(2009) - Star Trek Into Darkness
Preface "Star Trek (2009)" takes place in a new
continuity for the most part. From the moment that the USS Kelvin runs into the Narada, galactic history, personal histories and
technical developments may diverge from what we know of the TOS era. There is no problem with young Kirk knowing how to drive a stick shift
car, which Spock had to show Captain Kirk in TOS: "A Piece of the Action". Several altered basic principles of the Star Trek Universe and
real-world facts, as well as the plot holes of the movie constitute inconsistencies though. A few of them
are explained either in the Countdown
comic or in deleted scenes, but they do not make sense in the movie itself.
- The Kelvin's registry is NCC-0514. While we don't know for sure how ships were numbered thirty years before TOS, it
is still an oddity. If anything, I would expect a leading "0" to be added after the introduction of 4-digit registries, rather than
removed from older ships such as the USS Grissom NCC-638.
- Why is Captain Robau wearing a blue instead of a golden uniform?
This implies that there must have been not just a uniform switch
(to the "The Cage" uniforms) but also another so far unknown department color permutation some time
later in the Prime Universe.
- There is a window on the Kelvin bridge instead of a solid wall with a viewscreen as on all other Starfleet vessels
of the future or past that were ever shown. This is not a one-off phenomenon, considering that the
alternate Enterprise has such a
window too. So there is something different about the parallel universe designs, only that the Kelvin predates this universe.
- Robau orders red alert, which implies that
the shields are raised. The Kelvin's shields, however, are totally useless.
All missiles from the Narada impact without meeting any resistance. Later in the
movie the shields (that Pike raises before entering the orbit of Vulcan at
Kirk's request) won't be much protection for the Enterprise either. 130
years more advanced or not, Nero's mining ship has marvelous weapons that penetrate
shields so easily.
- After the first missiles have impacted,
engineering reports that the weapons are offline. Yet, only a few seconds
later the Kelvin fires phasers.
- Captain Robau's turbolift is going down when it arrives in the shuttlebay, but the shuttlebay is located in the
- The struts in the engineering section of
the Kelvin are riveted, a construction technique that became obsolete in the
late 20th century (and that can't be found anywhere on Enterprise NX-01, for
- Why is the appearance of the Romulan Nero not a total surprise to the crew of the Kelvin? At this time, humans have
never seen Romulans face to face (at least no one has survived to report of it), as clearly evidenced in TOS: "Balance of
Terror". Why doesn't anyone surmise that he has to be a Vulcan because that is how he must have looked to them?
- The Romulans in this movie do not look like any other
Romulans of the 24th century though. They have lost the V-shaped forehead
bones that all members of their race had since TNG. The real-world reason is
that the flat variant looked best in
- Why is it that Nero and all of his crew are bald and tattooed? Is that a common fashion among miners or did they
all quickly change their look after learning of the demise of their planet? And while they were at it, did they swear eternal loyalty
till death to their leader, in any century? It is hard to believe that Nero had everyone that perfectly under control for 25 years. In Countdown,
shaving and painting the head is a Romulan mourning ritual. Because of their insurmountable pain the crew of the Narada keep this look
- Nero? Did our Rom(ul)an baddie captain quickly make this name up to impress his human opponents with his knowledge
of Earth's history? It is contrived. Or is it some more profound in-joke, as the full name of the Roman Emperor Tiberius was indeed
Tiberius Claudius Nero?
- The stardate system has never been consistent, but for what it's worth in the new movie they gain a
whole new meaning. Now the full decimals simply denote the (Earth) year! Jim Kirk is born in the year 2233 on Stardate 2233.04.
- Is the Kelvin always carrying families of officers, or why is Winona Kirk on the ship in the first place, in her
ninth month? Well, the Kelvin reportedly has a crew of 800, which is twice as many as on a Constitution class 30 years later in the Prime Universe,
but the Kelvin is only a survey ship. So why the families and/or the big crew?
- For a survey vessel the Kelvin's armament is
formidable, at least she withstands the attack from the Narada much longer than the whole (albeit totally unprepared) fleet at Vulcan 25
- Why doesn't the Narada attempt to steer
clear when George Kirk sets a collision course? The impact of the Kelvin
obviously inflicts quite some damage.
- The movie plot is built on a chain of coincidences that
was constructed to get the seven main characters of TOS and
essentially only these characters together on the Enterprise in some fashion, to link their destinies as if it has to happen again in
the parallel timeline, under totally different circumstances. The first link in the chain is when Nero arrives in the past. It is almost
the exact place and time where Winona Kirk is heavily pregnant with her son, who would be the best friend of Nero's archnemesis (or so
he believes), Spock.
- The region of the real Riverside, Iowa, is not as flat as in the movie, or largely bereft of vegetation. The
crevice that becomes the grave of the classic Corvette is definitely man-made. But the topology of the wide plains does not look like it
could have been flattened.
- Since when is the sky of Vulcan blue? While it used to vary between red
and yellow shades from TOS to ENT, we never saw a blue sky so far. Orci and Kurtzman explain the blue sky as "seasonal" and
T'Pol mentions an "occasional" blue sky to Archer in ENT: "Strange New World". Still it is an oddity that only in
this movie we can see the blue sky even on two different occasions.
- We do not know when and how Kirk's Starfleet career started in the Prime Universe. But Pike makes a point that Kirk
has been hanging around for years instead of doing something useful with his life, which he would have done under different
circumstances. So in the Prime Universe, Kirk would not go to that bar as a twenty-something years old man and meet Uhura, who would
later serve on his ship. He also wouldn't get acquainted with McCoy, who would later serve on his ship, on a shuttle.
- On a further note about the bar, what are several Academy cadets doing there, in the middle of nowhere in Iowa? The
Academy is in San Francisco. Pike's presence, on the other hand, may make sense, considering that at this time he may already be meant
to take command of the Enterprise that is being built in the Riverside shipyards.
Well, perhaps the cadets are taking a tour of the shipyards.
- How old is Captain Pike? In TOS: "The Menagerie" Commodore Mendez states that Pike is about Kirk's age.
