Review by Frank Luke
I came across Star Trek Continues by way of Dave Cullen’s video “Are Star Trek Fan Films Worth Making?” He mentioned it having numerous episodes. Now, I was intrigued and went to the YouTube channel. 11 episodes plus a few smaller vids. The first thing I noticed, looking at the episode list, was that they had captured the feel of Star Trek original series titles. Pilgrim of Eternity? Okay, now that had me, and the thumbnail looked like an aged Apollo from “Whom Mourns for Adonis?”
I watched it. Turned out the title was a reference to a poem from the 1800s that spoke of Lord Byron that way. Not only was that Apollo in the thumbnail, it was the actor from “Who Mourns?” He had enjoyed the part in the ’60s and accepted the offer to reprise the role for the webseries. I liked this episode and, huge Star Trek fan that I am, decided to watch more.
I have now watched all eleven episodes and will review the entire series.
First up, the pros.
* This series was made by fans for fans. The use the same music and sound effects as ST:OS. The fonts on the credits are exact. Indeed, the end credits show still images from their episodes.
* Every actor captures the essence of their role. Sulu, Uhura, Spock, Scotty, all of them. Scotty is even played by the son of James Doohan. Every word, inflection, accent, and action is exactly how I expect it.
* Every prop looks like it came from the 1960s series. Phasers, communicators, consoles, data disks.
* Just like the props, every set is a painstaking recreation of the original series. The bridge, engine room, sickbay, meeting room, all of them.
* Like Apollo being in the first episode, they mention and homeage several original series episodes. The final episode, “To Boldly Go,” even wraps back to the first episode (chronologically, not aired) with Kirk, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” It carries through on the same themes with the same explorations of the psyche but with more layers as espers seek out the barrier.
* They have new characters, Lt. Drake and Dr. McKeenah, who mesh very well with the rest of the crew.
* The guest stars were excellent. In addition to Apollo, Lou Ferrengo playing an Orion slaver was awesome to see (back in green). John De Lancie. Marina Sirtis (voice of computer). Michael Dorn (voice of computer in “Fairest”).
* The series serves as an excellent transition from the series to the movies. In fact, it ends with newly-promoted Kirk wearing the Star Trek: The Motion Picture uniform from the first movie.
However, there are some cons to the series.
* Scotty installing an experimental holodeck in the first episode didn’t feel right. The tech level of ST:OS struck me as needing VR helmets and kinetic suits for something like a holodeck. The holodeck became important in the episode “The White Iris,” but I felt they could do without it.
* I could do without the addition of Dr. McKeenah. The actress is talented, but, like the holodeck, ST:OS wasn’t the place to add a ship’s counselor, and to explain why she wasn’t in the movies, she was killed off in the final episode.
* I smelled it in the second episode, the first whiff of the raw stink of social justice. Sure, Star Trek has always been leftist. However, Roddenbery let the story lead. Here, two things struck me as odd. First, the Federation was going to send Lolani, an Orion slave, back to her prior owner, whom she said had beat her. When talking with Dr. McKeenah, Lolani said, “But aren’t males stronger?” It was obvious she meant physically stronger, able to overcome an adversary by brute force, you know, like her abuser did her. Dr. McKeenah tells her, “Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.” This is true, but not an answer to the question.
* Two episodes, “What Ships Are For” and “Embracing the Winds,” were nothing more than Social Justice virtue signals, and like all SJ virtue signals, it was clear from the outset that the story would be forced to accept the premises of SJ even if they made no sense in universe.
* Spock’s mistake in the final episode felt forced. Kirk’s acceptance of the apology with “I probably would have done the same” didn’t ring true. He wouldn’t have. Spock’s mistake was stupid and led directly to the death of a crewman. They gave the excuse that Spock was experimenting with listening to his emotions. In the middle of battle is a terrible time to be a Vulcan guinea pig.
* For a series (ST:OS) that focused on the optimistic side of humanity, the ending was very melancholoy. Unlike DS9, where you knew the ending would be bittersweet from the emphasis on the war in the final seasons, ST:C carried the ST:OS optimism throughout until the final moments of the episode.
* All the Constitution class vessels are either destroyed or decommissioned at the end. Surely Kirk isn’t the only competent captain in the fleet. Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens did something similar in THE ASHES OF EDEN (another excellent title on an excellent work) with only Kirk and Androvar Drake returning from their five-year missions. That was the least believable aspect of that book, also. I would accept half of the constitution class vessels being destroyed (Constellation (The Doomsday Machine), Defiant (The Tholian Web), and Intrepid (The Immunity Syndrome) were definitely stated or shown as lost in ST:OS), but not eleven.
Now that I’ve given my thoughts on the series, I’ll quickly review the series episodes.
Pilgrim of Eternity – 5* Of all the episodes they have for an intro, bringing back Apollo was the best introduction to this series. It allowed them to tie to the old and show they were going to keep up with the traditions. The actor coming back in the role was amazing. He still carried the gravitas of Apollo of old. Even aged as he was, he still carried himself like a god.
