Star Trek Nemesis
Story by John Logan, Rick Berman, Brent Spiner
Screenplay by John Logan
Directed by Stuart Baird
Original release date: December 13, 2002
Captain’s Log: In the Romulan Imperial Senate, the military is arguing for the merging of Romulan military forces with Reman forces headed by Shinzon. The Praetor doesn’t accept this recommendation, based partially on Shinzon’s instability and partially on long-standing prejudice between the Romulans and the Remans. Senator Tal’aura excuses herself once the discussion is over, leaving behind a device that activates shortly afterwards, spilling a green mist over the entire Senate and turning them all into stone.
“Duty. A starship captain’s life is filled with solemn duty.” And so begins Picard’s toast to the just-married Riker and Deanna, which doubles as a testament to their careers on the Enterprise, as Riker is leaving soon to captain the U.S.S. Titan with Deanna in tow, leaving Data as Picard’s “tyrannical martinet” of a first officer. During the reception, Data gifts the happy couple with a rendition of “Blue Skies,” prompting Worf—hungover on Romulan Ale—to growl “Irving Berlin….”
The Enterprise-E sets sail after the reception and Worf argues that it is improper for members of Starfleet to go naked at a Betazoid wedding while everyone tries to forget that Troi has probably already seen Worf naked and vice versa. Picard says they will all follow tradition, essentially ordering them to take their clothes off. (Again, not weird.) Their argument is interrupted by long range sensors picking up a positronic sensor reading on the third planet of the Kolarin system, which borders the Romulan Neutral Zone.
Geordi is reading six positronic signals on the surface but they can’t beam down due to an ion storm. Picard, Data, and Worf take a shuttle down to the surface, and Picard is practically jumping out of his skin to “try the Argo,” which turns out to be a Starfleet standard-issue ATV. Picard promptly does as many donuts as possible before Data protests, at which point Picard rams them through a stack of brush, laughing all the while. (The film for this portion is extremely overexposed and grainy. Assumedly to…set the tone?) Once at the site, the three of them disembark and continue the search on foot.
Abruptly an arm emerges from the ground and grabs Worf’s leg, but only an arm, and we see that it is one of the six pieces of an android exactly like Data. Picard is uneasy as they pick up the final piece, the head, which turns out to still be functional (and very chatty). Before they can really process the discovery, Kolarin natives swarm in on jeeps of their own and a chase ensues. Picard eventually drives the Argo off of a cliff and into the bay of their shuttlecraft, a maneuver that is highly unnecessary but proves just how keyed in first officer Data is to his captain’s needs.
Geordi and the crew begin assembling the new android on the ship and they discover that it is a pre-Data and pre-Lore prototype that Dr. Noonien Soong created named B4. Data copies his memory engrams to B4 but the process is demonstrably unsuccessful. The two also discover a redundant memory port in the back of B4’s neck, but are seemingly unfamiliar with film tropes and don’t worry about it overly much.
Their work is interrupted by a hail from Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway, who orders Picard and the Enterprise to meet immediately with the new Romulan Praetor, a Reman named Shinzon. “The Sona, the Borg, the Romulans… You seem to get all the easy assignments,” she tells Picard, reminding him who mommy is.
Data briefs the crew on the latest news from Romulus, including all they know about Shinzon and the Reman race itself. In the Dominion War, Reman forces were used as assault forces in the most violent encounters. (“Cannon fodder,” Riker comments.) Shinzon himself fought twelve major encounters in the war, winning all of them.
Shinzon keeps the Enterprise waiting for 17 hours, refusing to answer any hails, although Deanna can pick up their cloaked presence. Eventually, Shinzon’s ship the Scimitar decloaks and his Viceroy requests that they beam down to the planet. There, in a darkened chamber, Picard discovers that the new Praetor Shinzon is a human.
Shinzon gets very distracted by Deanna, asking if he can touch her hair, stating that he has “never met a human woman before,” and just generally being a Professional Level Creeper. Picard gets the meeting back on track and Shinzon reveals that he wants to open relations between the Romulan Empire and the Federation.
