Study Guide

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Quotes

  • Life, Consciousness, Existence

    KIRK: U.S.S. Enterprise, Captain's personal log. With most of our battle damage repaired, we're almost home, yet I feel uneasy and I wonder why. Perhaps it is the emptiness of this vessel. Most of our trainee crew have been reassigned. Lieutenant Saavik and my son David are exploring the Genesis planet, which he helped create, and Enterprise feels like a house with all the children gone.

    At the end of The Wrath of Khan, Kirk looks at the Genesis planet with a sense of hope and new life. But Kirk's view on life has become one of loneliness and lost purpose.

    KIRK [on recording]: To fully understand the events on which I report, it is necessary to review the theoretical data on the Genesis device, as developed by Doctors Carol and David Marcus. Genesis, simply put, is life from lifelessness. It was the intention to introduce the Genesis device into a preselected area of a lifeless space body, a moon or other dead form. The device, when delivered, would instantaneously cause the Genesis effect. Instead of a dead moon, a living, breathing planet now exists, capable of sustaining whatever life forms we see fit to deposit on it.

    Genesis returns in The Search for Spock, but like Kirk's joie de vivre, the script has been flipped on this life-granting symbol. In the Wrath of Khan, the device provided hope and new life. As we'll learn later, Genesis is unstable and serves as a symbol for how the truth of life and existence will forever be beyond the grasp of science.

    SAREK: Because he asked you to. He entrusted you with his very essence, with everything that was not of the body. He asked you to bring him to us and to bring that which he gave you, his katra, his living spirit.

    KIRK: Sir, your son meant more to me that you can know. I'd have given my life if it would have saved his. Believe me when I tell you, he made no request of me.

    SAREK: He would not have spoken of it openly.

    The katra is the Vulcan equivalent of the mind, soul, or essence. It is completely separate from the material world, and Spock's contains everything that is essentially Spock. It can also, apparently, be uploaded from on body to another.

    MORROW: Now wait a minute. This business about Spock and McCoy, honestly, I never understood Vulcan mysticism.

    KIRK: You don't have to believe, I'm not even sure that I believe, but if there's even a chance that Spock has an eternal soul, then it's my responsibility.

    This scene clues us in to how immaterial the katra is. If it were a material thing, then you can bet that the Federation scientists would have studied it and measured it with beakers and Bunsen burners and other science-y things. That it has to be "believed" in suggests the katra is a matter of faith and spirituality.

    MCCOY: Rapid aging. All genetic functions highly accelerated.

    KIRK: What about his mind?

    MCCOY: His mind's a void. It seems, Admiral, that I've got all his marbles.

    A materialist would see the individual as resulting from combination of nature (read: genetics and other innate qualities we are born with) and nurture (read: our experiences within our environment).

    But in this scene, <em>The Search for Spock</em> says that's not the case. Spock's body, which has had several experiences on Genesis, still hasn't developed a self because it lacks the proper <em>katra</em>. Without it, there can be no "I."

    T'LAR: Sarek, child of Skon, child of Solkar, the body of your son breathes still. What is your wish?

    SAREK: I ask for fal-tor-pan, the refusion.

    T'LAR: What you seek has not been done since ages past, and then, only in legend. Your request is not logical.

    SAREK: Forgive me, T'Lar. My logic is uncertain where my son is concerned.

    The film doubles-down on the value of religious or spiritual beliefs even in the light of scientific inquiry. Logic takes a backseat to mysticism in this scene even for the Vulcans—a race, we'll remind you, who built an entire culture around logic.

    Side note: The Vulcans should really invest in some katra cloud technology for some on-demand access. Just sayin'.

    SPOCK [Remembering]: I have been…and ever shall be, your friend.

    KIRK: Yes. Yes, Spock.

    SPOCK: The ship. Out of danger?

    KIRK: You saved the ship. You saved us all. Don't you remember?

    SPOCK: Jim. Your name is Jim.

    KIRK: Yes.

    The film ends with the ultimate success of spirituality over science. Genesis may have resurrected Spock's body, but much like the planet, it was an empty shell. Only through believing in the katra and a world beyond the material was Spock truly able to be rescued.

  • Loyalty

    SPOCK [recording]: Don't grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh—
    KIRK [recording]: The needs of the few.

    SPOCK [recording]: Or the one. And I have been, and always shall be, your friend. Live long and prosper.

    The Search for Spock opens with this "previously on" moment from The Wrath of Khan. We hope you enjoy it, too, because you're going to be seeing it a lot. Point is: Spock's loyalty to Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise causes the events of this entire film.

    MORROW: I'm sorry, Mr. Scott, but there will be no refit.

