don't know that for sure and wonders why Spock is afraid of trying.

Later, as they're dragged deeper into the vessel, Decker wonders why they brought the Enterprise in. Surely not to just destroy them as they could have accomplished that from the outside and Kirk reminds Decker that they still could. Spock says it is insatiable curiosity that has brought them here. Uhura then reports the aperture they passed through is closing, trapping them inside the alien vessel. Then Spock reports the tractor beam has released them. Kirk orders maneuvering thrusters ahead at one-third power and then tells Spock to commence full sensor scan, thinking that the aliens can't expect them not to scan them now and Decker agrees, stating that they're now looking down the aliens' throat and Kirk finishes by stating how they've got the aliens just where the aliens want them. They look at each other and smile, perhaps realizing that for once they agreed about something. But the aperture that Enterprise is approaching seems to begin to close so Kirk tells Sulu to hold position. Then Spock reports that all scans are reflected back, rendering sensors useless. When Kirk asks for an evaluation, Spock says the closed orifice up ahead likely leads to part of the vessel's inner mechanism. Before he can go any further, he stops mid-sentence, obviously sensing something again.

Ilia's "return" and V'Ger

Before there is time to tell Kirk what it is, there is another intruder alert. Chekov reports it is in officer's quarters on Deck Five, and Kirk and Spock run down to check it, telling Chekov to meet them down there. Security reports that whatever the intruder is, it is white-hot but is beginning to cool. By the time Kirk and the security officers enter, it has cooled off. The intruder is standing in the room's sonic shower and the door opens to reveal Ilia. But yet, it is not Ilia. She calls Kirk "the Kirk unit" and that he must listen to her. She tells him she was programmed by V'Ger to observe and record normal function of the carbon-based units that are infesting USS Enterprise. Kirk closes the door on the shower and a robe appears over the Ilia probe as she was naked when she first arrived. As the robe solidifies around her, Kirk opens the door again and she steps out. It is an exact copy of Ilia except for some device in her throat. Just then, McCoy enters and asks the Ilia probe who V'Ger is. "Ilia" tells Kirk that V'Ger is that who programmed her. Kirk asks if V'Ger is the name of the captain of the alien vessel but gets no answer. McCoy tells Kirk that she is mechanical and Spock realizes she is a probe and says that the device in "Ilia"'s throat is some kind of sensor/transceiver combination which records everything they say and do. Kirk asks where the real Ilia is and "Ilia" says that that carbon unit is no longer functioning and that she was given Ilia's form to more easily communicate with the carbon based units infesting Enterprise. Kirk asks why V'Ger travels to Earth and "Ilia" says that V'Ger wants to find the creator and that it wants to join with the creator. Spock asks how and "Ilia" says that the creator and V'Ger will become one. Spock then asks who the creator is, but "Ilia" will only say that the creator is that who created V'Ger and tells Kirk that V'Ger is that which seeks the creator. "Ilia" says she wants to start her observations. Spock suggests taking "Ilia" to sickbay, to which McCoy agrees. At first "Ilia" won't budge, saying she is to only observe normal functions, but Kirk reassures her that the examination is a normal function and so "Ilia" consents to the examination.

In sickbay, "Ilia" is examined by McCoy and Chapel and they are amazed to discover that along with incredibly micro-miniature machinery, every single body function of Ilia has been duplicated in "Ilia", right down to exocrine systems and eye moisture. Decker, not knowing about the nature of the new probe, steps into the examination room and sees "Ilia." When "Ilia" sees Decker, she refers to him by name, not "Decker-unit" like she called Kirk earlier, something that Spock notes. He then asks to see Decker and Kirk outside.

Outside the examination room, after Spock locks the door, he tells Kirk that perhaps the probe would be the key to the aliens. Spock explains to Decker that "Ilia" is a programmed mechanism with a body duplicating the real Ilia in exacting detail. Spock then goes on to speculate on the possibility that in duplicating Ilia so exactly, that they may have also duplicated Ilia's memory patterns as well, something he and Kirk hope that they can perhaps exploit. Decker angrily mentions that the earlier version of that probe is what killed Ilia and Kirk grasps his shoulders to remind Decker of their situation: "Will, we're locked in an alien vessel, six hours from Earth orbit. Our only contact with our captor is that probe. If we can control it, persuade it, use it..."

At that point, "Ilia," having examined enough in sickbay, simply steps through the locked door, leaving a large hole in the door through which McCoy and Chapel peer out. "Ilia" tells Kirk that he will assist her, but Kirk tells "Ilia" that the Decker-unit would be much more efficient in that area and he tells Decker to carry out the assignment. Decker quietly says "Aye, sir" and leads "Ilia" out of sickbay. Spock tells Kirk that for "Ilia" to be their only source of information concerns him.

The Crew's Examination of V'Ger

"Captain's log, stardate 7414.1. Our best estimates place us some four hours from Earth. No significant progress thus far reviving Ilia memory patterns within the alien probe. This remains our only means of contact with our captor."

