Star Trek V: Family, God and all that shite

By Gary M. Reynolds

I recall the first time I watched this film. It was a dreary afternoon sometime around 1992 or 1993. I had spotted it in the terrestrial telly listings and thought, “Wow, this one is never on!” Much to my young frustration, on that day I was brought down the town with my mam and sister to do some shopping.

I pestered the hell out of my mother to give me the house key. I desperately needed to get home to watch and tape it. With mere minutes to spare, she gave in and handed me the keys. I bolted home as fast as I could.
At only 7 or 8-years-old, I was, of course, already an avid trekkie, and had by this stage taped from BBC and RTÉ a few of the films so I had a blank VHS put to one side to tape this and add to my growing collection.

Star Trek V on VHS

I think there’s some old Coronation Street on there too

It was time to see this elusive film.
Afterwards, I frankly didn’t think much of it.
Recently, however, I felt that it deserves another look. So time to sit down and find all those things that went over my innocent, youthful head and grasp the greatness of Trekdom that surely follows. I’m sure the Shat knew what he was doing.

Opening the film like Omar Sharif’s entrance in Lawrence of Arabia, Sybok, televangelist of the space ways, is revealed to a lonely settler on the desolate planet of peace, Nimbus III. From here, Vulcan’s holy healer goes on to charm Bedouin-esque aliens of the dunes and the patrons of the saloon/cantina. High Noon at Mos Eisley. Laurence Luckinbell plays this part magnificently, I must say. Such a different Vulcan to anything else that came before or since. Some may gripe that he was too over the top but he’s playing a faith healer in outer space, for crying out loud! How else could one possibly play it?!

Oh, but the glorious return of Jerry Goldsmith does so bring a smile to my face. Although his main theme from Motion Picture was adapted for The Next Generation 2 years previously, this was his first Trek film score in a decade. As someone who grew up with Star Trek in the 90s, Goldsmith was the sound of Star Trek. 5 movie scores and the title themes to TNG and Voyager.

Now we get a new Enterprise! Sort of. It’s still the Constitution class. Oh, and the Excelsior we pass by on the way to this new NCC 1701-A? Oh never mind about that, it’s not like this new class of ship which has already sailed an under a functioning crew for the past year could possibly be in working order. No no no, we’ll use the near-retirement crew of a vessel that failed it’s shakedown cruise. In it’s time of need, all Starfleet ever needs is the experience of Kirk and family.
For this film, family is what it’s all about.
Sitting at that campfire is the family of the show. Three brothers, each with their own issues concerning their relatives.
Even McCoy knows it. At the campfire he says that after all the time in space they have, once shore leave comes up, they spend it together. “Other people have families”, he says. “Not us” Kirk retorts. The loss of family, his older brother during TOS “Operation – Annihilate”, as well as his son in The Search for Spock (1984), is quietly, subtly felt here. The real show is in the observation lounge aboard the Enterprise. Sybok wishes Kirk to share his pain. “I need my pain!” he says, the culmination of a gloriously Shatnerian speech akin to those he made on the Original Series.


Star Trek V – We Are Our Pain

Spock’s issues have been noted throughout the history of the franchise, primarily concerning his father, are again shown through a vision in the observation lounge.
But now he must face his exploitative, black sheep of a brother. Spock most certainly sides with his brothers in arms rather than his own blood, much to the sorrow of Sybok. The late Mr. Nimoy knows the character so damned well, and keeps Spock’s own torment just below the surface, as he recoils from Sybok’s embrace on Nimbus III, when he is ordered to shoot in the shuttle bay, and again in that observation lounge aboard the Enterprise. When Sybok finds the truth about God on Sha’Ka’Ree, he redeems himself and these Vulcan brothers finally reconcile. And when Sybok dies, Spock utters his name with the most subtle of quivers. He mourns his brothers loss.

Spock and Sybok Brothers once more Star Trek V

Brothers once more

However , even as a kid, McCoy’s vision was the scene that stuck in my head the most. For anyone who has lost a loved one, there are still things you want to say if you could only see them one last time. Bones is furious that Sybok would make him relive, not only the death of his father, but that he was the one who turned off the life support systems. And to then have a cure found shortly afterwards. What Sybok does for Bones is both terrible and terrific. McCoy is somewhat of a god-fearing man. He has brought up religious moments a number of times and when confronted with this he has that spiritual moment of calm, if only for a while.

