Monday, May 11, 2015

Short Treks Season 2.9

“Patterns of Force”
Air Date: February 16, 1968
Mom Title: “Space Nazis”

Hey, Chekov’s back…and now Sulu’s gone again.

On the planet Ekos, a valuable lesson is illustrated once again.  Unless you’re as cool as the Enterprise crew, don’t muck with the prime directive.

John Gill, the aforementioned mucker, is a historian and idolized by both the Captain and his first officer.  This explains the tremendous amount of knowledge that both Kirk and Spock have about earth’s past, and why they thought having a historian on board who idolizes despots was a good idea.

It also demonstrates that George Santayana’s quote "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," doesn’t necessarily mean the opposite is true.  This is particularly accurate when those who do remember the past are incredibly naïve idiots.  Gill restructured an entire planet after the most evil society on Earth…to deal with the same situation that created the evils of that society in the first place.  The dangers of all academics with no practical experience will apparently not abate in the future.  Bonus points again go to the Federation Diplomatic Corps safety protocols that allowed an old teacher to go alone to a planet known for uncontrolled violence.

Kirk and Spock are stunned to see the Nazi society because parallel planetary development is practically impossible…this week.  As opposed to being defined by Hodgkin’s Law in about a month. They have gotten much better at disguises in general.  Having more practice, and no longer color coding based on their uniforms probably helps. 
Naturally, Kirk is a “very convincing Nazi,” but even covering his ears doesn’t keep Spock from being spotted in the overly xenophobic society.  More brutality, in this case whipping, gets by the censors. 
The green sharpie marks across the (rarely seen) shirtless Spock may be the reason it slipped by.

Luckily, they used an added safety feature this time, implanted transponders.  This is yet another innovation that would have been fantastically helpful if they ever remembered having them before or after this adventure.

Interestingly, they do not use the transponders to have themselves located, per their design. Instead the two highest ranking bridge officers MacGyver a science fair laser out of them, and engage in comedy acrobatics to get out of a Nazi prison.
You get the feeling they’ve escaped these situations so frequently by this point they’ve stopped taking them seriously?

Kirk’s second disguise may be his greatest.  As well as he fits into a dictatorial leadership position, it bears no comparison to his submersion into the role of a hammy film director.

His steel will as a leader remains focused, however. Never tell this man he’s going to have to choose the lesser of two evils.  That’s too close to a no win scenario.

His abilities are showcased not only with his own crew:
Bones and Spock instantly fall in line with his bluff when he says McCoy had too much to drink.
I’m sure the good Doctor could easily use personal experience for his performance.

Also, Kirk calls up to Uhura with an insane request for McCoy’s appearance, and she doesn’t hesitate or question it for a moment. She simply follows through believing Kirk knows what he’s doing.

They also are showcased with people he just met:
Convincing a complete pacifist to follow him into battle against overwhelming odds.

He is a very convincing Nazi, isn’t he?

Rumors of Melakon surviving his injuries and going into hiding in a hippie commune are, of course, unsubstantiated.

“By Any Other Name”
Air Date: February 23, 1968
Mom Title: “Scotty Drinks a Kelvan Under the Table”

Hey, Chekov’s back, but Sulu’s gone again.

The Big Three beam down with a redshirt, and he’s OK, huzzah!
The lady in the red dress ends up crumbs, though.  Oh well, one outta two is a start.

The second and far more informative of episodes explaining the extra-galactic invasion is filled with details.  Once more we meet a group with reality warping powers augmented by technology, advanced transporters, and a desire to steal and enhance the Enterprise.  This time, we get an origin.  The radiation levels of the entire Andromeda Galaxy have rendered it unlivable.  Dang! 

That means what we’ve seen isn’t merely unconnected, minor encroachments, it’s a full scale colonization effort caused by the exodus of any life form that could manufacture or evolve a method of travel between galaxies.  The Kelvan’s claim the trip took three hundred years, but perhaps that’s only their leg.  Andromeda is two and a half million light years away, even at Warp 11, that’s close to a two thousand year trip. (Ask a Trekkie nerd to borrow his Technical Manual if you want to run the numbers and confirm.)
While we’re on the subject of Warp 11, they tricked out the engines to go that fast, but didn’t seem to do anything to strengthen the structure of the ship. Here’s hoping the warp field generators have some kind of force field built in. Then again, maybe that’s why their ship crashed and left no trace of wreckage. 

Having their trip initiate a couple of thousand years ago lines up better with the distance, and the other extra galactic beings and machines that have been stampeding into the Milky Way.

The evacuation explains the different levels of solidity, intelligence and sentience of all the non-corporeal entities that have been met.  Residents of the doomed galaxy transformed themselves, despite the risks of losing individuality or mental faculties, to get out as fast as possible.

I wonder if the Andromedans secretly helped the Bat-Villains in their attempted takeover of the Earth.  The Kelvan’s Styrofoam block transformers appear to work on the same principle as Commodore Schmidlapp’s dehydrator ray.

Nice references to previous stories this time around. 
Spock is reminded he’s done mind melds at a distance, and Kirk indicates having been through the barrier at the edge of the galaxy.  A barrier, might I ad, that bestowed reality warping powers on individuals who passed through it.  Maybe the already advanced Andromedans got an upgrade coming in.

