Film: Star Trek: Insurrection

Sadly NOT a movie about the Enterprise fighting a giant ghost face in space. That would have been so much more awesome.note 

Picard: Ru'afo, we're getting too old for this.
Ru'afo: After today, that won't be a problem... for either of us.

Star Trek: Insurrection is the ninth movie in the Star Trek film series, released in 1998.

Joining forces with some unsavory Rubber Forehead... and face... Aliens offering their friendship, The Federation decides that the Prime Directive is suddenly optional so that they can relocate the new-agey Space Amish inhabitants of a paradise planet. After all, Utopia Justifies the Means, right? The Enterprise crew uncovers the plot and rebels against Starfleet (hence the title) to save the day.

Preceded by First Contact and followed by Star Trek: Nemesis.


Tropes seen in Insurrection include:

  • Badass Boast: "We're through running from these bastards."
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Thanks to centuries of living with eternal youth, the Ba'ku look like catalog models.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Between Ru'afo and Admiral Matthew Doughherty.
    • Then Dougherty turns out to have standards, so Ru'afo kills him and becomes sole Big Bad.
  • Big "NO!": Ru'afo has four different ones.
  • Black and White Morality: Geordi uses this idea to describe the thought processes going through Data's head after having his memory engrams damaged by a phaser blast. Which comes across as frightening when one considers that Data attacked Picard and Worf's shuttle, lumping them in with Starfleet as a whole as personnel who would take advantage of his memory loss. It sets up a Black and Gray Morality theme for the whole movie (The Federation attempting to advance medical technology through the harm of the Ba'ku vs. the Son'a, mostly Ru'afo, seeking revenge on the parents who exiled them from home) with the crew of the Enterprise as the only people trying to settle things reasonably. It also sets up how easily music can distract Data after experiencing his equivalent to a concussion.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • The whole film's message is about the evils of relocation, which nobody denies has had horrible effects in Real Life, but in this movie it will save far more lives than it ruins (assuming the people allied with the enemies of the Federation can really be trusted), and the aliens being relocated aren't native to the planet they're being forced off (though they do have a stronger claim to the planet than the Federation do). In addition, unlike some unfortunate Real Life examples, the goal was not to force them into cramped undesirable land that they would struggle to survive on simply to take their land, they would have been moved to a comfortable world that suited their needs as well as possible. The entire plan comes across far less like Native American relocation camps of the past and more like a case of eminent domain for the good of the greater society.
    • The back-to-nature, rural simplicity message, with the Ba'ku portrayed as living in an idyllic and peaceful society, is also utterly shredded by two completely independent sets of facts. First, the only reason they're not bedeviled by disease, disabilities and injuries from farming accidents lies in their planet's apparently unique magical radiation, while everywhere else in the Federation injuries and disabilities such as Geordi's blindness or Picard's heart injury have to be managed with the technology we are supposed to believe they are right to shun. Second, the day is ultimately saved through the use of transporters, starships, phasers and holodecks. Meaning that ultimately the Ba'ku settled down in a place where they could get by without technology... and ended up at the mercy of anyone with a holodeck who happened to bump into them. Return to nature, folks, and when the aliens come you'd better hope they're friendly, because otherwise you're going to be shaken down so hard your teeth will fall out!
  • Call Back:
    • Geordi is shown piloting the Enterprise at different points in the film. This seems strange since he's the chief engineer, but Geordi was the helmsman of the Enterprise during TNG's first season, getting appointed chief engineer in its second season.
    • This movie marks the first time since TNG's first season that Riker is clean-shaven.
  • Character Shilling: The movie has the crew go on and on about how perfect and wonderful the Ba'ku and their society are, right down to the movie's tagline being "The battle for paradise has begun."
  • Continuity Overlap: The film was released during Season 7 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Season 5 of Star Trek: Voyager. Only the former is acknowledged through nods to Worf's relocation to DS9 and the then-ongoing Dominion War.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Worf's Giant Purple Space Bazooka equals about the power of one modern hand grenade. Bear in mind that hand phasers have been seen to be capable of taking the sides off cliffs and is compact enough to attach to a belt and you start to see the problem here.
