The Entire Star Trek Universe at High Speed

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Kirk

How to dress for Halloween?

Sweet Baby James, dressed as James T. Kirk
Find more of James at:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Charades without Purpose

TOS: Episode 17: The Squire of Gothos

A Rogue Planet! Dear God! Denying the laws of known-physics! Holy Lord! And what would be on this rogue planet? A Rogue and Eccentric Omnipotent Squire! (insert dramatic music here...)

We have "The Squire of Gothos"!

Trelane, the rogue, eccentric omnipotent rider of a rogue and wayward planet

Episode Quick Summary
Again the Enterprise is in the midst of a supply run, this time across wide open space. In this midst of the crew romanticizing the situation Spock discovers a vast space disturbance reading--a planet inconceivably located where science would deny its existence. The planet appears to be a natural radio source. As the Enterprise moves away from the planet, Sulu simply disappears, and then so does Captain Kirk leaving Spock in charge. Instrument sweeps do not reveal any sign of either of the crew members, or of any life on the planet. Shortly after measuring what to do about the situation, strange messages come through to the bridge crew sending greetings of a pirate sounding nature. Spock, therefore, transports an away team down to the surface to search for the missing crewmen. On board the surface the away team locate both Kirk and Sulu, as well as a humoid appearing power calling himself Squire Trelane. He explains himself as having the ability to move things from matter to energy and back to matter again, able to rearrange the shape of matter in doing so. He also can apparently outthink our crew, and is keen to demonstrate his authority over them.

Episode Tidbits
The previous episode didn't adequately challenge Kirk's authority. It turns out the intervention of a High Commissioner in Kirk's care for his crew did not really threaten his identity as Captain. So, a new challenge enters with this episode--an omnipotent nutbag able to defy the known laws of physics while dressed in velour and ruffles, living in a castle.

Let's just admit it. Star Trek is intensely full of camp. This episode shows similar choices to many of the set and storyline features found in I Dream of Jeannie episodes. There too we had the possibility of almost unlimited potential for exploration--through the power of a magical genie in the case of that series, through the uniqueness of space travel in Star Trek. In each case what we repeatedly discover through our almost unlimited exploration are campy renditions of 20th century interpretation of 19th century expressions of the middle ages--multiple levels of fetishization, in other words. Here we are in the presence of an omnipotent being celebrating old Italian tapestries, medieval armor, a Renaissance style harpsicord, and English castles.

We could think of our Squire Trelane as a kind of prototype Q--that observing, omnipotent being that appears in The Next Generation. He is determined to speak as though he is simply studying the tendencies of the human species, while also demanding that the crew do as he wishes. What he wishes, he claims, is friendly fellowship. Like Q, he also turns out to act in a more juvenile fashion than he claims we are to believe of him.

Episode Excitement
If you want to see how well The Original Series actors are able to stand frozen, this is the episode for you. Trelane "freezes" them repeatedly.

"I object to you. I object to intellect without discipline. I object to power without constructive purpose." --Spock

"Oh Mister Spock, you do have one saving grace, afterall. You're ill mannered. The human half of you, no doubt." --Trelane

"Fascinating is a word I use for the unexpected. In this case, I should think interesting would suffice." --Spock

"[Unexpected?] That his food has no taste, his wine no flavor? No. It simply means Trelane knows all of the earth forms but none of the substance." --Spock

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Desperate Decisions

TOS: Episode 16: Galileo Seven

Okay, this is awesome. Sci-fi is starting to show itself more and more in The Original Series--in this case it turns out the discovery of a quasar is our one scifi allusion. However, "Galileo Seven" primarily offers us insight into political-emotional concerns.

The episode opens with a political situation in which Kirk is opposing the opinion of an onboard Ambassador in favor of sending an away team, complete with the standard human-expendables, led by our loverly Spock into exploring a newly discovered "quasar, or quasar like phenomenon."

The huge, furry creatures of "Galileo Seven"

Episode Quick Summary
The Enterprise is in the midst of delivering medical supplies to Makus III, a planet infected by plague. Along with the supplies, the Enterprise is also transporting a High Commissioner--an ambassador for the planet. In the midst of the journey to Makus III, the ship encounters a quasarlike phenomenon. Star Fleet has placed Kirk under general orders to explore all such phenomenon, and with more than enough time to minimally explore the phenomenon and still make the medical rendevous, Kirk orders an away team to investigate the discovery via shuttle craft. In doing so excess ion radiation sends the shuttle off course, causing it to crash aboard a previously unexplored planet. In the midst of repairing the shuttle craft, "huge furry creatures" are discovered and begin to attack the away team. The same radiation effects the sensing instruments of the Enterprise, thereby making it almost impossible to locate the away team, and yet Kirk must try, under the time deadline of the medical delivery.

Episode Tidbits
The political situation goes deeper than merely conflict with the Ambassador, however. The current mission for the Enterprise is to deliver medical supplies to a plague ridden planet. The ambassador is aboard for the rendevous in which the Enterprise will deliver the supplies. En route to the planet, the Enterprise discovers Murasaki 312, an electromagnetic phenomenon that zaps the ship and the away team with ions, thus obliterating all sensors. In this way, the Enterprise and the away team end up absolutely separated from each other with the main ship having to guess where to look for the away team's shuttle craft. Six humans--including Scotty, and McCoy--and Spock end up on an unexplored, life supporting planet with Spock as their leader. However, unhappy with their new circumstances, and buzzed through with excessive radiation the away team begins to question his leadership.

The ambassador aboard the Enterprise poses a new problem for Kirk. For the first time he faces the presence of someone with greater authority than himself. Kirk has decision making authority, but only to a point. Once the deadline to appropriately arrive at the medical rendevous arrives, the High Commissioner's authority overrides Kirk's and the commissioner can demand that the Enterprise leave without the away team.

There is a common lesson being made through the presence of the ambassador on the Enterprise and with Spock and the away team on the planet. In both cases, the two have inadequate care for the feelings of others, thus troubling the demands of leadership in each case. Kirk's struggle, first of all, comes in facing the fact that for the first time he has someone aboard with greater authority (in some decisions) than himself. The ambassador, in the end, can demand that the Enterprise depart without the away team. The ambassador, however, so thoroughly denies the emotional situation of losing the away team that he ends up commenting only to chastize Kirk and act as a pressure cooking reminder of the time limit the search is operating under. On the planet, Spock continually ignores the emotional needs of the human away team members in preference of focusing on the logistical goals of getting the shuttle back up off the planet. In doing so, he alienates himself from his team, thus causing them to doubt his authority. In both instances, we see that emotional appeal and care is a necessary component of wise leadership. Spock's logic, though adequate to choosing the right course of action for their situation, is inadequate to convince his crew that his choices are appropriate. As a result, his logic would have them fail, even as it is the basis of their survival and success.

Episode Quotations
"We could use a little inspiration!" --Unnamed Female Yoemen to Spock

"I'm sick and tired of your logic!" --Lt. Boma to Spock

"Strange. Step by step I've made the correct and logical decisions, and yet, two men have died!" --Spock

"A little less analysis, and more action. That's what we need, Mister Spock!" --McCoy


"Your last act, Mister Spock. It was all you." --McCoy

"It was completely illogical." --Spock to McCoy

"That's exactly what I mean." --McCoy in response


"I examined the problem from all angles, and it was plainly hopeless. Logic informed me that under the circumstances the only possible action would have to be one of desperation. Logical decision, logically arrived at." --Spock explaining what McCoy above called Spock's final act to Captain Kirk

"You mean, you reasoned that it was time for an emotional outburst." --Kirk's response

"Well, I wouldn't put it in those terms, Captain. But those are essentially the facts." --Spock

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Delusion and Dreaming

TOS: Episode 15: Shore Leave

Kirk suffering for female attention at the beginning of "Shore Leave"

As Star Trek progresses, Kirk is being placed in direct physical contact with women more regularly. In the beginning of the series he would certainly be seen on screen with women, but physical contact did not occur. Now conditions of the episodes tend to push him towards having to touch women for some variety of reasons.