The lights are brought up and once Picard can fully see Shinzon the truth becomes apparent: Shinzon is a clone of Picard. Shinzon relates a story about a rare genetic condition that they both have that gives them hypersensitive hearing and continues to hammer home the revelation that he’s a clone of Picard, going so far as to say things like, “Or should I say, that makes only one of us?” (Spoiler: It doesn’t.)
Crusher confirms that Shinzon is a clone of Picard and the Romulan military pester Shinzon for action against the Federation. He yells at them, asking them to learn patience and that “when you spend 18 hours a day under the lash of a Romulan guard you will soon learn patience.” Shinzon dismisses all of them except Commander Donatra, who wastes no time in trying to seduce him. Shinzon reprimands her roughly, stating that she is “not a woman, you are a Romulan” and later telling her that if she ever touches him again, he’ll kill her. As soon as she is outside the chamber, Shinzon nearly collapses. His Viceroy lays a hand on him and Shinzon appears to feel better.
Shinzon and Picard have a tense dinner in the Romulan Senate chambers, which Picard tries to keep somewhat jovial but which Shinzon mostly takes as a chance to taunt Picard. He relates his origins to Picard: He was created by a Romulan government program designed to replace high-ranking members of Starfleet, which was discontinued when the Romulan government changed over. Shinzon was then “discarded” to the dilithium mines on Remus, where the Reman who has become his Viceroy watched over him for 10 years, showing Shinzon “the only kindness I have ever known.” He goes on to explain that every action in his life has been focused on giving the Remans independence. Picard is openly dubious, considering the fairly bloody coup d’etat that Shinzon pulled only days ago but still, Picard continues, gazing at the Romulan Senate chamber, nothing would make him more proud than to accept Shinzon’s overtures of peace…in time.
B4 is sitting in Data’s chambers petting Spot when a trojan horse activates in his programming and he begins accessing programs on the ship. Geordi immediately detects B4’s clumsy attempts at hacking the Enterprise computer systems but that’s not the most important thing he’s discovered. While reviewing scans of the Scimitar decloaking he’s analyzed that the Scimitar utilizes thalaron radiation, which can deconstruct organic matter at the sub-atomic level. Picard takes the presence of it as proof that Shinzon does not, in fact, want peaceful relations between the Romulan Empire and the Federation. (In a way that the Scimitar having 52 disruptor banks, 27 photon torpedo bays, and two shielding systems didn’t already convey.)
Shinzon proves this pretty much immediately, mentally invading Troi’s mind (with the help of his Viceroy) to make her see him while Riker and Troi make love. Troi manages to force his presence out but this does not deter either the Viceroy or Shinzon. They are interrupted by a report that a transponder signal has been received, which turns out to be a beacon that B4 has activated. B4 is transported to the Scimitar and brings data that reveals the position of the entire Federation fleet.
Troi is in sickbay being examined. Visibly shaken by the violation, she requests to be relieved of duty. Picard refuses, citing that she is too valuable to him and that he wants her to “endure more assaults” as a way of maintaining contact with Shinzon’s forces. Riker, Troi, and frankly the viewer, are stunned but before they can protest Picard is beamed away by Shinzon and imprisoned. Picard’s blood is drawn and Shinzon prattles on some more about being alone and not quite human before dismissing B4 and walking out.
B4 returns to Picard’s cell and tells the guard that Shinzon needs him free, at which point B4 smirks and neck pinches the guard. B4 reveals himself to have been Data the whole time and gives Picard an Emergency Transport Unit prototype so that he can beam out of there. Picard refuses, since it can’t beam Data back as well, and they make for the Scimitar’s shuttle bay.
Their ruse is discovered along the way and a shoot-out ensues. Data and Picard get inside a Scorpion-class attack fighter but can’t get out of the shuttle bay doors due to the Remans erecting a force field. So they fly the fighter back into the ship’s corridors, mowing down any Remans in their way and banging against nearly every wall. The fighter bursts out of a porthole, breaking the ship’s cloak and making the Scimitar visible. Riker beams the shuttle into the Enterprise just in time and they warp back towards Federation space.
