Study Guide

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Themes

  • Family

    They might not be related by blood, but the crew members of the USS Enterprise are pretty much family. They spend their days and nights together. They rely on each other in times of need. Heck, they even bring each other back to life. That's commitment. In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, this makeshift family is torn asunder by its members' conflicted relationships with their real fams. Think Family Feud: Intergalactic Style. In the end, the crew members realize that the bonds they've built with each other are sometimes stronger than those they've left behind.

    Questions About Family

    1. How do Spock's and McCoy's relationships with their families differ? How are they similar?
    2. What specific scenes establish the idea that the crew of Enterprise is like a family?
    3. What is Sybok's conception of Spock? Is that conception limited in some way? If so, why?
    4. Did McCoy make the right decision about his father? Explain your answer.

    Chew on This

    Although the specifics of McCoy's and Spock's relationships with their families differ, these families are similar to the extent that they both involve repressed feelings.

    The opening and closing camping scenes are meant to depict the closeness of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, specifically its familial nature.

  • Spirituality

    Forget Scientology—the cult of Sybok is the real sci-fi religion, if you ask the folks in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. A half-brother of Enterprise's very own Spock, Sybok abandons the hardcore logical fixation of his Vulcan people and turns instead to an intensely emotional brand of spirituality, the basic tenet of which is that all intergalactic faiths refer back to one core set of truths. Sybok sets out to prove his theory by voyaging to the center of the universe and straight up meeting God. Big plan. But will it come to fruition? Click on to find out, loyal Shmoopers.

    Questions About Spirituality

    1. Can Sybok's spiritual beliefs be considered a religion? Why or why not?
    2. Is there any validity to Sybok's spiritual claims? If so, explain.
    3. What does the ultimate revelation about God say about the nature of spirituality? Anything?
    4. Can logic be applied to spiritual matters? Why or why not?

    Chew on This

    The ultimate revelation that God is an impostor suggests that it is foolhardy to attempt to discover the true reality behind spiritual matters.

    Though many of his beliefs are bizarre, Sybok's ideas about religious syncretism are valid in many ways.

  • Memory and the Past

    The men and women of Enterprise have rough relationships with their pasts. In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, we find out that "Bones" McCoy is haunted by difficult decisions he made when his father was deathly ill. Spock is tortured by the shame he felt when Vulcan peers bullied him for his human heritage. Even Kirk has bad stuff buried in his past, though he has no interest in sharing the specifics with us. One thing this film shows is that we all carry the weight of our pasts.

    Questions About Memory and the Past

    1. How do Sybok's and Kirk's perspectives on the past differ?
    2. Does McCoy manage to make peace with his past? Explain your answer.
    3. What is the significance of the visual design of Spock's memory of his birth?
    4. How do Spock's memories of Sybok affect the way he treats him in the present, and vice versa?

    Chew on This

    While Sybok thinks that the past must be fixed, Kirk believes that it must be learned from.

    Although McCoy might not have fully made peace with his past, he has started down the road to recovery.

  • Suffering

    No one in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is exempt from suffering. (Heck, is anybody?) The colonists on Nimbus III suffer from  politicians' manipulations and exploitation. McCoy and Spock suffer from pain in their pasts. Everyone's got something tough to deal with. Enter a weirdo Vulcan named Sybok, who claims he can help individuals unlock their immense potential by revealing their "secret pain" and giving them strength from it. But is suffering something any of us can escape?

    Questions About Suffering

    1. What does Sybok mean when he refers to "secret pain"? What does it mean to release that pain?
    2. Are Sybok's efforts to relieve suffering successful? Explain.
    3. Did McCoy make the right choice in relieving his father's suffering? Defend your answer.
    4. What is Kirk's conception of suffering? Does it differ from Sybok's?

    Chew on This

    Unlike Sybok, Kirk sees suffering as something to learn from, rather than something to erase.

    Although Sybok can be criticized in many ways, his efforts to relieve others' suffering seem largely successful.