Headscratchers / Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

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     Sulu Knows Best 
  • How did Sulu know where the Peace Conference was happening? And for that matter, how did Kirk know that Sulu would know?
    • He didn't. Spock was the one who said to contact Sulu. Earlier in the film, Sulu contacted the Enterprise and said "we stand ready to assist you." So it was a safe bet that Sulu would be ready with the info they needed. Presumably Sulu his security clearance as captain to find out where the conference was going to be. The peace conference wasn't a secret. It was publicly announced at Kirk and McCoy's trial. So I don't imagine it was that hard for Sulu to get.
    • The first conference wasn't a secret. The second was. Still, Sulu's a respectable captain. He could have gotten that info.
    • Kirk is a pretty respected captain. It's not outside the realm of possibility that significant forces within Starfleet Command let that information slip to Sulu in hopes that it would somehow help Kirk. Or, failing that, he might have just been briefed and told to keep a lookout for anyone trying to sneak in to cause trouble. A terribly Genre Blind or a secretly helpful person might even give that information to Sulu telling him to make sure that the Enterprise, Kirk's old ship which went missing soon after the attack on the Chancellor and Kirk's arrest, doesn't get anywhere near that conference.
    • Excelsior was close enough to Klingon space that it was hit by the shock wave from Praxis exploding. Most likely, Sulu was given the location of the conference in case shit hit the fan, much as it did. Enterprise wasn't given the location because A) she was supposed to be en route back to Earth, and B) Uhura had claimed that the comms were malfunctioning, so there was no reason for Enterprise to be contacted.
      • And C: The conspirators had every want to prevent the Enterprise crew from intervening in the second assassination.
    • It's possible that the Excelsior was supposed to be working guard duty at the conference, but after the Excelsior received the location, someone noticed Sulu's relationship with Kirk & Crew and ordered them to stay where they were, since news might have gotten out that the Enterprise wasn't returning calls and Kirk (the supposed assassinator of Gorkon) had escaped from jail. Another ship might have been guarding the peace summit, but their crew could have been taken prisoner by the Bird of Prey while some Klingon relieve crew took control of that ship to keep it in orbit so they don't seem inconspicuous.
  • It's also plausible that in the absence of the flagship (due to "technical malfunction"), Excelsior was commissioned to escort delegates to the conference a few days prior to Kirk's escape from Rura Penthe.

     One planet, one empire 
  • Praxis explodes and strips the ozone layer from Qo'noS meaning that the planet has only fifty years of oxygen left. Just how does the loss of one planet, even if it is the capital world, doom the entire Klingon Empire? The Klingon Empire is supposed to be a major interstellar power that's the equal of the Federation, they don't have a load of colony worlds they can get help from or evacuate to? It's rather like saying New York City is destroyed in a freak yachting accident and this means that the rest of the United States of America collapses. Also the whole giving the Klingons sanctuary in Federation space thing is never, to my knowledge, mentioned again. Throughout the next decade of Trek we regularly see the Klingons swanning around Qo'noS shouting their heads off about honor and blood wine.
    • There is the possibility that, since the Klingon's main energy facility is gone, their ships can't keep up with both guarding the Neutral Zone AND evacuating billions off Qo'nos. If they keep up their massive military defense (the primary purpose of which is preparing for war with the Federation) the citizens of Qo'nos would have to be left for dead, because their key energy facility is gone. Therefore, their ships only have a very limited amount of fuel. Also, there could have been a civil war against the government resulting from the deaths of billions of Klingons if they hadn't of gone to the Federation to negotiate the end of the Neutral Zone. The end of the neutral zone would mean that the Klingons could lower their defense budgets, thus giving money to the rescue efforts on Qo'nos (since I imagine the planet's citizens are in dire need of extensive medical assistance after the Praxis blast).
    • True. But what if, instead of New York City, the city being destroyed is Washington DC? (Forgive the Yankee-centric conversation, by the way!) It wouldn't spell instant death for the nation, but it would be a hell of a knock nevertheless, one that would take years if not decades to recover from. The same principle applies here. As for your second issue: Presumably even in-universe, Science Marches On. They probably found a way to either fix the problem or do without.
      • Actually I considered using Washington but I figured the USA would recover faster than if New York was hit. DC is smaller and more focused on a single industry, Government, than New York and presumably the US government has contingency plans for losing the capital left over from the Cold War
      • An example of either city doesn't really work since the city would be destroyed instantly, while the Klingons had half a century to evacuate Qo'noS.
    • And by the time of The Next Generation, the Klingon home world is still Qo'noS. So either the damage wasn't as bad as they thought, or they got some ozone-creating technology working right quick after the disaster.
      • Or they named the new Home world after the old one. And chose it further away from the Federation than a four day flight at Warp 5.
      • In the initial briefing to the crew, it's mentioned that the loss of their home world will lead to the dissolution of the empire at least in part due to their overabundance of military spending, the colonies couldn't turn their economies to reconstruction in time to help. I believe there is background material somewhere which states that peace treaty with the Federation allowed the Klingons to use Federation technology to repair the damage to Qo'nos.
    • Think colonially. All the apparatus of state is on Qo'noS, everything goes through there and it is the heart of the Klingon Empire. Now, instead of trying to compare it to 20th/21stC USA, think of it as the 18th or 19thC and imagine Qo'noS is the UK. If the island of Britain was rendered uninhabitable in the 19thC how long do you think it would take for the British Empire to fall apart? Even if it took a few years to take effect it would still rip the heart and identity out of the Empire. That's a better analogy.
      • Far out! You just precisely described the backstory to S.M. Stirling's novel, The Peshawar Lancers. Comet fragments impact across North America and Asia in the late 19th century, and while Britain is spared direct devastation, the resulting 3-year-long winter reduces the island to a cannibalistic wasteland. The Empire is able to survive by relocating its ruling class and technological capacity to India. Of course, the Klingons would have to do this while simultaneously fending off encroachment by potentially hostile foreign enemies. The Federation isn't overly likely to take advantage, but the Romulans, the Cardassians, etc?
      • Incidentally, during the Dominion War, Gowron did move the seat of the Klingon government to a heavily-fortified facility called Ty'Gokor, said to be deep in Klingon territory. It's not unreasonable to guess that the Klingon government made this a contingency plan in the wake of the Praxis incident—similar to the US having a number of alternate sites from which to govern in the event of a disaster affecting Washington DC.
      • Also The Empire, being an Empire, probably has a lot tighter leash on its member worlds than The Federation. Qo'nos in trouble is a potential trigger for all sorts of uprisings, rebellions, separatist movements, etc to flare up on subjugated worlds.
    • It's not just Qo'nos that's the problem, Praxis was their key energy production facility. That's a very nasty one-two punch for the Klingons. And by way of comparison, the Xindi, Dominion, Borg, Romulans and Remans all viewed an attack on Earth as the key to defeating the entire Federation. Why shouldn't it be different for the Klingon Empire?
    • Qo'nos also has a lot of deep cultural, spiritual, and philosophical importance to Klingons. While it's theoretically possible that in the fifty years when they were frantically trying to relocate an entire planetary population they could also manage to hold their government together, it might have had much deeper effects on their society. There might be a sort of sentiment that Kahless had broken his bat'leth over his knee and said "Fuck all of you, go screw yourself" and that's why Qo'nos got screwed up, leading to them abandoning their Proud Warrior Race ways and becoming just another bunch of bumpy-headed cantina scene filler.
  • It's probably more likely that keeping their atmosphere unpolluted was a tremendous energy sink for them; there was probably some kind of technology that reinforced their ozone layer (like an "atmospheric purification unit" of some kind), which required a healthy supply of whatever energy-producing commodity Praxis was rich in. For this reason, their ozone layer would have been depleted within 50 Earth years. Certainly, if the explosion of Praxis had outright stripped the ozone layer off of the planet, everyone would have been dead before a message of any kind could have been dispatched at all. In addition, it is never explicitly stated that Praxis is a satellite of Qo'nos, but simply that it's a moon that the Klingons own. And finally, although shockwaves do not propagate through the vacuum of space, the so-called "sub-space shockwave" of Praxis' explosion would probably have ripped right through the crust of Qo'nos, were it an orbiting satellite.

     Preserving Tyranny? 
  • What about the various subject worlds/species of the Klingon Empire? By propping up the Klingons, isn't the Federation helping them to keep conquered worlds under their rule, whereas normally in the face of such circumstances many worlds would strive to gain independence? That was what happened after the Soviet Union began to economically crumble after all. Basically all of the Eastern European and Northwest Asian nations they had turned into territorial possessions broke away. By the same token, who is to say that all of the Klingon colonies wanted to continue to be subject to central rule from Qo'nos? Klingon society is dominated by the warriors largely because they control the Council and the home world. Those Klingons who do not wish to be warriors have to either endure social scorn or become warriors anyway. It would seem as if this entire exercise was a massive violation of the Prime Directive! The Federation is basically making policy to the effect that deciding the future of many worlds and peoples beyond their borders is fine so long as it produces an outcome that is beneficial to the Federation.
    • We don't know all the terms of the peace treaty worked out at Khitomer. Perhaps it included forcing the Klingons to give their subject races the chance to opt out of the Empire and generally "softening" their internal policies. In the Kirk-era the Prime Directive doesn't seem to apply to races who already have knowledge of other species and planets, so the Prime Directive would not be a barrier in dealing with the Klingons or their subject worlds.
    • And that's what seems to have happened. For Picard's time the Klingon seem not to have subject species anymore and by the Dominion War the issue that the Klingon invaded Cardassia is deal not only as a political scandal but also as "returning to the old ways", if the Klingon kept dominated planets then their invasion to Cardassia wouldn't be such an incident.

