Movie Inconsistencies

Star Trek IStar Trek IIStar Trek IIIStar Trek IVStar Trek VStar Trek VIGenerationsFirst ContactInsurrection Nemesis


Star Trek: The Motion Picture


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
with supplements by DAS


Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
with supplements by DAS


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home


Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
with supplements by Keith Ichinaga


Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country


Star Trek Generations


Star Trek: First Contact


Star Trek: Insurrection

There are some problems already in the premise of the movie, hence the more extensive considerations about the origin of the Son'a and the motivation of the Federation.

The Son'a

At the beginning of the movie it can be assumed that the Son'a are a whole race and not only consist of the few individuals around Ru'afo. There are a lot of reasons to believe that:

1. "The Son'a" is not used like a family name, but in the same way as "the Ferengi" or "the Borg". Most obviously Admiral Dougherty is talking about the Son'a as some kind of allies. He puts them on par with the Federation. He would certainly not have so much respect if they were only a few people (even given his despair about the state of the Federation).

2. Riker mentions that the Son'a have subdued two other races who serve as security personnel and "cosmetic surgeons": the lion-like Tarlac and the reptiloid Ellora. They were "integrated into their [the Son'a] culture as a labor class." It would be an oxymoron if few people "integrated" whole civilizations.

3. They have at least four different types of starships with a common design lineage, which indicates that they were all constructed by the same race, namely the Son'a. One starship type (the two ships in pursuit of the Enterprise-E) is really huge, much larger than the Sovereign-class ship and equipped with outlawed isolytic weapons. Can single individuals ever afford to build or purchase such ships and, moreover, develop the necessary technology for Ru'afo's plan to collect the metaphasic particles?

4. The Son'a themselves use phrases like "our people". Not surprisingly they need to obscure their real descent, but they should have proven to the Federation that they don't come from out of nowhere.

Later in the movie the true origin of the Son'a is revealed when Beverly performs a DNA scan on an injured Son'a. They are the same race as the Ba'ku or, more precisely, children of the first Ba'ku generation that settled down on the planet 300 years ago. A century ago, the Son'a didn't want to stay on the isolated planet within the Briar Patch, without any advanced technology. After inciting a riot they were expelled. How is this possible? Did Ru'afo and his friends spend 100 years to gain a fortune, only to take revenge some day?

One possible rationale is that the Son'a are actually the mother civilization of the Ba'ku. When a small group left the Son'a territory some 300 years ago, they called themselves the Ba'ku. Some 100 years ago, Ru'afo's group had to leave the Ba'ku planet and rejoined their mother civilization. However, they were infected with a terrible disease just prior to leaving, or they suffer from the decay because they lived too long under the perfect conditions on the Ba'ku homeworld and now have an over-sensitive immune system. Another possibility is that the disease is actually normal aging of the Son'a race without the salubrious influence of the Ba'ku planet. The Ba'ku, however, obviously don't know that the Son'a are their expelled relatives until Dr. Crusher unveils it. If their mother civilization were called "the Son'a", Sojef would not be astonished about the result of the DNA test, but at most about the fact that Ru'afo and Gallatin are close relatives and not just any out of possibly billions of Son'a.

It is still possible that the Son'a really consist only the few people that we see in the movie. They may have left the planet in the Briar Patch with the very same ships that had once brought the Ba'ku there. We have to keep in mind that neither any ships nor any wreckage or other traces of them had been detected by the Federation survey team. These ships (perhaps full of latinum?) may have been the foundation to further their technology, to hire mercenaries, to subdue the Tarlac and Ellora as a working class, and ultimately to develop the particle collector. 100 years would have been sufficient for all that. Their mere technology and power may have made them respectable, even if they are only a handful of people. The question remains from which planet the Ba'ku had originally come if there is nothing like a "Son'a Homeworld". It must be a still unknown planet. We only know that on this planet "terrible weapons threatened to destroy all life". This is interesting, as it could refer to the subspace weapons used by the Son'a.

Summarizing, the logic of the plot requires the Son'a to be very few people, whereas almost all details point at a whole race of Son'a. There is no entirely satisfactory solution, but it is possible that Ru'afo and his followers are a small and independent group of separatists among the Son'a.