The episode opens with Kirk under obvious physical strain receiving a massage from his female yoeman. Then, suddenly, the scene changes to McCoy discovering Alice herself chasing after her white rabbit on a planet below. The crew is in dire need of shore leave and McCoy is unsure if he might need it so badly he's actually hallucinating.

Though Sulu and McCoy have vouched for the beauty of the new planet (prior to the rabbit and Alice sighting), Kirk is skeptical of the situation, believing it could be too good to be true and in fact refusing to beam down. Quickly though Spock tricks Kirk into realizing he must take shore leave because of his own reduced performance and poor mood.

Odd occurrences continue, though often, initially at least, without the crew's explicit awareness: a centuries old handgun in perfect condition appears below a rock, giant rabbit footprints appear out of nowhere in mud along a shoreline, an acquaintance from Jim's past appears out of nowhere. The shore leave quickly turns into another strange investigation into unexplainable happenings.

The filming style of this episode is unusual in comparison to those previous. The audience is shown the mysteries before the crew is able to discover them. This style of foreshadowing hasn't appeared in any of the previous episodes of this series.

As the mysterious occurrences continue, we begin to realize that they are driven by the imagination of the crew members themselves. That is, just when the crew gets caught up in day dreaming their day dream appears in front of them apparently alive and waiting to interact. In this way, we revisit the final question of the original pilot, "The Cage." There the pilot ends with Captain Pike's romantic interest walking away with an illusory version of Pike himself. The alien closes the episode saying to Pike basically, she has illusion, you have reality, may you be as happy. Here on the day dream planet we get to consider again, if your dreams could come true instantly, would you want them? Ultimately, from this episode we learn that we must control our day dreams too. While they may not take on such a remarkable life of their own in our world, one point of this episode is still that when we are not careful our day dreams can take on a life that affects our own. We must choose what it is we want to focus on in our everyday lives, including our thoughts, in order to choose to make that which we want take hold for us.

Interestingly, this episode also anticipates Beverly Crusher's experience with the ghost that loves her in a mid-series Next Generation episode. There Beverly falls in love with an illusory or ghost-like man that seems perfect for her but turns out to need her physical presence to sustain himself. Again, she must face the question of whether or not she wants the pleasure of an illusion, or to step back into reality instead. There is another similarity between Episode 15 and the condition of Beverly and her ghost lover. Just as he sustains himself with her energy, in Episode 15 some sort of power field within the planet seems to be feeding off the energy sources of the crew and their ship. In this episode, however, we discover by the end that the power field is not using the ship's energy maliciously, but instead for the sake of generating what the crew wants to experience.

McCoy reveling in his love dream with a real crew member

Charmingly, the illusion offers us the chance to see McCoy woo a lady interest for the first time. He even faces his own death by lance for the sake of her, at which time the crew discover the apparently strong, seemingly real effects of their illusion world. Multiple members of the crew seem to suffer death in the midst of this imagination, only to have their bodies then disappear.

In the moment when there is no answer available to the crew for what is happening, Spock again steps in to make the inexplicable explicable by reasoning out the only options that approach reasonable in an unrealistic world. Kirk refuses to simply take Spock's insight, however, instead pursuing his own cavalier approach to solving problems, chasing after one of the illusions to demand answers from it. Here we begin to see how Kirk operating as the lone commander of the Enterprise is a bit of an illusion as well. His character is utterly intertwined with Spock's. While it's been clear all along that Kirk depends on Spock to serve as a second in command, and as the first science officer. We also see more clearly the point Kirk made in the previous episode--that he depends on Spock's consistency to establish his own emotional well-being. Kirk's reckless and erratic institutionalization of authority works partially because of the reliability of Spock. Spock stands as the pillar Kirk has been able to internalize to measure his own bravado against. Spock is not merely a friend and crew member beside Kirk. He is a voice and marker of constancy within Kirk's own character.

I've watched this episode with a friend of mine. He points out, "They always beam down to planets that look like Southern California." However, Episode 15 is actually the first to show such a landscape. The planets previously have appeared far more barren and rugged. This is the first landscape that has appeared as a mix of lush greenery, with sand, and rock formation as Southern California would offer. Also, the makeup has changed in this episode. The Enterprise crew have all taken on a heavier brow. The makeup here resembles that of Major Anthony from I Dream of Jeannie.

Also, in case you're dying for more James T. Kirk sweaty bare skin action, this episode offers some around 39:13.

Favorite Episode Quotation:
The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play. --Kirk explaining the strange imaginary occurrences of "Shore Leave."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Good God! We've Stepped into Actual Sci-Fi!

TOS: Episode 14: Balance of Terror

The Romulun not-Sarek making his first appearance in Star Trek history

Ha! Ha! Finally, we get some actual sci-fi. But not until after an outer space wedding ceremony that looks remarkably like a traditional wedding ceremony of the 20th-century United States, if you could imagine such a thing set in orange and taupe (classic Star Trek colors). Of course, the ceremony is interrupted, not by the weird glamour lighting on Kirk's face, but by an emergency beacon sent by Earth Outpost 4, "Under Attack! Under Attack!"

Lest you be worried that Star Trek beginning to experiment with the fact that it's marketed as a science fiction series might affect the lone wolf leadership of Kirk, I'll let you know, Kirk maintains his role.

If you want to know the real excitement of Episode 14, we're finally introduced to the idea of Star Fleet enemies, and a neutral zone in space. Kirk takes us up against the Romuluns, to be exact. Further, we're also told the Romuluns fly ships like birds of prey. What's the move to actual sci-fi consist of then? Kirk takes the Enterprise up against an invisible ship, with an unknown weapon of enormous force.

The wedding that opens the episode is used throughout as a point of tension meant to highlight the personal realities of war. The happy couple coo and flirt against the backdrop of battle with an as-to-yet unclear enemy. We don't, after all, understand the Romuluns at all at this point in Star Trek history. Though we're told there was a small war with them a generation earlier, according to dialogue with a previously unseen lieutenant. With birds of prey, the neutral zone, cloaking devices, Romuluns, and their history with Vulcan, "Balance of Terror" opens up a driving plot point of Star Trek history.

We see the bird of prey appear and disappear from view. Star Fleet at this point has no knowledge of Romulun's ability to cloak ships in space. Spock, as first Science Officer, lets us know early on that invisibility is theoretically possible, by deflecting light rays, but only at enormous power cost. Kirk utilizes this fact to somehow track the invisible vessel in space, and operate as an echo, or mirror image of the Romulun vessel. Strangely, this somehow also results in us being able to see inside the Romulun vessel where we discover... get ready!

Sarek! Oh! It's too good. It's only the devoted current day trekkie that would know the man we've seen is Spock's father, since the episode itself never reveals this. In the meantime, all we know is that the commander aboard the Romulun vessel looks a lot like Spock "racially" speaking. In being exposed to the activities aboard the Romulun vessel we discover that Sarek is a dogged individualized leader as well, that is, he is certain of his own authority and sole power of leadership just as Kirk is.

Again, as exciting as it is that Star Trek has finally introduced us to the idea of alien enemies, we should not assume this new development to be too developed. The alien makeup barely exists, and the storyline, while introducing sci-fi elements still looks more like a classic war drama than a journey through the unique demands of outer space. Still, I can't help but celebrate the introduction of more Vulcans.

Okay, okay. Now that I've gotten you excited about the episode, I have to be honest with you. Sarek isn't Sarek at all here, and he's not Vulcan either. Who I'm calling Sarek here is actually just the famous actor of Sarek appearing as the first Romulun in Star Trek history, while also making his first appearance in the series. He becomes known as Sarek, Spock's father, later in the Original Series, and then even plays a Klingon commander in Star Trek I: The Motion Picture. As a result, Spock's father is the first person to play characters of three different 'races' in the Star Trek universe. No wonder he and Spock had so much tension.

