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 Sulu: The word, sir?

Kirk: The word is no. I am therefore going anyway.

"How many fingers do I have up?"
Kirk, doing the Vulcan salute

Incoming Late Arrival Spoiler: in Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan Spock was Killed Off for Real. But Nimoy didn't want to leave the series, as working on that film was such a great experience. Thus room was left in there for him to come back, and this film was all about this.

You see, Spock put his katra into McCoy before he died, so now the good doctor is Sharing a Body with the late Science Officer. Now, if only Spock's body could be raised as well. No wait, his body landed on the Genesis Planet, so now it's a living empty shell! The Rapid Aging down there means he has to repeatedly go through Vulcan PMS and Mate or Die. Fortunately, Saavik happens to be there. Now, the obvious thing would be to reunite Spock's body and soul, but the Obstructive Bureaucrats say no. The crew sets off for Genesis anyway, of course, where the Klingons are waiting, headed by Commander Kruge.

Not actually that bad considering the whole plot is just a vehicle for bringing Spock back. In particular, the scene where the crew steals the Enterprise from spacedock, leaving the newfangled Excelsior and its smug captain in the proverbial dust, is awesome. Overall it's probably best classified as So Okay It's Average, and about the only Star Trek film that no-one really admits to loving or hating[1].

Oh yeah, the Enterprise goes down in a ball of flame in her final "F&#$ YOU" to the Klingons.


Tropes seen in The Search for Spock include:

  • Aliens Speaking English: Although the Klingons are shown speaking their own language at first, for simplicity's sake they speak English to each other for the majority of the film. Only Kurge and Maltz are shown to actually be able to speak English though. This becomes a brief plot point when the Klingon troopers board the Enterprise and don't recognise the computer counting down from 6...5...4....
  • All There in the Manual: Kruge's Bird of Prey has more in common style-wise with a Romulan ship (bird like) versus a Klingon ship (boxy and utilitarian). As a way to use Prop Recycling in the original series an episode suggested a brief Klingon / Romulan treaty where they shared technology and ship designs; it allowed them to represent the Romulans by using a (previously made) Klingon D-7 cruiser. This brief alliance (the two factions are later very antagonistic to each other) is also the source of Klingon cloaking technology and the Bird of Prey ship design first seen in this movie. Incidentally, that ship style became far more recognizable as a Klingon vessel later in the franchise.
    • Word of God is that a dropped plot point from the movie would have been that Kruge stole this prototype bird-of-prey from the Romulans.
  • And the Adventure Continues...: The end caption is exactly these words.
  • Avengers Assemble: The scene where the crew get back together and beam aboard the Enterprise.
  • Back From the Dead: Read the title.
  • Bad Boss: Kruge.
  • Blown Across the Room: On the Genesis planet, when Kirk shoots a Klingon with a phaser.
  • Book Ends: In the previous film, Spock died to save the Enterprise; in this film, Kirk destroys the Enterprise to save Spock.
  • Broken Aesop: But replaced in a good way. Sometimes the needs of the one actually outweigh the needs of the many.
  • Call Back: Several:
    • The destruct sequence used is the same one mentioned in the TOS episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield".
    • And of course Spock at the end repeating his dying words from the end of Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan.
    • A bit of a Brick Joke also: in Wrath of Khan, after the Kobayashi Maru scenario, Kirk asserts that Klingons do not take prisoners. In this film, Kruge ordered the attack on the Grissom with the specific aim of taking prisoners.
    • In Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan, Bones growled at Spock, "You green-blooded, inhuman..." In III, he gets to complete the insult.
    • Some of the patrons at the bar have tribbles.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Where did Carol Marcus go between Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan and this movie?
  • Continuity Nod: Saavik is left hanging on the Genesis planet because Captain Esteban (of the Grissom) wants to do things "by the book". Having learned that lesson last movie, she's almost a Phrase Catcher, there.
  • Cool Starship:
    • Subverted with the cool-looking, but utterly useless science vessel Grissom, and the Excelsior, which was intended to be an obnoxious too-modern contrast to the good old Enterprise. Gets Rescued From the Scrappy Heap a few movies later when Sulu is in the center seat.
    • Played straight with the utterly badass Klingon Bird-Of-Prey, and the Enterprise, of course (battle damage be damned).
  • Disney Villain Death
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: Genesis Planet shattering kaboom, anyway.
  • Eighties Hair: Robin Curtis' (Saavik) bouffant-like perm/mullet hairstyle.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Kruge shoots his gunner and calls him an animal after he explains his destruction of the Grissom as "a lucky shot".
  • Face Death with Dignity: Valkris makes no attempt to beg for her life or flee when she realizes Kruge is going to kill her for seeing the Genesis data.

 Captain: What's going on?! When do I get paid?

