The new "Star Trek" movie is almost here, my friends, and the excitement is palpable. What has J.J. Abrams done to Kirk and company, and will his efforts live up to the high expectations of the notoriously-picky "Trek" fans? We'll all know the answer on May 8th, but in the meantime, the anticipation has led many to take a step back and revisit the previous films in the franchise...which, as it happens, is exactly what yours truly has done. In addition to the motion pictures, your trusty Bullz-Eye contributor has also gone back and re-read the novelizations for each film, and you might be surprised to find just how much good stuff never actually made it past the printed page...even if it probably should have.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Storyline: When an alien force of inconceivable power sets its sights on Earth, Admiral James T. Kirk emerges from retirement, swipes the refurbished U.S.S. Enterprise from its new commander, Willard Decker, and sets off to save the planet. Spock, who had left Starfleet in favor of purging his emotions on his home planet of Vulcan, decides that the answers to his spiritual quest may be found with this alien and rejoins his former crewmates. Oh, and there's also this bald chick…
Villain: V'ger. That's short for Voyager 6, a space probe launched from Earth way back yonder in the 20th century. The probe was found by an alien race of living machines that interpreted its programming as instructions to learn all that can be learned, and return that information to its creator. Unfortunately, it can't imagine that its creator can possibly be a "carbon unit," a skepticism which proves highly problematic for the human race.
What's good: At the time of its release, the best part was simply seeing the cast together again for the first time since the series' cancellation, and having a noticeably bigger budget to work with. Nowadays, however, the film is driven by the interaction between the eternal trifecta of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, whether it's Spock's pure logic battling against McCoy's emotions or Kirk's inability to accept that Decker might actually know something that he doesn't.
What's bad: Even Robert Wise's Director's Cut of the film still contains some seriously interminable shots, most notably as Admiral Kirk sees the refurbished Enterprise for the first time. There's a reason my friend Donnie found it more interesting to count the tiles on the movie theater ceiling than watch the film…but, then, he always was more of a "Star Wars" guy. "Trek" fans, meanwhile, have long groused – and rightfully so – that the first big-screen adventure for Kirk and company was, at its heart, little more than an expanded version of an original episode, "The Changeling."
Most surprising cast member: Stephen Collins as Commander Willard Decker. Collins went on to starring roles in "Tales of the Gold Monkey" and "Tattinger's," then followed it up with a recurring role on "Sisters," but his most memorable role is almost certainly that of Rev. Eric Camden, the patriarch on "7th Heaven."
"Yeah, but the book was better." – The novelization of "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" was actually written by "Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, and it provides several details which, though they aren't actually in the movie itself, have nonetheless become accepted as fact throughout the "Trek" universe. Most notable is that the character of Willard Decker is actually the son of the late Captain Matt Decker, from "The Doomsday Machine," an episode of the original series. One that hasn't taken off, however, is the suggestion that Kirk had a significant romantic relationship with a woman named Lori Ciani during the so-called "lost years" between the series and the movie. Oh, and you really need to read the book's footnotes. Roddenberry treats the novel like it's a historical record, and when Spock refers to Kirk as his "t'hy'la," a Vulcan word which apparently can mean either "brother" or "lover," it results in a response from Kirk that has spawned one hell of a website.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Storyline: Admiral Kirk, feeling his age, takes Captain Spock's trainee-laden crew of the Enterprise for a little fun run, only to meet up with a former nemesis who's out for revenge. Caught in the middle are a bunch of scientists who've created the so-called Genesis Project, which can create "life from lifelessness," thereby making it the perfect tool for a tyrant to kickstart a brand new empire.
Villain: Khan Noonian Singh, a villain from the original "Star Trek" series who had been left in exile by Kirk and forgotten about by the good captain. This proved a particularly bad move when the neighboring planet blew up, thereby changing the atmosphere of Khan's planet, and it only got worse when Khan's wife fell victim to one of the few indigenous creatures that survived the atmospheric transition. When the opportunity arose for Khan to extract his revenge on Kirk, he didn't miss a beat. If he isn't the best villain of the franchise, he's certainly the most memorable.
