(written from a Production point of view)
"The greatest enterprise of all is adventure."
When a renegade Vulcan captures the Federation, Klingon, and Romulan ambassadors on Nimbus III, "the planet of galactic peace", it can only mean one thing: the vacation is over; Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the new Starship Enterprise-A are pressed back into service to come to the rescue. But, when the Vulcan has a prior association with Spock, it allows him to seize control of the Enterprise and put it on course for the center of the galaxy where he and his followers believe they find the place from which creation sprung.
On the desert planet Nimbus III, a scavenger named J'onn is digging holes in a field. He stops digging and sees, emerging from the dust in the distance, a man riding towards him on a horse. Dismounting from the horse, this man has a strange power to cleanse people of their emotional "pain", which he uses to join the scavenger to his cause. "What is it you seek?", he asks. The man tells him he seeks what he seeks, what all men have sought since time itself began – the ultimate knowledge. To find it, he notes, they will need a starship. J'onn mentions that Nimbus III has no such vessels, but the mysterious man reveals he may have a way to bring one to them. When J'onn asks how he plans to accomplish this, the man throws back his hood, showing the scavenger his distinct pointed Vulcan ears. He then begins laughing.
The newly-demoted Captain James T. Kirk is back on Earth, spending his shore leave free climbing El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in North America. Halfway up he is greeted by Spock, who has followed him wearing levitation boots. Dr. McCoy is watching with binoculars from a safe distance while cursing Kirk's "irresponsibility" for climbing the mountain. In a moment of distraction, Kirk falls off of El Capitan. Spock dives after him. After a terrifying moment for the captain, he's snatched from certain death by Spock who catches him by grabbing his ankle only mere centimeters from the ground.
Out in the galaxy, three ambassadors from the United Federation of Planets, Romulan Star Empire, and Klingon Empire meet alone in Paradise City on Nimbus III for a private conference. The young Romulan ambassador, Caithlin Dar, rides into Paradise City on a horse, and expresses optimism in Nimbus III, which had been billed as "The Planet of Galactic Peace" at its founding twenty years before. However, the Human and Klingon ambassadors, St. John Talbot and General Korrd, are much more jaded and cynical, and point out that it has rapidly devolved to a barren wasteland rife with corruption and debauchery. Talbot points out that they had forbade weapons, but the settlers began to fashion their own projectile weapons. Korrd, in particular, is a decorated and respected Klingon general who fell out of favor with the Klingon High Command, and has become a bitter, apathetic drunk.
Their meeting is interrupted when the city compound is overrun by fanatical followers of the Vulcan who informs the ambassadors that they are his hostages. Caithlin Dar defiantly tells the Vulcan that she doesn't know who he is or what he wants but assures him that their three respective governments will stop at nothing to ensure their safety. The Vulcan retorts "That's exactly what I'm counting on."
Sitting in the Earth Spacedock, undergoing repairs and refits, the new USS Enterprise sits lifelessly under the care of Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, who notes in the shakedown cruise report that the new Enterprise must have been the product of a team of monkeys – while the warp drive is up to Scott's exacting standards, he laments that half the doors on the ship won't open and that it's his responsibility to repair them, among other disabled systems aboard the ship, primary of which is the ship's transporter. As Scott repairs the helm/navigation console on the main bridge, Nyota Uhura arrives from a turbolift with his dinner – understanding that the extensive repair schedule will cancel their shared plans for shore leave. At that moment, the Enterprise's mangled red alert system goes off and a voice from Starfleet announces to Scott and Uhura that they have a priority 7 situation at the Neutral Zone. Scott is incredulous that Starfleet would assign the mission to the Enterprise considering that the ship is currently "in pieces" and has less than a skeleton crew aboard. Uhura asks Starfleet if they are aware of the Enterprise's current status. Starfleet acknowledges and tells Uhura to stand by to copy operational orders and to recall all key personnel.
Uhura contacts Hikaru Sulu and Pavel Chekov, who are lost hiking in the woods. Chekov is grateful that they'll soon be rescued but warns Sulu not to tell Uhura that they got lost after she instructs them to return to a set of prearranged coordinates. Sulu and Chekov try to explain they're caught in a blizzard and can't see which way they're going. Uhura, monitoring the weather on the sensors, reads nothing but sunny skies and 70 degree Fahrenheit weather and assures them she won't tell anyone about their embarrassing situation as she sends a shuttlecraft to pick them up. "Uhura, I owe you one. Sulu out," the Enterprise's helmsman says as he flips shut his communicator.
Meanwhile, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are sitting around the campfire at Yosemite, where the three discuss their time together and philosophize about life and death around a pot of whiskey-spiked baked beans, roasting "marsh melons," and singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat", although Spock cannot grasp the meaning of the words and thus declines to sing along. McCoy admonishes Kirk for risking his life on crazy stunts, such as falling off El Capitan earlier and McCoy wonders if it crossed Kirk's mind that he should have died when he fell off. Kirk admits it did – but, even as he fell, he knew he would not die. Spock does not understand. "I've always known... I'll die alone." After Kirk's revelation, McCoy offers that the three of them spend so much time together in space, getting on each other's nerves, yet spend their shore leave together. Kirk believes that while other people have families, they don't.
Out in space, the long-lost Earth probe Pioneer 10 is intercepted by a Klingon Bird-of-Prey commanded by the young Klingon warrior Klaa, who easily vaporizes the probe with his disruptors. Klaa tires of shooting space garbage, as he believes it is no test of a warrior's mettle, and wishes for a target that will fight back. The Klingons are soon notified about the hostage situation on Nimbus III as well, which piques Klaa's interest as it is obvious that the Federation will send a ship of their own to deal with the situation and sets his course for Nimbus III.
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy's leave is interrupted when Uhura takes the Galileo down to their campsite in Yosemite since the Enterprise's transporters are inoperative, waking up all three men with the Galileo's bright landing lights. She informs Kirk of important orders from Starfleet Command. Kirk wonders why she didn't contact him via his communicator but she notes he conveniently forgot it. The Galileo eventually arrives in the Enterprise's shuttlebay and the problems with the starship are immediately obvious to Kirk as the turbolift malfunctions en route to the bridge, a console shorts out and the viewscreen barely works. Chief of Starfleet Operations Fleet Admiral Bob eventually comes through and orders Kirk to Nimbus III and assess the hostage situation. Kirk tries to decline the mission due to the problems plaguing the ship and suggests another vessel nearby handle the situation. The admiral refuses on the grounds that while there may be other ships out there, none of their captains are as experienced as Jim Kirk. With an "oh, please" dismissal on his lips, Kirk signs off and orders the Enterprise to Nimbus III.
Klaa and his crew discover that the Enterprise has been dispatched to Nimbus III as well. Klaa is well familiar with the Enterprise being Kirk's vessel and wonders what defeating Kirk in battle would do for his reputation. His first officer Vixis marvels that destroying the Enterprise and and defeating Kirk would make Klaa the greatest warrior in the galaxy. Klaa, originally hoping for an engagement with just any Federation starship, is now elated at his chance to fight Kirk and the Enterprise and orders maximum speed. The Enterprise, so plagued with technical problems that Kirk can't even record an entry in the captain's log recorder, finally receives a copy of the hostage tape sent from Nimbus III. In the tape, Dar, Talbot, and Korrd plead with the Federation to send a starship to parlay for their release at once, per the instructions of the leader of the Galactic Army of Light, the Vulcan who enters the frame and begins addressing the Federation. He claims to regret his desperate act and has no desire to harm the hostages but will do so if the Federation does not respond immediately. Spock, taken with the Vulcan, calls up a freeze frame of him on his science station's monitor and regards it intently. Kirk wonders if Spock is familiar with him. Later, Spock is in solitude in the Enterprise's observation lounge when Kirk and McCoy join him. Spock recounts for Kirk and McCoy a brief history of Sybok, a gifted Vulcan who at a young age broke with tradition and decided that emotion, not logic, was the key to self-knowledge. According to Spock, Sybok was banished from Vulcan when he attempted to lure other Vulcans to his worldview.
The Enterprise arrives first at Nimbus III. Paradise City demands to know their intentions but Kirk tells Uhura to respond with static and make them think they are having some difficulties – which is not far from the truth. Kirk tries to simply beam the hostages aboard but Scott tells him that the transporter is still inoperative. The captain realizes they'll have to go down and take them out by force. However, Spock detects the Bird-of-Prey entering the area leaving them 1.9 hours before their weapons come to bear. An assault team consisting of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Sulu, Uhura, and a detail of security personnel head down in the Galileo leaving Chekov in command of the Enterprise. Despite the primitive scanning equipment of the natives of Nimbus III, their sensors are nevertheless effective and it forces the Galileo to land significantly far away from the settlement.
