Thinking more about this I realised that having Lt. Saavik as the traitor really would have been an ingenious move and has so much opportunity for dramatic potential
IF she was included this is how I would approach her role in Star Trek VI
Kirk and Saavik and their shared trauma
Lt. Valeris treason was a personal betrayal to Spock. Saavik would have been a betrayal to both Kirk and Spock
I would have had a scene around the beginning of the movie where Kirk and Saavik bonding about David and reveal some of her backstory.
She mentioned that her aim of joining Starfleet was more of a scientific/exploration point of view rather than defence. Hence joining a dedicated Science Vessel USS Grissom that was 100% devoted to scientific experiments was ultimately the culmination of her career plan and what she hope to achieve in Starfleet. Mentioned that the crew accepted her well and she developed a harmonious relationship with the entire crew. Although after reflection after the tragedy of Star Trek III, she realised that scientific discovery and exploration can only thrive when there are people willing to defend it as not every one shares the same values as the Federation. This is the reason she rejoined the Enterprise to defend the Federation from threats like the Klingons
They will start reminiscing on her relationship with David and mentioned how they complemented each other skill set – David with his intuition, lateral thinking, able to see the “big picture and her with logic and filling in the details. Also mentioned conflicts and frustration regarding his passion and sometimes recknessless. Kirk would draw some parallels between his relationship with Spock with Saavik.
Perhaps hint with some romantic overture and mentioned that David once asked her out for a date (it would retrospectively add some poignancy to David sacrificing his life for Saavik). When Kirk queried about whether she agreed with the request, she will mentioned that due to the success of Amanda and Sarek and subsequent Spock, she learnt to keep an open mind. However the date didn’t happened due to the events of The Search For Spock.
The whole idea of the discussion with Kirk regarding David is that from this discussion onwards. Kirk will treat her as family and almost a daughter in law to due to her knowing David more than he does. That she is the one connection with David that is available to him. From that moment onward the discussion with the trinity (Kirk/Bones/McCoy) will become a quartet where he will involve Saavik.
Saavik will then mentioned that before David died, she was critical with David regarding his recklessness with the Genesis project and the usage of protoplasm and that was essentially the last discussion with him before he died
Kirk will attempt to console Saavik saying that I am sure David would understand that a single criticism isn’t the total of their relationship and not to regret. However Saavik responds that she is Vulcan and hence is illogical to have regret regarding this.
They both discussed about how they dealt with the tragedy and there is the crucial difference. Kirk has a photo of David and mentioned that he thinks about David every day since his death. That the pain is still there but he is learning to live with it. Saavik on the other end denied any sort of reflection and actual avoidance of dealing with the events (there is no photos or memorabilia of the crew of The Grissom). However she couch this in Vulcan logic stating that what happen in the past cannot be change
Kirk is slightly incredulous stating that she went to the ship that she always wanted to be assigned to and the entire crew was murdered and for her to never think about it unless someone else mentioned it. However he then say perhaps that sometimes with the pain that he carries, sometimes he envies Vulcans ability to have emotional discipline to have it control
The whole point of this discussion is that Kirk was able to process his trauma. While Saavik did not. So while Kirk may have envied Saavik emotional control, him facing the trauma may have prevented him from going over the edge with his prejudiced towards the Klingons
Saavik and Spock – Vulcan Logic and The Crisis of Faith
One of the key lines from Spock is that logic is only the beginning of wisdom and not the end. It was often implied that Spock believes this as he is reconciling his human side with his Vulcan side., However I would say that this should be considered an integral but overlook side of Vulcan philosophy and the teachings of Surak.