What's good: Just about everything, really…but, then, it's not just my favorite "Star Trek" movie" but, indeed, my favorite film ever. Seriously, though, it's a sci-fi action film which in no way requires the viewer to possess knowledge of the TV series which spawned it, and it's also a treatise on growing old. Additionally, there are enough similarities to "A Tale of Two Cities" that my high school English teacher showed it in class and actually had us write a paper about the parallels. (Don't you wish you'd had Ms. Kiskinis?) Most importantly, though, Spock's death and subsequent funeral are moments during which even real men are allowed to get a little misty.
What's bad: We can forgive Ricardo Montalban's scenery chewing because of his glorious pecs, and Shatner's cry of "KHAAAAAAANNNNNNN!" (below) is so iconic that you can forgive him his overacting. But the ceti eel, a.k.a. the thing Khan puts in the ears of Chekov and Terrell, looks a lot cheesier than you remember, and…okay, this is one for the fanboys here, but even 27 years later, it still grates on my nerves when Khan recognizes Chekov. (Walter Koenig hadn't yet joined the cast when "Space Seed," the episode which introduced Khan, originally aired.)
Most surprising cast member: Setting aside Kirstie Alley, who was so new on the scene at the time that the word "introducing" appeared before her name in the credits, it's probably Paul Winfield, a man best who'd never before deigned to do a sci-fi film. Also notable, however, is Ike Eisenmann, who played Tony in Disney's original "Witch Mountain" films.
"Yeah, but the book was better." – Although it's detailed in scenes which were deleted in the film, Vonda McIntyre's adaptation includes more of Saavik's background (like Spock, she's only half-Vulcan, but her other half is Romulan), reveals that the young Enterprise engineer's mate killed during Khan's attack – Cadet First Class Peter Preston – was actually Scotty's nephew, and offers a subplot about the budding friendship that had existed between Saavik and Peter. We discover far more about the other scientists who were involved in Project Genesis (the movie doesn't even reveal their names), thereby making their deaths on Regula I far more excruciating. On a related note, the book details their torture and murder at Khan's hand, which serves to make him a far more threatening villain. Lastly, a flirtation is set up between Saavik and David Marcus, which McIntyre subsequently builds upon in her "Search for Spock" adaptation.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
Storyline: Spock's dead…or is he? Well, actually, before he died, he stuck his katra into Dr. McCoy, and his body kinda got reinvigorated when it was torpedoed down to the Genesis planet. Unfortunately, fusing mind and body back together proves difficult when Kirk finds that Starfleet is decommissioning the Enterprise and refuses to let him take the ship back to the Genesis planet. Of course, he goes anyway, where he meets up with some other folks who're interested in the planet.
Villain: Commander Kruge, a Klingon who's fascinated by the power of Project Genesis and goes on a quest to the newly-created Genesis planet. When he gets there, the Klingon bastard kills Kirk's son, David. You have to admit, that's pretty bad-ass.
What's good: We finally get a movie where the Klingons are the villains, which was a long time coming, and we also saw Spock's father, Sarek, for the first time since his appearance in the original-series episode "Journey to Babel." The destruction of the Enterprise was pretty cool, too. But who are we kidding? The best thing can be summed up in the film's final four words: "Your name is Jim." Spock's back, baby!
What's bad: Despite the fact that it's the middle chapter of a great sci-fi trilogy, it's definitely a film designed less for the casual viewer and more for the fans. Also, not to be a hater, but, seriously, Robin Curtis's performance as Saavik is just awful.
Most surprising cast member: We've got a tie here, and they're both Klingons. Most obvious is Christopher Lloyd, who plays the despicable Commander Kruge; amongst his crew, however, is a subordinate named Maltz, and although he doesn't have many lines, if you look and listen very closely, you'll be able to tell that it's John Larroquette.