But in "Star Trek (2009)" Pike is Kirk's fatherly friend, at least 25 years older! Well, the problem dates back to the time of
TOS. Jeffrey Hunter, who played Captain Pike, was 38 at the time "The Cage" was produced (1964). William Shatner was 36 when
he was in "Menagerie" (2267). Here Kirk meets the disabled Pike, now played by another actor whose age in his role is hard to
estimate because of the make-up. But that is supposed to take place 15 years after "The Cage". So Pike is definitely older
than Kirk. Not just because of the visible age, but also because he commanded a starship a decade prior to Kirk - unless he was promoted
straight from Cadet to Captain. Anyway, Commodore Mendez still claims that the two are the same age. Perhaps because he himself is much
older? Not really. Malachi Throne, who portrayed Josť Mendez, is barely three years older than Shatner. So the error was already with
"The Menagerie", although "Star Trek (2009)" arguably worsened it.
- So starships are being built on the ground in this alternate timeline (assuming that the Enterprise is not a
one-off exception). It contradicts the overwhelming evidence of starships that are assembled in drydocks, as previously seen around a
dozen times, most notably in VOY: "Relativity" and in ENT: "The Expanse". It also makes very little sense, one
reason being that starships are just not built for being operated in an atmosphere and gravity, and that the ship would have to be
specially reinforced just for the ascent.
- In the Prime Universe the Enterprise is
almost definitely built in space, and Kirk rises up the ranks until he can
eventually take command of the ship. In the new timeline, the alternate version of the ship (at least one with the same name and
purpose) is being built on the ground, conveniently only a few miles away from his home.
- In the alternate reality the
Academy is located on the shore of the Presidio, not far away from the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
We can spot the present-day Transamerica Pyramid, perhaps 1 or 2 kilometers
away from the Academy, amidst many much taller buildings. The direction of the building is roughly correct, but the real Transamerica Pyramid
should be located some 4km away. Moreover, in order to be able to see the building from there the way it is possible in the movie, it would require to lower Russian Hill, one of the most prominent parts of San Francisco, almost to sea level!
- In the new universe, Spock, Kirk's closest friend in the Prime Universe is A) the one who programmed the Kobayashi
Maru scenario that Kirk cheated, B) the second in command on the ship that Kirk's friend Bones gets assigned to, C) the boy-friend of
his Orion love affair's roommate Uhura. Moreover, Spock's Prime Universe
counterpart is D) the target of Nero's insane crusade in the course of which Kirk's father was
killed in the first place. One coincidence would have sufficed to bring them together but
for some reason it had to be four.
Well, the fact that Spock programmed it would at least nicely explain why he
never took the Kobayashi Maru scenario, as stated in "Star Trek
II". This could be the same in the Prime Universe and the Abramsverse.
- The Klingon ships mentioned in this movie are called "warbirds". Even the often scorned Brannon Braga admitted that the "Klingon
warbirds" in ENT: "Broken Bow" were an error, so why is it repeated here?
- On a general note, where do all the new aliens suddenly come from and when will they be extinguished (or leave the Federation for good)? Actually, as far as I could see, every single alien aside from the Vulcans, Romulans
and the Orion has to be classified as a new species: Alnschloss K'Bentayr on the Kelvin bridge, the female doctor with the big eyes who
helps Winona Kirk deliver her baby, the long-faced guy sitting in the bar between Uhura and Kirk, the dark-skinned alien with a big head on the Enterprise bridge and Scotty's little friend Keenser,
to name only the most obvious ones. Well, we've had many otherwise unseen
aliens in "Star Trek I" and in "Star Trek IV" as well,
and at least the many alien cadets may be there as part of a cultural
exchange program. Still, it is an oddity that almost all aliens we see at
any time are new, and a missed opportunity to create stronger consistency
with old Trek by showing familiar aliens (Andorians, Tellarites, Denobulans,
- The distress call from Vulcan makes Starfleet think that the planet is struck by a natural
disaster or a space anomaly. Doesn't have
Vulcan any satellites, orbital stations etc. that could have quickly identified the trouble as man-made, as the attack that it was?
Heck, Amanda could see the drilling beam from her home! But Starfleet is unaware of the attack until a whole fleet drops into orbit,
with their shields down, and falls prey to the Narada. Well, just like it didn't allow the use of the transporter, the Narada has
probably jammed all comm frequencies.
- Since when is the San Francisco composed of irregularly shaped gray mile-high buildings? Sure, the future city looked somewhat different in any series or movie so far,
but always had skyscrapers of moderate size and shape.
- Much has been written on the new look of the Enterprise (and
most of it as it seems by me). In the alternate universe setting it is okay for the ship to look different (and to be launched later).
But why does the Enterprise have a saucer section much like in TMP? It would have been
more plausible if Spock had brought some plans from
the 24th century, which could readily explain why the ship and pretty much every technology is different. But Spock arrives in the past after the ship has already been built,
so this is a missed opportunity of explaining why its saucer looks like
on the TMP Enterprise, some 12 years ahead of time. It is not really
inconsistent, but this tip of the hat could have made more sense, just as
every other technology that works differently and may be more advanced than
it should be.
- When the shuttles from the Academy arrive at the Enterprise, we can see that about a dozen of them are stacked on
two levels on either side of the shuttlebay. The shuttlebay has to be some 40m across to accommodate the 10m+ shuttles in the shown
fashion. This would translate to a length of the Enterprise of over 700m meters! Such a monster ship would be considerably bigger than a
Galaxy class, and its volume would be 16 times(!) that of the Prime Universe original Enterprise.
deck structure indicates that a size
of 366m as originally designed is more likely, no matter what the people
in charge of the VFX keep saying. What remains is just a purposeful mis-scaling that has to be ignored for anything
else about the ship design
to make sense.
- In the Prime Universe, the familiar crew of the Enterprise was not complete until
2265/66 (depending on what we
make of Chekov). The date of the new movie is 2258, however. Chekov is still a teenage prodigy, and for everyone else it must be earlier
in their career as well, most obviously for Cadet Kirk. While Kirk is sneaked aboard by Bones, everyone else is already a part of the
crew of exactly that vessel, however. How slim is that chance?
