Star Trek V: The Final Frontier- Release the Pain
Sybok, played brilliantly by Lawrence Luckinbill (in a role originally intended for Sean Connery) is Spock’s half-brother turned religious charlatan. He amassed a following by tapping into the emotions of a down-trodden people who later helped him gain control of the Enterprise. In this scene, Sybok uses his emotional trickery to tear apart the the Original Series triumvirate…Kirk, Spock, and McCoy…and nearly succeeds: McCoy is forced to relive the pain of euthanizing his father, and Spock is reminded of his half-humanness that caused him to be a pariah in Vulcan society and feel less loved by his father.
Kirk, meanwhile, sees through this bullshit and reject’s Sybok’s offer to be “released from his pain.”
Regardless of how you feel about Kirk’s rationale for clinging on to his pain (to me, Sybok and Kirk seem to have the same philosophy of “deriving strength through pain,” it’s just that Kirk kept his eye on the ball…regaining control of the Enterprise…while everyone else succumbed to Sybok’s charisma) this is actually a very well directed and well written scene. And it just so happens to be in the worst Star Trek movie there is (personally, I think Insurrection, Nemesis, Into Darkness, and Beyond and WAY worse, but whatevs).
This is why I think director William Shatner isn’t to blame for STV. When it comes to the character interactions, this might be the best that Star Trek has to offer. By the time this film was made, the actors had been playing these characters for over 20 years and it certainly shines through in this scene.
Shatner made the right decision to not create an elaborate set design. It’s like an intimate theatrical production and it’s one of the highlights of the franchise.
Star Trek: First Contact- “The Line Must Be Drawn HERE”
The Enterprise follows the Borg back in time to the late 21st Century and it’s up to the TNG crew to save history. Meanwhile, the Borg take over the Enterprise and Picard goes on a warpath.
Now this might be the most famous example of an “emotional climax” moment in Star Trek, but it’s got some problems. While Alfre Woodard delivers an Oscar-worthy performance, as any Star Trek fan could tell you, it should have been Beverly Crusher who confronted Picard. Additionally, Picard is out of character. While Patrick Stewart is an incredible actor, in my opinion, he never quite understood Star Trek OR the appeal of his famous character. And it was Stewart’s push to make Picard more vengeful and heroic in this installment. While that doesn’t make a lick of difference to the average viewer, things like that DO matter to Trek fans, which is why First Contact has fallen out of favor with some.
That being said, everything is well executed. This is also director Jonathan Frakes’ (who plays William Riker) first motion picture and it doesn’t show. Star Trek seems to excel when one of the actors is allowed to direct.
Oddly enough, science fiction is somewhat secondary to Star Trek. First and foremost, the franchise is about HUMAN stories that uses science fiction as a backdrop. That’s why Trek is such fertile ground for actors. And I think the sequence above highlights that point.
While the stuff between Woodard and Stewart is incredible, I also like the mini-arc between Worf and Picard. The Captain’s judgment had clearly been clouded and Worf was absolutely correct in confronting him. Picard was in the wrong, plain and simple. Which is why I love the payoff when Captain Picard makes his apology and states his admiration for his longtime security officer.
It’s a small moment, but for longtime fans, it was an impactful one.