The Entire Star Trek Universe at High Speed

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Star Trek: The Gamesters of Triskelion; aka., "Baby, Kiss Me in that Silver Swimsuit"

TOS: Episode 45: The Gamesters of Triskelion

Our episode opens with an incredible closeup of an actual planet. The imagery is so realistic, you've gotta appreciate these special effects. Also, our crew has finally figured out how to show a ship in space without it looking like a toy dangling bobbly-bobbly on a string against a fake backdrop. Nice space moves, Enterprise!

Kirk Bargaining with Brains,
Or, Those That We Will Come To Discover As a Warning Against Our Focusing too Much on Intellectual Pursuits Without Compassion

Episode Summary
The planet our crew is exploring is uninhabited, but with automated exploration facilities. Sulu continues to be away for the filming of The Green Berets.

Our crew has taken up the habit, finally, of leaving a reasonable leader aboard the ship as others travel on away mission. With that in mind, Spock has been left aboard the Enterprise, along with Scotty. In the meantime, Kirk, Chekov, and Uhura have beamed down to inspect the automated research stations of the planet, but just as they board the transportation platform, they are instead suddenly moved in a quick flash from the Enterprise to a distant planet. It is clear they have not vaporized, and then rematerialized as would usually happen with the transportation device. Instead, they have been captured and space-moved somehow. Scotty has no record of where they have departed to. And on the planet our away team realizes they are not on the planet they'd expected to travel to. Further, their equipment--communication device, and phasers--do not work. Quickly following their arrival, humanoids in crazy costumes appear to fight our crew, and we discover Uhura has added a belt to her very short skirt.

After our team is defeated in combat, a vampire looking man appears to explain that our away team has been brought to the planet in order to be trained for the sake of unseen phantom leaders. We are told they are on the planet Triskelion, and are to spend the rest of their lives there being trained.

Back on board the Enterprise Scotty and Spock are unable to locate evidence of the away team, or to where they moved.

On the planet's surface Kirk attempts an escape. Immediately following the vampire man's eyes illuminate revealing his connection to "collars of obedience" placed about their necks. The three Star Fleet officers collapse onto the floor screaming in pain as the collars trigger horrible stimulation.

Unfortunately, Star Trek has become far too comfortable with showing violence against women. In the midst of their confinement, Uhura is selected to apparently mate with another humanoid creature. She fights him off, however, screaming, and after much struggle the humanoid male leaves, though he reprimands her for her refusal.

Shortly following, Spock somehow discovers a discrepency within a hydrogen cloud that miraculously indicates to him he should be searching for his crewmates in another galaxy.

Interestingly enough, back on the planet's surface, Chekov is paired with a humoid that shows mixed gender characteristics. He is unable to determine if his fellow captive should be regarded as man or woman, though ze are of a different species entirely, and so struggles with how to speak to zim. Chekov finds himself intimidated by the situation.

Kirk, on the other hand, is paired with a green haired woman in a silver swimsuit. He uses his masculine allurements to try and persuade her to give him information about the situation, though she repeatedly refuses. Still, Kirk knows he will teach her his masculine ways.

Kirk's Green Haired Woman, Waiting to Learn From Him

The Enterprise follows the hydrogen cloud evidence, which leads them to almost 12 light years away. The rest of the crew begins to suspect Spock must be crazy because the area of space they arrive at appears to be empty.

Back on the planet's surface, our away team becomes subject to extensive punishment and torture training. Kirk steps in to keep Uhura from being beaten, and as a result is whipped repeatedly. He fights back, however, and succeeds in hurting the humanoid that beats him. His behavior gains the favor of their punishers. For the first time our crew hears the voices of their captors. They speak as phantom voices bidding on "the new comers." Further, the voices place bets on the outcomes of our away team as well.

Kirk continues to work on gaining information from the woman he has been paired with. However, her entire life has been spent within this planet system, and as a result she simply takes her situation for granted, as if it is natural and normal. She has lived her entire existence trained into the ways of her captive situation. Kirk lures her into thinking further on her situation though by triggering her physical desires. The feelings and thoughts confuse her.