Despite the troubled emotions, be they under the skin or boiling over like plomeek soup, there is some wonderful moments of humour. Be it of Bones getting stressed out as he watches Jim climb El Kapitan, the light-hearted farce of Sulu and Chekov trying to avoid returning to the ship, or the slapstick of Scotty‘s jailbreak, there’s some wonderful fun in the film.

Star Trek V Not Infront Of The klingons

Not in front of the Klingons

But then we come to the trouble most trekkies have. What does God need with a starship?
Most will bemoan this whole climax, that it’s ridiculous. Have ye not watched Star Trek?! This is exactly the kind of thing the Original series did! The have met so many deities and god-like beings in that show! And what did they do? They fought against them. They questioned the authority these creatures gave themselves.
You dare question the Almighty?! YES! That’s what we’re here for. And this is what Star Trek continued to do into Next Generation with the judgements of Q and on DS9 with the will of the Prophets.
The issue I have with this as a crescendo for the film, is that it reminds me how much Star Trek belongs on television, so much more so than it does in cinemas. Like with Insurrection (1998), The Final Frontier suffers from the same thing; it’s an episode plot stretched out for a film. The trouble with Final Frontier was the lack of funding The special effects had lost ILM to Indiana Jones, and boy does it show. Shots are re-used from other films and the blue screen and stop-motion work just doesn’t hold up against what had been done before. Once they meet God, the outdoor desert becomes a very, very obvious soundstage. This third act suffers so much because of this and shows that if it were TV, it may have passed, but not to a theatrical audience.
I recall coming away from this as a kid thinking, “Yeah, it was alright, I guess.” Over twenty years later, and now that I have looked through it properly, I still feel the same, but at least I can see the good that is there.
It’s flawed, it’s pacing is odd, the plot doesn’t really get going until nearly an hour in, and there’s little in the way of overall tension building.
But damn it Jim, it’s still some real Star Trek.


A Beginner’s Guide to Star Trek: The Romulan Star Empire

Five television series, each with their own crews, spanning seven hundred and twenty six episodes and twelve movies (About six good ones), and countless fan-made stories from 1966 and still going strong, Star Trek can be daunting to get into. It came back into focus in 2009 when JJ Abrams released his reboot movie, Star Trek. The movie helped create a new generation of Trekkies, but the sheer enormity of the Universe and source material makes it difficult to take in exactly what the Star Trek Universe is all about. I will be giving a crash course in the most important parts of Star Trek, starting with the most fundamental aspects and working towards the base details.

The Romulan Star Empire


Romulan Star Empire

The Romulans are the third of the great powers in the Alpha quadrant, and also one of the most interesting. The Romulans are descendants of Vulcans who fled their home world when most accepted logic and the teachings of Surak. The Vulcans who would become Romulan gave in to their emotions, doing nothing to hide them. This makes the Romulans one of the most dangerous races of the galaxy, as the atrocities the Vulcans committed while under the influence of their emotions are said to be even worse than any committed by humans on Earth. Despite sharing such an ancestry with the Vulcans, the Romulans have always widely despised their logical counterparts, though there is a minority who wish to embrace their Vulcan brothers and bring about a Unification of the two cultures.


Romulan Commander

The Romulans are one of only two races in the Empire. The other race, known as the Remans, are descended from the same Vulcans who left Vulcan. They colonised Romulus’ neighbouring planet; Remus. The Remans evolved very differently to the Romulans due to the unique conditions of the planet. One half of Remus always faces the sun and is completely inhospitable, so the Remans were forced to live on the Dark Side of the planet. The Remans are treated as labourers by the Romulans and were even used as cannon fodder during the Dominion War. The Remans are very like Klingons in their strength and skills in battle, but still possess the cunning of the Romulans.


A Reman

The Empire is very secretive and always planning something. Though ruled by a government of elected officials, there is often a lot of bribery and corruption involved, to the extent that a completely new government is voted in nearly every election. This led to a lot of plans being picked up and discarded mid-way through, such as a plan to replace Jean-Luc Picard(Patrick Stewart) with a Romulan created clone, Shinzon(Tom Hardy). The Humans waged a war with the Romulans even before the creation of the Federation, with nuclear weapons and no ship-to-ship communication, so neither had even seen the other before. It wasn’t until 2266, in an altercation between a Romulan ship and the USS Enterprise, that a Romulan was first seen by the Federation and their Vulcan ancestry confirmed.