Meanwhile, Chekov hails Paradise City from the Enterprise and poses as the ship's commanding officer with the intention of distracting the enemy from Kirk's actions. The Vulcan responds and is amused by Chekov's posturing, who orders him to release the hostages or suffer the consequences. Chekov, not backing down, informs the Vulcan that a Klingon vessel is on the way. The Vulcan, unmoved, replies that it's likely that they'll be fairly angry. Chekov tries to impress upon him that the Klingons are likely to destroy the whole planet but the Vulcan knows that a Federation starship would not stand idly by and let the Klingons do that. He then instructs Chekov and his first officer to beam down to his coordinates. Chekov tries to stall the Vulcan as Kirk and Spock realize that they don't have enough time to get to Paradise City on foot. The captain notices a stable of horses through his binoculars and has Uhura perform a seductive dance (with a team of armed security guards out of sight) to distract the wranglers while the assault team steals the horses. The ploy works and the assault team rides into Paradise City. Under the cover of nightfall and covered in cloaks, the assault team looks no different than the wranglers. J'onn believes them to be their lookout party and allows them access to Paradise City. However, J'onn soon becomes suspicious as Spock locates the hostages on his tricorder. The Galactic Army of Light begins to open fire on the assault team with their primitive weapons, but they respond with their Starfleet-issue phasers. The Vulcan becomes aware of the commotion outside and Chekov orders him to surrender at once as he is under attack by superior Federation forces. The Vulcan is incensed as bloodshed is the last thing he wanted. Chekov tries to reason with him but he flees. Kirk fights hand to hand with the Galactic Army of Light's warriors and the fight continues. With a clear entrance into the bar where the hostages are being held, Kirk orders Uhura to bring the Galileo down so they can make a quick escape and goes for the captives. After a brief struggle with an exotic alien dancer, Kirk and Spock free the hostages. However, Korrd and Dar turn their weapons on them and hold Kirk and Spock hostage instead.
Outside the bar, the Galactic Army of Light has also captured the Galileo, Uhura, Sulu, McCoy, and the rest of the security detail. As they loudly cheer their victory, the Vulcan suddenly recognizes Spock among the group and joyfully reveals that he is, in fact, Sybok. However, Spock is not cheered by the apparent reunion and informs Sybok that he is under arrest for seventeen violations of the Neutral Zone Treaty. Sybok and the others laugh at the notion – they clearly have the Enterprise team outnumbered. Spock offers Sybok leniency if he surrenders, but Sybok jovially announces he can't surrender as he isn't through violating the treaty and intends for his next crime to be the theft of something "very big" – the Enterprise herself. Kirk finally speaks up and indignantly inquires if Sybok has staged this entire affair just to get his hands on his ship. Sybok, equally indignantly, wonders who Kirk even is. He clarifies that he is the captain of the Enterprise. Sybok realizes that Chekov had been deceiving him and applauds Kirk's clever tactics but moves on and asks Spock if he would like to join him. Kirk is also curious as to what Spock will say but Spock simply states that he is a Starfleet officer. Sybok understands and states he will just take the Enterprise without Spock's help.
Unaware of the serious situation on the planet's surface, Chekov and Scott are faced with another serious situation – the Klingon vessel is closing on their position. Klaa orders their cloaking device engaged in preparation for their attack on the Enterprise. Scott notes the loss of the Bird-of-Prey on sensors and deduces they must have cloaked. Chekov, knowing his first responsibility is to the ship, orders Scott to raise shields. Scott protests that the shuttlecraft is coming up from the surface but Chekov firmly repeats his order and follows it up with an order to go to red alert. Scott obliges and the Enterprise prepares for battle. The Galileo approaches the Enterprise and while Kirk retains his command of his officers, Sybok and his followers have them all under their command. Talbot informs them that once they have seized control of the Enterprise, they will bring up the rest of the Galactic Army of Light. Kirk, in an untenable position, laments that with the Klingons on their way, they will be lucky to even get back to the ship at all.
Chekov hails the Galileo, informs them of the situation and recommends they find a safe harbor until the situation is secured. However, Sybok refuses and orders Kirk to bring them aboard. Kirk desperately tries to explain to Sybok that in order to dock the Galileo, the Enterprise will be vulnerable to a Klingon attack as her shields must be down for at least fifteen seconds to enter the shuttlebay. Korrd tells Sybok that Kirk is speaking the truth but Sybok refuses to return to Nimbus III. He allows Kirk to take whatever action is necessary in order to get the Galileo aboard. Kirk tells Chekov that they cannot return to the planet and cryptically tells him to stand by in executing "Emergency Landing Plan B." Chekov and Scott have no idea what Kirk is talking about but get the general idea when Kirk says that "B" stands for "barricade." Kirk intends to forgo the tractor beam and fly the shuttlecraft in manually in order to minimize the time the Enterprise's shields will be down. Klaa, meanwhile, has been monitoring the communications channel and realizes that Kirk is on the shuttle and alters his attack course to bear down on the Galileo. The Enterprise lowers her shields just as the Bird-of-Prey decloaks. Sulu engages the shuttle's thrusters and makes a hasty course for the shuttlebay. With no tractor beam, the shuttlecraft blasts into the bay, throwing its occupants to the deck and knocking out its systems. The barricade in the shuttlebay flies up to contain the craft before it crashes through the wall and decompresses additional compartments of the ship. The Bird-of-Prey fires at the Enterprise, but Chekov orders immediate warp speed and she streaks away just as the torpedo misses. Klaa is enraged but impressed at Kirk's cunning and orders his officers to track the Enterprise's course.
In the Galileo, the Starfleet officers and the outlaws are in various states of unconsciousness from the crash. Sybok recovers as Kirk does and both note a projectile weapon on the deck. They struggle for it but Sybok gets the upper hand and orders Kirk to change course at once. The captain agrees to take Sybok to the bridge but tries to get the weapon away from Sybok as they disembark from the shuttle. The Vulcan easily outmatches Kirk in physical strength and grabs him in a chokehold. Kirk is able to get the weapon away from him and it slides across the deck to the feet of Spock, who picks it up and orders Sybok to surrender. Sybok refuses and bluntly tells Spock he must kill him. Kirk bellows for Spock to "SHOOT HIM!" but Spock cannot and the weapon is confiscated by Sybok, who is relieved as he thought Spock might have actually done it. J'onn takes an injured Dr. McCoy and Kirk to the brig as Sybok asks Spock to accompany him to the bridge but again Spock refuses. Sybok tells him he has no choice but to join his friends in confinement. Korrd, Dar, and Talbot escort Sulu and Uhura out of the Galileo as Sybok requests a moment alone with them in order to release their pain as he had done to the others. From the observation deck, a disturbed Scott watches as the Galactic Army of Light pour out of the Galileo and out to the rest of the ship and goes into hiding.
In the brig, Kirk is cursing Spock for betraying the entire crew. Spock says it's worse than that – he's betrayed Kirk and does not expect the captain to forgive him. Kirk simply cannot believe it – why wouldn't Spock defend his ship and follow orders and just pull the trigger on the weapon he had on Sybok. Spock claims he could not because Kirk ordered him to kill his brother. Kirk is incredulous and claims Spock is lying because he knows for a fact that Spock does not have a brother. Spock agrees that Kirk is technically correct – he has a half-brother. Dr. McCoy tries to make sense of it all – that Spock and Sybok have the same father but different mothers. Spock says that Sybok's mother was a Vulcan princess and upon her death, Sybok and he were raised as brothers. Kirk can't believe Spock never mentioned any of this to them before and Spock apologizes for it. Kirk is fuming but McCoy tells him to stop berating Spock as he could no more kill Sybok than he could kill Kirk. More to the point, they have bigger problems to deal with like escaping from the brig. "I'll say one thing, Spock. You never cease to amaze me," McCoy says. "Nor I myself," Spock responds. Kirk, sitting on the brig's toilet, shakes his head.
