Study Guide

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Quotes

  • Family

    KIRK: And, even as I fell, I knew I wouldn't die.

    MCCOY: I thought [Spock] was the only one who's immortal.

    KIRK: Oh, no, it isn't that. I knew I wouldn't die because the two of you were with me.

    Although this sounds a bit emo, it's Kirk's way of expressing how much he relies on his crew—and Spock and McCoy, in particular. These guys have been together for decades, after all. As we'll see, their experiences together have transformed them into a little quasi-family.

    MCCOY: All that time in space and getting on each other's nerves, and what do we do when shore leave comes along? We spend it together.

    Please note that during this scene, Spock, Kirk, and McCoy are on a camping trip together. As Bones observes, this is legit insane. These three men have spent practically every waking moment together for decades. Why would they spend their  free time together, too?

    MCCOY: Other people have families.

    KIRK: Other people, Bones. Not us.

    As Starfleet officers, the crew members of Enterprise have little chance to have personal lives. They have trouble enough staying in touch with the family they have, much less starting ones of their own.

    [Spock is unable to make himself shoot Sybok, despite having him at gunpoint. Sybok takes the gun from his hands.]

    Spoiler: Sybok is Spock's half-brother. Brain blown. This scene is important because it shows that although Spock is loyal to Enterprise, he still cares for his brother enough to spare the dude's life—even if that means losing the ship in the process.

    [McCoy sees his father suffering from a grave illness and agrees to perform assisted suicide to release him from his pain.]

    Our brief glimpse of McCoy's relationship with his father is devastating. Through Sybok's magic-therapy powers, we learn that McCoy unplugged his dad from life support when he was deathly ill, in an attempt to ease his pain. Heavy. Even now, McCoy is wracked with guilt and unsure if he did the right thing.

    [In a hallucination, Sarek sees his newborn son Spock for the first time.]

    SAREK: So human.

    Here's some context: Spock's dad, Sarek, is a Vulcan, while his mother is human. In this light, it's clear that Sarek is throwing shade at his newborn son and distancing himself from him.

    SYBOK: Spock, Dr. McCoy, come with me.

    [Spock doesn't move.]

    SYBOK: Spock?

    SPOCK: I cannot go with you.

    Despite his telepathic therapy sesh with Sybok, Spock still refuses to join his bro's team. For whatever reason, he sees his bond with Kirk and the crew of Enterprise as more important than his bond with Sybok. Why do you think that is?

    SPOCK: Sybok, you are my brother, but you do not know me. I am not the outcast boy you left behind those many years ago.

    Sometimes, when we look at family members, we can get caught up thinking about them as they used to be, rather than as they are now. That's a big mistake—and more than a little lame. It also happens to be exactly what Sybok is doing with Spock.

    SPOCK: I was thinking of Sybok. I have lost a brother.

    KIRK: Yes. I lost a brother once. I was lucky. I got him back.

    This, if you don't know, is a reference to Spock's death and subsequent resurrection in Star Trek II and Star Trek III. The exchange emphasizes the familial nature of the crew's relationships with each other.

    MCCOY: I thought you said men like us don't have families.

    KIRK: I was wrong.

    Bingo. Throughout the movie, the crew members of Enterprise prove their loyalty and love for each other on countless occasions—and how else do you define "family" except through loyalty and love?

  • Spirituality

    J'ONN: It is as if a weight has been lifted from my heart. How can I repay you for this miracle?

    SYBOK: Join my quest.

    Sybokism (that's our name for it, and we're sticking to it) spreads like wildfire across Nimbus III thanks to the evangelism of its namesake and creator. This is achieved, as we see here, by Sybok's focus on the individual experience.

    SPOCK: He believed the key to self-knowledge was emotion, not logic. When he encouraged others to follow him, he was banished from Vulcan, never to return.

    A key element of Vulcan society since ancient times is its reliance on logic and the suppression of emotion. But there are plenty of things that logic alone can't explain. It can't explain love. It can't explain passion. And it certainly can't explain spirituality. Sybok, despite his negative characteristics, understands this better than most.

    SYBOK: Modern dogma tells us this place is a myth. A fantasy concocted by pagans. It is no fantasy, I tell you.

    Sybok's big plan is to travel to the center of the galaxy and discover Sha Ka Ree, which is basically the Vulcan version of heaven. This pilgrimage will take him—and Enterprise—through the Great Barrier. No one's ever done that before and survived. Gulp.

    SYBOK: Sha Ka Ree. The source. Heaven. Eden. Call it what you will. [...] Still every culture shares this common dream of a place from which creation sprang.

    According to Sybok, every religion is true, in a sense, because each one refers back to the same fundamental set of truths. This isn't a crazy concept: mythologists like Joseph Campbell have long argued that human belief systems are more similar than they are different. Sybok simply gives this concept a science-fiction spin.