The Romulun-Star Fleet storyline is only just being developed here. We don't even know the genuine history of the Romulun-Vulcan relation at this point. We discover later, of course, that Romuluns and Vulcans went through a historic split since which the Vulcans embraced logic, while the Romulun's rejected it. In this episode Spock begins to suspect this connection based on his knowledge of ancient Vulcan history and a mythical story in which, during the age of savage warfare, some Vulcans left the planet to colonize other areas. (I love how Spock serves as an open vessel of truth in the Original Series. I mean this in the sense that because he claims he is incapable of emotion, and emits only logic, we are simply expected to take his determinations of any dilemma as actual truth, or at least high likelihood. As a result, his character serves, so far, as the semi-omniscent narrator able to step in and explain to us, the audience, what might be hard for the writers to illustrate otherwise.)

"Balance of Terror" is considered by many to be one of the top episodes of the Original Series. The acting is better than in many previous episodes. The complexity of the guest star character is well developed. The storyline is compelling. The writer of this episode, Paul Schneider, based it on an old submarine war story treating the Romulun bird of prey as the submarine, and Enterprise as a surface vessel. The idea of the submarine is meant to be carried out through the Romuluns cloaking device, with it being an analogy to the challenge of surface ships tracking undersea vessels. Space travel here is compared, then, to an ocean voyage in unknown waters. Kirk even finally says, "I wish I were on a long sea voyage somewhere", while reflecting on his own tension over leading a ship in the midst of battle. Perhaps even more interesting, Schneider claimed he developed the Romuluns as a re-expression of the ancient Roman empire set in outer space.

Though we are meant for the most part to understand the Romuluns as evil in this episode, as well as illogical, the Romulun not-Sarek exhibits incredible intelligence both in his command of his ship, and in his ability to anticipate the command behavior of his opposition--Kirk on the Enterprise. Kirk, too, seems to understand how to imagine his way into the ruling mind of not-Sarek. Their ability to read each other is so profound, not-Sarek finally understands Kirk as a kind of sorcerer, able to read the thoughts of his enemy. By the end this intense connection between the two characters causes the Romulun to regard Kirk as someone he would have been friends with in some differing political situation.

A friend of mine said that as a kid watching Star Trek there were episodes that scared her so badly she'd turn up the volume (so as not to truly miss anything), and then hide behind the couch so she could hide her eyes from the scenes that scared her. "Balance of Terror" is certainly an episode to consider hiding from the kids. With the intensity of the violent space fighting, and the personal tension around the wedding I've mentioned, I'm going to avoid having Sabrina 9 years old watch it.

Two final notes on the episode: First, Kirk has a profound inability to comfort those facing death. We've seen this previously in "The Corbomite Maneuver" episode when he reminded everyone on board that had just been told they were about to die that there was no real unknown in life, just temporary unknowns. Now as the Enterprise loses a crew member and Kirk tries to comfort the loved one he tells her to remember the death won't make sense but there was a reason. Finer words in the face of grief would be hard to write. Such sensitivity and grace, our Kirk. Second, the makeup for the crew in Episode 14 is intensely bad. Dear lord.

Poor Makeup (and Lighting) on Yoeman Janis in Episode 14; trust me, McCoy looked even worse

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Nine Year Old Perspective: Conscience of the King

Lady Love, the Governor, and Captain Kirk

Even though the evil governor killed a ton of people it was still sad when he died in the end because you could tell he had changed, and it turned out that the nine people that had seen him his daughter killed because she thought they would hurt him and so she was trying to protect him, but as you have probably guessed, she did the wrong thing. And while she was telling him, Captain Kirk was listening and came up eventually and started talking to them and she said, "I would kill a whole world for him! I need him to be safe!" or something like that, which I personally think is just dumb.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Love Lady and the Evil Governor

TOS: Episode 13: The Conscience of the King

Star Trek is no sci-fi show at all. I know some of you will be shocked. The truth is, The Original Series doesn't deal with the wonders of space, the challenges of technology, or even the ever-compelling power of gold or silver lame'. Instead, The Original Series is actually a mystery show that focuses on the detective powers of one man, James T. Kirk.

Like any good detective series, our problem solver occasionally must be diverted by personal stress. "The Conscience of the King" for the first time shows us Kirk suffering through a uniquely personal-political situation--the death of a friend (that again, he shows almost no emotion over) in the midst of what might be the discovery of Star Fleets very own ethnic cleanser. We discover that the previous governor of a famine stripped planet chose to save a few residents by killing most, and Kirk is one of the few people still alive that survived the genocide having seen the face of the governor in person. The governor, however, escaped under the guise of a body burned beyond recognition. Kirk must seek out the killer under the threat of his own death. But, adding complications to our detectives pursuit, for the first time in Star Trek history, Kirk unexpectedly faces the possibilities of true love--you know, that incredible feeling you get after a full minute and a half of seeing someone you think is really hot.

Kirk confronting the man he believes to have been a tyrant and murderer 20 years prior

Okay, here's the thing. This episode is almost impossible to watch. If it weren't for the fact that this episode is some loose sort of detective mystery (the detective really turns out to be Spock investigating Kirk's strange behavior) dovetailing along an imaginative exploration of earth's own history of politically practiced eugenics there would be no point of interest here. But, Spock's investigative powers make the episode palatable, of course. His fine-tuned intellectual studies are always enticing.

The problems with watching "The Conscience of the King" revolve primarily around Kirk's sudden appearance of dimples. It's taken twelve episodes for them to dive inward along Kirk's smiling cheek, but "The Conscience of the King" shows his dimples heavily as he woos and is woo'd by the daughter of the evil governor in hiding. The love magic pulsing through this episode is unbearably heavy with the blond haired, faux-fur mini-dress wearing love interest comparing Kirk's magnatism to the throbing power of the ship itself. On the upside, in the midst of this horror we receive the greatest come-on in Star Trek history.

Kirk with his overly attracted love interest

Walking through a low lit hall privately with Kirk, the love interest strokes her hands along the walls and says, talking about the ship, "All this power, searching and throbing, yet under control. Are you like that, Captain?" See what I mean by hard to take? Impulsively, and passionately, they kiss, her body bowing into his as he pulls her into his arms, and hard against his lips. Oh! Kirk, like any good detective, he's a man alone with his own intellectual brilliance, why, why can't the ship share him with another?

In this episode, at least, the answer is clear. Poor Kirk, this love lady turns out to be completely flippin' crazy.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Menagerie BlahBlah No Thank You, Not Right Now

TOS: Episode 11 (Parts 1 & 2): The Menagerie

The "Oh I am so old and can't keep my mouth closed because this face makeup is actually glue" Captain Pike character

Okay, let's face it: NBC screwed up. They paid all this money on an excellent pilot that they didn't actually use to introduce the series, and as a result, there they are stuck with all this unused footage. Around episode 10, they got lazy and decided they'd just whip together a quick-sode (an episode on the cheap) by retooling the footage from "The Cage" to make it fit into the Star Trek timeline complete with James T. Kirk.

Most of "The Menagerie", then, turns out to be the Enterprise crew we know from The Original Series watching the footage of "The Cage" during a trial brought against Spock. Oh, love, why you gotta be so bad?

NBC gets around the oddness of this set-up by placing the story of "The Cage" footage before the occurrences of Enterprise, and by then bringing in a severely aged Captain Pike. The kid's-craft-paste-on-the-face "Oh dear lord I am old so my skin looks like this" stage makeup is used to resolve the fact that the actor that played Pike for the pilot not only ditched the series but up and quit his acting career too. With Pike looking like he's got papier mache paste for skin, and Spock looking like the handsome, brilliant, young hotness that he always is, we discover, then, that Vulcans, that is, Spock, live a dang long time without obvious aging.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pop Culture Interlude

Star Trek XII: So Very Tired, from The Simpsons, Season 4, episode 6

An older Enterprise (the original) crew continues their voyages in space, dealing more with their own health ailments than the demands of space travel.

(Note: The recent movie, Star Trek, would count as the 11th movie in the Franchise.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Nine Year Old Perspective: The Corbomite Maneuver

The real alien of the Blinking Lights in Space with McCoy and Kirk

Coo-coo clock! Sweets for the sweets, care for a nut? Crazy!