On the bridge, Sulu and Uhura enter with several of Sybok's followers. Chekov wonders where Kirk is but Uhura tells him not to worry about it – Sybok will explain everything. As Sybok's followers begin to take up positions on the bridge, Sulu begins entering commands into the navigation console. Chekov demands to know what he's doing as Sulu answers that he is plotting their new course. Chekov is incredulous as Sulu has no authority to take that action. Sybok arrives on the bridge as Chekov demands an explanation. All Sulu will say is that Chekov simply has to listen to Sybok. The Vulcan tells Chekov that he won't force him into anything but encourages him to share his pain with Sybok as all the others have and gain strength from it. As a result, Chekov can't help but be taken into Sybok's cause like the rest. In the brig, several efforts to escape are proven to be fruitless as Spock has personally tested the new design of the brig and found it to be "escape-proof." Back on the bridge, Sybok has fully assumed command of the Enterprise as they proceed on their new course at warp 7. As they are now underway, Sybok announces his intentions to the rest of the ship. Via the ship's intercom and computer terminals, Sybok asks the crew of the Enterprise to consider the questions of existence – the same questions that man himself has considered ever since he looked up at the stars and dreamed. They dreamed about a place where questions of existence would be answered. Although modern dogma says that place is a myth, Sybok believes it exists and has taken the Enterprise with the intent of making the greatest discovery of all time – the discovery of Sha Ka Ree, which lies beyond the Great Barrier at the center of the galaxy.
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy watch from the brig. Kirk is alarmed as the center of the galaxy cannot be reached – no ship has ever entered the Great Barrier and no probe has ever returned. Suddenly, a mysterious tapping sound is heard coming from the wall of the brig. Kirk and Spock immediately recognize it as Morse code – the taps spelling out the letters, "S", "T", "A", N", "D", "B", "A", C", "K." As they realize what the message wants them to do, the wall explodes outwards and Scott, from the other side, chides them for not recognizing a jail break when they see one. Sybok, Sulu, J'onn, and some followers enter the brig – Sybok still intent on converting Kirk, Spock, and McCoy to join his cause but realize they have escaped. He orders Sulu and J'onn to find them. Below decks, Scott tells Kirk that the crew is sympathetic to Sybok and they cannot be trusted now. Spock reminds Kirk of the emergency communications transmitter in the observation lounge but they cannot easily access it as it is in the forward section of the ship, far and away from their current position near the bottom of the secondary hull. Scott tells them they may be able to avoid the search parties if they get there by accessing turboshaft 3 as it is closed for repairs, but warns it's a long and dangerous climb. Kirk tells Scott to finish repairing the transporter because they'll need it if they can contact a rescue ship and head for the turboshaft. As they depart, Scott inadvertently smacks his head off a low-clearance bulkhead and falls unconscious just as the red alert goes off – the search parties consisting of Sybok's followers mobilize to find Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Sulu and J'onn quickly find Scott's unconscious body and rush him to sickbay. As the trio begin their climb, Spock immediately makes a quick and quiet exit – he realizes that using the levitation boots will be much faster than climbs up all those decks. Kirk and McCoy join him, but their added weight is too much for the boots and they begin to descend back to the bottom of the turboshaft where Sulu and a contingent of Sybok's followers have found them. Kirk orders Spock to use the booster rockets on the boots but Spock warns against it. Kirk is insistent and Spock obliges, but the boosters propel them upward at an incredible rate, nearly right into the top of the shaft. Nevertheless, they exit the shaft and head for the observation lounge.
From the lounge, Kirk sends out a distress call on the emergency channel. Starfleet Command responds, and Kirk informs them that they've been hijacked by a hostile force that has put them on a direct course for the Great Barrier and they require immediate assistance. However, the responding voice is not in fact Starfleet Command, it is Vixis aboard the Bird-of-Prey, impersonating a Starfleet officer. After Kirk signs off, Klaa orders them into the Great Barrier as well with the intent of following Kirk wherever he goes. As the three exit the lounge, they are intercepted by Sybok and his armed followers, who trusts that their message has been received. Kirk claims that he can't expect them to sit by and let Sybok take the Enterprise into the Great Barrier. Sybok claims that what Kirk really fears about the Great Barrier is that it is an unknown and cites numerous examples from Earth's history about similar fears – Christopher Columbus proving the Earth was round, Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier, and Zefram Cochrane achieving warp speed. Sybok desperately wants Kirk's respect and understanding and challenges the captain to hear him out. Meanwhile, in sickbay, Scott has recovered and returns to work on repairing the transporter.
Sybok continues to speak of Sha Ka Ree to Kirk, Spock, and McCoy – that it is Heaven, an Eden. The Klingons, Romulans, and Andorians all have different names for it but they all have a shared concept of it. For the Enterprise, that concept will soon be a reality. Kirk is less than convinced, however – the only reality he knows is that he is a prisoner aboard his own ship and challenges Sybok about the power he has over the minds of his crew. Sybok retorts that he doesn't control minds – he frees them. McCoy, a bit more inquisitive, wonders how this is accomplished. Sybok explains that he forces people to face their pain and draw strength from it. Once that's the done, he continues, fear cannot stop you. McCoy is less than convinced and compares it to brainwashing. Sybok begins to peer into McCoy's pain, claiming it runs the deepest of the three of them – he can feel it, surely McCoy can. An apparition begins to appear in the corner of the room – an elderly man in a bed, sick and dying, calling out to him. McCoy approaches it and discovers that it is his father, David. McCoy begs Sybok not to put him through this memory but Sybok continues. David weakly begs his son to help him – the pain of the disease that is afflicting him is too much to bear and wishes to be released. McCoy turns to Sybok and laments that with all his medical knowledge, he can't save his father. Sybok whispers to McCoy that's he's a doctor – he should know the reality of that life. McCoy responds that he's also his father's son and deactivates the life support system sustaining him. He watches as his father dies before his eyes. Sybok questions why McCoy did it, who responds that he did it to preserve his father's dignity. But Sybok knows that the act itself wasn't the pain the McCoy carried with him all these years. McCoy admits that it wasn't – the real sorrow was that not long after he released his father, a cure to the disease was found – had he not killed him, he might have lived. McCoy doesn't know if he did the right thing or not and hasn't been able to answer that question all this time. His pain has been released.
Sybok next turns his attention to Spock, claiming each person's pain is unique. Spock claims to hide no pain but Sybok doesn't believe him. Spock allows Sybok to proceed and another apparition appears. The image of Amanda Grayson giving birth to Spock on Vulcan appears. As Spock is born, the midwife presents the child to Sarek, who coldly regards the infant and dismisses him as being "so Human." Kirk regards Spock who is disquieted by the experience. Sybok claims he has done nothing to either Spock or McCoy and wonders if Kirk knew this about either of them. Kirk claims he did not. Sybok offers to help Kirk learn something about himself but the captain refuses. McCoy tries to tell Kirk to be a bit more open-minded about what Sybok is proposing but Kirk can't believe any of it. He knows what his mistakes are and doesn't need Sybok to point them out to him. McCoy tries to tell Kirk that Sybok took away his pain but Kirk tries to tell him that he being a doctor should know better than anyone that pain can't be taken away with the wave of a magic wand – the good and bad experiences in one's life is what makes us who we are. If one loses that, they lose themselves. Kirk is adamant that he doesn't want his pain taken away, he needs it. At that moment, Uhura's voice comes over the intercom from the bridge that the Enterprise is in approach of the Great Barrier. Sybok regrets he couldn't help Kirk but believes he has swayed Spock and McCoy to his cause and asks them to join him on the bridge. McCoy agrees to go but Spock still refuses to join – he belongs right where he is, which is by Kirk's side. Sybok doesn't understand but Spock explains that while Sybok is his brother, he does not know Spock. Since the time he was an outcast boy on Vulcan until now, Spock has found himself and his place and knows who he is and he cannot go with Sybok. This rings true to McCoy, who chooses to stay with Kirk and Spock. Sybok, with a smile, allows them to remain. Kirk is still unconvinced that the Enterprise will survive the trip through the Great Barrier. Sybok challenges Kirk to be convinced that his vision was true if they do survive. Sybok claims his vision came from God, who waits for the Enterprise on the other side of the Great Barrier. Kirk cannot believe his ears and claims that Sybok is mad. Sybok, allowing the possibility to exist, says that they will see.
The Enterprise bears down on the Great Barrier. The bridge crew, along with the three ambassadors, Sybok, and his followers, are awestruck by the swirling vortex of blue and green colored electrical energy discharging before them on the viewscreen. Sulu ominously reminds Sybok that it's been said that no ship can survive the Great Barrier but Sybok disagrees – the danger is an illusion. Chekov cannot get any sensor readings on the phenomena – is it there or isn't it? Sybok is convinced it isn't and orders Sulu to enter the Barrier. The Enterprise engages her impulse engines and breaches the barrier. The journey through is not as dangerous as had been predicted as the starship rather easily completes the journey. As the distortion clears, a planetoid appears through the mist, which looks to be made of pure energy. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy watch from the observation lounge and are awestruck, as is the rest of the crew. Sybok is overjoyed – he believes this planet is Sha Ka Ree. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy return to the bridge. Sybok says the ship needs its captain and returns command to Kirk with no conditions as he believes that even though Kirk didn't believe Sybok before, what they have discovered would seem to indicate he was right and Kirk won't refuse to investigate it. His assumption is correct and Kirk agrees to take a landing party down to the planet via a shuttlecraft and asks that the rest of Sybok's followers remain aboard until he has determined exactly what they have found. "Well, don't just stand there. God's a busy man," he says just prior to entering the turbolift.
