If you’re a Star Trek noob like I was 6 months ago, or if you want a list of stuff to watch/know before the new movie, then this post is for you.
Having seen the new movie, I think I can safely say here what you should be (re)watching before seeing the new Trek next week.
For my pre-Trek marathon, I used as a loose guide Tor’s list of Star Trek epis you should see before the new movie.
The problem with that list is basically the fact that it’s based upon trailers that came out months ago and rumors regarding the movie’s plot.
I mostly agree with this list except for a few epis that are irrelevant for the new movie.
Now, if you don’t really care at all about Star Trek, the characters, and just want to be entertained by the FX of the movie, then you obviously don’t need to know/watch everything in this article.
For the people actually interested in what to watch before the new movie, here goes:
The first things to know are the basics.
Can you answer the following:
Do you know what the difference between a Vulcan and Vulcan?
What differentiates Vulcans from Romulans?
What makes Spock so special?
What is Starfleet and the Federation?
If you can’t, then you definitely need to read the basic mythology components.
You should try Memory Alpha, the greatest Star Trek wiki (used by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman themselves) to brush off your Trek knowledge.
As for an introduction to the Trekverse via the Original Series, check out the following epis:
– Balance of Terror (1×08)
The first time we actually see the Romulans in Trek as well as an introduction to what will be known as the Neutral Zone.
– The Menagerie, Parts I & II (1×15 & 1×16)
This is the episode we get to first meet Captain Pike (played by Bruce Greenwood in the new movie). Although not that important for the new movie, it’s worth a watch just to see Pike, as well as see an Orion slave girl.
– Amok Time (2×05)
This episode introduces us to some vital Vulcan culture components, like Vulcan sex.
– Journey to Babel (2×15)
In which we first get to meet Spock’s parents, Sarek and Amanda. We also witness the special father/son/mother dynamic the three have.
– The Enterprise Incident (3×04)
Here we gather more info on the Romulans and the Vulcans.
For Bonus points you can try to see Klingon-related episodes such as Errand of Mercy (1×27), but the Klingon sub-plot will only be available when the new Trek movie comes out on DVD.
If you still have some time left, try to watch the following TOS movies:
– Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
– Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
– Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
These are mainly for the purpose of getting to know a bit more about Spock and Sarek (especially the third film), and since it’s kind of a trilogy by itself, try to watch them all together.
You can even try to watch the last TOS movie, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country to get some form of closure and move on to the rest of your marathon.
Now that you’ve become familiar with TOS, time to get familiar with The Next Generation (TNG).
I should point out here that, save for Sarek and Unification, most of the epis listed are here to get you going with the TNG crew to understand Nemesis, and therefore get a deeper understanding of the prequel comic for the new movie.
The show takes place roughly a century after TOS in a universe where the Klingons are allies of the Federation but Romulans are still enemies.
Keep in mind that the technology has vastly evolved for everyone (except for Spandex).
– Encounter at Farpoint (1×01 & 1×02)
First and foremost, obviously, the 2-parter that introduces us to the crew of the USS Enterprise. Although not that important regarding the current continuity, it is still interesting to meet a new crew, and if you only stick to the epis listed here, it’ll give you at least some sense of backstory regarding the characters that will be somewhat heavily featured in the prequel comic.
– Sarek (3×23)
This episode tries to link TOS to TNG by introducing an important character in Spock’s life: his father. Although in the theatrical version of the new movie Sarek doesn’t have that big of a role, he will in the extended version of the movie, so be prepared! The episode also concludes the diplomatic storyline from the TOS episode Journey to Babel.
– Unification, Parts I & II (5×07 & 5×08)
Arguably one of, if not the, most important episode on this list that sets-up Spock’s future actions in the prequel comic and the new movie. 24th-century Spock is indeed heavily featured in both, continuing his quest to try to reunite both the Romulans and the Vulcans.
Also, if you want to understand why Shatner isn’t in the new movie, see the 7th Trek movie: Star Trek Generations.
Moving on to the final piece of Trek story before the prequel, we arrive at what has been known as the worst Trek film ever, Star Trek Nemesis.
This movie is not important at all regarding the new movie, but, like I said, if you want to get a deeper understanding of what happens in the prequel comic, you should watch it (especially the second half) and see what happens to the various TNG characters at the end.
Wow, that was a long watch list.
Still with me?
Since you have now gathered tons of info on the Trekverse and its characters, time to move forward to the new Star Trek movie, and its prequel: Star Trek Countdown.
Just by looking at the cover you can see why I made you watch all those TNG episodes:
The comic picks up roughly 20 years after the events of Unification and 10 years after Nemesis, connecting the TNG characters to Spock and Nero (the bad guy of the new movie).
Spock continues his quest for peace with Nero but things go very wrong, very fast.
The story is pretty simple but some major stuff happens there that you must see.
Although what happens in the comic (Nero’s motivation for what he’s doing) is very roughly explained in the actual movie (in less than a minute), a lot was skipped (basically everything regarding 24th-century Spock), so you should definitely try to check out the comic before seeing the new Star Trek movie.
Also, the movie begins exactly where the comic ends.
So, pretty cool.
Well, looks like you’re all prepared to see the movie and enjoy its fine details.
Of course, there are loads of reference to various Star Trek episodes not listed here, but this list was compiled just to give you a broad understanding of the Trekverse and its characters so that you could enjoy the new movie’s storyline at its fullest (or close to).
If you wish, once you’ve seen it, or now if you want to get spoiled, you can read my Star Trek review.
Enjoy the movie.