All Things Philosophical on Star Trek

10 May

So I have seen the new Trek movie. With my flist abounding with spoilers and rave reviews, and me needing to de-friend that I’ve belonged to since I joined LJ, it seemed a good idea.

Plus, yesterday I managed to fiddle with my computer keyboard until I found the culprit causing the typing problem I was having, so I fixed that (for now), and could cancel my Genius Bar appointment allowing me to go to an early morning matinee.

So, to make a long story less long, I liked it. I am, of course, not without my issues. Anyone who’s read much of my personal fan stuff knows I’m not a big fan of AU’s. I’m canon’s original bitch, even when they mind-wipe favorites to the point of unrecognizability or suddenly invent demons even though their mythology never had them before so the lead can cut off my POV’s character’s head for no good reason.

So I went into this movie with a big grain of salt ready. And, of course, I spent the first half hour knit-picking. Although I do have to say, most of my knits were fixed, eventually, and not with a hand-wavy, “well, this is an alternate history, after all.”

The other thing they did that helped was give us a genuine Character of Invitation, someone who could ground us because he comes from our ‘verse/history, not the one we are currently watching. I am, of course, talking about Old!Spock. The question I’m still puzzling over though, is does that original history still exist, or has it been overwritten? I use a video tape analogy for this puzzle on my Buffy website. Star Trek has given us many alternate history episodes, where somebody goes back in time and changes something, and history as we know it is overwritten like when you tape over something on a video tape and what was on there before is just gone. Our intrepid heroes are somehow “protected” from changes in the timeline that have otherwise overwritten their backhistory so they can go back in time as well and “restore” the back-history as they remember it.

Trek has also given us mirror universe episodes, in which we see the same characters living out a different history than the one we know, but both histories exist at the same time, and characters hop back and forth between these universes. That’s like having two different video tapes of the same movie, only the story on one is just a little (or a lot) different from the story on the other.

But I don’t recall any Star Trek episodes/movies in which we see a new mirror universe being created from someone going back in time and changing history, so that now the two histories both exist and are both real as mirror universes. Maybe someone else recalls one*.

So I’m kinda nervous about accepting this new Trek as canon. I think I can accept it if the Trek history we know from oodles of movies and TV shows still exists out there in a mirror universe, one in which Old!Spock mysteriously disappeared through an anomaly never to be seen again, but life goes on. We have evidence that this is the case by the fact that Old!Spock is walking around living his life still, and didn’t disappear from existence or grow a beard and have his memory changed the minute Niro’s ship originally went through the anomaly. The fact that there are two Spocks testifies to a mirror universe split.

I need my original ‘verse in tact and real because it’s the ‘verse with the Movie series, Next Gen, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager we know. I would hate to revisit my shows and think, “OK, this is all changed because now there’s no Vulcan anymore and history went differently after George Kirk died!”

So that’s my take. My other worry was that the movie was going to change the characters too much, and of course, the opposite was true. It was Masturbatory Geek Fest of dialogue references and in-jokes, some of them so subtle only an avid fan would catch them.

And as for the claim this Trek had no “message” like the Treks of old, I don’t think I agree. There was no heavy-handed statement of a grandiose philosophical position (“Slavery is bad, let me speechify on that for ten minutes”), but there was a philosophical position, and it is one every original series fan knows well: only head+heart together can Save the Universe. And it was delivered in the very personal way of “OMG Kirk and Spock must become BFFss!!!” And it was made convincing by making James Kirk a bit of a caricature of the Kirk we know–a little too over-the-top and impulsive and emotional (but that can be wanked as a combo of his natural personality+growing up without his father’s stabilizing influence).

There are other flaws, but none that bother me in particular. So me liked.

ETA: selenak just reminded us that Yesterday’s Enterprise was not so much a write-over history as a history that created a mirror universe, as alt!Tasha Yar went back in time and had a daughter who then existed in our ‘verse. I’m not sure that solves my problem, as she went back to a point in time before the two alternate histories had yet split, and then continued her life in our history, meaning her history could still be erased (as could Old!Spock’s history), but there is some precedent.

21 Responses to “All Things Philosophical on Star Trek”

  1. darlas_mom May 10, 2009 at 11:41 pm #

    I definitely, definitely believe that this is a mirror universe existing parallel to the original one.
    …which kinda makes me want fic now of the original universe and how it’s doing since Spock disappeared in a random anomaly, never to be seen again. Damn you!

  2. neshaffer May 10, 2009 at 11:55 pm #

    Spock is quite old, since this is post-Next Gen movies Spock, so they probably figured he went off to some Vulcan colony to meditate over the loss of his efforts to save Romulus.
    Either that, or they believe he died a hero’s death stopping Niro from destroying the timeline.