The shuttlecraft Copernicus heads down to the planet carrying Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Sybok. As they descend, Spock discovers that some external force has taken control of the shuttlecraft and lands it for them. Kirk wants to bring a phaser along with him but Sybok recommends he leaves it behind. Kirk agrees and the four make their way down the mountain range. As the crew watch in amazement from the bridge, no one notices on the sensors that Klaa's Bird-of-Prey has entered into sensor range. Sybok calls out to whatever force might be on the planet that they have traveled far but gets no response. With nothing apparently there, Spock attempts to console Sybok but the ground begins to shake. Large pillars explode out of the ground to form a large amphitheater-like enclosure and the sky turns completely dark. As the four move in to investigate, a magnificent blue pillar of light bursts from within the enclosure, far up into the sky and outstretching past the Enterprise in orbit. A booming voice calls out to them. McCoy wonders if it is the voice of God and indeed, a face appears that claims to suit the expectation of such an entity.
Sybok is convinced and vindicated. The entity claims that the journey to reach him could not have been an easy one. Sybok agrees that it wasn't – it took a starship to breach the Great Barrier. The entity wonders if this starship could carry his wisdom beyond the barrier. Sybok agrees that it could and the entity makes claim to the Enterprise. Sybok jubilantly calls the vessel his chariot. Kirk, however, is less than convinced. Why would God need a starship? The entity continues to boast what it will do with the Enterprise but Kirk presses on and repeats his question. The entity asks who Kirk thinks he is. Again, Kirk is incredulous – wouldn't it know if it really were God? Sybok tells the entity that Kirk simply has his doubts. The entity is outraged that Kirk would have the audacity to doubt it. Kirk simply states he seeks proof but McCoy cautions Kirk not to ask the Almighty for identification. The entity answers all of Kirk's questions by blasting him backwards with an electrical charge emanating from its "eyes". Kirk, almost mockingly, asks why "God" is angry? Sybok cannot believe that he would attack his friend, Kirk, like this. Spock presses Kirk's issue on as the entity has not answered anything and repeats the question – "what does God need with a starship?" The entity attack Spock as it did Kirk. It then turns its attention to McCoy and dares him to doubt it as well. McCoy claims he would doubt any God who would inflict pain for his own pleasure. Sybok claims to the entity that the God of Sha Ka Ree would not do such things. The entity mocks Sybok's vision of Sha Ka Ree as a vision that Sybok created himself and morphs itself into an image of Sybok and demands that he give him the Enterprise or he will destroy all four of them. It is now apparent that the this is not the God of Sha Ka Ree, Spock says, or any other God but merely a malevolent life form imprisoned on this planet behind the Great Barrier and it simply needs the Enterprise to escape.
Sybok turns to Spock and cannot believe any of it. He claims his own vanity and arrogance created this situation and now he must do what he has to do to ensure that Spock, Kirk, and McCoy are protected from the entity. He begs Spock to forgive him and holds up his hand in the Vulcan salute. Spock returns it as Sybok asks the entity about his pain. The entity is caught off-guard by the question. Sybok claims it runs deep and attacks the entity. As they struggle, Kirk, on his communicator, orders Sulu and Chekov aboard the Enterprise to fire a photon torpedo at the encompassing entity. Chekov protests as Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are too close but Kirk tells him to fire immediately. The Enterprise opens fire and the torpedo obliterates the amphitheater. Spock laments about Sybok, who has been lost in the blast but the entity has not been completely destroyed. Kirk and the others make a hasty escape back to the Copernicus but Spock finds that the thrusters have been rendered inoperative as the entity then violently shakes the shuttlecraft. Kirk flips open his communicator and begs with Scott to tell him that he has finally repaired the transporter. Scott replies that it has partial power and might be able to beam up two of them. Kirk tells Scotty to bring up Spock and McCoy, the latter of which protests all the way up. Back aboard, Spock instructs Scott to now bring up the captain, but before he can, Klaa's Bird-of-Prey opens fire on the unshielded Enterprise, severely damaging her. Kirk now finds himself face to face with the entity, who has manifested itself in the cockpit of the Copernicus. The captain takes off running with the entity in pursuit.
Spock and McCoy return to the bridge, which is in a state of disarray. Klaa hails them and claims he hasn't destroyed them yet because he has come for James T. Kirk and promises to spare the lives of the crew if Kirk is handed over. Spock claims that Captain Kirk is not among them, he is on the planet below. Klaa wants his coordinates but Spock has a better idea. He asks General Korrd for his assistance as he is Klaa's superior officer. Korrd is skeptical about what good he can do as, while he might have been a great military leader at one time, he is now a "foolish old man." Spock implores Korrd to at least try and rehails Captain Klaa, stating that someone wishes to speak with him.
On the surface of the planet, Kirk is pursued by the entity. With nowhere to hide from it, Kirk stares down his impending death as the entity closes in for the kill when Klaa's Bird-of-Prey closes in and destroys it with a thunderous blast from its disruptors. Kirk realizes that the Klingons have obvious come for him themselves as they beam him aboard. The captain is escorted to the bridge where, to his great surprise, General Koord has ordered Captain Klaa to apologize to Kirk – the attack on the Enterprise was not authorized by the Klingon Empire. Koord entreats Kirk to meet the new gunner of the Bird-of-Prey. From the gunnery chair, Spock spins around and welcomes Kirk aboard – it was Spock who saved Kirk's life from the entity. Kirk tells him that he thought he was going to die, echoing their earlier conversation around the campfire. Spock, likewise, tells him that it was impossible as the captain was never alone. Kirk, feeling like he wants to hug Spock, moves to do so but Spock advises against it – not in front of the Klingons.
Aboard the Enterprise, the Starfleet crew hosts a reception in the observation lounge for the Galactic Army of Light, the three ambassadors and Klaa's crew, reflecting on their voyage to the center of the galaxy. Even Klaa himself offers a sign of respect to Captain Kirk, one warrior to another, which Kirk reciprocates. As McCoy and Spock speculate on whether or not God is actually out there, Kirk postulates that while God might not be out in space, perhaps he goes with them wherever they are in the Human heart. As Spock mourns the death of his brother, Kirk comforts him by relating that he once lost a brother. While McCoy may have thought he was referring to his late brother George Samuel Kirk, the captain adds that he was lucky enough to get that brother back, implying Spock, instead. McCoy challenges Kirk's earlier claim at the campfire that "men like us don't have families", but, Kirk concedes that he was wrong – that both Spock and McCoy are his family, and the three of them resume their trip in Yosemite, this time with Spock singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and playing the song on his Vulcan harp.
- "USS Enterprise, shakedown cruise report. I think this new ship was put together by monkeys! Oh, she's got a fine engine, but half the doors won't open! And guess whose job it is to make it right!"
- "Captain's log, stardate: 845... (malfunction, tapping sounds) Captain's log, stardate: 84... (malfunction, computer voice saying "Good morning, Captain.") That's... forget it."
"Each man hides a secret pain. It must be exposed and reckoned with. It must be dragged from the darkness and forced into the light."
- - Sybok, talking to J'onn
"'You'll have a great time, Bones. You'll enjoy your shore leave. You'll be able to relax.' You call this relaxing? I'm a nervous wreck. If I'm not careful I might end up talking to myself."
- - McCoy, talking to himself
"Captain, I do not think you realize the gravity of your situation."
"On the contrary, gravity is the foremost on my mind!"
- - Spock, with levitation boots, and Kirk
"Goddamn irresponsible! Playing games with life!"
- - McCoy
"Mind if we drop in for dinner?"
- - Kirk, to McCoy, after Spock saves him from his fall
"Borgus frat! 'Let's see what she's got,' said the captain. And then we found out, didn't we?!"
- - Scott, complaining about the shape of the Enterprise
"You really piss me off, Jim! Human life is far too precious to risk on crazy stunts!"
- - McCoy, to Kirk
"I've always known I'll die alone."
- - Kirk, on how he knew he would survive his fall
"It's a song, you green-blooded... Vulcan. You sing it. The words aren't important. What's important is that you have a good time singing it."