- Chekov Prime was born in 2245 (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?"). The new Chekov, on the other hand, is 17
years old as of 2258, placing his birth in the year 2241. Is it possible that, for some reason, Chekov's parents decided to have
children earlier? It is debatable whether under slightly different circumstances children could be genetically identical. But if we
choose not to ignore the problem and if the new timeline serves as an explanation for this continuity issue, the "Star Trek
(2009)" Chekov has to be a genetically different person, something like the non-existent older brother of Chekov Prime (Perhaps he
should have been named Pyotr?). This would at least explain his curly hair, while the new Chekov at least has the accent in common with
his almost-counterpart in the Prime Universe.
- How can a 17-year-old be a fully fledged Starfleet officer (unlike "Honorary Ensign" Wesley)? I doubt
that the Academy would accept a 13-year-old boy, prodigy or not. And even if Chekov has needed only two years to pass his final exam, it
is still a bit of a stretch, just because Starfleet may not consider him mature enough for the job.
- Since when is an access code necessary for someone to make a shipwide announcement? Sure, access must be
restricted, but even if Chekov isn't generally authorized, wouldn't the 23rd century computer software be smart enough to
that he was ordered to do so by Captain Pike? Or couldn't the software
compensate for his accent?
- When he is listening to Uhura under Gaila's bed, Kirk picks up something
the destruction of 47
Klingon ships in the same night. The next day on the Enterprise, when Chekov briefs the crew about the situation on
Vulcan, he says: "At 22:00 hours telemetry detected an anomaly in the Neutral Zone, what appeared to be a 'lightning storm in
space'. Soon after Starfleet received a distress signal from the Vulcan High Command, that their planet was experiencing seismic
activity". It may be the Romulan Neutral Zone but, considering the involvement of 47 Klingon ships, just as well the Klingon
one that may have existed at this time in the 23rd century. The described "lightning storm" near the Neutral Zone is
clearly meant to be Spock's arrival in the 23rd century. The problem with this sequence of events is the coincidental proximity of
Vulcan to the Neutral Zone. Just before or after defeating a whole fleet of Klingons, Nero on the Narada must have captured Spock and
the "Red Matter". He set a course to "Delta Vega" and then to Vulcan. And all of this happened in less than a day! The galaxy
has to be quite small if Spock emerges from the Neutral Zone (whichever it is) at most a few light years from Vulcan (and from
Vega" which, in this case, definitely has to be in the same star system).
- We don't know how long exactly the "mild
sedative" knocks Kirk out, but surely not more than 30 minutes.
Everything else is shown in real time after the Enterprise has left for Vulcan, and when Chekov makes his announcement after Kirk is
awake again, he explicitly says that it would still take three minutes until the arrival. So let us assume the journey takes 30 minutes. This would correspond to warp factor
65! If you don't believe me, the distance between Earth and Vulcan is 16 light years (ENT:
"Home"), and the warp factor (TOS scale) is the third root of the ratio of ship speed vs. light speed.
- When Chekov speaks of a "lightning
storm in space" Vulcan, Kirk remembers that the circumstances under
which the Kelvin was destroyed were similar. He only needs the confirmation
from Uhura that it was the Romulans. I find it hard to believe that Uhura
would previously tell Gaila of the 47 destroyed Klingon ships but without
mentioning that it was a huge *Romulan* vessel. The question whether or not
Uhura reported the incident to her superiors remains unclear. Pike neither
explicitly confirms nor denies his knowledge of the incident. He just says, "And
you know of this Klingon attack how?". If he was informed, it may
be through the report that Uhura compiled in the first place. But that still
leaves two other equally probable possibilities, that Pike didn't know it
because neither Uhura nor anyone else reported it, or that he did know it
from someone else because Uhura just didn't mind reporting it.
- When Kirk races to the Enterprise bridge to warn Pike about the Romulan threat, we can see him run through a corridor that is directly attached to the bridge.
This may be another sign that the ship is as long as 725m, because in this
case the base of the bridge module would measure as much as 45m in diameter.
While this corridor doesn't make as much sense on a bridge module of just
22m diameter on a 366m ship, such a deck layout is not impossible though.
- A huge amount of "Red Matter", a
ball of more than a meter across, is stored aboard Spock's ship. To destroy
Vulcan, only a tiny drop of less than 1cm in diameter is sufficient. We may
surmise that much more Red Matter was needed to create the black hole to
eliminate the Hobus supernova. On the other hand, it can't have been a lot
more than what is still stored on Spock's ship, considering that the
confinement cylinder is only a bit wider than the remaining Red Matter.
Actually, we see the original amount of Red Matter in Spock's flashback at a
later time. So what was all the excess Red Matter deemed useful for in the
- The view down from Nero's drilling rig insinuates that it must be at least a hundred kilometers above the ground,
comparing this with satellite photos of Earth. On the other hand, Kirk, Sulu and Olson use parachutes, and at least the first two have
no major trouble breathing the air. So unless the Vulcan atmosphere is much thicker or for some reason the pressure is not exponentially
decreasing with the height above the ground, there is something wrong.
- Moreover, in order to drill a hole in the first place, which
takes at least as long as the flight from Earth to Vulcan, the Narada has to
maintain the position above the drill hole. In stationary orbit? Hardly,
because that would to be tens of thousands of
kilometers above the surface if Vulcan is an Earth-like planet. So the
Narada most likely uses the engines to maintain the position not far above
the platform. But then why is there a drill platform and a tether at all?
Why is the drill beam not generated on the Narada, where all the energy must
come from anyway? Why bother to transfer it to the platform?
- Why is only redshirt Olsen carrying the
charges that are required to blow up the drilling platform? Wouldn't it have
been a lot wiser to equip Kirk and Sulu with explosives too?