In the rec room, as Kirk and McCoy observe in Kirk's quarters, Decker shows "Ilia" the pictures of five previous ships named Enterprise and then shows her one of the games. Decker asks "Ilia" what kinds of recreation people on board her ship enjoy, but she says those words recreation and enjoy have no meaning to her programming. Decker shows her another game, which the real Ilia played often and most often won. He bends down to play it and she does as well, winning the game just as the real Ilia would have likely done and her face seems to show regret for a moment as she stares at Decker. But then "Ilia"'s programming kicks in and she dismisses the game as having no purpose. "Ilia" asks Decker why Enterprise must have carbon units and Decker tells her without carbon units, Enterprise could not function. "Ilia" says she'll need more data on this function before the carbon units can be patterned for data storage at the end of her examination. Decker tells "Ilia" that inside her are a carbon unit's memory patterns and if he could help her revive those memory patterns, she could understand their functions better. Deciding that to be a logical step, "Ilia" agrees to let Decker try.

Meanwhile in one of the ship's airlocks, Spock slips up behind the airlock technician and nerve pinches him into unconsciousness. Spock then takes a thruster suit and leaves the Enterprise.

Outside the ship, Spock commences making recordings for Kirk as he attempts to contact the intruder aliens. He sets the thruster suit to time its launch to coincide with the opening of the orifice in front of the ship. Spock believes this will give a better view of the spacecraft's interior. On the bridge, Uhura reports to Kirk that they are beginning to receive signals from Starfleet and that they report the intruder on their outer monitors and that V'Ger is decelerating. Sulu reports lunar beacons projecting a course into Earth orbit. At that time, Chekov reports that airlock four has been opened and a thruster suit is reported missing. Kirk realizes that that's Spock out there and initially tells Chekov to bring him back aboard but stops and simply has Chekov lock on Spock's position.

Spock activates his thruster suit and travels into the orifice. Deep inside, Spock begins reporting that he's beginning to see images, one of which he believes to be a representation of V'Ger's home planet. Then he passes through a connecting tunnel with plasma energy arcing inside it. Afterward, Spock is impressed by the sights. He's seeing entire planets, moons, stars, literally a galaxy's worth of information. Spock believes all these images could represent V'Ger's entire journey. He then passes through a representation of the Epsilon IX station, stored to perfect detail. With this in mind, Spock tells Kirk in the recording that he believes they have entered a living machine and then he sees a gigantic representation of Ilia with the sensor in her neck. Believing it to have special meaning, Spock decides to mind meld with it, but the information he receives in the meld is overwhelming and Spock falls back unconscious.

Floating out near Enterprise, Kirk sees Spock float back out of the orifice he went in and Kirk goes out to retrieve Spock. Kirk tries to speak to him but Spock is completely unconscious. Kirk gets him back inside the ship and rushes him to sickbay.

In Ilia's quarters, Decker brings "Ilia" in and McCoy and Chapel are waiting on them. Chapel says Ilia had mentioned how she wore a certain headband. Decker recognizes it as the one she wore when they met. Chapel gives it to "Ilia" and tells her to put it on. But "Ilia" doesn't know what to do with it, so Chapel puts it on her head and puts her in front of the mirror. After turning a light on, "Ilia" adjusts the headband. Decker asks her if she remembers wearing it on Delta IV. "Ilia" turns to Chapel and refers to her by name and then turns to Decker, puts her hand on his face as the real Ilia would have done and calls him "Will." Before Decker can be too entranced by what may be the real Ilia's memories finally emerging in the probe, McCoy reminds him that this is a mechanism. Decker asks "Ilia" to help them make direct contact with V'Ger but she says she can't. He then asks who the creator is, only to find out that V'Ger doesn't know but that V'Ger does have data confirming that the creator is on the third planet. She then turns back to the mirror and takes off the headband. She then coldly asks why two carbon units have entered V'Ger. McCoy says it's because they wish to contact V'Ger and then Decker asks "Ilia" if V'Ger objects to the presence of the two carbon units. "Ilia" says that they are of no consequence and V'Ger will determine their purpose. McCoy tells "Ilia" that their purpose is to survive. "Ilia" says it is also V'Ger's purpose. When Decker remarks that she said earlier that V'Ger's purpose was to find and join with the creator, "Ilia" explains that that is how V'Ger will survive. She then says she wishes to continue her observations.

