Note to JJ Abrams…Watch this show! These guys get it. You don’t. This is what fans of Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969) expect when they see the name Star Trek. The fan-made, crowd funded Star Trek Continues is such a superb extension of the old show, it makes you wonder why Paramount doesn’t hire these folks to write the new films. They’re much better at it than whoever is writing those movies now.
Before we go further into “Embracing the Winds”, it should be pointed out that this episode was filmed before the new Paramount/CBS rules that seriously limit Star Trek fan films. As a result of that, it was luckily ‘grandfathered’ in, and we get to see it. Sadly, it’s a possibility that this is the last episode of Star Trek Continues, due to the legal dispute Paramount is having with the fan-film community. While producer Vic Mignogna—who also plays Captain Kirk in the show—remains optimistic about continuing the show in some form and says he plans a proper, appropriate ending to the series in the near future, there is a chance that this is the end of the line for this terrific show, which would be a real pity. Still, if it is the end, its going out on a strong note.
“Embracing the Winds” may be more ‘fannish’ than some of the earlier entries but that makes it all the more appropriate if it is the last. This episode artfully dovetails with the final episode of ST:TOS, “Turnabout Intruder”, which dealt with an angry ex-lover of Kirk’s being bitter over the fact that there was sexism in Star Fleet. She complained that Star Fleet didn’t allow women captains. “Embracing the Winds” picks up that thread and knits a nifty narrative.
Since Gene Roddenberry’s original vision for Star Trek was of a progressive, democratic utopia without prejudice, many wondered why the show—which was made during the third wave of women’s liberation—would depict a future without female equality. Of course the real reason was the network execs didn’t think female captains were realistic back then, but Star Trek Continues finally gives us a logical ‘in-Universe’ reason.
The story has guest star Commander Garrett (Played by Clare Cramer, who is better known for portraying Glory on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) filing a complaint against Star Fleet when it seems that Mr. Spock (Todd Haberkorn) will be given command of the USS Hood, which she expected to get herself. Kirk (Mignogna) is part of the panel of officers who have to decide if Garrett is really less deserving of the job than Spock, or if she is actually a victim of sexism. Mignogna once again masterfully captures not only the physical mannerism but the essential inner core of Captain Kirk.
Sharing this difficult decision with Kirk is Admiral Gray, once more played by Erin Gray (best known as Wilma Deering in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), who sends the Enterprise out under Scotty’s (Christopher Doohan, son of original Scott James Doohan) command, to provide the subplot for the episode.
This episode is directed by James Kerwin who helmed two of the best previous Star Trek Continues episodes “White Iris” and “The Fairest of Them All”. It also has an appearance by Beau Billingslea (who was in Star Trek Into Darkness), and Marina Sirtis—who starred as Counsellor Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation—back once again as the voice of the ship’s computer. The episode gives a nice showcase moment for Chekov (Wyatt Lenhart), which helps explain his career move away from navigator, and a nice ‘Easter Egg’ reference to the ST:TNG episode Yesterday’s Enterprise regarding Garrett. There are additionally some very nice character moments about Kirk’s reaction to the idea of Spock leaving the Enterprise, and Spock’s own inner reluctance to say goodbye to his good friend.
This is Star Trek the way it should be. It’s not only interesting and engrossing, it’s also ‘about something’. Despite Chris Pine’s statement that intelligent sci-fi is obsolete and the new Star Trek should be just “space battles and exploding planets”, Star Trek Continues splendidly disproves that.
The future of Star Trek fan-made shows and films is currently in jeopardy and we can only hope a fair and rational solution is ultimately reached with Paramount and CBS, so shows like this one can continue to be produced. I’d much rather have more episodes of Star Trek Continues than another movie like the ones Paramount have been giving us.
As a fan of Star Trek for over 40 years, I highly recommend this show, while it lasts.