New Mission Log Podcast: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country


The last flight of the original crew is full of deep topics and high adventure. The Klingon Empire is collapsing. Some want to let it, though it falls to Captain Kirk of all people to make sure the empire survives. But forces are working against peace between the Klingons and the Federation on both sides. Mystery! Court drama! A prison break! And best of all – a WORKING Enterprise. We are putting Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in the Mission Log.

Star Trek VI. The last of the TOS movies. Wait, what was this one about again? Were there Klingons in it? If you can’t remember, the below teaser trailer won’t help at all to jog your memory. In fact, I’m not sure what emotion it was designed to elicit. That’s okay, the Mission Log boys will fill us in and tell us whether or not we should care!






POLL: Grade the TOS swan song

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Flawed, under-budgeted, and divergent from Roddenberry’s vision as THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY was, in my view it’s easily the most cinematic and self-contained of the TOS films, with some memorable set pieces (Gorkon’s assassination, the courtroom scene, and the space battle over Khitomer); a Trekkian message of hope, and an emotionally satisfying coda. All in all a decent, dignified exit for a beloved set of characters.

Love this one second only to TWOK. The attention to detail — from china cups… to bunk beds w/ blankets… to little out-of-the-way compartments with glowy computers in them… to the rocking of the decks… to the chipped enamel on the walls — makes this the most immersive Trek in the catalog.

I’m so sorry Gene couldn’t see the value in humanizing (oops, old habit) the crew. Utopia is optimistic, but it doesn’t always make an interesting story. This is.

ps- I’m still looking for those pics of Kim on the bridge in her ears and a smile.

Unfortunately, actor/producer Nimoy was said to have ripped-up those photos in a most un Vulcan-like rage. A crime against posterity, say I.

My second favorite film, also (behind TWOK), and my favorite version of the Enterprise. Love all the scenes in the various “below decks” locations.

Love the Trek VI poster by the late John Alvin

I agree, a very immersing movie it was for me! Loved the detail they put into making the Enterprise-A look like she had put on a whole lot of mileage, like the veteran ship ready-for-retirement

..even though the “A” was only around 7 years old at her decommissioning, lol

Stupid plot. Murder She Wrote in space.


The movie that got me interested in tos, loved the movie, music and poster can re watch this anytime. One of the best tos films of the series.

7. Ha!

And it still has one of the best scores of all of ’em.

A real shame they got cold feet and changed the Savvik character to Valeris. Lost almost all of the impact of the betrayal.

Kim Cattral thought playing a Vulcan just meant acting snooty as far as I could see but she wasn’t helped by pretty poor lines either.

And the gravity boots/torpedo count sub plot made no sense. They bent themselves out of shape explaining why things had to be as they are. If you can hack a computer to change a torpedo count, you can disable some alarms surely which you vapourise your evidence?

Having said that, still liked it overall, but could have been so much better.

>Klingons being Klingons
>Enterprise looks good for its age
>Enterprise doesn’t get stomped on, stolen or blown up
>Balance of Terror-esque submarines-in-space fight
>So many species!
>Kirk kicks ass(or rather testicles)
>Sulu kicks ass
>Catchy enough espionage plot
>That Overture tho!

9/10, will always watch again

#3. Michael Hall – July 17, 2014

I have often wondered given where Nimoy’s photography eventually took its subject matter if he ever had any regrets at having gone that far?

I very much liked The Undiscovered Country.

Thanks to a fan, I learned that when Kirk says, at the end of the movie ; “Second star to the right, and straight on till morning”, he was, in fact, giving the directions for how to get to the land where people never age…

It’s a J.M Barrie/Neverland reference . I personally did not remember/know that when I watched the film ( even though I liked Kirk’s lines).

However, at the time, I always loved to think that my seven heroes lived forever. And, although, to me, the last scene felt like saying “good bye” for the last time to a friend, I was satisfied with the ending.

I loved it even more in light of what this fellow fan shared.

A couple of notes — the producers didn’t get “cold feet” about Saavik. They couldn’t afford Kirstie Alley and Nicholas Meyer says he didn’t want to use Robin Curtis or recast a second time.