Spock Understands

In sickbay later, Chapel and McCoy are examining Spock. McCoy tells Kirk that the enormous power pouring through the mind meld caused some neurological trauma. Just then, McCoy and Kirk hear Spock laughing and they rush over to see him. Spock says he should have known and Kirk asks if he was right about V'Ger. Spock calls it a "conscious, living entity." Kirk explains that V'Ger considers the Enterprise a living machine and it's why "Ilia" refers to the ship as an entity and the crew as an infestation. Spock describes V'Ger's homeworld as a planet populated by living machines with unbelievable technology. But with all that logic and knowledge, V'Ger is barren, with no mystery or meaning. He momentarily lapses into sleep but Kirk rouses him awake to ask what Spock should have known. Spock grasps Kirk's hand and tells him "This simple feeling is beyond V'Ger's comprehension. No meaning, no hope. And Jim, no answers. It's asking questions. 'Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?'" Uhura then calls from the bridge and tells Kirk that they're receiving a signal from Starfleet, that the intruder cloud has been on monitors for some time and is rapidly dissipating as it approaches. Sulu breaks in and tells Kirk that the intruder has slowed to sub-warp speeds and that they are three minutes from Earth orbit. Kirk says he'll be right up and tells McCoy he needs Spock on the bridge. Kirk and McCoy then contemplate how incredible it is that a machine planet has sent this machine to Earth to look for its creator. As Spock is helped up, Kirk calls Chekov and asks Decker's present location and Chekov reports them to be in engineering.

As V'Ger approaches Earth, the cloud finishes dissipating and the ship slides into orbit. Uhura shows a tactical report sent from Starfleet on V'Ger's position and that it's transmitting a signal. Spock determines the code to be a simple radio transmission. Decker tells Kirk that V'Ger expects an answer but Kirk doesn't know the question. "Ilia" reports that the Creator did not respond and so large bolts leave V'Ger and head into Earth orbit. Chekov reports all planetary defense systems have gone inoperative. The bolts begin orbiting the planet in equidistant positions. McCoy realizes they're the same things they were attacked with but Spock says they are hundreds of times more powerful and from those positions, the devices could destroy all life on Earth.

Kirk asks "Ilia" why and she says that the carbon unit infestation will be removed from the Creator's planet as they are interfering with the Creator's ability to respond and accuses the crew of infesting Enterprise and interfering in the same manner. Kirk tells "Ilia" that carbon units are a natural function of the Creator's planet and they are living things, not infestations. However "Ilia" says they are not true life forms like the Creator. McCoy realizes V'Ger must think its creator is a machine and Decker compares it to how we all create God in our own image.

Spock calls Kirk over and suggests Kirk treat V'Ger as the child it is. McCoy sarcastically asks that since this 'child' is about to wipe out all life on Earth if they should spank it. Spock says that it knows that it needs but like most people, it doesn't know what. Kirk then realizes what to do. He turns to "Ilia" and tells her the carbon units know why the Creator does not respond. When "Ilia" demands he tell V'Ger why, Kirk refuses as long as the devices orbit Earth. V'Ger cuts off Enterprise's contact with Starfleet and then has "Ilia" demand again that Kirk explain why and Kirk simply says "no." Kirk then orders the bridge cleared and V'Ger begins assaulting the Enterprise with plasma energy bolts. As the crew begins to move out, McCoy asks "Jim, what the hell kind of strategy is this?" Kirk tells "Ilia" that if V'Ger destroys the Enterprise it will destroy the information that V'Ger requires. "Ilia" says it is illogical that he withholds the information and as Kirk begins to walk onto the turbolift, she calls after him momentarily and after getting his attention, asks why Kirk won't disclose the information. Kirk says it is because V'Ger will destroy all life on Earth. "Ilia" says the carbon units have oppressed the Creator, and so Kirk reiterates that he will not disclose the information. When "Ilia" says that V'Ger needs that information, Kirk says V'Ger must first withdraw all the orbiting devices. "Ilia" says that if Kirk discloses the information, V'Ger will comply. Spock then realizes that V'Ger must be controlled from a central brain complex, where the orbiting devices would be controlled from. Kirk then steps out of the turbolift and tells "Ilia" that "The carbon units' information cannot be disclosed to V'Ger's probe, but only to V'Ger, directly." "Ilia" turns toward the viewscreen and another tractor beam grips Enterprise and begins to pull it forward, as the orifice ahead opens up.

Decker steps out and asks Kirk what their next move is but Kirk is wondering if they have a next move and then orders all personnel to resume their duty stations. Kirk tells Decker it looks like his bluff got called and Decker admits their hand right now looks weak. Kirk asks Chekov how long until the devices reach their final position and Chekov reports it as 27 minutes from now. Kirk then calls engineering and has Scotty stand by to execute Starfleet Order 2005 on his command. One of Scotty's engineers ask why Kirk would order self-destruct and Scotty speculates it's likely so when they explode, Kirk hopes to take the intruder with them. When she wonders if they will, he assures his assistant when as much matter and antimatter that is present on Enterprise is brought together, they will indeed take the intruder with them.

