Darker and Edgier sequel to the popular Star Trek fan film Star Trek Specter.The year is 2388, ten years after we last saw our crew of intrepid heroes aboard the USS F. Scott Fitzgerald. The story opens with the dire news that the fractured Romulan Empire—in tatters following the events of Star Trek: Nemesis—is united again, and about to invade The Federation. Their motive? Revenge—because they believe that Starfleet was behind the supernova that destroyed Romulus the previous year. Admiral Thornton tells Captain Bradley Prentice that the Romulans purport to have evidence to back up their claim, and that if they are to avert disaster, he must prove the evidence is false, and discredit the source, a mysterious individual known only as Drakus, who may or may not be human. A short time later, an expert in Romulan psychology arrives to help—none other than Admiral Gaius Reyf.The Fitzgerald departs for Romulan space, but while en route Reyf is visited in his quarters by the ghost of Braiyon Garr, who warns him not to venture into Romulan space, that doing so will mean his certain doom—which Garr says he wants to inflict himself. Shortly thereafter, the Fitzgerald arrives at the edge of the Romulan Neutral Zone, only to find the Romulan battlecruiser that was supposed to be their escort has been savagely attacked. At Reyf's insistence, Prentice agrees to salvage the ship's cloaking device and press ahead, despite the dangers that await them.With time running out until the start of the Romulan invasion, Captain Bradley Prentice finds himself caught between a mysterious warlord who will stop at nothing to see the Federation destroyed, and a superior officer who may be hiding something—a dark secret which could save the Federation...or seal its doom.For the third film, see Star Trek III: Redemption.
Aborted Arc. When our heroes first stumble onto the Vaxis, a hint got dropped about there being a third and unknown weapons signature. Later on, we discover that what was supposed to be a rogue planet has been blasted into rubble (and this fact is referenced later on when Ronston confronts Prentice about Reyf's secrecy). Yet, nothing ever comes of it. Word of God says that this was supposed to be leading up to the revelation that Drakus had designed a planet-destroying superweapon which he planned to use to obliterate every planet in the Federation, but this was dropped as too similar to the Death Star. The unknown weapons signature at the Vaxis battle site, meanwhile, was supposed to have been the key that eventually led everyone to conclude the ISS Voyager had been involved in that event, but that element was dropped to preserve the mystery surrounding the dark ship's whereabouts.
Alternate Timeline: At the end of Specter, Garr traveled back in time, and in doing so created one of these, which still somehow manages to integrate all the events from Specter as we saw them. We're still in it now, as you can tell by the designs of some of the sets—some colors and certain design elements are "off" from what we might otherwise expect.
By far the most visible is the fact that the bridge still has colors from the bridge of the Enterprise-E.
Then there's Ronston's rank insignia. If you look closely, she has four rank pips, three gold, one black, kind of a "captain junior grade." In the Prime timeline, she'd simply have three gold pips.
Also, the uniforms worn by Operations officers versus Security officers. Operations officers wear the traditional gold, but Security officers have a more orange hue to their uniforms.
In the end, when the timeline changes again, suddenly everything is back to its TNG-ish state, right down to the sounds of the bridge and door chimes.
Animation Bump: A significant one between Specter and this film. So much so that when material from the first film wound up being re-used for the Previously On sequence, a later draft of the movie showed that the background plates and character animations had all been re-rendered at higher resolution, ostensibly as a testbed for what would eventually happen with all the material in Retribution.
Shots from later in the movie that involve Kristie all had to be rendered at different settings than other shots, so that her ponytail would be seen as it was meant to be seen rather than as a wireframe. In the first film, the discrepancy could be explained away as the android simply being incomplete; this time Prentice goes out of his way to point out that she's been fully completed.
Midway through production, the producer found a new way to render exterior shots to make the hulls look more metallic and realistic, and give the lights (in particular the warp engines) a "glow halo" like they'd always had on the shows. The new render style first popped up in the second battle sequence.
Art Evolution: Between Specter and Retribution, there was considerable evolution to the appearance of the characters. Aside from some obvious facial adjustments to make them appear slightly older, there are more differences in hair and eye color now.
Asteroid Thicket: Justified; the debris field that the Fitzgerald flies through is from a planet that was recently destroyed, so the asteroids would naturally be closer together.
Back for the Finale. To show we're in an altered timeline, presumably one in which the Romulans never got Borg weapons, we see several ships and people we saw destroyed during the final battle and through the course of the story. Admiral Janeway and the USS Voyager, the gigantic Starfleet command ship (referred to in dialog as the USS Judicator), the Romulan proconsul...