- All phasers of the alternate universe, beginning with the ship phasers of the Kelvin, seem to fire bolts instead of
continuous beams, unlike any phasers of TOS or TNG or the phase pistols of Enterprise. The only comparable phaser beams could be seen in
"Star Trek II". Yet, it seems as if the "Star Trek (2009)" universe has
either switched back to pulse weapons, or they have pulse phasers such as on the Defiant everywhere.
- The warp drive, the phasers and even the transporters all make some sort of shooting noise when they are
activated. There used to be a "bang" at times when the warp drive was activated (most memorably in TNG), but there is supposed
to be no sound in space anyway. The traditionally sizzling transporter noise is in the new movie, but there is also the bang. And the previously
just hissing (pulse?) phasers and the Romulan disruptors suddenly sound a bit like the machine ray guns of Battlestar Galactica (reboot).
- This timeline seems to have the slowest and overall least capable transporters of 200 years of Starfleet history.
It was no wise idea that in Star Trek Enterprise transporters were almost as powerful as they would be in the 24th century. But making
them more primitive in "Star Trek (2009)" doesn't exactly help (even though we may attribute the slow speed to additional features
such as biofilters).
- Nero creates a black hole inside Vulcan using small doses of a mysterious "Red Matter". Uhm, well... But we need to wonder why it is necessary to drill a hole down to a planet's core to completely destroy it. As we can see in the end, it is absolutely sufficient to create a nearby singularity that sucks in everything in its vicinity. Maybe not so nicely symmetrically though.
- Only 10,000 Vulcans survive according to
Spock's estimate. So virtually no one was evacuated in time, and there are apparently hardly any Vulcans
in any colonies, or on vacation on other planets. I find that hard to believe.
Orci told the fans in a Q&A session that this number may not include off-worlders.
- Nero attacks a major planet of the Federation without
meeting any serious resistance. He destroys a whole fleet of Starfleet ships
and heavily damages the Enterprise. He was so close to his goal of
destroying Vulcan. Why does he still need Captain Pike's defense codes? Why
would he waste time for that? On the other hand, he may have found someone in Pike whom he may blame for the destruction of Earth, just
as he did with Spock and Vulcan.
- Why is there water on the floor on the
Narada? Well, the ship is so big that rain might form inside it, still it is
- Why does Spock have to jettison Kirk on an escape pod?
Doesn't the Enterprise have a brig? Or is this just an overly emotional
reaction that questions Spock's ability to lead a crew? One that would not
even have required Kirk to provoke Spock once again, to take over command.
- The escape pod is launched from what looks like a normal docking port. The pod could have been internally transferred to this port
like a turbolift car. But would that be practical in case of an emergency? All other starships used to have pods behind individual
hatches or break-away plates, or escape shuttles. It is doubtful that all pods could be launched in a serial fashion when explosions are
rocking the ship. Well, unless there are just one or two in this location. Rather than in the neck or engineering hull, we would expect
escape pods in the saucer section. But no docking ports are visible there, so these must be behind some more or less invisible hatches.
But why is this different in the neck? What is the pod doing behind the hatch?
- I doubt that Kirk would have survived a
vertical impact in the escape pod that creates a hole that is several meters
- The Vulcan Science Academy sends Spock to aid the Romulans. His ship, the Jellyfish (name from Countdown), may be the fastest and/or most
capable ship for this mission. And Spock is one of the most renowned scientists on Vulcan. But why would Spock, at the age of over 150,
be all alone on such a mission? Without a backup crew or a backup plan?
- The star that goes supernova is called
Hobus. It is obviously not the central star of the star system that Romulus
is located in. So this supernova definitely wouldn't threaten a planet many light years away with total
destruction (but only with a sizable radiation overdose). And even if it posed a danger to Romulus, there would have been years to plan the
evacuation or countermeasures.
There is nothing in a supernova such as a "subspace shock wave" as in "Star Trek VI" that would propagate at
superluminal speeds. If the movie refers to real
science in order to avoid technobabble, it should be consistent.
- How can Spock still stop the supernova after it has already destroyed Romulus and has expanded to a diameter of
billions of kilometers? We would have to twist physics to an extent that
supernovae expand at superluminal speeds and a black hole may just revert
- Nero has no time to arm his vessel before he begins his crusade in 2387. He
has intercepted Spock very soon
after the destruction of Romulus, and immediately after Spock has created the black hole into which both ships are pulled. So why does a
mining vessel have a large complement of torpedoes and all kinds of other weapons that can take down a whole armada of several Starfleet ships or 47 Klingon vessels?
Sure, the vessel may be so equipped to blow up asteroids, but fighting against ships would be a whole new ballgame. Suppose the weapons
really originally belonged to the Narada, Nero may have eventually run out of ammunition after the attack on the Kelvin and he would have had 25 years to rearm the Narada. On
the other hand, he had to stay out of history's way all the time. In the Countdown comic, the Narada is upgraded with Borg
technology and grows in size!
- A black hole crushes and swallows a supernova, the planet Vulcan
and (presumably) the Narada in the end. But how do both the Narada and Spock's ship
survive the black hole that Spock created to eliminate the supernova? And
since when do black holes enable time travel? There is one precedence though. In TOS: "Tomorrow is Yesterday" the Enterprise
is thrown back in time by a "black star" which, at that time, was meant to be a black hole.
- So Nero was able to await Spock at the exact place and
time that he would emerge in the 23rd century. As Spock tells Kirk, this was
possible because Spock ran into the anomaly a bit later and hence had to
show up later in the 23rd century. Well, in some fashion minutes in the
24rth century may translate to years in the 23rd century. This is still
plausible. But how could Nero possibly calculate the date and time? A crew
of miners are not exactly experts in astrophysics. And even if they had
kidnapped an expert and had let him made calculations for 25 years, it still
wouldn't have been possible with the sensor data they had collected. The
simple reason is that Spock entered after them, so his final trajectory must
have been unknown.
- Nero's motivation is totally beyond comprehension. He has been waiting for 25 years in the past just to take revenge on the man who attempted in vain to save his
planet. Couldn't he and his crew have done something much more useful, such as going back to the 24th century, a few years before the disaster
would happen, and warn their people in time? He and his men could have had a good time, regardless which version of the 24th century they returned to, but instead of that they waste 25 years.
