Your Official Star Trek Cheat Sheet
With Star Trek Into Darkness coming out this Thursday, May 16th, I'm betting some of you guys are sitting around your houses feeling some type of way. The last movie came out all the way back in 2009, so you've had a lot of time to forget some of the more intricate plot points and confuse some of the fringier characters. Or maybe you never even saw the first movie, but now that there's a second one you're ready to jump on that bandwagon and admit that it's pretty cool. Or maybe you're a major-league Trekkie (or even a minor leaguer, like me), and the last movie has blurred into the ten or so movies and the six or so television series that have come before it. For all ye gentle lambs treading the path of Star Trek who seek a refresher before Into Darkness, I present myself as your shepherd, with a crook and a long woolen cheat sheet smelling vaguely of warm hay. Read on, ye livestock, and be comforted.
STAR FLEET OFFICERS.
These are the main characters, and they're gonna be the same cast as from the first movie. If you remember nothing else from this post, burn these names into your mind.
Chris Pine plays JAMES TIBERIUS KIRK, Captain of the Starship Enterprise. He likes drinking, fighting, and chasing that alien tang, but he also happens to be a natural born leader and a renegade, frequently disobeying orders to do things his own way. He's stubborn enough to make things work his way most of the time and charming enough to talk his way out of it when they don't.
Zachary Quinto plays SPOCK, Kirk's half human, half Vulcan first officer. Vulcans operate purely on logic, so Spock frequently plays a foil to Kirk's more spontaneous decision-making process. However, he does also have human elements, so he does experience some emotions, though he's usually able to keep them under control.
“But wait! There were two Spocks in that last one! Explain yourself, sheepswoman!” Well, Leonard Nimoy played the older version of Spock, known as SPOCK PRIME, who exists in the movie because of a time traveling thing. We'll get to that later, when we explain the plot.
Karl Urban plays DR. LEONARD ‘BONES' MCCOY, the ship's chief medical officer. He and Kirk have a close friendship, giving Bones leave to say many of the classic lines from the show like, “Damnit man, I'm a doctor”.
Zoe Saldana plays NYOTA UHURA, Kirk's chief communications officer. She speaks pretty much every alien language ever and had no patience for Kirk's romantic overtures in the first film because she was secretly getting it on with Spock. INTRIGUE.
Simon Pegg plays MONTGOMERY ‘SCOTTY' SCOTT, the ship's chief engineer. He keeps the ship's core in working order and is the reason your parents used to say “Beam me up, Scotty” in an attempt to make a topical reference.
John Cho plays HIKARU SULU, a lieutenant on the Starship Enterprise. He's not the most important character, but he does get to push the ship into warp and sit in the captain's chair when Kirk is off being irresponsible.
Anton Yelchin plays PAVEL CHEKOV, a navigator and tactical officer aboard the ship. He's a mathematical prodigy and has a silly old Russian accent, providing some comic relief for the film.
There are some new additions to the cast for the sequel; here are the two most important ones.
Well hello hello hello, Benedict Cumberbatch, welcome to the party. Benedict will be playing the movie's villain, identified by the name ‘John Harrison', although he's rumored to be playing KHAN NOONIEN SINGH, a character from Star Trek canon.
Alice Eve will be playing CAROL MARCUS, the daughter of a high-up Starfleet official, and a new addition to the crew. She's also from Star Trek canon, but there are no hints yet as to which way J.J. Abrams will go with that.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME?
I can't remember the plot from the last movie. Please help.
The starship Kelvin was investigating a storm in space when they were attacked by Romulans, an alien species. The ship's first officer, Kirk, orders the evacuation of the ship after its captain is killed, although he stays aboard himself, at the cost of his own life. One of the evacuees, his wife, subsequently gives birth to a son, James Kirk. Hello baby version of Chris Pine! Years later, the reckless James Kirk is recruited by Captain Pike to pull it together and join Starfleet, where he meets Bones and clashes with Spock, who has struggled his whole life with not being accepted fully by either humans or Vulcans. When a new storm in space is noticed near Vulcan, a planet issuing a distress signal, Pike's ship is filled with cadets and sent to investigate.
Kirk convinces his captain that the distress signal is a trap, a fact substantiated when they arrive at Vulcan and find the primary Starfleet vessels originally sent to investigate have been destroyed. The Romulan ship Narada is drilling to the core of Vulcan, and they take Pike hostage, at which point he promotes Spock to captain and Kirk to first mate. Kirk, Sulu, and another unimportant guy space jump onto the drilling platform and disable it, but the Romulans launch red matter into the center of the planet, creating an artificial black hole that destroys Vulcan. Spock's mother (played by Winona Ryder) dies, although his father and some members of the Vulcan high council are rescued.
The Narada heads toward Earth, torturing Pike to learn of the planet's defenses, and Kirk gets stranded on a planet after attempting mutiny. There, he meets the older version of Spock, who explains that he and Nero, the captain of the Romulan ship, are from the future, when Romulus (Nero's home planet) was threatened by a supernova. Spock's attempt to prevent the destruction of Romulus — by using red matter to consume the supernova before it could harm the Romulans — backfired, and Nero's family was killed. The Narada and Spock's vessel were caught in the black hole, sending them back in time.
At a Starfleet outpost, Kirk and future Spock meet Scotty, who use technology from the future to beam Kirk and Scotty onto the Enterprise. Using Spock Prime's knowledge of the future, Kirk knows he has to provoke Spock into attacking him, forcing him to give up command once he realizes he is emotionally compromised. Kirk then instructs the crew to hide the ship in a gas cloud while he and Spock beam aboard the Narada. They rescue Pike and Spock uses his future self's ship to destroy the drill. Spock then leads the Narada away from earth and sets his ship to collide with it. Shortly before the moment of contact, the Enterprise beams Kirk, Pike, and Spock aboard, as the Narada and Spock's ship collide, igniting the red matter and consuming the Romulan ship in a black hole.
Back on Earth, Kirk is promoted to Captain and given command of the Enterprise, while Spock and Spock Prime chat with each other about the new planet that he's selected for the surviving Vulcans to colonize, as the older Spock encourages the younger Spock to do what feels right instead of relying solely on logic. Spock remains in Starfleet instead of quitting like he'd originally planned, and he becomes first officer under Kirk's command, beginning a lasting friendship between the two men.
WHAT'S GONNA HAPPEN THIS TIME?
Gimme the dirt.
Well, if you believe J.J. Abrams, there will be Klingons, and there will be crying. And having just seen it myself, that's all I feel comfortable giving away. Hope this was informative, now boldly go where many Trekkies have gone before. Oh and also sorry I called you livestock back there in the first paragraph. I just got carried away.