Plot and Character Assassination – Star Trek VI: Battle for Peace (explained)

large_open_bookWelcome to Plot and Character Assassination. Each article will discuss various plot and character concept we find in a variety of media, putting them into the squared circle and dissecting them down to their very core to understand them in a way that only writers can. From this, we can gain new insight that we may not previously had and obtain a new understanding.

This article discusses the final battle of Star Trek VI. Now maybe it is the nerd in me, but when I watch a movie that I’ve seen many times over I begin asking questions about what I am watching. Now yes, I am a big time Star Trek fan. I can even claim that I watched it from birth, because when my Mother held me in her arms for the first time, Star Trek (TOS) was on the TV she was watching.

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So the other day I was watching Star Trek VI, and it was at the final battle. Now what is going on in this scene is the Enterprise is en route to Khitomer to try to prevent another assassination to put the Klingons and Federation into war. Interesting enough, elements of the Klingon and Federation are working together. The Klingons have a weapon at their disposal, a Bird-of-Prey that can fire while cloak. You can’t see where the attack is coming from so you can’t defend against it.

Changs_Bird-of-Prey

The Enterprise is basically getting its ass handed to them, and only with the interference of Excelsior is the Enterprise able to figure out a solution to defeat their enemy. But something caught my eye, that while the Enterprise was starting to look like Swiss cheese from all of the photon torpedoes, the Excelsior seemed undamaged.  Why?

USS_Enterprise-A_hull_breach

The first obvious answer is that the Excelsior is a superior ship than the Enterprise. It may very well be the Flagship, the best in the Federation and we could just state that is the reason. But I don’t buy it. Even with the Excelsior being the top ship that it is and the Enterprise close to retirement, it would seem to me that the Enterprise could handle itself better than it did. So why did the Klingons seem to have such an overwhelming advantage than the Enterprise?

USS_Excelsior

I believe the answer comes in the next movie, Generations. In the final battle sequence, the Enterprise was piratically destroyed by a ship about 1/6 it’s size. Now the ship itself, a D-12 Bird-of-Prey was also destroyed, and I’m sure they went on to Stovokor, but how were they able to accomplish this? The Enterprise D was the Flagship of the Federation, the most technically advanced ship for its time, and should have won against the Klingon ship. The ship had an advantage, in that they figured out the shield frequency and were able to penetrate the shields to do more damage.

Now while I am on this topic, we see in Star Trek Insurrection that ships are able to reset their shield harmonics. So why couldn’t the Enterprise D? I imagine that prior to the destruction of the Enterprise D, that resetting the shield harmonics (frequency) would actually require shutting down the shields, setting it, then bringing them back up. With the destruction of Enterprise D, the engineers at the San Francisco Fleet Yards decided to create a way to reset the shields to prevent that exact thing from happening again.

So back to Star Trek VI. With evidence presented in other films, we can likely conclude that after Kirk and McCoy escaped Rura Penthe, General Chang knew the Enterprise would come, and the Starfleet traitors gave them detailed information on the function of the Enterprise, including their Shield Frequency.

This would explain how the Excelsior didn’t receive as much damage compared to the Enterprise, because Starfleet wouldn’t be dumb enough to give the Klingons all the information on all their ships. So the Excelsior arriving when it did was a much needed sigh of relief and hope. And since it wasn’t until Enterprise E that shields could be quickly changed, this wouldn’t have been an option for Enterprise A. Even knowing their frequency, the shields still provide some usefulness, especially in the case of hull breach

Now armed with this information, with Chang having such a huge advantage over Kirk, why didn’t he destroy the Enterprise? Had Chang been smart, he would have gone for the kill in the fewest shots possible. But he didn’t do that. Analyzing Chang’s character, I feel that he is a warrior that want’s to toy with his prey. He gains pleasure from watching something die slowly, bleeding to death rather than go for the quick kill. Many Klingons demonstrate this level of blood thirst. So when attacking the Enterprise, he could have gone for a reactor overload and be done, but he wanted Kirk to die from a thousand cuts. I believe that had Chang taken out the Enterprise right away, it would have defeated the Excelsior eventually.

To sum up, the Enterprise took more damage than the Excelsior due to the Klingons being given the Shield Frequency to the Enterprise by Starfleet traitors.

So this is how we can explain this away in the Star Trek universe, but being writers, we know this is not how they wrote scene when they made the movie. We can wager that they made the scene as it was just for dramatic tension and didn’t put any element of realism into it, even for the Star Trek Universe. It’s only with the other movies can we even try to explain away this scene. But I feel as a writer, it is a good challenge to given an explanation that does not cheapen the experience and adds depth to the universe and characters.

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This site is a great achievement for me, but due to being unable to work, I may not be able to keep this site running. With your help, I might be able to.

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