Two years after James Kirk died in STAR TREK: GENERATIONS, I recall finding a book on the shelves at my local Barnes & Noble called "The Return" - written by William Shatner and Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens. The cover showed a reprise of the GENERATIONS movie poster with the tagline "Legends never die..." I picked up the book reflexively and considered for a moment what I was holding. Placing it back on the shelf, I realized that the damage done by the movie was too significant to erase with some make-good, non-canon fanfic.
"If this doesn't go well, I'm sure they'll find a way to write me back in after the fact."
STAR TREK: GENERATIONS didn't just kill off Captain James T. Kirk, it carved him into a hollow, depressing figure who resented being the savior of the Federation. In trying to reveal some new insight into the nature of this iconic hero, the film's writers, Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga, ended up contradicting the soul of Kirk.

Let's start at the beginning of GENERATIONS to see how wrong they got it. When we last saw Kirk, he was signing off on 25 years of his storied career in Starfleet by magnanimously saying "This ship and her history will shortly become the care of another crew. To them and their posterity will we commit our future. They will continue the voyages we have begun and journey to all the undiscovered countries, boldly going where no man - where no one - has gone before."

Cut to about a year later, where Kirk, Pavel Chekov and Montgomery Scott are dignitaries attending the maiden voyage of the new Enterprise, NCC-1701-B. In about two seconds of this sequence, it's clear that Kirk is miserable in his retirement. It makes sense that he would feel this way, even despite his last log entry from STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY. Being master and
commander of a starship was Kirk's first, best destiny (as his best friend, Mr. Spock so eloquently said in STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN). And perhaps a year with no mission or crew took its toll on Kirk. How many times is enough to save the galaxy? Maybe for a high-functioning specimen like Kirk, the answer is never.
... as...
... she goes.
Yet the script beats its audience over the head with Kirk's misery. It went from a cute moment where Kirk eyes the empty center seat on the bridge to a not-so-gentle exchange with Scotty essentially saying "Quit being such a bitch, sir." All of this melodrama felt like watching a man seeing his true love marrying some unworthy bastard (here, Captain John Harriman, played by the perennial beta-male, Alan Ruck). This is not STAR TREK. The launch of a new ship, let alone an Enterprise, should be a sacred moment- an affirmation of Starfleet's mission to discover new frontiers.

So, while we're being told the new captain is a wimp and that Kirk is a god, some random cosmic disaster quickly requires the Enterprise's attention as being "the only ship within range" despite its location within our solar system. I'm sure Moore & Braga chuckled when they wrote that line in their hotel room in Hawaii (yes, they sequestered themselves in paradise to pen this film). As Harriman tentatively calls the shots, we see Kirk grimacing, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. Oh yes, another TREK trope surfaces- all Starfleet captains become fully incapable when Kirk is in their presence. You see what happens when you let fans write stuff?

The ribbon is gonna get you, the ribbon is gonna get you, the ribbon is gonna GET YOU!
The Enterprise-Beta discovers a ribbon in space that's tearing apart some random refugee ships. Kirk nudges Harriman to use the Enterprise to save the remaining passengers, even if she's one Tuesday away from having anything useful put aboard her. Things go well enough until Kirk has to run down many decks (since the ship has no one younger or qualified to do so) and recalibrate the deflector dish to go from suck to blow and free the ship from the squiggly space ribbon's gravity. As Kirk makes the final adjustments down below, the ship is returning to safety and BAM! Kirk gets lashed by the ribbon at the last second, presumably sucking him into space. Kirk is dead.
I never trusted the Klingon fire marshal, and I never will...
The next several dozen, painful minutes of GENERATIONS consist of another Enterprise captain, Jean-Luc Picard, having his own midlife crisis about being in Starfleet while his brother's family just died in a tragic fire back home. In a tearful, orange-lit scene in his quarters, he tells Counselor Troi "I took some comfort that the family would go on, but now there'll be no more Picards." Alright, so we have Kirk lamenting being out of the service and we have Picard whining about never making baby French kids who sound British. Clunkiness aside, at least the characters are matching up to their superficial labels.