"Love is the most important thing on earth," Kirk tells her. He tells her about how on earth men and women choose each other and make each other happy. His talk scares her and he stops pushing her to develop romantic feelings. But as a result she agrees to speak the state of the providers, causing her collar to trigger serious pain for her. Kirk begs his captors to stop. As a result, he is able to bring her closely to him in near naked embrace as he kisses her. She is moved. It turns out his affection with the woman leads to the captors' amusement, and they decide to not punish his disobedience as a result.

Oh Kirk! Your kisses really do have special powers. Kirk's explanation of love "on his planet" only deepens the nobility we are supposed to see in him. Though he explains that humans value love above all other personal fulfillments, we know that he has chosen against it for the sake of his pursuit of knowledge and leadership throughout the galaxy. In this way, we are meant to believe in Kirk's willingness to sacrifice his own interests for the sake of the greater good; he apparently foregos his own desires for relationship instead turns to his commitment to Star Fleet. A true company man.

Back onboard the Enterprise, Scotty and McCoy are trying to demand that Spock is crazy for taking them away several light years from the original planet. Spock, however, explains that he is certain that a highly concentrated beam of light caught the missing crew members and took them away to a distant star system. They all agree that they will look in the new system, and then return to the original planet if no further evidence is found.

In the meantime, Kirk uses his masculine prowess to further confuse the woman he has continually made out, and then to knock her unconscious. Our crew then escapes from their quarters and are punished via their collars as a result.

The Enterprise arrives at a planet that shows humanoid life forms. Spock scans the planet and discovers a power source to which he will beam down along with McCoy. They leave Scotty in command. Before the pair is able to actually beam down the captor voices are suddenly heard aboard the Enterprise as well. The ship is captured, and its powers are taken from its crew.

Kirk convinces his captors, however, to let him see them. We discover that the creatures that hold them are in the shape of mere brains. They claim that they had previously been humanoids as well but evolved into limited physical abilities with pure mental capacity. Realizing that the brains are interested primarily in betting, Kirk challenges the brains to a wager. He will fight three other captors. If Kirk wins, his entire crew will be released, and the other captors will be released and trained. If Kirk dies, his people will become captives for the brains.

The brains appear, we realize, as a warning to us to not focus too heavily on the development of intellectual ability without the balance of compassion. If Roddenberry were alive today, I would beg him to write a new Star Trek series that showcases a warning to not forego the development of sound reasoning by instead turning to instant self-fulfillment and reactive decision making. We could use an update on this lesson of balance, it would seem.

During the fight we get to witness various alien life forms that have appeared in passing in previous episodes. In the midst of the fight Kirk is put against the woman he has been busy kissing. They discover that neither is able to kill the other. However, she surrenders, thereby causing Kirk to win his wager with the brains, and so allowing all the captives to be released. The woman has lived her entire life as a captive, and now discovers that she is free to choose what she will. However, she does not yet know how to choose for herself. So, one last time Kirk shows her. He takes her in embrace and kisses her before beaming away. The woman is left behind on the planet, with her non-binary trans-gender friend, and the vampire, crying for the thoughts that now trouble her.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Star Trek: The Trouble with Tribbles: aka., Boy, These Mid-2nd Season Episodes Sure Are About Excessive Eating

TOS: Episode 44: The Trouble With Tribbles

Our episode begins with Spock offering us a clear coaching as to what counts as a joke, thank god. Comments about scents traveling through space do not count. I repeat do NOT count. There is a vacuum in space, you know. That means no air. That means the idea of scents traveling is illogical. I repeat, illogical!

Interestingly enough, we also get a much thicker "Russian" accent from Chekov, and a lot of Scotty air time. Sulu is absent from this episode, as a result of his filming The Green Berets, so we've got to rely on our other not-just-American character actors instead.

Just as Kirk and Spock are chastising Chekov for his poor recollection of the Klingon-Star Fleet encounters in the quadrant they are traveling within, a high level distress call is heard from the Space Station K7, the very location the Enterprise is on its way to. The distress call is of the highest level, reflecting the threat of absolute disaster. The crew rushes to their destination at battle station readiness expecting absolute space war.