    KIRK: Admiral, I don't understand. The Enterprise is not…

    MORROW: Jim, the Enterprise is 20 years old. We feel her day is over.

    KIRK: But we had requested…We'd hoped to take her back to Genesis.

    MORROW: That is out of the question.

    Kirk's loyalty to Starfleet is well-documented in the Original Series and the previous two films. But does he receive the same loyalty in return? Nope. It's not like they're going to use the <em>Enterprise</em>, just give the man the keys already.

    KRUGE: We are going to this planet. Even as our emissaries negotiate for peace with the Federation, we will act for the preservation of our race. We will seize the secret of this weapon, the secret of ultimate power.

    KLINGON: Success, my lord.

    Like Kirk, Kruge's loyalties aren't in line with his superiors. Unlike Kirk, who supports his friends and family, Kruge supports the "preservation of [his] race." Never a good objective to mix with ultimate weapons, in our humble opinions.

    MORROW: No. Absolutely not, Jim. You're my best officer, but I am Commander of Starfleet, so I don't break rules.

    KIRK: Don't quote rules to me. I'm talking about loyalty and sacrifice. One man who's died for us, another with deep emotional problems.

    In this scene, Kirk decides his loyalties lie with Spock by disregarding a direct order from his superior officer. Morrow made a similar decision earlier, deciding his loyalty was with politics and public opinion rather than with his officers.

    SCOTTY: As promised, she's all yours, sir. All systems automated and ready. A chimpanzee and two trainees could run her.

    KIRK: Thank you, Mr. Scott, I'll try not to take that personally. [Sighs.] My friends, I can't ask you to go any further. Dr. McCoy and I have to do this. The rest of you do not.

    CHEKOV: Admiral, we're losing precious time.

    Like Kirk, the crew of the Enterprise decides their loyalty lies with their admiral and Spock. This is no small sacrifice. They're throwing away careers they have worked years to build. And what about their 401Ks? No offense to the original crew, but some of them were already nearing retirement by Trek III.

    KIRK: Saavik? David?

    SAAVIK: Admiral, David is dead.

    KIRK: You Klingon bastard, you've killed my son. [Whimpers.] You Klingon bastard, you've killed my son! You Klingon bastard.

    David must also choose where his loyalties lie in the film. Like his father, he chooses loyalty to his friends, realizing that the Genesis project is a failure. Unlike his father, it doesn't end so well for him.

    SAREK: Only time will answer. Kirk, I thank you. What you've done is—

    KIRK: What I have done, I had to do.

    SAREK: But at what cost? Your ship, your son.

    KIRK: If I hadn't tried, the cost would've been my soul.

    Sarek, buddy, you forgot to mention Kirk's career and the injuries he got fighting Kruge. Even so, loyalty is such an integral part of Kirk's character that he could not have done otherwise. As he says, to have ignored it would have been a violation of self.

  • Choices

    KIRK: No. More empty even than that. The death of Spock is like an open wound. It seems that I have left the noblest part of myself back there on that newborn planet.

    Spock's choice to sacrifice himself and implant his katra into McCoy looms large over this film. In fact, this story is really about Kirk and his crew dealing with the consequences of that choice while Spock enjoys a staycation chillin' in McCoy's brain space.

    VALKRIS [in Klingon]: Success, my lord, and my love.

    KRUGE [in Klingon]: You will be remembered with honor. Fire!

    Kruge can't make a decision that doesn't end in someone dying. It's like he has some kind of villainous death quota to meet. That's because, unlike Kirk, who makes choices based on what he feels is best for others, Kruge's choices stem from what is best for Kruge. Everyone else is incidental cannon fodder.

    DAVID: Why don't we beam it up?

    ESTEBAN: Oh, no, you don't. Regulations specifically state, "Nothing shall be beamed aboard until danger of contamination has been eliminated."

    SAAVIK: Captain, the logical alternative is obvious. Beaming down to the surface is permitted.

    ESTEBAN: If the Captain decides that the mission is vital and reasonably free of danger.

    DAVID: Captain, please, we'll take the risk, but we've got to find out what it is.

    SAAVIK: Or who.

    Captain Esteban is a by-the-books leader. Every choice he makes is designed to skirt personal responsibility and place the burden on the rule book. In a universe where decisions need to be made quickly and consequences can be messy, this doesn't make Esteban the most effective of captains.

    SULU: The word, sir?

    KIRK: The word is no. I am therefore going anyway.

    Kirk chooses to disobey a direct order from his superior officer. It's a pivotal choice in the film, and the remainder of the story is essentially a direct consequence of it.

    STYLES [on the comm]: Kirk. If you do this, you'll never sit in the captain's chair again.