     No plans, no backup 
  • Chang has a Bird of Prey that can fire while cloaked, and it presents Enterprise and Excelsior with a huge tactical disadvantage. Why did the Klingons only make one prototype like this and forget about it by Picard's time?
    • See No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup. Not a justification, just that it's a very common trope.
    • Kirk demonstrates how to defeat this version of the cloaking device by the end of the movie, so the Klingons didn't bother to build any more.
      • I've always assumed that Starfleet also developed tactics to deal with such a vessel. In Star Trek: Nemesis, while fighting a starship that has the same ability to fire under cloak, Captain Picard employs a battle plan very quickly, and he even seems distracted while he's doing it. Later, Riker orders "defensive pattern Kirk epsilon." Considering that Kirk was the first Starfleet captain to battle a warship with this capability, he probably developed plans of action for this kind of situation, and Starfleet named these tactics after him.
    • But they do make loads more regular Birds-of-Prey, so either the Klingons solved the gas emission problem or Kirk and Crew were so mad about being retired they never told Starfleet how to find a cloaked BofP.
      • The gas problem was something only the modified Bird-of-Prey had. Its cloak couldn't completely mask the emissions because of the power needed for the weapons, which allowed the Enterprise to track it with the gas sensor. Regular cloaked ships put nearly all the power to the cloaking device to ensure everything is hidden.
      • Now that makes sense and explains why the Klingons never made anymore of the modified BofPs and why Starfleet never used the same method to find regular BofPs.
      • Not to muddy the waters, but wouldn't it be a simple matter to equip future birds-of-prey with countermeasure "flares" that throw off ionized gas to confuse torpedoes? Today's military aircraft are often equipped with infrared flares that confuse IR-seeking missiles, and when the movie was written, that technology was already decades old.
      • Then you'd see flares popping out of nowhere, which would instantly betray the cloaked ship's location even more than the gas emissions. Think of it more like a submarine running silent rather than a stealth aircraft: stealth doesn't work if you make too much noise, and if they've found you then making more noise by launching countermeasures is only going to draw more attention to yourself. If Chang wanted to survive he should have dropped his cloak, raised shields and withdrawn, but that wouldn't be the Klingon way.
      • That's how countermeasures WORK. Sneak up on your enemy as much as you can, sure, but once you're spotted-and ONLY once you're spotted and you know your enemy is taking a shot at you- full tilt boogie on the engines, evasive maneuvers, and launch decoys. (if you've done stealth right, you'll never have to do this. But failing that...) Stealth is already completely lost, now you're trying for "dazzle". You're hoping that whatever targeting method the enemy's weapons work on, they'll prefer to lock onto your decoys instead of the real you-and you do this by having the decoys be even more obvious than the real you.
      • Actually, depending on how that torpedo was tracking the ship it might not be like a heat-seeking missile so much as a self-guiding missile. Rather than homing in on a particular signature, it's actually following the gas emissions back to its source. You could no more develop a countermeasure to that than you could suddenly create new boat wakes or decoy footprints in the snow.
    • Chang probably had the ship built in secret and may have had the scientist(s) who built it murdered, or maybe just put aboard with him. He was a rogue general plotting to use it to assassinate his Chancellor and start an intergalactic war in alliance with some of his empires deadliest enemies. That's probably not the kind of thing you advertise. Even if the thing was built before the whole Praxis incident, it is still conceivable that he kept it from the rest of the Klingon High Command- they certainly don't appear to know that such a ship exists.
      • You know, TNG established that some of the Klingon Great Houses have their own fleets which are separate from the regular Klingon Navy. As dysfunctional and antagonistic as Klingon politics is often shown to be, I wonder if there's always a bit of an arms race between the Houses. Whichever house Chang belonged to—or even the collective efforts of any of the Great Houses that were sympathetic to the conspiracy— might have even built the prototype without the Klingon government knowing about it.
    • In fact, Fridge Horror indicates that it's pretty much impossible that such a conspiracy as presented in the movie would be so neatly rolled up by the authorities once Kirk foiled the assassination attempt and killed Chang. There was likely a purge as the conspirators, particularly in the less happy-fuzzy Klingon Empire, tried to cover their tracks. So it's entirely possible that the Klingon scientists (and when's the last time you ever saw a Klingon scientist?) were killed off to keep them from spilling the beans on their sponsors.
      • TNG episode. Beverley made friends with him.
      • If you mean "Suspicions," the Klingon scientist was female and definitely nobody's friend. Crusher does state "I don't think Klingons regard scientists very highly."
  • Klingon culture had experienced some kind of change in Picard's time (out-of-universe explanation is Depending on the Writer), to where they were now presented as Proud Warrior Race Guys instead of the Blood Knights they were in TOS. Such a weapon does not give an equal playing field to the enemy, and has an exploitable weakness, anyway. What would Kahless do?
  • The current crop of post-TNG novels, particularly the Typhon Pact series, go into some depth about the endless technological race involved in maintaining a viable cloaking capability. The impression given by the viewpoint of late-24th-century Romulans is that no new cloak remains truly undetectable for very long and they are continually developing new cloaking technology, even as their enemies are continually attempting to penetrate it (as indeed the Romulans are continually looking to penetrate Klingon cloaks). This seems much like the no-doubt-intended analogy to submarine warfare. It is entirely possible that no subsequent breakthroughs were made in cloaking technology which successfully maintained the ability to fire while concealing itself from the continual march of sensor technology.

     Do not wait for the translation! 
  • "Don't wait for the translation!" - If Kirk and McCoy don't wait for the translation of your question General Chang how will they know what you asked them?
    • It's a Shout-Out to something said to the Russian ambassador by the American ambassador during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It made as little sense in Real Life as it did in Star Trek.
      • Actually, it made a kind of sense if you read the subtext as, "Don't use waiting for the translation as a way to stall for thinking time that you shouldn't need to answer a question that you should know the answer to. . . only if I say all that (and all this) I'll have given you exactly what you wanted, a stall for time, so I'll just tell you not to wait for the translation and then shut up so you can be on the spot in front of everyone."
      • Except neither Kirk nor McCoy speak Klingon, and what we're hearing is Translation Convention. Why couldn't they use universal translators? They wouldn't even know he said "Don't wait for the translation" until they heard it in English. Same with the Russian ambassador. It was just a political trick to make it seem as if the other person is stalling.
      • The Russian ambassador in real life probably did understand English just fine. He was an ambassador, understanding one of the most-used languages in the world (Japanese sailors had to learn it during WW2 because a lot of their charts and machine manuals were printed in English) would have been necessary for his job. Kirk and McCoy aren't ambassadors, so in Chang's case it was purely grandstanding (instead of only partly).
    • The Translation Convention is ambiguous enough that Chang could have been questioning Kirk (and McCoy) in English while addressing the court in Klingon. The dinner on Enterprise indicates Chang speaks English and questioning the accused assassins in their native tongue may have been legally apropos.
      • This makes for a delightful multi-layered bit of Fridge Brilliance. If he's speaking English to them, as an obvious show of graciousness to the foreign defendants, this is his chance to put them on the defensive for showing enough respect to their hosts to wait for the translations into Klingon before they answer. He puts them in a position where it would be rude to not wait, and then sinks their image by making them appear overly hesitant to answer.
    • Kirk and McCoy may indeed speak enough Klingon, or at least know enough of the language, to understand what was being said.
      • There's never really any indication of that though. Picard's the first Starfleet captain to be shown as explicitly fluent in Klingon.
      • Except for the fact that they are in Rura Penthe, without translators (as Kirk says) and yet they seem to understand fine their Klingon jailers (and is unlikely that the jailers learn English as they're the only humans in the entire prison and apparently the first ones too).
  • Chang knows they don't speak Klingon, and Azetbur knows, but does the rest of the court? I know they're using translators, but it's possible that Chang is just trying to make them look like they've duped everybody into thinking they don't speak Klingon.
    • Considering his personality, I think it's less a cunning ploy, and more that Chang is simply being an enormous ham and putting on theater for his own amusement.