Batman Gambit. How our heroes eventually get Drakus: knowing he'd have all the bases covered, including deactivating their weapons, and that he'd never be able to resist bragging over his achievement, our heroes trick him into confessing everything on an open comm channel to the Fitzgerald, which retransmits the recording to the Romulans, who immediately break off their attack on the Federation fleet and focus their efforts instead on Drakus' flagship.
Big Damn Heroes: The Fitzgerald moves in to rescue the Gueridian Proconsul from behind a fleet of over 300 Romulan Warbirds.
Blooper: After visiting Commander Kal in sickbay, Mitchell steps into the corridor to talk to Ronston. When the sickbay door closes behind her, the word "TURBOLIFT" is clearly visible on the label.
The dedication plaque on the bridge simply says "USS Fitzgerald" instead of the ship's proper name, F. Scott Fitzgerald, which is clearly visible on the hull several times.
Then again, there are other times when the saucer section doesn't have any name visible on it.
And if you look closely at the big ship schematic in Engineering, not only is the ship's name wrong (the shorter one), the registry number is wrong too: NCC-85767.
Even though Main Engineering is located on Deck 36, the doors in Engineering all clearly have "01" as the deck number.
Sometimes, Reyf's belt buckle is vertical. Other times, it's horizontal.
In some shots, Captain Prentice's left boot appears to be missing.
While on the holodeck, there are several shots in which Prentice's and Garr's reflections in the black marble floor don't match up quite right.
And several more occasions where the characters don't appear to be in the same place from one cut to the next.
Call Back: Naturally, the events of Specter are referenced several times, but not immediately, and at first it isn't clear what role (if any) they will play this time around.
In the shuttle on the way back to the Fitzgerald, Prentice and Ronston discuss how far they've come since. Prentice even jokes about how much of a handful Ronston was back in those days.
Ronston also says: "What matters isn't the challenge we face. What matters is that we stick together. And that we come out on top. The captain taught us that."
Mitchell's line "Ready captain—we'll get there with time to spare, even if I have to get out and push" is a nod to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, when Montgomery Scott said something very similar.
Reyf says that the Romulan fleet is massing in Sector 585, the location where he and Garr finally met up for their Showdown at High Noon.
On Garr's visit via hologram: "Something very similar happened to me ten years ago. At the time, I thought I was hallucinating, and it wasn't until much later that we discovered what I'd seen was real."
The subtle "coffee cup" gag from Specter also returns here. In the first film, the presence of coffee cups signaled that Garr was either present, had been or would be soon. In Retribution, both times coffee mugs appear, Garr appears soon after.
When Garr goes to inspect his armada, he takes the same runabout we saw all the way back in the prologue of Specter.
We get a hint that it's the same one when Reyf says "When he arrived to deliver the evidence to the Romulans, he was in a shuttlecraft," as opposed to runabout.
When Prentice gives his Patrick Stewart Speech to the crew just before they head back towards Romulan space, he almost directly quotes something Reyf said at the beginning of Specter, specifically: "If we all stick together, there's nothing we can't do" (the original line was "If we all stick together, nothing can stand in our way").
Lampshaded when Prentice turns to Reyf, and he responds, "Well said, captain."
When Kendra calls Earth to talk to Merv, she repeats almost word for word what Phil said about her in Specter, namely that "the only thing I cared about was the next good time."
During the epilogue scene in Ten Forward, when Garr is seen talking to Kristie, his animation is re-used from the nightmare sequence in Specter.
Prentice and Ronston seem to be getting along much better.
For that matter, Erickson apparently married Merv Ronston at some point (it's explained later that it lasted for less than a year, and that Merv went back to take over the Starfleet Corps of Engineers).
Hargrove, Mitchell, and Kal (all ensigns in the first film) are all grown up and have assumed senior positions on the Fitzgerald.
Hargrove stands out in particular, as she was the nervous ensign that Reyf met with in his ready room, who's grown into a fierce and determined (if somewhat pessimistic) young woman as security chief.
Conspicuously Light Patch: You can usually tell when a shot's going to have camera motion to it—if there's something in the background that's supposed to be animated (i.e. LCA Rs, alert lights, warp stars, etc.), and it is in one shot but not the next, usually the "next" shot will be a motion camera shot. (Another tell is that the "motion" shots involve background plates whose blur is different from the regular ones).
Could also be a call back to events much earlier than the linked things — to the Federation (and its direct predecessor, the Coalition) that's a chronological list of major enemy powers (the Romulans way back during the Earth-Romulan War, then the Klingons during the TOS period... and finally the Borg in the TNG era) — the list just end before it gets to the more messy Dominion War period with its three overlapping major enemies.