And, Spectre-7, how was the Enterprise only seven years old at her decommissioning? The events of “The Cage” were supposed to have taken place about a decade before the ship’s five-year mission, and WRATH OF KHAN, I believe, was referenced as taking place about 15 years afterwards. If anything, the admiral in UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY got the time period too short when he said the Enterprise was 20 years old.

One of my favorite TOS movies, though I disagreed with the idea of people in the galley peeling potatoes, etc. In that future economy, where you don’t have to work, the position you’re going to take on a starship is the potato peelin’ guy? I don’t think so.

@ 12 Disinvited —

Same here. I’ve also wondered why, given the direction his interests took, Nimoy’s films were so indifferently photographed.

Loved the movie, despite it’s *few* flaws. Great space scenes, Enterprise looks great. Excellent ending scene, with the Big-E slowly making its way off into the sunset. And the end score with each cast member placing a signature on the screen? Gave me chills.


Another second favorite after Khan. Notice that both TWOC and TUC are both directed by (and written, at least in-part, both credited and uncredited by) the great Nicholas Meyer. He really saved the franchise after two misfires: TMP – which I actually love – and TFF. The subtitle is a literary reference from Shakespeare. The two films are littered with literary references – Charles Dickens/Nicholas Nickleby, Herman Melville/Moby Dick, J.M. Barrie/Peter Pan, Shakespeare all over the place – that help to create a depth of character not seen in any of the other movies. Love it!

OK, so now the story goes that Nimoy “ripped up” the pictures of Kim.
Ripped up? It was early 90’s. Did they not have negatives? This was supposed to be a Playboy shoot. Surely they weren’t using Polaroids.
Earlier versions had it that Nimoy got wind of the after hours use of the set and “put a stop to that.” I kind suspect there were plans, but Nimoy made a few phone calls and got everything ended.
In hindsight though, it’s a pity we didn’t get “Sex and the Starship.”

OK, so now the story goes that Nimoy “ripped up” the pictures of Kim.
Ripped up? It was early 90’s. Did they not have negatives? This was supposed to be a Playboy shoot. Surely they weren’t using Polaroids.
Earlier versions had it that Nimoy got wind of the after hours use of the set and “put a stop to that.” I kind suspect there were plans, but Nimoy made a few phone calls and got everything ended.
In hindsight though, it’s a pity we didn’t get “Sex and the Starship.”

This is where “The Next Generation” should have taken over.

It was a nice send off for the classic crew/cast. I would have rather seen a different story as I think we had seen too many Klingon stories already in prior movies and on TNG, but it was just a sensible storyline given what was happening in the real world at the start of the 90’s. It was a much better story than Walter Koenig’s that had most of the cast being eaten by bug like aliens. We love ya’ Walter, but that wouldn’t have given the million’s and million’s of fans the warm & fuzzies like the real film did.
It was nice to see some interplay with Kirk & Bones and its too bad we really didn’t get any Kirk, Bones, Spock action except for the group scenes and Spock & McCoy loading the torpedo at Kirk’s behest.
In retrospect, I think Paramount dropped the ball. This film proved again that these movies would make in the $70-80 range. They could have made more movies with the crew in retirement, being called back for a new mission or even a movie just focusing in on Kirk since I think Paramount was beginning to resent paying most of the rest of the 7 dwarfs.
I would be interested in seeing Maurice Hurley’s script for what became Generations as in his version Kirk lived and that might have set up for some more Kirk films or more films featuring members of the original cast. Why Paramount thought that releasing Kirk films in odd years and TNG movies in even years wouldn’t be a good idea…after al, they were more than happy to keep greenlighting new series, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise.
So on the plus side, this movie rocked because of an excellent score, very nice ILM effects, a good script with good dialogue, fine performances by all…Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley and of course, Christopher Plummer. Good editing too…I thought the 1991 version was better than the future VHS and DVD versions with the added scenes that really added very little, if anything, to the movie.
On the negative side, I wish they could have shot some scenes on location somewhere. I know they sent a B crew to Alaska to film some real Icy climates for Rura Pentha. But most of the movie either being on the Enterprise or on the Klingon ship seemed a bit too claustrophobic, although I know Nick Meyer was looking for that effect.

