An on-going series of Star Trek Original Series episode reviews
Hi! I’m Sue. I’m literally counting the days (15) until a TNG e-novella is released in which Q crashes the wedding of my OTP. And I am an Anomaly.
I took a sizable chunk out of Season 2 this week, and I feel like I got quite a mix of episodes. Some that I really enjoyed because of the campiness, others that I enjoyed because of the hard sci-fi. Others that I found dull. And still others that I don’t really know what to make of. And before anyone starts guessing, I guess I should quit stalling and get to the business…
2×14 A Wolf in the Fold
Summary: While away from the ship for a little R&R, three women are murdered, and Scotty is the prime suspect.
Thoughts: So, it seems Kirk is basically on a mission to make sure all of the men on his crew get laid. Whatever. The idea that Jack the Ripper is actually a practically-immortal energy being, preying on emotions, is an interesting one. (Though it feels like more of a Doctor Who plot than a Star Trek one.) But then Spock has to go and say that it “preys on women because women are more easily and more deeply terrified.” Really, Spock? Sigh. You should know better.
2×15 The Trouble with Tribbles
Summary: The Enterprise is at Deep Space Station K7 to guard a special grain. Kirk allows the crew to relax on the station, where they encounter Klingons, and a Tribble trader.
Thoughts: I love this episode. Yes, it’s goofy, but that’s part of why I love it. One of my favorite bits is that Enterprise crew members of all nationalities are sitting at one table one the space station, and while they all have pride in their heritage, they don’t put any other down. And when the Klingons come over to insult them, he insults them as “Earthers,” and not anything else. But what really provokes Scotty is the insult to his lady, the Enterprise. Well done. Also – cute, fuzzy, purring things are the best. (And “Trials and Tribblations” makes it even better.)
2×16 The Gamesters of Triskelion
Summary: As they are about to beam down to Gamma II, Kirk, Uhura, and Checkov are abducted into slavery and forced to fight for the entertainment of the “Providers.”
Thoughts: This episode opens with some of the worst fight choreography that I have ever seen. Oof. I’m pretty sure that Lars, Uhura’s trainer, rapes her, and they never mention it again. Plus, not too much later, Kirk is hitting on his trainer, Shahna. Not surprisingly, Shahna knows nothing of “beauty” or “love” and Kirk has to “explain” (define) them for her, just as he has done for countless other alien women. And for a planet that has three suns, it seems rather poorly lit, and not at all blisteringly hot. This is one I couldn’t get through fast enough.
2×17 A Piece of the Action
Summary: The Enterprise is exploring space near Sigma Iotia II, where the Horizon went missing nearly 100 years earlier. They receive a message from a man called Oxmyx, who invites the crew to the surface and promises information about the missing ship. Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down and find themselves in a culture similar to 1920s Chicago.
Thoughts: The inhabitants of this planet find a book on 1920s mafia culture and base their entire culture on it? Sure. This is another goofy one, but I can get on board. Especially with Shatner’s crazy gangster voice and all over the forced lingo. But seriously: I always enjoy it when our protagonists change their own methods to get things done, and adapt to the situation they are in, rather than try to force their way of operating onto a planet’s culture. I also enjoy pinstriped suits.
2×18 The Immunity Syndrome
Summary: The Enterprise is en route to Starbase 6 for some (more) R&R when Uhura picks up a distress signal. Then, Spock feels a great disturbance in the Force (no?) and declares that the Intrepid has “died.” The Enterprise goes to investigate and finds an energy-sucking space amoeba, which they need to stop before it begins mitosis.
Thoughts: There’s really not that much more that I have to say about this episode. Spock’s ability to sense the deaths of other Vulcans (and their ship) was a bit weird. And the rest of the episode is just about figuring out how to kill it. Meh. I got bored, and admittedly, probably a bit distracted.