     "'Let Them Die,''' You Said 
  • How did Valeris know Kirk said that? She wasn't in the briefing room when Kirk and Spock were having that conversation. Did Spock tell her about it? Or did the conspirators have a hidden mic planted in the briefing room?
    • It was once claimed that there is a silhouette briefly visible in the conference room, suggesting that she was secretly there. I was never able to find it; is there any photographic evidence or can we chalk that up to an unfounded rumor? In any event, it's not all that hard to explain; the conspiracy's tendrils seem to be everywhere, so a hidden mic, as you suggest, or somebody telling Valeris is hardly unreasonable.
    • After the meeting is dismissed, and everybody but Kirk and Spock leave, there is clearly someone standing in the background to the right side of the screen (just to the right of the three frosted glass panes with the Starfleet insignia on them), but it doesn't look like Valeris, at least not to me. It seems to be a male Starfleet officer wearing command white, and he's just kind of lurking there ominously. It's weird, because he's more than a silhouette—obviously I can pick out some details of his uniform—but he's just standing there during a private conversation between two command-level officers, and it goes completely without comment form Kirk or Spock. My guess is that he's one of the conspirators.
  • Admiral Cartwright probably told her.

     Public Mind Rape 
  • Spock forcing his way into Valeris mind was... dodgy, to say the least.
    • The needs of the many...
      • Nimoy's acting specifically addresses this point, he did what he had to do and it's obvious it hurt Spock to do it.
      • But did he have to do it right there, on the bridge, in front of everyone? I mean, I realize time is an issue, but still, seeing him do that in front of an audience was... greatly uncomfortable.
      • They didn't have time to move her anywhere.
      • Besides, that's really going to make the rape metaphor any better? "I don't want people to see me doing this to you. Let's go off somewhere out of sight, like say your quarters." Besides time being of the essence, Spock is essentially saying "If I have to do this, I'm not going to hide it, let everyone here judge me as they will. I probably deserve it."
    • I believe the novelization addresses this somewhat. Spock tried to do it as comfortably as possible for her. Only when he tried to dig up information which she did not know, it got painful. It would make sense than when reading someone's mind, on the surface you can't tell the difference between "doesn't know" and "knows, but is hiding it really well". If you believe the case to be the latter, you'd try to dig it out with all you've got for a while before realizing that crap, the person really doesn't know.

     Prototype Revisited 
  • This movie features a Klingon Bird of Prey prototype that can fire while cloaked. Yet in Trek series set 70-80 years after this movie, we never hear anything more about this ability. Being able to attack while invisible grants an enormous tactical advantage, so the Klingons wouldn't have just abandoned this.
    • Didn't you just ask that right above here?
    • Though given what happens in the movie, the prototype was a failure. Expanded Universe information indicates that firing while cloaked took enormous power and the ship couldn't sustain it for long; of course it wasn't intended to need to, but once Starfleet worked out how to easily detect such a ship by its engine emissions it lost its tactical advantage. Later series would make cloaking device/detection technology more of an explicit arms race - any development on one side gives only a brief advantage before the other side catches up, and no cloak is perfect.
      • On Deep Space 9, the power of the Defiant's engines keep running under cloak from being a viable option. Once a weapon is fired, it marks something off and other things once hidden will come to light. Probably another reason the UFP ditched cloak-tech—you spend way too much time beating the next upgrade in detection tech.
      • They did that because their deal with the Romulans specifically prohibited the Federation from developing and using cloaks. Remember the TNG episode with the phasing cloak?
      • By the time Deep Space Nine rolls around, it's pretty clear that detecting cloaked ships is straightforward enough that they have a standard procedure for it, so cloaks are only useful if the enemy hasn't thought to actively look for you yet. In that case, a device like Chang's would have almost no real value.
    • Note that we never again see the engine-emission-homing photon torpedo that Scotty jury-rigged to counter this new cloak, either. Another case of Reed Richards Is Useless.
      • Actually, Scotty didn't modify the torpedo, which was something that always bugged me. Spock, the ship's science officer asks Dr. McCoy Enterprise's chief surgeon to help him modify a torpedo. Why does Spock need a physician to attach scientific mapping equipment to a weapon system, and more to the point, why would he want the good doctor's help?
      • All McCoy did during that scene was hold stuff/hand it to Spock. Why take up the time of the Chief Engineer fighting to keep the ship together against a withering onslaught when McCoy is just standing around snarking and all you need is someone to hand you the parts in the right order?
      • The problem with that is of course that Enterprise was getting an intensive beat down, and Spock was keeping him from doing his damn job. That Bones was up on the bridge in the first place is irritating—especially to the people burned and/or hemorrhaging in sickbay. If Spock needed help, why not call one of the botanists? Space Seed establishes that Enterprise has an historian on staff (at least at the time of that episode); why not get him or an equally useless crewman to meet Spock in the torpedo bay?
      • Perhaps Bones has a large medical staff ( which we don't see on the TV show due to cost of hiring extras ) that could handle things. Also, if someone suitable wasn't already on board, wouldn't Starfleet assign the Enterprise a temp Senior Medical Officer once Bones was arrested?
      • Additionally, you're getting torpedoed and thus the ship is being shaken. You're making very delicate modifications, so you want a steady hand to prevent the torpedo possibly exploding before you fire it. Who'd have a steadier hand than the surgeon?
      • The Watsonian perspective would be that they didn't want to waste money shooting scenes in sickbay with injured crewmen being hauled in and treated, and thus gave that for McCoy to do, otherwise one third of the Power Trio would be a total dunsel in the climax of the movie.
      • In-universe Science Marches On. Build a better cloaking device and someone will build better sensors. In the dozen years following this Starfleet starting making sensors that could detect and extrapolate from exhaust vapors, and someone in (or under contract to) the Klingon and Romulan empires was racing to try and find a way to mask this. As soon as they found that way all those sensor modifications Starfleet came up with were obsolete.
    • It's also been stated that the cloak was adjusted to allow for weapons fire but not shields. One torpedo shot was all it took to take the cloak down. The Scimitar in Nemesis may very well have been built expressly to handle such power requirements for cloak, weapons and shields, but it seemed to be a custom-built ship from the ground up (not using a prior starship model) that was in no way viable for mass or semi-mass production. Even today most stealth ships are meant for recon or nuclear payloads, the F-22 had to sacrifice some stealth capability in order to be combat efficient. If you're going to do recon or first-strike stuff, regular cloaks work just as well.
    • Considering the prototype has been discovered and destroyed while it was attempting to ruin a peace conference, we can suppose this peace conference immediately forbid this type of cloaked vessels.
    • Neither a Klingon chancellor nor a Romulan praetor would allow the existence of ships that can be so advantageous for a Civil war or a putsch.

     No witnesses 
  • When that prison guard shot the shapeshifter and said "No witnesses," how did he know he was shooting the shapeshifter? Or did he not care who he was shooting at and only realized he killed the shapeshifter after it died and just said that to sound badass?
    • It didn't terribly matter which one he shot first, the other one wasn't going anywhere. It was a quip after he saw which one he had offed. In fact, had he shot Kirk, he could have said the exact same thing as a Pre-Mortem One-Liner before shooting the shapeshifter.
    • She had taken off her leg cuffs. Kirk still had his on.
    • How would the guard have known that? He doesn't seem like a big deductive thinker. note 
    • I really don't think he cared who he shot, he seemed pretty looney.

    Torpedo accuracy 
  • Couldn't they pinpoint the origin of the Bird of Prey's torpedoes and have a phaser bank or a torpedo standing by to fire at that location? Hell, tie the firing controls to the computer for faster reaction.
    • Except that would require the Bird of Prey to fire from the same position twice, something which they appeared to be avoiding. Phasers could theoretically be used to return fire, but they have been shown to be inaccurate without a solid lock in the past (recall The Wrath of Khan, where the Enterprise, getting the jump on the Reliant, failed to hit her with phasers from about a hundred meters away when they were in the nebula).
      • Small problem with the inaccuracy explanation. As shown in TWoK (the very example above references), TOS, and in the EU, starship-grade phasers do not need to hit the target to do damage. In Wrath of Kahn, Reliant was shown reeling from near misses by Enterprise's phasers. TOS shows this in the episode Balance of Terror, where Enterprise's phasers act like today's depth charges against the cloaked/submerged Romulan Bird of Prey.
      • The nebula is also outright said to screw up targeting sensors, making it damn hard to get a clean lock without a lot of prep time. Reliant, despite knowing exactly where Enterprise fired from, missed horribly when it shot back. In normal conditions, phasers are aimed by computer and are very precise.
    • As noted above, Picard employs these exact tactics, named after Kirk himself no less, in battle against a similar ship. This is the first instance of such a ship in Federation history. After the fact, either Kirk or some Starfleet tacticians probably went over the battle and thought "how can we beat such an enemy without a magic torpedo?"
    • There's another problem that just occurred to me: Chang's transmitting pretty much the whole battle, and it's kind of implied that he's just leaving the channel open so that he can ham at will. Shouldn't they, especially after Excelsior shows up, be able to get an approximate direction and range based off of Chang's signal—at least enough to lay down a field of fire? I wouldn't bring this up at all, except its something we can do today. In fact, we have missiles that seek radio signals in our inventories right now.
      • It would make sense that Klingons and Romulans have detected a way to broadcast communications that don't give away their position while cloaked, especially if it's just something relatively simple like audio. Chang's just broad-beaming out some audio, he's not exactly directly transmitting a full audiovisual of a Klingon opera. As noted below, they're probably leaving his monologue on so that they can try to pinpoint him, they're just not able to.
    • Could be Chang was routing his monologuing through one of Khitomer's communication satellites so they couldn't trace the transmission directly to his ship.
      • Immediately after Chang starts talking, there's a cut to Uhura tapping frantically at her console and then giving a confused shrug. Presumably, this is meant to show that she tried to trace back the signal and couldn't.
  • I'm more interested in the fact that a torpedo, even on present-day Earth, is by nature, a guided weapon! Only this *once* has Star Trek ever addressed it, and the film makes it look as though Spock, Uhura and Dr. McCoy just invented torpedo guidance while their consoles were busy smoking from being blown up. And another thing...remember in "A Piece Of The Action," when Kirk orders a wide-dispersal of the phasers on the planet surface, at "stun" setting? Yeah. Wide dispersal of the phasers would really have kinda helped, here.
    • There are both guided and unguided torpedoes in modern warfare. In fact, in general unguided torpedoes are more common since they are smaller, lighter, and considerably less mechanically complex, allowing more to be carried by the same launching platform. Sub-launched torpedoes are guided because they're the primary ship-to-ship weapon of a submarine.
    • They just jury rigged the torpedo to guide itself towards Klingon thruster emissions, rather than a standard target lock.
    • Even the status of guided torpedoes in the Star Trek universe is confusing. Most times torpedo shots have been launched in any of the series or movies, they follow unguided straight-line paths; since the torpedoes are supposed to be using warp coil sustainer engines (EU Technical Manuals) to be going just under the light speed limit without relativity effects (or proper warp speeds), there's not much of a need for complicated guidance systems when you should be able to hit your target in less than a few seconds. Hence, "torpedo lock" is really more like WWII submarines with torpedo computers, where you predict the target's location in the future and aim your torpedoes to hit that point. Hitting Chang's ship required something a bit more nuanced, since they couldn't see where it was or where it was going.

