Stardate 9522.6: A colossal explosion on the Klingon moon Praxis sends intense shock waves through space, which are encountered by the USS Excelsior in its third year of duty under Captain Sulu. The Excelsior is damaged by the leading edge of the energy burst, but regains her balance. When offered assistance, the Klingons tell Sulu to mind his own business and stay out of their territory. Later, on Earth, the command crew of the Enterprise is invited to a top priority, high-security briefing at Starfleet Headquarters, where it is revealed that one of the Kligons’ main sources of power, located on Praxis, released radiation that will eat away the Klingon homeworld’s ozone layer in roughly fifty years, and the Klingons, whose economy is devoted entirely to military development, are unable to combat the deterioration of their planet without aid. Spock, acting as an ambassador, has opened the door for discussions with Chancellor Gorkon of the Klingon High Council, and has taken the liberty of volunteering Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise – both of which are three months away from mandatory retirement as Starfleet prepares to decommission the ship itself – for the duty of escorting Gorkon and his party to the first Federation-Klingon peace talks.
Over dinner on the Enterprise, the Klingons and the Starfleet officers seem to be unable to avoid eventually insulting or offending each other, and General Chang seems more interested in Kirk’s reputation as a warrior than in peace. The Klingons return to their ship, and shortly afterward, torpedoes from the Enterprise’s direction pummel Gorkon’s ship, and two figures in Federation spacesuits beam aboard and kill the Chancellor and many of the Klingon crew. Still unsure of what has happened – Scotty finds that none of the Enterprise’s torpedoes have been fired – Kirk surrenders when Chang threatens to fire on the Enterprise point-blank. Kirk and McCoy beam over, where McCoy tries to save the dying Gorkon, but with Federation medicine’s limited knowledge of Klingon anatomy, McCoy cannot prevent Gorkon’s death. Kirk and McCoy are arrested and given a trial where Chang’s unusual evidence – including entries from Kirk’s personal log stating his distrust of Klingons since they killed his son – insinuates that Kirk was behind the assassination. Kirk and McCoy are sentenced to work for the rest of their lives in the dilithium mines on Rura Penthe.
At Spock’s command, the Enterprise conveniently develops a malfunction that prevents them from receiving Starfleet’s order to return home while the crew searches for the equipment used by the two Starfleet officers who assassinated Gorkon. A few leads appear, but then are revealed to be false alarms – someone is deliberately trying to lead the investigation off track. In the meantime, Kirk and McCoy fight for their lives on Rura Penthe but are helped by exotic fellow prisoner Martia, who warns Kirk that even in the penal colony, there is a price on his head. Martia helps them escape, hoping that Kirk, who she says is the most attractive prisoner to appear in a long time, will repay her somehow. During their escape, Martia is revealed to be a shapeshifter, and perhaps not even a true female. Kirk realizes that the escape has been too easy and that Martia is the one out for he and McCoy. Martia changes into a copy of Kirk, but when the prison guards catch up, Kirk tricks them into shooting Martia instead.
Bluffing their way past Klingon border guards, the Enterprise crew beams Kirk and McCoy up just before the two would have been executed. After returning to the Enterprise, Kirk and the others discover two dead crewmen – the assassins – and realize that there is one more conspirator. Kirk suggests laying a trap by announcing to the crew that the dead crewmen are alive and in sick bay awaiting the court reporter, which would lure the culprit to sick bay to kill the two crewmen before they could talk. The ploy works, and the conspirator is Lt. Valeris, Spock’s trusted protege’. Spock forces a mind-meld with Valeris to find out who the main conspirators are, and discovers that Klingons and a member of the Federation top brass are already cooperating peacefully – to ensure that peace is destroyed by the assassination of the President of the Federation.
Kirk contacts Captain Sulu, and their two ships head for Khitomer to save the President and reveal the conspirators, but time – and Chang’s prototype Bird of Prey that can fire while cloaked (the real source of the attack on Gorkon’s ship) – are against their efforts to save the negotiations.
screenplay by Nicholas Meyer and Denny Martin Flinn
story by Leonard Nimoy and Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal
directed by Nicholas Meyer
music by Cliff Eidelman
Cast: William Shatner (Captain Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock), DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy), James Doohan (Scotty), George Takei (Captain Sulu), Walter Koenig (Chekov), Nichelle Nichols (Uhura), Kim Cattrall (Valeris), Mark Lenard (Sarek), Grace Lee Whitney (Excelsior Communications Officer), Brock Peters (Admiral Cartwright), Leon Russom (Chief in Command), Kurtwood Smith (Federation President), Christopher Plummer (Chang), Rosanna DeSoto (Azetbur), David Warner (Chancellor Gorkon), John Schuck (Klingon Ambassador), Michael Dorn (Klingon Defense Attorney), Paul Rossilli (Kerla), Robert Easton (Klingon Judge), Clifford Shegog (Klingon Officer), W. Morgan Sheppard (Klingon Commander), Brett Porter (General Stex), Jeremy Roberts (Excelsior Officer), Michael Bofshever (Excelsior Engineer), Angelo Tiffe (Excelsior Navigator), Boris Lee Krutonog (Helsman Lojur), Christian Slater (Excelsior Communications Officer), Iman (Martia), Tom Morga (The Brute), Todd Bryant (Klingon Translator), John Bloom (Behemoth Alien), Jim Beoke (First Klingon General), Carlos Cestero (Munitions Man), Edward Clements (Young Crewman), Katie Jane Johnston (Martia as a Child), Douglas Engalla (Prisoner at Rura Penthe), Matthias Hues (Second Klingon General), Darryl Henriques (Nanclus), David Drance (Sleepy Klingon), Judy Levitt (Military Aide), Shakti (ADC), Michael Snyder (Crewman Dax), Rene Auberjonois (Colonel West – home video release only)
Notes: Although Next Generation was approaching its second season when Trek V was made, the film ignored the TV series (aside from using several barely-redressed sets). However, in Trek VI, many Next Generation connections were present: a Klingon defense attorney (Michael Dorn) is briefly identified as Colonel Worf, the grandfather of the Enterprise-D’s security chief; Khitomer is the site of the 24th century Romulan attack on a Klingon colony, killing Lt. Worf’s parents in Next Generation lore. Events in this movie happen at least 3 years after Trek V, as Sulu states that he has commanded Excelsior for 3 years – though some reports place Trek VI 10 to 15 years later than Trek V, which would better account for the crew’s signs of age. The events in Trek VI were mentioned briefly in the Next Generation two-parter Unification, in which it is mentioned that Spock met Romulan Senator Pardek at the Khitomer Conference. Also, some time after Trek VI and the 23rd century scenes of Generations, Scotty, aboard a transport ship, encounters the enormous alien device which causes him to attempt a last-ditch maneuver to save his life, as told in the Relics episode of Next Generation.
LogBook entry by Earl Green