An on-going series of Star Trek Original Series episode reviews
Hi, I’m Sue. I appeared on my very first Trek Track panel last weekend, and I am an Anomaly.
Only three more episodes for these two weeks. There’s been a lot of stuff piling up on the DVR and a lot of shows are coming back in the next few weeks, but I will not give up! I will continue to reserve at least a couple hours of Star Trek time every week until I get through all of TOS. (Do I have to watch the animated series in order to say I’ve seen all of Trek? Do I?)
Summary: After a landing party goes missing, Kirk receives warning that his ship is cursed, and he must turn back, or everyone will die. Of course that means Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to investigate.
Thoughts: Surprise! More aliens that can affect a human’s perception. But there are some new elements for Korob and Sylvia – their natural existence is apparently without sensation. I’m not sure how that’s actually possible, but it’s interesting, and if you accept it, it makes perfect sense that Sylvia could become practically addicted to these new experiences. I also appreciate that, when revealed for what they really are, these aliens are not at all humanoid. However, I’m not totally clear on their motivations. Why are they on this planet? Why are they trying to scare off the Enterprise crew? What obligation do they have to the “Old Ones”? I don’t get it.
2×08 I, Mudd
Summary: A new crewman, Norman, is drawing suspicion because of odd behavior. Turns out that he’s an android who hijacks the ship, and takes it to an uncharted planet “ruled” by Harcourt Fenton Mudd. They begin beaming down the crew, enticing them to stay with promises of paradise, and beaming up androids to take over the Enterprise.
Thoughts: So, we have more androids, which the rest of the Star Trek cannon tells us are too advanced for this time period. Plus, they’re basically sex-bots. Because Harry Mudd. I cannot stand this guy. And his ultimate punishment is being nagged by 500 copies of his wife? ::headdesk:: And how does the crew get out of their sticky situation? They out-logic the androids, of course! Just like every other time they’ve encountered androids that want to take over their ship. But, honestly, I would watch the ridiculous dancing any day. Maybe it was different in the 60s, but this reads are a tired comic relief episode to me.
Summary: While transporting Commissioner Nancy Hedford to the Enterprise for emergency medical treatment (and away from very urgent peace talks on Epsilon Canaris III), the shuttle is pulled off course and forced to land on a seemingly deserted planet. There, they find Zephram Cochrane, thought to have died in space over 150 years prior, and The Companion, an energy being that seems concerned only with Cochrane’s well-being.
Thoughts: This episode has so much potential. There’s a woman commissioner, trying to stop a war, and she’s annoyed at Starfleet Medical because she wasn’t fully inoculated, and she’s not taking any crap from the guys on the shuttlecraft. She’s pretty great for the first half of the episode. And, you’ve got an energy being “zookeeper” keeping Cochrane around, and even though they can’t fully communicate, it trying to tend to his need for human companionship while, they assume, studying humanity. It’s interesting. But then! Then, things go downhill fast. So, they rig up a translator and find out that this energy being is female, which apparently changes everything! Two immediate issues: 1) Kirk says, “The idea of male and female are universal constants.” What? How does an energy being even have a sex/gender? Also, in the Star Trek timeline, the Federation has already encountered the Andorians, and Andorians have four sexes, all necessary for reproduction and a cohesive family unit! Yes, I realize that wasn’t actually written yet, so let’s exit the Trek universe: Even on Earth, there are animals that reproduce asexually or change genders during the mating season in the interest of reproduction! Were these writers really so close-minded and/or clueless to think that a binary gender system was universal? And 2) Spock actually says, “The matter of gender could change the entire situation.” Spock! The logical one! What? Why?! Because a female can’t have a scientific interest in another species and be a “zookeeper”? A female’s only possible motivation is that she’s in love? But wait. It gets worse. After Cochrane is so put off by learning this (he feels violated, as he did not think he was in that kind of relationship – and that’s actually a pretty valid and somewhat progressive point), the tough-as-nails Commissioner Hedford is actually upset with him for not wanting this attention and love! Because, apparently, that’s all that matters. She actually says, on her deathbed, “I’ve been good at my job, but I’ve never been loved. Never. What kind of life is that? Not to be loved, never to have shown love? And he runs away from love.” Are. You. Kidding. Me?! I threw up in my mouth a little bit. But never fear! The lady energy being merges with Hedford, saving her life, and making itself human, so that Cochrane can love it/her. As soon as that’s done, he has absolutely no issue with the relationship any longer, and actually says that he loves her, presumably because she’s beautiful and human now. And Hedford/Energy!Lady is just going to stay on the planet and “the Federation can find another woman somewhere who’ll stop that war,” which is no longer a big deal or an urgent situation. Rage.
I had actually planned on watching a few more TOS episodes this week, but I was so angry after “Metamorphosis” that I needed to step away for a while.
1. Everything is very purple.
2. Kirk and Spock (and others, but mostly those two) keep saying things like “totally alien to our galaxy” and “I don’t like hostile strangers showing such an acute interest in our galaxy.” I find it very jarring. Almost like a case of, “I do not think it means what you think it means.” It’s almost as if the writers had no concept of what a galaxy really is. They’re ginormous. And Earth is a very teeny-tiny part of that, on the outer spiral arm. As far as I can remember, Star Trek has never left the Milky Way Galaxy. At least not without the help of Q or The Traveler. I mean, it would take 30 years at maximum warp (that’s Voyager-era maximum warp, btw) just to get from the Delta Quadrant to the Alpha Quadrant of the same galaxy (approximately 70,000 light years)! And the distance between galaxies is so much greater than that! Our closest galactic neighbors are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (not Andromeda, FYI), two irregular dwarf galaxies, which are approximately 180,000 and 210,000 light-years away. So what makes Kirk and Spock think that they know every thing about the Milky Way and all of its inhabitants? Yes, I know it’s a small thing, but it’s a small thing that irks me.
Phew. Being that annoyed at an episode of television is exhausting. Of course, I am trying to keep in mind the era in which these episodes were made, and the social climate at the time, but I think there were enough straws in “Metamorphosis” that this camel’s back broke for a little while. I will heal, and I will watch more. Until then…