An on-going series of Star Trek Original Series episode reviews
Hi, I’m Sue. This weekend, I attended a Renaissance Faire without a costume for the first time in my life – and I’ve been to a lot of Renaissance Faires. And I am an Anomaly.
With another 4 episodes under my belt this past week, I’m now halfway through Star Trek TOS. So here goes…
2×10 Journey to Babel
Summary: The Enterprise must transport dignitaries to a peace conference, but there is an assassin on board and an unknown ship attacking. Sarek, Spock’s father and one of the ambassadors, falls deathly ill. After Kirk is injured, Spock must choose between saving his father and taking command of the ship.
Thoughts: It’s nice to see several different alien species in one episode, most of which require some significant makeups, though it would be nice if the Tellarites could blink. It’s also nice to get some real backstory for Spock, and learn that although he clings to his Vulcan heritage, he has not always been accepted by his peers – or his father. The annoying bit, for me, is that the series continues to contradict itself with regard to Vulcan emotions. This is not just a TOS problem, admittedly, but so far in just TOS, they’ve stated both that Vulcans don’t have emotions and they they do, but they’ve embraced logic and learned to suppress their emotions thanks to the teachings of Surak. Which is it? It’s not like they had one explanation in TOS and changed it later, a la Klingon foreheads. It’s always been both. Make up your mind and get it together. (Yes, I know it’s “really” the second one.)
2×11 Friday’s Child
Summary: Both the Enterprise and a Klingon ship have been sent to Capella IV to attempt secure mining rights for a rare mineral, but instead become involved in a power struggle among the Capellan tribe.
Thoughts: Once again, Kirk and his crew fail to respect local cultural mores – no surprise there. And how many times does Eleen have to say that she does not want to to be touched? So McCoy hits her? And now it’s “in [his] medical book”?! I’m willing to bet that people still have the right to refuse medical treatment in the 23rd Century, just like the 21st. But, you know, if a woman doesn’t want to you touch her, then fights back when you do, just hit her into submission, and then she’ll fall in love with you. Sounds like McCoy’s joined the NFL. Also, Eleen clearly does not want this child (at least, until she decides that it’s McCoy’s for some reason I still don’t understand), yet the men keep saying things like, “She’ll want the baby when she sees it.” You know what? No. Some women just don’t want children, and that’s okay. My general feeling after this episode was just annoyance. (But not as much as with “Metamorphosis.”)
2×12 The Deadly Years
Summary: The Enterprise is on a mission to resupply a scientific outpost on Gamma Hydra IV, but arrives to find that the scientists, who should be in their late-20s, are actually quite elderly. Soon, some members of the landing party – including Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty – begin to suffer from the same affliction that causes rapid aging.
Thoughts: So, from what I gather, the moral of this episode is supposed to be that just because someone is old, that doesn’t mean that their mental faculties have failed. But, if that’s the goal, this episode failed. Kirk, in his elderly state, claims that he’s “as sharp as ever,” but clearly he is not. If you can’t remember things – important things like which codes an enemy has cracked or what orders you have already given – you’re not “as sharp as ever.” Just because he used that encryption code to set a trap for the Romulans at the end of the episode does not mean that it was his plan all along. The commodore was simply inexperienced and just plain stupid to enter the Neutral Zone. He shouldn’t have been commanding the ship, but that doesn’t mean that Kirk should have.
Summary: During a routine survey of Argus X, Kirk smells honey, and suddenly goes on the hunt for a gaseous cloud, which removes all red blood corpuscles from its victims. Kirk has a history with the vampire cloud, having encountered it when he was a young lieutenant. Being the lone survivor of the mission, Kirk has a severe case of survivor’s guilt and insatiable need for revenge.
Thoughts: So now it’s Kirk turn to go Ahab. He even says right at the beginning of the episode that he doesn’t care if the people in need of medical supplies die, as long as he gets his revenge on this cloud. I do not understand why he wasn’t immediately deemed unfit for command. If a commanding officer clearly states that they are on a personal mission of vengeance, remove them from command! How is that not a part of the Starfleet handbook? (Just like the Vulcan thing, his is a problem throughout the Star Trek franchise, not just with TOS.) Plus, Kirk pours all of his own guilt out onto this poor ensign (I think sometimes they call him an ensign and sometimes a lieutenant), making him think that the death of his colleagues is all because he hesitated to fire at a cloud. Kirk can be a real jerk, sometimes.
Maybe I’ve just hit a rough patch of episodes, or maybe it’s just me, but I’ve been feeling a bit “blah” about Season 2 in general. I don’t even feel like I’m seeing any really good sci-fi ideas in most of these stories. I am aware that my personal sci-fi experience is from much later in the “long conversation”, if you will, but most of these plot points are recycled from classic literature, they’re not even sci-fi tropes. I’m not sure if I’m explaining that well, but I’m finding myself either bored or disinterested in the storytelling, and when I don’t have that to focus on, I turn my attention to the dated social ideologies and get frustrated. At any rate, I know that I have “The Trouble with Tribbles” coming up soon, so at least that’s something to look forward to.
On a side note, for more thoughts about “The Long Conversation” and how thing x influences thing y, and how, if we’re familiar with thing y first, thing x seems less effective, I would highly suggesting listening to Episode 35 of the SF Squeecast: Literary Influence is a Social Disease. In general, that’s a really fantastic podcast that everyone should listen to anyway.
Until next week…