Some fan film series are so cosmic in scope that they require epic conclusions worthy of their storylines.
One such production is Star Trek: Armada (also known as ST:Armada), an animated project that required three “seasons” to present a galactic war that pitted Captain Kirk and his crew against old and new enemies with the fate of two quadrants at stake.
The series introduced two new races to the Star Trek universe: the Phallusians, who look like little green men (but who generously gave the Enterprise an incredibly powerful “superweapon”); and the Hydra, a race of conquerors who look uncomfortably like us humans.
At the end of the second season, Captain Kirk and his crew destroyed a “jump gate” device in an attempt to prevent anyone else from the I’Rosak Quadrant, home of the Phallusians and the Hydra, from causing further turmoil in the Alpha Quadrant.
However, the victory came at a steep price since Doctor McCoy was stranded in the other side of the universe.
The new season begins with Kirk acknowledging that the transwarp conduit they used to leave the Hydra’s sector of space had seriously damaged the ship’s hull. The only thing holding the starship together is the “superweapon” given to them by the Phallusians.
But when the Enterprise returns to Federation territory, the ship is immediately surrounded by Klingon Battle Cruisers, one of which carries Starfleet Admiral O’Haire who demands that Kirk give the weapon to the Klingons to keep them as allies in a situation so dire that Earth is under enemy control.
However, Kirk refuses to give the device to his old enemies, which causes the Klingon commander to accuse Starfleet of breaking the truce and sends raiding parties aboard the Enterprise, where they claim their weapons have no “stun setting.”
A security detail led by Sulu and Chekov retake the sections of the ship controlled by the Klingons, and Kirk tells O’Haire they should meet to work out a way of saving their quadrant.
The briefing with Kirk, Kor and the admiral ends abruptly when Lieutenant Uhura receives a distress call from a Federation colony under assault by the Phallusians. Kirk says he’ll take the Enterprise and rescue the colonists.
But O’Haire tells the captain: “When the Enterprise returns from this mission, the starship will be decommissioned, and I will have the Energon device even if I have to rip it out with my bare hands!”
Meanwhile, the Romulans forge alliances with the Gorn and even the Phallusians in an effort to defeat the Federation and the Klingons (and supposedly the Hydra) in order to conquer the entire Alpha Quadrant.
Back in their sector, the Hydra have put Doctor McCoy to work attempting to find a way to overcome the withdrawal symptoms that occur when the aliens stop ingesting the purple root that gives them telepathic abilities.
Bones tells one of the Hydra that “you have to decide what’s best for you: Do you want to slowly lose your mind taking purple root, or live a life free of its negative effects?”
Meanwhile, the Phallusians (who could all use some charcoal teeth whitening when you see them, eek) finish constructing a jump gate to get reinforcements from the other side of the cosmos, but as their ships begin coming through, the Tholians attack and begin constructing a web around the gate and enemy ships.
The story then flashes back to when the Enterprise was attempting to pass unnoticed through Tholian space until the Energon device caused cracks in the dilithium crystals. When the ship dropped out of warp, Kirk and Spock took a shuttle to the Tholians’ home world, which had never been visited by anyone from the Federation.
The mission was complicated by the fact that Lola Swift had stowed away in the shuttle even though Kirk said he’d have her thrown out of Starfleet for giving important information to the enemy during Season 2.
Just as the shuttle reached its destination, a Tholian ship fired on it, causing it to crash on the planet’s surface.
With the shuttle badly damaged and Lola unconscious, Kirk and Spock used oxygen helmets and energy belts that enabled them to float rather than walk on the lava-coated surface until they located large dilithium crystals and were chased back to the shuttle by a dragon-like creature.
As several spider-like Tholians approached the shuttle, Kirk and Spock suddenly found themselves beamed onto a Tholian ship. When they found Lola in charge of the vessel, the Vulcan first officer deduced that she was a member of the Hydra, one who’d been spying on Starfleet for a year.
Lola then altered Spock’s memory of recent events, and even though she couldn’t do that to a human, the Vulcan used a mindmeld on Kirk to adjust his memories as well.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise was under attack from Tholian ships as they created another web just as the ship carrying Kirk, Spock and Lola arrived on the scene. Once the starship had beamed them and their dilithium crystal aboard, Scotty was able to connect it to their warp drive, and the ship escaped the web.
Back in the present, Spock appears to be dying while on Earth, the Tholians are attacked by the Romulans as well as the Phallusians, and they’re sent running home “with their tails between their many legs,” the Romulan commander says of the trap they’d set.
Thanks to the beating it’s taken from the Hydra vessel, the Enterprise loses its power and becomes a sitting duck in front of a huge alien ship until … next Friday, when we’ll wrap up this review of the final season of Star Trek: Armada!
With my animated Clint Eastwood hat firmly on my head, let’s review the first half of this cosmic adventure!
The Good: One of the terrific things about Armada is the sheer cosmic scale of the story, with fleets of starships from all sides being involved in the closest thing to a galactic war I’ve ever seen. I’m sure that live-action Star Trek would have loved to do this except for the fact that their budget wouldn’t allow it.
However, animators like Solarbaby have a virtually unlimited “budget” and can blow us away with images of aliens, planets and space wars that live-action productions would find incredibly costly to produce.
The Bad: If you recall Armada being done by someone with a different name, your memory isn’t at fault..Caithlin Ferrara in Great Britain was using the screen name “Section 31” when she began her magnum opus, but she now is known online as “Solarbaby.” You say tomayto, I say tomahto … .
The Ugly: I rarely split my reviews of independent productions, but Armada is so jammed to the teeth with characters, surprises and space battles that I couldn’t give the conclusion proper coverage in just one column.
If you’d like to view the first two seasons of Armada, point your Web browser here and then here. For a look at my reviews of the first two seasons, click here and then here. And of course, you have the option of viewing Season 3 below, but be sure to join us next week as we check out Solarbaby’s spectacular conclusion to her animated epic.