    The Dreaded Makeup Chair 
  • Why, when compared to other Klingons, does Chang look so (for lack of a better word) human? Did Christopher Plummer just not feel like spending a few extra hours in make-up?
    • From what I heard, yes.
    • Maybe his mother was one of those smooth-headed Klingons? Presumably after the third or tenth fellow warrior got killed for making Your Mom jokes about it, they felt he was badass enough not to bring it up again.
      • Of course, having an eyepatch bolted to your skull immediately grants you badass status, no matter what your forehead looks like.
      • That's apparently not that badass among Klingons... apparently they don't believe in straps for eyepatches, they're all bolted on. And maybe he is a smooth-headed Klingon but he just had some plastic surgery done to restore some of his original look.
    • Even from what little is known about Chang, it seems plausible that most of his hair was burned off, likely in battle.
    • It might be a simple vanity thing. Most Klingons let their hair grow wild, but maybe Chang likes how smooth and neat he looks without it. He does seem very much an attention whore.
    • Or he's simply the Klingon Empire's Evil Counterpart to Jean Luc Picard. Bald, lover of Shakespeare, fluent in English and Klingon, etc.
    • A far more realistic answer post-Enterprise is that Chang was still undergoing treatment for his Augment virus.
      • In many ways, the real world evolution of the Klingon make-up from the Motion Picture to here actually makes the Augment virus look like a pretty brilliant in-universe solution in retrospect. You can see the Klingons gradually and in a realistic time frame improving their medical techniques over the years to cure everyone of this plague. And of course there would also be some who quite like the new look, some who didn't take well to the treatment, some who just didn't want to for various reasons etc. that could easily explain a lot of the diversity on show in these films.

     Since when do we trust the Romulans? 
  • In a scene deleted from the theatrical release but included on some home video releases, the Klingon Ambassador's conference with the Federation President is immediately followed by Colonel West and Admiral Cartwright presenting a plan to rescue Kirk and McCoy by force. Not only do they carry this classified material into the President's office just as the Klingon Ambassador is leaving, but the Romulan Ambassador is still there, listening to the whole presentation.
    • Maybe that's why it's a deleted scene. Someone caught the discrepancy.
      • Post-Enterprise, we could make the argument that he is a MACO.
      • Out of universe, I think Nicholas Meyer was taking a an oblique shot at Colonel Oliver North, and the joke wouldn't have played as well if the character were called Captain West.
    • This may actually be foreshadowing as all three West, Cartwright, and the Romulan ambassador are in on the conspiracy. Beyond that "Operation Retrieve" was little more than a thinly veiled attempt to restart open hostilities with the Klingons. The Klingon ambassador seeing the plans on his way out of the office would only help things along.
      • This movie opened in December of 1991, by which time Star Trek: The Next Generation had firmly established a story arc in which the Romulan Empire was trying to sabotage the Klingon-Federation alliance. It's very possible that the Romulan was there as a subtle clue for diehard Trek fans. It's fairly esoteric, but it's subtle enough that it wouldn't distract casual fans.
    • Perhaps this was an attempt at coalition-building. There are a number of reasons that the Federation would want the support of the Romulan Star Empire in an armed conflict with the Klingons, and they're only likely to get that support if the Empire thinks the Federation has a good chance of winning. Show the Romulans a plan that you're sure you can pull off, and then go out and do it, and you've shown the Romulans that you're strong, resourceful, and that you're the team they should be backing.
      • I might buy this if the Romulans had some involvement in the proposed rescue mission — if they had to go through Romulan space to get to the Klingon home world faster or something. But no, it just seems like they're too lazy to clear the guy out of the room before the top secret discussion goes on. Actually, I've always been pretty hazy about the Romulans' role in this film, period. Why are they part of the Khitomer Conference? And what is Nanclus's part in the conspiracy — is he representing his government or is he in it alone for some reason?
      • The ambassador's presence at the mission briefing, at least, might make sense if the Empire and the Federation had worked out a deal to liberate some unseen Romulan prisoners when the Starfleet task force rescued Kirk and McCoy. That would give the Romulans a big enough stake in the mission to sit in on what seemed to be, at best, a very broad-strokes briefing that didn't really include much in the way of sensitive operational details.
      • Non-canon sources indicate that the whole thing is a double switch by the Tal Shiar; they're playing Chang and Cartwright against each other to prevent the peace settlement, out of fear that they'll be marginalized once the balance of power shifts. Come to think of it, that pretty much happened, with the Romulans spending the next 80 years or so in an isolationist funk and acting as smarmy quasi-villains-of-the-week afterwards.
    • The Romulan empire wasn’t identified as a treacherous enemy during Kirk era. The relationship between the Federation and the Romulans could have improved between the five-year missions and the Praxis incident. Transparency with the Romulan emissaries is a way to show them that the Federation and Klingon Empire are not plotting against them. The prior movie already introduced some trilateral relationships between the three superpowers.
      • It might also have been the case that with the Federation doing something highly provoking to the Klingons that they wanted to make sure the Romulans knew that it wasn't going to be a plot aimed at them too. The Romulans have been occasional Klingon allies and their area of space if very close to the Klingons, they want to make the Romulans feel secure that it won't involve them. America has been known to tip off Russia and China to actions near their borders just make sure things don't escalate unnecessarily. There might even have been a request to use Romulan assets such as cloaked vessels for insertion/retrieval or information from Romulan espionage sources. Any of those would give legitimate political reasons for the Ambassador to unofficially sit in on a meeting. Obviously it is all a ruse and the Ambassador is in on the conspiracy to start a war not avoid one, but the people planning the mission are the same ones planning the conspiracy which means they can tailor the mission so as to involve the ambassador and anyone else they need.
    • Another point worth raising is that, while the Klingons and Romulans may be enemies at this point, they were allies in recent memory. It seems absurd to deliberately share sensitive material with the Romulan ambassador if there's a chance that his loyalties might be in question (which they are!).

