This post is in direct response to a post by my friend MisterD on his tumblog. It concerns Star Trek and it is laden with spoilers. So, if you still haven’t seen it yet, don’t read this. Also, go out right now and see the movie. What’s wrong with you? Where are your priorities?
Now, on to the important stuff. But first, select episodes of Star Trek (the digitally remastered versions) are available on iTunes for $1.99 each. You can get there via this link here.
WARNING: Ahead there be spoilers!
Why the need to destroy Vulcan?
Destroying Vulcan, I think, was a choice made to show that in this Star Trek universe, the characters are not safe. Their homes aren’t safe. This has always been achieved in the series by killing off unnamed crew members. In the movies this was largely the same method, aside from Wrath of Kahn (where Spock himself is struck down in a heroic act) and Generations (where Kirk dies in another heroic act). J.J. has never been one to pull punches, so when given the opportunity to hit Trekkies where it hurts and make them *feel* something instead of just *intellectualize* something, he took it.
Why make Spock responsible for the annihilation of either of the two planets?
Perhaps I missed the moments in the movie where this was discussed, but it was my interpretation that Spock was only responsible for the annihilation of Romulus and only due to his not being fast enough to stop the supernova. Something that could hardly have been his fault unless he was charged with watching that specific star for signs of nova and missed them in the first place. He didn’t have to save Romulus at all and he volunteered to do so at great risk to himself, but unfortunately set out on his quest to do so too late.
However, by making him indirectly responsible, and setting that burden on him, this is another way that J.J. makes these characters feel more real to us. They make mistakes, they don’t always win and that’s what makes the universe connect with our own.
Why eliminate Jim Kirk’s relationship with his father?
This is an interesting question as J.J. Abrams often uses father-son/father-daughter relationship issues as a writing technique in his TV shows (Sydney & Jack Bristow in Alias, Jack & Christian Shepherd in Lost, Peter & Walter Bishop in Fringe). What makes this more interesting is that J.J. was not credited as a writer for the screenplay of Star Trek. However, he was probably heavily involved in the details of the script as the two writers of the screenplay have been working with him since Alias and are his two chief writers on Lost and Fringe.
Story-wise, it allows us a more dystopian universe for our Enterprise crew. Instead of them being well-adjusted individuals that have suffered very little that work their way up through the ranks to become pillars of awesome in Starfleet, we get to see them struggle to overcome the injustices of the universe caused by events beyond their control.
Why create a romantic relationship between bridge crew members that never existed before?
My theory on this was that it was the only way to make Uhura, a character that was little more than a token black woman in the original series into something that had actual impact on the characters. She is now Spock’s only link to his human side. His mother served that role in the original series and with her death, Uhura will fill that void. The relationship likely existed before due to the butterfly effect of the U.S.S. Kelvin being destroyed.
I know this is a niggling detail, but why does young Scotty need to know about technological breakthroughs he won’t make until later in his life?
The same reason that Scotty tells a scientist about transparent aluminum in Star Trek IV, “How do we know that he’s not the one who invented it?” The Prime Directive only serves as a way to show that these crew members will do whatever it takes to win, even skirt the rules when necessary.