Damnit, now I am trying to imagine how Sulu as cab driver might have turned out…

Perhaps like this:

Or like this??

Love this movie, but the painfully obvious budget redress of the Enterprise-D engine room pulled me out of the film and bothered me more than it probably should have. Using the old TMP/TWOK warp core would have made a nice aesthetic difference. After all, they still had it around since they modified it for Voyager.

Also a huge fan of this one, my favorite of the movies. I attended a summer camp where they screened it for us over two days–as a kid I was already in love with TNG, this made me fall in love with the TMP era. Love the Excelsior and the drama of the opening sequence. Wish that Cartwright hadn’t turned out to be a traitor and didn’t have all those terrible racist/speciesist lines about the Klingons, apparently Brock Peters himself felt the same way, but I love the idea of the old Starfleet officers, veterans of a hundred battles, warily coming around to making peace with their old adversaries. Wish they had included the scenes about Operation Retrieve in the theatrical release, I’ve still never seen them but always wanted to:

@ Dave Creek —

Spectre-7 was very likely referring to the Enterprise-A, not the original NCC-1701, in his post, there (the NCC-1701-A was launched in early 2286, and retired in late 2293, actually making it eight years old at the time of decommissioning).

Still, a pretty short lifespan for a major Starfleet vessel (the Enterprise-B was in service for over 30 years, and the NX-01 for a very long time, as well), although about the same exact service-life the Enterprise-D received, at the end of the day.

@ Brett L. —

Although, to be sure, Meyer at least spent the budget necessary to drastically redress/disguise the TNG sets in the movie where he could (a vast improvement over Star Trek V’s obvious Enterprise-D hallways and such), giving us metal flooring, pressure-doors, ceiling pipes in the corridors, and other elements that I had to to a double-take with sometimes to make sure it actually wasn’t a brand-new set.

I actually don’t see any problem with Spock’s forcible mind-meld on Valeris.

The moral and ethical issues relating to torture are more complex than simply whether it amounts to forcing someone to do something. The ethics of the whole torture issue turn on the fact that it’s been shown an unreliable means of getting information—that the information gotten under torture is unreliable, and therefore that the “interrogation” amounts to little more than cruel and unusual punishment. If waterboarding were demonstrated to yield correct information 95% of the time, it would be used, certainly in crisis situations where innocent lives were at stake.

Spock’s mind-meld of Valeris gives him first-hand, reliable information—he knows what she knows. Yes, the mind-meld is shown to be painful or at least disturbing for her, but there’s never any doubt that the end result—the knowledge gained by Spock—is a good result.

If the mind-meld scene went like this, instead…

Spock probes Valeris’s mind. She screams in pain. He continues. Finally, she breaks and blurts out some info. The info is followed up but turns out not to be true. Spock goes back to try again on Valeris.

That would have been more analogous to how “enhanced interrogation techniques” and torture methods play out in real life.

But, Valeris is shown to be not too terribly damaged after the mind-meld, and the procedure is shown to yield good information.

Finally, if anyone in Trek knows that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one, it’s Spock; his performing the mind-meld on Valeris does not seem inconsistent with his character. Spock has always striven to be a pragmatic individual. I don’t see him passing on an opportunity to get information that could save so many innocent lives in preference of rigid adherence to a code of ethics, especially when the cost of doing so (the negligible harm to Valeris) was so low. By this point in Spock’s arc, he had already been shown to bend the rules and stretch the truth when he saw that it was for the greater good, anyway.

Plus, it’s a great scene dramatically. Kim Cattrall and Leonard Nimoy play it perfectly, as does Shatner, and the reaction shots from Doohan and Nichols are apropos, as is mentioned in the review. It’s one of the most powerful scenes in the movie.

@ The Bandshaw Vigilante

Of course the irony is that many of the TNG sets were redresses of the sets from the feature films. Sickbay, the transporter room, various corridors, Data’s quarters, the Klingon Battlecruiser sets and others had been in use since since the late 70’s (the bridge, damaged after a fire at Paramount, had been redressed as the Enterprise D’s battle bridge up to that point). Apparently the turbolift doors on the E were from the original movie bridge

I think the sloppiest set redress was Janeway’s ready room in Insurrection as Deanna’s quarters. They didn’t even give it a fresh cost of paint.