The Romulan military loses faith in Shinzon’s abilities but Shinzon reveals that he will release thalaron radiation over the entire Earth in two days, wiping it clean of life. He is visibly sickly and after Shinzon signs off the Romulans begin discussing his visible bio-degradation. On the Enterprise, Crusher reveals that Shinzon’s growth was accelerated, which is why his body and mind are breaking down, and that he needs a complete transfusion of blood from Picard to live.
Picard informs the crew that they are making their way to Sector 1045, just on the other side of the Neutral Zone, where they will stop to confront Shinzon and the Scimitar with the aid of the fleet. Shinzon rushes after them, having only hours until his body breaks down completely.
In the lab, Data interrogates B4 before shutting him down, although at no point does B4 understand what’s happening. Picard and Data then get into a discussion regarding their doubles. Data is absolutely certain that he is different than B4 because he aspires to be more and his experiences in life have shaped him differently. Picard is not certain that he would be different if he had experienced Shinzon’s life.
The Scimitar ambushes the Enterprise in the Bassen Rift, disabling its warp engines immediately. The ship can fire while cloaked (surely not!) so Picard orders the Enterprise to just fire wildly to determine its location. It works, but doesn’t keep the Scimitar off of them.
Shinzon ceases firing for a moment to appear via holographic emitter in Picard’s ready room, urging Picard to beam over so Shinzon can complete the procedure. Picard turns the tables and urges Shinzon to become a better person, as Picard himself did, since they both possess the same faculties. He attempts to convince Shinzon that he now has a future that he is free to mold instead of “wasting it in a blaze of hatred.” Shinzon is repelled and resolves to destroy Picard.
Abruptly, two Romulan warbirds decloak and Commander Donatra offers her assistance in combatting Shinzon. The firefight begins anew but one warbird gets destroyed, with the debris impacting the Enterprise and damaging it further. Shinzon purposefully decloaks a part of the Scimitar, feigning damage and luring in the remaining warbird. The Scimitar cripples the warbird, though Commander Donatra survives.
Shinzon’s condition is getting worse by the minute and he halts the Scimitar’s attack momentarily. Troi uses the connection that Shinzon and the Viceroy forced on her earlier in the film to invade the Viceroy’s mind and locate the still-cloaked Scimitar. She succeeds at locating Shinzon’s ship and disabling their cloak.
The Remans beam a boarding party on to the Enterprise and Riker and Worf lead a team to stop them. “The Romulans fought with honor,” Worf admits, perhaps rethinking a lifetime of prejudice, just before a shoot-out in the corridors ensues. The Viceroy leads Riker into the Jefferies tubes in order to ambush him, which works, and the two of them fistfight through an Enterprise that seems to be nothing but catwalks and pits.
Meanwhile, a new volley from the Scimitar tears open the bridge itself, blowing away the viewscreen and sucking the helmsman out into space. All seems lost, as the Enterprise is out of photon torpedoes and phaser power while the Scimitar’s shields are still at 70%. Shinzon opens a channel and asks Picard to surrender himself. Picard keeps Shinzon talking long enough to disguise the fact that he is ramming the Enterprise right into the Scimitar.
The impact is suitably apocalyptic and Shinzon begins the screeching process of unpeeling the two ships from each other. The additional turbulence from that ends up sending Riker and the Viceroy tumbling around on the catwalk that they’re fighting on and Riker kicks the Viceroy until he plummets to his doom.
Picard attempts activating the self-destruct on the Enterprise, but it’s offline due to the damage to the ship. Shinzon responds in kind, activating the thalaron radiation emitter.
For some reason, Picard transports over to the Scimitar, but the strain on the ship blows out the Enterprise’s transporters. Data gets angry, tells Troi she has command of the ship (even though Riker is still alive…) and basically jumps through space from the Enterprise to the Scimitar.
