Top Five Most Memorable Moments In Star Trek History

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Jonathan Bird rounds up five of the most memorable moments in Star Trek history.

Recently whilst watching the 2009 Star Trek film I thought to myself that the opening scene of the reboot has to rank among the best Trek moments ever, so I decided to showcase some of the other most memorable moments in Trek history. To assist me with this I had members of Trek Dating send in their favourite moments and from the hundreds that I received I narrowed it down, with difficulty, to the five listed below...

Captain Kirk Sr’s Death (Star Trek 2009):
The reboot of Star Trek has highs and lows but the highest part of the movie comes right up front and doesn't include any of the original series characters. The USS Kelvin has been crippled by the Romulan ship Narada and first officer George Kirk has assumed command. As the Kelvin's crew - including his pregnant wife - evacuates, Kirk rams his ship into the invader. While the dialogue in the scene is hokey as hell - the stuff about naming the baby is straight-up fanfic - there's an incredible power in the sequence. Part of that comes from the then-barely known Chris Hemsworth, who sells George Kirk as a complete character in only a few moments.

If the rest of the movie had lived up to this scene Star Trek might have been the best of the franchise. As it stands, it's a pretty good movie with one truly transcendent sequence.

Captain Kirk Kamikazes ‘The Constellation’ into the ‘Doomsday Machine’:
Another star ship ramming! I like having this right next to Star Trek (2009) because it almost feels like they're connected. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that writers Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman modeled the opening of their movie on this. In the episode the Enterprise discovers an entire solar system has been destroyed and the Starfleet ship USS Constellation sits disabled. Only her commander, Commodore Matt Decker survives, driven mad by the horrors he saw when an alien doomsday weapon came through the sector.

The weapon is unstoppable, Decker kills himself trying to blow it up and finally Kirk goes on the Constellation and sends her into the maw of the device, primed to explode. Earlier in the episode Kirk very adamantly argued with Decker not to go on a suicide mission - 'Starfleet is stronger with you than without you!' - which feels like an echo of Kirk's painful memories over his dead father (which it couldn't be, as Kirk's father didn't die that way in this timeline). It establishes that Kirk is not an absolutist and that he isn't interested in dying needlessly for a cause - he believes there's always another way.

The moment I love here is the final countdown to destruction; the Constellation is flying right into the device, and Captain Kirk is the only person aboard. He's ready to beam out, but the Enterprise's transporters are on the fritz. The tension mounts as Gerald Fried and Sol Kaplan's music crescendos and director Marc Daniels does some really tight cross cutting.

The Commander’s Last Words (Balance of Terror):
Balance of Terror is, hands down, one of the best hours of television science fiction ever. The episode apes submarine war movies, with the Enterprise locked in a duel to the death with a Romulan Bird of Prey. As the episode goes on the two ships attempt to outwit and outmanoeuvre each other (at one point the Bird of Prey, eager to appear destroyed, dumps out a ton of debris and a corpse to fool the Enterprise), but in the end it's James T. Kirk who gets the upper hand.

Up against Kirk is the Romulan Commander, played by Mark Lenard (who would later play Spock's father Sarek). The Commander isn't a fanatical lunatic but is a driven military man. Instead of a one dimensional villain he's a multi-layered character. As the battle draws to an end, with his ship crippled, the Commander decides to self-destruct rather than let Romulan cloaking technology fall into the Federation's hands. Before he does, he says to Captain Kirk: "I regret that we meet in this way. You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend."

Kirk Shoots the Gorn (Arena):
There's a whole generation who discovered the Kirk/Gorn fight in Arena through a YouTube video titled 'Worst Fight Scene Ever.' And yeah, the choreography and action in the scene is clunky, and the Gorn is, especially in hi-def, obviously a guy in a limited mobility suit. But COME ON! This episode in general encapsulates everything that's great about two-fisted adventure stories and about imagination.

In the episode the Enterprise is investigating a series of attacks on outposts when they come across a new race, the lizard-like Gorn. A third race, the mysterious Metrons, teleport Kirk and the Gorn commander to the surface of a planet and has them duke it out. What follows is a series of fights that were emulated in backyards and schoolyards for years. The execution of the Gorn may be hokey, but the design remains awesome to this day. What I also love is that the Gorn doesn't talk, reducing the entire battle to a real physical match. Kirk can't talk his way out of this one.

At the climax Kirk uses his environment to win, creating gunpowder and then using diamonds as a projectile in a crude firearm. He shoots the Gorn with diamonds! It's a really cool moment, and it's one of those especially Star Trek climaxes, where the hero uses a potent combination of know-how (chemistry comes in handy!) and bravery to win the day

Kirk and Spock Fight to The Death (Amok Time):
One of the very best fight scenes in Trek history happens in the episode Amok Time, and it pits Kirk against Spock to the death. Spock is suffering from Ponn Farr, a peculiar form of Vulcan horniness that makes him violent and irrational. The ship heads to Vulcan so that Spock can undergo his species' mating ritual, which has him wedding a girl to whom he was betrothed at age 7. But things don't go quite right, and Spock's bride-to-be demands a fight to the death between Spock and Captain Kirk (it's all explained well in the episode).

What follows is some rousing old fashioned fighting, using all sorts of weird Vulcan weapons. The battle gets really rough and tumble and involves Kirk getting his shirt cut wide open, exposing his manly nipples. There's a lot that's great - it's fun watching Leonard Nimoy play a Spock who is going all out, and the battle music is incredible. But what's fun is the thrill of seeing our favourite heroes pitted against each other, and wondering how they'll work it out.

Spoiler: Spock kills Kirk. Seriously.

In conclusion, I believe that there is a valuable lesson to be learned from this article…. Star Trek is awesome in all aspects, and anyone who says any different deserves a short but memorable conversation with our phasers!!!

Jonathan Bird has been a dedicated Science Fiction fan ever since he was born. Hiding under the duvet was how this geek spent his younger years so that his Nan didn’t send him to bed before the earwigs in Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn.  

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