     The things they don't teach at Starfleet Medical 
  • Why doesn't McCoy know about Klingon anatomy? It seems like something you'd want to know if you're constantly bumping into them and vitally important if you're going to beam over to a Klingon ship to perform emergency surgery. If you don't know the anatomy of the species you're operating on, wouldn't it be dangerous to try treating them? I'm imagining a Zoidberg-esque scene with McCoy in sickbay, "Chang, it's been years since medical school, so remind me. Disemboweling in your species, fatal or non-fatal?" And while the Klingons do seem very secretive about revealing information about their biology (as seen by Bashir being unaware of the smooth forehead Klingons of the 23rd century) wouldn't the Bird of Prey Kirk captured in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock have had a medical library that the Federation would have downloaded?
    • Yes, but they weren't on it for very long. And McCoy doesn't read Klingon.
      • They were on Vulcan with it for three months after they left Genesis. It's another 8 years from ST:III to ST:VI, more than enough time for the Federation's top minds to translate the contents of the computer.
      • You assume they kept the Bird of Prey. Remember, the Klingon ambassador was pretty incensed that Kirk wasn't getting strung up by his own viscera as it was. Starfleet may have made the concession of "Look, here, we're giving you your ship back with no red tape and not taking the time to dissect the thing. Now shut up about Kirk and quit bugging us about the issue."
    • I find this weird, too, but for a slightly different reason. There's no on-screen evidence that McCoy examined the captured Klingon in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, but he did examine one in "The Trouble With Tribbles". He uses a man's heart rate and body temperature to determine that the man was a Klingon spy; showing that he has at least some knowledge of Klingon physiology. He may not have an intimate understanding of Klingon anatomy, but he should know where Gorkon's heart is located.
      • Wonderful stuff, Romulan Ale...
      • He wouldn't need to know about Klingon anatomy to recognize the heart rate and body temperature as not human.
      • True, but he immediately identified the man as a Klingon. Granted, that was the most likely species based on the situation and the reaction of the tribble, but it would have been very tactless for Bones to say he was a Klingon without being sure—and given the circumstances, it could have lead to a international incident.
    • They even failed basic diplomatic precautions. If you're rendezvousing with a ship carrying the most important foreign dignitaries ever, and you're bringing them over for dinner and drinks, it's just plain common sense that you would have someone IN YOUR OWN CREWnote  with the medical training to deal with an emergency. Like, say, from one of them choking on a pretzel, to someone tripping and landing gut-first on a steak knife, to someone suffering food poisoningnote . Basically, if your function is to act as diplomatic hosts and military escorts, their well-being is entirely your responsibility, and whether or not they have their own doctors, you shouldn't trust them to account for medical emergencies. Otherwise you end up with scenarios like what happened in the movie.
    • Presumably, McCoy knew the basics of Klingon anatomy. Notice that he delivered the precordial thump with some degree of success (in that it brought Gorkon back for a moment). It would make sense that, given the decades-long war between the two powers, there is some understanding of how the Klingon body is put togethernote . However, that doesn't mean that McCoy has any understanding of how to put that body back together after it's been phasered to Hell and back.
      • Incidentally, Mike and Denise Okuda's text commentary points out that today the precordial thump is considered outdated except in very specific situations; in fact it's generally not even taught in medical schools anymore. With the increasing availability of AED units, its use becoming more and more rare. Bones, however, was able to use it successfully enough to revive Gorkon briefly. Maybe it's still in-protocol for Klingons, and McCoy''s using it indicates that he knows more than we're giving him credit for.
      • Or he was that desperate that he was doing anything he could think of to save Gorkon's life, no matter how obsolete the method.
    • Even if a fully-trained surgery team with full knowledge of Klingon anatomy had been standing by, it's unlikely Gorkon could have been saved, with as much blood as he lost and as much time had elapsed. Besides which, the Klingon doctors probably wouldn't have been a whole lot more competent than McCoy. Also, there's the underlying ugly assertion that McCoy considers in the novelization: That a Klingon life isn't worth saving.
      • Would that mean that Chang was right about him? At the trial Chang asked McCoy, "Now be careful, Doctor, have you ever in your past saved patients as barely alive as he?" It wasn't that Gorkon was beyond all help, but that McCoy didn't have the knowledge to treat him. He was, as Chang said, incompetent. And as prejudiced as he might be, I highly doubt McCoy was giving any less than 100% to saving Gorkon since I'm sure he knew perfectly well the only way they were getting off Kronos One was if Gorkon lived.
      • Oh, no, that's not what I meant. What I mean is, that ugly assertion on Starfleet's behalf may be why they haven't trained their surgeons regarding Klingon anatomy in the first place. On the contrary, McCoy was, in fact, quite desperate to save him.
  • Of course, it takes doctors years to learn human anatomy well enough to practice medicine. And that's having operated the equipment in question for decades before undertaking such training. Can you imagine having to become as familiar in alien anatomy? Particularly anatomy of someone who isn't even your own ally, when you have Vulcans, Andorians, etc. to keep up with? Of course, assigning a specialist to the mission would make sense. The omission of such a specialist might give the impression that the mission was meant to fail (which, of course, it explicitly was, otherwise that's the entire plot of the movie).
  • There's also the simple fact that McCoy has a tendency to streamline his language - "I don't know his anatomy!" could have just been his way of expressing "I don't know enough about his anatomy to be sure that what I'm doing is going to help or hurt him." As pointed out above, he probably knew something of Klingon anatomy, but it's a lot easier to figure out where the vulnerable parts of alien anatomy are than it is to figure out how to patch them up while the patient is bleeding out in front of you, so, from McCoy's perspective, it was the quicker, more succinct statement. Of course "I don't know his anatomy" also becomes grounds for a charge of incompetence on his part, but he wasn't looking for how his language would look on a transcript but was speaking to Kirk in the course of a medical procedure.

    Chekov and Uhura's appalling lack of knowledge 

  • Does it seem likely to anyone that Security Chief Chekov doesn't realize a phaser set to disintegrate will set off an alarm, and Communications Officer Uhura can't speak Klingon? Why the gaping lack of knowledge in the specialties of these two individuals? (And we've already had the talk, just above, about McCoy not knowing Klingon anatomy).
    • Reportedly, Nichelle Nichols was very unhappy at the "fake translation" scene, appropriately reasoning that Uhura would speak Klingon or at least that there would be a mechanism for translating it that doesn't make everyone look like buffoons. In fact, her anger at Nicholas Meyer is pretty obvious when you watch the scene! Star Trek (2009) does some damage control by demonstrating that Uhura certainly does understand Klingon.
      • If you look closely at Uhura's console, you'll notice that one or more screens are displaying the message 'Stand-By.' According to Michael Okuda's text commentary, this was intended to imply that there was some malfunction that was preventing the computer from displaying the translation—requiring them to use books. Apparently "Stand-By" is the Starfleet equivalent of the BSOD.
      • It still doesn't make sense that the communications officer of the Federation's flagship wouldn't speak the language of the species they've been at war with for decades. 30-50 years ago, Russian was the premium language in the military just as Arabic is now. There must have been someone who spoke Klingon on board.
      • Both of the Abrams movies contain a blatant Take That! at this scene—going out of their way to establish that not only can Uhura speak English, Vulcan, Romulan, and Klingon (and, presumably Swahili, like her Original Series counterpart), but she also has a working knowledge of Klingon warrior culture. Maybe the difference is NOMAD, who wiped the original's mind in The Changling.
    • The Chekov case is a bit easier to justify as a momentary lapse, but the point is taken that the film feels free to demean the secondary characters' intelligence for the sake for humor. Strangely, the same thing is true of Star Trek V (remember Scotty hitting his head?) but this film never seems to get called out on it.
      • Everything bad about V gets blamed on William Shatner, who is sort of a Butt-Monkey of portions of the Star Trek fandom. Since VI can't be blamed on him it's not called out on having many of the same problems.
    • Regarding Chekov, I assumed they were just spitballing ideas; Valaris suggested the assassins might have taken off their magnetic boots in zero gravity before beaming back to the Enterprise. The ones who reprogrammed the computer to show they had fired two torpedoes might have disabled the security sensor temporarily so the alarm didn't go off. Plus, as Spock said: "When you eliminate the impossible whatever is left, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." A phaser that can vaporize a target without setting off an alarm is as novel an idea as a ship firing while cloaked.
    • Speaking of which, doesn't it also seem weird that there's an unlocked cabinet full of loaded pistols in the galley, and that nobody—even the frickin' chief of security—seems all that irritated that Voleris fired one off in a room full of people?
      • You're talking about a setting where technology exists to beam intruders to any place within range. Such as my sneaky Borg friend standing behind you currently. Keeping weapons stocked in all populated places of the ship is just being Crazy-Prepared. As for why nobody seemed to care... well Security did come barging into the room moments later, presumably ready to vaporize some Klingon intruders.
      • Except in the context of that scene, security was reacting to the power setting, not the fact that she fired a phaser (which the movie makes clear is potentially lethal even on the stun setting) in a crowded room. In the real world, reckless discharge of a firearm is a very serious crime that could easily cost a junior officer his or her career (and some brig time). Voleris doesn't even get a stern talking-to.
      • Maybe in the far future, having an unlocked case full of guns doesn't inherently equal ship-wide murder spree? Just like having a toolbox doesn't automatically require passerby to begin removing bolts from nearby bulkheads. "In case of emergency, here is some guns." With transporters being as universal as they are, it's more tactically sensible to have small gun lockers everywhere and easily accessible than centralized and secure. This would also require all crew to be familiar with and respectful of the phasers' capabilities - doubly so for the ship's officers. It's not as if officers making a point have been irresponsible with hand weapons before.
      • You're forgetting, though, that the apparently unrestricted access to phasers aboard Enterprise actually did result in several murders in this very film. Not only that, but the search for Gorkon's assassins could have been a lot shorter if there were some record of who aboard Enterprise had checked a phaser out of the ship's armory, and when.
      • Also remember phasers can be adjusted to different power levels and can therefore be used as things other than weapons if necessary. If you need to, say, patch a hull breach you shouldn't need to set it all that high or alert security.
      • Going by production order, the very first mentioned use of a hand phaser in Trek is for making coffee (offscreen) in the galley. Yeoman Rand does this during a tense standoff when the ship is on high alert, too.
    • As far as the spitballing ideas go, it is worth noting that when you are brainstorming, all ideas are good ideas until you have a chance to consider them. You are not supposed to discard them out of hand without at least dropping them on the table for the others to give their first impressions. And as mentioned above, the computers had been tampered with. It's a bigger gaffe that nobody called Valeris on the possibility that the sensors were too.
      • And note that Valeris does discard Chekov's suggestion out of hand (as does everyone else present). And Valeris's grandstanding stunt keeps Chekov from keeping with that train of thought. Still, it's vaguely troubling that Chekov allows himself to be cowed so easily... he is security chief after all!
      • Is he, though? He did act as chief security/tactical officer during TMP, and if Phase II had gotten off the ground, they would've made mention of his switching career tracks. But considering his position on the bridge on the Enterprise-A, he may have shifted back to Navigation with an eye towards moving on to his own command like Sulu did. So he may not have had the security sensors in the front of his mind when he put his idea forwards.