    KIRK: What vision?

    SYBOK: Given to me by God. He waits for us on the other side.

    KIRK: You are mad.

    We're inclined to agree. While Sybok's ideas are intriguing at times, it's hard to trust someone who starts a revolution and hijacks a starship based on a hallucination.

    GOD: One voice, many faces.

    [Representations of various deities float through the mass of blue energy before settling on the form of an old man with long, white hair and a beard.]

    GOD: Does this better suit your expectations?

    And here he is, folks, the Big Man himself. This is another way of conveying Sybok's earlier message that though each religion takes a unique perspective, they all refer back to the same thing. Of course, this exchange takes on an ironic bent—and perhaps even an ominous one—once the true identity of God is revealed.

    KIRK: I said, what does God need with a starship?

    MCCOY: Jim, what are you doing?

    KIRK: I'm asking a question.

    GOD: Who is this creature?

    KIRK: Who am I? Don't you know? Aren't you God?

    Despite his colleagues' immediate belief in this supposed deity, good, old Captain Kirk has a few questions that need answers. Like, isn't God supposed to be omnipotent? All powerful? Endless and eternal, and all that junk? This guy doesn't seem to have any of these qualities.

    [Kirk and Spock lie wounded after being struck by energy shot at them by God.]

    GOD: Do you doubt me?

    MCCOY: I doubt any god who inflicts pain for his own pleasure.

    And here we were thinking that this fellow was a loving god—turns out he's all fire and brimstone. Either way, this is a bad look. Not only does his refusal to answer Kirk's questions make him seem suspicious, but his violent response makes him seem downright unpleasant.

    SYBOK: Stop. The God of Sha Ka Ree would not do this.

    GOD: Sha Ka Ree? A vision you created. An eternity I've been imprisoned in this place. The ship. I must have the ship. Now give me what I want.

    And it all comes out: it's a lie. In actuality, God shot out a telepathic space beam to con some poor mark into performing an unknowing prison break for him. That mark, of course, was Sybok. Holy smokes. Literally. It's a pretty lame move, but we have to admire the dude for thinking up such a deliciously diabolical plan.

    KIRK: Cosmic thoughts, gentlemen?

    MCCOY: We were speculating. Is God really out there?

    KIRK: Maybe he's not out there, Bones. Maybe he's right here in the human heart.

    Okay, we're not going to lie—this is about as profound as a Hallmark card. But Kirk is a captain, not a quote-maker. Though it might sound hackneyed, we dig the idea that spirituality is a subjective, internal experience.

  • Memory and the Past

    KIRK: What is it? You look like you've just seen a ghost.

    SPOCK: Perhaps I have, Captain. Perhaps I have.

    Although it takes some time for the truth behind Spock's relationship to Sybok to come out, our favorite half-Vulcan is immediately shaken by the sudden appearance of a "ghost" from his past.

    SPOCK: He reminds me of someone I knew in my youth.

    MCCOY: Why, Spock, I didn't know you had one.

    SPOCK: I do not often think of the past.

    Why do you think Spock doesn't "often think of the past"? We have an idea: it bums him out. Though it's easy to stereotype Spock as cold and unemotional, he clearly has a mess of conflicted feelings about years gone by.

    SYBOK: Spock, it's me. It's Sybok. After all these years, you've finally caught up with me. Don't you have anything to say to me?

    SPOCK: You are under arrest for 17 violations of the Neutral Zone Treaty.

    Not exactly a warm, brotherly reunion, eh? From our perspective, this further emphasizes Spock's disconnection with his past. Sure, we don't expect there to be hugs and high fives after Sybok just took over a planet by force. That'd be a bridge too far. Despite that, it's weird that Spock acts like he doesn't even know his half-bro.

    [McCoy sees his father suffering from a grave illness and agrees to perform assisted suicide to release him from his pain.]

    This is the deep, dark memory Sybok unearths from McCoy's mind during their psychic therapy sesh. It's pretty intense. No matter which decision he opted for, it's all but guaranteed that he would look back at this time with pain.

    SYBOK: That wasn't the worst of it, was it?

    MCCOY: No.

    SYBOK: Was it? Share it.

    MCCOY: Not long after, they found a cure. A goddamn cure.

    Now that's just cruel, dudes who wrote Star Trek. To make McCoy's emotional pain even worse, he's left forever wondering whether his old man would still be alive if he had just stood his ground and refused to end his life. How are you supposed to get over something like that?

    SYBOK: Release this pain. Release it. This pain has poisoned your soul for a long time.

    It's hard to argue with this statement. We may disagree with his methods, but Sybok is right about the way that the traumas of our past affect us deeply in the present.