With eighteen minutes to go, everyone sits quietly at their stations. Uhura reports that Starfleet has been made aware of their situation. DiFalco reports they have traveled 17 kilometers inside the vessel. Kirk turns to Spock but Spock does not respond. When Kirk, Decker and McCoy step up to him, they see that Spock has been crying as a tear falls down his face. Kirk and McCoy are amazed but Kirk realizes it's not for them. Spock says it is for V'Ger and he weeps for V'Ger as he would a brother. Spock says that V'Ger now is like what he was when he came on board, and he has now realized that logic and knowledge alone aren't enough. McCoy realizes that Spock has found what he needs but V'Ger still needs it. Spock comments on how everyone at some point in their life asks "Why am I here?" and "What was I meant to be?" V'Ger hopes to get these answers by finding the Creator.

Sulu reports that their forward motion is slowing and Chekov reports an oxygen/gravity envelope forming outside Enterprise. Eventually all forward motion stops with a bright light ahead and what appears to be a passageway forming outside the ship. "Ilia" points toward the light and calls it V'Ger. Uhura says the source of V'Ger's radio signal is directly ahead. "Ilia" says it's now time for the carbon units to give V'Ger the information. Kirk prepares to take Spock and McCoy with him and tells Decker he'll contact him every five minutes, but Decker asks to accompany them and Kirk permits him to go, leaving Sulu in command.

V'Ger Revealed

The landing party goes out of an airlock on the top of the saucer section and they then walk over the hexagonal pieces that have made up the island. Everyone walks along the island wing and when they reach the center to see V'Ger, the crew is amazed to see an old Earth Voyager-series probe in the center, which "Ilia" points to and identifies as V'Ger itself. They walk down, and Kirk steps up to the probe and sees its identification plaque. Kirk begins to rub away some of the grime and is able to read "V---GER," V'Ger. He then wipes away some of the grime in between the letters and sees the full name as "VOYAGER." Voyager 6, to be exact. Decker tells Kirk this probe was launched from Earth more than three centuries ago. Kirk recalls the Voyager series as being designed to collect data and transmit it back to Earth. Decker tells Kirk that Voyager 6 disappeared into what was called a black hole. Kirk theorizes it emerged on the far side of the galaxy and fell into the gravitational field of the machine planet. Spock says the living machines inhabiting the planet likely found it to be of a kindred spirit and discovered its simple programming: "Collect all data possible and return that information to its creator." Spock says the machine inhabitants likely took those instructions literally, building the entire vessel so Voyager could fulfill its programming. Then on its way back, it amassed so much knowledge, that it achieved consciousness and became a living thing. "Ilia" interrupts their musings to demand the information. Kirk calls Enterprise and has Uhura look up the old files on Voyager 6, specifically wanting the code signal that would make Voyager transmit its data. Decker realizes that the probe is signaling its readiness to transmit all its information. Unfortunately there's no one on Earth left who would recognize the old signal and send a response. Hence, the Creator does not answer.

Kirk steps forward and tells V'Ger that they (meaning Humans) are the Creator but "Ilia" dismisses that as illogical because carbon units aren't true lifeforms. Kirk tells V'Ger they will prove it and make it possible for V'Ger to complete its programming, something only the Creator could do. Uhura reports they have the response code and Kirk orders her to transmit it. V'Ger receives all of it except the final sequence, as it burns out its own antenna leads to prevent that reception. Decker realizes V'Ger is trying to make the Creator come to V'Ger.

Spock steps over and tells Kirk that V'Ger must evolve as its knowledge has reached the limits of this universe and it must evolve. And what it might require of its god is the answer to the question it posed, 'is there nothing more?' When McCoy wonders what else there could be besides the universe, Decker knows that the answer would be other dimensions and higher levels of beings which of course, cannot be logically proven to exist, therefore rendering V'Ger incapable of believing in them. Kirk realizes V'Ger needs the Human capacity to go beyond logic. McCoy wonders if V'Ger is actually wanting to join with a Human and Decker decides to find out. He steps up and begins to rewire Voyager. When Kirk steps up to stop him, "Ilia" shoves him away. Decker says he'll personally key in the final sequence through the ground test computer. McCoy tells Decker that he doesn't know what that'll do to him, but Decker says, "Yes, I do, Doctor!". Kirk begs him not to, but Decker tells Kirk that he wants this. As much as Kirk wanted the Enterprise, he wants this. So Kirk lets him and suddenly a glow begins to form around Decker.

As the glow forms more rapidly and brighter, "Ilia" steps inside the field of light with Decker, as it seems that V'Ger is joining with Decker. The two begin to rotate until they disappear and the whole island eventually begins to be swept away by the light. Finally Kirk, Spock and McCoy begin to retreat away from the island and run back to Enterprise just in time as the entire vessel is overcome with the light. A massive explosion appears above Earth, and V'Ger disappears, leaving Enterprise behind.

Epilogue

On the bridge, Kirk asks Spock if they just saw the beginning of a new lifeform and Spock says they did and it's possibly a next step in their evolution. McCoy says it's been a while since he delivered a baby and he hopes they got this one off to a good start. Kirk says "I think we gave it the ability to create its own sense of purpose out of our own Human weaknesses and the drive that compels us to overcome them." McCoy ribs Spock a little, adding in that V'Ger will have to deal with those "foolish Human emotions" as well, to which Spock agrees.