At one point, the camera pans across the interior of Spacedock towards a fancy and advanced-looking ship, which many fans immediately assumed would be the "future" USS Fitzgerald. Then the camera pans over it (similar to the end of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and we see the genuine article).
When the Fitzgerald loses warp power and the cloaking device in Romulan space, a trio of these comes to the rescue. One is Mark Kingsnorth's Insignia, and another is starship's Enterprise-F.
This time, it's not just about one Mad Scientist obsessing about lost love, hatching a plan with unknown repercussions. This time, it's about an insane warlord who's determined to wipe out The Federation no matter what it takes.
Dr. Braiyon Garr. In Specter, he was only mildly threatening, and was a bit of a Anti-Villain. This time, after repeated failures, he shoots and vaporizes an aide seemingly without a second thought, and then moves on with his cleverly fiendish sinister plotting.
Captain Prentice: "Spare me the villainous posturing. What do you want?"
Captain Prentice: "If you're hoping to win me over with flattery, don't bother. Now if you'll excuse me, I haven't slept in two days, and I'm starting to feel a tad cranky. Why don't you go bother the admiral, I'm sure he'd be glad you stopped by?"
At the end of the minefield scene, Garr loudly clears his throat and glares at Prentice until he thanks him for his efforts. His response, in the style of Jack O'Neill: "Oh it was nothing, really."
Holo Garr gets in a nice one at Kristie's expense:
Garr: "See, that's how you can tell I'm the one who programmed you: such boundless optimism."
Type 1: The initial shot of the consulate building is backed by ominous stormclouds overhead and a clap of thunder, foreshadowing the coup eventually instigated by Drakus' operatives.
Type 3: During the conversation in the same scene, a particularly emphatic "I believe" by the proconsul is accompanied by loud thunderclap. Then a few minutes later, the proconsul trails off after saying, "Only Drakus' most trusted aides have ever seen his face; anyone else who is summoned before him...", and right on cue, there is thunder and lightning as we understand that Drakus is most definitely a Card-Carrying Villain.
Dramatic Drop: When Garr first appears, Reyf is so startled that he drops the mug of coffee he's just ordered.
Establishing Character Moment: Prentice's comes in the shuttle, as does Ronston's, as they discuss their fond memories of what they learned from Reyf during his tenure as captain.
Hargrove's comes during the crew briefing, where we learn that she's pragmatic but pessimistic, a stark change from the young and nervous ensign we saw in Specter.
Mitchell's comes later, when she's sitting next to Kal's biobed in sickbay waiting for her to wake up.
Evil Laugh: If you thought Garr's was creepy in Specter, wait till you hear it this time around.
The Faceless: Drakus for most of the film, until The Reveal. The only hint we get about his identity before that comes early on, a very quick glimpse of a very human ear when he turns to address a Romulan aide.
Dr. Garr had this several times in Specter, but curiously when he first appears to Reyf as a hologram, he doesn't. Fans have questioned that, but the creator has pointed out that Garr's Sinister Shades have changed—they used to be gold with clear lenses, but now they're black with blue lenses.
The reason for a number of small things, such as the Garr hologram's glowing red eyes, or the green clouds our heroes find when they reach the Romulan Neutral Zone for the second time.
Actually the green clouds make a certain amount of sense: the scene involves a field of cloaked mines, and when the viewscreen switches to a sensor graphic, it wouldn't have looked nearly as cool without false-color clouds behind them.
Word of God says the fact that the clouds are blue in the sensor graphic (already established as Garr's primary color) was no accident.
Hannibal Lecture: Braiyon Garr drops in on Captain Prentice just to deliver one of these.
Ironic Echo: In the holodeck scene, the holographic "good" Garr begins the conversation by saying, "Magnificent, isn't it?", referring to the elaborate and detailed simulation he's created. When Reyf and Kristie confront Drakus on the bridge of his ship, he begins that conversation (while looking out at the ongoing battle) with the same words.
In Specter, when the Kristie android spoke to Garr aboard the Fitzgerald, it was a heartwarming scene that was very warmly lit. The same thing happens here, except it's the opposite in every way: the lighting is cold and austere, the music is subdued and haunting, and even the camera angle is reversed.
Irony: Admiral Thornton tells Prentice and Ronston to expect an expert in Romulan psychology, adding "I think you'll be pleasantly surprised." Several times after that, the characters gripe about being stuck with an interloper.
Ronston: "Probably some...back room wag from the diplomatic corps eager for some field action."
Prentice: "This mission is going to be tough enough without being saddled with a know-it-all bureaucrat."
