An on-going series of Star Trek: The Original Series episode reviews
Hi! I’m Sue. I spent my Saturday on Coney Island at the Brooklyn Cyclones’ Star Wars Night, and I am an Anomaly.
And it is once again time for me to extract myself from costume-making and talk about the Star Trek that I watched this past week…
1×14 Balance of Terror
Summary: Earth outposts along the Neutral Zone are being destroyed and the Enterprise goes to investigate. They discover a ship, presumably Romulan, that has the ability to cloak. But no one has ever actually seen a Romulan before. Even though this ship has violated the treaty by crossing the Neutral Zone and entering Federation Space, Kirk wants to do everything in his power to avoid starting another war.
Thoughts: So, the Romulans broke from the Vulcans around the time of Surak, right? How does Spock not know? How can he say that no ally of Earth has ever seen a Romulan? Would the Vulcan government purposely hide this information? That doesn’t seem very Vulcan to me. Or were the Romulans simply never intended to become what they are? What this just supposed to be a story about the crewman casting judgements upon Spock’s character because the bad guy of the week looks similar?
1×15 Shore Leave
Summary: The Enterprise arrives at an idyllic planet and beams a scouting party down to evaluate it before granting shore leave to the crew. Members of the scouting party begin to have strange encounters, first with Alice’s seemingly harmless White Rabbit, but eventually a pretty rape-y Don Juan, a Samurai warrior, and a night on horseback start to cause problems for the crew.
Thoughts: So, this planet was designed to give you whatever you desire. But, in fact, it just created whatever the crew happened to be thinking about or letting your mind wander to. All of that said, we all know that I’m a fan of campiness, and this was not quite as weird or ridiculous as I was expecting. It’s like a silly holodeck adventure, pre-holodeck, and I can appreciate that.
1×16 The Galileo Seven
Summary: Even thought the Enterprise is on a super-important mission to deliver medicine to Makus III, Kirk makes a pit stop to study a “quasar-like formation” (even though a quasar is a compact region of space that surrounds a supermassive black hole at the center of a large galaxy, and this effect looks more like a green gas cloud). He sends seven crew members in a shuttlecraft (!) to investigate, but they are pulled off-course and forced to make an emergency landing on a planet with very few resources and a some other beings who do not want them there.
Thoughts: More emotional crewmen fighting back against Spock’s logical nature. This one was kind of dull for me. Really, the only thing of note is that they’re finally using (read: “have the budget for”) shuttlecraft! Of course, they immediately have issues with it. I do wonder, though, if the name of the episode was intended to be an homage to NASA, referencing the Mercury Seven, the first American Astronauts. (The Galileo spacecraft sent to Jupiter was not launched until 1989, so that clearly was not involved.)
1×17 The Squire of Gothos
Summary: The Enterprise finds a rogue planet in a “star desert” (sure) moving at warp speeds. When Sulu tries to plot a course around the planet, he vanishes from the bridge, and is soon followed by Kirk. A landing party beams down, and they encounter Trelane, a mysterious being obsessed with Napoleon who takes great joy in tormenting the crew.
Thoughts: This is one of the handful of episodes that I know I have seen before, but I did not remember just how racist and sexist and terrible Trelane is! Also, his obsession with weapons and military aggression. When I started this, I was expecting to enjoy it at least on a goofiness level, since Trelane is sort of the proto-Q (he even puts Kirk on trial for being an inferior being), but instead my jaw kept hitting the floor. Yikes. (Also, I really want to watch Futurama‘s “Where No Fan Has Gone Before” now – “I think I’ve done enough conventions to know to to spell ‘Melllvar…'”)
Summary: The Enterprise arrives at Cestus III to find the colony completely destroyed, and the ship is attacked by an unknown enemy. Kirk gives the order to pursue the attackers, and in the process, both ships invade Metron Space. The Metrons wish to put an end to what they see as a primitive conflict and abduct both Kirk and the Gorn captain, forcing them to fight to the death. Clearly, they do not believe in peer mediation.
Thoughts: GORN! Perhaps one of the most iconic alien races in the Star Trek cannon. But this episode is more than that. The most obvious moral of the story is that mercy is more evolved than violence and revenge. But what I really found interesting was the discovery that Cestus III was a Gorn world first. When the crew finds their colony destroyed, they are understandably furious, but this additional information actually makes the humans consider the possibility that they were in the wrong, which – in my option – doesn’t happen enough in science fiction.