Arriving at the Space Station, it turns out there is no such thing as war. Instead, there is a radically arrogant Under Secretary of Agriculture demanding that the entire Enterprise crew be at the beck-and-call of this head of agriculture for the sake of protecting high yield grain, the only grain, in fact, that will grow on a planet the Under Secretary hopes to develop.

The point though, as we know, is that Kirk will be at the beck-and-call of no one. He's a self determining sort of fella. But, as it turns out, Star Fleet believes in the necessity of developing this planet too, and as a result, the grain must be protected. Kirk is utterly put out. In the meantime, he approves shore leave for much of the Enterprise crew (though then is quickly forced to rescind that approval when Klingon's approach the space station posing a very serious space war threat afterall. Klingons are our super super bad bad dudes of space at this point in Star Trek history, you'll remember.). In the midst of trying to fulfill her desire to shop as part of shore leave, Uhura encounters a hairy little purring animal that she decides she adores. And so our episode, "The Trouble with Tribbles" begins.

Episode Summary
Okay, look. This is the most over-celebrated, horribly written, highly watched episode in the entirety of the Star Trek universe. The truth is, I can barely bear to watch it. So, that being said, let me, for this one post, pretend I'm ten-years old too, and post a review as I would if I were only ten.

The Pretending-to-be-Ten-Years-Old Episode Summary

Kirk, just when he thinks he's gonna lose, but if Kirk has it hard it always means he's gonna win real real big.
So, Kirk, just when he's gonna win real real big.

Kirk is angry. Super angry. And then he's told what to do anyway. But he won't do it. He knows better. But he has to. So he will. But we know Kirk always wins. So it'll turn out he wins somehow, and he'll win good since he suffered.

Uhura makes a mistake. She likes a cute little woo woo fuzzy fuzzy purring purring thing. Oh so cute! Oh so cute! she says. But that thing eats everything. Boy does it eat.

And then the guy that made Kirk mad loses all his good stuff grain cause the fuzzy thing eats it. But it turns out the good stuff was poisoned anyway cause the Klingons wanted to hurt everybody cause we're supposed to think Klingons are bad. I think we just haven't taken the time to understand them. Klingons are just like you and me. Just like when we're cranky.

So, the fuzzy things take over cause they ate too much. But then when you think it's gonna go bad the fuzzy things die. Oh they were cute. But they die. And so Kirk wins. Cause the fuzzy things die. But they ate the bossy man's grain, and he'd been bossing Kirk. And the Klingons are to blame so Kirk doesn't get in trouble but the bossy man gets what Kirk would give him if he could anyway. So Kirk wins. TA DA!

The end!

Episode History
It turns out "The Trouble with Tribbles" was actually written by a more-or-less random college student that simply enjoyed the show and decided to try his hand at television story lines. He apparently submitted five episode ideas to the Star Trek crew, and his plot suggestion "The Fuzzies" was purchased for production.

The premise of the show was originally meant to serve as political commentary for the idea of introducing new species into an environment in which they have no natural predators. In other words, the show was meant to remind us that even adorable things can be quite dangerous, with the crop damage induced by rabbits in Australia as its inspiration.

David Gerrod, the writer of "The Fuzzies" also went on to have a small part in the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

In this episode there are also two moments when you can see an unusual physical characteristic of our beloved Scotty. It turns out the actor James Doohan served during the Second World War for the Royal Canadian Artillery. Incredibly, Doohan experienced his first military combat in the Normandy Invasion on D-Day. He managed to lead his men to higher ground, saving most of their lives, and moving them safely through a live mine field where Doohan himself killed two snipers that had been firing on the allied forces. In the process, however, he was hit by over six rounds, with bullets rushing through his legs, his right middle finger, and hitting him in the chest. Miraculously, the bullet to the chest was stopped by a silver cigarette case over his heart. (Honestly, in cases such as this, thank god for smoking.) His right middle finger had to be amputated there on the field. Though Doohan concealed his four-fingered hand during his acting career, there are a few scenes in Star Trek history when the injury shows. Two such scenes occur within Episode 44; as Scotty throws a punch in the middle of a bar fight scene, and then later when Scotty carries a huge load of tribbles into the Enterprise lounge. Later, in The Search for Spock the missing finger shows itself again as Scotty hands parts for the U.S.S. Excelsior to McCoy.