"Yeah, but the book was better." – Two words: Spock's wake. But, of course, with McIntyre once again at the helm, there's far more fascinating material here than just that, most notably the fact that Saavik and David have a post-wake liaison, shall we say. There's a visit back to the Genesis cave, where the tremendous foliage overgrowth offers the first signs of the project's instability, and we're witness to the Grissom joining up with the Enterprise to take Saavik and David off to explore the Genesis planet, thereby expanding on the character of Captain J.T. Esteban. Valkris, the Klingon who provides Kruge with details on Genesis, gains a substantial back story. We learn that Sulu was originally supposed to have been given command of Excelsior after Enterprise returned from its mission, but that the controversy over his participation in the Genesis incident caused him to be passed over. Scotty returns home to Scotland to bury his nephew, and Peter's sister, Dannan, receives a visit from one of her brother's fellow crewmen, who admits that if he had stayed at his post, Peter might still be alive. Lastly, we finally get an explanation as to why Spock's mother wasn't present for the Fal Tor Pan process.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
Storyline: Spock's back, and the crew of the USS Enterprise is on their way back to Earth in the late Commander Kruge's bird of prey in order to face the music for their mutinous actions. Before making it home, they find that the planet is being threatened by an unknown entity which is sending a message to an extinct species: humpback whales. Leave it to Kirk to come up with the idea to slingshot around the sun, go back in time to the 20th century, find a couple of whales, and bring them back to the future.
Villain: None in the traditional sense, but given that we're the ones who hunted the whales to extinction in the first place, in the grand scheme of things, the enemy is us.
What's good: It's the only time that "Star Trek" has successfully managed to integrate comedy into the proceedings without making it cringeworthy, and in addition to concluding the trilogy in a very fun fashion, it also brings Kirk back to where he should've been all along: serving as captain of the Enterprise.
What's bad: Sometimes, what's supposed to be funny only ends up being silly, and nowhere is this better exemplified than the scene when the gang is rescuing Chekov from the hospital, which is scored to the most slapstick music imaginable.
Most surprising cast member: What are the odds that both Rev. Camden and his wife would make it into the "Trek" universe? It's true, though: Dr. Gillian Taylor is played by Catherine Hicks, a.k.a. Annie Camden on "7th Heaven." Go-Go's fans with very keen eyes will also see the ever-cute Jane Wiedlin playing an alien communications officer.
"Yeah, but the book was better." – McIntyre deals with many things that fans were left wondering about from the previous film, most notably how Carol Marcus reacted when she found out that her son, David, had been killed. We learn that Admiral Cartwright actually paid a visit to Kirk on Vulcan, basically to offer the Starfleet equivalent of a subpoena. Saavik gives her deposition on video and gives it to Kirk, then explains that she is staying on the planet to learn more of her Vulcan heritage. Once the gang goes back in time to the 20th century, we learn that Spock's iffy actions at the aquarium, i.e. jumping into the tank and swimming with the whales, are the result of Kirk getting exact change for the bus. (He bought a mint to get change and gave the mint to Spock, not realizing that sucrose affects Vulcans much like alcohol.) There's also a small subplot where we meet and get to know the FBI agents who interrogate Chekov, as well as the oft-referenced deleted sequence where Sulu meets one of his ancestors. As ever, however, there are just lots of little character moments scattered throughout that make the book just as much of a treat to read as McIntyre's previous adaptations.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
Storyline: Kirk's first mission on the new Enterprise involves a trip to the so-called "Planet of Galactic Peace," where the human, Klingon, and Romulan ambassadors are being held hostage by a Vulcan named Sybok. Turns out he's Spock's half-brother, and when Kirk and company arrive to save the day, Sybok proceeds to hijack the ship and take it on a quest to find God. When they find Him, however, he's not exactly what anyone expects.
Villain: In addition to the false god, there's also a ridiculous looking Klingon named Klaa, who decides that pursuing Kirk and catching him when his guard's down is the surest way to rise through the ranks.
What's good: Believe it or not, there are some nice moments here, though they generally tend to be one-liners, like Kirk asking what God wants with a starship, or Spock saying after the sing-along of "Row Your Boat," "Oh, I'm sorry, Doctor, were we having fun?" And for as heavy-handed as Sybok's "share your pain" scenes are, we do get a bit of insight into McCoy's history that we'd never had before.
What's bad: What, you mean besides the fact that Shatner directed? Actually, though it's a missed opportunity of grand proportions, the biggest problem came when the suits decided that, since "Star Trek IV" was successful because it was kind of funny, "Star Trek V" should be funny, too. Unfortunately, it isn't.
Most surprising cast member: This is a geeky one, but real "Trek" aficionados got a giggle out of the fact that Admiral Robert Bennett was played by Harve Bennett, who had a hand in producing and writing the second, third, fourth, and fifth "Trek" films.