Valkris: (coolly with no sarcasm whatsoever) Soon, Captain.

(BOOM!)

  • Foregone Conclusion: Let's face it, when your movie is called The Search For Spock, its not going to end with Admiral Kirk turning to the viewers and saying "Sorry folks, we didn't find him". As William Shatner put it, if they had done so, "people would have thrown rocks at the screen."
  • Frank Welker: The voice actor behind young Spock's screams.
  • Genre Savvy: Perhaps Kruge's only redeeming value is how damn efficient he is in his work. Namely, he calls Kirk's bluff when Kirk tries to get him to surrender, despite the fact that, as far as he's aware, the Enterprise could mop the floor with him.

 Kruge: [more curious than alarmed] Why haven't they finished us? They outgun me 10 to 1.

    • Later:

 Kirk: You should take the Vulcan.

Kruge: No.

Kirk: But why?

Kruge: Because you wish it!

 Big-Eared Alien: To your planet, welcome!

Bones: I believe that's my line, stranger.

 Sulu "The word, sir?"

Kirk "The word is 'no'. I am therefore going anyway."

 "That green-blooded sonuvabitch. It's his revenge for all those arguments he lost."

 Valkris: Transmission completed... You will find it useful.

Kruge: (shocked) Then you have seen it?

Valkris: I have, my lord.

Kruge: Unfortunate.

Valkris: (Beat) Understood.

  • Shout-Out: The seedy bar McCoy goes to is pretty clearly inspired by the Mos Eisley Cantina, complete with a smuggler for hire (who talks like a bad Yoda impression).
  • Smug Snake: The dick-ish Captain of the Excelsior.
  • Staff of Authority - Captain Styles of the USS Excelsior is often seen carrying a swagger stick.
  • Stock Footage: To a much lesser extent than most of the other 80's Trek movies, natch; all the special effects shots are new for this film, and the stock footage from the previous movie is actually justified somewhat, since Kirk is watching it on a security log.
  • Stolen MacGuffin Reveal: The Excelsior's transwarp coils.
  • Take a Third Option: Kirk and McCoy on the surface, watching the Enterprise explode and burn up with all the Klingons:

 Kirk: My God, Bones, what have I done?

McCoy: What you had to do. What you always do. Turn death into a fighting chance to live.

  • Take My Hand: Kirk to Kruge.
  • Throw It In: Kirk stumbling off the chair after being told David was murdered was entirely accidental, but Leonard Nimoy felt it suited the scene, and left it in.
    • To be quite exact: Shatner stumbled on a previous take, whereupon the two convened and decided that the scene should include such a gesture. The recorded take was then staged, leading to the movie we now know.
  • Timeshifted Actor: All the young Spocks.
  • Took a Level In Badass: Uhura. Holy crap.
    • "...I'm glad you're on OUR side!"
    • Sulu, as well. "Don't call me tiny."
  • Too Dumb to Live: Maltz is SO dumb that even HE realises he deserves to die for his stupidity.

 Maltz: I do not deserve to live

Kirk: Fine, I'll kill you later.

 Kruge: Speaking? Let me hear.

Computer: Six. Five. Four.

Kruge: GET OUT!! GET OUT OF THERE!!!

Klingon: Huh?

*BOOM*

    • This makes more sense when you remember that only Kruge understands English.
  • Vulcan Has No Moon: In an early episode of Star Trek the Original Series, Spock tells Uhura this in response to her flirting. However, Star Trek III shows a massive "moon" in the Vulcan sky.
  • Wacky Sound Effect: When the Excelsior's transwarp drive fails.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: And Maltz was never seen again.
    • He committed suicide, according to the Novelization.
    • However, in the Expanded Universe he's still around in the 24th century, ninety years later, having spent some time as a Federation prisoner before being released, and atones for his past failure by helping out when someone gains control of the Genesis information. See Star Trek: The Genesis Wave.
    • The Klingon Dictionary credits Maltz for assisting in the Federation efforts to translate and to understand the Klingon language.
  • Why Isn't It Attacking?: See Genre Savvy above.
  • You Have Failed Me: What Kruge does to his gunner for destroying the USS Grissom because he wanted prisoners.
  • You Would Do the Same For Me
  • Zeerust: When viewing the footage of the engine room, Kirk rewinds the recording, and it looks like a VHS tape rewinding instead of instantly jumping back.
    • Another example is the fighter plane computer game played by the human and the alien in the bar McCoy goes to.
      • How many holographic arcade games do you play?
    • The screens, largely (though not entirely) starting with this film, are clearly CRTs. Great for making screens feature motion, but they look less like modern screens than the still-image projections and backlit photos that came before.

Notes

  1. unless the people in question are the Kirk/Spock slashers, in which case the film is not only universally adored but solid proof that the Subtext is actually just plain text.
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