Doohan's four fingered hand shows in the cement outside The Disney Amphitheatre at the Walt Disney World Hollywood Theme Park

As a further, pro-Scotty sidenote, his links to Star Trek include him having previously starred in a Bonanza episode with Majel Barrett, the woman that would go on to be cast as Nurse Chapel (only after serving as the First Officer in the original pilor), the nurse that dearly loves our Spock, and the future wife of Gene Roddenberry.

Though Doohan grew up in Canada, he earned his role as our beloved Scottsman on Star Trek by showcasing his ability to play different voices. He apparently offered Roddenberry a variety of accents, but the two decided on a Scottish character together. Later, in the Animated Series, Roddenberry took advantage of Doohan's voice abilities and cast him in multiple "guest starring" voice roles for the series.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Star Trek: Wolf in the Fold; aka They Belly Dance in Space Too, Don't They?

TOS: Episode 43: Wolf in the Fold

Our episode begins with a belly dancer that showcases remarkably moveable breasts, a lot of skin, and a bunch of plastic tiki-style attire. What the heck? It turns out belly dancing in space includes a mix of Middle Eastern and Hawaiian attire merged together as, what Bones calls, "a completely hedonistic society."

As if this isn't unfortunate enough, Scotty has a serious fascination with our magically breasted woman, as do both Bones and Kirk. Kirk, however, has invited our dancer over for the enjoyment of "her good company" specifically because Scotty likes her so much. Unfortunately, Kirk's pimp-tastic behavior has seriously pissed off not only a cape-wearing mystery man inside the same bar, but also another man wearing a costume remarkably like that of the drum clashing dancing monkey so common to Hollywood's version of the classic Middle Eastern movie of this same time period, the late 1960's.

Our Dancer

Episode Summary
Using the dry-ice low-hovering fog of the planet as an allurement, Scotty convinces our dancer to go for a walk with him in the night. Immediately following his departure, Kirk and McCoy erupt into hedonistic masculine giggles about how their work is never done--leading his men to their fulfillment, and delivering and then fulfilling prescriptions of pleasure, respectively. Yes, the episode really does open just so baldly.

Having fulfilled their duties in helping Scotty "hook up", our captain and doctor are now free to explore "a place on the other side of town where the women are just so...." We never hear explicitly what the women actually are.

In the midst of their movement to the other side of town, our officers hear a woman scream. Rushing to investigate, they discover the dancer dead, stabbed a dozen times, and a short distance away Scotty is holding a knife. Now, Scotty is a suspect in a murder investigation. Strangely, Scotty doesn't remember a thing beyond leaving the bar with his "bonny lass." Additionally, Scotty has a large bump on his head, accompanied by a concusion.

We meet, now, the lead police authority of the planet. He has the highest legal authority on the planet, excluding the government official, who holds final say in all matters. These two, then, represent the leaders of the planet. In ask about local legal procedures, our ship's officers discover that (1) "the law of the planet is love", and also (2) that the planet used to rely on empathic powers to determine the truth of the situation in the midst of crimes, though such crimes are now rare in this place. In fact, the planet residents, we discover, can be regarded as sheep, devoid of extreme emotions, and rich is soft cuddly feeling for each other.

The government official tells us his wife has these empathic powers long ago relied on, and states that she will perform an investigation. Immediately the legal authority protests, but the official is firm on the matter. Kirk and McCoy agree to the empathic investigation, but only after also offering to use too their psychotricorder from on board the Enterprise. We've never heard of a psychotricorder before, but it turns out that such equipment has the capacity to fully read the memory of anyone examined with it, as long as privacy is actually maintained. Remarkable!

