Of all the movies in the Star Trek canon, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is an outlier.
It’s a total lark, a romp, a love letter to fans who just wanted to have a damn good time watching a Star Trek movie. After the heavy life-and-death themes of Star Treks II and III, it was a welcome respite 1.
Most people remember the film for the “nuclear wessels” scene or Spock nerve-pinching the punk rocker2 on the bus or Scotty saying “hello, computer” into a Mac Plus mouse.
However, one aspect of the movie has bothered me for years. Inside the film’s cheery lightfootedness is an overlooked, incredibly dark storyline.
The plot itself is kinda silly, even by Star Trek standards. The Enterprise crew travels back to 1986 San Francisco – then-present-day – to find some humpbacked whales to bring back to the 23rd Century to appease an angry space probe that looks like a Bic lighter and soccer ball.