“What Ships Are For” is the ninth of a planned 11 episodes of this excellent show, and it’s too bad it will be coming to an end soon because it’s far and away the finest fan-made web show in production. What makes it so good is its fidelity to the classic 1966-1969 Star Trek TV series, which worked as a metaphor for socio-cultural issues of the day. (Something missing from the recent JJ Abrams films). Star Trek Continues also dives into a hot-button issue by tacking the subject of refugees.
In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise answer an SOS and find a society that is literally color blind, and who live in harmony until they develop the ability to see colors. John De Lancie—best known as the mischievous “Q” from previous Trek spin-offs—guest stars as Galisti, the head of a basically peaceful race who resort to force in order to keep refugees from settling on their planet. The story also touches upon the issue of racism regarding how color effects our perceptions of others.
Elizabeth Maxwell plays Sekara, the latest lovely romantic interest for Captain Kirk (Vic Mignogna), who also sets up the emotional quandary for our heroes. Anne Lockhart, who was in the original Battlestar Galactica, appears as Galisti’s wife Thaius.
Vic Mignogna–the star, writer, director and executive producer–gives another pitch-perfect performance as James T. Kirk, capturing all the best aspects of the character that William Shatner created. The rest of regular cast return, featuring Todd Haberkorn (as Mr. Spock), Chuck Huber (as Dr. McCoy), Grant Imahara (Mr. Sulu), Kim Stinger (Lt. Uhura), Wyatt Lenhart (Chekov), Michele Specht (McKennah), and Chris Doohan (Scotty.)
It’s good to see this show not only continue the 5-year mission of the USS Enterprise, but also remember that Gene Roddenberry created the series to make a commentary on human nature, focusing on ethical dilemmas. The current refugee crisis is certainly the type of issue that the people behind the original show would have written about. Happily, they don’t make it a one-sided argument, giving Galisti a chance to give his side of the issue, making it more interesting.
The Star Trek franchise is often at its best when it takes a very normal thing and makes an intriguing tale out of it. Whether it’s adolescence (Charlie X, Miri), language (Darmok) or, in this case, color. The entire crisis here revolves around the ability to see colors. The episode is partially filmed in black-and-white, giving it a unique look, and allowing us to see from the perspective of the alien characters.
A few minor quibbles…There is a bit too much comedy padding in the early part of the episode, and the complicated subject of the refuges is solved a little too easily by Kirk. But those are minor things in an otherwise well-done episode. Honestly, this isn’t among the best entries of Star Trek Continues, but that’s mostly a commentary on how strong the rest of the season has been, rather than a knock on this one. It’s a fine piece of fan-made entertainment, but it doesn’t match up to the likes of the White Iris or Fairest of them All.
There are only two more episodes to come of this show, and I’ll personally be very sad when it’s over because it’s the best Trek show since Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Mignogna promises that the two-part finale will blow people’s minds and the ending will lead into Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).
“What Ships Are For” rates a 7 out of 10. Recommended to any real Star Trek fan.