In the midst of preparing to investigate, the female technician sent down from the Enterprise with the psychotricorder is found dead, stabbed to death, just as the dancer. Rushing to answer a scream, McCoy and Kirk again discover Scotty completely unconscious in the room alone with the murder victim. The privacy demanded in the situation serves well for hiding the source of the crime, and for making it appear that Scotty must be the main suspect.

Now, with two murders, and Scotty as the only clear suspect, a deeper investigation is taking place. To investigate using the empathic powers of the official's wife, a seance occurs. The wife of the planet's leader goes into trance and shouts that evil evil is in the room, a woman hating evil that will never die. (Oh no! Surely patriarchy has some shelf life? Please lord, please?) Then, suddenly, in the midst of her pronouncements of evil evil evil in the room, the light goes dark, and a scream is heard. When the lights come up again, the empathic woman too has been stabbed, and her blood is found on Scotty.

Now even Kirk must accept that the evidence strongly points to Scotty, though we know Scotty has too much Scottish tranquility to actually murder anyone. Kirk, and McCoy convince the leaders of the planet to beam the suspects of the case (the two men from the bar with their odd costumes are now included as suspects, simply by having been in the bar that night), as well as the investigators, and our crew, onto the Enterprise. It turns out, there on the ship, is a machine that can without a doubt read the entirety of a person's memory.

In the midst of investigation, the machine continually confirms Scotty's truth telling as he confesses to the facts he recalls. In the midst of questioning Scotty also confirms that there was something ghostly in the room that he felt between him and the murdered woman. In response to this, the planet's lead legal enforcement shouts repeatedly about the absurdity of the suggestion, and his doubt that the Enterprise machine could really be accurate, though the machine continually confirms that Scotty is telling the truth. Ghostly figures accurately presented? Yes! Scotty's innocence, it would seem, hangs on proving the reality of a ghost. Strange.

The investigation continues, with the second suspect now being questioned. It turns out this suspect, the caped man, had been engaged to marry the dancer from the beginning of the show, and the monkey dressed man was her father. In the midst of questioning of the previously-caped suspect, we discover that though they were engaged, the dancer did not love him, and he, therefore was jealous of her. The planet's leader is horrified. Jealousy is no emotion fit for sheep. Spock and Kirk together begin to think through the evidence, utilizing too the information shouted during the seance.

Profoundly, in the midst of the study by our officers of the evidence, with the help of the computer, they realize that words that occurred in the midst of the seance actually translate to the English name "Jack the Ripper." They realize too that all the evidence involved in the case actually points to the existence of an energy-based mass, mass murderer of women that feeds on death and fear, and is able to assume physical form but then also take gaseous form. My god! The ghostly figure Scotty encountered then could be real! In the midst of the investigation, the planet's legal authority continually throws fits over the apparent absurdity of the idea that a Jack the Ripper phantom that oscillates between physical and gaseous form could be to blame rather than Scotty. Honestly, who could blame him for doubting the idea? It does seem surprising that our murderer could be an alien ghost. But, the wonders of space may never cease.

Eyeing the fits of our legal authority, Spock clearly begins to suspect his odd behavior. But, unfortunately, we then immediately after receive our first blight on Spock's character. He announces that he suspects the Ripper phantom attacks women because it feeds on fear, and women are more prone to terror then are men, they being weaker in emotional constitution than men are. Oh Spock! Do you really believe such things? I realize all the women you encounter wear dresses so short we can see their bum, and shoes so tall they're probably really are more afraid all the time than the men surrounding them --afraid of falling on their heels, and flashing their bum, that is. But, still. I've been holding you as an example of the potential goodness that can be found to love. Socio-political beliefs are part of the balance that it takes to find goodness in another. Please, don't make me doubt you.

We might grant Spock escape from such universalizing comments by assuming his remark has social dimensions, rather than him making a claim about anything like "the natural state" of women. If we allow for this, then Spock is a creature of his time, which we must admit, is the late 1960's U.S.A. on planet earth, not the future of outer space. With this in mind, we may maintain our true love for him, even as we are disappointed. Oh dear Spock. Please, be strong. Do not let the poor influences of your social situation ruin your high moral standards. We need you.