Poker, and a Whole Bunch of Toys in Space

Okay, let's face it. Early Star Trek is frickin' serious. There are profound ethical considerations in every single episode, and I've been focusing on writing those. But other things are going on too--the franchise has no idea yet how to really deal with the fact that the characters are supposed to be in outer space. We haven't seen any intersting wonko wonko aliens yet. Uhuru sings weird almost voodoo magic type song every once in a while. And special effects have barely even gotten off the ground yet. So, for this episode, I'm going to focus in on the ridiculousness of some of what's going on.

TOS: Episode 10: The Carbomite Maneuver

0:03 Oh. holy hell that ship looks like a toy.
0:16 Spock really is hot every single time.
0:20 Do they really think those sounds actually make the ship sound like sophisticated futuristic tecnnology? A friend of mine takes voice boxes out of second hand stuffed animals and inserts them into other animals that didn't previously have noise making abilities. She'd be psyched to get an animal that made a sound like that.
0:39 oh! new litenant here. bet he's going to die. Kirk isn't on the bridge yet.
0:53 Sulu seems to have a role in this episode. Maybe they'll try to force him to interact with girls in his awkward not-really-flirting sort of way again?

1:20 CUBE IN SPACE! (seriously!) CUBE IN SPACE! the mystery they're facing this episode is A CUBE IN SPACE!
1:40 Spock: Steer a course around it, Mister Sulu (notice: Sulu has no first name.)


2:20 The new Lt: (yelling) "It's blocking the way!" Spock: "Quite unnecessary to raise your voice, Mister Bailey. All engines full stop. Sound the alert." Sulu announces: (calmly) "All decks, alert. Captain Kirk to the Bridge."

3:33 oh. There's the toy ship again, this time hovering in space next to THE CUBE IN SPACE.
3:46 oh yeah. Kirk without a shirt and covered in sweat grunting like you wouldn't believe, all for the sake of a medical exam. I wonder how many people actually fantasized about him because of this.

4:45 Spock: "take a look at this Kirk" CUBE IN SPACE! OH MY GOD! CUBE IN SPACE

5:15 WHAT AM I A DOCTOR OR A MOON SHUTTLE!? (the first time in Star Trek history we hear McCoy shout out this famously formed response to Kirk)

5:30 Kirk is now walking around the ship without his shirt on and with all kinds of shiny shiny sweat.

6:00 Spock suggests the new Lt. have his adrenaline gland removed.


7:13 Cube in space is solid, but it's composition is unknown. It also does not communicate in response to the Enterprise hails.

7:44 Scotty's analysis: "Beats me! That's a solid cube!"

7:50 Oops. Mr. Bailey doesn't understand his job. He speaks out of turn, advising Kirk to blast the cube. "I'll keep that in mind, Mr. Bailey, when this becomes a democracy." Kirk responds. Again, Kirk is absolutely in charge.


10:28 CUBE IN SPACE! CUBE IN SPACE! (the Lt. freaking out)

10:58 CUBE IN SPACE GETTING CLOSER! (the Lt. can barely handle it. Kirk, of course, intensely calm, and dressed now.)

12:18 lt. about to completely lose control. FIRING ON THE CUBE IN SPACE. SHAKE UP ON THE ENTERPRISE. Lt. out of his mind and falling sideways as the ship shakes.
12:50 The cube has been destroyed. Do they continue on in space? Or, do they run back to familiar territories? I wonder what Kirk will decide.

14:00 Kirk admits he needs Spock's logical abilities to encourage his own emotional security. Kirk chastizes the Lt.

15:24 McCoy always with the booze (though this is the first time we've seen him drink in the Star Trek universe, actually)

16:54 Kirk announces (after 10 episodes) that he has a problem with having a female yeoman. This is the first time he's made such a comment

17:33 The Enterprise is picking up another object in space.


18:08 Somethings grabbed the Enterprise. SPHERE IN SPACE! OH MY GOD! SPHERE IN SPACE!!!
18:35 The sphere in space is pissed, and huge.

19:01 Lt. freaking out, can't do his job.
19:52 SPHERE IN SPACE TALKS, and is pissed, and accusing the Enterprise of being primitive.

21:47 Sphere announces it will destroy the Enterprise. "We assume you have a diety, or dieties, or some power that comforts you. We therefore grant you ten earth time units, also known as minutes, to make preparations."

22:56 Kirk announces to the ship entirely that there is no such thing as the unknown, only things that are not known temporarily. This is his attempt to comfort the crew as a whole since the crew believes it will be killed by THE SPHERE. Nice job, Kirk. Surely discussing the metaphysics of the universe is the first best response to facing your own death.

The alien on board the Sphere in Space

24:14 THE SPHERE HAS A FACE. OUR FIRST ALIEN. It looks like a toy too.

25:02 Oh dear. The Lt. is losing his shit.

29:18 Kirk has decided to play poker with the sphere in space. Sure, that makes sense.
29:55 Ah. Kirk is bluffing, saying that attack on the Enterprise will insure destruction of the attacking vessel, then explains that death means nothing to them, so attack now.

33:28 The sphere does not destroy the Enterprise. Spock expresses interest in learning poker. McCoy offers to teach it to him.

34:00 The alien calls Jim's bluff. The sphere is departing and a bunch of blinking lights appear in its stead to guide the Enterprise to a planet where the crew will be planted, and the ship destroyed.


41:45 Scotty announces the engines need work badly.

42:16 The Enterprise discovers it's threatened the life sustaining abilities of the blinking lights in space. So, Kirk announces they're going to resk the alien from the blinking lights. Very noble.

43:39 Kirk takes the Lt. with him to SEE THE FACE OF THE UNKNOWN (the alien).

44:30 Kirk, McCoy, and the Lt beam aboard THE BLINKING LIGHTS IN SPACE. Everything is really short so they have to walk hunked over.

45:08 Boy that alien looks like a fake. Oh. Cause it is. What we thought was the alien was really a dummy. The real alien is actually a child-sized humanoid. Brilliant.

46:03 More booze. The child gets them all to drink alien booze. The child alien, by the way, is being played by Ron Howard's brother, whose name I can't remember.

47:45 Turns out the whole thing was a test. The alien just wanted to find out the humans true intentions. The Lt. now is going to offer himself to stay with the alien as a way of exchanging information between the two cultures.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Nine Year Old Perspective: Dagger of the Mind

The neural neutralizer


Star Trek: Dagger of the Mind; Your Mind to My Mind: The Strength of Total Conviction

TOS: Episode 9: Dagger of the Mind

Spock giving the prisoner his Vulcan mind meld

Episode Quick Summary
The episode begins with the Enterprise beaming supplies down to a penal colony. They then beam up one piece of cargo from the colony, which we discover actually contains a prisoner hiding inside the cargo. The ship then departs, unknowingly carrying an extra passenger. The colony contacts the ship to inform them that an inmate with violent background has apparently escaped the planet, very likely having beamed onto the ship. The ship goes into security alert and begins searching for the prisoner. The prisoner makes his way onto the bridge of the ship with a weapon in hand and proceeds to request asylum of Captain Kirk, while also exhibiting what appear to be health problems. The prisoner demands not to be returned to the colony, and quickly Kirk and Spock together disable him. While the prisoner is unconscious McCoy does a thorough medical examination and discovers he has some sort of unrecognizable medical disorder. During periods of consciousness McCoy gives him a truth serum but the man repeatedly says things that seem confusing and even contradictory. He begins to indicate that someone has tried to force him to forget experiences and information from working at the colony, and that his struggle is so that he will not forget. What we do not know. In looking up information about the name the prisoner has given for himself, Spock and Kirk discover him to be a well regarded doctor that had been assigned to the penal colony six months before. When Kirk makes contact with the director of the planet, who is clearly someone Kirk respects, McCoy makes clear that the director's story seems unbelievable. Star Fleet protocol requires, then, a full investigation to be made, requiring Kirk and a minimal investigation crew to beam down to the penal colony itself. Kirk and a doctor we've never met before--Dr. Helen Noel--beam down to the surface. Shortly after arriving they meet the director doctor, in charge of rehabilitation of prisoners, and also a woman that had been a prisoner but now resides on the planet as a therapist, and apparently without very much feeling.