The role of the Federation

The most pressing question is how the Son'a were able to veil their origin to Starfleet all the time, no matter if they are a group of only a few people or a whole race. DNA analysis is very simple in the 24th century, and it can be done with any tricorder. Did no one of the Federation team notice the DNA correspondence during all the weeks of working with the Son'a and observing the Ba'ku? They may have refused that, just as the freed Son'a hostages would not want to be examined by Dr. Crusher. But it is very strange that the Federation would collaborate with a secretive race on a plan to relocate another race. And worst of all, Troi and Riker find out that the Son'a do produce Ketracel White. The Federation deals with someone who supplies their mortal enemy? Besides, it is highly questionable that the Founders would reveal the secret of White to anyone else, after all they would lose their instrument of control of the Jem'Hadar.

The Federation must have been aware of the true nature of the Ba'ku. It is obvious that no biological and cultural evolution has ever taken place on the planet, and a civilization maintaining a head count of only 600 is absolutely impossible. Even if the 600 people were the last survivors of a former civilization on the planet, there should be ruins and bones left of it. So the Federation must have known that the Ba'ku have come from somewhere else. However, the true origin of the Ba'ku is never taken into consideration until Dougherty uses exactly this line of reasoning to justify the evacuation of the planet, for the Prime Directive would only apply to native inhabitants.

Even if we leave aside the Prime Directive, the role of the Federation in Ru'afo's ploy and their motivation to support him is dubious, to say the least. Why should the Federation Council betray all their basic principles, only to gather a restricted supply of metaphasic particles? It is obvious that life could have been prolonged and improved for (few) Federation citizens, but apparently no one has cared about a possible negative impact of a very long or even eternal life on society. And who would be to decide who is worthy to receive the treatment and who not? Admiral Dougherty even believes the particles could help to improve morale and defeat the Dominion, which is incredibly naive. We have seen stubborn bureaucrats and fanatic militarists on Star Trek, but never before such a behavior was supported by the Federation Council. The Federation could have found another method to collect the particles, without destroying the Ba'ku planet and without the help of their immoral allies, the Son'a. It would only have taken more time. Or they could have set up a spa in the system, far away from the Ba'ku village to ensure they are not being disturbed.

Clearly this is another case of "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges", but unlike the covert action in the DS9 episode, here is an officially approved plan that couldn't be more pathetic and that sheds a bad light on the democratic system in the Federation.

Continuity with DS9

Prior to "Insurrection", the Son'a were obviously playing off the Federation and the Dominion against each other. The Dominion urgently requires the Ketracel White, which, for some reason, can be more easily produced by the Son'a. The Federation, on the other hand, needs any moral and military support they can get. This must have changed after the movie, seeing the reconciliation between the Son'a and the Ba'ku in the end.

The Son'a were mentioned in DS9: "Penumbra" as (still) working with the Dominion. This would definitely put the movie into the four months after this episode (stardate 52576.2) and prior to the end of the Dominion War (stardate 52947.9).

Random observations

Here are some more possible inconsistencies:


Star Trek Nemesis


See Also

Star Trek Movies



Some screen caps from TrekCore. Thanks to DAS for spotting the additional hull scorches in "Star Trek III", for several more useful suggestions and for pointing out the time in which "Insurrection" must take place. Thanks also to Mark 2000, who extended the list of "Star Trek II" problems. Some comments about "Star Trek Generations" come from Alex Hoffmann, G2K and Michael Minnick (who also provided the notes about Martia). Ambassador/Ensign Q and Edward Shipp supplied several remarks. Greg had a few annotations pertaining to "Star Trek II", [email protected] contributed notes about "Nemesis". Thanks also to Nick Ottens, Andy, Mr. D, Dylan R., Florian Haag, Michael Warren, Robert Heckadon and Drew Stewart who found oversights in my musings about "Star Trek VI". Special thanks to Arch and Greg who spotted the dark figure in "Star Trek VI" and to 'Drew for the screen cap.


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