- Directors: Robert Wise
- Producers: Gene Roddenberry
- Writers: Screenplay, Harold Livingston, Gene Roddenberry, Story, Alan Dean Foster
- Genres: Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi
- Actors: See Cast
A Starfleet monitoring station detects an alien force hidden in a massive cloud of energy moving through space. The cloud destroys three alien Klingon warships and the Starfleet station en route to Earth. The Starship Enterprise is undergoing a major refit while its former commander, James T. Kirk, has been promoted to Admiral and works in San Francisco. Starfleet decides to dispatch the Enterprise to investigate the cloud entity as it is the only ship in intercept range, requiring its new systems to be tested in transit.
As part of the mission, Kirk takes command of the ship, angering Captain Willard Decker, who had been overseeing the refit as its new commanding officer. Testing of Enterprise’s new systems goes poorly; the science officer is killed by a malfunctioning transporter, and the ship’s improperly calibrated engines create an artificial wormhole. The tension between Kirk and Decker increases when Kirk’s unfamiliarity with the Enterprise’s redesigned weapons nearly destroys the vessel. The Vulcan Spock arrives as replacement science officer, explaining that while undergoing a ritual to purge all emotion on Vulcan, he felt a consciousness that he believes emanates from the cloud.
The Enterprise intercepts the alien cloud and is heavily damaged. An alien probe appears on the bridge, attacks Spock and abducts the navigator, Ilia. She is replaced by a robotic probe sent by “V’ger” to study the crew. Decker is distraught over the loss of Ilia, with whom he had a romantic history, and is troubled as he attempts to extract information from the mechanical doppelgÃ¤nger; the probe has Ilia’s memories and feelings buried within. Spock takes a spacewalk to the alien vessel’s surface and attempts a telepathic mind meld with it. In doing so, he learns that the vessel is V’ger itself, a living machine.
At the heart of the vessel, V’ger is revealed to be Voyager 6, a twentieth century space probe launched from Earth. The damaged probe was found by an alien race of living machines that interpreted its programming as instructions to learn all that can be learned, and return that information to its creator. The machines upgraded the probe to fulfill its mission, and on its journey the probe gathered so much knowledge that it achieved consciousness. Spock realizes that V’ger lacks the ability to give itself a purpose other than its original mission; having learned what it could on its journey home, it finds its existence empty and without purpose. Before transmitting all its information, V’ger insists that the Creator come in person to finish the sequence. Realizing that the machine wants to merge with its creator, Decker offers himself to V’ger. The commander and the Ilia probe merge, creating a new form of life. With Earth saved and their mission completed, Kirk directs the Enterprise out to space for future missions.