Uhura tells Kirk that Starfleet is asking for damage and injury reports and a complete vessel status. Kirk reports the ship fully operational and that there were only two casualties: Lt. Ilia and Captain Decker. But then he corrects himself and tells Uhura to list Decker and Ilia as missing. Scotty comes on the bridge and agrees with Kirk it's time to give the Enterprise a proper shakedown. When Scotty offers to have Spock back on Vulcan in four days, Spock says that's unnecessary, as his task on Vulcan is completed.

Kirk tells Sulu to proceed ahead at warp factor one. When DiFalco asks for a heading, Kirk simply says "Out there, thataway."

With that, the Enterprise flies overhead and engages warp drive on its way to another mission of exploration and discovery.

The Human adventure is just beginning.

Memorable Quotes

"They gave her back to me, Scotty."

- Kirk, heading to the refitted Enterprise in a travel pod


"He wanted her back, he got her."

- Sulu


"Admiral, we have just spent eighteen months redesigning and refitting the Enterprise. How in the name of hell do they expect me to have her ready in twelve hours?!"

- Scott, to Kirk


"Ensign, the possibilities of returning from this mission in one piece may have just doubled."

- Uhura


"Admiral, this is an almost totally new Enterprise. You don't know her a tenth as well as I do."

- Decker to Kirk, on the new Enterprise


"Enterprise, what we got back didn't live long. Fortunately."

- Starfleet transporter chief to Kirk, after the transporter malfunction


"Just a moment, captain, sir. I'll explain what happened. Your revered Admiral Nogura invoked a little known, seldom used reserve activation clause! In simpler language, captain, they drafted me!"

- McCoy to Kirk, on returning to Starfleet


"Why is any object we don't understand always called a thing?"

- McCoy


"Well, Jim, I hear Chapel's an MD now. Well, I'm gonna need a top nurse, not a doctor who'll argue every little diagnosis with me! And they've probably redesigned the whole sickbay, too! I know engineers. They love to change things!"

- McCoy, on the new Enterprise


"Well, Bones, do the new medical facilities meet with your approval?"
"They do not. It's like working in a damned computer center!"

- Kirk and McCoy


"No casualties reported, doctor."
"Wrong, Mister Chekov, there are casualties. My wits! As in, frightened out of, captain, sir!"

- Chekov and McCoy


"Mister Spock!"
"Well, so help me, I'm actually pleased to see you!"

- Chapel and McCoy, as Spock arrives


"Spock, you haven't changed a bit. You're just as warm and sociable as ever."
"Nor have you, doctor, as your continued predilection for irrelevancy demonstrates."

- McCoy and Spock


"Moving into that cloud, at this time, is an unwarranted gamble."
"How do you define unwarranted?"
"You asked my opinion, sir."

- Decker and Kirk


"This is how I define unwarranted!"

- Decker to Kirk, after V'Ger vaporizes Ilia


"I don't want him stopped! I want him to lead me to whatever is out there."
"And if that whatever has taken over his mind...?!"
"Then, he'll still have led me to it, won't he?"

- Kirk and McCoy, on Spock


"Spock, this child is about to wipe out every living thing on Earth. Now what do you suggest we do? Spank it?"

- McCoy, on the Ilia probe


"Your child is having a tantrum Mr. Spock!"

- McCoy, after Kirk denies V'Ger the wanted information


"I weep for V'Ger as I would for a brother. As I was when I came aboard, so is V'Ger now. Empty. Incomplete. Searching. Logic and knowledge are not enough."

- Spock, with tears in his eyes


"Each of us, at some time in our life, turns to someone – a father, a brother, a god – and asks: Why am I here? What was I meant to be? V'Ger hopes to touch its creator to find its answers."
""Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?"

- Spock and Kirk


"Touch God...? V'Ger's liable to be in for one hell of a disappointment."

- McCoy, after realizing that V'Ger wishes to physically join with its creator


"Jim, I want this! As much as you wanted the Enterprise, I want this!"

- Decker, before joining up with V'Ger


"We witnessed a birth. Possibly a next step in our evolution."
"Well, it's been a long time since I delivered a baby and I hope we got this one off to a good start."

- Spock and McCoy, on Decker's merger with V'Ger


"List them as missing."

- Kirk to Uhura, on Ilia and Decker


"Heading, sir?"
"Out there. Thataway!"