"Yeah, but the book was better." – Probably the most notable thing about J.M. Dillard's adaptation is that she clearly isn't any more a fan of the ostensibly comedic material than most "Trek" fans are, but she adds tiny things here and there to makes it much easier to read than watch. An example: when Sulu and Chekov pretend they've been caught in a blizzard to avoid admitting that they're lost in the woods, Dillard describes Chekov's sound effects by writing, "He pursed his lips and affected the sound of a furiously howling wind. It was, Sulu thought, rather unconvincing." As for the book itself, it must be said that it doesn't come anywhere near matching McIntyre's expansion of the overall story, but we do get more background on the human and Romulan ambassadors on the Planet of Galactic Peace, and there's a funny sidebar bit about the audience for Uhura's dance of distraction. We get a several-page story of the pain that Sybok removed from Sulu, which is so detailed that one wonders if it they'd originally planned to film it; we don't get similar details about Uhura and Chekov, but Dillard does borrow the Peter Preston storyline for Scott's pain. Perhaps most importantly, though, the end of the book plays a heck of a lot better, owing to the mind's eye being able to provide far better special effects than the movie's budget could ever afford.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Storyline: An ecological disaster – read, "a freaking moon blew up" – leads to the Federation and the Klingon Empire brokering a shaky but necessary truce, despite Kirk's insistence that he can never trust the race that killed his son. He nonetheless gives it the old college try, but when he and McCoy are falsely accused of murdering Klingon Chancellor Gorkon, the crew of the USS Enterprise-A must prove the innocence of their fellow crewmen and prevent war from breaking out on the eve of universal peace.
Villain: Technically, it's a blend of humans, Klingons, and Romulans who want to keep the Federation / Klingon peace treaty from coming to pass, but the most visible villains are General Chang, a Shakespeare-quoting Klingon warrior who is unwilling to accept peace with the Federation, and Lieutenant Valeris, a Vulcan Starfleet officer who, despite being Spock's latest protégé, does not agree with her mentor's quest for interstellar harmony.
What's good: Sulu finally gets his own ship (it's about time someone broke away from the pack) and is allowed an opportunity to shine in a solo setting, and the scenes in the Klingon courtroom and on the prison planet of Rura Penthe are a nice change of pace from the usual "Trek" locales. The best bits, though, tend to come from the crew reflecting on how their past is finally catching up with them.
What's bad: The Cold War comparisons are really heavy-handed, and the attempts at humor, while better than in the previous film, still feel more forced than not. The worst offense occurs in a scene where Uhura, in an attempt to speak Klingon without using the Universal Translator, is seen surrounded by dozens of old books. Yeah, we get it, it's supposed to be a sight gag, but, what, she couldn't just read the text off of the computer?
Most surprising cast member: There are a bunch of them, actually, but the one that got the most notice at the time was the uncredited appearance by Christian Slater as an unnamed crewman on the USS Excelsior. Now, however, it's much more startling to see Kim Cattrall (Samantha "Sex and the City") as a Vulcan, Kurtwood Smith (Red Foreman on "That ‘70s Show") sporting some seriously funky facial hair as the President of the Federation, and Iman – a.k.a. Mrs. David Bowie – as the shape-shifting Martia.
"Yeah, but the book was better." – Any complaints about Dillard's lack of story expansion in her "Star Trek V" adaptation are forgiven with the prologue here, which reveals that, immediately prior to the explosion of Praxis, Carol Marcus was injured in a Klingon attack on her research facility. This plotline runs throughout the book, and it makes it seem a hell of a lot more reasonable for Kirk to have acted so outrageously toward the idea of making peace with the Klingons. (Not that David's death isn't a good enough reason in and of itself, but this makes the wound far fresher.) We also find out considerably more about Lieutenant Valeris's background and get more of an insight to how things were unfolding on the Klingon ship between Chancellor Azetbur and General Chang, with a more detailed conclusion offered to Azetbur's new position within the Klingon empire.