    The Klingons' poor holster design 
  • It's a minor thing, but during the attack on Qo'noS One, notice how we see a Klingon's pistol floating out of his holster once the Artificial Gravity fails. One of the more important features of a holster is to help retain the gun, so it doesn't fall out at an inopportune moment. Clearly, the Klingons never saw that as much of a concern, perhaps assuming that any sufficiently skilled warrior shouldn't be so careless as to lose his weapon, or so unresourceful as to be dependent upon it.
    • Holsters designed for quick-draws usually sacrifice some features that would normally secure the weapon, but even so, you're right; that disruptor floated out of his holster way too easily. I'd also point out that the sheaths that hold warriors' d'k thangs hang from an over-the-shoulder strap and don't seem to be tied down at all, making drawing your dagger a two-handed task (as Picard demonstrated in Sins of the Father).
    • And as the RiffTrax puts it: "When you live in outer space, should you really be that terrifyingly unfamiliar with zero-gravity situations?"

    1, 000 light years from Federation Headquarters 
  • When asked about the illegality of Romulan Ale, Kirk glibly replies, "One of the advantages of being 1,000 light years from Federation Headquarters." Let's do some basic math here. 180,000 (miles per second, roughly the speed of light) x 60 (seconds in a minute) x 60 (minutes in an hour) x 24 (hours in a day) x 365 (days in a solar year) = 15,552,000,000 miles. And that's just one light year. Multiply that by 1,000 and you get 1,555,200,000,000 miles. The Enterprise and Kronos One are shown traveling at sub-light speeds prior to the start of this scene. Just how long are they planning on making the President wait for these peace talks, anyway??? Possible to justify as the figure "1,000 light years" being a bit of colorful language that Captain Kirk is throwing around, but the puzzled look on Brigadier Kerla's face is worth noting.
  • A light year is roughly 5,878,600,000,000 miles. According to Enterprise, Kronos, the Klingon home world, is only about 4 days from Earth at Warp 4.5, or around 90 light years away. Since that's where Gorkon was coming from and the Enterprise-A met them on the way to Earth, Kirk was exaggerating about the distance from Earth by at least a factor of ten and probably more like a factor of 20.

    Gangway, Assassins Coming Through! 
  • Really no excuse for this one...at a Peace Conference hosting delegates from hundreds of worlds, with supposedly super-tight security, a Klingon just randomly gets up with a large metal case in his hands?! And walks toward the balcony?! While the daughter of the previously assassinated Chancellor is speaking?! What?! And then a minute later, the guy the Klingons convicted of assassinating said Chancellor is RUNNING HEADLONG TOWARD THE PODIUM, BRANDISHING A WEAPON, SCREAMING "MR. PRESIDENT!" AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS. And nary a security guard nor so much as a flustered Klingon there to stop him. Riiiiight.
    • The Klingon bodyguards act to protect the Chancellor rather than the Federation President shortly after the first shot is fired. Apparently they didn't care that Kirk was rushing the President as long as he wasn't attacking Klingons. Where the Federation President's security was is a little less explainable. Maybe the conspiracy got rid of them in preparation for the attack?

    Sensor Logs? What Sensor Logs? 
  • No one seems to have bothered to speculate about the fact that Spock was staring straight at a sensor readout display when the first torpedo was fired off. Triangulate the point of origin of the torpedo = we have not fired. And even if he hadn't been looking right at the sensors (due to the "neutron radiation"), the fact that sensors are recording what's going on around the ship does not seem to have been brought up by anyone. Nick Meyer does not seem to have been watching The Next Generation, simply put.
    • Spock was staring at sensors tuned to read neutron emissions, not track photon torpedoes, so he may not have been able to track the torpedo's origin immediately. Scotty says later that the ship's records had been altered to show that two torpedoes had been fired. Presumably the sensor logs were also altered to show the torpedo origin as the Enterprise.
    • TNG does establish, however, that there are limited sensor resources, even on the Enterprise-D. On a couple of occasions, different departments have competed for use of the same sensor pallets for different projects (the episode "Lessons" has an example of this, if I remember correctly). Spock was probably looking for a more mundane—insomuch as a Trek-style Negative Space Wedgie can be described as "mundane"—explanation for the odd emissions, and had configured the sensors to track and identify spacial phenomena. That would mean that there would be far less raw data about the torpedo launches to analyze later than there would be if the sensors were in a tactical configuration. The less data there is, the easier it would be to edit that data to obscure the trajectory of the torpedoes when Valeris and her confederates tampered with the logs. It was pretty crazy on the bridge after the attack on Qo'noS One, maybe if everyone was less distracted, someone would have noticed that the torpedoes' flight paths didn't make sense, but in the heat of the moment everyone was looking for a different explanation, so nobody thought to look at the data that would have led them to the right answer until it was gone.
    • To triangulate something, you need three points of reference (hence the root word of "triangle.") Enterprise is. . . one reference point. Okay, if that explanation doesn't work, the sensor logs had already been altered to show that Enterprise had fired twice immediately after the attack, so whoever did that may have also altered the sensor readings to make backtracking the torpedo back to not Enterprise impossible.

    Evidence Laws in the 23rd Century 
  • Is Valeris' confession admissible in Courts of Interstellar Law? I thought mind-melds were supposed to be "fuzzy Vulcan mysticism" and stuff. It seems oddly specific that what happened could even be classified as a true confession. Are they supposed to take Spock's word for it? Is forcible mind melding even allowable under Vulcan law? Doesn't that seem kind of...I don't know...extremely fucking horrible?
    • Maybe it got thrown out when Cartwright was court-martialed for those very reasons.
    • For what it's worth, the novelization says that Spock got the information out of Valeris by basically explaining to her why she was wrong and how disappointed he was in her through the mind meld (feeling Spock's disappointment is what caused her to cry out during the meld), and that after she understood Spock's position she acknowledged her error and gave him the information willingly through the meld. So if the novelization is to be believed Valeris probably made a second completely voluntary confession during any court-martial that occurred.
    • Would there have been a Starfleet court martial at all? Cartwright and a number of the other conspirators were arrested in Klingon territory, after all. And considering that he had conspired to attack a Klingon starship and assassinate the Klingon head of state along with several other Klingon officers, is it realistic to expect that the Klingons would be willing to release him into Starfleet's custody?note 
      • I'm not certain of the canonicity of it, but in Star Trek: Starfleet Academy Bridge Simulator on the SNES, the first mission involving Harry Mudd states that Starfleet Regulations require the protection of Federation Citizens under any and all circumstances, so extradition would probably not have gone over well with them, even if Ambassador Johnshuck started yelling at them about it.
    • It was Sulu and his men who took custody of Cartwright, not the Klingons, and he was caught during an attempt to assassinate the Federation President. It seems likely the Federation would try and sentence him for his role in the conspiracy rather than (or at least before) extraditing him to the Klingons. Kirk and McCoy, you'll remember, were taken prisoner by the Klingons on a Klingon ship. Chancellor Azetbur may also have been willing to let the Federation deal with him as a good faith gesture, since she already had enough other problems to deal with (mitigating the effects of the Praxis explosion on Kronos and her Empire, consolidating her own power as Chancellor, finding any remaining Klingon conspirators, etc.).
      • Cartwright probably was court martialed. Then his memory was wiped and he was left running a creole restaurant in New Orleans...
      • and seems to have aged quite well in the intervening century, aside from a bout of brockpetersitis...
      • How was this a punishment? Because Cartwright preferred Cajun. Even after the memory wipe, every time he added tomato to a dish, another little piece of him died.
    • Probably not, but not to worry: there should be a wealth of other evidence against Valeris (I doubt Cartwright would bother to protect her).
    • Considering that Vulcans do not lie and Spock is not a regular Vulcan, is one of the most well-respected officers of the Federation, is very likely that his testimony does holds in court, especially a martial one. Should be remember that in this universe the judicial system probably adapted to include alien cultures and biologies. That and sole testimonies are not enough in court anyway, there is also need for other corroborative evidences which, as stated before, probably are plenty.