Lolani – 3* This gets 3* for Lolani’s actress and Lou Ferrengo’s awesome portrayal of Zahmin. A fan of ST:OS, he was back in green! However, I found it a little hard to believe that the Federation would allow the Orions to take back a slave that was running for her life. They had allowed political asylum for lesser issues, but no one, not even the all-wise counselor thought to say to her, “Ask for asylum”? Good grief! Nobody on the Enterprise wanted her to go back. Kirk even offered to buy her, for crying out loud. But no one thought political asylum. Sorry. That’s almost as bad as some of the incidents in the Flash where the lab full of brilliant scientists had to pass around the stupid ball so they didn’t solve the science problem of the week in fifteen minutes.
Fairest of Them All – 3* The premise alone made this one a candidate for 5*. The opening credits were redone as if the mirror universe were prime (ST:ENT did the same thing in their mirror episodes). However, the ending fell flat as a Tellarite pancake. We get to see into the mirror universe and what happened from Kirk’s motivational speech to evil Spock in “Mirror, Mirror.” Spock does start the revolt. He is unable to prevent the Halkans from being destroyed. Spock’s introspection and internal wrestling are fantastic! However, that ending… All Spock has to do to convince the ISS Enterprise to sign on to his mutiny and larger rebellion is play Kirk’s opinion of them as pawns over the loudspeaker. No. That would be enough to get them to mutiny against Kirk, but not enough to go against the empire. These people have been brought up in a universe of war and conquest. One speech by Spock isn’t going to make the entire crew throw down their wrath and pursue peace.
The White Iris – 4* Oh, my. An exploration of Kirk’s guilt for the women in his life whom he could not save. Rayna (“Requiem for Methusaleh”), Miramanee (“The Paradise Syndrome”), Edith Keeler (“City on the Edge of Forever”), and Nokia (from his time on the Farragut, neither mentioned nor seen in ST:OS), and his child who died in Miramanee’ womb. The incident is precipitated by a crisis, and Kirk must come to terms with these ghosts before one planet’s missiles hit another.
Divided We Stand – 4* Kirk and McCoy are infected with nanites and wind up sharing a hallucination of being in the US Civil War at Antietam. The process of them trying to determine if they are in the past, a hologram, or other illusion is very well done (because if they are in the past, they must endeavor to not change anything). Kirk wears union blue while McCoy dons confederacy grey. Kirk gives a stirring speech to the boys the night before the battle and again to one in the field hospital while both are recovering from wounds in the early parts of battle. Knowing about the SocJustice leanings from Lolani and that “Embracing the Winds” was coming, I thought a few lines were indicative of SJ, but as they did not press the issue, I will not.
Come Not Between Dragons – 5* This episode features a special guest officer with an unexpected mousey personality. She is very shy and quiet, bashful even. This matters in the course of the episode as an alien tries to hide on the ship. She is the only one who can effectively communicate with it. A larger alien is chasing it. We find that it is the father of the small alien and has been abusive. The officer was likewise abused by her father and is able to counsel them. I found the episode very touching and moving.
Embracing the Winds – 1* “Mr. Chekov, fire virtue torpedoes!” From start to finish, the virtue signal was strong with this one. Even the title was a signal. (The title refers to the winds of change. The problem with embracing the wind is that it always changes direction.)
Spock was being offered command of the USS Hood, but Commander Garret had applied and claimed that she had been overlooked by Starfleet Command because she is a woman. Um. That is not the Federation or Star Fleet shown in Star Trek. The excuse given so this travesty of an episode could be inflicted upon us was that the very traditional Tellarites might pull out of the Federation if a woman commanded a constitution-class vessel because it is the best Starfleet has to offer. Now, the biggest problem with that is that ST:Enterprise is considered canon in this series, and in ST:ENT, a woman was captain of the NX-02–a top-of-the-line ship! Even though that came before the founding of the Federation, I can’t see Star Fleet backtracking on something like that simply to appease the traditionalists among the Tellarites. Nor can I see the women in Starfleet letting them get away with it for decades.
Captain Archer, who according to documents from “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II,” became an admiral and Chief of Staff at Starfleet command, then a member of the Federation counsel and ambassador to Andor. He would not have allowed the Tellarites to set even an unofficial policy like that. Then again, the Starfleet shown here in ST:C was willing to send a woman back into slavery with an abusive owner. Hmmm. Maybe they didn’t hit the feeling of ST:OS like the first episode indicated.
Continuing in the line of canonical women being in charge of top-line ships, we know from the final episode that ST:DIS is canon for this series. The camera pans over a miniature of the Discovery. And in ST:DIS, women command top-of-the-line ships. Maybe, for some reason, they just mean the traditional Tellarite chauvinism is new (traditional yet new?) and they only just now object to women commanding Constitution-class vessels. Hey, it makes as much sense as the rest of the argument! But no, they don’t even give themselves that out. In the closing, Kirk speaks to a Tellarite ambassador who assures him that he knows his people’s traditional views are outdated, and a group on Tellar is working to change things. So, no, the tradition is old, and they didn’t pull out when women commanded other top-of-the-line vessels. A most interesting fact, is it not?