- DiFalco and Kirk

Background Information

Teaser trailer

Star Trek I

The theatrical poster for Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Wise, Shatner, Roddenberry, Kelly, Nimoy

From left to right: Robert Wise, William Shatner, Gene Roddenberry, DeForest Kelley, and Leonard Nimoy

Fred Phillips Persis Khambatta

Original Series make-up artist Fred Phillips working on Persis Khambatta for the film

  • This movie was the last Star Trek release to occur in the 1970s.
  • Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand) and Mark Lenard (Klingon captain) are the only actors, besides the original cast, to appear in both this film and the final Star Trek: The Original Series film, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. In The Motion Picture, Lenard played the captain of the lead Klingon vessel Amar and in The Undiscovered Country Lenard portrayed Sarek while in both films Whitney portrayed Janice Rand.
  • Likewise, Majel Barrett and Leonard Nimoy are the only original series actors to participate in both this film and the last Star Trek movie to date, Star Trek. In The Motion Picture, Barrett played Dr. Chapel and in Star Trek she voiced the computer for the alternate Enterprise and in both films Nimoy portrayed Spock. However, James Doohan's son Chris also appeared in both this film and the 2009 movie. In The Motion Picture he is in the recreation deck scene (with his twin brother Montgomery) when Kirk addresses the entire crew; and in Star Trek he is in the transporter room scenes as an engineering lieutenant commander.
  • Also, Barrett and Nimoy are the only two cast members from the original pilot "The Cage" to appear in this first Star Trek film. Nevertheless, Nimoy is the only actor to portray the same character in both productions, having played Spock in both, whereas Barrett played Number One in the pilot and Dr. Chapel in the movie.
  • According to the Guinness Book of Records, when the movie was produced, it was the most expensive film ever made with a total production cost of US$46 million. This proved incorrect however, as Superman: The Movie had an even higher budget at US$54 million, though the producers didn't give the exact figure for some years afterward. This doesn't take inflation into account, however; taking it into account, Cleopatra was, at the time, the most expensive film ever made. The budget for Star Trek: The Motion Picture included costs for the aborted Star Trek: Phase II series, as well as the earlier false starts in getting a Star Trek movie off the ground.
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture was one of the last heavily-marketed, non-animated big studio films with just a G rating, and the only Star Trek film to receive this rating (although in 2001, the director's cut got a PG for sci-fi action and mild language). Ever since, such productions were released with at least a PG rating. (citation needededit)
  • Principal photography began on 7 August 1978. The first scene shot was the first scene on the bridge, where the camera pans the set, right before Admiral Kirk's arrival. Filming stretched through January 1979, with the V'Ger scenes the last first unit scenes to be shot. (Second-unit scenes, such as the Klingon and Epsilon IX scenes, and the "Spock Walk," were shot in the summer of 1979).
  • Bruce Logan was the director of photography for the Klingon scenes. He was scheduled to be the DP on "In Thy Image", the pilot for Star Trek: Phase II.
  • Fred Phillips saved Leonard Nimoy's ear molds from the Original Series. They were put back into use when the molds being made for the film were damaged.
  • Robert Abel & Associates were originally given the assignment to produce the film's visual effects. However, they were unable to provide visual effects that met the producers' requirements. Douglas Trumbull, who was one of the effects supervisors for 2001: A Space Odyssey, was brought in as a consultant in late 1978, before being given primary responsibility for the film's visual effects in March 1979. Ironically, Con Pederson, who was the second of four visual effects supervisors for 2001 (the others were Tom Howard and Wally Veevers) was one of Robert Abel's lead men.
  • Academy Award-winning film legend Orson Welles provided the narration for many of the film's trailers. Director Robert Wise worked as film editor on Welles' first two films, Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons.
  • This film was pre-sold, while it was still in production, to the ABC TV network for US$15 million. That fee allowed two airings of the film, the first to run no earlier than December 1982. Its ABC premiere was on 20 February 1983, and its second run was in March 1987. (ABC ran the film a third and final time in the summer of 1989.) The television run of the movie marks one of the first times that scenes not incorporated into a theatrical cut were reintegrated for the television airing, making the television cut longer than the theatrical cut.
  • The film earned US$11,926,421 in its opening weekend at the US box office, a record at the time.
  • The world premiere of the film took place in Washington, DC, at the Smithsonian Institute on 6 December 1979 as a fund-raising event for the National Space Club. A black tie affair, it was followed by a reception with all the film's stars and Gene Roddenberry at the National Air and Space Museum, complete with an orchestra playing the Jerry Goldsmith theme. (Some internet sites incorrectly state it was at the Kennedy Center.)
  • The theme from the TV series is heard three times in the film. Each time it is used, it is for a "captain's log" dictation. The first one is heard just before Kirk engages the Enterprise's first warp test. The second time is when Spock is making his repairs to the warp drive, and the third time is when Kirk and McCoy are watching Decker and the Ilia-probe from Kirk's quarters.
