Series: The Original Series
Release Date: November 26, 1986
Written by: Steve Meerson & Peter Krikes and Harve Bennett & Nicholas Meyer
Directed by: Leonard Nimoy
Kirk is prepared to face the charges against him for breaking the rules in the last movie, but before he can get home, he has to go back in time to save Earth from a giant space probe.
Deep in the outer reaches of space, a monstrous space probe passes by the USS Saratoga and knocks its power out on the way to Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, a Klingon ambassador accuses Kirk of murdering a ship full of Klingons in his quest to exterminate the Klingon race with the Genesis probe (that thing will just not go away). The Federation president says that Kirk will face nine violations of Starfleet regulations, the crew of the Enterprise has been stuck on Vulcan for three months, and on top of all that, a computer is trying to find out how Spock feels. There's nowhere to go from here but up.
Well, in The Search for Spock, Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise stole a starship, blew it up, visited a forbidden planet, and apparently six other naughty things, so now they're getting ready to go back to Earth on their stolen Klingon Bird-of-Prey and face the music. There's just one hitch in this plan: the probe. It has now reached earth, shut down main power to... everything... and caused a huge weather phenomenon that blocked out the sun. So, basically, humanity has however long it'll take for Earth to freeze from lack of sunlight to tell this thing to move out of the way.
|"When this is over, I'm quitting Starfleet and starting a gumbo restaurant."|
When they arrive in 1986, they confirm the date by testing the pollution in the air. Then they go into cloak and land in the middle of a park in San Francisco. After scaring off a couple of trash guys, the crew sets out to downtown. Their mission: 1) find humpback whales 2) get them on board the Klingon ship 3) fix the ship's dilithium crystals so they can go home. They split up to achieve their separate goals. Spock and Kirk go for the whales, Bones and Scotty go to build a proper tank, Uhura and Chekov find some nuclear power to fix the crystals.
|Spock would like to take this opportunity to learn karate.|
Things are just about set to go; Kirk is ready to pick up the whales, the plexiglass is ready to be delivered, everything is running smoothly until Chekov screws things up. He finds the USS Enterprise, the aircraft carrier, and, with Uhura's help, steals some of its nuclear power. Well, the officers on board sense the power drain and go looking for him. He hands the power device over to Uhura who beams up to the Klingon ship. But there's not enough transporter power to get Chekov, too, and he's captured. After escaping by attempting and failing to stun his captors, he runs and jumps off a high platform and hospitalizes himself.
|It's possible they just got too high.|
Ok, so, Chekov is safe, the tank is built, the dilithium crystals are fixed, all they need now are the whales. Kirk gets their tracking frequency from Gillian and says his goodbyes. She can't, after all, go to the future with them. Right? Weellll... as soon as he starts transporting aboard the ship, Gillian hops on him and comes with. She's staying whether Kirk likes it or not. With Gillian aboard, they set out to find George and Gracie. They find them right in front of a whaling ship. Still cloaked, they head right over to them and just hover for a bit while the whaling ship takes aim. And then... the decloakening.
|Klingons on the port bow, captain!|
Oh, right, yeah, this was the whole reason they were coming back to Earth, wasn't it? The crew of the Enterprise all stand in front of the president to be judged. Because for some reason the president is the judge in the future. Ready to be taken out of Starfleet forever, they all, including Spock who "stands with his shipmates", they all hear the charges brought to them. And then the president says he's getting rid of all of them in light of them saving the entire Earth, and all. The only charge that sticks, disobeying a superior officer, is directed solely at Kirk and because of it, he is reduced in rank to Captain. Which is basically like grounding a nerd to his room with the Internet still on. And not only that, it wouldn't be Star Trek and Kirk wouldn't be Captain without the proper ship. They head out to the shipyard and find the brand spankin' new USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A. The only proper ship for them to go and "see what's out there."
This had been my absolute favorite Star Trek movie for the longest time until my tastes matured and I learned to like The Wrath of Kahn just slightly better. I love a good comedy sci-fi, especially when that comedy sci-fi involves time travel! Every good Star Trek series needs a comedy relief. "The Trouble with Tribbles" was that for The Original Series and this movie is that for the movie series. And, in fact, this movie was so monstrously successful, that it was almost entirely responsible for green-lighting The Next Generation. Picard would take command almost a year after this movie was released and Trek would never be the same.