I can see the racism thing both ways.

It did come across as a bit stilted—since when does the Enterprise crew hate Klingons so much? But, on the other hand, it is a “real” reaction, as is mentioned in the review. If an enemy culture with an overabundance of bad guys killed my son so capriciously, I might not feel much obligation to speak politely about them, either.

It’s obvious why the racism is introduced, as it sets up the theme and Kirk learns the error of his ways by the end of the story.

#27. Cygnus-X1 – July 18, 2014

“Spock’s mind-meld of Valeris gives him first-hand, reliable information—he knows what she knows. Yes, the mind-meld is shown to be painful or at least disturbing for her, but there’s never any doubt that the end result—the knowledge gained by Spock—is a good result. ” — Cygnus-X1

My problem with the mind-meld is that it is a two-way street, especially in regards to two Vulcan minds melding. He not only learns the information he seeks, but Valeris, a known enemy, now knows what he knows or at the very least more of his secrets than an enemy combatant should. They never recovered her communications device or devices that she had to be using to coordinate with her fellow cloaked co-conspirators. If she had thought ahead to squirrel away resources in the brigs in anticipation of possibly being captured, her faction would have valuable intel too.

30. Disinvited – July 19, 2014

My problem with the mind-meld is that it is a two-way street, especially in regards to two Vulcan minds melding. He not only learns the information he seeks, but Valeris, a known enemy, now knows what he knows or at the very least more of his secrets than an enemy combatant should.

Are you sure that this is necessarily how mind-melds always work? How do you know this?

#31. Cygnus-X1 – July 19, 2014

Well first we’d have to determine which one of these he used:

1. The Vulcan mind touch

2. The Vulcan mind fusion

3. The Vulcan mind meld

but all three depend upon a Vulcan being telepathic which means she’s just as capable of returning the favor. His advanced experience might allow him to dominate but as the most distasteful version involves the joining of two egos which is most likely what Spock would have had to employ to get access to the information he sought, then she had telepathic access to him as well.

32. Disinvited – July 19, 2014

Yeah, I suppose that’s all implied in the “Our minds are merging…our minds are one.” routine.

Maybe Spock was able to keep things from her, being more experienced as you say. Also, she’s going to prison, anyway, so maybe it doesn’t matter what she knows.

Great movie. And that trailer with the clips of TOS dissolving into the Enterprise going to warp is beautiful.
It’s the little touches that make this film great, like the Christian Slater cameo. Loved that Takei finally got the Captain’s chair here, that Janice Rand was around, and that Klingon targs roam Rura Penthe. Only part that still pulls me out of the moment is Worf’s grandfather being a lawyer. And, considering how it’s supposed to line up with TNG’s “Unification” two-parter, it would have been nice if Senator Pardek was seen, or even had a quick line here.

In the end — unlike Nemesis — this is a fitting sendoff for a well-loved crew.

#33. Cygnus-X1 – July 19, 2014

Maybe, but with all the CSIjng going on they never uncovered how Valeris communicated with her fellow co-conspirators on and off ship, as well as Chang in his cloaked ship and back to her superiors in Starfleet. This why I was falling back onto THE JOURNEY TO BABEL with the assassin communicating even while captured in the brig.

I liked this movie, but I really could not stand Valeris. I thought Kim Cattrall did a horrible acting job. I think they should have just kept the role as Saavik and had Robin Curtis do it since she took over the role from Kirstie Alley in Star Trek III & IV. Why not keep it consistent? Robin was not that bad. I think she would have done a much better acting job than Kim! Plus the character of Saavik would have had a much stronger impact of betrayal! I was also annoyed by Valeris’ uniform. You can’t tell me that no one on the set noticed that her uniform was off compared to the others? It was totally messed up! The turtleneck did not match her rank strap and her rank badge was that of a lieutenant commander, not a lieutenant! Plus she was at the helm, so her strap and turtleneck should have been ochre, not gray or red! But if the character was Saavik, the rank pin would probably have been correct — I’m assuming she would have been promoted to a lieutenant commander by the time of Star Trek VI.