Back to the episode... Holy dear lord god, Star Trek! Our alien presence this time isn't just different from us humans, it's verging on paranormal. It turns out, then, that Star Fleet would have us understand that all things can be explained. What we may take to be unexplained, or even unexplainable, phenomenon need not be ruled out as heresay, but instead might be understood as alien creatures we just don't readily encounter. Our ghost stories, then, might be generated by encounters with alien life forms we simply don't have the scientific means to explain.

The crew begins to question the computer regarding patterns of mass murders of women throughout the galaxy and realize that there is a history of mass murders that follow a clear line between Earth, and our episode's planet. They discover too that the last recorded murders occurred on the planet the legal authority supposedly originated from. In the midst of questioning the legal authority, then, now the main suspect, his body collapses, immediately dead, and we discover the Jack the Ripper phantom has escaped from controlling the body, and taken flown into the ship's computer, thereby taking control of the entire Enterprise. That's right, we have a murderous phantom at loose in the ship trying to instill fear and terror through out the crew.

The Jack the Ripper Phantom ReAnimating the Body of the Planet's Legal Authority and Feeding Off a Female Crew Member's Fear

Kirk, McCoy and Spock administer giddy-producing tranquilizers to the entire ship's population, thus avoiding the potential production of fear or terror entirely. Spock then instructs the ship's computer to work on the number pi, thus immobilizing the phantom's ability to utilize the ship, since the computer is otherwise engaged. As a result, the phantom rushes out of the computer, and is able to reanimate the dead body of the planet's legal authority. Quickly, Kirk and Spock tranquilize the body, and then beam it out into space with the widest possible dispersal. Spock then explains that the phantom's consciousness may continue to exist in separate tiny molecules of thought spread all over space, but it will die eventually.

To close our episode Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and Spock all beam down together to the planet in order to investigate that cafe where all the women are so... so... so.... Again, we never do hear exactly what they are. But it is clear, that thanks to their giddy producing tranquilizers the men of our crew are able to quickly forget the horror instilled in women of the episode and go back to thinking of women as for their pleasure, rather than in need of their protection.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

How To Have a Star Trek Valentine's Day

Following are my suggestions for what to do for a good quality Star Trek Valentine's Day, with a little help from Etsy.

1. Carve the name of your true love (yourself) into a tree, and commemorate the action on a t-shirt:

Available from peanutbutterandjelly on Etsy

2. Document your allegiance on all love notes:

Available from Nerd Notes on Etsy

Available from Nerd Notes on Etsy

3. Play Dress Up:

Available from Panda Sewing Boutique on Etsy

4. Freely declare your feelings:

Available from knitoramaa on Etsy

Available from paintnpatches on Etsy

5. And finally, snuggle up with your Sweet Little Love Monkey:

Available from Siren's Cove on Etsy

Friday, February 12, 2010

Clouds, Guilt, and Evil Evil Sentient Vapor

TOS: Episode 42: Obsession

The episode "Obsession" opens with an impressively fake looking shimmery rock set. Spock, Kirk, and three never-before-seen red shirts are on the planet surface in order to confirm the presence of this clearly staged rock. In the midst of the examination Kirk reveals seeing it there is incredible. The rock, we discover, is 21.5 times as hard as diamond.

Shortly after Kirk calls up to Scotty on the Enterprise to relay the findings, a mysterious vapor begins to appear out the backside of the rock. From their perspective Kirk and Spock are unable to see the activity. Strangely, the vapor appears to direct itself, and in fact, towards our away team. Spock uses his phaser to break off a rock sample, and immediately the vapor retracts itself into the back side of the rock. Then, even more surprisingly, just as Kirk picks up the specimen and hands it to Kirk, he starts rapsing poetic about the smell of honey ... on... a ... dis... tant ... planet ... so ... many years... ago.

And so, with this episode we are introduced, finally, to one of the classic speaking behaviors of Captain Kirk often made fun of in imitations of his character, and even by the actor William Shatner himself. That is, his tendency to use extended speech with pauses between each or every couple words. The episode "Obsession" lets us experience it for the first time in Star Trek history.