Episode Tidbits
Spock comments on human history's encouragement of organized violence, and the fact that it then punishes those that take up violence in private. McCoy responds that he's sure Spock's people must have found a solution. Spock responds in the affirmative, confirming that his people squelched emotion, and that without emotion there is no motive for violence.

After sometime we discover that the rehabilitation occurring on the planet consists of some sort of neural neutralizing--that is, neutralizes patient's brain waves, that is, relaxes the patient, though without long term effect, apparently. When Kirk leaves the neural neutralizing equipment, we discover that actually what is being done is some sort of hypnosis in which the person is being told they will forget everything they know, and that if they begin to remember anything they will feel extreme pain. This episode, then, explores the idea of overcoming that which is difficult for us by simply erasing any memory of it ever having occurred. What we discover is that such erasure will damage us, rather than save us. Eradicating our hardships cannot be a genuine help to us, instead, the only option, then, must be to face ourselves and learn to accept what pains us while also integrating it into a healthier version of our own selves.

We also, in this episode, explore the fears of hypnosis, and mind control. Wanting to explore the reality of the neural neutralizer Kirk convinces Dr. Noel to use it on him with small suggestions being made. When he asks her to suggest something unusual to his mind, she uses the neural neutralizer to play with the idea of Kirk loving her. In the midst of this suggestion the director of the penal colony breaks in and increases the intensity of the machine, using it to apparently take control of Kirk's mind. Kirk is, of course, ultimately able to use the strength of his own conviction to overcome the persuasion being exercised on him, but in the meantime we are forced to consider the worry of mind control, and yet also see that we do have the power to outwit such evils. But such ultimate self control comes only through our own virtuous determination to do what is right.

In this episode we see the first instance of something like a Vulcan mind meld. It is not, though, what we come to see later as the classic mind meld. Instead, Spock directs the prisoner in what appears to be more like a kind of hypnosis technique, through which Spock calms the prisoner's mind, and simultaneously experiences it with him. Also, in this process Spock uses two hands, unlike his single handed technique that appears later.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Nine Year Old Perspective: Miri

I liked it but I was kind of scared because there was a girl named Miri, and there was a disease that was killing grown ups but it wasn't killing kids yet and the girl named Miri started to get it and the captain tried to tell her friends but at first they wouldn't believe her but they finally got them to understand and everything turned out alright.

Blue Skin and Bad Behavior

TOS: Episode 8: Miri

Kirk struggling through the skin reaction and madness of the rapid-aging disease of "Miri"

Episode Quick Summary
The Enterprise responds to an earth-like distress signal only to discover what appears to be an earth duplicate over 100 light years from actual earth. Yeoman Janis, Spock, McCoy, Kirk and the standard expendable security personnel beam down to the surface only to discover what looks like earth in the mid-1900's. According to Spock's readings the environment has been deteriorating for a few hundred years (since the area would have been newly intact). Looking at an abandoned tricycle, McCoy is suddenly attacked by a worn, and imbecilic adult-sized humanoid that is emotional over the broken tricycle, and suffering from some strange form of seizure. The man quickly becomes so upset he simply dies. During a tricorder examination by McCoy we discover that metabolically its as if the man aged a century with a couple of minutes. Suddenly hearing strange noises, the crew chases down what turns out to be a teenage looking girl afraid of being hurt. While Janis, McCoy, and Kirk stay with the girl, whose name turns out to be Miri, Spock and the security detail go outside to look for any further signs of life. The girl tells the crew about Grubs that do bad thing. We realize that she means grownups, and her fear of the crew is because they are grownups too. It turns out the grownups all became ill and died, leaving only the children alive on the planet. During Spock's search we discover other children that are in the area and working together to taunt (and attack) the newly appeared grownups. Quickly, all of the crew except Spock become infected with blue splotches that Miri explains are characteristic of the disease that killed all the Grubs. Miri takes the crew to the hospital where McCoy examines tissue samples from the crew, while Kirk and Spock read files found in the hospital. The files reveal that the adults of the planet had been in the midst of a life prolongation project three hundred years previously, before they all died. The mystery, then, becomes how there could continue to be children on the planet when they die immediately upon entering early adulthood.

Episode Tidbits
Miri has apparently lived a life devoid of adult input, and yet she is clearly drawn to staying with the adult crew members of the Enterprise. Janis asks, if Miri has lived her whole life as a wild animal, why would she now be so willing to stay with the adults now. Kirk responds that he believes children instinctively need adult interaction so that they can receive input of what is right and wrong. Spock supposes, however, that it is more than mere childhood need that guides Miri, but instead also her romantic-sexual needs that are developing due to her entering puberty.

This episode considers a different version of the Peter Pan fantasy--what would it be like to stay young forever, or at least hundreds of years? Roddenberry has shown his interest with these early Star Trek episodes to be to explore either a fantasy or fear common to the American imagination of the time, and to use that exploration to expose both the limits and the lessons of that fear or fantasy. In this episode, we discover the horror of the Peter Pan fantasy--children forever are not fully fledged people.

This episode also asks us to consider the dangers of technology without adequate knowledge of its effects. It reminds us that if we do not know what we are doing the technology we use to modify and improve our lives may be the very thing that undoes it. "Miri" cautions us to take care in trying to search for the fountain of youth--such a search would leave us inadequate humans, if we succeed, and could be what kills us when we don't.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Nine Year Old Perspective: Little Girls

Andrea Android

Yah-do-weedo-doo-doo-dah! Hahaha. I liked it a lot but I knew that once we found out that Brown was a robot thing, then of course I knew that Andrea was too, and I had a hint that Corby was, except I couldn't tell because he was the one that said he made up the stuff, and how could he make up himself cause there have to be people doing the knobs and things. But then Kirk got his arm stuck on the sliding door and it ripped off some of the fake skin and it showed the robot parts inside of him. And that was interesting. Yip! That's all I want to say today.

Two Kirks (Again)

TOS: Episode 7: What Are Little Girls Made Of?

Epidode Quick Summary

The episode opens with the crew scanning planet XO-3 in search of Dr. Roger Corby. He's been missing 5 years. When Kirk contacts him Corby requests Kirk to beam down alone due to the nature of Corby's discoveries in the underground caverns of the planet. Corby, however, has been engaged all these years to Nurse Christine, crewman of the Enterprise. When Corby realizes she's there as well they agree for both Christine and Kirk to beam down together. Kirk and Christine arrive at the entry of the caverns expecting Corby to be present. But Corby is not there. Kirk decides two security men should be on the planet as well. Corby himself does not appear, his assistant Brown shows himself instead. Shortly, both of the security men are killed by a strange looking creature-man unseen by either Kirk or Christine. The two descend deeper and deeper into the planet caverns led by Brown told they will there meet Corby. Brown leads them into a living area where they are greeted by a woman named Andrea. Finally Corby appears to passionately embraces Christine, only to then engage with Kirk in a fight apparently under the guise of security for unknown discoveries on the planet. In the midst of the fight we see that Brown is actually an android, and the creature-man has lured them into the planet with the ability to immitate others voices. Corby continues to claim, however, to be himself acting under the demands to protect an important scientific finding. The creature-man, we discover, is a programmed android left behind by the people that had previously inhabited the planet. Corby's scientific discovery, then, is to create androids that closely resemble people and obey their orders. Andrea, it turns out, is also an android. Andrea, we are told, is simply a logical computer completely without feeling. Unable to dissuade or control Corby's behavior, Kirk is confined into a machine and an android copy of him is made. Realizing that the android will share the same memories as himself, he creates a fake memory of calling Spock "half-breed" as a way of hopefully implanting a clue for the Enterprise crew, in case the android Kirk is used against Star Fleet. When the machine turns off we are unable to tell which is the copy and which is the original.

Episode Tidbits
These early episodes, it turns out, highlight Kirk often undressed. He appears completely nude covered only in his midsection by a section of the android producing machine.

We discover Corby's goals are to take over humanity with android duplicates that will allow human consciousness to live forever without deformity or aging. Kirk points out, however, that doing so would mean removing feeling that makes humans unique. This episode highlights, then, the importance of what could be seen as human weakness, and the way it actually strengthens us.