  3. cactuswatcher May 11, 2009 at 12:25 am #

    Unless it’s a mirror universe, Old!Spock cannot exist in it, the Spock who remembers Jim’s father alive, the one who (died and was saved and) was put back together again by Vulcans on Vulcan. Once those things became impossibilities, Young!Spock has to be someone else. Put simply Old!Spock’s logic was not very good when he is hesitant about telling Young!Spock to live long and prosper. It’s not his life that Young!Spock will live even if we’re being asked to believe it must develop along similar lines. Young Spock has already shown very little interest in following the strict Vulcan logic way (which is how Old!Spock eventually reasoned that that way was wrong for him), and hitting on Uhura is likely to lead him down a very different path anyway. ;o)

  4. neshaffer May 11, 2009 at 12:32 am #

    Oh, definitely agree young Spock will not grow up to be old Spock. They have different memories of events, and lived two different lives.
    I just took old!Spock’s line about “self-serving” as bad dialogue on the part of the writers. Although he no doubt wishes young Spock a long and prosperous life in a way no one else can.

  5. cactuswatcher May 11, 2009 at 1:13 am #

    I just took old!Spock’s line about “self-serving” as bad dialogue on the part of the writers.
    Which sort of says the real story was what you’d rewrite it as, doesn’t it? The story is what the story is, bad dialogue and all.
    Oh, yeah, now that you’ve seen it, we can discuss that cliff in Iowa! And of course, I was super disappointed that Young!Bones never once said, “He’s dead, Jim” ;o)

  6. neshaffer May 11, 2009 at 1:22 am #

    Yes, I pondered them having a cliff in Iowa, and decided it was the result of technological disaster like maybe a first attempt to build a shipyard on old farm acreage that went awry or some such thing.
    There’s always bad writing in the best of fictional works. As long as there’s not to much of it, you grin and bear it.

  7. cactuswatcher May 11, 2009 at 1:38 am #

    Now if the person who caused the Iowa disaster was chased into a black hole by the irate survivors, we could have yet another mirror, Star Trekverse movie!

  8. chaos_by_design May 11, 2009 at 3:26 am #

    The breaking of canon totally blew it for me. I was just sitting there mentally going, “what??? what???”.

  9. maeve_rigan May 11, 2009 at 3:40 am #

    Thanks. This is interesting because I’m hoping to see the movie with a friend/co-worker who says she’s a longtime Trek fan, so I look forward to hearing what she thinks of it. I suspect she’s not as much of a nitpicker, but we’ll see!

  10. neshaffer May 11, 2009 at 3:46 am #

    I had a few quibbles with some things, but my biggest worries got a work-around that mostly works for me.

  11. scrollgirl May 11, 2009 at 4:12 am #

    Oh, I had absolutely no problems with the alternate reality (I think that’s even the term they use to explain in the movie) that was created with Old!Spock and the Romulans creating the singularity. But I suppose I’m used to Stargate-verse, in which it’s canon that there’s an infinite number of realities, constantly being created with every decision we make. Forks in the road. So yes, I take it to mean the regular canon universe still exists out there, and that Old!Spock has suddenly disappeared from it, and that this new reality (or mirror universe, if you will) has been created in which Kirk’s father died on the Kelvin.
    It was a good way to reboot the franchise without having their hands tied with 40 years of canon.

  12. neshaffer May 11, 2009 at 4:20 am #

    But at the same time, I feel a sort of detachment, a “Why should I care?” if these are not the same characters who lived the life that unfolded for me in all those episodes and movies.
    I suppose this is the point where we have to believe that our personalities are consistent and shine through even when our circumstances are different, and the things we loved the most about these characters still holds true.
    I always had a big problem with the continual splintering of new universes with each decision we make. Because then each of these splinters can themselves create new splinters, and there are billions upon billions of people making new decisions with each passing minute…it’s a little hard to swallow that our choices are that important.

  13. dherblay May 12, 2009 at 6:41 pm #

    Come on people, it was a quarry. Square side. My supposition is they used the stone in the construction of those megalithic drydocks hazily hanging on the horizon.

  14. neshaffer May 12, 2009 at 6:48 pm #

    Ah, the Neolithic technology of the 23rd century.

  15. dherblay May 12, 2009 at 6:59 pm #

    It’s convenient, it’s cheap, it’s functional. What do you expect, spun sugar?
    Now what Spock was doing with one of those Rambaldi spheres, that’s worth wondering about.

  16. neshaffer May 12, 2009 at 10:39 pm #

    Selenak examines the second issue. I think on DW, though.

  17. dherblay May 13, 2009 at 5:24 am #

    Oh, phooey, Rob says it’s some relic of some “Xindi attack”; apparently this refers to something from after they started allowing Canadians into Starfleet.

  18. neshaffer May 13, 2009 at 12:31 pm #

    Hey. I resemble that remark!

  19. sangueuk June 8, 2009 at 10:26 pm #

    I loved it although I also accept all your questions and ponderings with a sedate nod….but…
    I confess that I just wanted the two of them to have sex and this was probably the main reason I loved Star Trek in the first place even though I didn’t know it. I am so shallow…
    I loved the philosophical stuff too. I did.

  20. neshaffer June 8, 2009 at 10:27 pm #

    I think a lot of Trek women fans of a certain age were Spock/Kirk shippers.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Unpopular fan opinons « Infinite Doorways - May 14, 2012

    […] changing the timeline, and creating two universes that both exist simultaneously. Like I said in a previous post, you have (a) lots of going back in time, and (b) two universes existing simultaneously, but not […]

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