Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country features Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy) performing an unwanted mind meld on Lt. Valeris (Kim Cattrall), a controversial scene that has not aged well. The final film to feature the entire cast of Star Trek: The Original Series, The Undiscovered Country centers on a conspiracy to thwart peace talks between the United Federation Of Planets and the Klingon Empire, the latter of which has become hobbled by a catastrophic mining accident. Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan director Nicholas Meyer returned to helm the TOS crew’s final cinematic voyage.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is not without controversy. Some took offense to the raw, angry racism Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) expresses toward the Klingons early on, as he still blames the entire species for the death of his son in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, who by that point was gravely ill and near the end of his life, reportedly hated the movie, even engaging in a heated meeting with Meyer to express his reservations about the film’s dark tone and certain character motivations. And yet the movie’s most enduring controversy remains Spock’s shocking actions near the end of the film.
Why Spock’s Star Trek VI Mind Meld With Valeris Was So Controversial
After it’s revealed that Spock’s Vulcan protégé onboard the USS Enterprise-A, Lt. Valeris, is a part of the vast conspiracy to stop peace talks between the Federation and the Klingons, Kirk demands to know the names of the other conspirators. After Valeris declines to name her associates, Spock forces her into a Vulcan mind meld, essentially ripping the names from her mind. It’s a tense, quiet scene, underscored by a haunting heartbeat, with Spock and Valeris whispering the conspirators’ names in unison. When Spock presses her on the location of the secret peace conference, Valeris screams out in pain and terror, unable to offer up information she doesn’t know.
Spock’s voice shakes as he ends the mind meld, with the Vulcan clearly regretting his actions on some level. His actions weren’t completely unwarranted; Valeris was, at the very least, a murderer who conspired against the Federation. Not only that, her betrayal clearly had a profound effect on Spock. That said, the forced mind meld feels like nothing less than an assault, the sort of violation the heroes of Star Trek don’t perpetrate. It’s a black mark on an otherwise great finale for the TOS crew.
Star Trek VI’s Director Dislikes The Mind Meld Scene
Nicholas Meyer was crucial to the development of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, not only directing the film, but coming up with the initial story idea with star and producer Leonard Nimoy. The strong-willed Meyer never had a problem pushing Star Trek into territory it had never been before, occasionally to the annoyance of his co-creators and almost always to the chagrin of Gene Roddenberry, who thought Meyer fundamentally misunderstood Star Trek. More often than not, Meyer’s instincts were right, and he’s responsible for a handful of the best Star Trek stories ever.
And yet Meyer has recently expressed some level of regret over the forced mind meld scene. Meyer compared the scene to watching someone be waterboarded and believes he’d make a different decision regarding the treatment of Lieutenant Valeris now. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country stands as a near-masterpiece hindered by one poorly considered scene.
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