[spoiler alert on Star Trek movies]
There are currently eleven Star Trek movies. Take a quick guess at how many times Starfleet left Earth undefended. As we discuss this, keep in mind two relevant facts:
- Earth is the capital of the Federation.
- Utopia Planetia, a major starship production facility, is located on (and in orbit around) Mars. (For those who aren’t up on geography, that’s next door to Earth.)
So let’s see:
- Star Trek (The Motion Picture): A hostile alien entity is headed for the Earth, and the only ship that’s within a day’s travel is a newly-refitted Enterprise, crewed by a bunch of cadets.
- Star Trek 3 (The Search for Spock): Kirk steals the Enterprise. The Excelsior attempts pursuit but is thwarted due to Scotty’s ingenuity. Evidently it is the only other ship in the area, because Kirk gets away.
- Star Trek Generations: (I believed this was about the biggest plot hole ever, before I re-watched the preceding movies and realized that it’s a pattern.) A weird spacial anomaly threatens some Tholian refugees, and the only ship with warp capabilities – having just left Earth for a training run – is the incomplete Enterprise B. It wouldn’t even have taken a warship to save a hundred lives or so – anything with warp drive and a tractor beam would have done the job.
- Star Trek (the new one): The Vulcans are under attack, and the fleet is away – the entire fleet. An army of cadets is sent to help, resulting in a death count in the hundreds (not to mention all of the planet Vulcan).
Oh, and while we’re on the subject of that movie, how is it that Kirk’s dad was able to hold off those Romulan torpedoes for so long, and yet a fleet of ships (cadets or not) couldn’t deal with one mining vessel? They could have just stayed far enough away to avoid the missiles, while they fired phasers from farther away. Just saying.
Okay, so that’s only four – less than half. But it’s enough to send a dangerous but clear message: it is surprisingly easy to launch an attack on the Federation.
For some bonus trivia, let’s consider how many movies involve a rogue mission:
- Star Trek 3: Kirk steals the Enterprise to search for Spock
- Star Trek 4: On his way to stand trial for theft, Kirk violates the Temporal Prime Directive to kidnap two humpback whales from the 1980s.
- Star Trek 5: Almost all of Kirk’s senior staff mutinies in order to help Cybok on his religious quest.
- Star Trek 6: Spock ignores orders from Starfleet Command in order to search for Kirk
- Star Trek: First Contact: Picard ignores orders to patrol the Neutral Zone in order to fight the Borg.
- Star Trek: Insurrection: Picard undermines the Federation’s attempt to harvest the medicinal qualities of a planet’s rings.
In defense of the Enterprise and its captains, they were generally right. I guess Starfleet probably chooses people for the Enterprise that it figures will do the right thing regardless of what the ignorant (and arguably incompetent) bureaucracy says.