Stardate 8390.0: An enormous alien probe on a heading for Earth encounters and completely cripples the USS Saratoga, continuing unchecked toward Earth, where a high-ranking Klingon Ambassador is trying to convince the Federation Council that the Genesis device was, in fact, a weapon designed to eradicate the Klingon species. The Ambassador promises that there will be no peace between the Klingons and Federation while Kirk lives. In the meantime, Kirk and the rest of his crew, excluding Saavik, who stays behind, leave Vulcan in their hijacked Bird of Prey, which McCoy has christened the “Bounty.”
While en route to Earth, they receive an emergency transmission informing them that Earth’s defenses have been neutralized by a huge vessel of unknown origin, and that the alien ship is beginning to destroy the atmosphere and oceans, all the time transmitting indecipherable sounds. Analyzing a recording of the sounds transmitted by the alien ship, Spock determines that the probe can not be responded to because the sounds are apparently analogous to songs sung by humpback whales – extinct in the 23rd century. Kirk decides to risk a slingshot around the sun to send the Bounty into a time warp to Earth of the past and bring back enough whales to repopulate the species and, more importantly, respond to the probe.
The Bounty lands in San Francisco, 1986, and the crew splits into three teams. Kirk and a thinly disguised Spock set out to find the whales, which Kirk decides to take from the Cetacean Institute, a museum devoted to whales. There, Kirk meets Dr. Gillian Taylor as she leads a tour of the Institute, during which she shows off the Institute’s two whales, George and Gracie. Gillian also reveals that the whales will have to be released into the open sea due to the cost of keeping them in captivity. Spock dives into the whale tank and mind-melds with one of the whales, finding that Gracie is pregnant, but Gillian throws them out of the Institute, only to find them walking back to Golden Gate Park and picks them up again.
Chekov and Uhura find the Navy’s USS Enterprise and sneak in to collect photon spillage from the ship’s nuclear reactor in order to replenish the dilithium crystals on the Bounty for the return trip to the 23rd century, while Scotty, Sulu and McCoy seek out the materials necessary to build a tank for the whales and their water in the Bounty. Scotty’s team visits a plexiglas factory, where he trades the “recipe” for transparent aluminum (common in the 23rd century) in for the necessary materials and the loan of a helicopter to return the tank walls to the Bounty. (Scotty insists no damage is being done to history – perhaps the director of the factory to whom Scotty revealed the “secret” is the inventor!) Uhura and Chekov gather the necessary energy to ready the Bounty for its next time warp, but they are detected on the carrier. Chekov gives Uhura the collection device and has her beamed back to the Bounty, while he is captured and briefly interrogated.
Chekov escapes again, but is seriously wounded and taken to a hospital. Kirk, having befriended Gillian and learned how upset she is that “her” whales are about to be turned loose, gets the frequency to radio tags that the whales will be carrying so scientists can track them, but even Gillian doesn’t know the exact location to which the whales will be taken. Kirk receives the news of Chekov’s injury and, with McCoy, mounts a rescue operation which will require the help of Gillian. They enter the hospital disguised as surgeons, and McCoy performs a quick fix returning Chekov to normal after expressing alarm that 20th century medicine would have called for a hole to be drilled into Chekov’s skull. They “kidnap” Chekov from the hospital and take him back to the Bounty, where Gillian stows away by joining Kirk just as he is beamed aboard.
The Bounty lifts off and reaches the whales’ coordinates in the Pacific, only to find a whaling ship is in hot pursuit of George and Gracie. Kirk orders the Bounty to decloak, which frightens the poachers away while the two whales are beamed aboard. The Bounty makes it back to the 23rd century and crash-lands in San Francisco Bay after being disabled by the probe, and Kirk releases the whales into the ocean. George and Gracie re-establish contact between Earth’s whales and the aliens – a dialogue which had been in progress before man even existed – and Gillian begins her new life as a Federation cetacean biology specialist.
Kirk and the others are exonerated for all charges against them concerning the theft and destruction of the starship Enterprise, except for Kirk, who is demoted to Captain and given command of a new, more advanced vessel: the new Enterprise, NCC-1701-A.
Cast: William Shatner (Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock), DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy), James Doohan (Scotty), George Takei (Sulu), Walter Koenig (Chekov), Nichelle Nichols (Uhura), Jane Wyatt (Amanda), Catherine Hicks (Dr. Gillian Taylor), Mark Lenard (Sarek), Robin Curtis (Lt. Saavik), Robert Ellenstein (Federation Council President), John Schuck (Klingon Ambassador), Brock Peters (Admiral Cartwright), Michael Snyder (Starfleet Communications Officer), Michael Berryman (Starfleet Display Officer), Mike Brislane (USS Saratoga Science Officer), Grace Lee Whitney (Commander Rand), Vijay Amritraj (Starship Captain), Majel Barrett (Commander Chapel), Nick Ramus (USS Saratoga Helmsman), Thaddeus Golas (Controller #1), Martin Pistone (Controller #2), Scott DeVenney (Bob Briggs), Viola Stimpson (Lady in tour), Phil Rubenstein (Garbageman #1), John Miranda (Garbageman #2), Joe Knowland (Antique Store Owner), Bob Sarlatte (Waiter), Everett Lee (Cafe Owner), Richard Harder (Joe), Alex Henteloff (Nichols), Tony Edwards (Pilot), Eve Smith (Elderly Patient), Tom Mustin (Intern #1), Greg Karas (Intern #2), Raymond Singer (Young Doctor), David Ellenstein (Doctor #1), Judy Levitt (Doctor #2), Teresa E. Victor (Usher), James Menges (Jogger), Kirk Thatcher (Punk on bus), Jeff Lester (FBI Agent), Joe Lando (Shore Patrolman), Newell Tarrant (CDO), Mike Timoney, Jeffrey Martin (Electronic Technicians), 1st Sgt. Joseph Naradzay USMC (Marine Sergeant), 1st Sgt. Donald W. Zautcke USMC (Marine Lieutenant)
Notes: Often, the version of the “past” presented in Star Trek in the 1960s dealt with events still in the future, such as the Eugenics Wars mentioned in Space Seed, supposedly in the late 1990s. Happily enough, such events have not taken place, and a similar inaccuracy, though it didn’t exist when the movie was first released, now occurs in Star Trek IV. Though in 1986, while the story was being written and filmed, there was still a Leningrad and still a Soviet Union, those officially ceased to exist in 1991 with the advent of the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the city of Leningrad was promptly restored to its original name – St. Petersburg. Early drafts of the story split Dr. Gillian Taylor into two characters – the marine biologist we saw in the movie, and an idealistic schoolteacher, a character written for comedian Eddie Murphy. The two characters were combined in later drafts of the screenplay, and in any case, Murphy was busy with another Paramount film at the time, The Golden Child.
LogBook entry by Earl Green