While there is a line in “Turnabout Intruder” that women are not allowed to be starship captains, the woman who said it was quite off her rocker and I took Kirk’s agreement with it as trying not to tick her off further.
Moreover, with this episode, Garret is very close-lipped about suspicious incidents in her service record (incidents which Spock calls troubling). Kirk is at first on her side for command (also out of character as he endorsed Spock until it was pointed out to him that no constitution-class vessel has had a female captain and therefore, this being Current Year, it’s time), but once he looks into her service record, the questions pop out. Yes, he endorsed her without reading her record because Garret had two X chromosomes. That’s not Kirk.
Before the tribunal commissioned to decide which commander gets the Hood, Garret pleads Star Fleet’s version of the 5th when asked about these incidents, and her silence cannot be used as an indication of guilt (she pointed that out with a predatory smile).
Well, excuse me, if I am interviewing someone for command and they get visibly angry whenever their judgement is questioned, they aren’t fit for command. Commodore Gray, a woman of flag rank, not just command, pointed this out to her. (The characters tried handwavium to say that the Tellarites wouldn’t have a problem with a woman commanding a starbase only constitution class vessels. Yeah, it made no sense to me either. “We object to a woman being captain but are just fine with women achieving the higher rank of commodore!” Hey, it’s Social Justice, it’s not supposed to make sense!) The member of the tribunal that voted for her, being a Vulcan, should have disqualified her for losing her temper over simple questions from her record. You know, her service record which would indicate how she would act as captain. However, the Vulcan did not like Spock, so let her outbursts slide. Methinks he needs to meditate on the writings of Surak before sitting on another tribunal.
Commander Garret even suggested that since women had been overlooked in the past, current female candidates should be given priority. Illogical. Admiral Stonn should have endorsed Spock from that statement alone. No. I want the best and brightest to oversee any ship, let alone a constitution-class vessel. There would be over 400 officers and crew with lives and futures depending on her judgment. The standards should stay the same. I don’t care the sex of the commander; I care if said captain is competent. Garret did not strike me as competent.
Still Treads the Shadow – 5* This sequel to “The Tholian Web” explores Kirk trapped on the Defiant while still allowing the ENT episode where they found it in the mirror universe to remain intact. In the rift, two Defiants were created, one of them shifting to the mirror universe but Kirk rescued, the other shifting in time with Kirk trapped. Years have passed with Kirk in stasis thanks to the AI he created named Tiberius. How the way the two Kirks work together and help one another gets a thumbs up from me. And even after all those years with only his thoughts and Tiberius, Kirk is still Kirk.
What Ships Are For – 1* “Mr. Chekov, more of those fine torpedoes!” I’m surprised the writers didn’t give John de Lancie a red hat when spewing his bigotry. He was a strawman Donald Trump if I ever saw one. As a planet with radiation that blocks the seeing of color petitions for help from the Federation (and perhaps joining), several small vessels approach but are turned back by the planetary defense grid. Kirk finds out these are from a neighboring planet and full of people “who just want a better life.” The focal planet, though its own inhabitants are suffering from a deadly radiation sickness and famine, were expected to have taken in any and all who make the dangerous journey across the void. As one would expect from a straw man argument, no distinction is made between legal and illegal entrance. Elimination of borders is explicitly mentioned. When the radiation blocking color is fixed, the inhabitants discover, to their horror, that tens of thousands of refugees from this other world are already living amongst them, including John de Lancie’s wife (you know, just like Melania is an immigrant, something that they seem to think Donald didn’t realize) and their adopted child. Man, they really socked it to Straw Donald and his idiot Straw Supporters!
To Boldly Go 1 & 2 – 3* This episode brought the original series full circle. Continuing the story of “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” espers attempt to enter the galactic barrier, hoping to be uplifted the way Gary Mitchell and Liz Dehner were. To help, Spock calls in the female Romulan commander. The espers are fantastic in this episode. They use illusion and trick normal humans, even outsmarting Spock. And that’s where the 3*s come in. They had been mentioned the loss of constitution class starships in prior episodes, but this episode really ran with it. By the end, the Enterprise was the only one still in service, and it was heading to earth. Spock, even though experimenting with his emotions, acted out of character and this cost Dr. McKeenah her life. The ending was very melancholy, which is very out of character for Star Trek. Kirk’s farewell speech was sad instead of encouraging for the remaining crew. Yes, it needed to end with Kirk being promoted, Spock returning to Vulcan, and McCoy retiring. Even so, it can be a happy parting.
Overall, I don’t recommend this series. A few episodes were great, watch them. Decide amongst the others, but skip the social justice episodes.
And, if you like Star Trek without being hit over the head with social justice, be on the watch for HIGH FRONTIER, my forthcoming series that puts the hope and wonder back in light space sci fi!
Frank Luke is a pastor and a Superversive author. See his book, Lou’s Bar and Grill, on Amazon.