Though this episode anticipates the advanced capacities of Data in The Next Generation, there is no direct link in terms of story line. The androids in "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" also do not show the kind of independent sophistication that Data exhibits. The episode does, however, anticipate the kind of worldview presented in the matrix--not the false reality that humans apparently live within, but instead the destructive power that develops from artificial intelligence designed too well.

The real conflict of this episode depends on the question--what counts as human life? When a machine seems to hold the same consciousness as a person, does it count as a human life? Does it count as alive? Does relying too much on technology undo the very things that make us human?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Classic SNL Spoof

I fear this video is available only within the U.S.

Belushi as Kirk, Chase as Spock, Ackroyd as McCoy, SNL Star Trek spoof 1979

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Spock! Picard! Sarek! Birthday Party--Yes!

TNG: Season 5: Episode 107: Unification (Parts 1 and 2)

Okay, fine, I get it. This is WAY out of order. We're only 7 episodes into The Original Series and here I am 107 episodes into The Next Generation. But, here's the thing, it's my birthday. For weeks people have been talking to me about how birthdays are for doing something really special, for really taking the time to celebrate your life, for coming up with an activity that honors the day with genuine regard. On my birthday, however, I have a meeting to attend, and no real plans for celebration. Finally, it occurred to me there was only one real way to celebrate--bring together my favorite Star Trek moments in one perfect episode. The truth is, I frickin' love Spock. This has been said. I also admire Sarek very much. And, honestly, even though I would never marry Jean-Luc Picard (because I'm previously committed to Spock (he only gets better with age)), I would do anything he said. The wonderful thing about saying such things is that Spock and Jean-Luc are so completely trustworthy. So, I can say something as dramatic as "I'd do anything Jean-Luc Picard said to do." and honestly mean it, all the while knowing he'd never put me in immoral circumstances. There's nothing more attractive than that.

So, how to spend an almost perfect birthday? Bring together Spock, Sarek, and Jean-Luc in one episode, side by side with Data, Geordi, Worf, and Crusher. So excellent. It would only be better if my Trek friends were here with me too. Whenever it is they come visit I'm going to propose we get a big Trek-with-beer pile of the handful of us set up on my bed to watch these episodes. By the way, Data and Picard dress up as Romulans. How hot is that? Also, this episode was dedicated to Gene Roddenberry, who died shortly before it aired.

Since we're out of order here, I'm not going to summarize the episode. I'll wait till I watch it again with Sabrina 9 years old later in the year. For those of you that want to enjoy my birthday celebration with me, here's the links from youtube. Cheers, and enjoy!

Unification, Part 1

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Unification, Part 2

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Nine Year Old Perspective: Mudd's Women

Mudd's Women

I liked it. And that's it. I don't want to do a long thing this time.

The Money of Mudd

TOS: Episode 6: Mudd's Women

One of Mudd's Women struggling over the choice of taking Mudd's illusion medicine

Episode Quick Summary
The episode opens with the Enterprise discovering a ship deep within an asteroid belt. The ship refuses to respond to the Enterprise's hailings, even as it clearly needs help before it is destroyed. Finally, the crew beams aboard the mystery ship's crew just as an asteroid destroys it. The crew of the mystery ship consists of a man named Walsh (dressed as a Musketeer), and three very glamorous women that prove to be quite distracting to the men on board the Enterprise. Walsh explains to Captain Kirk that the women are not actually crew men, but instead cargo destined to marry settlers on a distant planet. It's important to note that the women are not merely attractive. As Kirk puts it, they have a strange magnetic power on the men of the crew, including the captain himself. Walsh turns out to have violated Star Fleet protocol and so the crew launches a ship's hearing against him. In the hearing we discover that Walsh is actually a smuggler with psychiatric issues. And the women repeatedly show concern of being discovered (of what we do not initially know), and also of not fulfilling their original flight plan.

Episode Tidbits
Roddenberry originated this episode. We discover again that he is fascinated with illusion and its potentially destructive power over otherwise self-controlled men. But further, in this episode Roddenberry also reveals his interest in the effects of illusion on its practitioners. The women in this episode have a highly alluring power, and yet project a power more than a mere person would. During an inadvertent pass in front of McCoy's medical scanning equipment we see that the equipment does not recognize one of the women as medically normal, and yet, the men on the ship are unable to control themselves in the face of the women's attention. Even Captain Kirk is almost lured in by one of them, until she suddenly stops directing her attention at him and announces that she hates what she is doing. When she returns to her quarters she reveals that she does not feel well, and that it is almost time. Shortly we discover that the women depend on some sort of medicine that makes them beautiful, and when the medicine has faded they no longer have the same power of allurement. The Walsh character controls access to the drug, and uses it (through the women) to leverage control over whatever rich men are within his vaccinity. Ultimately, what we discover is that this sort of illusion does not overcome our Star Fleet crew, but it does wear at the heart of the morally good woman living within it. It is in this way, then, too, that we discover some people simply are forced into situations that are bad for them. The woman suffering under the situation makes choices for herself, but she does so within constrained possibilities. What we learn, then, is that exploitation might not take away people's choices absolutely. Instead, people can make genuine choices, its just that those choices are within an unfortunate range of options. We see, finally, our suffering maiden give up her need for illusion in exchange for honest engagement with her circumstances. In doing so she faces who she honestly is, and the reality of the unfortunately circumstances she finds herself within. By facing herself in such a manner, she discovers her own ability to believe in herself and in so doing becomes beautiful naturally, without the medicine. To discover ones freedom in any situation, then, according to Roddenberry, is not to escape absolutely from our circumstances, but instead to find a way to genuinely engage with the options available. To do so, according to "Mudd's Women" is to believe in your self, and in believing in ourselves we find the beauty that is our own.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Nine Year Old Perspective: The Enemy Within

In this show, the animal in Sulu's arms is my favorite character. What I call this little animal is a uni-dog because it has a horn like a unicorn and a tale like a horse (which so do unicorns) but its face is like a dog and it's smaller like a dog not bigger like a horse. But the part that made me feel sad was that the dog died. And the Captain got split into a pro and a con half. But in the end he got put back into just his normal self. We think we know what caused the transporter to stop working, and start making half pro half con of people. Is because some type of geologist or whoever got yellow stuff all over him that was magnetized and had to be sent up because he hurt his hand, and in the show that's basically the only logical answer for what happened to the transporter. Sulu and the rest of the away team got stuck on the planet at about a 120 degrees under zero cause that's how cold it got at night on the planet because they couldn't fix the transporter and couldn't take any chances to make two of them. But they finally got them back up in the end.

Two Kirks: Star Trek: The Enemy Within

TOS: Episode 5: The Enemy Within

Sulu making coffee jokes while freezing to death

Episode Quick Summary
The episode opens with much of the ship on the surface of a planet. One of the geologists injures himself falling into a pile of yellow ore and so is required to beam back to the Enterprise. Scotty greets the geologist and scans the ore discovering it to be magnetic, and unusual. Immediately after Kirk beams up and arrives feeling strange. As a result, Scotty guides him down the hall. The transporter room unattended, we see a second transportation occur this time with Kirk appearing again standing in reverse position of how the original Kirk arrived. Quickly the second Kirk shows himself as demanding and inconsiderate. We see him grab people inexplicably, and also to demand brandy of the Doctor. The crew is unaware of the fact that there are two Kirks and so have difficulty sorting out the Captain's strange behavior. Finally, after a planet animal (a dog with a unicorn horn) is beamed up, and inadvertently duplicated the crew realizes that Kirk too was duplicated. Soon after Kirk realizes that something has gone wrong in his being duplicated, that it has affected his strength of will. We discover too that what the split has meant for Kirk, and the unicorn dog, is a splitting of demeanor--one is nothing but good, the other nothing but evil.

Episode Tidbits
Unfortunately, we must suffer through an attempted rape scene in this episode.