  • Damage Control: The Enterprise gets into another space fight. It's not really seen, but right before it starts, LaForge leaves the bridge for Engineering, knowing what he's going to be doing in short order.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: A native population is relocated so that their resources can be exploited. Hmm. This was actually the focus of a similar episode in The Next Generation, where Picard's stance on the situation was the exact opposite, although one can argue the strategic and scientific value of Ba'ku is a sufficient difference to change his mind. Specifically, the people were being relocated as part of the terms of a treaty that ended a long bloody war between two large space-faring civilizations. Failure to do so risked an end to the peace (there might be equal or even greater reason to move the Ba'ku, really). Said people were descendants of Native Americans who moved far from Earth in hopes of avoiding more of this nonsense. In Picard's best way, they eventually Take a Third Option and become Cardassian citizens. How that worked out for them is never explored, though the events from that episode were used to set up the Maquis storyline on DS9 (in which it's revealed human colonists were highly persecuted).
  • DVD Commentary: A particularly fine one from director/Riker Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis (Troi). Their banter is a joy, and it's pleasing to hear them bring up all the points that critical fans often raise ('so why are the Baku all white and blonde,?' '...They're of Swedish descent'; Marina noting that her character has 'a profound grasp of the obvious' etc).
  • Eureka Moment: Picard salsas happily in his quarters until he catches sight of himself in the mirror, sporting quite the youthful sheen. The very next shot is him standing at the Ba'ku's front door: "How old are you?"
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Dougherty is fine with forcibly relocating the Ba'ku, but draws the line at genocide. So Ru'afo kills him.
    • Likewise, Gallatin, Ru'Afo's second-in-command, wants revenge on the Ba'ku just as much as his boss. He's even happy to see them relocated to a world without the rejuvenating metaphasic radiation. But when Ru'Afo's abandons that intended revenge in favor of parricide, even Gallatin's unnerved. Luckily for everyone, Picard picks up on this.
  • Evil Overlooker: The Big Bad's head in the poster.
  • Fan Sequel: The sixty-episode series Hidden Frontier takes place almost entirely in the Briar Patch and explores it extensively beyond Ba'ku, with an (obviously recast) older Artum joining Starfleet after developing a case of wanderlust from meeting Data. Many jokes can be made about it being superior to the actual movie, the show's shoestring-budget being the punchline.
  • Fanservice:
    • Troi and Riker taking a bath together.
    • Troi and Dr. Crusher talk about how much firmer their boobs are, using that exact word. The fans weren't exactly happy.
  • Fictional Geneva Conventions: A brief mention to the Second Khitomer Accord, which banned Subspace Weapons. For good reasons.
  • Foreshadowing: Well, hinting, really.
    • Picard's Machine Empathy; in the scene where it comes up, he mentions that it was much more acute when he was younger.
    • At one point Crusher notes that the Captain was quite a dancer, when he was younger.
    • Once we get to the Ba'ku planet, there's the rekindling of the Riker/Troi romance and Worf's Klingon zit.
    • The rescued Son'a from the Duck Blind mission decline medical examination by Dr. Crusher and her team. They're trying to prevent Starfleet from learning that the Son'a and the Ba'ku are the same race.
  • Fountain of Youth: Continued exposure to the radiation not only stops aging, but reverses it back to the subject's physical prime. This presumably takes quite a while, though.
  • Freudian Couch: Played with when Riker hops on it with his head in Troi's lap to flirt with her.
  • Government Conspiracy: The Duck Blind mission is actually cover to relocate the Ba'ku so their planet can be exploited for its resources.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Galatin. Dougherty tries as well but Ru'afo kills him.
  • Hidden Elf Village: The Ba'ku's planet.
  • Human Alien: The Ba'ku, they look exactly like humans.
  • Hypocrite: The Ba'ku claim to reject technology, but still have an irrigation system, a stone dam, a smith, and don't protest in the slightest to Picard's crew using their advanced technology on their behalf. A simple throwaway line about not advancing beyond an agrarian society would help a lot to explain this.
  • "I Can't Look" Gesture: During one of Ru'afo's flesh-stretching sessions, Admiral Dougherty keeps wincing and glancing aside during the procedure.
  • Immortality Immorality: The Son'a are so debilitated they may die before the magic radiation can make them immortal, so they want to destroy the planet so they can harvest and concentrate it.
  • Immortality Begins at 20: The magic radiation takes some time to have its full effect, allowing children to age to adulthood normally. It's also retroactively effective, as one character notes that he was physically far older prior to arriving on the planet.
  • Informed Attribute: Before they go off to defend the Ba'ku, Data tells the crew, and by extension, the audience, that since he is impervious to the metaphasic radiation's judgement-clouding effects, they should be assured that everything they do from this point on is indeed morally sound.
  • Invisibility Cloak: In the opening scene Data runs around cloaked while being chased by several cloaked away team members. Then later they find a cloaked ship hidden in a lake.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Data's line about the senior staff's judgement possibly being impaired by the environment, which serves to tell the audience that everything the cast does from now on is the morally right thing to do.
