NOTE: The following post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Star Trek Beyond.

Three years after Star Trek Into Darkness hit theaters, the Enterprise crew (and Paramount Pictures) are back with another bold adventure into deep space: Star Trek Beyond. The third film in Star Trek‘s “Kelvin” timeline, Beyond sees Captain Kirk and his team in the third year of a five year mission. In the midst of going where no man has gone before, life in space has begun to take a toll on Kirk and his crew – as several members of the adopted family contemplate whether they’re truly cut out for life in deep space.

Nevertheless, when Starfleet is asked to mount a rescue mission for a marooned crew, the Enterprise sets out to explore a nearby nebula – where they come into contact with a mysterious and powerful leader: Krall. TV spots for Beyond teased there would be more to Krall than some viewers might have expected (especially those who were hoping the character would have some connection to the Klingon race) but, even for those who know the film’s “twist,” Krall’s backstory could still be a little confusing.

No doubt, some fans will have absorbed all the connections but, for those who were left wanting to know more or felt like certain details flew by too fast, we’re breaking down Krall’s origins – and explaining what, other than the destruction of Starfleet, the villain was attempting to accomplish in Beyond.

Who is Krall?

star trek beyond zoe saldana idris elba krall Star Trek Beyond Villain Backstory & Spoilers Explained

Kirk and his crew first encounter Krall after passing through the nebula and approaching an uncharted planet, Altamid, where they expect to find a marooned crew of space travelers. Armed with a fleet of pointy ships and nondescript humanoid soldiers, Krall strategically dismantles the Enterprise, boards the Starfleet vessel in search of an ancient alien relic, and captures the ship’s crew as they attempt to escape – transporting the survivors down to a make-shift prison camp on Altamid. While much of the bridge crew is captured by Krall, Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, and Chekov manage to slip away – and eventually stumble upon a century old Starfleet ship, the U.S.S. Franklin – which a fierce young warrior, Jayla, has been rebuilding (in the hopes of escaping Altamid). According to log files and archive footage, the Franklin and her crew (the first to explore deep space) landed on Altamid but was unable to unable to leave the planet or send a distress signal to Starfleet. While the crew and Captain Balthazar Edison were honored as heroes, the Franklin’s fate was lost to history… until now.

On the planet’s surface, in an exchange with Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, Krall makes reference to his age – and an unnatural means by which he has managed to survive beyond his years. Shortly after, the villain is shown entering an alien machine, through which he transfers the life-force energy from two Enterprise crew members into himself. The process restores his body and alters his alien-like appearance to look more “human.” It’s the first reveal that Krall’s scaly look might not necessarily be what he has always looked like – and, instead, is simply the side effect of drawing bio-energy (and DNA) from alien prisoners he captured on Altamid.

Idris Elba and director Justin Lin on set of Star Trek Beyond Star Trek Beyond Villain Backstory & Spoilers Explained

As Krall becomes more human, Uhura notices the villain bears a likeness to the Franklin’s old captain and investigates Edison’s logs from his time commanding the Franklin. In the logs, Edison details his frustrations with commanding a starship. A former military commander, who battled the Romulans and Klingons for years, Edison was assigned to the Franklin when Earth made peace with it’s former enemies and, together, the civilizations formed Starfleet. As his time on the Franklin drug on, the soldier began to resent Starfleet’s peaceful union with his former enemies – a bitterness that was calcified when Edison and the Franklin crew became stranded on Altamid (and Starfleet did not find them). In his final Captain’s log, Edison makes it clear that he blames Starfleet for the fate of his ship, stating: “You’ll probably never see me again, but if you do — be ready.”

Edison, along with two of his crew members, managed to survive on Altamid by harnessing technology that was left behind by an advanced extra terrestrial race – including a population of networked workers (and mining ships) as well as the machine that allowed Krall to extend his life by stealing energy from other beings. As a result, Krall and his lieutenants, Kalara and Manas, began enslaving other alien races that found their way to Altamid – using their prisoners as fuel to keep them alive in the hopes of one day escaping the planet and taking revenge against Starfleet (for abandoning the Franklin). Over the years, as Edison and his crew mates drained others of their life, the Franklin survivors began to get lost in the monsters they were becoming – both physically and mentally, ultimately leading Edison to retire his birth name in favor of the moniker: Krall.

What is Krall’s Plan?

Star Trek Beyond Krall Star Trek Beyond Villain Backstory & Spoilers Explained

During the decades Krall was stranded, he learned that the same alien race who left tech on Altamid had also developed a dangerous bio-weapon – one the beings deemed too dangerous for use (even by them). Instead, the aliens dismantled the weapon – and split the device into pieces that, through the years, came to be known as relics (their true use unknown to Starfleet).

After reengineering the alien swarm to serve as an army, rather than a workforce, Krall retrofits comm tech to spy on the nearby Starfleet space station, Yorktown, hacks into classified files, and discovers the Enterprise is holding one of the missing pieces. In order to draw Kirk and his crew through the nebula and to Altamid, Krall sends his second lieutenant, Kalara (also a Franklin survivor who had been consuming energy from Krall’s prisoners) to Yorktown in a battle-damaged ship – under the pretense that she had escaped an attack on her crew and needed Starfleet’s help rescuing them. When the Enterprise emerges from the nebula, Krall unleashes the swarm – disabling and then boarding the starship in search of the weapon.

Star Trek Beyond Idris Elba As Krall Star Trek Beyond Villain Backstory & Spoilers Explained

Kirk manages to hide the artifact from Krall by sending it into space with one of his crew members; however, when Krall threatens to kill Sulu, imprisoned on Altamid, the crew member hands the artifact over. With every piece of the alien artifact in his possession, Krall reassembles the weapon, boards his command ship, and heads to Yorktown – unleashing the swarm onto the space station’s defenses and making his way to Yorktown’s air purification system where he intends to unleash the bio-weapon and kill everyone on the station.

While the film doesn’t spend a lot of time unpacking Krall’s motivation, beyond a relatively straightforward revenge mission, the former military commander makes it clear he believes humanity has become soft – and that Starfleet’s peaceful collaboration with other alien races is a lingering betrayal to the men and women who fought to protect earth from malevolent extra terrestrials. To that end, Krall asserts that Kirk and his crew are weaker because of their reliance on each other, and that his actions are in service of saving humanity – by proving that humans will only become stronger through sheer will, difficulty, and heartbreak.

NEXT: Star Trek Beyond Review

Star Trek Beyond hits U.S. theaters July 22, 2016.

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