The Big Three Bluff Machine saves the day again, with McCoy taking point.
Rigellian Casaba Fever? Bones, you are awesome.

Once on board, the three are free to perform as one and save the day.
McCoy initiates, Spock analyses and Kirk acts.

How do they take down these insanely advanced aliens, capable of neutralizing the crew and commandeering the ship without breaking a sweat? 
Each by their own specialties:

Kirk seduces.
McCoy drugs.
Spock noodges.
Scotty drinks.

The Chief Engineer’s efforts deserve added praise.  His success is remarkable enough to get a call back on his tribute Next Generation visit, “Its green!”

The Kelvin’s have created human bodies (from what originally sounds like giant versions of the PyrisVII aliens) at the peak of human performance.  What that translates to is Mr. Scott drank the physical equivalent of Captain America under the table.

Aye, laddie!

Having out thought and publically humiliated Rojan by slapping him in the same manner he belted Charlie Evans; Kirk regains his ship and crew.  These dastardly aliens have killed a crew member in front of him, threatened the entire compliment, captured and modified the Enterprise, and stripped Kirk of his command.

What swift and fatal punishment will the Captain dish out to these invaders who have violated all of his most sacred rules?

Absolutely nothing. 

Rojan is a control freak, alpha male, who commands with authority, but shoulders the responsibility for and acts as a father to his crew.  In other words, one more opponent who reminds Kirk of himself gets away scott free.  Hopefully their planet will have a nicer fate than Kahn’s.

“The Omega Glory”
Air Date: March 1, 1968
Mom Title: “Yangs and Kohms”

Hey, Sulu’s back!  Yup, no Chekov.

Again we learn only Kirk should violate the Prime Directive. In fact, the Captain is SHOCKED that any Starship commander (that isn’t him) would do such a thing.

Don’t worry; Jim makes sure to violate it the correct way at the end of the story, for educational purposes.

We also learn, again, that Starfleet medical safety protocols were written before germ theory.  The landing party beams over to the dead looking USS Exeter with no protection, and is SHOCKED that they catch a nasty bug which may reduce them to a less organized pile of chemicals than the Kelvan’s just did last week.

Medical Log note: Potassium is the main chemical in the human body?  Without water, Potassium should be about fifth on the list.  Clearly, a side effect of the disease was mass banana cravings before death.

Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Lieutenant Galloway beam down to Omega IV to be cured. I’m sure the redshirted lieutenant will be fine.

11 Minutes- Skewered:  OK, he’s got a big hole in him, but Bones has cured worse. He’s still got a sporting chance!

13 Minutes –Disintegrated:  Oh, never mind.

Hey, was Ron Tracey conditioned by the Tantalus field to think he was Doctor Van Gelder?  Probably not, the casting directors just knew a good crazy when they saw it.  Oddly, he looks much larger as the Exeter’s captain.
Yes, one more starship commander goes flying off the deep end, and forgets all his training and promises after losing his entire crew.

He probably deserves some sympathy; after all, what would Captain James T. Kirk do in the same situation?

He wouldn’t lose his crew, that’s what, because he’s awesome!

And so are his people. Once again “Captain” Sulu, with the help of Uhura prove more formidable and intelligent than the official commander of any other starship.  Scotty doesn’t get the conn this time. He must be fixing the mess the Kelvan’s made in the engine room last week.

While in yet another primitive jail cell it appears as though Spock forgets he can use a long distance mind meld, AND that he has super strength.  However, that is not the case.  Note his generally bemused expression and dry wit at Kirk’s predicament with the Yangs.

Spock has been in this situation countless times, has complete faith in their ability to escape whenever they want to, and was keeping himself amused until his Captain fully formulated a plan.

Further proof is he remembers his long range telepathy during the climactic conflict, when Kirk is facing a true threat.  Bluffing skills must be part of all commanders’ training;
Tracey pulls a good one with the Vulcan Devil trick.  I really need to find the version of the bible with Satanic Leonard Nimoy in it. 
Bones’s line about good being careful must have been the inspiration for a similar one from Spaceballs, “Evil will always triumph because good is dumb.”

Kirk finally saves the day, again because he’s a historian.  Although why he needed to say the holy words, when saying the holy words is what got him brought there in the first place is one of the smaller problems with this story.

Gene Roddenberry kept pushing this story as one of his original scripts from the early days. He doesn’t get picked on as much as George Lucas, but I think both fell prey to the same issue. They kept trying to force their creation to match their initial vision of it, rather than the collaborative final product it became successful as. 

This is why we get the most stereotypical Shatner overblown performance. He didn’t think much of the tale, and treated it that way. 

And his reading of the Constitution was awesome anyway! 
No wonder Spock forced Captain Tracy to watch. 

It should be, since that is “the best version” of words expressing those ideas in the galaxy.  Wow! Patriotic there much, Gene?

Then again, the Star Trek Theme works just as well as the Star Spangled Banner for the stirring and inspirational moment. (Or I’m as big a geek as I am a patriot probably makes more sense.)

Sulu leads a landing party to clean up at the end. After all the terrible experiences he’s had planet side before, we can’t blame him for showing up closely flanked by two armed security guards.

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