After the cancelation of “Star Trek,” the show was put into eternal syndication, and it was only then that it found its massive audience in reruns. “Star Trek” gatherings, then conventions, became common, and Gene Roddenberry, as well as the cast, would attend to kibitz. It seems that during this period, Roddenberry finally came to realize the more expansive themes of “Star Trek.” Audiences reacted to the show’s multiculturalism and optimism about the future. The Prime Directive assured us that “Star Trek” was an anti-colonialist show, and the technology depicted was our friend. The Enterprise was not a battleship, but an exploration vessel. The show, Roddenberry figured after the fact, was meant to be utopian.
As such, when it came time to make “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” it stood to reason that it would reach far. Roddenberry, ever the free-love hippie, wanted to tell a story where all facets of the universe could come together, scraping the outer edges of the cosmos, and then extending beyond. V’Ger had been traveling for an unspecified time (a time-warp is implied) and knew all the facts it could know. What it lacked, naturally, was heart. Human beings, and their capacity for love, was the missing element of the universe. Our existence, Roddenberry argued, was a vital element holding everything together.
V’Ger finally learned to love and experienced the glories of sex. Its explosion was, essentially, a galactic orgasm, as if V’Ger was going through puberty. It was the end of its childhood and a passage to a higher plane. V’Ger is, of course, a symbol of humanity as it is seen in “Star Trek.” Like in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the cosmos is our next step of growth. We pass into the stars, and we are no longer children.