     No, I'm the impostor! 
  • Usually in these Spot The Impostor situations, it is the impostor who will be shot so both are trying pretend to be the real person, but seeing as this was the other way around, and they were both trying to convince the guard that the other was the real Kirk, why didn't Martia simply transform into someone else? For that matter, I am struggling to figure out why she ever even turned into Kirk in the first place! The only thing I can think of was that she was hoping the Enterprise would rescue her instead of the real Kirk, but since she was playing for a full pardon and knew was to be killed while trying to escape, she has no reason even to do this!
    • Even if Martia was thinking should could try to pretend to be Kirk and be rescued when the Enterprise arrived, it wouldn't have worked; the real Kirk was wearing a Veridian patch on his back, which the Enterprise used to find him and presumably used to get a transporter lock on him. Martia didn't know about that, or she figured the Enterprise's sensors wouldn't be able to distinguish between a group of Klingons, two humans and one changeling pretending to be a human.
    • Well, she did manage to get the drop on McCoy by turning into Kirk. Kirk points out that Martia doesn't seem to have any reason to stay in his form. Her response is just "I like it here," so maybe she's not exactly firing on all thrusters, if you take my meaning. In any case, the commandant seems to have realized which one was Kirk before he shot Martia, so turning into someone else wouldn't have helped her any.
    • Martia had removed her leg cuffs; Kirk hadn't. Closer inspection also reveals that her eyes remain a shade of gold regardless of what body she is in. No matter who she transformed into there was disguising who she was from a vigilant enemy.

     The Alien Knee Genitals 
  • Its meant to be a throwaway joke and as such we are not meant to think about it, but to put it politely as possible, that is terrible design if every single time you kneel down you are at risk of squashing your own testicles. And does he go to the toilet from his knee too? How could such a system ever evolve?
    • Why assume that excretion and reproduction would necessarily involve the same organs for aliens, just because they happen to share a common exit in the human species ... and just half the human species, at that? For that matter, why assume that if the alien in question has a penis-analogue, it'd necessarily be right next door to his gonads? Most male animals on Earth keep their testes internally, and some distance away from the structures/orifices used for breeding; it's just us weirdo mammals that park them outside and right next door to each other. As for kneeling, he might think humans are messed up because our men would squash their nads from straddling a tree branch, as is proper for sitting.

     Enterprise decommissioning 
  • Why was the Enterprise being decommissioned at the end of the movie? Even if the senior crew was retiring, the ship itself was only 7 years old according to the timeline.
    • The problem lies between the original script and what you see on screen in Star Trek 4. The Enterprise-A is meant to be the USS Yorktown with a different name - if you listen to the dialogue it gets heavily damaged by the whale probe and presumably needed to be returned to spacedock during Kirk's trial (which probably took days or weeks to set up despite what it looks like in the film). It also explains why the Enterprise was such a piece of garbage during Star Trek 5. With this in mind we can suppose that the Yorktown was seven years younger than the original Enterprise given how that was being decommissioned in Star Trek 2.
    • When a military decides to stop supporting a particular model or class of vehicle then it decommissions all of them regardless of age, it works out logistically easier. The UK, for example, when it decided to cease supporting its "Nimrod" aircraft fleet in 2011 had aircraft that were brand new and had never even been flown scrapped. This BBC article explains the decision most of which probably applies to Starfleet too. In particular Starfleet is moving to a new paradigm based around the Excelsior class which will supplant the Constitution class, there is no justification for keeping the Constitutions on the books and having to provide two different service and support schedules for them, it is just easier to scrap them all and move wholesale to the new design requirements.
      • Well, naval vessels, especially capital ships, can often be an exception because they represent a much bigger investment than any other military equipment. The USS Lexington (CV-16), for example, was in service for nearly twenty years after most of her sister ships were decommissioned. There's also some pretty solid canonical evidence that at least one, possibly even two, Constitution-class ships fought at the Battle of Wolf 359, 79 years after Enterprise-A was mothballed (indeed, the wrecked model of the Enterprise from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock appeared on-screen in the debris field).
      • There is plenty of time between TOS and TNG for Star Fleet to reactivate any old Constitutions they had mothballed for specialist reasons, museum ships, or training vessels. With Wolf 359 in particular they were scrambling to put anything in between the Borg and Earth, so if they had a Constitution class in any sort of warp capable condition then it would be in the 359 Fleet (and probably one of its first casualties too). We have been shown in Unification that Starfleet basically never throws a ship away after decommissioning, just permanently mothballs them in space-boneyards, so if they need one for whatever reason then they have it on hand.

     We have to save the president, but first let me change my clothes! 
  • When working on the engine rooms during the battle with Chang, Scotty was wearing a uniform with a vest as opposed to the standard red jackets everyone else is wearing. He also wore a command white turtleneck. However when the crew beams down to save the president, Scotty's wearing the standard uniform with a gold engineering turtleneck. So, did Scotty take the time to change uniforms before beaming down, despite the fact that the president's life and the fate of the Galaxy were at stake? And when the crew returns to the bridge at the end, Scotty's back in the vest.
    • Maybe he had the transporter change his clothes for him? He is a miracle-worker after all.
      • Even if he could do that, what's the reason why he felt the need to? Did he think he needed to look presentable when saving the president?
      • What good is saving the galaxy if you don't look stylish doing it? After they save the president Scotty, Kirk, and Sulu are clearly posing for a group photo as they receive the applause of the delegates.
    • On a less urgent note, Kirk and McCoy both take the time to change uniforms and shave between when they discover where the conference is and when they arrive for the fight with Chang. There must be a time skip there, because it only takes a few minutes on screen.
    • While it would probably lead to the question of why Scotty would beam down at all, an explanation for the dress would be to blend in better. They didn't know exactly when or from where the assassination attempt would occur. They are unauthorized to be there, at best, and wanted fugitives, at worst. Going down in a work uniform to a formal diplomatic event would have had his stick out like a sore thumb. After he got back to the Enterprise, he may have changed his uniform back in case he had to head back to engineering.

     Where's Sulu? 
  • Upon arriving at the Starfleet meeting and seeing the other Enterprise crew, sans Spock, whose absence Kirk comments about, McCoy asks, "If we're all here, where's Sulu?" Why would McCoy think Sulu would be there? According to the opening, Sulu hasn't been part of the Enterprise crew for at least 3 years.
    • Due to budget cuts from the critical failure that was the Star Trek V, there were substantial script changes. For example it has been rumored that in the original version you actually saw Scotty on his boat as opposed to him just mentioning it in passing. Perhaps in the original version Sulu hadn't been Captain of the Excelsior for long?
      • Still, regardless of how long Sulu was captain of the Excelsior, he was no longer part of the Enterprise crew, so why was McCoy expecting him to be there?
    • If my theory is correct, then Sulu had just left the Enterprise, as in, right after their last mission. One of the reasons why I think that this line is a mistake not picked up in editing is because at the start of the film (before Praxis blows up) the Excelsior is charting gaseous anomalies. At the end of the film however when the crew are discussing building the exhaust-seeking photon torpedo, it is the Enterprise that was stated by Uhura to have been suddenly charting gaseous anomalies and thus has all of the equipment required for the modified torpedo. Certainly it is not impossible for both ships to have been on the same mission at the same time, but it is a bit of an asspull as this had not been mentioned previously. To me, it makes a lot of sense if the original script had the Enterprise witnesses the death of Praxis, they go back to Earth where we see things like Scotty's retirement boat and Sulu's promotion, and then the movie cuts to the meeting with the admirals. One last point: in Generations Kirk had no idea that Sulu had an adult daughter so these are not people that seem to socialize much outside of work (Star Trek V camping trip aside).
      • As far as the gaseous anomaly equipment issue is concerned, you've actually got it the other way around. Apparently in his autobiography, George Takei said that it was supposed to be Sulu in the Excelsior who pulled that trick off with the gaseous anomaly equipment, as foreshadowed by the mention of the Excelsior cataloging the anomalies. However, William Shatner requested that it be changed, arguing that Kirk would never need someone to come charging to his rescue. Apparently the Star Trek chronology rectified this issue by saying the mission was a long term one and most starships, including the Enterprise, had been fitted with the equipment.
      • A minor point, but Kirk knew that Sulu's daughter existed (he met her once, twelve years earlier, per the dialogue), but didn't know that she was assigned to the Enterprise-B.
    • The novelization attempts an Author's Saving Throw by saying that McCoy was well aware that Sulu had been off in the Excelsior for several years but was making a lame joke.
    • Sulu is the Captain of the first ship in Starfleet's most advanced line of ships, possibly the de facto current flagship. It might have been expected that he'd be invited.

