On Rethinking Some Old Star Trek

Some recent discussion on TrekBBS, specifically about the alternate possibilities Paramount considered for Star Trek: Generations, brought to mind something I wrote a decade ago (!) that reimagined Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s finale, “All Good Things…,” as a multi-generational crossover film event. In other words, what if Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, and Ronald D. Moore wrote “All Good Things…” as Star Trek: Generations?

I hadn’t looked at that rough outline-ish sketch in years. I wrote it, probably hastily, in August 2001, and I know that some of the ideas probably went back further than that. For history’s sake, I present it here.

For those unfamiliar with Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s finale fifteen years ago (because, without some basic knowledge, this is going to be nigh useless), here’s a quick precis. Captain Picard has dreams of the past and the future, that he’s reliving his first day of command of the Enterprise-D, and also seeing a future where he’s retired to his vineyards in France some quarter century ahead. It turns out that these aren’t dreams — thanks to Q, his mind is slipping between past, present, and future. The reason? This is all part of Q’s test of humanity, and if Picard fails this, humanity will never have existed. Picard must find a way to bring his past, present, and future selves together in the Devron system, where they must work together to defeat an evil space anomaly from consuming the universe.

Typing that out, “All Good Things…” sounds a bit naff. :???: It’s better than that, though! Really, it is! I think…

Okay, same basic set-up as “All Good Things…” I’d only have Picard bouncing through time. Three time periods, the NextGen “present,” thirty-odd years past TNG, and shortly after Star Trek VI. In the “present” and “future” Picard is Picard. But in the past, we have a Quantum Leap idea, where Picard replaces the Enterprise-A helm officer. Things progress in the “present” and “future” as we saw in “All Good Things…”

In the past, however, things go very differently. The situation flares up in the Devron system. Kirk is ordered to respond, and Picard with his foreknowledge tries making suggestions as how to proceed. But Kirk, thinking of Picard as a lowly lieutenant, is content to ignore Picard and listen to Spock’s counsel. So, Picard goes to take matters into his own hands. Spock notices that Picard is up to no good, Kirk and Spock catch the drop on him, and Kirk is going to have Picard thrown in the brig for sabotage and mutiny. Picard realizes he has to tell them that he’s from the future, that he must violate the temporal Prime Directive. Picard tells them, but Kirk doesn’t believe him. Picard says that Spock knows him the future, that they’ve mind-melded, and that with a simple mind-touch Spock could verify who he is and what he knows. Spock is dubious, but performs the mind-meld, and sees in Picard’s mind the traces of their mind-meld in “Unification” and the veracity of Picard’s story. So, Picard isn’t thrown in the brig, and we proceed to the three ships in the temporal anomaly.

Here, I would raise the stakes. Not only is the fate of humanity in the balance, but the fate of the whole universe is at stake. In the past, the Excelsior arrives to provide back-up to the Enterprise. The three Enterprises enter the temporal anomaly to close it. But further in the future the anomaly is more powerful and more destructive than it is in the past, and the future Enterprise must withdraw. Then the Enterprise-D pulls out after shrinking the anomaly even further. It’s down to only the Enterprise-A.

Kirk is bound and determined to hold it together, but the ship won’t survive. The Excelsior closes in and begins beaming off all non-essential Enterprise personnel, evacuating the ship. We get down to the bridge, and Kirk knows that only one person is needed on the bridge to hold the ship together and close the anomaly. Spock says it’s only logical that he remain behind, but Kirk won’t have any of that. It’s the captain’s duty to remain with his ship. Spock is beamed away, and Kirk is alone on the bridge, at the helm, controlling the deflector blast into anomaly. The anomaly contracts too quickly, and the Enterprise-A is crushed. Kirk has saved the universe.

Kirk goes out on the bridge of his ship, the fate of the universe in the balance. A better end for Kirk, and a cooler story than fighting on monkey bars.

Now that I’ve read this for the first time in years, some changes I would make today…

1) The future Enterprise is handled differently. Picard only suspects that he’s also shifting into the future. He has gaps in his memories. He recognizes the present. He’s visiting the past. It seems logical to him that he’s visiting another time, and he and Troi conclude that it is likely the future, but Picard isn’t sure how far. Thus, the appearance of the future Enterprise within the Devron anomaly is a genuine surprise. Perhaps it’s the Enterprise-F from Imzadi with Data in command. The main reason for the change is simply to give us more room in the story’s two hours to spend with the two familiar crews, rather than spending the time to try and posit a future setting as well.

2) Quantum Leaped Picard tries to talk Kirk out of sacrificing the Enterprise and himself to save the universe, and Picard is one of the last people on the Enterprise-A’s bridge. The reason? He knows that history records a different ending for Kirk and the Enterprise-A. Kirk’s retort? “History be damned. The fate of the universe is at stake. Compared to that, history can take care of itself.”

3) Kirk’s fate is left… ambiguous. The future Enterprise re-entered the anomaly. Did they beam Kirk away at the last possible minute? Were they crushed as the anomaly collapsed? We’ll never know. Not even Picard, even though he slips there as well; he suspects, but he’s not sure.

Thinking about this, the reality is that a movie like this would never have been made.

There’s nothing wrong with reconfiguring “All Good Things…” to work as a crossover film, but the problems that Star Trek: Generations had in attracting Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley (the roles written for them had nothing to do with their characters) would have been just as present here. And trying to put the entirety of two casts into the film would have been financially insane; Paramount wanted a series of low-budget Star Trek: The Next Generation films that were cheaper than their original cast predecessors, but this film would have cost more than any of the preceeding films.

Still, it’s an interesting thought experiment — taking the toys on the table and rearranging them.

One thought on “On Rethinking Some Old Star Trek

  1. Did I ever tell you about meeting William Shatner at a Star Trek convention sometime after the release of Generations?

    It was in Valley Forge, before they closed the convention center for whatever reasons. I was there as a vendor, working for Waldenooks, we had a booth, and so we could pretty much wander anywhere we wanted to. I was standing over by this bank of big double doors that lead to an area behind the stage when the doors happened to open and there was William Shatner (late, I might add). He looked right at me, and I at him, and he nodded a greeting (or he could have been asking me to take his jacket, who knows) and I nodded back.

    Hey, to me that’s a meeting.

    Anyway, I only mention this because he told this very “interesting tale” about filming his death scene in Arizona or whever the heck that mountain was. He related how he was laying on his back with the scafolding on top of him getting ready to film his final scenes and he remembered looking up into the sky as a plane was passing overhead. He commented that it made him think of the Enterprise, drifting overhead in orbit and he thought about how appropriate that should be for his final scene as Captain Kirk.

    There was of course much clapping from the latex covered crowd and whooting and hollering … it reminded me of that sketch from Saturday Night Live. The best was that he told the whole story in that classic Kirk cadence that you have to just love.

    I don’t know what this had to do with your bloggery (which I like, by the way) but it seemed like a tale I should relate.

    Jack

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