"Oh, I am sorry, doctor. Were we having a good time?"
"God, I liked him better before he died!"
- - McCoy and Spock, after Spock did not join in singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"
"Spock, we're on leave. You can call me Jim."
"Life is not a dream."
"Go to sleep, Spock."
- - Spock and Kirk, after Spock had been pondering the meaning of the words to "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"
"You told me you could get this ship running in two weeks. I gave you three! What happened?"
"I think you gave me too much time, captain."
- - Kirk and Scott, regarding the Enterprise's technical difficulties
"I could use a shower."
- - Kirk and Spock, in the turbolift on the Enterprise
"Jim, if you ask me – and you haven't – I think this is a bad idea. We're bound to bump into the Klingons, and they don't exactly like you."
"The feeling's mutual."
- - McCoy and Kirk, on the Nimbus III mission
"We'll beat those Klingon devils even if I have to get out and push."
- - Scott, to Kirk
"I miss my old chair."
- - Kirk, to McCoy
"Imagine that. A passionate Vulcan."
- - McCoy, as Spock describes Sybok
"Hello, boys. I've always wanted to play to a captive audience."
- - Uhura
"Be one with the horse!"
- - Kirk to Spock, riding to Paradise City
"Forgive you? I ought to knock you on your goddamn ass!"
"If you think it would help."
"You want me to hold him, Jim?"
- - Kirk, Spock, and McCoy
"I'll say one thing, Spock. You never cease to amaze me."
"Nor I, myself."
- - McCoy and Spock
"This person didn't by chance have pointed ears and an unending capacity for getting his shipmates into trouble, did he?"
"He did have pointed ears."
- - Kirk and Spock, regarding the tests of the brig
"Spock, my only concern is getting the ship back. When that's done and Sybok isn't here, then you can debate Sha Ka Ree until you're green in the face."
- - Kirk to Spock, touching on his Vulcan heritage
"What are you standing around for?! Do you not know a jailbreak when you see one?!"
- - Scott, rescuing Kirk, Spock, and McCoy from the brig
"I know this ship like I know the back of my hand."
- - Scott, before banging his head into a bulkhead
"I'm afraid of nothing."
- - Kirk
"I don't control minds. I free them."
- - Sybok, to Kirk
"I don't want my pain taken away. I need my pain!"
- - Kirk, refusing Sybok's offer
"You are mad."
"Am I? We'll see..."
- - Kirk and Sybok
"Are we dreaming?"
"If we are, then life is a dream."
- - McCoy and Kirk, as the Enterprise passes through the Great Barrier
"Is this the voice of God?"
"One voice, many faces."
- - McCoy and "God"
"What does God need with a starship?"
- - Kirk, challenging "God"
"Who is this creature?"
"Who am I? Don't you know? Aren't you God?"
- - "God" and Kirk
"Jim, you don't ask the Almighty for his ID!"
- - McCoy
"Why is God angry?"
- - Kirk
"You have not answered his question! What does God need with a starship?"
- - Spock
"Do you doubt me?"
"I doubt any god who inflicts pain for his own pleasure."
- - "God" and McCoy, after "God" strikes Kirk and Spock
"Stop! The god of Sha Ka Ree would not do this!!"
"Sha Ka Ree?! A vision you created. An eternity I've been imprisoned in this place! The ship. I must have the ship! Now... give me what I want!"
- - Sybok and "God"
"What's wrong? Don't you like this face? I have so many, but this one suits you best."
- - "God", after transforming into a clone of Sybok
"I couldn't help but notice your pain."
"It runs deep. Share it with me!"
- - Sybok and "God", before Sybok sacrifices himself
"General, I require your assistance."
"You are his superior officer."
"I am a foolish old man."
"Damn you, sir! You will try!"
- - Spock and Korrd
"I thought I was going to die."
"Not possible. You were never alone."
- - Kirk and Spock, on the bridge of the Klingon ship
"Please, captain. Not in front of the Klingons."
- - Spock, refusing Kirk's hug
"Cosmic thoughts, gentlemen?"
"We were, speculating... is God really out there?"
"Maybe He's not out there, Bones. Maybe He's right here... the Human heart."
- - Kirk and McCoy, on the possibility of God
- - Spock and Kirk, as Kirk refers to Spock as his brother
- Co-Writer and Director William Shatner once remarked that he initially intended this movie to be written by thriller and fantasy author Eric Van Lustbader. "My biggest failure [in the making of the film] was I had read some books by Eric Van Lustbader, who had written some wonderful novels about an American in Japan and how out of place he felt. I thought, 'God, that'd be perfect for a Spock movie.' I went to see him and we walked the streets of New York pondering the plot of Star Trek," Shatner recalled. "He was a fan. I thought, 'God, I've got a bestselling author ready to do a Star Trek.' And then they couldn't agree on the novel rights. So I lost him and my movie was going downhill before it even started." (50 Years of Star Trek, p. 15)
- William Shatner stated in his memoir Star Trek Movie Memories (1995, pp. 278-279) that he came up with the story idea of the search for what turned out to be a false god, while he was watching the at-the-time controversial televangelist couple Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker, on television. He became amazed and disgusted by the idea how such vulgar people had the audacity to purport they alone were the harbingers of God and had become rich from donations by their followers.
- Though Paramount Pictures President Frank Mancuso, Sr. was a religious man, he was sympathetic to Shatner's story outline and green-lit the production of the movie when Shatner pitched his story outline to him in person. (Star Trek Movie Memories, 1995, p. 282)
- Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had, since Star Trek: The Motion Picture, no formal creative say in the Star Trek films by that time, only the title of "Creative Consultant". All subsequent movies were vehemently resisted by Roddenberry, particularly The Final Frontier. Roddenerry went as far as to have his attorney Leonard Maizlish prepare legal procedures against Shatner. The legal action did not proceed. Roddenberry's position did not allow for this but Roddenberry declared the film "apocryphal". (Star Trek FAQ 2.0, chapter 13; Star Trek Movie Memories, 1995, pp. 283-284)
- The Final Frontier approximated Roddenberry's atheist worldview, and was reminiscent of his own 1975 unrealized movie script The God Thing, a reworked version of which became In Thy Image and then, reworked further, the script for The Motion Picture. Richard Arnold, who was working at Roddenberry's office at the time, was present when the first story outline of The Final Frontier was delivered to Roddenberry as an FYI, later explaining to Shatner why Roddenberry reacted as he did, "So when you came along, though it was years later, with very similar themes, Gene was really hurt. I think it hurt Gene's ego that you finally going to tell the story that he wanted to tell ten years earlier. You were about to succeed where he had failed. At the time, Gene's secretary, Susan was making matters worse by walking around the office stating things like 'I can't believe it! He stole your idea. Bill's an asshole. Bill's a bastard.' So that did not help, and additionally, I know there was a fairly legitimate concern on Gene's part that your sense of humor [in regard to the way the secondary cast was eventually portrayed in the movie] was a little different than had ever been visualized before." While Susan Sackett's reaction might be construed as personally motivated, she actually had, in all fairness, a point; Shatner himself has related how he had stumbled upon Roddenberry ten years earlier when the latter was busy writing The God Thing, and was on that occasion given a beat-for-beat summary of the story. Some of this may have nestled in Shatner's subconscious. (Star Trek Movie Memories, 1995, pp. 46-49, 289-291) Though Shatner had implied as much in his memoir, Arnold's remarks confirmed that Shatner had neither consulted nor communicated with Roddenberry even once, during the entire production of the movie.
- Co-Writer/Producer Harve Bennett, partly responsible for the three previous successful Star Trek movies, initially did not want to make the film as both his relationship with several key production staffers, in particular with Leonard Nimoy, had started to deteriorate with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. He also fed up with Roddenberry's interloping. Shatner trusted Bennett, but had a hard time convincing him to come aboard. (Star Trek Movie Memories, 1995, pp. 283-285)
- Star Trek V, released in June 1989, was the last Star Trek movie to be released in the summer months until 2009's Star Trek.
- Star Trek V was the first Star Trek production to be made in tandem with another (Star Trek: The Next Generation, whose second season was in production during the filming) and one of only two productions to be made during that time period without any involvement from Rick Berman.
- Star Trek V has provoked controversy among fans. Many consider this movie to be the weakest Star Trek film ever made, although financially, the later Star Trek Nemesis performed even worse worldwide, though it was initially the number one film at the box-office on its first weekend of release and grossed a solid US$17 million. It ultimately earned over $52 million in the US and Canada plus over $17 million overseas.  It was not as successful as its predecessor, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which had grossed US$109.7 million in North America alone. (see also: Star Trek films: Performance summary)
- Six issues contributed to the film's dismal box office business:
- During the 1988 Writer's Guild of America strike, the film's pre-production and shooting schedule were severely trimmed.
