Why does Scotty bring the dying Peter Preston to the bridge?
It’s an undeniably dramatic moment in Star Trek II. It was also, in 1982, one of if not the most graphic depiction of violence’s consequences we’d seen in any Star Trek production. (You can see the scene in which it occurs starting at 9:03 in the clip embedded above.)
Moments after Admiral Kirk pulls off his unexpected, seat-of-his-pants victory against Khan by hijacking the Reliant’s prefix code, one of the bridge turbolifts open to reveal Scotty, cradling the bloody and soon-to-be-lifeless body of Midshipman Peter Preston. I can’t imagine the shot’s evocation of Michelangelo’s Pietà is anything but deliberate.
Scotty’s grief over Peter makes more sense in the Director’s Edition, which restores the revelation that he is Peter’s uncle. But nothing can explain why Scotty brings Peter to the bridge rather than rushing him to sickbay. (The original series-era crew sure could have used intraship, site-to-site beaming, right?)
Did Scotty make a mistake when he entered the turbolift in Engineering? Not likely. Did the turbolift AI decide the best possible route to Sickbay was by way of the bridge? Again, an unlikely conclusion. Did Scotty want to confront Kirk, in front of the bridge crew, with the dire results of Khan’ wrath? Not the Scotty I know—how about you?
I don’t think any in-universe explanation exists for Scotty and Peter’s bloody side-trip to the bridge. But I did see a Star Trek fan on Twitter—I apologize I don’t remember and can’t find who—suggest it was a byproduct of systems malfunctions on the badly damaged Enterprise. For my quatloos, that is a good an explanation as any.