An on-going series of Star Trek Original Series episode reviews
Hi, I’m Sue! I recorded 3 podcasts this weekend, and I am an Anomaly.
I was reading one of the TNG Relaunch books this week (The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang), and you’ll never guess who popped up in some flashbacks. Harry Mudd! I wanted to throw the book across the room. Except I was on the subway. Just when I thought I was finally rid of him… But enough of that – on to TOS!
2×22 By Any Other Name
Summary: The Enterprise is lured to a planet by a fake distress signal, where they encounter the Kelvans, a race from the Andromeda galaxy who can literally control humans with the push of a button. They commandeer the ship, use their advanced knowledge to make significant improvements to the engines, and begin their journey back to their home galaxy.
Thoughts: At the beginning of this episode, I kinda liked it, even if Kirk does imply that the entire galaxy belongs only to humans. The fictionalized science didn’t bother me here, although it was odd that the Milky Way’s galactic barrier was an issue, but I guess Andromeda doesn’t have one? (Yes, not all of the science is correct, but it’s more correct than many other episodes and I don’t feel like going into detail.) The crystallization of the humans might be scarier if it weren’t for the cartoony sound effects in this one. And Kelinda’s outfit reminds me of recent trends in swimwear. Once again, we are dealing with beings who don’t have the kinds of sensations that humans do, so the plan is to overwhelm them to regain control of the ship. That’s not new. But I liked the setup. What I did not like is the sexual assault of an innocent. Yep, that’s what it was. Kirk takes it upon himself to teach Kelinda about “apologizing” and so on. And when the Kelvans’ leader gets jealous, he gives her orders to stay away from Kirk and openly admits that he didn’t give those same orders to the males. That’s right. The dude in charge is trying to regulate a woman’s choices.
2×23 The Omega Glory
Summary: The Enterprise find the USS Exeter in orbit around Omega IV, but the ship does not respond to hails. A landing party beams over to find the entire crew has been completely dehydrated (and McCoy makes the insane statement that humans are 96% water – try about 70%), and then views the last log entry which instructs them to beam down to the planet immediately to avoid dying from a virus. Once there, they find the Exeter‘s Captain Tracey is now the leader of the Kohms, fending off attacks from the Yangs. And then it gets political…
Thoughts: So, if the “Asiatic” Communists win, Westerners will turn into savages, and the ideas of American freedom will be “slurred.” Because, as Kirk states, the ideas of American freedom are better than any of the “equally good” words of other cultures. And even though Kirk would apparently give his life to avoid violating the Prime Directive, he has an uncontrollable need to bring American freedom back to this world. What the what?! Did no one question this? Just wow. Racism. Imperialism. Contradictions. A Canadian giving an impassioned speech about the US Constitution. Heavy-handed much? I get it. “Communism is bad.” BTW, did McCoy ever actually solve that dehydration virus thing? Was I just so shocked by the last 20 minutes of this that I missed it?
2×24 The Ultimate Computer
Summary: The Enterprise is to be the test vessel for the M5 Multitronic Unit, a highly advanced computer designed by Dr. Richard Daystrom to think “like a man” (not a human), since it was modeled with his own engrams. M5 is expected to handle all ship’s functions with a crew of only 20 during some “war games” simulations. M5’s programming, however, goes off the rails, and the Enterprise starts attacking other Federation vessels.
Thoughts: Why would your flagship be your very first test case for something like this? Never fear – Kirk, of course, can out-think the universe’s most advanced computer, even when its own creator cannot. However, Kirk’s fear that human judgement and intuition will be replaced with sheer mechanical efficiency (aka logic) is an interesting topic to explore, but it’s not as if Star Trek hasn’t been doing this in just about every conversation Kirk’s had with Spock. I suppose it’s just more obvious when the conflict is with a computer. As it turns out, Daystrom is unstable, and with his engrams, so is M5. All we had to do was sit back and wait for Kirk to be right. You know, I’m getting a bit eye-rolly about how perfect Kirk is all the time.
2×25 Bread and Circuses
Summary: The Enterprise discovers the wreckage of the SS Beagle, a merchant ship missing for six years. Then, they pick up a “20th century-style television broadcast” of a gladiator defeating a “barbarian” named William B. Harrison, the Beagle‘s flight officer. A landing part beams down, learns that the Beagle‘s captain (a friend of Kirk’s from his Academy days) is now First Citizen, get themselves captured (twice), and must enter the arena.
Thoughts: TOS got away with “what if” alternate history stories by finding alternate Earths, I suppose. What if Rome never fell? It’s an interesting concept, but the plot was kind of all over the place. Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of stereotypes in this Roman empire and its loaded with historical inaccuracies – basically it’s what Hollywood thought the Roman Empire was like. They toss about “Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planet Development” as an explanation for this culture, but “parallel” does not mean “exact duplicate.” Plus, we finally get a full definition of the Prime Directive, which is violated in nearly every way possible. And having been raised by a pastor, I saw that sun/Son thing coming from the first time it was mentioned. Though the reveal did not surprise me, I was a little taken aback at all the religiosity in the wrap-up scene, especially coming from a secular humanist. Weird.
2×26 Assignment: Earth
Summary: While on a time travel mission to observe 1968, the Enterprise intercepts the transporter beams of a Mr. Seven, who claims to be from this era, but having lived on a highly advanced and hidden planet for quite some time. And his cat (who might sometimes be a woman?). Kirk and Mr. Seven do not trust each other, and neither will share details of their mission, but somehow they end up saving earth from nuclear destruction.
Thoughts: Wait. The Enterprise’s mission is to just go back in time and check out 1968? What?! Google now informs me that this episode was intended to be a backdoor pilot for a show about Gary Seven. Maybe like an American Doctor Who? He even has a sonic screwdriver! I would watch that. As a Star Trek episode, though, it doesn’t make much sense and I don’t really know what happened.
1. In these last couple of episodes, I’ve noticed that the captains of other ships have different insignia on their uniforms. One of them hard a sunburst things and another had a rectangle thing. What’s that about?
2. If the Enterprise can just go back in time, which it seems is the case, why didn’t they do their alternate history stories that way? Instead of just finding a ton of duplicate Earths? Trek has never really shied away from time travel, but they don’t really do much timey-wimey, do they?
3. There was definitely a third thing. But I don’t remember what it was, and apparently did not write it down.
Until next time…