Meanwhile, Riker is trying to tell Picard that Geordi's been kidnapped by some jerk named Dr. Soran, who just blew up a nearby star.  Confused by all of this stuff, Picard goes to the ship's fortune teller, Guinan, who fills out matters by telling Picard that Soran is trying to get back to the ribbon that we saw in the film's opening. Guinan tells Picard "The ribbon is a nexus, like the pool bar at the Hilton Hawaiian Village® Waikiki Beach Resort!" Paradise is an all-inclusive bar package, according to the ship's bartender (and the film's screenwriters).

Data, show me every mutant in this sector.
Picard gathers himself enough to do some science with his robot butler, Señor Data, who's having his own goddamn identity crisis about not getting humor. With his emotion chip jammed in his skull, Data not only still doesn't get humor, but he's gone completely weepy all damn day. "Picard and Data have a cry" should have been the movie's title. But back to the "plot"- Picard goes to the sweet TV room that we've never seen before on the series and he makes Data punch in some calculations to determine that Dr. Soran is exploding stars to make the ribbon come to him! JUST LIKE GUINAN ALREADY TOLD YOU, JEAN-LUC.

Soran plans on getting back into the ribbon by destroying a star in a random solar system, redirecting the ribbon to fly into his wrought iron platform on a planet with some low-stakes, preindustrial humanoids in its system. Phew, I can barely keep up with this garbage either. Let's take a quick break here to also mention that Spock and McCoy were originally planned to appear with Kirk in the movie's prologue but Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley both declined to do so because they thought the script sucked. Nimoy also turned down the producer's offer to direct the film, another bad sign in the film's early stages of planning.

Insert Burning Man joke here.
Where were we? Ah, Soran succeeds at blowing up the star and catching a ride on the ribbon, killing everyone (including the Enterprise-D's crew and Spot, who had all just suffered the ship crash landing on a nearby planet). Movie over!
Jean-Luc's paradise disturbs me in ways I cannot begin to describe.
No, goddamn it, not so fast! Picard got snagged by the ribbon too and ends up in a Dickensian Christmas paradise with an imaginary family of his own (where he's comically still dressed in his STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE space jammies). His new kids are cute, his new wife is a Vanessa Redgrave-type lady, and everything is so wonderful! But something's wrong... Picard just feels it because he's a space hero who is true of space heart. Befuddled but happy, his trusty plot expositor, Guinan, shows up again! Guinan, what are you doing in the ribbon, it didn't touch you back on the planet! No, she says, the ribbon kinda touched me seven decades ago when Kirk saved us from entering Paradise with Soran in the prologue. Well, enough of this weird-ass happiness, Picard says, I want to go back to reality- 5 seconds before I fucked up and failed to stop Soran. Sure, Guinan says, but you're gonna need some help from the captain of all captains, James Tiberius Kirk!

Picard, still in the ribbon, asks Guinan to get him into Kirk's version of Paradise. Oh this is going to be great. I bet it's Kirk on the original Enterprise bridge with all of his greatest hits of space ladies fawning over him, right? Okay, maybe not, but how about Kirk with the original crew back on his last Enterprise, after Spock says "Go to Hell!" to Starfleet for telling them to go home for decommissioning. Finally, the two crews in one movie, as it was meant to be!


What we get instead is some random mountain cabin with Kirk, in HIS space jammies, chopping wood outside. Why? As Kirk will tell Picard, through a series of meandering exchanges (that involve eggs and a random Great Dane showing up), he's happily shacked up with a beautiful woman named Antonia. Antonia is so beautiful that the camera never dares to show her face because the males (and females) in the theater would likely spontaneously combust-- just take Kirk's word for it. As Kirk talks about his 3,772nd girlfriend to Picard, he also mentions that he hated being in Starfleet because it forced him to not have a family life. Woah, now- what did Kirk just say?

