Am I a Moron or Did I Make a Star Trek Discovery?
Picture it… Genesis cave… 2285. A marooned faction of Starfleet crew, led by the intrepid Admiral James T. Kirk, are sitting around, awaiting their fate. With them are brilliant scientists, one of which, we have recently learned, is the offspring of the aforementioned admiral and his baby’s momma. A young lieutenant is questioning the seasoned officer, and after a bit of back and forth, we learn that the admiral, although melancholy from his current status and age, is still very much in his prime. He’s playing a mental game of tri-dimensional chess against a savvy adversary and saves the marooned lot from a fate of boredom, or even worse, death. I love the look on Bones’ face when he realizes that his best friend has just shown his hand and came up with four aces. One of many great scenes in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Forgoing a slingshot around the sun, let us go back in time. It was the summer of 1983 and a nine-year-old me was looking for something to do while vacationing in North Carolina. Just a few short months prior, I received a VHS tape of The Wrath of Khan in my Easter basket and I dismissed it. Sure, I knew who Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock were. I had seen technicolor reruns when I came home after school, but I was not really interested. Luke, Leia, and all things Star Wars is where my heart was… and then “it” happened. One particular day of boredom amongst the backdrop of the Great Smokies found my hand gently pushing that VHS cassette tape into the player and the rest, as they say, is history.
It was during that summer I became a Star Trek devotee. I do not know how many times I watched that tape, nor how many times I have seen the movie throughout my life, but let us just say… a lot. I, as do many others, believe that TWOK is the best of the original cast movies and I do not really have any new or revolutionary insight into why. However, you would be hard-pressed to find a perfect movie free of goofs and continuity issues.
In fact, one scene has stuck in my craw for decades, and I have got to talk about it with someone who might care… or not. After an exhaustive ten-minute search of Google and IMDb, I find nothing about this little tidbit of an error that has plagued me.
After Spock makes the ultimate sacrifice and the tone is somber, David Marcus comes into Kirk’s quarters. The scene is a poignant one, taking a weeping audience (yes, I still cry, every single time I watch it) from sadness and loss to forgiveness and acceptance. After Kirk offers David a drink (an offer David ignores), the conversation unfolds and the audience is left to wonder, who will be the first to speak about their father-son connection? But slightly before either of them do, this exchange happens, and herein lies my question… Am I a moron or did I make a Star Trek discovery? (For the record, I’m betting moron, but I’ll let you, the reader, decide):
David Marcus: Lieutenant Saavik was right; you never have faced death.
Kirk: No. Not like this. I haven’t faced death. I’ve cheated death. I’ve tricked my way out of death and patted myself on the back for my ingenuity. I know nothing.
David Marcus: You knew enough to tell Saavik that how we face death is at least as important as how we face life.
Readers, please close your eyes and remember Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Recall the scene in your mind when Kirk raises his finger and questions, “Excuse me. What does God need with a starship?” I am now raising my finger and proclaiming, “Well, excuse me, David, but you were not there when Kirk said those words to Saavik. Your daddy was making a smoke-filled, Las Vegas-style entry into the Kobayashi Maru simulator, feeling old from his desk job, and trying to teach a lesson to a greenhorn. Meanwhile, you were on the Regula One space station, wondering if you were going to play Bridge with mommy after work. So how did you know that Kirk imparted that bit of wisdom to the defeated lieutenant?”
Each time I watch this scene between Kirk and his newfound son, I have wondered, why did no-one catch this? Why is this morsel not in the “Goofs” section of the IMDb page? I mean, I can wrap my head around the mistake in the movie-making process, but in this current digital age, what I cannot grasp is that I find no mention of the error. Am I the only one who caught this? Wait, I am far from perfect. Am I an idiot? Did I miss something here? Please feel free to let me know, because I can swallow the thought of being an idiot, but if I brought a new revelation to the Star Trek table, then I am going to need a minute.
Moving forward and beyond my revelation (or idiocy), this scene is touching. We learn that David is the first to “flinch” and tells Kirk he is proud to be his son. Cue the daddy issues rising to the surface. Anyone with a soul should be a bit verklempt watching David and Kirk acknowledge they are family, forgive past transgressions and embrace. Here is where we, the audience, witness a second genesis and yes, Admiral Kirk, I will take that drink.