Picard fights his way to the Scimitar bridge with three minutes left on the thalaron emitter countdown and he and Shinzon grapple, despite Shinzon looking like something out of The Walking Dead at this point. Picard’s lost his phaser and Shinzon has A Buncha Knives, but Picard manages to impale him on a piece of the set regardless. Shinzon, ever the asshole, pushes the wall spike further into himself so he can spit his last words in Picard’s face. “I’m glad we’re together now. Our destiny is completed.”
There is only one minute left in the thalaron radiation firing sequence when Data arrives. Before Picard can react, Data slaps the Emergency Transport Unit on him, whispers goodbye, and fires into the radiation emitter, exploding the Scimitar.
Picard arrives back on the Enterprise’s bridge just in time to see the explosion. Geordi and Troi are overjoyed to see him, then realize Data isn’t with him. Romulan Commander Donatra hails them, tells Picard that he’s earned an ally in the Romulan military, and sends over shuttles with medics and supplies.
Picard opens a bottle of, appropriately, Chateau Picard, and the senior staff raises a glass to Data’s memory. Riker reminisces about the first time he met Data, on the holodeck during their Farpoint mission, but can’t recall the tune he was trying to whistle. (While the audience screams, “It was ‘POP GOES THE WEASEL,’ ASSHOLE.”)
The Enterprise is being repaired over Earth and Riker requests permission to disembark to the Titan. Picard then sets himself to explaining Data’s loss to B4 who, par for the course, doesn’t understand. As Picard departs, B4 begins singing snatches of “Blue Skies,” giving Picard hope that Data may yet be returned to them.
Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Poor Troi gets her ass handed to her in this movie. Although Star Trek Nemesis opens with Picard praising her as his conscience, at no point during the ensuing story does he ask her reading on Shinzon or how his judgment might be clouded by the personal nature of the events. (The one scene where he did was deleted from the final film.) She is subsequently mind-raped by Shinzon and his Viceroy, to which Picard is essentially unsympathetic, calling on her to continue to invite further violations so that they have a back-door avenue of attack.
Her retaliation against the Viceroy is satisfying (“Remember me?”) and Marina Sirtis gives that moment her all, but it ultimately serves to underline how poorly the filmmakers treated her character. A deleted scene from the movie features Troi being attacked in the turbolift a second time by Shinzon and the Viceroy and in the introduction to those deleted scenes on the DVD, director Stuart Baird goes out of his way to say how much he regrets losing Troi’s second rape scene.
Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: Shinzon’s ultimate weapon is thalaron radiation, which must be an as-yet-undiscovered fifth type of radiation (There are four types of radiation: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and X. I suppose the fifth type must be Bullshit.) Thalaron radiation can tear apart organic matter at “the sub-atomic level” which is so wrong it actually stumbles backwards into being correct, since radiation is essentially the jumping of sub-atomic particles from one place to another.
Geordi also mentions that the Scimitar’s cloak “is perfect” and we later discover that the Remans have re-engineered the technology to fire while cloaked that we saw in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Positronic sensor readings can be detected light years away, which makes Soong’s androids very special indeed.
There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: This is the first Star Trek movie to take place after the events of the Deep Space Nine finale “What You Leave Behind,” which sends Worf off to be the Klingon ambassador to the Federation. Here he’s back in Starfleet and back on the Enterprise with no explanation. (Also still a Lieutenant Commander, which would make no sense even if they had explained his presence.) His duties on the Enterprise-E aren’t explained in the film but since he accompanies Picard and Data to Kolaris and heads a team to confront the Remans on the ship, one assumes that he is back in charge of security.
No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: Riker whispers “imzadi” to his wife while they make love. It’s a sweet aspect of their long-standing relationship—finally made canon!—that Shinzon immediately poisons.
The Boy!?: Though not on screen in the final cut of the film, Wesley can be seen in Starfleet dress uniform during extended scenes from Riker and Troi’s wedding. (His rank indicates that he is a junior grade lieutenant.)