    KIRK: Warp speed.

    SULU: Aye, sir. Warp speed.

    Styles reminds Kirk of one consequence of his choice. Kirk decides to keep on truckin' but this will only be the first of many consequences to come. Side note: Kirk will sit in the captain's chair again in Star Trek V but only after he saves every life on Earth with humpback whales. But it's not like he planned that unless…did he?

    DAVID: I used protomatter in the Genesis matrix.

    SAAVIK: Protomatter, an unstable substance which every ethical scientist in the galaxy has denounced as dangerously unpredictable.

    DAVID: But it was the only way to solve certain problems.

    SAAVIK: So, like your father, you changed the rules.

    Like his father, David has made a choice and now must face the consequences. In this case, the realization that Khan only killed people because David managed to get Genesis to a working stage. Yet Genesis ultimately doesn't work. Bummer.

    KIRK: My God, Bones, what have I done?

    MCCOY: What you had to do. What you always do. Turn death into a fighting chance to live.

    Another consequence of Kirk's choices is the destruction of his beloved <em>Enterprise</em>. While Kirk looks on in horror at what his actions have wrought, McCoy reminds him of another, more beneficial, consequence: They all got to live that much longer.

    KIRK: You fool, look around you! The planet's destroying itself!

    KRUGE: Yes, exhilarating, isn't it?

    KIRK: If we don't help each other, we'll die here.

    KRUGE: Perfect. Then that's the way it shall be.

    Again, Kruge's decision is to get Genesis no matter the cost and this time that might include his own death. Got to give him credit: this Klingon knows what he wants.

    MCCOY: Spock, for God sakes, talk to me. You stuck this damn thing in my head, remember? Remember? Now tell me what to do with it. Help me. [McCoy looks concerned.] I'm gonna tell you something that I never thought I'd ever hear myself say. But it seems I've missed you, and I don't know if I could stand to lose you again.

    We always wondered why Spock chose to put his katra in McCoy when he had a perfectly good, unconscious Scotty nearby. In this scene, we see why. He knew McCoy would choose to do what was necessary to ensure his katra got back safety. They may argue all the time, but they're true spacebros in the end.

  • Technology

    UHURA: Would you look at that.

    KIRK: My friends, the great experiment, the Excelsior. Ready for trial runs.

    SULU: She's supposed to have transwarp drive.

    SCOTTY: Aye, and if my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a wagon.

    Let's take this opportunity to consider the Excelsior. In the Trek universe, the technological revolution that began in the 19th Century continued on through our present day and into the future. The Excelsior and its transwarp drive represent one step in that process. Putting aside Scotty's comment—because we don't even know what that means—humanity's future looks all the brighter with all this slick tech.

    MORROW: I'm sorry, Mr. Scott, but there will be no refit.

    KIRK: Admiral, I don't understand. The Enterprise is not…

    MORROW: Jim, the Enterprise is 20 years old. We feel her day is over.

    KIRK: But we had requested…We'd hoped to take her back to Genesis.

    We all know this feeling. We go to download a game or app only to discover our beloved tech isn't up to spec. Time to murder a piggy bank and upgrade. This scene shows us an oft over-looked aspect of the incessant march of technological innovation. Like a force of nature, it has little consideration for the feelings or goals of the individuals swept up in it.

    KIRK [recording]: To fully understand the events on which I report, it is necessary to review the theoretical data on the Genesis device, as developed by Doctors Carol and David Marcus. Genesis, simply put, is life from lifelessness. It was the intention to introduce the Genesis device into a preselected area of a lifeless space body, a moon or other dead form. The device, when delivered, would instantaneously cause the Genesis effect. Instead of a dead moon, a living, breathing planet now exists, capable of sustaining whatever life forms we see fit to deposit on it

    Here we get into the ethical considerations. Just because we can create life from lifelessness, should we? Might there be unintended consequences that could have disastrous effects? If you're a science fiction fan, no doubt you've seen these questions repackaged in forms like time travel and dinosaur zoos.

    KRUGE: We are going to this planet. Even as our emissaries negotiate for peace with the Federation, we will act for the preservation of our race. We will seize the secret of this weapon, the secret of ultimate power.

    KLINGON: Success, my lord.

    Didn't take us long find those unintended consequences, did it? The Genesis device can create life, but it destroys whatever previously existed on the planet, meaning it can be repurposed as a weapon. Kruge sees Genesis' weaponized potential and decides it is something he wants. We bet he's the kind of guy who would totally clone a T-Rex, too.

    SCOTTY: Aye, sir. The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain. Here, Doctor, souvenirs from one surgeon to another. I took them out of her main transwarp computer drive.