#14 – “One of my favorite TOS movies, though I disagreed with the idea of people in the galley peeling potatoes, etc. In that future economy, where you don’t have to work, the position you’re going to take on a starship is the potato peelin’ guy? I don’t think so.”

I think that individuals are encouraged to find what is meaningful and worthwhile to them and to pursue that course, which could mean a lot of study and effort. A lot of people actually like to cook, which entails preparation, like peeling potatoes. Riker on TNG liked to cook, when he got the chance, preferring the hands-on method over relying on a replicator to do the work for him.

We have a plethora of cooking shows on TV here in NZ and many people take pleasure in seeing what they can “whip up” for the evening meal.

For some reason, I like peeling potatoes – there is something that has an inherent simplicity and calming effect, as well as being functional.

35. Disinvited – July 20, 2014

I just watched STVI again.

Another little plot hole is why Iman doesn’t shape-shift out of her Kirk form when the Klingons are about to execute Kirk out on the surface of Rura Penthe. She had a deal with the Klingons, after all—“a full pardon”—in exchange for luring Kirk and McCoy out onto the surface. Instead of shape-shifting to a form that doesn’t look like the one that’s supposed to be killed as part of the plan, she just stays in Kirk-form trying to get the Klingons to shoot the other Kirk. And there’s a weird little thing about that scene as well, when Iman-Kirk tries to point at real Kirk she points diagonally upward and out of frame. Apparently they messed up the mirror image effect, or whatever it’s called.

Another nitpick….some of the scenes in STVI play a little awkwardly. I have a hard time pinpointing exactly why, but they just seem a little off. Like the trial scene. The logic of Chang’s argument is a little confusing. He gets McCoy to admit that he’d drunk Romulan Ale prior to trying to resuscitate Gorkon, but then concludes that line of argument with, “You were incompetent! Whether deliberately or due to age combined with drink will have to be determined.” Why bother getting McCoy to admit that he was under the influence of alcohol when the greater liability would be for McCoy to have been sober and have acted “deliberately” incompetently? Also, McCoy pleading, “I tried to save him! I was desperate to save him!” comes across as overly melodramatic. I did enjoy Colonel Worf, the defense attorney, though. He stole the scene with his powerful delivery.

Another nitpick…During the final battle between Chang and Enterprise, the Excelsior shows up to help with no plan and no communication shown between them and the Enterprise. Sulu’s whole strategy for fighting the cloaked Klingon ship is, “Now they have something else to fire at.” So, did he just plan to wait his turn to be blown up? There should have been some communication between Excelsior and Enterprise coordinating their efforts and letting Excelsior know that Enterprise was working on modifying a Neutron-seeking torpedo.

STVI isn’t the tightest or most consistent movie, but all in all it’s an enjoyable and respectable movie. It has a meaningful theme that, while a bit heavy-handed in terms of the racism element (were Americans really that racist against Russians in 1991 when the USSR fell? I lived through that period and I don’t recall that sort of racism), it was relevant at the time and could just as easily be applied to the geopolitics of today (particularly with regard to conflicts involving Middle Eastern nations).

I have to say, however, that, having re-watched and analyzed STIII here in the 30th Anniversary thread several months back, I’d now rank STIII and STVI about the same. STIII had a big plot hole in its failure to explain how the whole katra restoration was supposed to take place (the whole Arc of Destiny or whatever was totally left out), and its final duel between the hero and villain was too obviously contrived, but it does have some great scenes and, all in all, has a more powerful feel to me than STVI.

STVI has a few smaller plot holes/logic problems, but feels like lighter entertainment than STIII and also a bit awkward in places. The Spock/Valeris mind-meld scene is the most powerful scene in the movie, for me. It’s very suspenseful and intense and works really well. There should have been one or two more “heavy” scenes like that in STVI—scenes that are slower, more deliberate and focus on the characters’ emotional reactions to important plot points.

Christopher Plumber is fantastic and makes a better villain than Christopher Lloyd in STIII.

I need to re-watch TMP in order to re-evaluate how it ranks with STIII and STIV.

With TWOK and STIV firmly in the #1 and #2 slots, I’m now not sure which movie I’d say was the third best.