The relationship between Spock and Saavik in the film is essentially the exploration of that concept
The reason why Vulcans are peaceful race is not purely because they are logical. After all the Borg may well be a being of pure logic as well. Logic can be used to justify “end justify the mean”/consequentialist type arguments. While Vulcans respect the sanctity of life. Vulcan is the combination of logic and ethical framework
I will add that Vulcan philosophy there is an element of faith involve based on an underlying principle. Faith that infinite diversity and infinite combination can live together in harmony. That Vulcan was once a barbaric species. However Surak taught them to renounce their barbaric way and embrace logic and Vulcan was transformed into peaceful society. It gave the society the belief that every intelligent/sentient life is equally capable of renouncing violence and embracing logic. The Vulcans than try to spread this philosophy to other species
While Spock doesn’t preach this faith recognising the futility and inefficiency of this, what he does is lead by example and that other people will see the benefit based on positive outcome from himself.
To bring this back to Saavik and Spock. The theme of this movies is that although Saavik maintains her logic she has lost her faith. Her treason is an outgrowth of her personal spiritual crisis. Her lack of belief that Infinite Diversity/Infinite Combination applies to the Klingon and that while history of violence may be resolved with Vulcans and then humans, it was impossible with the Klingons.
Discussion between Saavik and Spock based on logical discussion regarding the pros and cons of peace discussion with Klingon. Also emphasise the limitations of logic. Logic is only as valid as the information you have available. Saavik information is purely negative especially from her personal experience. While Spock who was inspired by General Korrd peaceful gesture in Star Trek V in rescuing Kirk actively. Mentioned that afterwards he dedicated himself during the time period between V and VI in finding peace between Klingons and Federation. Also how logical reasoning can still be effected by bias. Saavik doesn’t try to seek out Klingon reformers because it may have added information that contradicts her current logical reasoning
She should mentioned that the Klingon empire are an expansive empire. That they currently engage in slave labour camps. They have committed genocide in reason history. That they have death camps for political prisoners. That previous cease fire agreements has been repeatedly broken by the Klingons. That previous reformers in Klingon History have been assassinated (the fact that Klingon actively tried to collaborate with Federation to assasinate their own leaders lead more evidence to this). State that the best prediction for future behaviour is past behaviour and we must assume that they will be aggressive in the future. That they engage in peace talk for purely pragmatic reason not because they have come to a realisation that what they have done is wrong. They will betray us when it no longer beneficial to ally with us. That the praxis moon disaster is a perfect opportunity for the Federation to finish off the Klingon as a military threat.
Her reasoning is completely logical from the information she had available. However Spock reasoning is that he has met Klingon who are reformers who wanted peace, people who are questioning aspects of their own society. How Klingons of today reminds him of violent Vulcans in the past and that there is potential for them to grow just like they did in the past. That Surak did not give up hope on fellow Vulcans, hence we should not give up hope/faith on fellow sentients being like the Klingons to become better. That if we used her arguments that every species including Vulcans would have been guilty in some time in their history.
When Saavik is struggling with the peace process, Spock tries to reassure her that logic is simply the beginning of wisdom and for her to have faith in the process. The lack of tangible content was not convincing to her and Spock was blind to her doubts and didn’t see this until it was too late
Treason and the Reveal
Essentially Saavik has unresolved trauma from the events of Star Trek III. As a result of this she has a spiritual crisis and lost faith in IDIC at least when it applies to Klingon and this has driven her to become the traitor to sabotage the peace process between the Klingon and Federation.
When Saavik treason is revealed, this is blow to both Kirk and Spock equally (unlike in the film where it is just Spock))
Having Saavik repeating Kirk’s prejudice comment about the Klingon as justification for her behaviour would have held an ugly mirror to Kirk own prejudice and he wondered whether he had poisoned one of his few remaining links to David and surrogate family with his bigoted views and wondered whether he is partly responsible for her treason.
When people mentioned that the Enterprise is in danger and Kirk and McCoy life was at risk due to this. Saavik mentioned the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and the one as justification. Spock would be shaken to his core hearing this and thinking about his own teachings he has given her.
At the end of the movie when Saavik is arrested. Kirk and Spock will mention that they will still continue to support her through the process, she may have gone astray but she is still family. Also emphasise that they were partly influential in her downfall and hence obligations towards her rehabilitation.