    [In a hallucination, Sarek sees his newborn son Spock for the first time.]

    SAREK: So human.

    Here's Spock's whopper of a memory, though it's hard to imagine him actually recalling the moment of his birth. Regardless, the key takeaway here is that Spock's personal trauma is his shame over his half-human heritage.

    MCCOY: Jim, try to be open about this.

    KIRK: About what? That I've made the wrong choices in my life? [...] I know what my weaknesses are. I don't need Sybok to take me on a tour of them.

    As for Kirk, he has no interest in a personalized VR walkthrough of his worst memories. He can visit them whenever he wants, thank you very much. While you might attribute this refusal to mere macho posturing on Kirk's part, the truth is that Kirk—who has no shortage of past personal tragedies—has no interest in going backward. He only goes forward.

    MCCOY: I was wrong. This "con man" took away my pain.

    KIRK: Dammit, Bones, you're a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can't be taken away with the wave of a magic wand.

    We think it's hilarious to imagine a doctor having any sort of special insight into "pain and guilt." "By God, Jim," McCoy might say, "his guilt readings are off the chart!" Jokes aside, Kirk is completely correct here: there are no easy solutions when it comes to matters of the mind or heart.

    SPOCK: I am not the outcast boy you left behind those many years ago. Since that time, I found myself and my place. I know who I am.

    Although Spock doesn't like thinking about his past, it's clear that he's made peace with it on some level. How do you think he managed to do that? We're asking for a friend. If we were in a guessing mood (and we usually are), we'd say that the camaraderie he feels in the present, aboard Enterprise, is enough to outweigh the traumas of his past.

  • Suffering

    SYBOK: Each man hides a secret pain. [...] It must be dragged from the darkness and forced into the light. [...] Share your pain with me and gain strength from it.

    That's a little forward, Sybok—we hope you don't use that as your opening line on Tinder. Inadequate game aside, Sybok has deep insight into the ways that people experience pain. We can pretend that it doesn't exist all we want, but deep-seated emotional suffering has a way of biting us in the butt when we least expect it.

    J'ONN: Where did you get this power?

    SYBOK: The power was within you.

    Interestingly, Sybok doesn't take credit for his "miracles" but instead praises his subjects for their openness. This is a way of giving them power and agency over their suffering.

    TALBOT: The settlers we conned into coming here, they were the dregs of the galaxy. They immediately took to fighting amongst themselves.

    This explains why the settlers on Nimbus III buy into Sybok's religion so quickly. Not only is this a brutal, unforgiving planet, but these folks were misled by the people in charge and now have little hope for better lives. It's a tough position.

    CHEKOV: You are under attack by superior Federation forces.

    SYBOK: Do you realize what you've done? It wasn't bloodshed I wanted.

    Sybok has no interest in inflicting any more suffering on the universe. This is important to remember. Although Sybok does his fair share of bad things on his certifiably insane quest to meet God, he's not the violent wacko he at times seems to be.

    UHURA: Scotty, dear, he's not a madman.

    SCOTTY: He's not?

    UHURA: No. Sybok has simply put us in touch with feelings that we've always been afraid to express.

    Even the crew members of Enterprise, who seem to have lived pretty good lives, fall under the spell of Sybok. This suggests that even the most put-together people suffer in their own unique ways, even if that's not always visible from the outside looking in.

    MCCOY: How can I watch him suffer like this?

    SYBOK: You're a doctor.

    MCCOY: I'm his son.

    In a terrible double whammy, McCoy's deepest emotional pain surrounds his father suffering from physical pain. His decision to help his father commit suicide to free him from that suffering still haunts him to this day.

    SYBOK: That wasn't the worst of it, was it?

    MCCOY: No.

    SYBOK: Was it? Share it.

    MCCOY: Not long after, they found a cure. A goddamn cure.

    Poor McCoy. This must be a difficult memory to carry around every day. We can understand why he's so thankful to Sybok for helping him make peace with it.

    SYBOK: Each man's pain is unique.

    Once again, Sybok says something that isn't totally crazy. That's the odd thing about the guy: half the time, he sounds like an insightful therapist; the other half, he just seems like a deranged YouTube conspiracy theorist.

    KIRK: You know that pain and guilt [...] make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don't want my pain taken away. I need my pain.

    Unlike his crew, Kirk has no interest in ridding himself of his most painful memories. Suffering is, as he says, what makes us "who we are." While it's great to reach a place of acceptance about that pain, that's a very different proposition from throwing it away altogether.

    SYBOK: I couldn't help but notice your pain. It runs deep. Share it with me.

    [Sybok leaps into the mass of blue energy.]

    Now this is how you weaponize therapy. Sybok might have dragged Enterprise across the galaxy on a delusional fetch quest, but he proves his fundamental decency by sacrificing himself for the crew.