An on-going series of Star Trek Original Series episode reviews
Hi, I’m Sue! I just had my annual pre-Con season hair appointment, and I am an Anomaly.
I haven’t had a lot of me-time this week, and that almost directly translates into “I haven’t had a lot of TV-time this week.” But I did check off a few more on the Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) list…
2×01 Amok Time
Summary: Spock is acting strangely – distracted, agitated, and refusing food. The crew is concerned and presses him for information about what’s going on. After refusing several time, he eventually explains Pon Farr (and the consequences of ignoring it) to McCoy, who encourages Kirk to divert the Enterprise to Vulcan immediately.
Thoughts: For something Spock wants to keep private, he sure spills the beans pretty easy, and yes I realize that’s for the audience’s benefit. But where did Chapel’s interest in Spock come from? McCoy acts like she’s beating a dead horse, but the last time I remember seeing her, she was in search of her lost fiance. I do actually like T’Pring. She knew how to manipulate the Vulcan mating/marriage system to get what she wants, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems with the system. Yes, she can challenge the betrothal (or “more than a betrothal”) and choose her challenger, but she can’t fight for herself or choose not to marry, and she still becomes of the “property” of whichever man kills the other. (And, hey look! Kirk’s shirt is suddenly ripped during the fight, exposing his chest! I’m so surprised!) This episode is dripping with a little too much machismo for me. Plus, the fight was enough to ease the effects of Pon Farr for Spock? How come no one just brawled with Tuvok on Voyager? Oh, wait…. they did…. and it didn’t work. Weird.
2×02 Who Mourns for Adonais?
Summary: The Enterprise encounters a hand made out of energy that prevents the ship from continuing. A powerful being claiming to be the Greek god Apollo invites and them demands that the Enterprise crew beam down to his planet to raise sheep and worship him for the rest of their days.
Thoughts: This episode had me rolling my eyes again from the very beginning. Why can’t Scotty have a girlfriend? Why is it assumed that women will only serve in Starfleet until they find the right man? Why should anyone else on the bridge why he’s interested in her or why she’s interested in him? Ugh. Regarding the plot though, there were actually a couple of bits I enjoyed. The “ancient gods were really aliens” idea is the basis of the Stargate franchise. And in the Discworld series, Terry Pratchett uses idea that gods are real and lose power/die as people stop believing in them (best seen in the novel “Small Gods”). They are both concepts that I find interesting, but are also a lot of get into a 50-minute episode.
2×03 The Changeling
Summary: The Enterprise encounters an ancient probe from Earth, thought destroyed over 200 years prior. They discover that it took damage and encountered a probe from another civilization, causing the programming to become corrupted, resulting in the probe’s mission to “sterilize” any imperfect life form.
Thoughts: In general, I found this story a little silly. Nomad just heard “kirk” and says, “Are you my mummy?” Spock mind-melds with the probe? It can’t give back Uhura’s memory (even thought it scanned her brain) but it can bring Scotty back from the dead? Oy. However, I did appreciate the rate a which Uhura was re-learning. She went from first grade to college level in less than a day, and McCoy says she’ll be back to normal in about a week. That just reinforces the fact that Uhura is crazy smart.
2×04 Mirror, Mirror
Summary: After leaving trade negotiations with a new race, a landing party consisting of Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and Uhura, beam back up to the Enterprise only to find that it’s not their Enterprise. They have to try to blend in to a ship filled with evil versions of their crewmates while figuring out a way to get home.
Thoughts: Woohoo transporter accident! Before watching this, I was already familiar with the culture, mechanics, hierarchy, etc of mirror universe from from the Trek novels – specifically, TNG’s “Dark Mirror” – and DS9 and ENT, of course. As you would probably imagine, I don’t love the concept of the “captain’s woman,” but it can be a “position” (eh, I don’t like that but I don’t know what other word to use) of power. And Marlena makes it very clear that it’s what she wants. She doesn’t necessarily matter who the captain is; she’s more interested in what she gets out of the arrangement. That’s pretty empowered, IMO. Though Kirk’s immediate interest in non-mirror Marlena when he notices her on his ship is definitely creepy. It gets a little plotty-wotty when the crews switch universes back – if they both had to beam up at the exact same moment, why didn’t they both have to beam back at the exact time moment – but I can handwave a lot of stuff when you give me transporter accidents and parallel universes.
I don’t really have general observations about TOS itself this week. But maybe one about how television has changed. When an aspect of a story is interesting to me, I find myself wishing they had more time to explore it or wondering if they’ll return to it. And that’s not really how television was made back then. There were no “previously on”s, two-parters were rare, and season arcs were basically unheard-of. I think Star Trek is in a somewhat unique position in that it had 4 more series that allowed it to explore or expand upon some of the things introduced in TOS for other generations, or instead to bring up issues that were important to those new viewers.
And on that somewhat sentimental note, I am signing off for the week. Until next time…