Star Trek Continues Episode 5…the Review You Won’t Get Anywhere Else!

DISCLAIMER: The writer of this review considers those that get mad about spoilers to be terrorists. In his view, they are holding the entire planet hostage from the use of freedom of speech. So if you don’t like spoilers, don’t read on. This is your only warning.

If you haven’t read my previous review of Star Trek Continues‘ last episode–“The White Iris“–(or heard my reviews of other episodes on my science and tech podcast: Sovryn Tech) I recommend doing so, just so you can see where I’m coming from when it comes to Star Trek, and Star Trek Continues, particularly. But to put it in short, I love Star Trek Continues. It is the best thing happening today in Star Trek (along with Star Trek: Renegades), and Vic Mignogna is my Captain Kirk…not Chris Pine. Star Trek Continues (which I will call “STC” from now on) truly is Star Trek: The Original Series Season 4, in my opinion. As I often say, from minute one of each episode, I instantly feel like I’m watching new episodes of TOS, suspension of disbelief fully engaged.

That out of the way, let’s talk about their latest episode, Episode 05: “Divided We Stand”. And yes, you can watch the whole episode right here (with YouTube privacy mode on)…

As always, production-wise, STC is solid as a rock. It looks SO perfect, and kudos to the production team for making it still look so good while on location (this is the first episode that was largely filmed on location in the series). The acting was spot on, as usual. The dialogue was right on the money. The music (I think I noticed some original music cues in this episode, perhaps for the first time) was perfect as always, and the re-introduction of some of Alexander Courage’s renditions on American patriotic music was a stirring welcome return (originally used in the TOS episode, “The Omega Glory”, I believe).

Now, if you read my previous STC review on the ZOG Blog, you’ll know that I said “The White Iris” was my least favorite episode of the series to date (which doesn’t mean it was bad, it was great, just in comparison to the first three episodes, it was slightly weaker). That ranking has now been usurped by “Divided We Stand”. It is easily my least favorite of the series so far, and it largely has to do with subjective taste–and those patriotic cues I mentioned. But once again, that’s not me saying it was a bad episode–it was great–it’s again just a case where when compared to other episodes, it doesn’t hold up as well for me.

So, to those “patriotic cues”. I don’t mean the music in this case when I say that. I mean patriotism itself. The “‘murica, fuck yeah!” attitude of this episode I found to be terribly annoying. I get it, I’m a rare case for this likely, since I’m an anarchist (that lives in New Hampshire, and, you know, is into peace and hates war, including the Civil War). The interaction and friendship between Kirk and McCoy was really well done during this mental experience they were sharing of existing during the American Civil War due to some kind of nanites (fortunately, they didn’t actually time travel, those stories can get tiresome if it’s not including some futuristic Starfleet: ie., the USS Relativity)–and I did just give you the whole plot there–and I loved seeing that interplay that may have been just a little too rare on TOS. But the clear use of “popular history” (which is never accurate, and science fiction is ripe for exploring away from) was really disappointing. There was even a good chunk of Abraham Lincoln worship here which I found distasteful. I get it, in the “popular mindset” he’s some kind of hero (and even the greatest show in television history–Babylon 5–did its share of Lincoln worship), and historically Kirk has called him a hero (TOS episode: “The Savage Curtain”), but actual human history bears a very different story that STC could have really ran with. The entirety of the evil of war itself (North and South both being shown as villains) in general could have been explored, and it would have made a Star Trek moment to remember. Instead it was all, “yay unity!” and “yay ‘murica!” and left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Obviously, Star Trek–particularly The Original Series–has a history of being pro-America (a point which the great Harlan Ellison has hit home many times), and I understand, but STC has been really on the ball with solving so many of the unfortunate peculiarities of TOS (like STC did with the important, strong feminist message in my favorite episode of STC: “Lolani“), and I guess I just wish “Divided We Stand” would have continued the trend instead of reinforcing the status quo.

I want to reiterate, I am in no way saying this latest episode was bad Star Trek, it’s awesome, real Star Trek, it just wasn’t Star Trek Continues‘ shining moment, but it did have the chance to be.

One other critique that I have–really of the series in general (and again, it doesn’t take away from its greatness, it just keeps it from shining all the way)–is that the character of Dr. Elise McKenna (played by the lively and lovely Michele Specht) just does not get enough screen time or even character development. She is literally the greatest thing to happen to Star Trek since…I don’t know…ever. There’s beauty, brains, and such powerful potential with her, to not take advantage of it every single episode is a loss. I’m sure there are plans to make entire episodes around her in the future, but she could really be utilized way more. And she could deliver some much needed long-term romance/relationships to the Enterprise crew, along with other great stories and angles that new characters always bring to the table when they need development (how about having her go through command training like Deanna Troi did in TNG?). Vic & Co., get on that pronto. You’ve got a serious winner there.

Anyway, again, this was great Star Trek, I’m not saying any different here as far as that goes, and I can’t wait for the next episode of the series. I think it’s the greatest entertainment on the planet today. And my issues with this episode are highly subjective (but then, what part of art isn’t?), but I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring them up.

Once again, the music, the acting, the story, the effects, the directing, all of it was perfect Trek. Keep up the great work STC crew. You’re bringing real happiness to my life, and I wish you continued success. Despite my critiques, I say let’s all ride this thing to the time of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture“!

Carpe lucem!