Star Trek: Generations (1994)
Storyline: As the Enterprise-B begins its inaugural voyage with Kirk, Scotty, and Chekov on board as special guests of Captain John Harriman, the ship is forced to save a ship of refugees from a strange energy ribbon. Many refugees are saved, but the energy ribbon almost destroys the Enterprise and leaves Kirk MIA and presumed dead. Fast forward 78 years, and the Enterprise-D encounters the same ribbon. Turns out it's a Nexus that transport those who enter it into their own version of paradise, and one of the refugees refused by the Enterprise-B desperately wants to return.
Villain: Tolian Soran, the aforementioned refugee. Malcolm McDowell is no Ricardo Montalban, but with his snarling delivery, he's definitely trying to be the Next Generation equivalent.
What's good: Obviously, the biggest deal is that we finally get to see Kirk and Picard interact. Looking back, though, you may have forgotten just how freaking dark part of this film is. For fans who remembered the fourth season "Next Generation" episode, "Family," Picard's revelation to Counselor Troi that his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew burned to death is about as gut-wrenching as it gets.
What's bad: Kirk's death was lame, and the Nexus, while a delightfully convenient plot device, makes absolutely no scientific sense whatsoever. Also, there's a sneaking suspicion that the idea of giving Data an emotion chip was just an excuse to have him say, "Oh, shit!" Okay, not really, but it does feel like we waited through all those episodes of the show for Data to get the chip, only to have it finally given to him less for emotional impact and more just to keep the plot of the movie moving.
Most surprising cast member: Alan Ruck hadn't yet arrived in "Spin City" at this point, so when he showed up as the captain of the Enterprise-B, most people's first thought was, "What the hell is Cameron from ‘Ferris Bueller's Day Off' doing on the bridge of a starship?"
"Yeah, but the book was better." – Wow, what a great send-off this movie would've been for the original crew if they'd only filmed the material found here. The book begins first with Kirk discovering that, whatever the future might hold for him, it isn't going to be shared with Carol Marcus, and it's followed by a lovely scene between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy which takes place just as the trio are preparing to attend the firewatch party for the Enterprise-A. After Kirk's apparent death upon saving the Enterprise-B, we're treated to Captain Sulu receiving the news from Chekov, and we also get a touching scene where Spock and McCoy grieve together over the loss of their friend. Additionally, when Kirk is in the Nexus, his initial vision of the perfect life reunites him with his Enterprise crewmates, who are in attendance at Kirk's wedding to…no shock here…Carol Marcus. The comment is made, however, that there have been other versions of this moment for Kirk, including one where his bride was Edith Keeler, from the classic "City on the Edge of Forever" episode. (That there's a reference to "the mysterious Antonia" in the text suggests that, like most fans, Dillard couldn't quite understand why they created a love interest for Kirk out of thin air when they already had several to choose from.)
Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
Storyline: Captain Picard's past comes back to haunt him when the Borg decide to make a play for Earth. Though Starfleet Command thinks he's too close to the subject to get involved, it reaches a point where he decides to ignore orders and dive into the fray, and when it becomes obvious that the Borg are traveling into Earth's past to prevent the planet's first contact with the Vulcans, the Enterprise promptly follows them back, where they encounter Zefram Cochrane, the man who invented the warp drive.
Villain: The Borg, of course. But we also get to see the semi-human face of the Borg when we're introduced to the Borg Queen, who tries to sway Data to play for her team.
What's good: Now this is the Next Generation's "Wrath of Khan," in that it's inarguably the definitive "Trek" film for the cast. It's a time-travel saga filled with lots of action, offers a much better look into Data's quest for humanity than "Generations" did, and director Jonathan Frakes even manages to successfully slip a bit of comedy into the proceedings. Oh, and even if it's totally manufactured through special effects, the tracking shot that opens the film is awesome.
What's bad: The holodeck sequence is a little too ridiculous, and the amount of information that the crew gives to Zefram Cochrane about his future flies in the face of everything we've ever been told about how easy it is to damage the timeline.
Most surprising cast member: It seemed for a minute like the character of Lieutenant Hawk might actually stick around, so it was depressing when he turned into the film's token red-shirt. But, hey, if he hadn't, then maybe Neal McDonough wouldn't have been able to do "Band of Brothers," "Boomtown," "Tin Man," or "Desperate Housewives," so it probably all worked out for the best.
"Yeah, but the book was better." – Surprisingly, there's not a great deal of expansion upon the regular characters. What we do get, however, is more of a look into the life and motivation of Zefram Cochrane, along with a bit more of an idea about Earth's history through Lily Sloane. That's about it, though.
Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
Storyline: Data goes nutso while observing a peaceful people known as the Ba'ku, revealing the presence of a cloaked Federation base. It turns out that a rogue Starfleet admiral has teamed with the Son'a, another race from that neck of the galaxy, to collect metaphasic radiation particles from the area, which have a "fountain of youth" effect on those who live on the planet. Unfortunately, they don't care if the Ba'ku have to die in the process, leading the Enterprise to step in.
Villain: From Starfleet, it's Admiral Matthew Dougherty, while the most devious member of the Son'a is unquestionably Adhar Ru'afo, an ugly, angry bugger with an appearance which could turn anyone off the idea of having plastic surgery.
What's good: It's kind of fun to see the effects of these "fountain of youth" particles on the crew of the Enterprise, particularly Riker and Troi, since they finally decide that, yeah, actually, they do still love each other. There's definitely a solid onscreen chemistry between Picard and Anij, one of the leaders of the Ba'ku, even if the attempted romance is expedited far too quickly for it to feel realistic.
What's bad: Everything you've ever heard about this movie playing like a strictly-average episode of "The Next Generation" expanded to feature-film length is true. There's nothing awful about it…well, except perhaps the decision to have Data sing Gilbert and Sullivan…but nor is there anything particularly scintillating about it, either. Has anyone ever offered a good reason why we didn't get a Q-centric "Next Generation" movie instead?
Most surprising cast member: Buried under a considerable amount of make-up is Oscar-winning actor F. Murray Abraham, but also in the same situation is Gregg Henry, who most recently kicked ass as Hugh Panetta on FX's cancelled-too-soon "The Riches."
"Yeah, but the book was better." – I can't help but wonder if Dillard was getting the scripts to the films later and later each time, because there's virtually nothing here that isn't portrayed on screen, aside from a few extra lines of description here and there. Or maybe she just didn't have a great deal to work with, and this is the end result of that.
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
Storyline: After a terrorist attack on the Romulan senate changes the power structure within the empire, the Enterprise, which has just happened upon an android which comes from the same stock as Data, is assigned to a diplomatic mission to see how the coup has shaken up the government. The crew soon meets the new Praetor, whose connections to Picard are far closer than anyone could possibly have imagined.
Villain: Praetor Shinzon, who's supposed to be a Reman, except that he's actually also a clone of Picard. Unlike the man whose DNA he shares, however, he's a nasty, vicious fellow who isn't afraid to commit telepathic rape to get the information he needs.
What's good: The opening sequence in the Romulan senate is pretty cool, and the dark, sleek look of the film occasionally manages to make you forget the convoluted plot.
What's bad: This movie wants desperately to be the Next Generation's take on both "The Wrath of Khan" (Data's destruction) and "The Undiscovered Country" (Starfleet's relationship with the Romulan Empire), but with its misbegotten attempts at humor, it often comes far closer to "The Final Frontier." Director Stuart Baird seems to have had little or no concern about what the fans of the franchise wanted out of a "Trek" film, offering a slam-bang action flick while consistently missing out on opportunities to offer character moments. Plus, it's all over the damned place, with Romulans, Remans, a clone of Picard, and an early model of Data all vying for time with Riker and Troi's wedding and the knowledge that Riker is preparing to leave the Enterprise and get his own ship. The result is a decidedly sub-par final voyage for Captain Picard and his crew.
Most surprising cast member: That Ron Perlman is here but unrecognizable is only predictable, given his predilection for such makeup-laden roles, but if you "Saw" fans thought that Romulan Commander Donatra looked a little familiar, it's because she's portrayed by Dina Meyer, who played the now-late Kerry before finally succumbing to Jigsaw's antics at the end of "Saw III." (Not that it kept her from turning up in "Saw IV," anyway.)
"Yeah, but the book was better." – Well, now we know where all of the character stuff that didn't make it into the film went to die. Reading Dillard's adaptation shows you everywhere that the filmmakers went wrong, giving us more historical info about the Romulan / Reman conflict, more interaction amongst the crew about the impending departure of Riker and Troi from their midst, and - yes! - 100% more Wesley Crusher!