- Paramount decided that Star Trek V would be as comedic as Star Trek IV.
- Star William Shatner made a deal with Paramount that if Star Trek IV was successful, he would be contracted to direct the next film, although according to Star Trek Movie Memories (1995, p. 244), both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy had what Shatner referred to as "favored nation clauses", in their contracts meaning essentially that what one got, the other got. According to Shatner, it was Nimoy who put the idea of directing Star Trek V in his head during the production of Star Trek IV, telling Shatner that because of their favored nation status, he could successfully demand to direct the next film.
- There was public dissatisfaction with Star Trek: The Next Generation among fans at the time.
- Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) was not contracted to do the effects for the film, due to the unavailability of the company, with the job going to a lesser known company, Associates and Ferren. The result was poor quality, and in some cases, obviously unfinished special effects shots.
- Intense competition during the summer of 1989 with the release of a multitude of blockbusters, including the long awaited Tim Burton Batman film, Lethal Weapon 2, Ghostbusters 2, and Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade (according to Harve Bennett in Star Trek Movie Memories – 1995, pp. 395-396).
- As a result of these six factors, the film did not succeed as well as the cast and crew thought it would. Gene Roddenberry publicly expressed his own dissatisfaction by stating that certain plot elements were "apocryphal," although it is not known exactly which elements he was referring to. Some believed at the time that one of these elements was Spock's brother Sybok, but, as related above by Arnold, in actuality all of it was for egotistical reasons. Subsequent Star Trek episode and film writers have generally avoided referencing events from the movie, although one slight reference can be found in a deleted scene from TNG: "Family" which would have made mention of horse thieves on Nimbus III. 
- In 2010, Executive Producer Ralph Winter made this candid observation about his role in the production, "We had fun and felt good about IV, that wasn't the case on V. I think on V we were smoking our own press releases. We made the mistake of searching for god. That is what the first movie did. What did we think we were going to find? What did we expect? We were focused and we wrote a good script. Larry Luckinbill (Sybok) was terrific. There were a lot of good things about it. I think we were, not delusional, but we almost killed the franchise. And, unfortunately I almost killed the franchise in terms of the visual effects. We felt like we got taken advantage of by ILM and so we shopped to go to other places. We found a guy in New York, Bran Ferren, who had a pretty good approach to doing the effects, but ultimately they were horrible. And the combination of a story that was not working, it just wasn’t commercial, the effects were terrible – we almost killed the franchise, it almost died." He has also contradicted Shatner's claim that the film failed due to the budget restrictions imposed by the studio, "I don’t agree that Paramount short-changed the movie. They didn’t give [Shatner] as much money for the story that he wanted to tell, but remember Star Trek II was done for $12 Million, and III was done for just under $16 Million, and IV came in a million under budget at $21 Million – I have a letter at home from the president of the studio that shows that. And I think we did the fifth movie at around or just under $30 Million, so it was more. But what he wanted to do was a big grander thing. But I don’t think more money would have made the movie better." 
- Principal photography began on 11 October 1988 and ended on 28 December of the same year. The first scene filmed was Harve Bennett's cameo as Rear Admiral "Bob". Production began shooting at Yosemite National Park, then moved to the Mojave Desert, then back to Paramount Studios, where they filmed next door to Star Trek: The Next Generation. The last scenes filmed were the Kirk-Spock-McCoy trio's campfire singalongs. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier DVD special features)
- On 28 December, the last production day (only a few missing special effects shots were filmed that day), a press conference was held on the set to various newspaper, television, and radio reporters. Producers Harve Bennett and Ralph Winter, director William Shatner, and the entire Star Trek main cast participated, answering questions. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier DVD special features)
- The Star Trek V novelization also references and shows Sybok showing the crew how to radically adjust the deflector shields in order to be able to pass through the extreme radiation environment of the Great Barrier.
- Another oddity is the Enterprise's trip to the center of the galaxy, which should have taken decades but seemed to occur in less than a day. In the novelization of Star Trek V, it is mentioned that Sybok's tinkering allows them to decrease their travel time. The Bird-of-Prey scans the Enterprise during their pursuit and is able to duplicate their rate of travel as well as Sybok's shield modifications allowing them to penetrate the Barrier.
- The film was the "winner" of the 1990 Razzie awards for "Worst Picture," "Worst Actor" (Shatner), and "Worst Director" (Shatner). It also received nominations for "Worst Picture of the Decade," "Worst Supporting Actor" (Kelley), and "Worst Screenplay" (Loughery, Shatner, and Bennett). In 2006, former Mystery Science Theater 3000 co-stars and writers Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy mocked the film in a downloadable audio commentary track for Nelson's RiffTrax service.
- Because of its failure at the US box office, in some countries this film was not distributed in the theaters, but only on VHS.
- Some of the special effects in this movie are markedly different than those featured in previous Star Trek films. Among other changes, photon torpedoes have a different design and color (the torpedo from the Enterprise was a slightly recolored reuse of V'ger's "whiplash bolt" from The Motion Picture, and a slightly different effect was used when going to warp speed. The release of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, however, marked a return to the effect designs that characterized earlier Trek films.
- ILM, the company which did the special effects for the previous three Star Trek films and TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint", was unavailable because the company was working on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Ghostbusters II at the time. The result of this is the considerably cheaper-looking effects seen in the film.
- The sequence of "God" chasing Captain Kirk on the Sha Ka Ree planet was originally conceived to be much longer and extensive, but it had to be severely cut as a result of awful-looking special effects.
- In addition, some of the outer space shots are stock footage from the previous films. The shot of the Enterprise in spacedock is from the end of The Voyage Home. Also, a few Klingon Bird-of-Prey shots are reused from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The spiraling starfield during Kirk's unfinished log entry is lifted from the opening titles of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
- William Shatner's first outline for this film was entitled "An Act of Love" and, according to William Shatner's Star Trek Movie Memories, would have been a much darker tale and would have seen the first true falling out between Kirk and Spock and McCoy. Also, Spock and McCoy would also have joined with Sybok, leaving Kirk alone. This was changed when Nimoy absolutely refused to play that, stating that there was no chance whatsoever that Spock would ever turn on Kirk, especially after what Kirk risked and sacrificed for Spock in Star Trek III. Director Shatner talked to Nimoy, attempting to change his mind, but Nimoy was firm in believing that pain or no pain, brother or no brother, Spock would not betray Captain Kirk. Shatner eventually conceded and had the script adjusted. In the book, Shatner comments that he was aware there was no chance he could know Spock as well as Nimoy would and he certainly couldn't force Nimoy to play the part as written. According to Shatner, on the same day that Nimoy objected, DeForest Kelley also refused, believing that McCoy would not turn against Kirk either and Kelley was as adamant about it as Nimoy was. Shatner said that he didn't know and still doesn't know if changing the script was the right decision to make, but he also conceded that if someone else had come in and written a scenario where Kirk would turn against Spock and McCoy, he too, would "raise the roof" over it. Nevertheless, Shatner said he would still have loved to have seen and been able to play the original version of the scenario.
- The name "Sha Ka Ree" was taken from "Sean Connery", the actor Star Trek producers originally wanted to play Sybok. Unfortunately, Connery was busy working on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and was unavailable to play the part. (Star Trek Movie Memories 1995, p. 292)
- After the campfire scene, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy say "good-night" to each other in a way that is clearly a parody of the "good-night" in the television show "The Waltons".
- In the original script, Kirk was attacked by ten large "rockmen" emerging from the rock faces of Sha Ka Ree. Unfortunately, with an extremely limited budget (which was responsible for other "high budget" items being removed from the final script, as well as for the use of cheaper effects for the space scenes), only one animatronic "Rock Man", portrayed by stuntman Tom Morga, was created. The single rockman was filmed attacking Kirk, but the scene was thought too poor to include in the film, although an extremely brief (a few frames) glimpse of the creature occurs in the final print during the scene where "God" fires energy blasts at Captain Kirk. Some test footage of the creature is available in the Special Edition two-disc DVD release. The idea did make it to theaters in the Star Trek parody Galaxy Quest. A few images of Morga as the rockman were later released in the special feature "Tom Morga: Alien Stuntman" on the 2009 box release Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection (DVD).
- Closeups of the El Capitan climbing scenes were filmed on a fake wall made of fiberglass. The real mountain can be seen at distance.