- Spock Prime can see the destruction of Vulcan in the day sky of
"Delta Vega", a Class-M planet according to the dialogue
where Nero has dropped him for this very purpose. Vulcan appears in the sky at daylight, and we can clearly see how the planet is being
devoured. This is only possible if "Delta Vega" is a sister planet of Vulcan, perhaps the one
that appeared in the original version of "Star Trek. The Motion Picture". But then
"Delta Vega" would have to be either
considerably larger than Vulcan itself, or the distance of the two planets would have to vary considerably as they are revolving around
one another. In a Q&A session with fans, Orci said: "...we like to think of that sequence as impressionistic for a general audience. In other words, Nero couldíve beamed Spock prime down to Delta Vega with a telescope or some other type of measuring device to allow Spock to experience the pain of perceiving the destruction of his home world, but that simply isnít very cinematic."
- In any case this "Delta Vega" shares only the name with the remote colony from TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before",
in a totally failed attempt at a homage. And
even without the existence of the other Delta Vega the name would make no sense. Why? "Delta Vega" is a clearly human name
which, in the Bayer naming system, would correspond to the fourth star in a constellation named Vega. Well, Vega itself is a star and
not a constellation, and it would have to be "Delta Vegae" if anything. But it makes even less sense to use this name for a
single planet in the Vulcan star system.
- On "Delta Vega", Kirk meets Ambassador Spock and later Scotty for the first time. All three have been exiled to this
planet (Scotty allegedly because he misused Archer's beagle as a transporter test subject, old Spock by Nero to see the destruction of
Vulcan, Kirk by young Spock who wanted to get rid of the troublemaker). They all meet within a range of a few kilometers on the surface!
- Montgomery Scott doesn't have the slightest
idea of the destruction of Vulcan. Doesn't his outpost have any working
sensors or communication? Even if "Delta Vega" is not in the
immediate vicinity of Vulcan, he should have picked up that something
terrible is going on.
- Transwarp transport? That sounds a lot like transwarp drive, although it is not related to a propulsion system
faster than warp but means to beam on a ship that is at warp. Not really inconsistent, but not a wise choice either. I have read a
couple of reviews where fans confused the two concepts.
- Even though it makes sense that it could be possible to extend the transporter range to beam from one planet to
another, transwarp transport must be just as delicate as Scott explained it by comparing it with "trying to hit a bullet with a smaller bullet while wearing a blindfold, riding a
horse." Spock Prime gives Scotty a formula for transwarp beaming. And after that Scotty needs no new hardware, no new software, only the formula to
succeed. While the Enterprise is many hours away at warp. In a couple of
minutes. Yeah right.
- So Scott develops that formula at some later time in
his life. It is apparently not the very same procedure used in TNG:
"Best of Both Worlds", where just the speed of two vessels at warp
has to be matched ("Delta Vega" is obviously not at warp). So why does no one
ever do transwarp beaming in the 24th century? Well, unless old Scotty
develops that formula in the years between "Nemesis" (2379) and
the year of Spock's disappearance (2387).
- The interior of the engineering hull of the Enterprise is nothing like anything we have seen on any Starfleet
vessel so far. There is no centralized engine room, there is nothing identifiable as power transfer conduits. There is no visible deck
structure. It looks like most of this section is comprised of a maze of water pipes. Pipes with rivets.
This part of the movie was filmed in an
actual brewery. This would explain the look, but definitely not excuse it. Overall, the set also seems
too large for the
secondary hull of the ship, which was designed to be overall just 366m long.
- Spock resigns his command due to his
emotional imbalance after Kirk has provoked an irate reaction from him. By
Kirk's logic, Kirk becomes the new captain, because Pike made his first officer.
But didn't Spock previously relieve him of duty? Realistically someone
should quote the regulations and challenge Kirk's claim.
- The Enterprise has taken a detour of many hours,
considering that Kirk has been on "Delta Vega" some time, and it takes some
more time to turn the ship round for a course to Earth. When they arrive,
the Narada is just starting to drill. What has Nero been doing all the time,
considering that it does not appear to take more than an hour from
Vulcan to Earth? He may have run into a battle, but even this wouldn't have
lasted long, seeing what has happened at Vulcan in a matter of minutes.
- We can see Nero's drilling in San Francisco
Bay from the same Starfleet building that
previously appeared in the movie, as the staircase and the railing is identical. Yet, it must be from a location a few hundred meters to the east, as indicated by the distance and the viewing angle of the bridge.
- Why is it that huge ships (such as the Narada here) and other installations in science fiction movies customarily
have multi-leveled staggered bridges without railings? Just so someone, during a fight, can easily jump or fall down to the next lower
- Like Vulcan, Earth has no defenses. Only
Spock's ship eventually destroys the platform.
- By the film's logic, wouldn't the remaining
huge amount of Red Matter aboard Spock's ship generate a black hole that is
a million times bigger than the one that destroyed Vulcan? One that could
possibly suck in not just the ships but the whole Federation? And even if
this is not the case, considering that it took two minutes to devour Vulcan,
shouldn't the Narada be gone in a few seconds?
- In the end, Kirk (unlike Spock) is generous and offers Nero to assist him, which he declines. He then orders to fire on the ship. Why? The Narada was quite obviously
being crushed. Wouldn't it have been the wiser (and logical) decision to warp away from the forming singularity like hell?
After the totally pointless barrage the Enterprise can barely escape herself.
- Scotty explicitly ejects the (one) "warp core" in order to be able to escape from the forming
singularity. But what we see is eight pods that are jettisoned, rather than a single warp core. So does the ship have multiple
small warp cores, somewhere hidden in the maze of water pipes? It is actually possible that the multiple pods are not the warp cores,
but the antimatter pods, as they supposedly exist on other ships such as the Galaxy class as well.
