How Star Trek V Enhances Star Trek IV

In my endless quest to review Star Trek V: The Final Frontier into a respectable place in the franchise, I realized something.

Did you honestly think you were off the hook? You are never off the hook.
Did you think you were off the hook? You are never off the hook.

Our introduction to Sybok, Spock’s estranged half-brother long ago banished for eschewing logic to pursue emotional enlightenment, enhances a pivotal moment in its predecessor.

In fact, it enhances Spock’s entire arc in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in an unexpectedly pleasant way.

How Do You Feel?

When Spock is retraining his mind on Vulcan, the computer trips him up with a simple question: “How do you feel?”

Amanda, his mother, enters and explains that the computer knows he’s half-human and is searching for an emotive response.

In the context of the one film, it enhances Spock’s arc as he journeys to a new wholeness within himself, affirming that he is more than the sum of his Vulcan logic. When he asks tells his father “I feel fine” during the film’s final reel, we enjoy this revelation with him.

And Then There’s Sybok

In the context of both movies, the question seems more like a Vulcan version of the Voight-Kampff Test. They really want to see if Spock, newly back from the dead, might break and take after his big half-brother. Maybe they wanted to see if he Hulked Out on them.

Vis-á-Vis the “Sybok revelation” from Star Trek V, you have to accept that “How Do You Feel?” is more loaded than Amanda may have known. It may have been more loaded than she was permitted to admit.

The Vulcans would have been tremendously careful with him during the “retraining of his mind.” Of course it comes through without Star Trek V. I admit that The Voyage Home stands on its own.

However, The Final Frontier enhances what comes before thanks to Sybok.

Also, Sarek

Let’s take it beyond Spock and tie it in to some of Sarek’s idiosyncracies through the series. The Vulcan government probably kept a close eye on his whole family.

Dude deserves more respect.
Dude deserves more respect.

If we consider The Final Frontier, despite failing with Sybok (and by extension his mother), Sarek next married a human. Humans were long derided by Vulcans as some of the most emotional creatures in the galaxy. (See: Kirk, James T. and McCoy, Leonard, a.k.a. “Bones.”)

Despite this, Sarek was rigorous with Spock. Spock almost completed Kohlinar, in fact, and stopped just moments before the ceremony was complete in The Motion Picture. He stopped because of his emotional sense about V’Ger.

Later, he pushed for his son to be reanimated in Star Trek III because his logic was “clouded” regarding his family.

In light of everything, maybe it’s amazing the Vulcan government even let him be an ambassador. They must have thought that keeping potential rebels close to power was a better way to monitor them.

In Conclusion

Therefore, Sarek’s history and Spock’s close friendship with humans gave the Vulcan government good reason to worry. Spock was a highly intelligent being who was brought back from the dead literally.

He was easily in danger of developing the same messiah complex his half-brother had, if not a more acute case.

Whether it was solely for preservation of their monocultural hegemony is a different debate. I can’t help wondering though, as Vulcan appears to be the most stultifying singular culture in the known galaxy. At least the Klingon characters had the excuse of always being military types when we encountered them. The Vulcans were always strictly similar regardless of their job or station.

Who would think that a movie so long disregarded as unimportant fluff could provide so much extra insight into the esteemed science fiction franchise?

kesseljunkie, that’s who. The guy who consistently out-nerds you all.

Hot Wookiee Love

On the February 20, 2014 episode of Words With Nerds, I posited an ethical question rooted in Star Wars, the answer to which may carry implications for all of sci-fi, really.

Is it bestiality to make love to a Wookiee?

I suspect the initial response around the table would be an emphatic “no!” While I’m not arguing the merits of that answer, I don’t think that it’s as simple as it seems.

The reason is that I feel that answer is rooted deeply in our love (in the Platonic sense) for Chewbacca, Han Solo’s best friend and co-pilot. After all, Chewie is everyone’s favorite ape-dog and we’d hate to think of assigning such a distasteful notion as bestiality to the consummation of his relationships.

However, the simple fact remains that Chewbacca is an entirely different species than human. He is a Wookiee. By strict definition, to have sex with a different species is bestiality. If someone were to select any other species than human, while here on earth, we would call it that.

Intelligence As Mitigation

Granted, Chewbacca is an intelligent being. As my oft-irrational co-host argued in this circumstance, Wookiees can perform complex mechanical tasks, including the repair of a hyperdrive. By all accounts that is a difficult task requiring intellect.

I will point out, however, that Chewbacca missed a blinking red light in an open access panel at the end of The Empire Strikes Back indicating the hyperdrive had been switched to “off.” Had he looked there and flipped a switch, the light would turn green and the Millennium Falcon would have made a much cleaner escape.

So perhaps we need to allow that he’s not too intelligent. But I digress.

The baseline is that he possesses sentience. His species has mastered flight and builds complex and beautiful machinery.

Ripple Effects

To expand outward, Hutts also possess intellect. So do Rodians or any other aliens we encounter in that galaxy far, far away. If we are to judge that a human having sex with a Wookiee is committing bestiality, so would it be bestiality from the Wookiees’ point of view. Stepping further down this road, it adds an horrific extra layer to Jabba’s implied abuse of Leia in Return of the Jedi.

To step across the line using the same question in a different “reality,” let’s bring Star Trek into the mix. An Andorian and a Klingon would be committing bestiality from both perspectives if we disqualify intelligence/sentience as a mitigating factor. Worf the Klingon married a Trill female who had an asexual symbiont intellect living within her. So we go down a really dizzying tunnel in quick fashion.

Perhaps, then, we wish not to entertain the possibility of bestiality being the case here because it has a ripple effect that carries all the way into other science fiction franchises.

Never Resolved

At the end of it all, I am unresolved still. While I want to fall firmly into the camp of “it’s not bestiality if Princess Leia leaves Han for Chewie,” I cannot escape a nagging thought that genetic compatibility is a necessity to put the matter to rest.

Wookiees and humans are both bipedal, but genetically humans and apes (or in the Star Wars universe, whatever they call their shared simian ancestors) are much closer and will be always. But if a human jumps the wall at the zoo and goes to town, as it were, we’re not going to look kindly on it.

But does that leave a human off the hook who hooks up with a Twi’Lek? I’m not sure that simply because they look more human and have the right parts (that we can see) in the right places, they should escape this scrutiny.

God never said anything about Wookiees in the Bible. Heck, I’m afraid of the implications this has for the romantic proclivities of one Capt. James Tiberius Kirk who, in one single judgment, could be elevated from James Bond-style cad to absolute pervert. I need some guidance here!

So where do you stand?