Star Trek Continues Returns With Another Superb Episode

For those who’ve never seen the multi-award winning Star Trek Continues, don’t dismiss it as “just” a fan-made web show. That does the series an injustice. It’s more than that. As someone whose been a Star Trek fan for over 40 years, and grew up with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and the rest of the original crew of the USS Enterprise, I never ceased to be amazed by how well this show captures the essence of the great show I adored in my childhood. It’s a terrific homage, made by people who love the original Star Trek.

For a time, there was some concern that Star Trek Continues wouldn’t continue, due to the problematic new regulations put out by Paramount last year, but fortunately, the show goes on. This series fills in the gap between the end of the 1960’s original series and the first Trek movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

The latest episode, “Still Treads the Shadow”, is the eighth episode of Star Trek Continues produced since 2013. The time and care they put into each episode clearly shows through. This story is a direct sequel to the classic series episode “The Tholian Web”. (Parenthetically, the Trek spin-off Star Trek: Enterprise also did a semi-sequel to “The Tholian Web” in its fourth season). Most impressively, this episode is written by Judy Burns, who actually wrote “The Tholian Web” back in 1969.

The story has Captain Kirk and the Enterprises encountering the derelict Starship Defiant again—or so it seems—having returned from whatever realm it had once phased into. Now, however, it has an unexpected passenger on board. The Enterprise Crew find another Captain Kirk aboard, except this one is elderly, having been trapped aboard the Defiant for a very long time.  The old Kirk finds himself among people again (including a younger version of himself) after having been alone for so long. However, there is someone or something aboard the Defiant that does not want to let its companion go, and it is willing to destroy the Enterprise to get him back.

Vic Mignogna, the series producer and show-runner, also plays Captain James Kirk. As always, he flawlessly embodies the spirt of the character in a way William Shatner would be proud of. Both as the younger Kirk and the embittered older version, he gives a superb dual performance. (Although I can’t help wishing they could have gotten Shatner himself to play old Kirk. How cool would that have been?)

The usual suspects are all back. Todd Haberkorn plays Spock; Chris Doohan (son of James Doohan from the original series) portrays Mr. Scott; Chuck Huber is Dr. Mccoy; Grant Imahara plays Sulu; Kim Stinger is Uhura; Wyatt Lenhart portrays Chekov; and Michelle Specht is Lt. McKenna. Rekha Sharma (Battlestar Galactica, V, the 100) guest stars as Kirk’s latest love interest Dr. Avi Samara. The eisode was directed by Julian Higgins, who also directed the previous episode “Come Not Between Dragons”.

The episode deals with heavy emotional issues such as loneliness, abandonment, regret and identity. It also discusses the issue of what it means to be a living thing, and what constitutes evil. This sort of debate is the kind of thing that the original series did so well. Classic Star Trek regularly dealt with existential, moral and emotional matters.

This is something the new cinematic JJ Abrams films fail to grasp. When Chris Pine says that intelligent sci-fi doesn’t sell and that people really want “space battles and exploding planets”, or when Abrams says “Trek always felt too philosophical to me”, it shows how little they understand the soul of Star Trek. Fortunately, Star Trek Continues does understand.   

Although Paramount put a cap on the amount of money a fan series could take from donations, Star Trek Continues had completed its fundraising before the new rules went into effect. In a recent interview, Mignogna says that episodes 9-11 are already filmed and are being edited now. (The series was once intended to go 13 episodes but it will ultimately only do 11 before they wrap up the show.) Regardless of the problems created by the new rules, Mignogna says he is “optimistic” that they remaining three episodes will all be released. If everythingl goes according to plan, the last three entries will debut before the end of 2017. The two-part series finale is supposed to be the segue that will set-up the characters to be where we saw them in the first movie Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Watching this show, it feels like you’re watching a lost episode of the original Trek. It’s an ideal continuation of the iconic 60s series. The Wall Street Journal called Star Trek Continues “the flagship of fan films”. Rod Roddenberry (Son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry) has given the show his blessing. Tom Hanks also praised the show. I’ll miss this series after it finishes it’s 11-episode run, and I’m sure I’ll be watching these episodes over and over, just as I do with classic Trek.

If you’re a classic Star Trek fan, you owe it to yourself to watch Star Trek Continues. You’ll be glad you did.