- Closeups of Kirk's fall were actually shot horizontally, then flipped so that they appeared vertical.
- When Kirk returns to the bridge of his ship for the first time, he is given his uniform jacket by a yeoman. The yeoman is played by Shatner's youngest daughter, actress Melanie Shatner, and had been credited for it as such. Incidentally, her two older sisters, Lisabeth and Leslie, had already had uncredited cameo appearances as two of the Only girls in The Original Series episode "Miri". Upon the conclusion of the movie, daughter Lisabeth wrote a book on her father's experiences making the movie, Captain's Log: William Shatner's Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
- Several deleted scenes are available on the Special Edition DVD, including one of Sulu and Chekov visiting the Mount Rushmore monument, with the added face of an African-American woman.
- The novelization has some additional dialogue about Spock and McCoy speculating that the great barrier might not have been meant to keep them out, but to keep "God" in, prompting Spock to say that they may have yet to reach the final frontier.
- As had been the case with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, this film sports a rare instance of Trek product placement. Kirk and McCoy wear Levi's blue jeans for the first half-hour of the film, and Levi Strauss & Co. gets a credit at the end of the film.
- In another product tie-in, this time with Kraft "Jet-Puffed" marshmallows, Kraft Co. sold replicas of the marshmallow dispenser that Spock used, via mail-order, in the summer of 1989.
- Spock makes an uncharacteristic mistake when he calls "marshmallows" by the name "marsh melons". The novelization shows that McCoy, knowing Spock would want to study what the ship had in the library computer about camping out before going out, paid a computer tech to change all references in the Enterprise computer about marshmallows to "marsh melons." The novel also includes characterizations of McCoy's and Kirk's reactions and McCoy having a silent laugh at Spock's error. In the final picture, McCoy simply stumbles over the pronunciation to continue the joke. Later, in the levitation boots scene on the Enterprise (mentioned below), Kirk again mentions "marsh melons", which some have thought to be the mistake, but is evidence he also recognized Spock's error. When they return to the camp site at the end of the novel, Spock has since then detected McCoy's activity and has had his misinformation corrected.
- The entire movie was filmed on such a tight schedule that many of the shots were set up in a matter of minutes, instead of hours.
- According to Shatner, the campfire scenes had to be shot in closer angles, because time and budget constraints prevented the production team from building the top of the trees on the set.
- The cloak with the numerous medals that Ambassador Korrd wore appeared again in Star Trek: The Next Generation as the cloak worn by the Klingon chancellor. The first chancellor to be seen, K'mpec (who first appeared in TNG: "Sins of the Father"), was also played by Charles Cooper.
- During location shooting, locals were hired to portray Sybok's "army" during his raid on Nimbus III. Because of the severe budget cuts and not enough number of these extras, many of them were re-used in different shots, running through the gates over and over again.
- One of Kirk's famous lines in this film is his prediction that he "will die alone." In the movie Star Trek Generations, Kirk dies after emerging from the Nexus in the 24th century. Although he dies apart from his closest friends (Spock and McCoy), Jean-Luc Picard is with him at his passing.
- Near the end of the film when Spock mentions that he lost his brother, Sybok, Kirk retorts, "Yes. I lost a brother once. I was lucky I got him back." While Kirk's biological brother, George Samuel Kirk, died in TOS: "Operation -- Annihilate!", he was clearly making a reference to Spock, who died in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and was resurrected in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. (However, Spock and McCoy look visibly surprised when Kirk mentions having lost a brother, creating a potential continuity error as both were present when George died.) This is the second time that Kirk refers to Spock as his "brother". The first time occurred in TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy". The Star Trek V comic adaptation had Kirk say "I've lost two brothers, but I was lucky to get one of them back."
- After the Bird-of-Prey destroys "God", Kirk says, "So, it's me you want you Klingon bastards?", a reference to a scene in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock in which Kirk calls them the same thing after Kruge kills his son, David Marcus.
- Shatner originally wanted Sybok's horse to be a unicorn, adding a more "mythical" approach to the character, but Gene Roddenberry disapproved of it, saying that it would turn Star Trek into a space fantasy instead of science fiction.(citation needed • edit)
- This is the first Star Trek movie not to be nominated for a Hugo Award for "Best Dramatic Presentation".
- In an interview for the book Captains' Logs, Harve Bennett blamed the movie's failure on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Shatner had been so impressed with Production Designer Herman Zimmerman's work on The Next Generation, that he hired Zimmerman to upgrade the Enterprise interiors for the film. Hence, the upgraded bridge from the movie resembles the bright atmosphere portrayed in The Next Generation. Decades later Zimmerman later jokingly commented after seeing the film, considered so flawed by many, "After the show was over, I was pretty sure I would never do another!" (The Art of Star Trek, p. 249; Star Trek: 45 Years of Designing the Future)
- The Enterprise-A corridors are from The Next Generation. Except for the turbolift, they were not changed for the movie.
- The Enterprise-A bridge is mostly a new set, except for the turbolifts, Sulu and Chekov's helm console, the handrails, and some of the platforms on which the portions of the bridge stood. According to the Collector's Edition DVD text commentary, a new bridge set was necessary due to the original movie bridge set being mostly damaged by a sudden windstorm while in temporary storage at the Paramount studio parking lot (other sources have the reason for the new bridge set's construction as being because it had been extensively modified for use on TNG to the point that it could not be converted back), and only those few pieces used on the Enterprise-A bridge were salvaged from the original set. Captain Kirk would thus seem to briefly break character when he muses, "I miss my old chair." The decoration from the salvaged set was also used for the Stargazer bridge and for the battle bridge in TNG.
- Another all-new set was the forward observation lounge where several dramatic scenes take place. According to Michael Okuda, this room was located on the forward-center edge of the saucer section (much like Ten Forward on the Enterprise-D). However, when looking at the exterior of the Enterprise-A, there are no windows which match the location of this room. The plan was to update the filming miniature with the three larger windows, however time and budget constraints forced the producers to omit this change as it was believed they would be unnoticed due to their small size.(citation needed • edit)
- Nichelle Nichols, an accomplished singer and dancer, provided an authentic performance of the "fan dance" routine in this film; she was outraged when her vocals in the scene were later overdubbed in editing without her approval.
- In the levitation boots scene on the Enterprise, where Spock, McCoy, and Kirk fly up the turbo-shaft, the deck numbers are seen going higher as they rise through the ship, in contrast to all other starships ever seen on screen, which have the highest deck number on the lowest actual deck. In addition, Kirk, McCoy, and Spock pass a sign for Deck 78 on their way up. They also pass Deck 52 twice, obviously, either an editing error or an attempt to lengthen the scene. After this shot was done, Zimmerman pointed this error out to director Shatner. He explained that the Enterprise has only 23 decks, counted down from the top, Deck 1. But Shatner refused to change it. He wanted to shoot this scene exactly this way because he was convinced that the shot was so highly dramatic.(citation needed • edit)
- A Bandai Nintendo Entertainment System action game was slated to be released in 1989 along with the movie. The game was canceled following the failure of the film at the box office. A prototype has surfaced and is circling the net as a ROM. It is notable for its many basic spelling errors (example: at one point Scotty is named "Scotto") and lack of an ending (the game may have been incomplete at the time it was scrapped).
- This film marked the return of Jerry Goldsmith to the Star Trek franchise. He returned again to compose the music for Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek Nemesis, and to compose the theme for Star Trek: Voyager. An attempt was made to bring Goldsmith on to compose for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country after James Horner turned it down. However, Goldsmith also refused, citing the poor results of Final Frontier.
- Among the items featured in this film which were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay were a Starfleet Field Duty Commando division strip  and the stunt costume for David Richard Ellis.  The rock climbing costume worn by Shatner was also auctioned off.  The costume had "Boreal"-brand shoes.
- This is the only one of the first six Star Trek films not to feature any scenes based in and around Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco.
- The otherwise very Star Trek friendly magazine Cinefantastique has made no mention whatsoever of this production in their publications.
- A draft version of the film's script was submitted on 29 February 1988. 
- This is the first Star Trek film to use the 1986-2002 Paramount Pictures logo.
Star Trek V continues the story of the previous film only a short time after its ending, where the Enterprise-A departs for its shakedown cruise. This film begins with the Enterprise back in spacedock and Scott filing in his shakedown cruise report. The previous film, Star Trek IV, is dated to 2286, when Gillian from 1986 mentions that she has three hundred years of catching up to do, suggesting this film takes place in 2286, or at the latest in 2287.