  • Lighter and Softer: After all the seriousness of Star Trek: First Contact. Though some would argue that it's too light.
  • Love Transcends Spacetime: Anij's ability to slow down time seems linked to how romantic it makes the moment.
  • The Magnificent Seven Samurai: Complete with "Seven to beam up." Hmm....
  • Machine Empathy: Picard detects that the ship's torque sensors are slightly out of alignment just because "they don't sound right." This ties into the next film, which reveals that he was born with a rare genetic condition that gives him supersensitive hearing. Although treated in his youth to ensure that even the slightest of sounds don't cause him pain, it's entirely possible that Picard would retain extremely acute hearing (by most human standards) into adulthood.
  • Mundane Utility: It's implied that the Ba'ku have developed the ability to significantly slow the passage of time. Sure would have been useful to use that ability to avoid being tagged by the seeker drones, eh? Instead it's used for romantic moments and medical stasis.
  • Nightmare Face: The Son'a with that face-stretcher device. Okay, maybe that's not being fair to them; how about Admiral Dougherty with that face-stretcher device.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Dougherty does his best to stonewall the crew so they don't look too closely at what's going on. This being Picard he's dealing with, his orders fall on deaf ears.
  • Obviously Evil: The ugly Son'a are the bad guys.
  • Off Stage Villainy: The library scene really goes out of its way to make the Son'a unlikeable, with records of conquering and enslaving worlds, drug dealing, and possessing illegal weapons. It makes the Federation look really stupid to have ever turned to them. What's especially stupid is that the drug in question is Ketracel White, which is solely used to keep the Jem'Hadar stormtroopers in line, so Dougherty has brokered a deal with a power that is actively supplying the Federation's enemies (later confirmed on an episode of DS9) and intends to give them a technology that they could just turn around and hand to the Dominion. This is lampshaded when Troi is clearly flabbergasted by the Federation's involvement with them, but the Phlebotinum is starting to affect her and she's too busy flirting with Riker to take the thought any further. In the Deep Space Nine relaunch novel Section 31: Abyss, Commander Vaughn says that the entire operation was organized by Section 31, and when it went bad, Admiral Dougherty was made the fall guy.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Riker's "manual steering column" is an off-the-shelf computer game joystick.
  • The Outside World: The Ba'ku live in a hazardous region of space called the Briar Patch on a planet with rings that grant them virtual immortality. Though they are warp-capable, they gave up technology to live a quiet life there. Some of their young people dreamed of returning to the stars, and at one point a few of them did to pursue a faster life their people had given up (albeit via violent revolution). They come back as the So'na, intent on retaking the planet and using its unique properties to regain their lost youth and long life, either driving off or exterminating the Ba'ku in the process.
  • Parental Substitute: Anij, the old maid and the community's matriarch.
    • There's no trace of Artim's mom and Anij seems relatively close to him.
    • When she recognized Gallatin as Gal'na, Anij says she helped his mother to bathe him when he was a child and she stills speaks of him. In the final scene, we see the reunion of the mother and the son, but there's no trace of the father.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: The Ba'ku, whose leader even says "The moment we pick up a weapon, we become one of them." Which is actually a nice bit of foreshadowing; the Son'a are just non-pacifist, non-luddite Ba'ku.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Despite being the Enterprise's Chief Operations officer, Data doesn't do anything pertaining to Operations throughout the movie.
  • Planetville: The Ba'ku village, population 600, and the area within walking distance of it seemingly constitute the entire planet for the purposes of the story. No explanation is given for why the So'na never simply established their own settlement elsewhere on the planet decades ago.
  • Plot-Induced Stupidity: The mystery plot depends on the discovery of the Holoship in a nearby lake, even though they could have parked it in orbit without the Ba'ku or Data (plus whatever other Starfleet crew weren't in on it) ever discovering it.
  • The Power of Rock: Picard disabling Data by singing "A British Tar." Hey, it worked on Sideshow Bob.
  • Precision F-Strike: After detonating the warp core to neutralize the Son'a's sub-space weapon:
    Commander Riker: We're through running from these bastards!
  • Ramming Always Works: Subverted. Riker sets a collision course for the Son'a ship, since he can't destroy it with the Ba'ku and Worf aboard. The crew panics when they think he'll really do it, with Worf helpfully reinforcing the idea. At the last second, the Enterprise slides under the Son'a ship and fires precision attacks at their engines and life support, forcing the crew to surrender peacefully.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Ba'ku. Which they subvert with the kid... who's twelve. The Ba'ku settle into age stasis sometime in their mid-20s.
