Star Trek Continues Draws to a Close with the Fantastic “To Boldly Go” Part One!
I can’t believe it’s already been five years since Vic Mignogna’s Star Trek Continues fan-film project began! After releasing three short vignettes, the first of which explored what happened in the moments following the final shot of the final episode of the Original Series, “Turnabout Intruder,” Mr. Mignogna and his team have produced an incredible TEN full-length Star Trek episodes, a whole new season of classic Star Trek. From the beginning, these Star Trek Continues episodes have been hugely impressive, spectacularly professional-looking creations that are astonishing recreations of the look and feel of classic Star Trek, while telling entirely new stories featuring Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise (no bloody A, B, C, or D). Not every episode has been perfect, but the skill and professionalism on display in this fan-film effort is extraordinary, and the whole eproject has been drenched in a true love for Star Trek that I have found to be continually inspiring. Now (likely caused by Paramount/CBS’ ridiculous and draconian efforts to extinguish all Star Trek fan films), Mr. Mignogna and his team are drawing their wonderful series to a close with the first of their two-part finale, “To Boldly Go” part one.
In “To Boldly Go,” Captain Kirk and co. have been sent to investigate Starfleet’s recent loss of several of the Enterprise’s fellow Constitution class starships. They discover that Starfleet has been attempting to recreate the accident that befell Gary Mitchell and Elizabeth Dehner in the (second) pilot episode of the Original Series, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” That accident gave Mitchell and Dehner extraordinary psychic powers; an attempt to weaponize these abilities could have catastrophic results. Discovering that Romulans have kidnapped the experiment’s subjects, the Enterprise takes off in hot pursuit, desperate to prevent these potentially super-powered beings from being used against them.
“To Boldly Go” part one is a superb episode; I think it is my favorite episode of Star Trek Continues so far. I love that the episode is designed not just as a finale for Star Trek Continues, but for the Original Series as a whole. As such, it does what most great series finales do: connects all the way back to the series’ first episode. The idea of picking up the thread of “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and establishing the idea of someone attempting to use that accident in order to create a cadre of super-humans, is extremely clever. It’s one of those “I can’t believe no one has done this idea before now!” sort of brilliant ideas.
This is one of the most exciting, suspenseful episodes of Star Trek Continues so far. One complaint I have often had about this series, even while enjoying the episodes, is that many if-not most of the episodes have wound up being fairly predictable; the final twenty-to-thirty minutes of most episodes have unfolded in ways I was able to predict based on watching the first half. But “To Boldly Go” part one is filled with surprises. Two moments in particular truly surprised me: the return of a classic adversary, and the emergence of that starship from the Great Barrier at the end. Both were terrific “WOW” moments.
The episode was filled with wonderful references to Star Trek lore, beautifully woven into the story without feeling like obvious fan-service. Spock’s use of the line “How do you feel?” was a wonderful callback to Star Trek IV. The line about “the Romulan way” seemed to me to be a reference to Diane Duane’s wonderful book of the same title. I LOVED the reappearance of the Romulan Commander from “The Enterprise Incident.” What a wonderful, thrilling surprise! I loved hearing “Jolan-tru” (a Romulan “hello” first heard in TNG’s “Unification”). I loved hearing the Enterprise’s engines referred to as “the mains”, a nice callback to Star Trek II. I loved seeing Dr. M’Benga. I loved seeing the Vulcan Death Grip. I liked the joke about Mitchell’s being unable to remember Kirk’s middle name (since the tombstone Mitchell created famously said “James R. Kirk” and not “James T.”). I liked the reference to Romulan starships being powered by singularities (as established in TNG). I loved the mention to the Preservers, and the idea that they were responsible for creating the barrier around the galaxy seen in “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” (What a wonderfully geeky idea, one that plumbs the depths of Trek continuity!)
This finale is clearly designed to connect with the events of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in a number of clever ways. In one lovely example, we see a hint that Spock is considering Kolinahr (even though we don’t yet understand why Spock will choose to go that route, especially in light of the lovely moment in this episode in which Spock discusses how much he values his maternal birthright, a wonderful moment of development for this character who is so famous for struggling to hide away his human half).
Star Trek Continues has always had some terrific guest actors, and this episode was no exception. My favorite was Amy Rydell, reprising the role of the Romulan Commander that her mother, Joanne Linville, had played fifty years ago!! Wow!! What a great “get”! Ms. Rydell looks absolutely perfect, and she does a terrific job at recreating this fascinating character. Mark Meer was also terrific, playing the Romulan Tal who had appeared originally, along with the Commander, in “The Enterprise Incident.” The Expanse’s Cas Anvar appears as another Romulan, and Doctor Who’s Nicola Bryant plays a scientist who turns out to be more than she seems. (The scene in which she finally comes clean as to her intentions was wonderfully performed, a chilling moment.)
There were a few elements of the episodes that didn’t quite make sense to me. The opening scene suggests that Spock and Dr. McKennah have formed a close bond, but I don’t feel that previous episodes have quite earned that development. (It’s a little out of nowhere, and makes me suspect that Dr. McKennah — who did not appear in any canonical Trek adventures — is going to meet an untimely end by the end of part two.) I wasn’t sure why the mention of an “anti-proton” residue immediately implicated the Romulans. (Wasn’t it the Doomsday Device that use an anti-proton weapon?) Why did the Espers take the low-warp ship to travel to the Galactic Barrier, rather than one of the many Constitition class starships they were able to take control of, such as the Hood? Also, if the idea was that Starfleet was experimenting with Espers, why hadn’t any yet been exposed to the Barrier in an attempt to augment their powers? I’d have thought that when the Enterprise arrived, there would already be a whole group of super-humans, not just the one who wasn’t actually a part of the starfleet group. (That is, if I am understanding the episode correctly; I think this point was a little confusing.)
*I was intrigued by the suggestion, in the opening Spock-McKennah scene, that there were other Vulcan traditions that explored the opposite of Kolinahr
* I loved Section 31 on Deep Space Nine, but I hate how obsessed other Star Trek creators seem to be to incorporate 31, from Enterprise to Star Trek: Into Darkness and now here. Section 31 has become way overplayed; please let them be.
* I loved the reference to the Romulan Praetor’s having ended the Romulan-Klingon alliance. Fans have extrapolated upon hints in the Original Series and movies to develop the idea that the Romulans and Klingons were once allies (hence both nations’ having cloaking devices and utilizing ships referred to as Birds of Prey), and I love the way this episode incorporated that idea.
* I had no idea that Kipleigh Brown’s character, Lt. Smith, was meant to be the same blonde bridge officer glimpsed in “Where No Man Has Gone Before”! Wow!
* Alas, poor Drake! Sad to see this Star Trek Continues character go. Those red shirts just never make it out alive.
I am so excited that I won’t have to wait long for part two, which is being released next week! (What an achievement that the Star Trek Continues team was able to create and release two finished episodes so close together!!) Though I am very, very sad to see this series end.
You can watch this episode yourself right now!