In the film, Caithlin Dar makes a reference that Nimbus III was established as a planet of galactic peace 20 years ago, when the Federation and the Klingon and Romulan Empires attempted unsuccessfully to usher into a new era of peace and co-operation. While not explicitly stated, these are references to the Organian Peace Treaty of 2267 at the end of "Errand of Mercy" and the Romulan-Klingon Alliance some time in or before 2268 based on references from "The Enterprise Incident" and "Reunion" These references give Star Trek V a timeframe from 2286 to 2288.
In the TNG episode "Evolution" (broadcast as the third-season premiere), it is mentioned by Lt. Commander Data that "[there] has not been a systems-wide technological failure on a starship in seventy-nine years." The episode was the very first filmed TNG installment to air following the June 1989 theatrical release of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (in September 1989), and this line of dialogue was very likely written by Michael Piller as a "nod" to the events of the most-recent movie, placing the events of the film in the year 2287 (seventy-nine years prior to the year 2366).
During production of the Original Series, James Doohan took pains to conceal his right hand from the camera, due to it missing a finger as the result of an injury the actor suffered in the Second World War, and when close-ups of Scott's hands were required a body double was used. Thus, Scott canonically was not missing any fingers during the TOS timeframe. In this film, Doohan's injured hand is clearly visible in one scene,(citation needed • edit) establishing in canon that, at some point between TOS and Star Trek V, Scott lost a finger, for reasons as yet unrevealed.
Awards and honors
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier received the following awards and honors.
|1990||Razzie Awards||Worst Director||William Shatner||Won|
|Worst Picture||Harve Bennett|
|Worst Picture of the Decade||Nominated|
|Worst Supporting Actor||DeForest Kelley|
|Worst Screenplay||David Loughery, William Shatner, Harve Bennett|
|Golden Reel Award||Best Sound Editing||Gary Alexander|
The novel The Fire and the Rose shows that as Spock began to regret undertaking the Kolinahr, that he remembered what Kirk had told Sybok about how the regrets and the pain one carries with them is part of what makes them who they are and it does help in Spock's decision to reverse the Kolinahr.
The Sha Ka Ree entity is identified in The Q Continuum trilogy as The One, a being that was drawn into this universe through the Guardian of Forever by the entity known as 0, subsequently being defeated in a confrontation with the Q Continuum and locked away in the galactic center – having been reduced to only a head – until His repentance or the heat death of the universe, "whichever comes first."
Vonda McIntyre's novelizations of the three previous films had Hikaru Sulu's rank at captain (based on cut material from Star Trek II) for sake of continuity within the novels. When J.M. Dillard wrote the novelization of Star Trek V, she included a reference that Sulu had taken a temporary reduction in rank back down to commander in order to serve on the Enterprise, a decision which, when Kirk found out, made him furious at Sulu for not thinking of his own career first, and after giving Sulu hell about that decision, Kirk thanked him afterward.
According to the novel The Sorrows of Empire, McCoy's mirror universe counterpart was also responsible for his father's death, though under dramatically different circumstances: he tortured him to death on the orders of the Terran Empire.
The massively-multiplayer online video game Star Trek Online features Nimbus III as a location players can travel to, including Paradise City and its featured bar. There are other adventures players can partake in out in the neighboring desert wasteland, including one of the first introductions of the Elachi race to non-Romulan players.
Links and references
- All credits
- Uncredited co-stars
- David Dewitt
- Patrick Michael as Enterprise-A crewman
- Susan Savage
- Mike Smithson as Klingon helmsman
- Adrian Tafoya as "Wrinkles"
- Rhoda Williams as alien vocals
- Carey Scott as voice of a teenage Spock (deleted scene)
- Unknown performers as
- Uncredited stunt performers
- Uncredited production staff
- Tom Boyd – Musician: Oboe
- Cogswell Video Services, Inc. – Visual Effects Unit Video Assist Company
- Lynette Eklund – prison alien anatomy pieces artist
- Christopher Gilman and Global Effects, Inc. – creator and provider of the cool suits
- Karen Hulett – Costume design
- Lisa Logan – Cutter/Fitter
- David Nicksay – Executive Producer
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dinner; disaster; discovery; distress signal; dignity; doctor; dogma; door; dream; ear; Earth; Eden; El Capitan; emergency assistance; emergency channel; Emergency Landing Plan B; emergency sending apparatus; emotion; Enterprise-A, USS; Enterprise-A dedication plaque; estimate; eternity; "even as we speak"; Excelsior, USS; "excuse me"; existence; experience; expression; face; faith; family; fantasy; fear; Federation; Federation Federal; feeling; financing; fishing; flat; flavoring; footspeed; forward observation room; free-climbing; French language; friend; Galactic Army of Light; galactic core; Galileo; Galileo-type shuttlecraft; garbage; gate; generation; "get a grip on yourself"; ghost; ghost town; "go ahead"; God; "good morning"; "good night"; "go to bed"; "go to sleep": government; gravity; Grayson, Amanda; Great Barrier; Great Horned Owl; green; guilt; gunner; hailing frequency; hand; heart; heart attack; Heaven; "hello"; high priestess; "hit the brakes"; hole; horse; hostage; hostage tape; hour; Human; humor; hydro vent; ID; idea; "if you please"; illusion; immortal; impulse power; "in control"; "in fact"; information; ingredient; "in order"; "in order to"; "in sight"; intellect; intelligence; intention; "in that case"; "in the meantime"; "in touch"; Iowa; "I see"; jailbreak; jet boots; job; journey; junior officer; "just in time"; kellicam; Klaa's Bird-of-Prey; Klingons; Klingon Bird-of-Prey; Klingon Empire; Klingon High Command; Klingon language; "knock it off"; knowledge; land; landing bay; leader; letter; levitation boots; Levi's; life support system; light (artificial); light (natural); logic; lookout party; Luna; lyric; "macho"; madman; magic wand; marshmallow; Masefield, John; maximum speed; meaning; melon; Melville, Herman; message; metabolism; Milky Way Galaxy; mind; miracle; mister; mood; "Moon over Rigel VII"; "Moon's a Window to Heaven, The"; monkey; Morse code; mount; mountain; muscle; mystery; myth; naked; "neck of the woods"; "nervous wreck"; Neutral Zone; Neutral Zone Treaty; Nimbus III; noise; "not have a clue"; "of all time"; "of course"; "oh my God"; "on board"; "on course"; "on leave"; "on my mind"; "on my way"; "on the contrary"; online; orbital shuttle; Orbital shuttle 5; Orbital shuttle 7; order; "out of favor"; "out of practice"; outcast; "Pack Up Your Troubles"; pagan; pain; Paradise City; Paradise Inn; passion; person; phaser; photon torpedo; Pioneer 10; place; pleasure; pool; power source; priority 7; princess; prisoner; probe; problem; pronunciation; proof; protective custody; "put me out to pasture"; quadrant; quest; question; Qui'Tu; reality; reason; record time; red alert; renegade; repairs; representative; rescue ship; research; respect; revolutionary; Rigel VII; ritual; rock; Romulans; Romulan ale; Romulan language; room; round; "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" (row boat); San Francisco Fleet Yards; scholar; scope; scotch whiskey; Scots language; second; secret; settlement; settler; Sha Ka Ree; Sha Ka Ree (planet); shakedown cruise report; shield; shipmate; shore leave; shower; sincerity; sing-along; skeleton crew; sky; sleep; Sol; soldier; son; song; song title; soul; sound; sound barrier; Source, The; Southern baked beans; space; spacedock; speculation; speech; speed; standard orbit; standard orbital approach; "stand back"; "stand by"; star; Starfleet; Starfleet Charter; Starfleet Com Net; Starfleet Command; Starfleet Galactic Memory Bank; Starfleet Operations; starship; status; status report; stream; strength; strike team; student; success; superior officer; surrender; target; Tennessee whiskey; termite; Terran; terrorist; "thank God"; "thank you": thing; thousand; threat; thruster; time; toilet; tour; tractor beam; transmission; transmitter; transporter; transporter beam; transporter lock; transporter room; trash; treasure; triangle; trick; trigger; truth; tunnel; turboshaft number three; understanding; understatement; Valhalla; value; vanity; viewscreen; voice; violation; Vorta Vor; Vulcans; Vulcan; Vulcan language; Vulcan lute; Vulcan nerve pinch; Vulcan princess; "wait a minute"; warp engine; warp speed; warrior; Watering Hole, The; weapon; "wee"; week; weight; "whip her into shape"; wildlife; wisdom; "with all due respect"; word; workout; year; Yosemite National Park; youth
Starfleet Galactic Memory Bank references
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier at Wikipedia
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier script at Star Trek Minutiae
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country