Advertisements
Tag Archives: suspense

The Best Line Ever Written In All Of Star Trek

3 Dec

December 3, 2018

Back in 2015 I introduced you to The Worst Line Ever Written In All Of Star Wars (“space diapers.”)

Today I’d like to introduce you to The Best Line Ever Written In All Of Star Trek. And appropriately, it comes from The Best Film Ever Made In All Of Star Trek, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

(I’ll skip the spoiler warning as I’ll assume that you already know that Spock dies at the end. )

During the climactic battle with Khan, The Enterprise’s engines have been disabled and warp drive is offline. Khan, in his final act of defiance (“From hell’s heart, I stab at thee. For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee”) has activated the Genesis device, which will wipe out anything it’s energy touches.

There’s some terrific writing in this scene, as the sense of impending doom is palpable. The Enterprise, flying as fast as it can, is swiftly being overtaken by the detonation and it is only a matter of minutes before everyone on the ship dies. This is driven home by Mr. Sulu, who was always  one of the more positive members of the crew. “We’re not going to make it, are we?”

Sulu looks at Captain Kirk, heroic and unstoppable, who during the course of the film discussed the many ways he’s beaten the unbeatable. Kirk, completely uncharacteristically, is sitting with his arms tightly folded across his chest, and simply looks at his son, David, a scientist behind the Genesis device.

David quietly shakes his head no.

There is doom, there is dread, and there is Mr. Scott, to whom Kirk had earlier said “Scotty, I need warp speed in three minutes or we’re all dead.”

It is a perfect Star Trek line, one we’ve heard dozens of times in the TV series. Scotty is a miracle worker. He’ll get the engines back online. He’s done exactly that in situations as bad as these many times over. It’s almost a joke. So when Captain Kirk tells Scotty he needs warp speed in three minutes, he’s pretty sure he’ll have them back in two.

But he won’t. And we know he won’t, because down in engineering Scotty is barely conscious and being treated by Dr. McCoy. We know but Kirk doesn’t. But Spock does. It is Spock who saves the ship, who sacrifices his own life. (“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one.”)

But Jim Kirk doesn’t know it. So when the engines come online, the ship goes to warp speed and everyone escapes certain doom, Kirk says the best line written in all of Star Trek:

“Bless you Scotty.”

Because we know it wasn’t Scotty. We know it was Spock. We know he’s dying, probably already dead. We see his empty chair on the bridge but Kirk hasn’t seen it yet. In the moment Kirk is blessing his miracle working engineer, we the fans are already mourning his best friend’s death. The line, delivered so thankfully by Kirk, is actually painful to us watching the film.

Alfred Hitchcock defines suspense as, in a nutshell, the audience knowing something bad that the characters do not. It is us seeing the bomb under the table while the couple slowly drinks their morning coffee, oblivious to the countdown. It is good writing. And it is also good writing with us knowing Spock has died while Kirk is praising the wrong man for saving the ship.

But Kirk soon finds out, and it’s when he calls engineering to congratulate Scotty, only to hear Dr. McCoy grimly say, in what is the second best line written in all of Star Trek, “Jim… I think you better get down here.” Followed by “Better hurry.” Kirk looks at Spock’s empty chair, and he knows.

The whole ending of the film, leading up to Spock’s death, is dark and portentous. It is heavy and funerary in a way Star Trek has never gone before. This one film is full of fantastically quotable lines, from the campy “Khaaaaaan!” to the subtle “how we face death is at least as important as how we face life. ” Star Trek II is well-written in the same way every single Star Trek film since 2009 has not been

“Bless you Scotty.” The best line in all of Star Trek. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, written by Jack B. Sowards and Nicholas Meyer.


Advertisements

Space Drama!

20 May

May 20, 2014

Space Drama!

A stage play of Space Suspense and Space Action! Set in Space!

The place: Spaceship XR-17, somewhere out in Space!

The time: The future, but not so far in the future that people have stopped wearing pants.

The characters:
Duke Spaceace, captain of the XR-17
Larry “The Cable Guy” Sputnik, a crewman
Robot the Robot, a robot that pretends he is not a robot. He isn’t fooling anyone
Commander Louie Mazola, an alien from the planet Merkin

space patrol 02

ACT ONE: On The Bridge

CAPTAIN SPACEACE is sitting in the captain’s chair. ROBOT is plugged into an outlet next to the refrigerator. Enter LARRY “THE CABLE GUY” SPUTNIK.

LARRY: Captain, I’ve fixed the space engine. The spaceship should be working A-Okay.

CAPTAIN: Good work, Larry. Hey, that’s a nice pair of pants.

LARRY: Thanks. I read somewhere that in the future people will stop wearing pants.