  • Red Skies Crossover: Ru'afo reminds Dougherty of the tough times the Federation has been through lately, what with the Borg, and Cardassians, and the Dominion. Believe it or not, this is one of the few mentions of the Dominion War outside of DS9, and the first reference included in the films. note 
  • Redemption Equals Death: When Admiral Dougherty develops a sense of morality, Ru'afo kills him.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: The Ba'ku have discovered a planet with amazing healing/rejuvenating powers, which would surely help billions more, but keep it to themselves because... they believe a life without technology is better?
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale:
    • The Ba'ku have lived on their planet for hundreds of years, and yet only have a population of about 600 individuals. Barring an insane mortality rate or a massive lack of breeding (clearly not the case, given the children), their population ought to be in the tens of millions at the very least. Had the Ba'ku been given a realistic population size, many of the issues listed on the YMMV page could have been avoided or mitigated. Presumably the Immortal Procreation Clause is in effect, since this would quickly lead to other problems...
    • Another issue is the Son'a having somehow developed technology on par with the Federation, despite having an even smaller population than the Ba'ku and their two slave races being obviously less advanced. This one can be handwaved as them using abandoned Ba'ku tech, but then why would the Ba'ku just leave that tech lying around, and how would they have ever expelled the Son'a if the Son'a stole it?
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • Troi saying she's never kissed Riker while he had a beard. Number of times this happened in the series: fournote . You'd think at least Frakes (who was also directing, remember) or Sirtis would point this out.
    • When Picard wonders why Data was acting out in the beginning, he asks Geordi if it's because of his emotion chip, but Geordi answers "He didn't take it with him." Except in Star Trek: Generations, it was said that the chip had been fused into his circuitry after overloading. And in Star Trek: First Contact, it's revealed that Data can turn it on and off at will anyway, so why would he bother removing it?
  • Sickening Crunch: You can hear one of the crew storming the bridge having his arm get snapped by Worf.
  • The Simple Life Is Simple: Or at least the Ba'ku would have you think so...
  • Slouch of Villainy: Ru'afo actually has a small couch as his command chair to make this more comfortable.
    SF Debris: You gotta admire a guy who who says "screw it, I just wanna be comfortable."
  • Space Amish: The Ba'ku. Complete with their own shunned, rumspringer descendants, the Son'a.
  • Space Elves: The Ba'ku.
  • Start X to Stop X: Picard must prevent a forced relocation by... planning a forced relocation (that is, evacuating their village to make them harder for Dougherty and the Son'a to beam them off the planet).
  • Suicidal Pacifism: The Ba'ku refuse to so much as lift a phaser, claiming they'd lose their entire way of life if they defended it. It's left to the five-man Starfleet team to do the job.
  • Theme Tune Cameo
  • The Needs of the Many: The last trope you'd expect to be subverted in Star Trek. Picard choosing to help 600 Ba'ku when the technology studying the planet would bring could save literally billions. Especially since this was taking place at around the same time as the Dominion War, easily the most brutal and destructive war in Federation history (at least the Borg only send one ship at a time), where such advanced medical technology would have been especially useful in the war that the Federation was losing at the time. Picard's position is strengthened by the fact that the planet can be used to help potentially billions in the long-term without having to render it uninhabitable and disrupt the Ba'ku, but Dougherty shoots down this idea because he's agreed to guarantee the survival of the Son'a first — who, ironically, are outnumbered by the Ba'ku, though Dougherty may not have known that.
  • Time Stands Still: The Ba'ku have somehow learned to stop time, though it's inconsistently applied.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Not while Picard yet breathes, it doesn't!
  • Villains Never Lie: The admiral (and a lot of viewers) sided with the Son'a because he (they) felt that the medical benefits that could be gained from exploiting (and destroying) the Ba'ku homeworld could be used to save billions of lives in a war the Federation was losing with the Dominion. Even Jonathan Frakes, as director, and many other members of the case, agreed, though this information came from people who were allies of the Dominion.note  Though some critics argue that makes it feel like a ham-fisted attempt at making the Son'a unlikeable.
  • Wham Line: "Didn't you know, Admiral? The Son'a and the Ba'ku are the same race."
  • The Worf Effect: The Sovereign-class starship Enterprise-E, a Cool Starship that almost returned the Borg's collective asses back to them in bite-size pieces single-handedly in its first major battle in First Contact, is now outclassed by two Son'a vessels. Sure, it was flying through a nebula the Son'a ships were adapted to travel in, but even two-to-one the Enterprise could have put up a better fight than it did. This is made worse when Ru'afo's admittedly smaller ship can't even stop the damaged Enterprise and is disabled by two precision phaser strikes. The novelization points out Son'a technology is superior to the Federation, they just lack the numbers to be a real menace.