Ask your typical Star Trek fan (aka “Trekkie,” “Trekker” or “Nerd”) how Captain Picard and his crew ended their voyages on the silver screen, and you might be quoted the famous T.S. Eliot line, “Not with a bang, but a whimper.” He (let’s face it) wouldn’t be referring to the film’s tragic ending, mind you, but rather that the final film to feature the cast of The Next Generation, Star Trek: Nemesis, was universally decried as unfitting of the franchise. By the same token, ask that fan to name his favorite Trek film and he will unequivocally answer Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. These two films might sit on opposite ends of the fan-o-meter, but they share a striking number of similarities:
Captain Kirk came across a litany of
evil-doers in his travels — the Klingons, the Romulans, the Gorn —
but only one, Khan, has earned his place as Kirk’s true nemesis. It was
Khan who nearly succeeded in stealing the Enterprise and murdering the
stalwart Captain, and Khan whose anger and thirst for vengeance fueled
his titular film. In Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard faces off
against a Romulan-bred clone of himself who represented the very worst
of Picard’s potential. For that reason, the clone Shinzon became much
more dangerous than any other species that Picard had encountered. Both
Khan and Shinzon tested the Captains like never before.
The Wrath of Khan‘s action comes to a head when Khan pursues the Enterprise into a nebula for a final and explosive showdown. When Kirk realizes he can attack Khan undetected from underneath, he takes the upper hand. Very rarely does scifi concern itself with the logistics of three-dimensional warfare, but the moment lent the film added credibility and depth. Nemesis not only echoes this detail for its final showdown (also in a nebula), it drastically magnifies it thanks to modern special effects.
In both Nemesis and Khan, the adversaries make one last-ditch effort to annihilate the respective Enterprises by turning on some killer device capable of wiping out an entire civilization. To save the Enterprises, a sacrifice must be made. In Khan, the logical, emotionless Spock enters the damaged engine room to repair the warp drive, mortally exposing himself to radiation in the process. The emotionless, logical Data makes a similar decision in Nemesis, flying through the vacuum of space to destroy the enemy ship. Like Star Trek II, which ends with the hopeful hint of Spock’s resurrection, the last scene of Star Trek: Nemesis shows B-4 beginning to recall Data’s downloaded memories. Had The Next Generation franchise continued to its, dare I say, logical conclusion, the same fans who decried the film might have been treated to Star Trek XI: The Search For Data.