First off, “Star Trek” with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, et al., is a lot of fun and an awesome movie and I plan to watch it again and again.
But my wife calls me “The Plot King” and my friend TW often praises my bullshit detector when it comes to fiction plots, so when I see a plot problem I can’t keep myself from jumping on it. So …
SPOILERS BELOW … SPOILERS BELOW … SPOILERS BELOW …
One bit of “Star Trek” that bugged me was the sequence in which Kirk, marooned on a small planet in the Vulcan system, runs into the Future Spock AND the Present Montgomery Scott. I know, I know … you think I’m about to harp on the convenience of that little coincidence, right? Wrong. Yeah, it’s too convenient, yeah I’d have handled it differently if I’d written it, but it is what it is and at least the movie kept moving swiftly forward.
No, my problem is with that Federation outpost to which Scotty was exiled in the first place, because I can’t figure out why it was there.
The planet, as we plainly see when Future Spock explains his presence there to Kirk, is close enough to Vulcan that a person can see Vulcan looming like a large moon in the sky. So … why doesn’t Scotty, who is on the same little planet near Vulcan in a facility full of sophisticated Federation gear, seem to notice or care that Vulcan has just been gobbled up by an artificial black hole?
Were there no tell-tale alarms in the place? Does this outpost not monitor anything? There was a large-scale space battle in this system, for crying out loud. Federation ships turned into space scrap left and right. Scotty had the best seat in the house for the whole thing, and presumably could monitor all the communications from the battle. He was in a position to see things that perhaps could not be seen from Vulcan’s surface. He certainly should have been able to fill in knowledge gaps for the Federation fleet BEFORE it got blasted to smithereens. (“Federation outpost, this is Captain Pike, U.S.S. Enterprise. What’s the situation?”)
And then there’s this: He’s Montgomery Scott, damn it, and he’s apparently got a nifty transporter on site. I’m thinking Scotty should have been able to use that thing to save at least some Federation crew members, or some key Vulcan personnel, or even turn the transporter into a weapon against the Romulans.
Billions died within sight of Scotty’s station. But what does Scotty want to talk about when Kirk and Future Spock arrive? He’d like a sandwich.
C’mon, scriptwriters. No one builds a fancy Federation outpost on an icy planet with big monsters just to make a scriptwriter’s life easier. That outpost has to be doing something. Apparently, though, this one wasn’t monitoring nearby space or relaying communications. It wasn’t even listed in the Enterprise’s computers, as far as I can tell. Heck, it apparently wasn’t even adequately feeding its two personnel.
I see one bright spot, though. This outpost world in all likelihood was in orbit around Vulcan. Otherwise, the imploding planet would not have looked so large from the surface. So, with Vulcan gone, this entirely useless waste of Federation resources may be spinning its way to a fiery death in Vulcan’s sun.