Guess who it turns out to be.
Light is Good: The interiors of the Fitzgerald are, for the most part, brightly lit (except when the ship is cloaked), and even the ones that aren't look warm and inviting. By contrast, Drakus' command station is dark and austere, metallic and decidedly uninviting.
Limited Wardrobe: The characters are always—always—seen in Starfleet uniforms, unless someone is recovering in sickbay.
When Drakus' true identity was revealed, many viewers complained about the fact that he was wearing the same Starfleet uniform variant as had been seen in Specter. Some suggested that a cloak or robe of some kind might be a better choice—but aside from the producer's affinity for the existing outfit, in 2011 the selection of clothing for the P4 male was very limited.
Living MacGuffin: It's ultimately revealed that the true purpose of the Fitzgerald being behind enemy lines was to find and kill Drakus, by any means necessary, because of his true identity as the evil Dr. Braiyon Garr.
Love Hurts. A running theme in this film and in Specter seems to be broken relationships.
Magical Security Cam: Just exactly where the "intelligence footage" of Drakus that Reyf shows the crew comes from is never explained.
Malevolent Architecture. Drakus' command ship (considering it's played by the USS Event Horizon, this is practically a given for anyone who recognizes it).
And yet, it still manages to be cool with the addition of some Tron Lines.
Mission Briefing: "...and we know that any Romulan incursion would have to pass through these four sectors."
Mood Whiplash: We go from Drakus being evil and threatening, to Mitchell being warm and compassionate with Kal.
Mr. Exposition: In a particularly gutsy move, the film's first scene is almost four minutes of straight exposition, explaining the circumstances of the past ten years.
Mysterious Past: We don't know exactly what happened to Braiyon Garr after his ill-fated time jump, only that it almost killed him.
Likewise, we don't know exactly what Reyf has been up to—only that he's become affiliated with Starfleet Intelligence somehow.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When Drakus abandoned Rimward Station, he set the autodestruct. But wait, there's more: the self-destruct sequence wouldn't have activated if the away team hadn't triggered a holographic message left for them by Drakus. What triggered the holographic message, you ask? Why, the voiceprint of one Admiral Gaius Reyf, of course!
No Flow in CGI: When the Ops console explodes during the scene over New Romulus and Commander Kal is thrown to the deck, amazingly her ponytail is completely intact.
Noodle Incident: When Prentice takes the helm of the Fitzgerald to elude the Romulans, he references "the Battle of Witch Head." All we know about it is that it involved the Fitzgerald going very fast around a moon.
And that there were twelve Jem'Hadar fighters.
Oh, Crap: When Reyf realizes just who it is that's mysteriously appeared in his quarters: "Braiyon!"
When Drakus' aide brings him word of the latest failure to eliminate the Fitzgerald, the aide's terrified expression has Oh, Crap written all over it...just before Drakus shoots and vaporizes him for his failure.
Amazingly, fans had this reaction to the end of the scene showing Garr's second visit to the Fitzgerald, which showed Reyf observing Prentice's quarters after Garr beamed away.
During the confrontation on the Iron Vulture near the end of the film, for a moment it looks like our heroes have gotten through to Drakus...the music is soft and gentle, his scary Borg-like voice is gone, there's a tender moment between he and what he thinks is his long-lost lover...but then his eyes flash red, and in his scary voice, snarls "NO!" Both Reyf and the female android have terrified looks on their faces.
Really 700 Years Old: Dr. Braiyon Garr. Apparently, following the events of Specter, the ISS Voyager was thrown back not ten years, but seventy-eight, but because he's been rejuvenated by Borg nanoprobes, he doesn't appear to have aged a day since we first met him.
Recycled Set: As many sets as possible were recycled from Specter, most with some slight modifications to reflect the "alternate but future" setting of the film.
The set last seen as Dr. Garr's office at Starfleet Headquarters appears as Admiral Thornton's office at Starbase 54.
And Thornton's desk later shows up again in Reyf's office, virtually unchanged.
Applies in-film as well; the same set serves as the crew quarters of Admiral Reyf, Captain Prentice, and Commander Ronston.
Reyf's office on the Fitzgerald is a redress of a part of the crew quarters set, built to resemble the security office from Voyager.
Prentice: "Now now, let's not predict disaster before we even leave spacedock."
Ronston: "Fine. I'll wait 'till we're in open space. Then I'll predict disaster."
Prentice: "That's all I ask." (looks at pad) "It looks like the only thing we're waiting for now is our specialist to arrive, then we can leave. This mission is going to be tough enough without being saddled by a know-it-all bureaucrat."