"You don't have the luxury of being anything less than perfect." Spock tells Kirk that he cannot show vulnerability in the eyes of the crew, lest he lose command. We discover again that Kirk suffers under the demands of absolute command, and that what that means in this early Star Trek universe is an incredible isolation from most other people. To retain authority the Captain must appear to be above all others in ability. Knowing this we gain a deeper understanding too of the closeness Kirk shares with his officers. Spock and Kirk, as we know, have an incredibly strong friendship. In other episodes we've seen Kirk's ability to spot Spock's limitations, even as others view Spock as impermeable. This early episode reveals that the friendships strength is at least partially dependent on the frailty that each can honestly see in the other when others cannot.

"Do you have a point, Spock?" The doctor asks. "Yes, always, doctor. We have here an unusual opportunity to appraise the human mind, or to judge the roles of good and evil in a man." Spock responds. In this episode, we discover a view that the side of a person that in itself would be perceived as the negative characteristics of a person are integrally intertwined with a person's ability to function in a productive manner. According to Spock's psychological analysis, it is the dominating, aggressive characteristics that Kirk has lost to his counter self that make him able to function as an effective leader. In the last episode we learned that we must face our underlying tendencies and desires and transform them lest they take us over. In this episode, we see a similar lesson. We cannot simply hope to eradicate our own negative characteristics. We must accept that our negative characteristics are actually an integral aspect of our functioning as productive, successful human beings. We must face, in other words, those very parts of ourselves we have otherwise been afraid of. We learn, then, that to be healthy human individuals we must achieve a balance in the various aspects of ourselves.

In this episode we discover Sulu's endless sense of humor for the first time. Even while facing the very real possibility of freezing to death he is busy making jokes of room surface and coffee delivery. Thank god they still enjoy coffee in the future.

The previous episode alludes to Spock's human heritage, but it is in this episode for the first time that the half-human, half-Vulcan reality of Spock's background is fully disclosed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Nine Year Old Perspective: The Naked Time

I really liked that one. I just want to say that I liked it. I don't want to write a long one.

But, why is it called "The Naked Time"?

Space Madness: The Drunkenness of our Unaddressed Selves

TOS: Episode 4: The Naked Time

Episode 3 of The Original Series had also aired as the pilot for the Star Trek. We watched and commented on that episode as the pilot, and so now move from episode 2, directly to episode 4, "The Naked Time."

Episode Quick Summary
Spock beams down to a planet to pick up a science party along with ensign Joe. They arrive in full body covering and discover the entire science party dead and frozen. Spock is unable to determine cause of the disaster, telling Kirk that the situation is unlike any they have encountered before. While Spock is investigating, we see Joe remove a glove, rub his nose, and then unknown to himself (or Spock) become exposed to an orange fluid. He then puts his glove back on and Spock returns assuming both of them to have followed safety protocol. Spock and the ensign return to the Enterprise, and the crew attempts to investigate the cause of the science party's death, while also preparing to observe the destruction of the planet. The planet they are investigating is in the process of imploding. Joe becomes more and more irritated with his own hand, continually attempting to rub something off of it, and then exhibiting irritation with anyone on board that interacts with him. In his madness, the ensign intensely questions the presence of man in outer space. "If man was meant to fly, he'd have wings.... We don't belong out here. We don't belong!" Joe then begins to act as though he intends to stab himself with a knife. Sulu, and another ensign Riley wrestle with him, and we see that the Riley too becomes infected. The crew is now faced with dealing with the destruction of a planet in front of them, and an unknown disease within the crew. The planet begins to exhibit strange effects on the orbiting proximity of the ship, just as the originally infected ensign also fails to respond to standard medical intervention and instead dies inexplicably.

Episode Tidbits
These early Star Trek episodes show a standard of group project management fundamentally dependent on a single authority. The Enterprise operates in a way that means everything runs through Captain Kirk. He obviously depends on his officers but even small details must be fully reported to him, and the final heroism that saves the crew from demise or failure consistently occurs through Kirk. This pattern of authority differs from what we see later in The Next Generation where Picard is certainly the main authority, and much of the final heroism certainly does occur through him. However, in The Next Generation we more readily see episodes devoted to the skills and authority of other crewmen, and problem solving occurs often through group brainstorming and implementation.

For the first time we see Spock utilize his disabling power shoulder squeeze. Kirk responds to Spock's use of it saying, "I'd like you to teach me that sometime." The implication is that the power is something innate to Spock, and admired by Kirk.

It is in this episode that we also discover for the first time in the Star Trek universe that Spock is a character that does have emotions but operates out of supreme control of those feelings, rather than in an absence of them. The madness that grips the crew brings unresolved personal issues to the surface. In each case the crewman that goes mad falls into a dramatic and uncontrollable expression of underlying unresolved personality characteristics. For Spock, it is emotions themselves that are what boil up to dominate him. This episode tells us that for genuine personal health it is not enough to operate out of socially appropriate control of our overt behaviors and feelings. Instead, we must also address those underlying feelings or characteristics that we might believe we can "get over" by simple avoidance. "The Naked Time" tells us that it is these ignored aspects of ourselves that may be the key to our own health, or our own undoing. In ignoring such tendencies, they could come back to dominate us in times of stress, thus overwhelming us, and so leading our behavior and understanding of ourselves into radical imbalance. If we are to be self-actualized, or well balanced individuals we must face those parts of ourselves we had hoped to just "get over" and learn how to transform and/or integrate those aspects into our self as a whole.

As much as I adore the ethical psychology of Star Trek, I have to say that the most savory, thrilling moment of this episode is when they discover that the collapsing of a planet gives them the power to travel back in time. "We may risk it someday." Kirk says in considering that they could use this new power again in the future. As we'll discover later in ST:IV the crew comes to understand what is necessary (besides a collapsing planet) to claim such power, and does utilize it for time travel to save all of humanity.

Episode Quotations
"It could be some kind of space madness." --Spock

"You know what Joe's mistake was? He wasn't born an Irish man." --ensign Riley

"Now, Sulu, who is at heart a swash buckler from the 18th century...." --Spock describing Sulu gripped by space madness

"Jim, when I feel friendship for you, I am ashamed.... I've spent a whole lifetime learning to hide my feelings." --Spock in his mad state explaining his sense of self-discovery to Kirk

"Love! You're better off without it. I'm better off without mine. This vessel-- I give. She takes. She won't permit me my life. I've gotta live hers." --Kirk facing his own space madness. In this moment we discover that Kirk does long for genuine human love but believes his obligation to be to the demands of the ship, which for him requires a life without a primary romantic relationship. Even after Kirk has been given an inoculation to the disease we see that he struggles against his own feelings of loneliness. "No beach to walk on." he says, an expression of his longing for romantic interaction.

Comments made while watching the episode
"He needs to quit touching himself." --Sabrina 9 years old, in response to the first ensign inadvertently rubbing his infected hand against his torso and arms repeatedly

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Nine Year Old Perspective: Charlie X

There is only one thing that I want to say. I feel bad for Charlie in the end.

(Though earlier Sabrina 9 years old also said: Oh! It's a lot like "Where No Man Has Gone Before" because in both shows the character can't control their powers and so end up being evil.)

The Power of Psi

TOS: Episode 2: Charlie X

Again Star Trek focuses on extrasensory and paranormal power development in humans. This time the story develops through the unusual demeanor of a teenage boy found alone on a planet. Having raised himself with only a couple of recorded tapes to teach him speech and ideas, he is overly enthusiastic about everything he encounters on board the Enterprise. It turns out included in this process of discovery are the needs to learn both moral and social norms.

Episode Quick Summary
The episode starts with Kirk greeting a three person party that beams aboard the ship. It turns out the party includes two officers from another ship that are bringing aboard a teenager discovered alone on a planet. The boy, Charlie Evans, was the sole survivor of a crash and apparently raised himself from the age of 3. Quickly after Charlie's arrival unusual events begin to happen aboard the Enterprise. The crew is also forced to help Charlie adjust to his new surroundings. As Charlie experiences high frustration over the new demands of living with other people we see him struggle with the choice between controlling himself or using his paranormal powers against the crew.

Episode Tidbits
This episode offers us the first hand-to-hand combat scene of the Star Trek universe complete with bright orange tights and a shirtless Kirk.