The Empire’s military doesn’t have a fancy name, but it is probably the most formidable, thanks in no small part, to one technological breakthrough: The Romulans were the species who first created cloaking technology in the Alpha quadrant. The Romulans have mastered the technology and their cloaking devices are a good deal more advanced than those of the Klingons. Despite its obvious tactical advantage, and in an effort to ease tension between the two powers, the Federation and Romulan Empire signed the Treaty of Algeron in 2311, forbidding the Federation from researching cloaking technology. The technology often caused tension between the Romulans and other factions, but with the threat, and eventual outbreak, of the Dominion war, the Romulans worked with the Federation to equip the USS Defiant with the first official Federation cloaking device.


A de-cloaking Romulan ship

The Empire’s warships all follow a similar design patterns: they all bear a resemblance to birds. The Vulcans who left and eventually colonised the planets Romulus and Remus were often referred to as “Raptors”, and the Romulans have embraced this moniker. From the humble, but powerful, T’varo class Bird of Prey to the imposing and menacing D’Deridex Romulan Warbird, Romulan ships are always to be feared. All their ships are also equipped with advanced cloaking devices, and a few have even proven capable of firing while cloaked. Though they eventually sided with the Federation and Klingons in the Dominion War, they maintain their distrust of other races and the alliance is quickly forgotten once the war is over.

Romulan Warbird

A D’Deridex Warbird

In 2379, Shinzon, one of the Romulan Military’s most prominent generals and a Reman, led a coup against the Romulan senate, ordering their assassination and taking control of the Empire. His ship, named “The Scimitar”, was the single most powerful ship created by any race of the known Star Trek Universe, save for maybe a Borg Tactical Cube. It could fire while cloaked, was highly manoeuvrable, boasted primary and secondary shields and contained a weapon capable of destroying life on entire planets. His plan was foiled by Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise and Senator Tal’Aura, a Romulan senator.

The Romulans are certainly one of the most interesting, and widely developed, races in Star Trek. They are creatures of duty, and have the utmost respect for those who they feel have earned it. I leave you with this powerful moment, the first words shared between the Federation and Romulans.

Original Article published by Geek Ireland.

Written by Hugh


A Beginner’s Guide To Star Trek: The Federation

Five television series, each with their own crews, spanning seven hundred and twenty six episodes and twelve movies (About six good ones), and countless fan-made stories from 1966 and still going strong, Star Trek can be daunting to get into. It came back into focus in 2009 when JJ Abrams released his reboot movie, Star Trek. The movie helped create a new generation of Trekkies, but the sheer enormity of the Universe and source material makes it difficult to take in exactly what the Star Trek Universe is all about. I will be giving a crash course in the most important parts of Star Trek, starting with the most fundamental aspects and working towards the base details.

The Federation


At a very basic level, The Federation is the Space United Nations. It is an alliance of planets, sharing personnel and knowledge, with the primary goal to seek out new cultures and map the Galaxy. The Federation has several different aspects to it, including a military presence, though it has always maintained its primary mission is one of peace. There are dozens of species, and hundreds, if not thousands, of planets, in the Federation. Each planet has its own contribution to the group, whether with ships, technology or resources. Those who do not wish to join, or are not yet warp capable, are left alone. this is the most important rule in the entirety of The Federation: the Prime Directive.

The Federation is usually portrayed in a positive light, showing the potential Humanity has for ultimate good in the Future. There are very few, if any, internal struggles among humans, there is no economy as money has been eliminated, and gender equality is certainly all sorted by the 24th century. The Federation is not above forming treaties with other species without assimilating them into the larger group. The Federation has non aggression pacts with the Klingons and the Romulans, a result of wars with both their species, and has even allied with them before, most notably in the war with the Dominion.




Starfleet is the military and exploration division of the Federation. It consists of multiple fleets of Starships deployed throughout Federation controlled, or unexplored areas of Space near the Federation border. The primary mission of all ships in Starfleet is to seek out new life and new civilisations, though all their ships are also equipped to defend themselves. Starfleet was founded in 2161 with the Federation by four races; Humans, Vulcans, Tellarites and Andorians. Its purpose was to provide protection against aggressive species such as the Klingons.

The military might of Starfleet has been tested several times, to a point where, within the space of just six months, they were challenged by the Borg, the Dominion and the Klingons. These battles, and especially the war with The Dominion (Which I will touch on in a later article) led Starfleet to rapidly develop more advanced weaponry and defences for their ships.


The Federation are, simply put, the “Good Guys”. They’re the ones you are supposed to root for and the ones you’re supposed to aspire to be. Even more than that, they are what humanity could be should we find ourselves not to be alone in the Universe. A galactic Governing body which humans have a great hand in running, and are responsible for helping create. I leave you with the famous monologue which lives on in the hearts of Trekkies everywhere.

This article was written for Geek Ireland. Original Publication here