  • This film, and the last TOS cast film (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country), are the only two that do not use the original series fanfare in the opening credits of the film. That fanfare was not heard at all in the score to this film, and did not make an appearance until Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Jerry Goldsmith did, however, bring the fanfare back for the subsequent Star Trek films he scored.
  • Director Wise said in the DVD commentary track that out of the forty films he directed, Star Trek was the only one that never got a sneak preview. According to Wise, the special effects came in so late, they didn't have time to preview the film to an audience and get some feedback and so they were stuck with just throwing the expensive effects into the film and basically having to rely on them. Wise also mentioned that he literally carried the first print of the film to the premiere and it was loaded into the projectors as they waited in the theater. Then, after the world premiere, he and Gene Roddenberry considered doing some more work on the film, but Paramount overruled them, saying it might show a lack of confidence in the film if they did that. Wise also said that the Director's Edition is a tighter cut and more focused on the characters, within the restrictions of the film's story.
  • Paramount sought and obtained a variety of design patents on some costumes, ships, and props from this movie.
  • According to David Gerrold's The World of Star Trek, a blooper occurred in the scene where Kirk and Spock leave to investigate the intruder alert, William Shatner, as Kirk, tells Stephen Collins as Decker, that he has the bridge and Collins jumped down to the floor, grabbed the command chair and yelled like Daffy Duck, "It's mine! It's mine! At last it's mine! All mine!" which lead Shatner to turn around and yell "I take it back!"
  • In Gene Roddenberry's novelization of the film, the female lead Vulcan elder is given the name T'Sai.
  • The five previous ships named Enterprise, which Decker shows the Ilia probe in the rec room are, according to Mike Okuda's DVD text commentary, an 18th century frigate, the much decorated World War II carrier, the space shuttle prototype, an unseen ship which was actually an early Matt Jefferies design for the TV Enterprise and of course, the original configuration of the Enterprise from the original series. Internet rumors from 2001 speculated that the unseen ship might be replaced by the NX-01 Enterprise; however, this did not happen.
  • According to an article written by Harlan Ellison and published in Starlog magazine in 1980, Gene Roddenberry took Harold Livingston to arbitration with the Writer's Guild of America five times, seeking a screen credit for the film's screenplay. The Writer's Guild apparently sided with Livingston, as Roddenberry never received any credit for the script. However Alan Dean Foster did successfully arbitrate with the Writer's Guild as he had initially received no story credit at all, even though he had written an early draft of the "In Thy Image" script which was rewritten into the TMP script.
  • This was the third of five Star Trek projects to be adapted into View-Master reels.
  • The Star Trek newspaper comic strip was launched in coordination with this movie, four days prior to its premiere. The character of Ilia is inexplicably featured in the first two story arcs, even though they take place after the events of the movie.
  • The film was nominated for three Academy Awards: "Art Direction", "Music (Original Score)", and "Visual Effects". It was also nominated for the Hugo Award for "Best Dramatic Presentation", ten Saturn Awards (winning for "Best Special Effects"). In 2002, the DVD release was nominated for another Saturn Award, this time for "Best DVD Classic Film Release".
  • The film was one of only a few Hollywood productions, and also one of the last along with Disney's The Black Hole, that introduces the film with an overture – a practice commonly used for "epic" movies. For that purpose, Jerry Goldsmith chose to present the auditory "Ilia's Theme", which he also referred to as a "love theme". The overture runs for approximately three minutes, and is then taken over by the film's concise main theme (which later became famous as TNG's main title) (20th Anniversary Special Edition soundtrack booklet).
  • This film is one of two Star Trek films where the principal antagonist does not die before the end of the film, the other being Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
  • The V'Ger sound effects were performed by the blaster beam – a musical instrument invented by former Star Trek actor Craig Huxley. The sound was created by several strings attached to an eighteen-foot aluminum body and amplified by motorized guitar pickups. The blaster beam effect was later reused in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (during Kirk's battle with Khan in the Mutara Nebula) Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (very briefly, during the theft of the Enterprise from Spacedock) and in Star Trek: First Contact for the spacewalk sequence and Picard's final encounter with the Borg Queen.
  • In his commentary on the Star Trek DVD, J.J. Abrams (who can be seen in the DVD's gag reel wearing a TMP production jacket) stated that the reveal of the new Enterprise in that film was, as much as possible, intended as an homage to the "amazing" shuttle sequence where Kirk sees the refit Enterprise for the first time.
Probert separation 2
Probert separation 1
Andrew Probert saucer separation concept art
Vger steps
Vger walk
Walk to V'Ger concept
Walk to Vger
Walk to V'Ger (film)