1x19 Tomorrow is Yesterday
Summary: The Enterprise is thrown back in time to the late 1960s by a high-gravity “black star” where they are noticed by the US Air Force.
Thoughts: I love this. I mean, there are some serious issues with it, but it’s a ridiculous, paradoxy time-travel story, and therefore I love it by default. Perhaps my favorite scene is Kirk’s admonishment of Captain Christopher (“A woman?” “A crewman.”) Of course, not 30 seconds later, they computer is “malfunctioning” and using a ridiculous overly feminized voice that has no reason to be in this story whatsoever. Le sigh. I also don’t understand why they would give Christopher a uniform shirt when he came on board. Or why the crew wouldn’t be wearing period clothing when beaming down to Earth. What the costume department on vacation? Speaking of: If a slingshot around the sun will take the Enterprise back to before they arrived, and they can just beam Christopher and the Air Policeman back – into their own bodies? That’s another issue – before any of this happened, why did they have to go to all the trouble of beaming down to get rid of the recordings in the first place? Whatever. I still loved it.
1×20 Court Martial
Summary: After Lt. Finney is killed in an accident during an ion storm, computer records indicate Kirk is to blame. Complicating matters is the apparently well-known fact that Finney had a lot of contempt for Kirk. Kirk denies the accusations and demands a Court Martial to prove his innocence.
Thoughts: This episode doesn’t really do anything but try to reinforce how wonderful Kirk in – no one on his crew (except Finney, of course) believes he could do anything wrong. Turns out, of course, that Finney faked his own death and altered the computer logs to frame Kirk and end his career. Also, the prosecutor is a former lover of Kirk’s. Go figure. Nothing new or interesting to me here. Also, how does McCoy playing with a wireless mic silence someone’s heartbeat? As soon as he’s done, Spock just excludes the sounds in transporter room from the playback. Why not just do that with the Bridge as well? Such a waste of time. But I did really like the dress uniforms being worn at the Court Martial. I’m curious to know what all the different colorful embroidered patches mean.
1×21 Return of the Archons
Summary: The Enterprise is investigating the last known whereabouts of the USS Archon, which went missing 100 years earlier. When Sulu beams back from the surface (the only member of the landing part to do so), he’s acting very oddly. So they send down more people – all of the senior offices – to investigate! Totally logical.
Thoughts: Based on the Netflix description of this episode, I really wanted to like it, but I was bored. The inhabitants are all completed controlled by Landru, their God-leader, who turns out to be a computer that the “real” Landru built 6000 years prior. And Kirk goes on to out-logic the computer – stating that creativity is necessary for life, Landru prevents creativity, and is therefore an evil that is damaging the life it/he was meant to protect – so it self-destructs and the Cult of Landru is no more. I’ve seen this plenty of times before, but of course, I’m already familiar with many of the properties that were influenced by Star Trek TOS. I did find the idea of the Festival (the only time the inhabitants are not controlled by Landru) and interesting one, but it was underused. I would have like to see more about that.
More general observations:
A) I’ve always thought of James Kirk as a swashbuckling ladies’ man. That’s certainly not wrong, but he’s more complex than that. He’s also very, very smart and very good an understanding his enemies and manipulating them. I’m gaining more and more respect for Kirk as I watch more of these episodes.
B) It seems to me that these episode as almost grouped together by theme. There will be a lot of about mental manipulation or perception all together, then another bunch dealing with emotion versus logic. I feel like the individual episodes might be more effective (for me) if they were spread out a little bit. Of course, I’m also watching them in chunks, and not just one a week. So maybe it’s just me.
C) McCoy is the snarkiest. I adore him.
D) Leonard Nimoy is really great at raising just one eyebrow. Also, the “emotionless” Spock has a really fantastic sass-face.
That’s it for me this week. I shall crawl back into my convention-planning mode until next Sunday night. Only 8 more episodes in Season 1 of Star Trek TOS!
More TOS Project
About the Project
Sue is a life-long Star Trek fan. Although she’d seen every single episode (most more than once) of TNG, DS9, Voyager and even Enterprise, she had never watched The Original Series before 2014. The TOS Project was conceived to correct that, and cover the original three seasons of the 1966 television series, the six feature films with the same cast, and the oft-forgotten Animated Series.