If I Only Had a Brain: B4 is yet another long-lost son of Soong, although his intellect is markedly childlike. It’s unclear as to whether Soong actually constructed B4 or whether the Romulans simply stole Soong’s prototype schematics during the same time they were cloning other Starfleet officers. The latter would make more sense, since Shinzon was able to get his hands on him prior to the events of the film.
Despite B4’s presence, Data is remarkably straightforward on how he wants to treat his new brother and while Brent Spiner’s acting indicates that Data has achieved a very precise control over his emotions (Data’s interrogation of B4 is chilling, as Data is both genuinely sympathetic towards B4 and unrelenting in his questioning.) it’s never stated that Data is even using his emotion chip. In fact, while transferring his memory engrams to B4, Geordi asks him how he feels, to which Data replies, “I feel nothing.”
First Contact saw Data’s emotion chip integrated into his systems, while Insurrection sidestepped the issue by noting that Data “didn’t take it with him” on the Ba’ku mission. Has Data abandoned the emotion chip altogether by the events of Nemesis? Was it standing in the way of his promotion to first officer?
In the Driver’s Seat: Lieutenant Branson is the unlucky sod in the driver’s seat when the viewscreen is blown off. He gets sucked into space before a force field can be erected.
I Believe I Said That: “Ladies and gentlemen and invited transgender species…”—Data, casually including an aspect of the final frontier that Star Trek: The Next Generation has historically been quiet about.
Welcome Aboard: Tom Hardy plays our movie’s villain, and Picard’s supposed opposite, Shinzon. These days he’s more familiar to the world as Batman’s nemesis Bane and you can readily tell which aspects of Shinzon were basically a dry run for his role in The Dark Knight Rises. Ron Perlman is utterly wasted as Shinzon’s mostly silent Viceroy. The treacherous Senator Tal’aura is played by a returning Shannon Cochran, who played Martok’s wife Sirella on Deep Space Nine. (A fact lovingly jabbed at by Keith in Your Favorite Star Trek Rewatcher’s book Articles of the Federation.) Whoopi Goldberg returns as Guinan and Wil Wheaton returns as Wesley Crusher, although we’re not sure what either has been up to in the interim. Kate Mulgrew reprises her role as Captain Kathryn Janeway, although now she’s sporting some Vice Admiral pips and cleaning up the Alpha Quadrant’s messes. (She’s also gone Back to the Bun.)
Dina Meyer portrays the olive-branch-extending Romulan military commander Donatra and makes a surprising impact considering how small her role is. Sci-fi fans probably recognize her first as Dizzy Flores from the first Starship Troopers movie, although she’s been in a good number of the Saw films, as well. Steven Culp gets left on the cutting room floor as Commander Martin Madden, Data’s replacement as first officer on the Enterprise. (Although that’s probably just as well considering how wooden and odd his performance comes out as.) Culp would get a better chance to earn his Star Trek wings portraying Major Hayes starting in the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise.
X-Men director Bryan Singer is apparently a big Star Trek fan, so Patrick Stewart snuck him in as an extra. (He replaces a bridge crew member on tactical.)
Trivial Matters: Although Nemesis didn’t bother to explain the presence of many of its main characters, there are a lot of references to the larger Trek universe peppered throughout. Riker orders the Enterprise into “Defensive pattern Kirk Epsilon” during the battle in the Rift, the Dominion War is referenced early on, Janeway is the one who sends the Enterprise on its mission, and the U.S.S. Archer is one of the ships scheduled to meet up with the Enterprise in Sector 1045.
Wil Wheaton was apparently added to the film at the last second, at LeVar Burton’s urging, and had no idea if he would have lines, what scene he would be in, or what the status of his character was. Patron saint of Tor.com Denise Crosby asked Rick Berman if there was an opportunity for Sela to reappear, but was told it didn’t fit the story. (Which isn’t true at all. Having her be the Romulan military commander urging the Senate to accept Shinzon would have made perfect sense, given her loathing of Picard, and would have made Donatra’s overtures later in the film stand out more in juxtaposition.)
