An on-going series of Star Trek: The Original Series episode reviews
Hi, I’m Sue. My trivia team (Team Buenas TARDIS) rocked True Nerd Trivia this week, dressed as Doctors and companions, and we are all Anomalies. Literally, I dedicated every moment of my free time this past week watching Star Trek: TOS. It’s exhausting. But I’m now so close to finish the original television series that I can taste it!
3×12 The Empath
Summary: The Enterprise arrives at Minara II to retrieve scientists who were studying the system’s dying sun, only to find the research station abandoned. The ship must leave orbit due to dangerous solar flares, leaving Kirk, Spock, and McCoy alone (or not) on the planet for 3 days. Not surprisingly, the landing party is soon being held captive by strange aliens.
Thoughts: This was a bit of a confusing premise for me. Supposedly, there were multiple alien races in this dying system, and the Vians have take it upon themselves to save one of them. Why not save as many from each civilization as possible? But Gem (Really? Gem?) has to learn human emotion and compassion (not Vian ones) to prove her entire race’s “right to survive”? Yes, they say “right.” How do you prove a right? But her healing powers were pretty cool, and the actress (Kathryn Hays) did a phenomenal job, especially considering that she didn’t speak a word.
3×13 Elaan of Troyius
Summary: The Enterprise must transport Elaan, the Dohlman of Elas, to her arranged marriage to the leader of the Troyians, intended to put an end to war between the peoples.
Thoughts: This episode made me upset and uncomfortable in so many ways. Not only are they once again forcing the social mores of one culture on another, the men are trying to force a woman to behave the way they want her to. Literally, Kirk says, “You will do what councils, royals, and bureaucrats tell you to do!” Sounds familiar even today, sadly. Additionally, this is a WOC being portrayed as a savage. Sigh. Kirk also says that women aren’t logical anywhere other that Vulcan. Another sigh. And then, Elaan refers to herself as property – “Would you give me to another man?” Ugh. Oh, and let’s not forget that Kirk hits Elaan to “bring her under control.” I cannot.
3×14 Whom Gods Destroy
Summary: The Enterprise is on a mission to deliver medicine to an “asylum” that could completely eliminate mental illness. Upon their arrival, they find that the inmates have taken control of the hospital.
Thoughts: Okay, wow. Almost right off the bat, Marta asks if she looks crazy or sounds crazy – you know, because mental illness is totally something you can see externally. And then I settled in for 50 minutes of casual ableism. When this medicine is finally administered at the end of the episode, it doesn’t actually seem to be a “cure” but more of a chemical lobotomy. You’d think the 23rd century would be able to better treat mental illness. Also, how could Garth, a supposedly normal human, learn another culture’s “cellular metamorphosis”? That seems like something it would be beneficial for the Federation to know about.
3×15 Let That Be Your Last Battlefield
Summary: The Enterprise stumbles across a stolen shuttlecraft, and brings it (and its pilot) on board. While the supposed thief, Lokai, is recovering in sickbay, they are boarded by Bele, who has been chasing Lokai around the galaxy for 50,000 years to make him pay for his crimes on their home planet of Cheron (which is in the southermost [what?] part of the galaxy, in an uncharted [double what?] sector, according to Kirk).
Thoughts: First of all, this episode had some pretty weird cinematography. So much so that it was distracting. This is one of those episodes that seems to have entered the cultural consciousness outside of the geek community, which makes it extra disappointing that the execution is lacking throughout. But the message is still a pretty great one: Differences that we may see among ourselves wouldn’t even be noticeable to an outside, so why let them tear us apart? Unfortunately, the episode is so heavy handed and sillily-acted – seriously, to the point of ridiculousness – that the delivery of the message is almost laughable.
3×16 The Mark of Gideon
Summary: Kirk, specifically and singularly, has been invited to the planet Gideon for diplomatic talks, as the government considering joining the Federation. But, when he attempts to beam down, he finds himself back on the Enterprise with his entire crew gone, but a strange woman wandering the halls.
Thoughts: So, this planet is so great that people stopped dying, but won’t stop having children, so they’re dealing with overpopulation. Extreme overpopulation. To the point that everywhere is as crowded as Times Square on New Year’s Eve. And yet they have enough room to build a full-scale model of the Enterprise – which houses 400+ people without overcrowding – with only 2 people on it. Maybe they should have built some high-rise apartment buildings instead. By the end of this episode, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be getting a message about abortion, assisted suicide, population control, or something else.
3×17 That Which Survives
Summary: The Enterprise finds an “impossible” planet – just a few thousand years old, the size of Earth’s moon but with similar gravity, density, atmosphere, and vegetation to Earth. A team beams down to investigate, and find themselves being picked off, one by one, by a mysterious woman. Also, the ship disappears.
Thoughts: I was confused when the landing party at the beginning did not contain a redshirt – and then this woman appears and kills the guy at the transporter control panel. Hilarious. This episode reminded very strongly of TNG‘s “Arsenal of Freedom” – long dead civilization and with a still-operating defense system. But I didn’t not appreciate, “Are there any men on this planet?” You know, I would really love to see Kirk have to deal with a matriarchal society. As a musical theater fan, I was a bit disappointed that this was not, in fact, a Brigadoon Planet (as I wrote in my notes, excitedly, with multiple exclamation points, at the start of the episode), but that the Enterprise was flung across the galaxy and had to make their way back to the planet ASAP.
3×18 The Lights of Zetar
Summary: The Enterprise is headed to Memory Alpha to deliver and install new equipment, under the watchful eye of Lt. Mira Romaine, who has caught Scotty’s eye. As they approach their destination [on the right], they find an energy storm approaching Memory Alpha, which they change course to intercept. As it washes over the ship, Lt. Romaine has a particularly bad reaction.
Thoughts: Right off the bat, Scotty tells Romaine that she’s the “sanest, the smartest, the nicest woman” and says nothing about her looks. Not 15 seconds later, Sulu says, “I don’t think he’s even noticed she has a brain.” Really? Really?! Anyway, it’s pretty clear from the start that she’s been possessed by the energy-cloud-alien, and the rest of the episode really it’s memorable. Meh.
3×19 Requiem for Methuselah
Summary: There is an outbreak of Rigellian Fever on board the Enterprise, which has only one antidote: ryetalyn. They find a large deposit on an uncharted planet, so Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to retrieve it, but find the planet to be not quite as “uninhabited” as they thought.
Thoughts: Maybe it’s because I’m familiar with the Methuselah reference, but I’d guessed the “big reveal” of this episode as soon as Spock mentioned the paintings. But I still like it, and I really wish that it had been the only focus of this episode. I want to know more about this guy who was born on Earth, is supposedly human, and has contributed so, so much to our culture. But, there’s a pretty blonde, Rayna. And the other big reveal is that Rayna is yet another android that is more advanced than the rest of Star Trek cannon tells us she should be. (Seriously, why is Noonien Soong so praised? Did no one read the original Enterprise‘s logs?) And then, because she can’t bear to hurt either of the men in her life, she decides to sacrifice herself rather than make the choice that would actually make her happy.
That does it for this week! Only 5 episodes to go! And 6 movies (most of which I have seen before). And maybe 22 animated episodes? Will I ever have the time to watch anything other than Trek The Original Series and deal with all the stuff piling up on my DVR? Probably not.