     Let's send the guy who hates Klingons and who the Klingons hate back. What could possibly go wrong? 
  • Kirk may be behaving irrationally with his prejudice against the Klingons, but he had every right to be mad at Spock for springing the whole "you will escort Chancellor Gorkon" mission. It's no secret that Kirk hates the Klingons for killing his son so why did Spock (and by extension Sarek, who Spock said played a role in the negotiation) decide to send Kirk along on this mission. If he wanted to convince Kirk, wouldn't it have made more sense to suggest the idea first and try to convince him to go along with it, rather than just telling him that he has to do it after the arrangements had been made. On the flip side, why do they think it was a good idea to send Kirk to escort the Klingon Chancellor, given that much of the Klingon government thinks that Kirk is a criminal who got away scot-free with killing a Klingon crew and the Klingon ambassador himself said "There shall be no peace as long as Kirk lives!"
    • Spock's monumental Idiot Ball aside for not reading Kirk better, I always thought that this was Fridge Brilliance. Most of the Admirals in that room are in on the plot to assassinate Gorkon, so who better to frame for the crime than the guy who hates Klingons? A guy that they have good reason to suspect would make himself appear guilty several times over the course of the journey? A bereaved father of a murdered son and veteran of a dozen combat engagements against them? Sending a neutral or sympathetic Captain would raise too many questions once Gorkon is apparently killed by his hand.
      • Cartwright is the only one in the room we know is in the conspiracy, so it's probably not true that "most" of the Admirals are part of it. The Commander-in-chief, for example, is shown not to be a part of the conspiracy.
    • The answer is in the Vulcan proverb "Only Nixon could go to China." Kirk has an undisputed anti-Klingon reputation, and therefore when he is assigned as the Federation's "olive branch" both the Klingons and Starfleet know that the Federation is serious about offering peace. No one will be able to say Kirk is doing it because he is sympathetic to the Klingons. Sarek understood this advantage, and he trusts Kirk after the whole "risked his entire career for Spock's soul" incident. Spock made a mistake in not talking to Kirk first, but the whole thing seems to have been set up rather quickly.
    • There's also the fact, while it was retconned in, the Klingons of The Undiscovered Country are ones influenced by Worf and the warrior race mentality. Kirk is the Federation's greatest soldier and someone they have a grudging respect for even as they hate him as an enemy. General Chang is the friendliest one to Kirk at the meeting and he's the biggest hardliner of the bunch.
      • It's not even as retconned as all that: given the characterization of Kor in "Errand of Mercy," it seems perfectly possible that he would be relatively friendly with Kirk under neutral circumstances, even as he craves the "glorious" experience of facing him in battle.
    • OP here: Came up with another possible answer that I'll add for the benefit of others. In addition to the aforementioned reasons, Kirk is maverick often at odds with Starfleet Command. The conspirators in Starfleet, regarding Kirk as an unreliable loose cannon, may have assigned Kirk to be the fall guy for the additional benefit of getting rid of Kirk. Unfortunately for them, they underestimated Kirk's Determinator status.

     Vulcans love Richard Nixon 
  • "There is an old Vulcan proverb: only Nixon could go to China." Why exactly does an old Vulcan proverb refer to a figure and event from Earth history?
    • As we saw in Star Trek: Enterprise the Vulcans could be a bit quirky on the things they found important in other cultures. It is perfectly possible that when they were going through Earth history, almost certainly from an America-centric POV, they found the example of the China hating Nixon being the one to go to China simply because he would be trusted if he said something nice about them as he'd have no incentive to lie about it, and adopted it; especially if there was no clear analogue in Vulcan history.
    • Spock is making a joke. There's no such Vulcan proverb, but he's trying to get his friend Kirk to loosen up a bit, while simultaneously pointing out a real reason to have Kirk take the mission.
      • As an aside, yes, Spock does make jokes sometimes. By Star Trek VI he is sufficiently comfortable with his emotions to tell Valeris that "Logic is just the beginning of wisdom."
    • Perhaps Spock is recasting a Vulcan saying ("proverb" is probably an exaggeration) into Earth history terms? If Vulcan history has a parallel incident of an emissary, long-known for being a bitter enemy of a certain people, being sent to open normal relations with that people—a Vulcan Nixon becoming emissary to a China analogue—perhaps Spock substituted dramatis personae that Kirk (presumably familiar with American history, since he was "born in Iowa" after all) would recognize rather than using the persons from Vulcan history, who would be unfamiliar to Kirk.
      • This is the approach the newer Trek Novels have taken. In the Star Trek Titan Novel Orions Hounds, you had a vulcan character say the vulcan version, "Only Soval could go to Andoria", and a human character mentally remark they were more used to the 'translation' version using different human history references. The Vulcan version serves as something of a double reference as well, as the Character of Soval is one of the Vulcan ambassadors from the Star Trek Enterprise series, which was set in a time when Vulcan and Andoria were engaged in a cold war type situation of their own. I believe the Soval saying appears in a few other novels as well, as the different writers tried to stay in continuity with each other.
    • It's also a bit of a running joke for Star Trek in general, and this film in particular—it's the Trope Namer for In the Original Klingon, after all. Later in the film, Spock claims to be a descendant of Sherlock Holmes (and this is speculation, but I've always assumed that he referring to his father's side of the family). Chang and Spock, incidentally, were borrowing this joke from Chekov, who was known to claim that Russians were responsible for almost every technological or cultural advancement in human historynote . Interestingly, Chekov's claim that Cinderella is a Russian story—his only instance of using this gag in all of The Undiscovered Country—it's actually a subtle subversion. Russians do kind of have their own unique version of Cinderella: "Vasilisa The Beautiful."
    • Perhaps the Vulcans had been studying Earth for some time, and realized that Nixon would be the perfect person to go to China, watching all these events from afar.

     Spock and Mc Coy are the best qualified crewmen on the ship to re-program a torpedo? 
  • Spock is a Science Officer. Bones is a doctor. Are they really the best qualified people for programming the torpedo in the final space battle scene? Doesn't the ship have armorers who are specifically trained for and assigned to that type of job? It just seems really inefficient to send your Science officer (who is 2nd in command of the whole ship) and your doctor to go re-program a torpedo, as opposed to having trained crewmen in the weapons room who could perform this task immediately.
    • Spock is one of the best computer programmers in Starfleet, and is great at improvising a technical solution - he once built a mnemonic memory circuit out of stone knives and bearskins. When the only chance the ship has to survive is to cobble together a new torpedo guidance system in the middle of an attack, Spock's your man.
    • Why McCoy should be his assistant, on the other hand, is a mystery. There are undoubtedly casualties on the ship that would benefit from the good doctor's skills.
      • Yeah I've always thought it would have made more sense to have Scotty be the one to assist Spock with working on the Torpedo. Not only is such a thing well within Scotty's field of expertise, but it would have given him a much more productive role in the movie. Sadly, he didn't get to do a whole lot in the film.
      • Scotty was of far more use trying to keep their broken ship working long enough for them to actually fire the torpedo in the first place. If for some reason that it had to be a senior officer, Chekov would make the most sense as he is the ship's tactical officer and it wasn't as if he was firing the guns much at their invisible enemy anyway.
      • Chekov was the one who fired the torpedo when they tracked the ship and they probably needed him to main the weapons console. McCoy on the other hand was just standing around on the bridge, so they might as well put him to work. In any case, McCoy's part in the torpedo re-programing was mainly just handing Spock the parts he asks for, so there isn't much qualification needed. Plus, I've seen it suggested elsewhere that given that it was a delicate procedure, a steady hand like a surgeon's would be of use.
      • McCoy was "just standing around on the bridge?" Why was McCoy standing around on the bridge while the Klingons were blowing holes clean through the Enterprise every few seconds, no doubt causing lots of casualties?

     The Klingons never use their new "Fire while cloaked" technology again? 
  • The movie makes it very clear that the ability to fire ship weapons while cloaked is a revolutionary technological advancement in space combat. So why do we never see them use it again in any Star Trek film or episode? I know the ship was destroyed, but obviously the specs for the technology must be been recorded so they could make other ships that have it.
    • Is it that revolutionary though? Because it seems to me that the only reason it worked so well to begin with is because no one had ever fought anything like it before. The moment anyone starts to field these things on mass, all that Starfleet would need to do is to start carrying some dedicated ionized gas homing torpedoes as standard and that would be that. And that is just the solution that the crew went with; what about the massive amounts of neutron radiation the thing releases? Or the fact that the torpedo tube is clearly visible when firing? If the science and engineering divisions of the Federation are famous for anything it is developing solutions to previously impassable problems very quickly.
      • But wouldn't Klingon technology improve to work against attempted countermeasures as well? I get the impression roughly 99% of Klingon science is dedicated to combat. So I'm sure they would work on finding ways to keep the ship better hidden. It just seems silly to use it once and then totally abandon it when it was in its prototype stage. Even if it doesn't make a ship invincible, you just gotta figure it would always be better to have the ability to fire while cloaked then to not have that ability. It's not like having that ability give you any disadvantages.
  • This issue has already been addressed at least twice on this page. Look in the "No Plans, No Backup" and "Prototype Revisited" folders.

     Why don't the assassins destroy the boots by mundane means? 
  • Why not cut the boots to confetti with a plain old knife?
    • Anti-gravity magnetic boots are probably a bit harder to destroy than a pair of old Doc Martins, and even leather boots are hard to cut up. Even if they could, it still leaves them with the same problem. Being discovered in possession of a bucket full of anti-gravity boot bits is still as damning, if not moreso. They cannot destroy them, they cannot flush them overboard, they have to find a way of hiding them and obfuscating their identities. They actually picked a pretty decent way of doing it, they ditched them on someone else. Their only bad choice was picking a guy whose feet couldn't possibly fit in them. Why they chose the guy with webbed feet to ditch them on is the real headscratcher.
    • The conspirators believe they are acting in the best interests of the Federation by provoking the Klingons to war. They ditched the boots with someone who couldn't possibly be guilty quite possibly because they didn't want to get any innocent Starfleet personnel in trouble.