The writers took Picard's punk-ass character arc and plopped it right onto Kirk. This "woe is me" nonsense may have barely made sense for Picard in the first place (he was worried about not planting his space seed) but we're suddenly told that Kirk regrets breaking up with the invisible Antonia and choosing to return to Starfleet?

The timing of this moment in Kirk's past takes place is very important- taking place right before STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN. Kirk dealt with a significant share of tragedy back then- losing Spock, his son, David, and the Enterprise in an effort to stop Khan and Kruge from destroying untold numbers of lives. But this also precedes Kirk saving billions on Earth from the space whale probe, when he traveled back to 1986 to meet the mom from SEVENTH HEAVEN. And finally, this takes place before Kirk foils the plot of those seeking to cause a full-scale war with the Klingons. But no, Kirk wished he never left the cabin and Antonia. The whale probe alone should negate this line of thinking. This whole shoehorned contrivance, which contradicts everything we see of Kirk in the beginning of the same movie, is a terrible piece of writing. And it get worse! Picard tells Kirk he's not thinking clearly but Kirk wants to ride his horse instead of being lectured by Picard. After making a dangerous jump and not feeling any fear from it, only then does Kirk realize that nothing in the ribbon is real or worth keeping. Well, thank the God of Sha Ka Ree for horses!

My horse's name is "Star," yours is named "Fleet."
Kirk agrees to help Picard stop Soran by returning to 5 seconds before Picard originally failed and off they go to save the Veridian cave people (who must also be hot as fuck, because we never see them either). But Kirk dies again.
Did we do it?!
Kirk fell down a broken catwalk, which fell on him after he fell off some rock bullshit, come on, I can't even try to explain this garbage anymore.

Did we make a DIFFERENCE?!
Kirk, on his death (rock)bed, tells Picard that making a difference is fun and then he croaks. Picard covers Kirk's corpse with 66 rocks on Veridian because fuck the Prime Directive, that's how Kirk would have wanted it (please find his space pants, you primates!). And then Picard catches a timely rescue shuttle back to his busted Enterprise which crashed for no good reason.
This should keep the coyotes away.
I'm not reviewing the movie here, but I have to express how this is my least favorite STAR TREK story. Kirk is given the worst possible sendoff. By making him regret saving the galaxy (and Antonia!), the writers turn Kirk into as non-Kirk a Kirk as possible. I could have accepted Kirk dying if he was acting like himself. At least his first death on the Enterprise-B showed Kirk doing his thing-
one last bit of heroics to save a namesake ship that he always loved. Instead, we get a confused man who decides to do the right thing when his horse doesn't scare him. And only then, it's to see him fall to his death on a planet that means nothing to us. And as for Picard, he never speaks of children again because he knows that he doesn't want to end up like that depressed guy who made eggs for his imaginary girlfriend.

Maybe Jim imagined her all along...
The End.

P.S. Spot lives.

"Hey, yellow guy, did you assholes let the therapist drive this ship?"


  1. Enjoyed every word of it. An epic piece of writing and a spot-on treatment of how one of my most beloved childhood heroes was given a meaningless death by a couple of assholes who fundamentally failed to understand the character.

  2. FakeEyes22 says:
    This movie tells us that Kirk is miserable in retirement and also tells us that retirement is his personal paradise. He wants so desperately to be a Captain again but mostly wishes to never be one at all.

    It swiftly solved the raging Kirk vs. Picard debate at the time by demonstrating that either choice is a stupid choice. I watched this movie and wondered what Sisko was doing. I chose him at this point.

    Data sang a silly song about life forms. That was fun.

    Reading this was also fun. Ribbon is gonna get you!

  3. Everyone should try to watch this. Very amazing. cash for cars hyannis