For James T. Kirk, who upon returning from his initial tour of duty aboard the Enterprise was promoted out of the command chair into a desk job, attainment will only come when he returns to the bridge of a starship. He has no wish to be a “chairbound paperpusher,” and when a huge destructive alien cloud is detected heading towards Earth, Kirk gets his return ticket to the Enterprise.
To aid him, he recruits all the starship's original command crew, except Spock, who has returned to Vulcan. Even the recalcitrant and semiretired Dr. McCoy is “drafted” (through a little known reserve activation clause) to rejoin his former captain. Kirk's attainment of his goal displaces the ship's new captain, Willard Decker, but despite initial friction between the two, Kirk soon recognises Decker's ability and urge to command, and in turn Will comes to accord the admiral the kind of respect and admiration he gave to his late father, Matthew Decker, who sacrificed his life in “The Doomsday Machine.”
Meanwhile Spock, on the planet Vulcan, has been attempting to purge himself of the last remnants of his human half. The product of two different systems, Spock has been seeking his identity throughout his entire life, but his attainment of the Vulcan state of Kolinahr – the shedding of all emotions – fails when he detects the questioning prescence of an awesomely powerful entity . . . the same creature threatening Earth.
Something inside him is drawn to that concentrated logic and knowledge. The Vulcan masters testing Spock realise this, and he is told his answer lies elsewhere. As the Enterprise continues towards it's rendezvous with the energy cloud, Spock rejoins his former shipmates, determined not to have any emotional attachments. McCoy suspects him of returning to serve his own ends more than those of the mission. The doctor is also skeptical of Kirk – is the captain's main concern the job at hand, or is he really here to regain control of the Enterprise?
Penetrating the giant cloud, ship's navigator Ilia, a Deltan female with whom Decker had once been romantically involved, is seized by a strange creature, which then returns a probe, an exact replica of the Deltan navigator, to question the humans aboard the Enterprise. The probe reveals that the cloud – V'ger – is heading toward Earth to find it's creator, and join with it. Decker, playing on the probe's memories of his and Ilia's relationship, attempts to discover more about V'ger.
With the cloud only hours away from Earth, Spock steals a space suit, and attempts to communicate with V'ger using the Vulcan mind meld. The contact nearly kills him. Brought back aboard Enterprise, Spock relates that V'ger is a living machine that comes from a machine planet across the galaxy. For all of the cloud's awesome power, it simply wishes to attain self knowledge – to have it's creator answer the most basic question of existence. Spock now realises neither knowledge nor logic can help him attain what he seeks most – happiness. He is both Vulcan and human, and must find his own path.
Upon reaching Earth, V'ger begins signalling the creator and, after failing to receive a respons, concludes that the carbon based units infesting the planet are somehow interfering, and must be destroyed. Kirk tells the Ilia probe he knows why the Creator has not responded, but will only reveal that information to V'ger directly. Journeying to the heart of the vast entity, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Decker and the Ilia probe discover an old Earth satellite – Voyager (V---GER) – transformed by the machine planet's inhabitants into a device truly capable of fulfilling it's original programming: “Collect all data possible, and return that information to the Creator.”
However, V'ger does not simply want to transmit it's findings – it wants to touch the Creator physically. Absorbing both the Ilia probe and Decker – who tells Kirk that this union represents the attainment of his deepest desires – V'ger, now complete with newfound emotions, resumes it's exploration of the universe. Human, alien and machine elements have been drawn together, interacted, learned, and formed a new life form. Kirk, Spock and McCoy return to the Enterprise to give the ship a proper shakedown.
Errors and Explanations
The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic Trekkers
- Starfleet having to send the incompletely refitted Enterprise to intercept V'Ger, due to them not having any other ships in interception range. The other ships are probably either seriously outdated, partly dismantled for reworking, or too far away. [N 1]
- Non identification of Spock by the shuttle pilot and Enterprise computer. Either this information was classified for security reasons, or it is standard procedure not to reveal passenger identification unless they confirm they actually wish to remain aboard long term.
- McCoy's use of Imperial measurements. McCoy considers himself to be an old fashioned country doctor.
- Different appearance of the Klingons since the Original Series. The human like appearance of Klingons from the series is logically the result of Genetic engineering by the Klingon Empire. [N 2]
- The presence of a large moonlike object and a planet in the skies of Vulcan, despite Spock stating in The Man Trap that Vulcan had no moon. This 'moon' is more likely to be orbiting the other planet in the system. [N 3]
- Non use of the Vulcan hand sign along with the words Live Long and Prosper. This could be a nonverbal rebuke from the Vulcan Masters, due to Spock's failure to completely purge his emotions.
- Non used of the self destruct code from Let That Be Your Last Battlefield. That code requires three senior officers, and at least 45 seconds, to implement, and has a fixed countdown time of between 30 and 60 seconds.
- Kirk transporting to the orbital complex instead of directly to the Enterprise. Kirk probably wanted to discuss the Enterprise refit and the new mission orders with Scott in the privacy of a travel pod.
- Use of Starfleet Command and Enterprise transporters to transport the same people at the same time. Starfleet may be using it’s Earth based transporters to supplement/back up the new transporters on Enterprise as a precaution, as evidenced by Rand asking Starfleet to override the transporters on Enterprise.
- Transmission continuing after the destruction of the Klingon ships. The sensor probe could have been programmed to record images, to allow Starfleet to examine the configuration of the ships, as well as intercepting transmissions.
- Transmission continuing after the destruction of Epsilon 9. V’Ger could have continued transmitting images from the location of Epsilon 9.
