Random Musings on Star Trek: Beyond

Nothing serious here, readers. Just some thoughts from this morning that were kicked off by an only tangentially-related internet thread.

But first, gotta pause for the advertisement. That’s how this works, right? Get it out of the way early! And that advertisement is: Don’t forget the Rolling Sale! Colony is 63% off right now, and you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t pick up one of the most original Sci-Fi adventures you’ve ever read! Click the banner on the right and grab a copy now!

Otherwise you’re really going to feel left out a few years down the road when everyone else is talking about what’s going on in all the sequels, and you’re just sitting there thinking “Dang it! Why didn’t I read that before it was big?”

Right, aside over, back to the musings! So, Star Trek. Specifically, Star Trek: Beyond. Yes, I’m talking about the new, rebooted Trek movies (not the upcoming show that seems to have a lot of series fans biting their nails and glancing nervously at their communicators).

I’ll come right out and say it: I like the new Trek movies. I do! I think they’re great fun, the characters have incredible chemistry and camaraderie together, work well … and for all the hand-waves like “fighting by the moon, now we’re suddenly being sucked into Earth’s gravity well,” Star Trek was never a series about hard science. It firmly roots itself in hilarious technobabble of all kinds, so I’m not bothered by a few concessions here and there for the sake of “this will be really cool.” Star Trek is built on that. I enjoyed the tweaks and alterations made to the timeline, giving them a new way to approach the old series, and again, I really must stress how much I enjoy the characters, which are one of the high points of the whole new series.

Right, this is a musing. So I shall move to the muse: I really enjoyed Star Trek: Beyond. I liked the setting, the abrupt, brutal way it played with the crew. There were a few weak points, yes. I won’t deny that. But I enjoyed it despite those. Crud, I loved the character of Jaylah, and truly hope that if a fourth film is made she returns as a member of the crew—perhaps to replace the character of Anton Chekov after the tragic passing of the actor. Jaylah had added a great dynamic to the group and worked equally well with all of them, trading conversation both snarky and serious with each of them. If we get a sequel, I hope she returns.

Okay, that’s part of the musing, but here’s the other half of it: I realized today that there was one bit that did disappoint me a little. And this, by the way, is going to be a bit of a spoiler, so heads up if you somehow haven’t bothered to see Beyond by now but don’t want it spoiled.

Anyway, warning done, one of the things that the trailers really hyped up before the film came out was a line from the movie’s antagonist “Today the frontier pushes back.” It’s a pretty good line, and it had be quite excited beforehand. Then the film itself hits, and, although I really enjoyed the movie, it didn’t actually occur to me until later that this promise had gone unfulfilled. Turns out that the antagonist isn’t anyone from the frontier—he’s ex-Starfleet, a captain who felt betrayed when Starfleet did away with any form of military vessel and put him in charge of an exploratory expedition that then went south.

This is all well and good, and a nice twist to the story. But it wasn’t until today that I realized that I still kind of want to see that promise of “the frontier pushing back” to be realized.

The federation has always been, at its heart, sort of “Manifest Destiny/Expansionist.” They spread like mad, colonizing everything and constantly exploring. But short of the Klingons and the Romulans … I don’t really feel like there’s ever been much of a case of “No, we don’t go that direction anymore.”

Like I said, this is a musing, but I kind of want to see a Star Trek film where the frontier does push back, where the Federation has just been rolling forward colonizing space without realizing that they’re on someone else’s turf and then has to radically reevaluate things when that someone else pushes back and says “Get out of our space or else.”

Beyond promised that. And while it didn’t quite deliver, it was still a great experience, and I hope to see the cast and crew back for another jaunt aboard the new Enterprise A. And while I wouldn’t want a different movie in place of the one we got—I did like it a lot—at the same time, I would one day perhaps like to see that theme of “the frontier pushing back” explored. Because let’s face it, the Federation really is just like a sort of all-consuming blob of cultures and species all getting swept up along their path. It would be refreshing to see a case where something new wasn’t absorbed into their culture, or that even wanted to. An ancient Dyson-sphere species, some sort of culture that had no interest in the Federation … something.

That’s the end of the musing. I just think it’d be a neat angle since the series never really went there unless it was either A) Klingons/Romulons or B) the current villain.

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