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Dreams, Hopes, and Plans
SPOCK: This will be my final voyage on board this vessel as a member of her crew. Nature abhors a vacuum. I intend you to replace me.
Although The Undiscovered Country primarily views the "future" in a broad, geopolitical way, the theme also resonates within the characters themselves. That's certainly true here: Spock, like the rest of the original crew of Enterprise, is about to be decommissioned, so he's thinking a lot about the ship's—and his own—future.
GORKON: I offer a toast. [raises glass] The undiscovered country. The future.
The phrase "the undiscovered country" is taken from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Although in the text it alludes to life after death, Gorkon uses it as a metaphor for the unknowability of the future.
McCOY: To you, Chancellor Gorkon, one of the architects of our future.
SCOTT: Perhaps we are looking at something of that future here.
Although the crew of Enterprise is skeptical about the Klingons, they're optimistic about the momentous peace brewing between their people. This dinner is a prelude to that peace, even if it doesn't go exactly as planned.
GORKON: You don't trust me, do you? I don't blame you. If there is to be a brave new world, our generation is going to have the hardest time living in it.
Gorkon isn't dumb—he knows that Kirk doesn't like Klingons. Despite this, he also knows that Kirk is a good dude, and he hopes that this means they will eventually see eye-to-eye. What's more, he understands that the members of their generation—with their many prejudices against one another—will struggle the most with this shift.
GORKON: Don't let it end this way, Captain.
These are Gorkon's final words. Even on the brink of death, he's more concerned with securing a peaceful future for the galaxy than his own well-being. That's a solid dude right there.
AZETBUR: You want the conference to go forward and so did my father. I will attend in one week on one condition.
Azetbur might not be as idealistic as her father, but she wisely sees the only possible future for her people as a peaceful one. She could have gone out guns blazing, as most action movie villains do, but she instead takes the long view of the situation and realizes that her pops was right.
McCOY: What terrified you, specifically?
KIRK: No more Neutral Zone. I was used to hating Klingons. It never even occurred to me to take Gorkon at his word.
Like many folks, Kirk lets the past blind him from seeing the present—and, by the same token, the future. He's your classic racist, really. His prejudice against a specific group of people prevents him from even imagininga future in which that group of people could be pals with him. Now, however, he's seeing the light.
SPOCK: Is it possible that we two, you and I, have grown so old and so inflexible that we have outlived our usefulness? Would that constitute a joke?
Not a particularly funny one, Spock, but the bar is low where you're concerned. Of course, Spock's also totally right: he and Kirk have done great things in their careers, but there comes a time when we all must pass the baton to the next generation and empower those people to build the future.
KIRK: Some people think the future means the end of history. Well, we haven't run out of history just yet.
Inspired by Gorkon, Kirk now realizes that he has the opportunity to change the future. That's a heavy responsibility. Luckily, our boy Kirk works out like a fiend. Never skips leg day. Don't you remember the rock climbing scene in Star Trek V?
KIRK: This ship and her history will shortly become the care of another crew. To them and their posterity will we commit our future.
This will be the final mission for the original crew of Enterprise. While we longtime fans are bummed by this (read: undergoing mental breakdowns), it's encouraging that Kirk has such an optimistic view of the future. As for us, we're just happy we have The Next Generation. Let's just forget about Star Trek VII, though, okay?
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