- Wouldn't the explosion of the (multiple?!) warp cores rather toast the Enterprise than push her away from the black
- Cadet Kirk is promoted to Captain. Yeah right. If I were Commander Spock, I would be genuinely pissed to have to
serve under the alternate Captain Kirk.
- The decision not to save Vulcan is fatalistic and highly unethical, considering that the science and technology to go back further than 2233 and stop the Narada would be readily available. At least Spock Prime should be familiar with half a dozen of time travel methods such as the slingshot effect, yet he chooses not to "cheat". The needs of the many,
however, outweigh the needs of the few, and the few people whose lives may not be as great in the original history as after the incursion definitely don't justify the sacrifice of the lives of six billion Vulcans, a complete species that was never meant to die.
Notwithstanding the possible existence of a timeline in which everything is still fine, anyone else from Archer to Janeway would have done
anything in their power to save the Vulcans.
the Enterprise may also serve as a submarine. If we believe in the published size figures for a moment, the ship is some 170m tall. This means that to be useful as a submarine it would require a corresponding water depth to start with, and the bottom of the engineering hull would have to withstand as much as 17atm. Sure, there is nothing that enhanced forcefields couldn't accomplish in the world of Star Trek. But that's only one of several additional features that would have to go into the design of the ship, others being a suited propulsion system (impulse engine under water - bad idea!) and special sensors such as sonar. There is a good reason for spaceships and submarines being radically different designs in real engineering.
- Why was the Enterprise hiding under water
anyway? The story provides absolutely no reason to expose the hull to
corrosive salt water against Scotty's advice. Well, Scotty may have
exaggerated the corrosive effect on the hull. And it may not have been possible
to beam out Spock from high orbit due to the planet's magnetic field. Still,
hiding in an ocean from where the ship cannot simply emerge and from where
the use of the transporter and the shuttles is limited is the worst possible
option just in case something goes wrong either with Spock's or with Kirk
and McCoy's part of the mission.
- Even without saving Spock, Kirk would have
broken the Prime Directive, because it would have been necessary to expose
the ship to the native population before it becomes engulfed in solidifying
lava. Only that the natives would have died, which would have nullified the
detrimental influence on their culture. As already in TNG:
"Homeward", this is an outrageously cynical interpretation of the
- Thomas Harewood carries out the bombing in
killing himself and his colleagues, after Harrison has already saved his
daughter. Why does he still have to do that? Well, Harrison could have
threatened to kill his family, but he could have done the same just as well
without previously healing the girl.
- Wouldn't the leading officers of Starfleet
hold a crisis meeting in a secure location that is protected by walls, forcefields, security guards,
air patrols and other accouterments of security?
- Harrison transports himself to Qo'noS after
the attack on the conference room, using Scotty's
"transwarp transport" formula. This was already utterly incredible in
"Star Trek (2009)", but instead of admitting it was a bad plot device
and abandoning it, the writers repeat and thereby corroborate their mistake.
If it is that easy to beam people across many light years, starships
effectively become obsolete.
- Admiral Marcus has a starship design lineage on display in his office, which
includes the Vengeance as the latest model. He has a top secret starship openly on
- Why does Admiral Marcus casually reveal that the
target of the terrorist bombing was not an information archive but a Section 31 facility to
Kirk and Spock who really would have no knowledge about the organization, as evidenced in DS9 and Enterprise?
Why would he cast doubt over his good story, that a Starfleet member is
running amuck for unknown reasons, by revealing that he himself is involved
in mysterious secret Starfleet operations that Harrison knows of?
- Torpedo mystery #1: Admiral Marcus orders Kirk to use the 72
torpedoes, and only these torpedoes, and apparently all of them, to
eliminate Harrison. Why? Does he suspect that Khan's crew is hiding in
the torpedoes, so he could conveniently get rid of all of them? In this case
he should have had doubts whether the torpedoes were fully functional,
because the space for fuel and/or explosives may have been occupied by those
cryotubes. Or does he
simply want to make sure that Khan gets killed? In the latter case Marcus may
want to keep a few of the torpedoes instead of firing all of them. Well,
there may be still prototypes besides this first batch of exactly 72 series torpedoes,
but after Khan's death and with some of the records possibly destroyed it
may be hard to build more of them. The fact that Khan shielded the devices,
however, raises still another question no matter if Marcus knew about what
was actually inside. Khan escaped and now commits acts of
terrorism. It would be absolutely possible that he programmed the devices to
explode immediately as they are being launched, or to go off course once
they have been launched. Realistically Admiral Marcus would never order the
use of the torpedoes before he has found a way to open and examine them and
make sure they behave as intended.
- There is no good reason why Kirk should
promote Chekov to chief engineer after he has relieved Scotty of duty, and
not one of the engineers. Well, at least it complies with how gratuitously
everyone was promoted in the first movie.
- The effect of the ship going to warp is
different than in "Star Trek (2009)" (and different than in the
Prime Universe anyway). It looks like the ship leaves behind some sort of
- The Enterprise needs less than a day to travel to
Qo'noS (not "Kronos!"),
almost rivaling the transwarp transporter. It would have been a journey of
just 20 minutes from the edge of Klingon space, where the ship drops out of
warp, to Qo'noS. The journey back to Earth, when the Enterprise is pursued
by the Vengeance, seems to be even faster. The speed of the ship in this
movie seems to be well above Warp 30. "Four days there - four days
back" from ENT: "Broken Bow" is an unfortunate yardstick. Still, the warp speeds
and travel times ought to have been more realistic here - especially since
there was already such an issue (to Vulcan in at most a few hours) in
"Star Trek (2009)".
- We can see a half destroyed celestial body
in or on the edge of the Klingon territory. This is quite obviously a homage
to "Star Trek VI". Could this be Praxis? Well, in the new timeline the moon
would have exploded a lot sooner. And while "Star
Trek VI" creates the impression that Praxis was orbiting Qo'noS (which
is why the evacuation of the planet was being discussed), realistically
Praxis should be in a different star system, because otherwise the explosion
would have killed all life on the planet, and not just polluted the
atmosphere. Under these two conditions the moon could be Praxis indeed. Of course, it could still be any other moon or
planetoid that has broken up for any other reason.
