Friday, May 13, 2016

Star Trek Continuity for the Casual Trekkie

This lovely graph demonstrates the production continuity but is not very descriptive about story continuity.

While having a conversation about Star Trek: Into the Darkness with my mother, it was expressed to me that she thought the latest Star Trek movie was a prequel to Star Trek: The Original Series.  This was alarming to me because I felt the entire concept of the alternate timeline was thoroughly explained by the King of the Nerds JJ Abrams in his prior Star Trek film.  It was apparent that Star Trek was an unintended victim of George Lucas.  The Star Wars prequels have caused confusion in the science fiction world leaving people to think that a young Kirk, Spock and McCoy in a feature film is a prequel instead of a continuation of Gene Roddenberry’s futuristic vision of mankind.  My wife seemed to understand the alternate timeline, but in my mother’s defense, my wife was subjected to hours of conversation…excuse me…lecturing from me about the 40+ years of established Star Trek continuity.  Thus I have set out to explain some of the more important details in Abrams’ Star Trek.
Let’s first examine the last time we saw Spock (Leonard Nimoy) in the Star Trek timeline prior to the JJ Abrams Star Trek (2009) film.  Spock last appeared in a two part episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation entitled Unification.  Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) was sent to investigate a possible defection into the Romulan Empire by Spock.  It was in fact not a defection but more of a mission of sorts.  Spock was preaching peace and logic to the Romulan’s in hopes of merging the planets of Romulus and Vulcan into peace.  The two part episode ended with Spock remaining with the Romulans and preaching his cause to whoever would listen. 

Both versions are pretty cool.
Fast forward to the end of Star Trek: Nemesis, it appears that the United Federation of Planets and the Romulan Empire will barter a peace. Of course the peace is never seen because The Next Generation movies were subpar and Paramount pulled the plug on continuing the lackluster films.  Then we roll into Abrams taking the reins and rebooting the franchise.  In Abrams first installment we come across the older Spock who, chronologically speaking, was last seen in The Next Generation.  Spock explains in the movies that he was chilling out with the Romulans.  He goes into the details about Romulus’ sun going Supernova and concocting a way to save the planet.  This is all consistent with The Next Generation established continuity.  Spock’s plan is unsuccessful and then somehow ends up sending the Romulan Nero (Eric Bana) back in time to when James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is born.  Nero proceeds to wreak havoc on the timeline and gives JJ Abrams freedom to do whatever he wants with all future Star Trek movies.  That was how it became possible to destroy the planet Vulcan or place established characters that lived full lives in situations where they could die.  It’s a completely new timeline.  All other stories in Star Trek: The Original Series happened via older Spock’s perspective in the past, via young Spock’s perspective in an alternate reality. 

No matter the continuity Red Shirts will be killed.

I have heard complaints that much of Star Trek: Into Darkness was copied from other Star Trek movie installments.  This was clearly more deliberate that many are aware of.  Referring back to Star Trek (2009) Spock points out an odd coincidence that Kirk and Scotty happen upon one another.  He was postulating (without outright stating such because there was not enough evidence to support the hypothesis) that the timeline which was utterly destroyed by Nero was trying to correct itself.   This is why events seem to mirror prior adventures of the crew of the USS Enterprise.  The timeline is gradually trying to correct itself and fall in line with the already established events.  Abrams is clearly demonstrating the natural cycle of time and the application of the Course Correction theory.  Events are directed to certain instances or circumstances that must happen or cannot be avoided. 

Not as accurate as Google maps but it gets the job done.

In closing, when watching the latest Star Trek films, treat them as their own stories that have no affiliation with previously established continuity because that continuity has been utterly destroyed.

Written by
Joseph Ammendolea
“I Like To Play With Toys” Productions®