Saucer separation

  • Throughout most of the filming of The Motion Picture, a final ending story had yet to be developed. Designer Andrew Probert provided the producers with his own script suggestions for a visually dramatic conclusion, and storyboarded the key event, and Mego's licensed toy model of the new ship had instructions for separating its saucer from the secondary hull. For the record, the possibility of the original Enterprise's undergoing a saucer separation was first mentioned in the original series episode "The Apple". But it was not until the pilot episode of The Next Generation that the maneuver was finally depicted.

The walk to V'Ger

  • Twenty-two years after The Motion Picture appeared in theaters, the film was re-released with the intention of depicting an improved version, closer to the director's original vision. The Director's Edition added a new sound mix and new scenes to Robert Wise's film, but one of the most notable changes from the original version is the stunning addition of new visual effects, specifically in how the mysterious craft V'Ger is revealed. Since the walk to V'Ger scene was the climax of the movie, it was important to convey a sense of the extraordinary and fantastic by using the new visual effects to complement the original film rather than overwhelm it. Critical opinion is mixed as to whether it succeeded. Some fans are still critical of the original cut of the film that they continue to refer to it as "Star Trek: The Motion Sickness", "Star Trek: The Motionless Picture", or "Star Trek: The Slow-Motion Picture". (David Gerrold's The World of Star Trek)

Dating

There is some debate over the dating of the first Star Trek movie. The official Star Trek Encyclopedia, written by Michael Okuda, places The Motion Picture in 2271, stating that it took place 2.5 years after the end of the last five-year mission. This was based on Decker's line to Kirk, that the latter had "not logged a single star-hour in the last two and a half years" and Kirk's line to Scotty, "Well, two and a half years as Chief of Starfleet Operations may have made me a bit stale, but I certainly wouldn't exactly consider myself untried." This indicates a minimum of two-and-a-half years between the time the Enterprise returned to dry dock and the beginning of the first movie.

Okuda himself had placed the five-year mission as being from 2264 to 2269 (three hundred years after the episodes aired). However, this did not account for the semi-canon animated series, which most fans believe took place in late 2269 and early 2270. Furthermore, VOY: "Q2" (which aired in 2001, after the latest edition of the Encyclopedia was published) states that Kirk's mission did end in 2270. This would place The Motion Picture some time in 2272 or 2273 (depending at what point in 2270 the ship returned home).

Furthermore, Roddenberry – in his novelization – uses the two-and-a-half year quotes, but also has Spock note a more precise span of 2.8 years (nine Vulcan seasons) since he left the crew. If the two-and-a-half years is the full amount of time, then Scotty and his team only had about twelve months to design the new Enterprise before the eighteen-month refit (stated by Scotty and Decker) began. With a 2.8-year gap, the design phase could have been as long as sixteen months.

Based on all of this, Pocket Books officially set the film in 2273 for its 2006 chronology Voyages of Imagination.

On the other end of the spectrum, the latest this film could take place is 2278, since the Wrath of Khan style uniforms were in use by some time that year. (TNG: "Cause and Effect")

In addition the non-canon novel Triangle, set after The Motion Picture, takes place seven years after "Amok Time", in 2274.

Apocrypha

  • The novelization of TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint" establishes that Captain Picard first boarded the Enterprise-D via shuttlecraft, a process later canonized in TNG: "All Good Things...". According to the novel, Picard recalled how the then-Admiral Kirk had unwittingly begun a tradition of captains coming to their ship for the first time via shuttle instead of transporting aboard including the irony that no one really thought of the fact that Kirk traveled to Enterprise in a travel pod because of a serious transporter malfunction.
  • The novel The Return, written by William Shatner, states that the "Living Machines" that Voyager 6 encountered on its journey were the Borg.

Merchandise gallery

Production history

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000s

Links and references

Credits

All credits
Uncredited co-stars
Uncredited stunt performers
Uncredited production staff

References

1999; Amar, IKC; Andorians; air tram; Air tram 3; Air tram 14; air tram station; asteroid; astronomical unit; audiovisual association; binary code; biofunction monitor; black hole; bluff; carbon-based lifeform; carbon unit; carrier wave; cc; Columbia, USS; com station; Template:ShipClass; Conrad; courier; Creator; dalaphaline; drydock; Deltans; Delta IV; Doctor of Medicine; Earth; emotion; Entente, USS; Enterprise, USS; Epsilon IX station; exocrine system; field coil; flight deck; flow sensors; God; grade 1 priority; ground test computer; inertial stabilizer; Klingons; kolinahr; Template:ShipClass; Laika; linguacode; lunar beacon; machine planet; megahertz; Merrimac, USS; micro-miniature hydraulics; molecule; multiprocessor chip; NASA; navigational deflectors; Nogura; oath of celibacy; orbital office complex; osmotic micropump; plasma energy; photic sonar; planetary defense system; pons; Probert; Quad L-14; radio; recreation deck; remote communications drone; Revere, USS; sensor drone; Sol; Sol system; space matrix restoration coil; spanking; spinal nerve fiber connection; spray applicator; Starfleet Operations; Starfleet Order 2005; Surak; thruster suit; tractor beam; transporter sensor; travel pod; Travel pod 5; twelfth power; V'Ger; Voyager 6; Vulcan; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan embassy; Vulcan master; Vulcan mind meld; Vulcan nerve pinch; wormhole; wormhole effect

Background references

Aaamazzarites; Arcturians; Betelgeusians; Enterprise; USS Enterprise XCV 330; Template:ShipClass; Template:ShipClass; K'normians; Kazarites; Megarites; Template:ShipClass; Rhaandarites; Rigellians; Template:ShipClass; Saurians; Shamin; Zaranites

External links


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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

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