What The 'Star Trek Beyond' Ending Means For The Future Of The Franchise

With a fourth Star Trek movie officially in the works, it should be obvious to fans that Star Trek Beyond doesn't end with the death of a major character, at least not Chris Pine's Captain Kirk or Zachary Quinto's Spock, both of whom are already signed on for a potential Star Trek 4. But, before we get into what the end of Beyond could mean for the next Star Trek movie, let's talk about the Star Trek Beyond ending first. While the end of Star Trek Beyond certainly lends itself to a possible sequel, it doesn't really leave too many loose ends that need tying off. (Spoilers ahead!)

First, you should know that Star Trek Beyond starts with a huge upset: the complete destruction of the USS Enterprise, which leaves the crew separated and stranded on various parts of Altamid, a planet unknown to the Federation. After being attacked by Krall, an alien villain with a bone to pick with the Federation, the majority of the Enterprise crew (including Sulu and Uhura, but minus the others in the main cast) is held captive by Krall and his minions. Meanwhile, Kirk and Chekov meet up with Scotty and his new friend Jaylah, a young woman desperate to get off Altamid and leave Krall behind. The very first conflict that must be resolved in Beyond is the separation of the crew, but once Sulu and Uhura join the others, they are faced with an entirely new battle: to stop Krall from obliterating every soul on the Federation space station of Yorktown using an ancient piece of alien technology.

In the end, Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Scotty, Chekov, Bones, Sulu, and Jaylah are able to defeat Krall and save Yorktown. The whole ordeal brings them closer together as a crew, as Krall, who is revealed to actually have been one of the first Federation Captains, becomes an example of what can happen to a man who loses sight of his purpose and loyalty to his crew. Krall is a man who has lost his humanity, an extreme, less principled version of what Kirk could become at the start of the film.

When Beyond begins, two years after the end of Star Trek Into Darkness, the crew is fraying at the edges. Kirk is ready to be grounded as an Admiral after realizing the monotony and vastness of space exploration, while Spock is considering leaving Starfleet to focus on building New Vulcan. After their battle with Krall, however, both Spock and Kirk decide to stick with their crew on the (new) Enterprise and head back into space to complete their five-year mission. Meanwhile, newbie Jaylah joins the Starfleet Academy and Spock and Uhura appear to be open to the possibility of starting up their romance again.

Beyond ends on a hopeful note similar to that at the end of both Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, with the Starship Enterprise Crew completely in tact and ready to embark on new adventures. A fourth Star Trek movie has been confirmed, and the press release announcing the news revealed that the film will involve a father-son reunion for Captain Kirk, even though his father died at the beginning of Star Trek, on the same day Jim Kirk was born. How they meet remains to be seen, but considering the fact that the Star Trek reboot was based in the idea of time travel, I don't think it will be that hard to figure out. At the end of Beyond, the crew is set to continue their journey into uncharted territory, meaning they could easily get sucked into another black hole or find themselves in a parallel universe.

Sadly, the fourth Star Trek movie will be forced to pick up without Chekov, as played by Anton Yelchin. Yelchin died tragically in June, and his passing led to a whole new set of questions regarding the ending of Beyond, which features a very alive (and adorable) Chekov, and his role in upcoming films. Producer J.J. Abrams has stated that filmmakers would not be re-casting the role of Chekov (thankfully), telling the Toronto Sun , "I would say there's no replacing him. There's no recasting. I can't possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better." Whether or not Chekov will have died, however, when Star Trek 4 picks up is uncertain.

What is certain is that the Starship Enterprise will have an empty chair when it returns for a fourth film, and, I, for one, am hoping filmmakers take this opportunity to either introduce a brand new female character to the bridge or give Jaylah a place on the crew she deserves.

Images: Paramount Pictures; Giphy (2)