CAPTAIN: Get on the space phone and call Space Command. Tell then that the space engine is fixed and we’re ready to resume our space mission.

LARRY: I’ve been trying to call them for the last 15 space minutes but all I get is their space answering machine.

CAPTAIN: Flarking spleeznuts! Robot! Hey, Robot, get over here!

The ROBOT unplugs himself and walks over.

ROBOT: I keep telling you, I’m not a robot.

CAPTAIN: And I keep telling you, you have a zircon hyperzoid space computer where your liver should be. That’s a dead giveaway.

LARRY: Plus you’re made of plastic.

ROBOT: That’s a skin condition!

CAPTAIN: Whatever. Look, keep trying to call Space Command. If you get through, tell them we’re continuing on our space vector to planet Ernest Borgnine 9. If you can’t get through to an operator, press seven and just leave a message.

LARRY: I think their tape is full.

CAPTAIN: This is the 83rd century and they don’t even have a digital answering machine?

 police_zero

ACT TWO: In Deep Space

CAPTAIN: Space is sooo boring. Are we there yet?

LARRY: How do I know? Whenever I try to look out the window all I see is my own reflection.

CAPTAIN: I keep telling you, turn out the light and then look out the window. You’ll see fine. Hey, Robot!

LARRY: Captain, we really don’t-

CAPTAIN: Robot! Get over here. When are we getting to Ernest Borgnine 9?

ROBOT:  In about 8.129477476930 space hours, give or take .67838090 space minutes. (To himself): I’m not a robot, I’m just precise.

CAPTAIN: (To LARRY) See? That wasn’t so bad.

ROBOT: However, there are many variables to consider.

LARRY (shoots a nasty look at the Captain): Wanna bet?

ROBOT: First, this area of space is noted for its variable gravity fields, which could throw my calculation off by as much as .23%

CAPTAIN: Well, hey, that’s no big deal, why don’t we-

ROBOT: But also consider the third moon of the local binary star. It has been known to emit zeton radiation, which acts as a repelling force to our space engines.

CAPTAIN: I really don’t think-

ROBOT: There are also more local concerns, such as the mass of our cargo, which has shifted downwards .09% since the start of our journey, which can act to increase our speed.

CAPTAIN: So I say that-

ROBOT: But our biggest concern should be the fact that we are being held in a tractor beam emitted by the Merkin warship off our starboard bow.

CAPTAIN: Merkins! I have no use for them.

 o_space-patrol-dvd-ed-kemmer-70-episodes-set-c8a0

ACT THREE: In Communication With The Merkin Commander.

CAPTAIN DUKE SPACEACE is arguing with Merkin Commander Louie Mazola over the space video phone. The Merkin is very hairy.

MERKIN: You’ve got 10 space minutes to get your space junk out of Merkin space or we’ll blow you into little itty bitty space pieces.

CAPTAIN: Stop calling my ship space junk! I bought her new and she’s almost paid off.

MERKIN: Nah nah! XR-17 is a comet’s tail! Nah nah!

CAPTAIN: I’ve had enough. Say what you want about me but leave the XR-17 out of this. I named her after my girlfriend and I’m very sensitive about her.

LARRY: Your girlfriend is named XR-17?

CAPTAIN: Yes. You’ve never met her. She’s a model. And she’s rich. We’re going to get married.

MERKIN: Enough of this nonsense. Get out of here already!

ROBOT: Captain, I’ve finally gotten through to an operator at Space Command. It cost us 99 space cents per space minute, but I have new orders for us.

CAPTAIN: Talk to you later, Louie. (Shuts off the space video phone.)

MERKIN: Hey, wait a- (cut off as screen goes dark.)

CAPTAIN: What did they say?

ROBOT: Space Admiral Bobo wants us to reverse course and return to Earth. He says that there’s a problem with our warranty.

CAPTAIN: What warranty?

LARRY: When you upgraded the robot to Windows 72 you used a bootleg copy.

CAPTAIN: It was cheaper!

ROBOT: So that’s why I can’t download any updates!

LARRY: I thought you said you’re not a robot.

ROBOT: Yeah, yeah, whatever. (Storms off the bridge.)

CAPTAIN: Larry, tell the Merkin commander he wins. I didn’t want to go through his stupid space anyway.

 5551730553_28d993c9b9_z

EPILOGUE: (Just Like A Quinn Martin Production)

LARRY: We never did get to Ernest Borgnine 9.

CAPTAIN: No, but we got something better.

LARRY: What?

CAPTAIN: We got rid of the stupid robot. I sold him for scrap and bought some really cool decals for the ship. Look, this one’s an eagle!

LARRY: You know, these pants really are nice.

THE SPACE END!

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: