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The six best Star Trek starship swan songs

Posted by AntonyF - 11/05/12 at 01:05 pm


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With the likes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine taking out starships by the dozen, there’s no shortage of great starships biting the dust in Star Trek.

But here’s what I think are the most memorable six…

USS Enterprise 1701 in Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock

It had been 18 years since Star Trek had first graced people’s screens, so when Kirk initiated the self destruct on the Enterprise in the third movie he really was calling time on the face of Star Trek.

Seeing this icon’s hull gradually peel away in flames, before blowing up and plunging into the atmosphere is very moving – particularly with Kirk looking on, knowing he brought an end to his trusty ship.

This really marked the end of an era for Star Trek. RIP Enterprise.

 

USS Enterprise 1701-D in Star Trek: Generations

At the time, the Enterprise D’s passing in Star Trek: Generations was nothing short of awesome for me. I’d grown up with TNG, and just the whole concept of watching my favourite crew on the big screen then seeing the TNG technical manual’s saucer separ crash landing actually happen… well, it was a fan boy’s dream.

The excitement of the big screen and Dolby sound of it all made it a very memorable end for what is still one of my favourite ships.

It’s just marred slightly with the retrospect of an adult knowing they took out this noble ship just because they needed to build some new big-screen worthy sets and get rid of a TV-born Enterprise.

 

USS Enterprise 1701-D in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Cause and Effect”

Definitely one of the best of TNG’s season five, and one of my all-time favourite TNGs.

TNG rarely dropped you straight in at the deep end, normally taking time to explain what the crew was doing before softly taking into you into that week’s story. But not with “Cause and Effect”.

The episode starts with the Enterprise biting the dust then leaves the viewer wondering what on earth has gone on. You have to wait via the credits, and potentially ads too, just to be deposited back on the Enterprise like nothing has happened.

Seeing the Enterprise’s nacelle destroyed, followed by the crew’s failed efforts to save themselves, was a stunning change of pace for TNG. And not only that, you got to see it happen again and again and again…

 

USS Voyager in Star Trek Voyager’s “Year of Hell Part II”

Janeway always had a slight air of nutty about her, and in “Year of Hell” we get to see how far she can be pushed.

As it turns out, it’s quite lot actually. She and the Voyager endure a lot over the course of a year.

It may be reset-buttontastic, but I totally forgive it because of the amazing conclusion to the episode.

Janeway takes the Voyager and does exactly what you expect to do with a starship: ram it into the side of the other ship, destroying you both in the process.

 

USS Odyssey in Star Trek Deep Space Nine’s “The Jem’Hadar”

It was with this episode that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine got serious. The Dominion, hinted at through season 2, finally makes its appearance. And it’s not pretty.

There could have been financial issues that led to the Odyssey being a Galaxy class starship, so they could reuse the ship’s model.

However I think the writers had a very deliberate message to send, in particular to fans of TNG. We’d been led for years to think that the Enterprise was pretty infallible, with Picard and crew always saving the day.

But here they sent a stark message: “The Dominion doesn’t fight like the races you already know, and look how they took out The Odyssey like child’s play. TNG fans, that could have been your beloved Picard – and no one is safe from the Dominion.”

 

USS Defiant in Star Trek Deep Space Nine’s “The Changing Face of Evil”

It’s hard for a DS9 fan to not get emotional when it comes to the Defiant’s demise.

It’d been in the show since season 3, and with it came a change in DS9’s direction. It was the trusty battleship, designed to battle the Borg and then it became an integral part of the war with the Dominion.

But the Breen decided to shake things up, and with that came a high cost for Sisko and his crew.

We all know they had a Defiant-class ship back in no time, and it’s the same sets as before… but we fans knew that the Defiant was gone.

I may have even mourned the Defiant’s passing more than Jadzia… that was how powerful this little ship was.

 


What do you think?

These are by no means exhaustive articles, and are the personal opinions of AntonyF. Share your favorite moments in the comments sections.

AntonyF has been a Trek fan since 1987, and has ran his own websites, written for TrekToday an is the technical admin at TrekBBS. He’s going to write some new articles for TrekToday – unashamed love letters to Star Trek. They will be sporadic, and as he’s not seen most of TOS so apologizes for any inbalance.

Image thanks: Memory Alpha, Memory Beta,

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=587498486 Richard Dyke

    The first enterprise meant more, because it was the original, and all the way though the show it had never been blown up, this was the first and only time, with no resets.

    By the time generations came around I think we had watched the enterprise D blow up close to a dozen times on various episodes, so it had lost its dramatic impact long ago.

  • http://www.corfyscorner.com Corfy

    For similar reasons as Odyssey, I would have mentioned the Constellation from the original series episode “The Doomsday Machine.” That showed me that even Kirk’s Enterprise was vulnerable. But it wasn’t just destroyed, it was sacrificed for the greater good, which I think is a fitting end.

  • NJO2801

    What about the USS Majectic in DS9 “Sacrifice of Angels”?

  • SJStar

    Agreed. What I immediately thought. USS Constellation sacrifice was the best and most meaningful!!

  • SJStar

    “…particularly with Kirk looking on, knowing he brought an end to his trusty ship.”

    You mean rusty ship, I’d think!!

  • Tb2

    The author of this article is very charitable in my opinion.

    Cause and Effect is a lazy episode of TNG in my mind. It would have been far better to see more of the Bozeman than the same scene 4 times with “tweeks”. There is no dramatic payoff from the Ent D exploding like a stuck DVD, because you already know there is the rest of the season, if not the series as proof it doesn’t happen!
    In the same way I was really moved by Voyagers demise in Year of H Part II, only to feel cheated and peeved by the final scenes. – An entire two part story cancels itself out. Complete waste of everyone’s time and money, inc the viewer. What makes it worse was it had a decent script and excellent performances. – Wiped out by a rotten reset button. As a result both of those “destructs” remind me what wasted opportunities they were.

    The original Enterprise in Trek III, the Odyssey in the Jem Haddar and the Defiant in The Changing Face of Evil all strike the right note. A sense of disaster, shock and loss. Even the fact the Defiant’s destruction mirrors that of the Valiant in the ep of the same name does not lessen the surprise at the turn of events. Good writing. It was the last time the destruct card was used well.

    Re the Ent D in Generations – ironically all the ship sets were rebuilt for further television as Voyager. Then in turn, redressed for the Ent E in First Contact and Insurrection, except the Bridge and Engineering sets which were new.

    Other “dramatic” Destructs – Constellation (The Doomsday Machine) The Grissom (Trek III) The Yamoto (Contagion) The Melbourne (Best Of Both Worlds & Emissary)

  • Seventhbeacon

    I’m partial to the Enterprise-C myself. Something about the design of the ambassador-class ship that just appeals to me, and again that added weight of knowing you were going into a losing battle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000539864535 Hal Mitchell Holzman

    You left out the destruction of the USS RELIANT lol… I mean.. had it not been for Genesis… Spock would still be DEAD lol.

  • fainodraino

    Gimme a break…are there any NON-DS9 lackies around here?

    And Voyager’s demise in timeless didn’t get a mention…

    What a joke.

  • http://twitter.com/kevbayer Kevin Bayer

    I cheered when the D died in Generations. I always thought it was an ugly ship design. As a fan of DS9, I agree with you on the demise of the first Defiant (though not about the Jadzia part), but I don’t think I’ve seen the episode where the Odyssey bought it (/fancard revoked, I knowIknow).

    Nice reminiscing article!

  • hostile_17

    The article’s a bit of fun, ya know? And to encourage people to discuss their own favourites.
    Lighten up.

  • Rob Langley

    I’d have mentioned the Voyager episode “Timeless” – not just the crash but then the frozen corpses of the crew…

  • AntonyF

    I admit I forgot about Timeless… but I never really liked that episode much which is probably why it never came to memory. With the TNG cameo gimmick and the two dullest characters leading the ‘rescue’, I think it just never worked for me. Even if the ship crash was great, and somewhat fitting for the article, it slipped from memory.

    Just like Year of Hell it was a reset button – but I always felt Year of Hell had more emotional resonance for me. The Janeway kamikaze was a great culmination because it followed a year of events and a great double parter.

  • Tb2

    Blast, I knew I was missing something in my list too.

  • Brian

    Couldn’t agree more…the best swan song of all time has to be Babylon 5…

  • Maurice

    Terrible grammar and factually incorrect on a number of points, e.g. “they took out this noble ship just because they needed to build big-screen worthy some new sets and get rid of a TV-born Enterprise.” Not only is that nearly gibberish in the middle, but it’s not that they “needed” to do anything, they *wanted* to, which is a whole different thing.

  • AntonyF

    I’m sorry I ruined the internet for you today, and that my grammatical error caused you such distress that you had to post in the comments section. I’ll shelve any future articles, because clearly I don’t deserve to live for this gross mistake.

    As to “need”, yes, they did need to. The sets were built for the (much more forgiving) TV format. When it came to the big screen the TV sets weren’t up to snuff, and a lot of the very dark lighting of Generations was to try and hide some of the issues. Hence they NEEDED to change the sets.

  • AntonyF

    Amen. If I was writing a general sci-fi article… well… may not need any other contenders in the list. :) Babylon 5′s ending was awesome.

  • AntonyF

    That’s definitely where my “I haven’t seen most of TOS” disclaimer comes into play! I do want to watch some more TOS at some point – so will keep that one in mind.

  • fainodraino

    Just tired of all the DS9 fanboys/girls…they seem to run this website, which I generally like.

    BTW, I can’t believe the Odyssey made the list…it’s not even one of the regulars…it was on ONE episode.

    Just proving my point.

  • http://twitter.com/rickthecompgeek Rick Obert

    My God Bones, what have I done?

    What you had to do. What you always do. Turn Death into a fighting chance to live.

  • hostile_17

    This is my first article for TrekToday since I reviewed Voyager and interviewed Enterprise cast members. So please don’t throw around comments that you have no evidence for. I am a TNG/DS9/VOY fan boy thank you very much. Hell even the review above have two Enterprise D, Voyager, and the original Enterprise. I wrote it because I love Trek.

    Not proving your point. The Odyssey was included because I think it was pivotal for a couple of key reasons. One being that it introduced a race that would be pivotal in Star Trek lore, kicking off pretty much a five year arc, destruction of the Maquis (which would even be felt in Voyager), introduction of the Defiant etc. and they did this in a way which would resonate with TNG fans.

    Plus I think – welcome to be corrected if I’m wrong – it was the first time we’d seen enemies kamikaze into Federation ships to take them out. It showed a very different type of enemy for Star Trek – and one that is frighteningly more relevant to the world we live in today.

    That’s why I included the Odyssey in my personal top six.

  • SJStar

    I agree. I have a different reason though. When I first saw the USS Odyssey (NCC 71832) destruction episode my jaw literally dropped! (no internet spoilers in 1994.) The biggest thing was seeing the Captain and some of the crew, brimming with confidence, before their final journey. I was also taken by the sensitivity of the writers, who remove the non-essential crew of woman and children. It is also rumoured that it was a tribute to Apollo 13, as it was the name of the command module.
    See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzARkU5l2JE especially at 2:30. [Note: The dramatic music and the closeups.]

    Other than Enterprise, the only other Galaxy destruction was the USS Yamota by a warp core breach. (TNG “Contagion”) [Not mentioned by others here for some reason.] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1WtRpPG8C0 or better quality Japanese version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJaSPVI0CdY at 5:29 [Note: Again we see the dramatic music and the closeups.]

  • Kang the Unbalanced

    Ahh yes. I watched that crappy episode for the sole purpose of seeing Voyager destroyed, the crew killed, and Seven of Nine dissected. Fun times, fun times.

  • Kang the Unbalanced

    Meh. The Reliant being destroyed after being commandeered was a “so what?” on a par with the ships in “The Ultimate Computer” getting slagged. It’s definitely nowhere near the top of the list.

  • Kang the Unbalanced

    Now that’s a very good point. It had weight, even if the destruction was offscreen.

  • Doctor Clu

    I didn’t realize the Defiant had been destroyed. Wow still reeling from that. I remember Enterprise (original) being destroyed had a similar effect on me and making a “Enterprise-A” did not start to fill the void for me until Star Trek VI.

    I would like to add that the USS Grissom in Star Trek III was a bit unsettling to me. What should have been a somewhat robust seemed to bite it really fast and I really felt for her crew. Despite what I would see as a weak design, we got to see this ship type in TNG where we saw no Constitution Class ships which obviously were a more robust design. [Correction, just found out from memory Alpha there were pieces of Star Trek III Enterprise used in the Wolf 359 shot, and another part of a Constitution made a cameo in Best of Both Worlds... but still doesn't count as a full on Constitution sighting to me.]