- The K'normian ship does not leave the
Enterprise through the big shuttlebay door, but through some never seen
before lateral hatch.
- The Klingon who takes off his mask in "Star Trek In to Darkness" has
forehead ridges. Although we couldn't expect otherwise, this look does not comply with the one of TOS and with the facts established in ENT: "Divergence", that the antivirus that was created from human Augment genes would genetically alter
generations of Klingons to look like humans. This one Klingon may be an exception, but there wasn't a single exception among dozens of Klingons we could see in TOS.
- The Klingons do nothing after their patrol
ships have been destroyed by Khan. They neither shoot down the K'normian
vessel when it is leaving Qo'noS, nor do they pursue it and find the
Enterprise that would be an easy target with the disabled warp drive. The
Klingons as depicted in this movie hardly pose a threat to the Federation!
- Torpedo mystery #2: On Qo'noS, when he learns that the
Enterprise is carrying special torpedoes and that there are exactly 72 of
them, Harrison/Khan surrenders immediately. It is clearly a surprise to him, and he
now sees a chance to save his crew. In other words, until this point he must
have been under the impression that his crew has been found and eliminated,
for reasons that are not explained. But why does Khan assume that his people
are alive, just because the torpedoes number 72? They could have just as
well been discovered and removed prior to transferring the torpedoes to the
Enterprise. Well, Khan cares a lot for his people so the possibility they
could have survived was sufficient reason for him.
- Harrison has existed for just one year, as
Kirk finds out in Starfleet's records. So Admiral Marcus took all the
efforts to force Khan to work for him, to change his appearance, to build a
massive ship and all kinds of weapons, and he didn't provide the key figure
of this plot with a credible bio that predates the time when Khan was found?
- Torpedo mystery #3: Finding out whether his people are still
inside may be one reason why Khan urges Kirk to open one of the torpedoes,
which could solve mystery #2.
But Khan does not bother telling the crew how to circumvent the lock
mechanisms. The torpedo that McCoy and Carol Marcus open almost goes off, in
which case it would kill the Augment inside. Seeing how much he cares for
his crew, would he take this high risk?
- Torpedo mystery
#4: In order to get Khan to support him, Marcus
was apparently holding Khan's 72 crew members hostages. They were in cryostasis all the time and could have been eliminated easily.
So far, so good. Khan
somehow managed to hide them in the torpedoes. And no one noticed that they
were missing in the place where they were previously stored? Well, perhaps
that was exactly the reason why Khan had to escape. Khan implies that Marcus
may know about his secret, but it should have been
explained or shown in some fashion.
- Torpedo mystery #5: If Khan managed to
sneak 72 cryotubes into the torpedoes, why didn't he wake up his people
while he was at it? There may be a reason why he was still waiting for
something, and why he had to run away prematurely, leaving his followers
behind, but this does not become plausible.
- Torpedo mystery #6: So Khan built those torpedoes, and he managed to keep the interior a total secret? How would he explain the empty space that he designed just large enough to hold the cryonic chambers? Agreed, he
probably claimed it was for extra fuel or extra explosive charges, but
it seems extremely unlikely that he could really keep the secret.
- Torpedo mystery #7: Khan has 72 followers in
exactly 72 of the torpedoes were built. Wouldn't that raise suspicion? Why
didn't Khan simply build a few more of them, let's say 80?
- Marcus' original plan was to have the
Enterprise eliminate Khan on Qo'noS, whether he knew about the contents of
the torpedoes or not. But why would he want to destroy the Enterprise after
a successful mission, which is what he sabotaged the ship's warp engines
for? He says a war with the Klingons is unavoidable, whether the torpedoes
were used on Qo'noS or not. But since Starfleet's
rearmament has just begun, is it a good time to start a war? And to destroy
another Starfleet ship that could go to battle against the Klingons? Is it
just because he feels that Kirk and his crew would discover his criminal
activities sooner or later even if they killed Khan for him?
- The Vengeance drops out of warp with a
"bang" (as it is customary in this universe) and stops almost
immediately, and this at most a few hundred meters in front of the
Enterprise! Sure, this is artistic license just like all starships were
always much closer together than they should be actually be, but it
looks extremely unrealistic.
the Enterprise really measures 725m, then the Vengeance is one mile
long. Unfortunately there is no one in the staff of the new Trek movies who
puts an end to the exponential growth of starships. By this logic, the next
Abrams movie must have a 3 kilometer long vessel. (And we all know what's 3km long,
on each side.)
- It took just one year since the destruction of Vulcan for the following to happen: Khan's ship is found adrift in space. Marcus enlists Khan's
superior intellect to develop the by far biggest starship ever, along with all kinds of weapons. The starship is built and launched. This is absolutely ridiculous. Especially considering that Section 31 is a secret organization that so far
never constructed ships (if they did, they wouldn't remain secret) and that would need the necessary logistics and people first of all. And keep everything
secret above all, with probably a thousand of people working on the project.
- You don't build your secret ship in a place
near Jupiter where there's a lot of space traffic and everyone could find your huge ship yards any time.
- Is injecting blood into a dead Tribble a
customary medical analysis in the 23rd century? What does McCoy want to
accomplish with that? It would make sense if after
a thorough genetic analysis McCoy had the idea that it may revive the
Tribble. But the way it is shown, it is much like "Oh, I've got that
dead Tribble on my desk. Let's inject the blood into a it and see what
happens." The resurrection of the Tribble will be a big surprise for
- The Enterprise is attacked by the Vengeance at warp and suddenly drops out of warp.
This happens between Moon and Earth, 20,000 kilometers from the Moon's
surface. What an incredible coincidence! Also, the plotted course would lead the Enterprise through the gap between
Earth and Moon at warp? Ridiculous. If that was not the plan, the Enterprise
would have had to disengage the warp drive sooner than it happened because
of the attack, in order not to overshoot the destination (and I'm not even
talking about generally not staying at warp in a solar system).