Outlined in the script but not appearing in the movie is the information that Beverly Crusher left the ship to become head of Starfleet Academy Medical Division shortly after the events of Nemesis. The A Time to… series of Star Trek Pocket Books explains the events leading up to this film, including Keith R. A. DeCandido’s A Time for War, A Time for Peace, which explains why Worf was back in Starfleet.
Via Keith’s comment below: “The movie’s many followups in novel form include the TNG novels Death in Winter, Resistance, Q&A, Before Dishonor, and Greater than the Sum, the series of Titan novels, starting with Taking Wing, and my political novel Articles of the Federation.”
The events leading to the reboot universe depicted in 2009’s Star Trek were depicted that year in a four-issue comic series from IDW titled Countdown, which takes place eight years after the events of Nemesis. The comic “reveals” that Data’s memory engrams eventually emerged from B4’s neural net and that the newly revived Data went on to become captain of the Enterprise-E following Picard stepping down to become Earth’s ambassador to Vulcan. Riker, Deanna, and the crew of the Titan are depicted as being instrumental in the reconstruction of the Romulan Empire and are credited with opening up relations between Earth and Romulus to an unprecedented extent. Worf has become a Klingon general. (Which seems to be a fast-track to leadership of the Empire. Just ask Gowron or Martok.) Geordi is revealed to have retired from Starfleet to design his own ships, including Ambassador Spock’s Jellyfish, the ship Spock eventually travels back to the 2009 Star Trek timeframe with.
By his own account, Picard has made first contact with 27 alien species, most notably the Ferengi (“The Battle” or “The Last Outpost” depending on your definition of first contact), the Borg (“Q Who”), and the Q (“Encounter at Farpoint”). Unfortunately for Picard, all three of those species are fascinated with him in ways that turn out to be deadly for those around him.
Picard reveals that it is customary for the male to take the surname of the Betazoid woman that he is marrying. It is never stated whether Deanna’s human father Ian took Lwaxana’s name, but considering Lwaxana one would be hard-pressed to bet against it. (This also means that Riker and Deanna’s firstborn will carry the Troi name, which probably means Riker will get to choose the first name and since this is Star Trek he’ll probably use the name of a famous jazz musician. So I’m sorry, Dizzy Troi, but your life will never be easy.)
During their Senate chamber dinner Jean-Luc reveals to Shinzon that he was the first Picard to ever leave the solar system. Considering that his family was killed in a fire in Generations, he’ll probably also be the last.
Guinan offhandedly reveals to Geordi that she’s had 23 husbands by the late 24th century events of Nemesis. Considering that we know she’s been an adult for a span of roughly 500 years, that means she gets married on average every 21 years. (There have been 15 years between “Encounter at Farpoint” and Nemesis, meaning she’ll probably be due for another go-round soon. So, Geordi, as Data might say, “Saddle up. Lock and load.”)
Patrick Stewart is an outdoors enthusiast and the Argo chase sequence was bulked up to give the actor something fun to do in what was otherwise a heavy film. Stewart took racing lessons to prepare and during the filming really put his co-stars through the ringer, at one point telling Brent Spiner, who kept getting smacked by branches and brush that “You’re an android, you don’t feel these things.”
The original script draft for Nemesis was over three hours long and the film itself was shaved by another 17 minutes. These deleted scenes were included in the home DVD release of the film and included many one-on-one scenes between Picard and his crew, including Data, Beverly, and a particularly revealing conversation between him and Deanna where Picard reveals just how freaked out Shinzon makes him. The deleted scenes also include an extended ending with Riker tricking the new first officer Madden into being overly familiar with the captain, which Patrick Stewart plays beautifully, never cracking a smile and letting Madden’s discomfort sit and sit and sit there. Picard tests out his new captain’s chair, as well, which “finally!” comes equipped with emergency seatbelts. While it’s a shame we never got to see Picard’s next first officer, you can tell the lighthearted banter was not a great note to end The Next Generation cast’s final film with.
