Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

Film and Plot Synopsis

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home begins in the 23rd century. A gigantic space probe appears over Earth, and emanates strange sounds towards the planet. It hovers as if waiting for something. As time goes on, the probe starts to cause major storms on Earth, and threaten its destruction. Admiral James T. Kirk and crew are called upon once again to save mankind. They discover the strange sounds are actually the songs of the humpback whale – which has been hunted to extinction. They have only one choice – to attempt to time travel back into the 20th century, locate two whales, and bring them back to 23rd century Earth to respond to the probe.

‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home begins in the year 2286. An unknown probe moves through the outer reaches of the known galaxy. As it progresses, it sends out a mysterious and indecipherable signal that disables the power of every ship that it comes into contact with. It follows a direct path to Earth where it takes up orbit. It continues to send out the disabling signal and knocks out the global power grid and begins to generate catastrophic storms that increase cloud cover all over the planet. Dependent on the sun, Starfleet Command sends out at planetary distress signal that warns all other starships to stay away from Earth or face certain doom.

On the planet Vulcan, the surviving crew of the now destroyed U.S.S. Enterprise make preparations to return to Earth and face the consequences of their actions taken in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Although their swift action saved Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy), the crew are wanted criminals and believe the honorable thing is to surrender themselves. Spock, who is still recovering from the mind meld with Dr. Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley), wishes to return with his crewmates to present testimony at the trial on their behalf. Because he destroyed the Enterprise, Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) must return to Earth in the Klingon Bird of Prey that they stole from the Klingons.

While in route to Earth, Kirk and the crew receive the planetary distress signal from Starfleet Command. Spock listens to the message and determines that the signal matches the song of humpback whales and must be meant for them. However, Spock explains, the whales cannot answer the call since they have been extinct for several generations. Additionally, Spock agrees that if the signal is not answered then the probe will destroy all life on Earth. Spock concludes that there is no way to answer the call in the present day, but if the ship went back in time via a slingshot maneuver around the Sun, they could acquire whales in the past and bring them forward in time to answer the probe. Kirk orders the crew to prepare for time travel and jumps back in time.

They arrive in the late 20th century. Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) is able to locate whale song coming from the city of San Francisco. However, Captain Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (James Doohan) informs Kirk that the jump through time drained all the power from their dilithium crystals. Without new crystals, the ship cannot make the jump forward in time, let alone fly. Spock hypothesizes that if they were able to acquire radiation particles and inject them into the dilithium chamber that the crystals will recrystallize. Fortunately, in the atomic era, radiation particles were available in a variety of places. The crew breaks into three teams to solve all their problems. Kirk and Spock go to locate the whales. Uhura and Commander Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) are assigned to retrieve the radiation particles. McCoy, Scottie, and Commander Hikaru Sulu (George Takei) are in charge of building an enclosure for the whales.

Kirk and Spock discover a pair of whales, named George and Gracie, at the Sausalito Aquarium. They are under the care of Dr. Gillian Taylor (Catherine Hicks). When Spock jumps into the enclosure to mind meld with the whales, he discovers that Gracie is pregnant and draws the anger of Dr. Taylor. Suspicious of the pair, she goes to dinner with Kirk. Kirk learns that the whales will soon be released into the wild. Laying his cards on the table, Kirk tells Taylor of his mission and asks for the tracking frequency of the whales, but Taylor refuses to cooperate thinking him insane.

Meanwhile, Scotty, McCoy, and Sulu are able to trade the future formula for transparent aluminum in exchange for the present day equivalent materials to make their whale tank. Uhura and Chekov are able to locate the radiation particles that they need onboard a United States nuclear vessel and beam into acquire them that night. Chekov is captured by military police, and when he tries to escape, he falls and suffers a near fatal head injury.

The next day, the whales are released into the wild without Dr. Taylor’s knowledge. Upset that she didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, she seeks out Kirk for his assistance. She provides him with the radio frequencies, but Kirk says they cannot leave without Chekov. McCoy, Kirk, and Taylor beam into the hospital where Chekov is being treated. McCoy is able to repair Chekov’s head injury with 23rd century technology, and the foursome make their escape from the authorities. They return to the newly recharged Bird of Prey and set out to find the whales.

They save the whales from whale hunters and beam them on board. With the humpbacks in their possession, they make the warp jump for a slingshot back around the sun and return to 2286. They arrive while the probe is still sending its signal, and their ship is disabled. They crash land into San Francisco Bay with no way of getting the whales out of the ship. Kirk swims under water to activate the manual release before the whales drown in their enclosures. Once the whales are released, they sing their whale song for the probe which stops sending its signal and returns to the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

Shortly thereafter, the Enterprise crew pleads guilty to their crimes and awaits the judgement of Starfleet Command. In recognition of their part in saving the Earth and Starfleet, all of the charges against the crew are dismissed, except one count of disobeying a superior officer. The sole remaining count is leveled at Kirk. As punishment, Kirk is demoted from Admiral to Captain and given the command of a starship. After the trial, Taylor says goodbye to Kirk as she goes off to her assignment aboard a science vessel to study the whales. The crew departs for their new ship and are surprised that they have been given the newly christened U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1701-A). Kirk says that they have come home as he orders the ship on its shakedown mission.

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Paramount Pictures released Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home on November 26, 1986. Leonard Nimoy directed the film starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley.

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