- Apparent risk of going to warp speed while still in the Solar System, despite the original Enterprise regularly going to warp from planetary orbit. Rather than this being a general problem, Kirk may have deemed it risky with the ship's untested warp engines. And indeed, as Scott reports, "it was an engine imbalance that created the wormhole in the first place." [N 4]
- Lack of seats for the bridge wall stations, despite the presence of restraints on the Captain's chair..The Captain's safety is probably considered more important that of the bridge crew.
- Blueprints of the original Enterprise appearing on the screen during the V'Ger prode's data search. A lot of Starfleet vessels would still be in the original configuration, with original era equipment, at the time these events are taking place.
Continuity and Production Problems
- The face of the Klingon captain appearing to jump to a lower position, in the footage being viewed by the staff at Epsilon 9 Something may have jolted the camera.
- Floodlights click off instantly without dimming. Twenty third century floodlights must be able to go of instantly, just like current light bulbs.
- The warp flash beginning off to the side during the second and third jumps to warp speed. Possible side effect to Spock's warp intermix formula.
- Chekov's unnoticed arrival on the Bridge. There is plenty of time for Chekov to sneak in behind Spock and past Uhuru, before the turbolift doors close, without appearing in shot, especially as the camera is focused on Kirk sitting in the center seat. 
- stephen on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 7:45 pm Spock gets emotions and sentiment at the end but this is never dealt with in subsequent movies or episodes. Why not? And why didn't any of you mention it? Spock's displays of emotion were directly linked to his contact with the V'Ger entity.
Internet Movie Database
Incorrectly regarded as goofs
- When Kirk first comes on board Enterprise he is called "Admiral," and then "Captain" a few seconds later. (IMDB) It is customary for the person in command of a ship to be addressed as "Captain," regardless of their actual military rank.
Ex Astris Scientia
- Decker tells Kirk, "Admiral, this is an almost totally new Enterprise." And this is true. The Enterprise in this movie is evidently not the same ship as the one of TOS. While the core of the Enterprise may still be the same, most of its surface has to be completely new, because of the different proportions. There are precedents in real life that warships were rebuilt in a way to only resemble their original appearance. Still, it is hard to believe that Starfleet would literally rip apart the complete ship, which seems to be just the same or even more effort than building one from scratch.The ship was probably considered too great a symbol of human achievement to be scrapped, but may have needed a complete rebuild to allow her to remain operational.
- At the time of TOS, every starship had its individual badge, the one of the Enterprise being the arrowhead. But in TMP all Starfleet Personnel that we see on Earth (not those at Epsilon IX though) sport the arrowhead too. (EAS) The following films and ultimately TNG will make clear that the arrowhead has indeed become the general symbol of Starfleet.
- Quite unlike the Enterprise of TOS, the new TMP ship has a warp reaction assembly that is several decks high and that would set the standard for all Federation ships to appear in the later series and movies. It may not have been visible or easily identifiable in the original series.
- "My oath of celibacy is on record, Captain." Ilia's statement, as well as the amazement of the crew to her being Deltan, is out of place. It doesn't make any sense considering that we learn nothing about the Deltans in the movie, except that they can somehow take away a person's pain. And even if we take into account that Deltans, with their "highly developed sexuality", as described behind the stage, have a distracting influence on the rest of the crew, it is still inappropriately sexist to require or only expect an oath of celibacy from them. Deltan sexuality could be damaging to non Deltans if not kept under control.
- When Kirk is returning from the lounge and taking his place in the center seat again, the ship is already at red alert. But as Decker explicitly states a few seconds later, the "screens and shields" have not yet been raised (and Kirk orders to keep them down, because it could be misinterpreted as hostile). This is in contrast to numerous other situations, in which red alert includes the raising of the shields (which is usually the least to be done in case of an impending battle). The shields do not automatically activate when Red Alert is sounded, which is why Kirk was able to order them to remain deactivated while remaining at red alert.
- We see only in a split second how the Ilia probe punches a hole into the sickbay door. When the camera is on her again and she steps through the hole, there should be either large chunks of metal pointing outward, or an according amount of debris on the floor, but there is neither of that. The inner edges appear to have been folded back onto themselves.
- Curious as they are, the machines on that planet took all the effort of finding out about the probe's origin and building a huge vessel around "V'ger", but they didn't even clean the probe, which would have revealed its full name? And even if removing the dirt was considered unnecessary, wouldn't it have been easy to scan through it to find the whole name? The Machine beings were probably more concerned with repairing major damage and accessing the operational programme. In any case, the identification subroutine could have become corrupted.
- V'ger is supposed to receive a binary code from the Enterprise, but what Decker reads out is all decimal. Well, it could be a BCD code, although I doubt that with its unused codes (6 per 4 bits) it would have been used for an interstellar probe. Decker could be reading out a decimal translation of the binary code.
- Where does V'ger/Decker vanish in the end, without destroying Earth's surface? (EAS) It must have travelled to something like a parallel dimension. 
- ↑ Also listed in the Ex Astris Scientia entry
- ↑ Later confirmed in the Star Trek: Enterprise season 4 episodes Affliction and Divergence as a Klingon attempt to enhance their warriors with Augment DNA.
- ↑ As a side note, it seems to have completely disappeared in the Director's Edition - a fact confirmed in the Movie Inconsistancies section of Ex Astris Scientia.
- ↑ Explanation taken from the Ex Astris Scientia entry
- ↑ Asherman, Allen. The Star Trek Compendium - Third edition. Titan Books Ltd. 1993. ISBN 1 85286 472 9 Pages 155-156
- ↑ Nitpickers Guide for Classic Trekkers
- ↑ IMDB entry tt0079945
- ↑ Ex Artis Scientia
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