- Why does young Spock contact old Spock,
assuming that Khan is known in the Prime Universe too, other than because of
a feeling that he himself is living in a second-rate universe in which
events repeat in some fashion? Old Spock only corroborates this notion by
speaking of young Spock's destiny once again.
- Scotty says something about the people on
the Vengeance being "private security". While I could imagine that
hand-picked officers may join Marcus on his illegal quest, it is hard to
believe that Admiral Marcus has mercenaries and minions like a James Bond
villain. Well, they may have been regular Section 31 or even Starfleet
members, only that we'd expect there is a point in Scotty's statement.
- Many, if not all of the 72 torpedoes are
apparently stored aboard the Enterprise behind individual hatches from where
they can be launched. What happened to photon torpedo tubes with a conveyor
belt? Why the regress to "cannon decks" like on the HMS Victory?
Also, this weapons bay apparently flanks main engineering on the Enterprise,
which is a poor design choice, considering that the engines and the weapons
should better be separated.
- Why doesn't Khan, with his superior
intellect, smell a rat when Kirk allows him to beam over the torpedoes,
which have been activated in the meantime? He himself told Kirk to open a
torpedo, which is also the key to activating them!
- Scotty is a pleasant exception among all
the crew members with superpowers when he loses his grip of the railing
while the Enterprise is tumbling. But Kirk catches his fall, which is
physically impossible. And if this were not yet unrealistic enough,
Super-Chekov comes and grabs Kirk's hand when he is falling together with
- The industrial look of the huge warp
core is quite realistic from the outside as well as the inside, but it has nothing in common with anything we have seen in Star Trek so far.
sequence of events and the dialogues, everything that happens after Kirk has
fixed the warp core is exactly as in "Star Trek II", only with
switched roles. Aside from being a tribute that winds up as a parody, it
insinuates that there is something wrong with the universe, in a way that
events are the same as in the original (even if they happen some 25 years
- How did the two ships, which were stuck
between Earth and Moon, but much closer to the Moon, end up falling into
Earth's atmosphere? It would have taken an eternity for them to drift all
the way to Earth. While Khan's intention was to crash the ship, Kirk would
have avoided Earth, had there been a minimum of power left.
- As always in all Star Trek movies, Earth has absolutely no
defenses and the barely operational Enterprise is the only ship in the
- In the showdown in San Francisco Spock
develops seemingly the same superhuman forces as Khan when they jump around
on and between the shuttles. Khan even backs off although
realistically Spock couldn't hurt him.
- What happened to beaming people while they
are moving? Spock and Khan are fighting on top of the shuttle and Chekov somehow
forgets what he knew in the
previous movie. Their movement is explicitly mentioned as the
reason why it's not possible, rather than the fact that the damaged
transporter may not allow it.
- Thinking of 9/11, the whole city should be
engulfed in smoke and dust after the crash of the Vengeance, unless the 23rd
has completely different building materials.
- Why does McCoy need Khan's blood to cure Kirk? Couldn't he
simply revive one of Khan's people, who likely have a suited blood composition too, especially considering that he needs
one of their cryogenic chambers for Kirk anyway? And
even if only Khan's blood could provide the cure, wouldn't the cells stay
intact for a short time after his death?
- Many aspects of Kirk's resurrection are
doubtful. First of all, Kirk was already dead for a while and no one cares
to keep his brain from depolarizing until McCoy sees that the Tribble is
alive again. Kirk should have retained brain damage. Furthermore, McCoy says
he is going to create a serum that would be more effective than the mere
blood. But how would this serum trigger all kinds of different healing
processes in the bones, the skin, other organs? Would the serum
decontaminate the body too? Would it also resuscitate Kirk, like it did with
the Tribble? Wouldn't the super-blood fight Kirk's immune system, at least
once he was alive again, up to a a point that Kirk becomes a semi-Augment?
- It looks like McCoy saves only Kirk's life using Khan's
superblood. What about all the other people who were fatally injured during the attacks? Is it the captain's prerogative? Where could he possibly draw a
line anyway, considering that Khan is a blood bank that could be tapped for the benefit of humanity?
The apparently unlimited healing capabilities of Khan's blood pose similar
problems as already the omnipotence of the Nexus in "Star Trek
Generations" and the fountain of youth in "Star Trek:
- Considering that the
crew otherwise discover their conscience when we would least expect it,
isn't it against medical ethics to extract the blood against Khan's will to
save Kirk (thinking about Worf's refusal to save the Romulan in TNG:
- The new Khan is nothing like his Prime
Universe counterpart. Benedict Cumberbatch doesn't look at all like Ricardo
Montalban. This may be explained as a surgical alteration as part of his new
identity as a British Starfleet officer. But what about the mental and
physical abilities? Khan 1.0 was capable of learning very quickly, he was
stronger than an average human being, and he was power hungry. Khan 2.0, in
contrast, is a fighting machine, rather than a leader. He is nearly
invulnerable, and his blood has the miraculous capacity of healing
everything. We have to keep in mind that in the Abramsverse Khan is still
meant to be a creation from the 20th century!
- Was Khan sentenced to be
put back into a cryonic chamber by a Federation Court? Is cryonic
imprisonment a legal punishment in the 23rd century?
- After the extreme structural damage, the Enterprise is definitely only fit for scrap. Well, maybe it is actually a new ship in the end, but the impression is created it is still the same Enterprise (only with some modifications
such as to the impulse engines).
Thanks to DITL for the Chekov quote and to
Andrew Probert, Ben Rowe, Lee Sherman,
Harald Hofmeier, Thomas Owens, Shawn Boles, Tim Maher, IJD, Greg Tyler, Michael Minnick,
Jared, Gustavo, chris, Hakan, Jeff, Pizza the Hutt, Drew
Stewart, Robert Heckadon, Steeko, Judah, TheCrudMan,
Frank Turturici, Josh Wilder, Colin, Micah Haber, Dan Carlson, Andrew Gilbertson
and Ben Dickson, who gave me some additional ideas.
Back to Investigations index
|Last modified: 09.06.13||