Episode Summary
Somehow Kirk has sensed the presence of the strange cloud that we viewers saw before, even though he had not seen it himself. It turns out Kirk recognizes the presence of the cloud through its smell. The smell he senses, we discover, is a gaseous substance that has only ever been found through controlled laboratory experiments. The sensors, then, begin to also detect the same gaseous substance, but the sensors also find that it disappears just as people record it too. It would seem that this cloud is aware of its surroundings, and can control its very molecular structure.

In the midst of searching the planet on their own and scanning for the cloud, it appears and surrounds the red-shirts. They begin to choke and collapse. One of them manages to radio to Captain Kirk before being consumed entirely. Running to them, Kirk and Spock discover two of the away team members already dead. The one that had made contact with them is still partially alive.

It turns out Kirk has encountered this lethal cloud before. His earlier mention of its smell was actually him recalling a still unrevealed prior encounter with the noxious cloud. Without Spock even having to examine their bodies, Kirk tells him all the red corpusles will be gone. Spock asks, "What is it, Captain?" And Kirk's stuttering... be...tween ... each word... voice... returns. He dramatically, and with elaborate pausing, tells us, "Something that shouldn't exist, but it does."
My god! A sentient vapor that can suck the red blood cells right out of your body, and attack before you even sense its presence. The horror in this episode is truly great!

The Evil, Evil, Truly Evil, Captain-Kirk-Speech-Pause Inducing Cloud

McCoy is confounded by the seemingly impossible death of the two men. Doesn't he realize by now (the middle of season 2) that whenever a never before seen red shirted crew member travels in away team to a new planet surface they simply die? Surely by now he's aware of the rules of his own universe! But, no. He is confused. His confusion causes Kirk to inform him that McCoy should examine the materials available in previously occurring similar deaths 11-years ago on the U.S.S. Farogat. (Note: this is the ship Spock had originally assigned Uhura to in the recent Star Trek movie before she demanded to be reposted to the Flagship Enterprise.) McCoy appears shocked, and skeptical of Kirk's information. It would seem that Kirk providing such information makes him suspicious somehow.

To add to the now suspicious behavior of Kirk, he goes on to demand that the unconscious ensign that had been injured on the planet surface be awakened. Kirk questions him immediately after arousal. He wants to hear what happened during the attack on the planet surface. It turns out all Kirk wants to know is if the ensign had smelled honey (the smell Kirk associated with the cloud on the planet surface), and whether or not he sensed an intelligent presence. In the midst of discussion the ensign again falls into sleep, and shortly after dies.

Kirk then goes on to discuss the situation with Spock. Spock's scans of the planet surface show no evidence of any life (intelligent) forms. Through discussion Kirk begins to believe that the thing they are searching for can actually change its substance so that its very molecular structure can change. Though we'd seen evidence of this when the security personnel were attacked, Kirk and Spock were not exposed to the information.

A new security member enters the bridge, and we discover that he is the son of someone Kirk had known before. Further, he is friends with the ensign who has just died in sick bay. Kirk takes advantage of the situation to challenge the security personnel to accompany him to the surface. There the cloud appears and again successfully attacks two of the officers that had gone on the away team. Again, they are men we had not seen before. The new security officer, however, has survived.

Shocked by the events the away team returns to the Enterprise. There we discover through Kirk's voice over that 11-years ago the U.S.S. Farogat was decimated by an unidentified creature, which he thinks is identical to the cloud they are now investigating. He believes too that Spock and McCoy are doubtful of the suggestion, and also of Kirk's decision to remain behind on the planet. On the ship Spock and McCoy question the new security officer. In the midst of the questioning, Kirk becomes quite upset and it is discovered that the new security officer had hesitated in the midst of confrontation with the cloud. Kirk is clearly upset and so relieves the man of all duties, and also confines him to quarters. Then he demands that the ship will remain in orbit further. The crew begins to wonder about Kirk's strange behaviors. He is clearly obsessed, just as the episode name suggests.