2×19 A Private Little War
Summary: McCoy is collecting materials needed to create various medications on the planet Neural, where Kirk spent time 13 years earlier observing the culture. He notices the natives have flintlocks and other firearms, which – based on the state of the civilization when he was last there – they should not have developed yet. Spock is shot, and the landing party returns to the Enterprise. Kirk and McCoy return, in native dress, to investigate further, when they are attacked by a Mugato, and have to make direct contact with the indigenous peoples to cure the poison.
Thoughts: Kirk observed this culture 13 years ago and made a recommendation for non-interference, but wound up with a friend, Tyree, among them? I don’t understand how that works. I’m king of sad that the Mugato is not, in fact, the real villain, but it’s another power struggle episode. So, the Klingons are providing firearms to one side of a disagreement on this planet. To make things “fair,” Kirk decides to provide the same weapons to the other side. What? Also, the woman who heals Kirk, Nona, says that their spirits have mingled, and now they and bound together, but she is Tyree’s wife. So that is also complicated. Basically, I thought there was too much going on in this episode, and it was weird and difficult to follow.
2×20 Return to Tomorrow
Summary: The Enterprise picks up a distress signal from a planet they believed to be uninhabited. When they arrive, they are contacted telepathically by a being named Sargon who refers to Kirk and the crew as “my children.” He explains that his race evolved beyond the need for physical bodies, but desire to have them once again, and the last 3 members of his race wish to borrow the bodies of Kirk, Spock and Dr. Mulhall in order to build themselves android vessels.
Thoughts: TOS deals a lot with both energy beings and god-like aliens who are significantly more advanced that humanity. But this is the first time that either have actually desired the simplicity of being human again, and that’s really interesting to me. And even the plot within the plot – Henoch opposing Sargon and wanting to take over the human bodies, etc – even though the outcome was pretty predictable, I really liked this one. It’s always strange to see Spock have emotions. And we all know I’m not a Pulaski fan, but I really loved Diana Muldaur in this episode.
2×21 Patterns of Force
Summary: The Enterprise is tasked with locating a missing Federation cultural observer, John Gill. When they beam down to the planet Ekos, Kirk and Spock find a culture modeled very clearly on Nazi Germany, and Gill is the Fuhrer.
Thoughts: Oh boy. Okay. This was difficult to watch, at times. I can’t imagine what it was like in the 60s. And considering that both Shatner and Nimoy are of Jewish heritage, I wonder what it must have been like for them to don Nazi regalia. And the writers went even farther with the names being used – Zeon/Zion, Abrom/Abram, Isak/Isaac… phew, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Okay, so, Gill saw that the culture of this planet was fracture, and decided to interfere and “benevolently” apply some aspects of the Nazi system, stating that it was the “most efficient state Earth ever knew.” But Melakon began to drug Gill, and took matters into his own hands, following the Nazi system entirely. Once lucid again, thanks to the landing party, Gill rescinds “his” prior statements, and attempts to start setting things right on Ekos. The moral of this story is supposed to be that , given enough power, no person can resist the urge to play God. AKA Absolute power corrupts absolutely. But, even though that’s stated explicitly in the tag, I was still reeling from the previous 48 minutes of Nazi Germany.
Some General Thoughts
1. The medical uniforms are the best. Not only do I prefer McCoy’s short-sleeved shiny scrub shirt to the standard men’s uniform, I prefer Nurse Chapels mini-dress to the standard ladies’ uniform.
2. Chekov is hilarious.
3. I love it when McCoy and Spock snark at each other. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. Ad infinitum.
4. I never realized before just how many TOS plots were revisited by future Treks (mostly TNG). It’s like whenever the writers got stuck, they pulled out a TOS plot out of a hat and shook it up a bit. The most well known, of course, would be “The Naked Time”/”The Naked Now,” and then there’s “The Deathly Years”/”Unnatural Selection.” But even parts of “A Matter of Perspective” are similar to “A Wolf in the Fold.”
And that’s it for me until next week, when I hope to be wrapping up Season 2.