Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Scotty beams survivors aboard—El Aurian refugees whose planet was destroyed by the Borg. We’ve met one member of the mysterious El Aurians in the TNG series—Guinan (played by Whoopi Goldberg), the enigmatic bartender of Ten Forward aboard the Enterprise-D, and a confidant with a special relationship to Captain Picard. We see her among the survivors, looking dazed as Chekov tries to comfort her in sick bay. He’s had to subdue a male El Aurian who insisted he must “go back.” This will turn out to be Dr. Tolian Soran (Malcolm McDowell.)

But the energy ribbon is now pulling the Enterprise in, and Captain Kirk must once again save the day—not by leading as Captain, but by action. He makes it possible for Scotty’s plan to work, and the Enterprise B escapes. But not before the edge of the energy ribbon takes out a piece of the hull, and Captain Kirk with it.

This opening sequence is like a continuation of Star Trek VI and the original crew movies in general. It has that combination of style and daring, action and economical storytelling in both the “A” story (the plot) and the “B” story (which elaborates the theme.) The acting of the original cast members sets the tone: Shatner brings his customary energy and charm, and the economy of his movie roles, and both James Doohan (as Scotty) and Walter Koenig (as Chekov) have some of their best moments of the film series.

The new actors rise to the occasion. Alan Ruck plays all the appropriate tones and colors of Captain Harriman, a difficult feat. Though it is seldom singled out, the performance that carries the emotional moods of this section is by Jacqueline Kim as Ensign Demora Sulu. She is the actual next generation, and we see her excited, happy to meet Kirk but not intimidated, passionate and competent under pressure. But it is her reaction to the prospect that something has happened to Kirk that keys the emotion of this scene.

We see Chekov and Scotty looking out into space after their vanished Captain and the final end of their era, standing with Harriman, who already looks more seasoned and stalwart.

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