The new trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness doesn't betray much of the mystery movie's plot — at this point, all we can confirm for sure is that pesky ol' Benedict "Benny Batch" Cumberbatch is up to something, and Kirk & Co. are trying to stop him. However, there are some intriguing clues hiding inside the jam-packed trailer, including peeks at major battle scenes and a shot that appears to directly reference a famous scene in The Wrath of Khan — which must just be a coincidence, because Benedict Cumberbatch says he's not playing Khan, and Cumberbatch wouldn't lie to us, would he??? Anyhow, read on and ponder:

The trailer opens with some eerie shots of the Enterprise, completely empty. Is it just in dry dock while the crew takes a much-deserved shore leave? Or could this be an image from later in the movie, when — for one reason or another — Kirk and his pals have to abandon ship? Could it be that, at some point in this movie, Chris Pine will get to put his own spin on the immortal self-destruct phrase, "Code: Zero, Zero, Zero, Destruct, Zero."

For a bit of levity, here's Kirk and Dr. McCoy running through a field of what appears to be Truffula trees. It's not clear what they're running away from, but they do wind up jumping off a cliff. Here, as in later in the clip, Kirk and McCoy are modeling some hobo-frump eskimo attire. Am I crazy for thinking that the clothes look a little bit like the outfits Kirk and McCoy wore when they were sent to a prison planet in The Undiscovered Country? All together now: "Those were not his knees."

Here we see Benedict Cumberbatch in silhouette, surveying some devastation. Much of the trailer features action scenes which appear to be shot in Future San Francisco, home to Starfleet HQ. Something tells me that the Future Transamerica Pyramid is not long for the Future World.

A brief shot of the honored dead in Starfleet. I wonder: Is Benedict Cumberbatch's character attacking Starfleet openly? Or is he striking as a terrorist, a space version of Abu Nazir? Is he a Joker figure? Will there be a scene where he explains to Kirk, "We're not so different, you and I?" So many questions, not enough answers!

Cumberbatch captured in the brig. I bet you anything it turns out that he wanted to be captured, like the Joker or Silva in Skyfall. Why do heroes even bother to capture villains nowadays?

The Enterprise has some serious gravity problems. More on this later. To my eyes, that looks like Kirk on the right trying to hold on to a crew member.

A tender moment between lovers Spock and Uhura. It'll be interesting to see how this relationship has developed since the last movie.

An interesting bit of parallelism, which might just be dynamic trailer editing, or it might speak to a larger theme of Into Darkness. Above, Kirk punches an assailant; below, Not-Khan punches someone else. We know that Not-Khan is some sort of Federation guy — in the last trailer, he talked about "returning." Later in the trailer, Not-Khan asks someone (probably Kirk) — "Is there anything you would not do for your family?" It's almost as if THEY'RE NOT SO DIFFERENT, HIM AND HIM.

Benedict Cumberbatch isn't the only mystery-person in Into Darkness; actress Alice Eve's role in the film has also been kept mum. The fact that she's blonde, and wearing science-officer blue, initially made me think that she was a new version of Nurse Chapel. However, there's another blond-sciencey character in Trek lore…someone with close ties to Captain Kirk…and someone who, perhaps purely coincidentally, appeared in The Wrath of Khan. SPOILER ALERT, but maybe Alice Eve is playing this person? DOUBLE SPOILER ALERT: According to CinemaBlend, she is playing that person. But maybe that's just what J.J. Abrams wants us to think?

Now here's something interesting. In the midst of the trailer's climactic rush of images, mostly showing people jumping off of high places or falling through space, there's a brief shot of an unfamiliar character dropping something into a glass of water. After freeze-framing, we can see that the character is played by actor Noel Clarke (Doctor Who's Mickey Smith.) It looks like he's crying. I think that the thing he drops into the water is a ring; I also think that that ring has a Starfleet insignia on it.

So now that we've cleared that up…well, I still have no clue what exactly is happening here. But here's a free-association theory. Noel Clarke looks like he's being forced to do something against his will. Almost as if he's being controlled. Almost as if there's some kind of brain-controlling eel crawling around inside his head. I'm calling it: Noel Clarke is playing a new version of Captain Terrell, the commander of the U.S.S. Reliant in Wrath of Khan. The actor's last name is Clarke; Terrell's first name is Clark. Theory: Hypothesized!

Spock makes a run for it and jumps off a tall building in Future San Francisco. There are so many shots of San Francisco in this trailer that I'm beginning to think Into Darkness may be entering the rarified canon of Good Movies Set in San Francisco. Maybe there will be a Bullitt-esque car chase!

Kirk pulls a Dead Space and goes on a high-speed space jump. Notable mainly because it turns out that, from a certain angle, Chris Pine looks exactly like Hugo Weaving. Wait, have we ever seen them in the same room?

A possible continuation of that earlier scene showing the Enterprise turned upside down. There's a ship crashing into the San Francisco bay. (At least I think it's San Francisco. Confession: I'm from the Bay Area, so I may be seeing more San Francisco than the filmmakers intended.) And that ship looks an awful lot like the Enterprise. We can all agree that it's definitely a Constitution-class starship, right?

Now here we go. The final shot of the trailer looks like a hyper-precise callback to one of the most famous scenes in The Wrath of Khan. POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT: I'm, of course, talking about the scene when Spock dies of radiation poisoning after bravely rescuing the Enterprise. The scene in the original movie was wrenching — even now, years after Spock was revived, you can't help but choke up when Leonard Nimoy says, "I have been, and always shall be, your friend." We don't see any faces in this shot, but that's pretty clearly someone wearing a science officer's uniform making the Vulcan V.

So, to recap: We've got a couple of characters who appear to be playing characters from The Wrath of Khan, and we have a shot that is absolutely identical to a sequence in Wrath of Khan. Is this all an elaborate game being played by J.J. Abrams? Is Into Darkness going to continue the recent franchise trend of killing off characters? And if it does, will it be Spock again? Or someone else? McCoy? Chekhov? Green Lady? Not the Green Lady!

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

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Star Trek Into Darkness
  • Movie
  • 132 minutes