Make it So: Damn, but this is an exhausting movie. Now over ten years old, Nemesis’ place in Trek history is seen as indisputably ignominious. A needlessly dark, off-key Trek film that signaled the death knell of the Star Trek movie franchise, as well as any chance we’d have of seeing the Next Gen crew in action again.
I’d love to say that time has been kind to Nemesis, though it isn’t quite as bad as I remembered it. The Argo scene doesn’t drag as much and some of the action sequences are genuinely thrilling. Flying the shuttle through the Scimitar’s corridors and out of a window is clever, exciting, and a cheeky commentary on a show that is classically nothing but corridors. Picard smashing the Enterprise-E into the Scimitar still gives me a shiver, and I find it funny that while we’ve seen Worf threaten to do that, Picard just does it. The viewscreen being blown off is terrifying and Data jumping across space to get to the Scimitar is just plain cool.
But. None of that can elevate the material beyond the deep, intrinsic flaws of the film. Much has been said (hilariously so) about Nemesis’ aping of The Wrath of Khan and to this day it is astounding that the setting and the characters of Star Trek: The Next Generation could be so misunderstood. The concept of Shinzon is agonizingly forced. We are expected to believe that Picard cares about his clone when that same clone exhibits none of the traits that captivate us about Picard. Even aside from that, Shinzon is a poorly conceived plot device; a character literally grown to give Picard his version of Khan, and one who defies the logic of his own story to suit the needs of the overall plot. (We never find out why he wants Earth destroyed, and he refuses the treatment that will cure him three times in the interest of taunting the characters.) Picard’s character has to stretch to accommodate this story, a story so big that it sidelines every other character except Data, and yet by the end of the film we’re left with less than what we started with. We’ve learned nothing new about Picard, or Data, and half the crew is now gone.
It was obviously intended for the story of Data’s duplicate to run in parallel with Picard, but B4 is never given any characterization and Data has barely any interaction with him. (In fact, Picard and Data only discuss the entire thing once, an hour into the movie.) B4 is another plot device, same as Shinzon, existing solely to propel the plot forward. It makes you wonder, if they had to make the movie this way, why didn’t they just use Lore? He at least has a history with the crew and an often-misguided agenda. It would have even played into Nemesis’ weak Khan theme of how the sin of neglect can return to haunt you.
Instead, Nemesis gives us no theme at all. No message beyond “a duplicate of yourself can be a real asshole.” Or possibly, “A great crew is like family. So it sucks when your asshole duplicate starts raping and killing them.” Nemesis is an okay action flick, but unlike other action flicks it has a responsibility to the history and the unique message of Star Trek. Especially when you consider that the filmmakers and cast knew going in that this was going to be the final Next Gen film. There is nothing in Nemesis about humanity bettering itself and helping others in need. Nothing about exploring boundless new frontiers. There are no hard choices here, and no mistakes to atone for. There’s just a crazy guy tearing things apart for no reason. Also, Shinzon.
In the end, Star Trek Nemesis makes fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation feel like crap. We leave Picard, and the half of the crew that survive and don’t leave, at their lowest point. Star Trek: The Next Generation was a breath of fresh air when it arrived in the late 1980s. It was a vibrant revival of a beloved series and gave fans the opportunity to continue exploring a galaxy that they had dedicated their lives to. It introduced a new generation of science fiction lovers to the ideals of Gene Roddenberry and as the years went on the popularity of Next Gen proved, without a doubt, that those ideals resonated deeply for a great many people.
The actors, creators, writers, and crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation essentially saved Star Trek from fading into history. And that’s ultimately why Nemesis is such a spectacular failure. Because it denied these characters, this generation, the respect that their final outing truly deserved.
Warp factor rating: 1
Note: I owe a big thank you to Your Regularly Scheduled Star Trek Rewatcher Keith DeCandido for letting me bite his style for this rewatch of Nemesis. As the deadline for this piece neared it felt innappropriate to finish the Next Gen rewatch any other way.
We’ll see you next week! Say… 1500 hours? Quark’s? You’re buying.
Chris Lough is the production manager of Tor.com and has donated his copy of Star Trek Nemesis to a really great fire.