I understand why they used Valeris instead of Saavik, but it sure would have been much more powerful with Saavik (with either actress playing her). After all, Saavik witnessed Klingons killing David, not to mention the entire crew of the Grissom, and would have had a very similar motivation as Kirk to hate them. It would have made a great story to have Kirk overcome his prejudice while Saavik could not.

#39. Perry – July 21, 2014

And it could have even been juiced by having it turn out that her baby was David’s as well — it only being logical that for her to reduce the chance of a Vulcan scandal for her and her mentor, she would have had to allow for other “possibilites”.

I thought I read Gene Roddenberry didn’t want Saavik back for ST6 because he didn’t want to see any iconic characters corrupted or in a bad light? Alot still bothers me about ST6. The redress of TNG sets, David Warner as an Abe Lincoln Gorkon, The Enterprise looking ancient even though it’s only 7 years old. After watching ST:ID I had to really look back on Star Trek, and realized only about half the movies are any good. Same goes for the TV shows. Paramount has always short changed Trek movies. Honestly it would have been better if there were NO Trek after TOS until sometime after 2005, when FX could finally deliver the kind of sci-fi that modern audiences want.

A few miscellaneous thoughts here:
1. Saavik said all ship-to-shore communications were blocked, so it’s possible that the Enterprise couldn’t reach Excelsior.
2. I don’t think that Sulu would have let the Excelsior get blown apart. It was a newer, more powerful ship and the shields! . . . . SHIELDS!!! were probably a lot more resilient than the E’s. A scout-class wessel wouldn’t have lasted in that firefight.
3. Even if the Enterprise and Excelsior could have communicated, those transmissions would have likely been monitored. Do you really think that Kirk would blurt out their plans to all who could listen? The strategy would have been self-evident–the Enterprise was in distress and the Excelsior needed to draw fire.
4. No Trek from 1969 to 2005? Just to wait for better f/x? I believe Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can with what you have NOW.” Trek was never about the big battles, but rather the relationships and humanity’s voyage. The effects usually told the story they needed to from TMP onward–with a few missteps along the way.

#42. Son of Captain Garth – July 22, 2014

Saavik? Man, what I wouldn’t give to be in your universe.

I agree with GR.

Having Saavik instead of Valeris be the traitor would have been depressing and tarnished the character retroactively in STII and STIII.

Saavik being angry at the Klingons I can accept, but not sabotaging galactic peace to indulge her personal feelings.

#44. Cygnus-X1 – July 23, 2014

Well, if all they did was change the names on the film we got from Valeris back to Saavik, then I’d agree with you. But I would hope that if they had stuck with Saavik that they would see a much more compelling story in a pregnant Saavik coldly logically deducing which course of action would offer the best chance of her child growing up in a safer more enriching environment. Especially given that one common universal theme in STAR TREK has been that “logic is not enough” and that humans offer some not easily quantified spirit of hope and imagination that is essential to the equation.

Even though I agree with you about a Saavik that ends up being nothing more than an ersatz Valeris that we got as being unacceptable, I challenge your concept of “retroactive tarnishing”. Even though SW epsiodes 4-7 clearly established Anakin as a traitor, I in no way felt the good he did in 1 and 2 were retroactively tarnished by it. In fact, one of the most confounding things about your retroactive tarnish concept is that no matter what despicable thing his character stooped to doing, real world parents are never appalled at the thought of children dressing up as Darth Vader as they are when their prince or princess don a Hitler guise.

#43. Sorry. Obviously, I meant to say Valeris. Valeris said all ship to shore transmissions would be jammed. And by jammed, I don’t mean an extended instrumental at the end of each message.

#46. Son of Captain Garth – July 23, 2014

Actually, it feels as if every spy movie, ever, has demonstrated the efficaciousness of extended jam sessions in jamming bugs in general if not transmissions outright.

#47 In which case, the Allman Brothers would be the ultimate spies. They could jam all night, brother! My favorite is “Nobody Left to Run with Anymore.” I’m at that point in my life where I can really appreciate that song.

Think the Enterprise A was in fact the former Yorktown renamed in honor of the original 1701 & her crew circa Star Trek 4. Most likely a refit herself, I am sure she was probably of a similar vintage to the original.

Can’t exactly say where I heard this from, but believe at least the Yorktown aspect to be generally considered what some call canon.