The episode makes a wonderful Blake reference when Charlie takes control of Spock causing him to spontaneously recite "Tiger tiger burning bright, in the forest of the night...." when he attempts to speak. Spock tries to fight the problem but instead Charlie forces him to recite other poetry including Poe's "Raven." The moment simply deepens my affection for Nimoy's character.

For as unemotional as Spock is supposed to be he shows a high level of both frustration, and then charm in this episode. The tension between he and Uhura also continues into this episode through a showy musical interlude in which Spock plays a stringed instrument while Uhura improvises a sing along. The song includes Uhura dancing in a way that finally answers the question of how on earth the women of the Enterprise--Uhura and Janis--manage to wear dresses that honestly only just cover their bums--they have matching hot pants on underneith.

Again we watch Kirk beat Mr. Spock at a game of three dimensional chess. Charlie takes over the game play with Spock, quickly becoming frustrated with his own lack of understanding about the game. Facing his own frustration he melts the chess pieces.

Though he is initially excited at the possibility of interacting with other people, part of Charlie's education turns out to be a deeply moral one. He discovers that it isn't only use for someone that determines how or if he interacts with people. People try to help him understand respect for others. Unfortunately, Charlie's takes his experience of being corrected as deeply frustrating, and to imply that people on board the Enterprise simply don't like him. Kirk attempts to talk to Charlie and help him learn that life is simply about facing the reality of that there are a million things you can't have, and a million things you can't. Life, according to Kirk is about facing your own limitations.

In this way, the Charlie X episode explores the balance between human emotional needs or desires, on the one hand, and the ethical concerns of interacting out of consideration for others. Charlie's struggle reveals that it is difficult to be ones own solitary guide for sorting out such moral life. The episode highlights the old cliche that man is not an island. Instead, the guidance of a dynamic moral figure (Kirk, in this case) turns out to be a valuable, perhaps necessary component of developing genuine moral personhood, not to mention the prior influence of group interactions. More than that, however, Charlie X teaches us that a person's ability to develop their own self control over their desires is essential. Not, perhaps to simply ignore those desires, but instead to integrate them into that healthy balanced, reasonable life. That self control, this episode suggests, is necessary to live in accord with others and so achieve the more developed interests a healthy person seeks--love, relationships, and fulfilling exchange with others.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Nine-Year Old Response: The Man Trap

I liked "The Man Trap." But, in a way I was confused of why that monster needed salt. Out of all the things, why salt? And, in the end when we saw the monster and he was getting shooted and stuff, I kind of felt bad for the monster and I don't know how they did it but the expression on the monster's face looked really really sad and it kind of made me kind of sad. But other than that I liked it.

Salt: Thirsty Sexy Salt

TOS: Episode One: The Man Trap

You've gotta love a sci-fi series that opens its world to regular viewers with an entire episode focused on trapping men--that, apparently, primal but enduring fear of being captured and contained by something or someone so alluring you almost want it to take you. The passionate problem, then, would seem to be not the worry of simple kidnapping, but of being consumed by your own desires. The theme of enslavement and kidnapping piqued Roddenberry's interest from the beginning with him writing it as a central component of his original pilot. Now, in the first aired episode of the original series, we see it as a theme again. Also common to both the original pilot and this first episode is the question of misused intimacy. Star Trek, it would seem, suffers early on from a kind of trust crisis.

Quick Plot Summary
The ship has traveled to an archaeological site on a distant planet in order to provide routine medical check-ups to both the archaeologist, and his wife, Professor and Mrs. Crater, that live and work at the site. "Routine except for the fact that Mrs. Crater is the one woman from McCoy's past." Kirk's voice over warns us. Mrs. Crater, it turns out, had been the love of McCoy's life ten years before. Beaming down to the planet ten minutes early, the away team--Kirk, McCoy, and ensign Darnell--is unable to locate the Craters initially. The teams early arrival, however, makes them unsuspicious since surely the Craters will appear on time.

As the moments pass a high pitched singing is heard followed by the appearance of a woman. The singing here, of course, alludes to the Greek myth of the siren's song. It's our warning that something is not just typical with this woman that has appeared. She will surely stand as an attractive destructess. Quickly, we discover that she appears differently to each of the three men from the away team. McCoy sees her as the love he always had, the ensign sees her as a young blond familiar to him as a previous romantic interest, and Kirk sees her as a slightly older version of McCoy's vision. Mrs. Crater finally leaves, apparently to go and get her husband for his medical examination. Mr. Crater arrives irritated by the Star Fleet visit, demanding the crew leave them a load of salt for the heat, and then depart. Kirk convinces Mr. Crater to undergo the required medical exams, and the three of them--Kirk, McCoy, and Crater--begin discussing Crater's wife. In the meantime, the blond figure the ensign had seen has lured him away from the others. In the course of the conversation the changing vision of Mrs. Crater starts to become apparent to Kirk and McCoy as they disagree over what she looks like. Just as the two men might have made progress in their insight, and as McCoy attempts to continue with an internal examination of Crater, a woman's scream is heard. The men run outside to discover the ensign has died mysteriously with Mrs. Crater at his side. Immediately after explaining the death of the ensign, Mrs. Crater's demeanor changes again as she asks desperately for salt. Kirk and McCoy beam back to the Enterprise with the promise to return the next day to complete the medical examinations. After returning to the Enterprise we discover that the ensign's death is unexplainable. Though Mrs. Crater has done the work to imply he'd consumed a poisonous plant, McCoy's autopsy in inconsistent with any cause of death until finally he discovers that the ensigns body is completely devoid of salt. And so the mystery begins. Eventually we discover that Mrs. Crater is not only able to make herself appear differently to different people at the same time, but is also more generally a shape shifter.

Episode Tidbits
O the thrill! I love that we'll also start the series with a McCoy episode, that is, insight into the psychology of the most cranky character in the history of the Star Trek universe. The episode opens with McCoy and Kirk dialoguing about McCoy's personal situation. As such, we get insight into the very comfortable and close relationship these two characters have already established. Kirk's semi-coy demeanor shows itself here as he teases his friend and makes jokes about how to interact with ex-girlfriends. We get to see too Kirk's deep independence as he is the only one of the away team that, in the beginning, at least sees the Mrs. Crater apparition as lovely but unaffecting. Kirk, too, is the one of the men that can see Crater's effect on the other two.

The episode serves as a wonderful introduction to personality tropes for each of the main characters. We're exposed to Uhura as a woman desiring of more than simple outer space adventure, with a tension between her and Spock. The moments in which we see them interact for the first time serve as ample fodder for the relationship shown between their alternate timeline characters in the recent movie. Wisely, the writers of the new film saw the potential brewing in these early episodes for Uhura and Spock's further development in relationship to each other. With the death of the ensign we also see in Spock's controlled response to the announcement that there was "one death" (unnamed) in the away team the early seeds of his character's response to the disruption of Vulcan in the new movie. The character traits exhibited in this early episode seem well utilized by the writers of the recent movie.

It is interesting how heavily the early Star Trek focuses on the worry of illusion. The Mrs. Crater character accomplishes much of her destructive success because of her ability to perceptually deceive people of the ship. Her successful illusions, however, are not merely a matter of appearance. The kind of illusion the series flirts with here depends on the illusionist having intimate knowledge of the person going to be fooled. Star Trek, then, would seem to be suffering from a kind of trust complex. It's not simply a symptom of traveling through unknown climes and locales as the series motif of outer space exploration might suggest. The kind of trickery the series is concerned with strongly depends on being fooled by another that knows us too well, not as a stranger in a far off land simply different from us, but as an intimate that would use the shared personal understanding for ill.

Episode Quotations of Excellence
"Dammit, Jim!" --McCoy yells his famous line for the first time in the Star Trek universe

"Bones! Quit thinking with your glands! We're beaming back to the Enterprise." Kirk's response to McCoy's pleading that they locate Mrs. Crater before leaving the planet

"You suppose he's going space happy or something?" Sulu's personal assistant, Janis, commenting on how strange ensign Green is acting (Green is literally not himself since it is actually the shape shifter impersonating him)