Ronston: "Didn't I just hear someone preaching the power of positive thinking?"
Prentice: "No idea what you're talking about. Whoever it was must've been insane."
When the tactical officer swears in Klingon, Prentice dryly responds, "No need for that kind of language, lieutenant."
After the flight through the minefield, Prentice congratulates his helm officer on a job well done. Dr. Garr loudly clears his throat from across the bridge.
In the shuttle, when the away team is attempting to penetrate Drakus' shields, Holo Garr and Kristie have this exchange, which is also a Call Back to an episode of Star Trek: Voyager:
Holo Garr: "Kristie, stop breathing down my neck!"
Kristie: "My breathing is just a simulation!"
Holo Garr: "So is my neck, stop it anyway!"
Scare Chord: The sting from "Klingon Attack" that plays right after we get our first glimpse of the villain near the beginning of the film.
Sequel Hook. Retribution ends with one of these. After what we think is the Final Scene, we cut back to Sector 585, where Drakus' familiar shuttle decloaks near the black hole. He makes several veiled threats against Captain Prentice for his interference, then in an Oh, Crap moment, the camera pans to show the dark shuttle cockpit and an Evil Reyf with glowing red eyes and an evil voice step out of the shadows and say one word: "Indeed." Then the shuttle flies off into the distance as the credits roll.
Shadow Discretion Shot: When Drakus vaporizes an aide bringing news of failure, instead of seeing it actually happen, we get a closeup of his face, with the glow of the phaser energy reflecting off his face.
Shout-Out: Retribution actually has two categories of this—one for cast members, and one for everything else.
In the category of cast members, characters who were named after real people, usually acquaintences (current or former) of the executive producer:
Admiral Margaret Thornton
Captain Bradley Prentice
Commander Renee Mitchell
Lieutenant Commander Jennifer Hargrove
Lieutenant Commander Lesley Kal
Navigator Ensign Leets.
While technically not a cast member, the name of the shuttlecraft Guibert fits this.
In the category of "everything else":
Raul Mamoru's Starbase 54 mesh appears in the film as...Starbase 54. Could also qualify as an instance of The Danza.
Leets' method of calling out the course changes by degrees in pitch and yaw is a nod to Mr. Sulu's evasive maneuvers in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
In a way, the entire minefield sequence is a shoutout to the climax of the TNG episode "Booby Trap," right down to the choice of music. In both cases, a Galaxy-class starship wades slowly through a debris field lined with hidden dangers.
While on the holographic Price is Right set, every single shot except for two originates directly from the show. Eagle-eyed fans can probably tell which shots correspond to what pricing game staging.
When our heroes arrive at Rimward Station and are talking about how to find the missing Romulan fleet, Prentice wryly suggests "sending hundreds of probes to every corner of the quadrant," not realizing that Darth Vader already tried that.
The computer algorithm Drakus used to wipe the main computer at Rimward Station was known as Korff-21.
When Prentice appears on the bridge of the Iron Vulture, he insults Drakus, who responds with an outraged and very Goa-uld-like utterance of "The impudence!"
Toward the end of the film, Commander Ronston's "Time's up!" as the Fitzgerald rams the ISS Voyager are reminiscent of the final moments of the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Year of Hell."
After the scene in Engineering when Mitchell discovers the trick with the plasma grid, the first shot of Reyf walking down the corridor is recycled from Specter.
It's not exactly Stock Footage, but to the fullest extent possible, camera setups from Specter have been recycled here, simply re-rendered with the updated sets.
The chase through the asteroid field re-used footage originally created for the prologue sequence of Specter, but new material was created as well, meaning that the asteroid field changes appearances from one shot to the next.
There Are No Coincidences: Only a few hours after the ship leaves Starbase 54 for Romulan space, Braiyon Garr shows up, after ten years in hiding. Prentice almost says it in the corridor outside Reyf's quarters.
Throw It In: When Ronston and Prentice are discussing the origin of the name "Drakus," Ronston's line, "Alien brains, mutants, alternate dimensions? What's next, rock people?" was ad-libbed, as was Prentice's response.
Timey-Wimey Ball: Most of the time travel plot elements come down to this. Justified in that as Reyf said in the last film, "We could already be living in an alternate timeline and just don't know it."
And when he appears to Reyf as a hologram, Dr. Garr has a (slightly) less ominous version. Guess why.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Averted with what many viewers assumed was a throwaway line about Merv and Kendra Ronston being married, and now apparently divorced—it was assumed Merv had simply been "written out" and that would simply be that. Then, unexpectedly, he shows up late in the film, when Kendra calls him to try and smooth things over.