Spock turns to McCoy to discuss his findings from the tapes for the USS Farogat. It turns out the entire crew, including the captain, were killed on a mission that included only one surviving member -- an ensign on his first deep space mission. The captain, we discover, was the father of the security team member now confined to his quarters, and the surviving ensign is our own James T. Kirk. After the discussion, McCoy turns to Kirk, who is clearly troubled over his experiences from 11-years ago. We discover that Kirk believes the cloud is evil and must be destroyed, and that he could have actually killed it had he not delayed in his first encounter with it 11-years ago. In other words, Kirk takes himself to be responsible for the death of the Farogat crew, and the survival of the creature now 11-years later.

We see here, then, Kirk in a kind of human weakness not yet shown through the series. His behavior is actually threatening his command post. Spock and Kirk are beginning to suspect he is unfit to lead the ship. In being questioned Kirk calms himself, and again attempts to convince Spock and McCoy of the situation -- the situation, in Kirk's mind, is that if this is the same creature as what killed the Farogat crew 11 years ago, then it poses a grave threat to the entire galaxy. Spock and McCoy doubt the presence of the cloud, but believe that Kirk is still reasonable. Then immediately after the discussion, Chekov announces that a gaseous cloud has left the planet, and in fact that it matches the descriptions Kirk has given for the 11-year old cloud. However, the vapor is now on the loose, traveling at high speeds across the galaxy.


The Enterprise chases after the gaseous cloud with Kirk intent on trying to kill it. In the midst of pursuit, the cloud stops. The Enterprise faces it and begins to fire phasers. The phasers, however, prove ineffective. We discover, actually, that none of the weapons easily used by the Enterprise will kill the cloud. In the midst of attack, the vapor successfully enters the ship, and crewmen begin to die.

As a result of battle, however, Spock becomes convinced that the cloud truly is sentient. Spock goes, then, to the security officers room to inform him of the situation, and to work to convince him that there was nothing further he could have done on the planet to stop the cloud that attacked the other crew members. In the midst of the conversation, however, the cloud enters through the room ventilation, and, quickly, Spock shoves the security officer out of the room, thereby saving his life. It appears that our beloved Spock will die, but we discover that Spock's blood is based on copper, and it has been the iron in human blood that the creature has gone after. Further, the copper of Spock's blood would also explain why McCoy is always calling Spock "green blooded."

In the midst of the extended encounter, Kirk comes to realize that their traditional weapons are simply ineffective against the creature. He then makes sure to convince the security officer of the same thing in order to relieve him of any guilt he may feel over the other crew members being killed by the cloud. In so doing he reveals that he also knows now that his own action couldn't have saved the Farogat 11-years ago. Now, he also somehow understands that he must return to the planet on which the Farogat had been attacked originally. There they will attempt to destroy the creature by luring it with human hemoglobin, and then attacking it with anti-matter. It is an outrageously dangerous plan, however. The security officer that lost his father to the attack on the Farogat, and Kirk volunteer themselves to detonate the attack. But, in the midst of setting up the trap for the cloud, they find themselves under extreme circumstances as the vapor approaches them for their iron-laden blood, instead of the hemoglobin. They manage to beam out just as the anti-matter detonates around the creature.

We know now that the creature has been killed, but what of our brave men? Unfortunately, the transporter has difficulty operating within the anti-matter explosion shockwaves and it quickly begins to look like Kirk and the brave security officer may not make it back to the ship. McCoy takes the occasion to complain about human molecules being spread all over the universe, and then, finally the men arrive through the transportation device.

Ah, relief. The evil, sentient, gaseous cloud monster has been destroyed. Kirk has recovered from the guilt he's carried for 11 whole years, and as a result, he is now also able to befriend the son of his former mentor--the Captain that died while leading the Farogat.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Klingon Linguistic Epiphany

Kaplah! (Klingon for "Success!" or "Eureka!")

An anonymous friend had the above gift sent to me via U.S. Post--The Klingon Dictionary, complete with not only translation but also linguistic structure of the Klingon language. My goodness! When we hit those episodes where Klingons start finally making more regular appearance, or, even more especially the early Star Trek movies, we'll be amply ready for incorporating Klingon into our posts.

Buy' ngop! (Klingon for "that's great news!")