The third of the original crew’s movies, Search for Spock was the follow up to Wrath of Khan, dealing the emotional fallout of Spock’s sacrifice. The grieving didn’t last long, when Spock’s father arrives, and the crew discovers that there may be a chance that Spock could be brought back. However, in their way stands the Enterprise being decommissioned, Star Fleet quarantining the Genesis planet, and a rogue Klingon commander who wants the Genesis weapon for himself. In other words, it was an average Tuesday for the crew of the Enterprise.
While not as good as some of the others, Search for Spock was still very, very good in my opinion. It was definitely one of the funnier entries in the franchise, the Enterprise’s crew making the rest of Star Fleet look like idiots as they stole the Enterprise and went rogue to save their friend. The humour stopped however once they arrived at Genesis, the Klingons taking more than anyone ever had from Kirk and company. It was the most tragic of the films by far, the destruction of the Enterprise, the death of Kirk’s son, and annihilation of Genesis, Search for Spock was by far the franchise’s most emotionally jarring episode. The payoff in the end, Spock’s return on Vulcan, was a great finale, but the road to get there was not as smooth as fans had anticipated, which was why the film was so compelling.
One of the major highlights for me was the performance of Christopher Lloyd as the more-than-a-little psychotic Klingon Commander. Lloyd, an underrated actor in my view, was absolutely superb, creating a villain that fans could truly hate, and an adversary for Kirk unlike anything we had seen before. Making a memorable villain, especially since the last movie featured the greatest in the franchise’s history, is no easy task, but Lloyd accomplished it in spades. You see, I never really hated Khan. I knew he had to be stopped, of course he did, but I didn’t hate him. I understood him, understood why he was doing this, and even sympathized to a point. Lloyd’s character on the other had was a murderer and psychopath, killing Kirk’s son without mercy, purely to get what he wanted. People like that are scum to me, and that’s what made this character so good, and Lloyd’s performance so memorable, an oft forgotten one in the history of the franchise.
Search for Spock also laid the groundwork for the future of the franchise, the destruction of the Enterprise leading to the creation of a new one, which gave the crew no shortage of difficulty in The Final Frontier. Kirk’s theft of the ship also earned him a demotion in the next film, which followed up on the events of Search for Spock (we’ll get to that in a bit). Most importantly, though, the death of David gave Kirk a deep-seeded hatred for Klingons, a hatred that would be a focal point for the last film for the original crew, The Unidiscovered Country. The more I think about it, the more I realize that in terms of long reaching effects on the franchise, The Search for Spock may be the most important film in the franchise, which is a strange thing to say when you think about it.