    In a universe as technologically advanced as Trek's, power comes from the ability to use technology. Kirk and his crew succeed in their missions, including this one, not from strength but intelligence—i.e. their abilities to use and manipulate the technology around them.

    DAVID: I used protomatter in the Genesis matrix.

    SAAVIK: Protomatter, an unstable substance which every ethical scientist in the galaxy has denounced as dangerously unpredictable.

    DAVID: But it was the only way to solve certain problems.

    SAAVIK: So, like your father, you changed the rules.

    DAVID: If I hadn't, it might have been years or never.

    SAAVIK: How many have paid the price for your impatience? How many have died? How much damage have you done? And what is yet to come?

    When Kirk cheated on the Kobiyashi Maru test, the worst case scenario was a slap on the wrist. When his son cheated on the Genesis project, the worst case scenario was a horrifying weapon of mass destruction. See the difference? Despite Star Trek's love for technology and science, it is quick to remind us that these advances should be made with careful consideration and the utmost of scrutiny. Otherwise, you know: boom.

    KIRK: My God, Bones, what have I done?

    MCCOY: What you had to do. What you always do. Turn death into a fighting chance to live.

    Although Kirk loved the Enterprise, he understands it is just a tool designed to help him meet a goal. So, when it came time for him to save lives, he willingly sacrifices it to do so. This is in contrast to Kruge and David, who sacrificed lives for the pursuit of technology.

  • Exploration

    MORROW: That is out of the question.

    KIRK: May I ask why?

    MORROW: In your absence, Genesis has become a galactic controversy. Until the Federation Council makes policy, you are all under orders not to discuss with anyone your knowledge of Genesis. Consider it a quarantined planet and a forbidden subject.

    Exploration is at the heart of the conflict between Kirk and his superiors. Kirk wants to explore the issues of Genesis and how it relates to Spock, but Admiral Morrow wants the subject dropped and buried. Why? Politics and public opinion, the two great knowledge killers.

    ESTEBAN: Oh, no, you don't. Regulations specifically state, "Nothing shall be beamed aboard until danger of contamination has been eliminated."

    SAAVIK: Captain, the logical alternative is obvious. Beaming down to the surface is permitted.

    ESTEBAN: If the Captain decides that the mission is vital and reasonably free of danger.

    DAVID: Captain, please, we'll take the risk, but we've got to find out what it is.

    SAAVIK: Or who.

    But the conflict between exploration and regulation isn't limited to Kirk's story. We see it again here. Saavik and David want to explore the planet, but Captain Esteban is a by-the-books type. Judging by how many potentially contaminated things were haphazardly beamed aboard in the Original Series, we're guessing the rule book was recently revised.

    MORROW: Now wait a minute. This business about Spock and McCoy, honestly, I never understood Vulcan mysticism.

    KIRK: You don't have to believe, I'm not even sure that I believe, but if there's even a chance that Spock has an eternal soul, then it's my responsibility.

    Star Trek typically limits its exploration to the physical universe. After all, would anything feel more out of place in Star Trek than a séance with shaking tables and gullible patrons? Yet, The Search for Spock breaks this mold and explores issues of a more spiritual nature.

    DAVID: I used protomatter in the Genesis matrix.

    SAAVIK: Protomatter, an unstable substance which every ethical scientist in the galaxy has denounced as dangerously unpredictable.

    DAVID: But it was the only way to solve certain problems.

    SAAVIK: So, like your father, you changed the rules.

    We get more into this in the Technology theme, but the film does consider the dangers of unrestrained exploration. Seeing as we never know what we'll find around the unexplored corner or the consequences of our discoveries, the story suggests we need to make careful decisions on what we explore, how, and why.

    SAAVIK: My lord, we are survivors of a doomed expedition. This planet will destroy itself in hours. The Genesis experiment is a failure.

    KRUGE: A failure. The most powerful, destructive force ever created. You will tell me the secret of the Genesis torpedo.

    This scene shows us exactly why we must be careful in our scientific explorations. Genesis is a dangerous device because of its destructive potential. The film explains this using the techno babble term "protomatter," but it doesn't take much to make the mental jump from protomatter to split atom to atomic bomb.

    MCCOY: I'm all right, Jim.

    KIRK: What about Spock?

    SAREK: Only time will answer. Kirk, I thank you. What you've done is—

    KIRK: What I have done, I had to do.

    Kirk didn't believe in Vulcan mysticism at the film's beginning, but he explored its potentials all the same. His leap of faith ultimately leads to him saving his best friend. Although the film doesn't shy away from the dangers of exploration, it ends on a note suggesting it remains necessary for the betterment of the future. And that's just classic Trek, right there.