The Star Trek franchise continued to boldly go forwards with 1992’s The Undiscovered Country, where conspiracy and murder dominated the movie. Opening with the huge explosion of the Klingon moon Praxis, we get to witness Captain Hikaru Sulu (George Takei), aboard his starship the USS Excelsior (which includes Janice Rand played by Grace Lee Whitney) struggling with the aftermath resulting in a shockwave that strikes the ship. It is revealed that that this explosion has caused the loss of key energy production facility and on top of that the destruction of the Klingon homeworld’s ozone layer throws the Klingon Empire into turmoil.
The Klingon Empire’s new situation forces them to attempt to make peace with their longstanding enemy the United Federation of Planets. Accepting the proposal before the Klingons revert to a more belligerent approach, Starfleet sends the USS Enterprise-A to meet with the Klingon Chancellor, Gorkon (David Warner), and escort him to negotiations on Earth. Enterprise ’s captain, James T. Kirk (William Shatner), whose son David (Merritt Butrick) was murdered by Klingons years earlier, opposes the negotiations and resents his assignment.
The ships meet up and head towards Earth, with the crews sharing a tense meal aboard Enterprise. Later that night, the Enterprise fires on the Klingon ship with a pair of photon torpedoes, disabling the artificial gravity aboard the Klingon vessel. During the melee, two Starfleet uniform clad figures wearing gravity boots beam aboard the Klingon ship and grievously wound Gorkon before beaming away. Kirk surrenders to avoid a fight, and beams aboard the Klingon ship with Doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) to attempt to save Gorkon’s life. The chancellor dies, and Gorkon’s chief of staff, General Chang (Christopher Plummer) puts Kirk and McCoy on trial for his assassination!
Defended by what I’m guessing is a descendent of Worf (played by Michael Dorn), they are quickly found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment on the frozen asteroid Rura Penthe. Gorkon’s daughter, Azetbur (Rosanna DeSoto), becomes the new chancellor, and continues diplomatic negotiations; for reasons of security, the conference is relocated and the new location is kept secret. While several senior Starfleet officers want to rescue Kirk and McCoy, the Federation president refuses to risk full-scale war. Azetbur likewise refuses to invade Federation space, stating that only Kirk and McCoy will pay for her father’s death.
Upon arriving at the Rura Penthe mines Kirk and McCoy are befriended by a shapeshifter named Martia (Iman), who offers a way to escape but there is a mere ruse to make their prearranged deaths appear accidental. Upon her plan being revealed, Martia transforms into Kirk’s double and fights him. She is killed by the prison guards to silence any witnesses. Just before the prison warden reveals who ordered their deaths, Kirk and McCoy are beamed aboard Enterprise by Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy), who had assumed command and undertaken an investigation in Kirk’s absence.
Spock’s investigation determined that Enterprise did not fire the torpedoes and that the assassins are still aboard! This results in the crewsearching for them. Unfortunately the two assassins Burke (BJ Davis) and Samno (Alan Marcus) are found dead, but Kirk and Spock trick their accomplice into believing they are still alive. When the culprit arrives in Sickbay to finish off the assassins, Kirk and Spock are shocked to discover that the killer is Spock’s protégé, Lt. Valeris (Kim Cattrall). To discover the identity of the conspirators, Spock initiates a forced mind-meld, and learns that a group of Federation, Klingon, and Romulan officers plotted to sabotage the peace talks, and Chang is one of the conspirators. It is revealed that the torpedoes that struck Gorkon’s cruiser came from a prototype Bird of Prey that can fire while cloaked, and hovered just below Enterprise at the time of the assassination.
Upon this revelation, the Enetrprise crew contacts Sulu, who informs them the conference is being held at Camp Khitomer. Both the Eneterprise and the Excelsior hit maximum warp to get their in time! Upon arrival Chang’s cloaked Bird of Prey moves to intercept. With Enterprise unable to track his ship’s position, Chang inflicts severe damage on Enterprise and then Excelsior. At Uhura’s suggestion, Spock and McCoy modify a photon torpedo to home in on the exhaust emissions of Chang’s vessel, using equipment originally intended to study gaseous anomalies…
Following what happens above both ships beam to the conference and halt an attempt on the Federation President’s (Kurtwood Smith) life. Kirk pleads for those present to continue the peace process. He is questioned by Chancellor Azetbur and replies in full Shatner:
“Some people think the future means the end of history. Well, we haven’t run out of history quite yet. Your father called the future ‘the undiscovered country’. People can be very frightened of change.”
Azetbur says Kirk has restored her father’s faith; Kirk responds that she has restored that of his son. Having saved the peace talks, Enterprise is ordered back to Earth by Starfleet Command to be decommissioned, but the crew decide to take their time on the return voyage. As Enterprise cruises towards a nearby star, Kirk proclaims that though this mission is the final cruise of Enterprise under his command, others will continue their voyages.