Twenty-five years ago, Star Trek wasn’t just in theaters, it was on TV too. The Next Generation was a hit, and a spin-off called Deep Space 9 was also produced, the first to be done without any involvement from Gene Roddenberry. Star Trek V was by almost all accounts a terrible movie, but this was the anniversary. Something special had to be done. Paramount was poised to start a new series of movies, this time focusing on The Next Generation. To begin, the torch had to be passed, and we needed a proper movie to make it work. Once more onto the breach, to quote Shakespeare. In fact, Shakespeare is appropriate, as the subtitle is also a Shakespeare play reference. Did I mention there’s a scene where the Klingons quote Shakespeare as well?
This movie brought everything full circle. As in Wrath of Khan, the crew is once again feeling their age. Sulu is now the captain of the Excelsior. Kirk is expected to give up his grudge against the Klingons, a grudge fueled by the death of his son in Search for Spock. Kirk has discovered that two Klingon dignitaries have been killed, and he is the prime suspect. With the murder of his son, Kirk has a proper motive.
The Klingons in this movie are closer to their portrayal in Next Generation. They’re still enemies of the Federation, but they are honor-bound. They seem like samurai rather than bloodthirsty conquerors like they were in the original series. (As a further connection to Next Generation, Michael Dorn himself even appears as a prosecutor in the courtroom scene.) It’s discovered there is a conspiracy underfoot that may crush any hopes of there ever being peace between the two enemies.
The Undiscovered Country is an appropriate subtitle for this movie, as it looks to the future. Kirk and his friends realize that time has passed them by. Kirk’s prejudice and revenge against the Klingons has to be cast aside for justice. The “undiscovered country” referenced here is the uncertain future. What lies ahead for Starfleet, the Enterprise, and the Klingons? What steps will be taken to end the conflict?
Star Trek VI is a huge improvement over its predecessor. It has a grander scope and has a hopeful feel. It sets the stage for Star Trek: The Next Generation, as we see seeds planted that will lead to the alliance between the Klingons and the Federation. It was a proper celebration of both the legacy and the future of the franchise.