Monday, June 8, 2015

Short Treks Season 3.3

“Spectre of the Gun”
Air Date: October 25, 1968
Mom Title: “OK Corral”

A weird, unknown device is following orders to meet them and mirroring their every movement, yet the crew is still surprised to find its master is a telepath and another disembodied brain. 
Considering the frequency the extra galactic energy being invaders are involved with this season’s plots, the Enterprise gang should stop being stunned at these reveals.

Yup, it’s another planet where the climate and surface can be completely controlled, and the aliens pull images right out of Kirk’s mind. It’s also another one written by “Lee Cronin” indicating Gene Coon didn’t want his own name on one more rehash of stuff they’ve done countless times.

Of course the first thing they find in the Captain’s mind are the rough and tumble legends of the Old West.  Spock’s detailed knowledge of Earth’s history comes into play again. In fact, he recognizes the quick draw situation before Kirk does, which is odd considering I’m pretty sure Jim practices them in his room when no one is looking.  It’s pretty handy having a mother who is both an Earthling and a teacher, I guess.

The Science Officer also reminds everyone that history cannot be changed.  Under normal circumstances this might be logical. Since this is obviously a fake history and he’s personally changed real history himself before, we can chalk this one up to his mind being altered along with his perceptions. He also is arbitrarily deciding on new definitions of “real” as the story unfolds.

In order to deal with Wyatt Earp and company, Captain Kirk tries a rare path. He goes with pure honesty instead of one of his spectacular bluffs.

It completely blows up in his face.  No wonder he usually avoids that path. In another uncharacteristic moment, he manages to hold it together after being called “yellow.”  A couple of seasons ago, he would have blown up the planet for that.

The rest of the crew, the ones that are there as they try to save money by using reduced numbers and minimal sets anyway, continue to behave as expected.

As always, Ensign Chekov looks to his Vulcan mentor for confirmation, permission and support… then he leaps into trouble face first anyway.  That might explain why Spock takes to mentoring actual members of his own race by the time of the movies.

Scotty demonstrates the high stresses that come with an engineering job by continuing to turn any chemical he’s given into a cocktail mix.

Bones proves he’s not only the ships chief surgeon but also psychologist.  He’s there to support Jim when he’s ready to bury himself under guilt for the fate of Chekov and the rest of them.

The counselor role never extends to Spock however, and McCoy (with Scotty’s help) once more tears into him for being himself.  Nimoy’s acting holds up through the budget cuts as his reply to Kirk standing up for him, “Captain, it's quite all right. They forget I am half human,” again carries as much emotion as the two elder statesmen’s’ rants.

Once more these suspected Andromedans have put Kirk into a situation where he will actively fight against killing as they seek to weaken the most dangerous leaders of the area they’re invading. The Captain shows an overwhelming look of pride when Spock figures out how to peacefully solve the situation. 
Although that doesn’t keep Jimmy Boy from pulling one of his patented drop kicks on a disarmed illusion.  While a welcome release for him, it is still non-lethal. 

He must have learned the lesson they intended.

Granted, his first instinct after that lesson is to blow the probe out of space.  No wonder Spock looks completely skeptical when Kirk defends Spock’s accusation of, “Mankind- ready to kill,” with, “We overcame our instinct for violence.”

“The Day of the Dove”
November 1, 1968
Mom Title: “Klingons with Swords”

More overused extra galactic energy being conventions.  It creates violent emotions, breaks the galactic barrier and over speeds the Enterprise to Warp Nine. It also makes humanoids immortal, like the companion did.  As per usual, the Organians ignore it all, proving they’re part of the ones behind it.

The episode is saved by two things that turn it into a diamond in the dung heap of third season budget cuts and idea rehashes.  (OK, they aren’t quite “dung heap” bad, but I hated to waste an alliterative metaphor.)
1) Swords, YAY!
2) Kang, the most awesome of the original series Klingons and the first of the honorable warrior stereotype that will define all Klingons we meet afterwards.

Michael Ansara’s Kang is unquestionably my favorite Klingon. The man drips cool and is an easy match for Kirk, as one of the few who gets away with calling the Captain’s bluff with no repercussions.  He also gets away with belting Kirk “good naturedly” while they laugh at the alien.  Awesome.

Actor unavailability works in favor of the series again. Both previous successful Klingon commanders were meant to be repeat characters.  Kor would have been too evil to have a team up be believable, and Koloth wouldn’t have been enough of a physical threat.

Kang yells out the word, “Liar!” in the same tone that one would expect to hear the accusation of, “murderer.”

He also acts exactly like Kirk does when his ship and crew are threatened. Both understood the futility of the conflict, but needed the advice from trusted officers to control their hot headedness.

(Not counting the, “Four thousand throats may be cut in one night by a running man,” guy.  Klingons:  whatcha gonna do?  Kang shows his coolness again by calming the guy down.)

The best advice came from his wife and Science Officer.  Yes, a Science Officer on a Klingon battle cruiser. This is the first suggestion we get that the Klingon ships may be on exploration missions like the Enterprise. 
In fact it is Mara who demands and gains the peace between her husband and Captain Kirk.  Her face and name should be on whatever document contained the first Federation/ Klingon peace treaty, as it all started with her.

It’s a good thing for Chekov that she wasn’t like those huge bodybuilder type movie female Klingons. He would have ended up shoved though the nearest bulkhead.

No, these are all smooth headed, swarthy, bearded, old school Klingons.  Except for one who doesn't really fit in.  
He bears an uncanny resemblance to one of “Kirk’s Men” in the Mirror Universe.  I think he was a Starfleet spy.  During a giant swordfight, Kirk avoids skewering him, and Spock puts him down with a neck pinch.

I know the whole message is one of peace, or at least practical peace, Kang put it best, “Only a fool fights in a burning house.”  He is eloquent for the savage enemy, isn’t he?  Yet he uses fewer words than Kirk to give the same powerful command when needed.

“This is Captain Kirk. A truce is ordered. The fighting is over. Lay down your weapons.”

“This is Kang. Cease hostilities. Disarm.”

Sorry, got distracted by my favorite Klingon again, the point I meant to make is that even though the whole point of the episode is the benefits of peace and coexistence, it’s a shame no one grabbed a halberd in the melee.

Interesting personality reveals:

McCoy and Chekov, the two most emotional crew members, are the first affected.
Hmmmm, the energy being made Chekov remember a brother he didn’t have, I wonder if they could make someone forget a brother they did have?

Uhura goes shortly afterwards, but is professional enough (and possibly has more emotional control from her past relationship with a Vulcan) to snap herself out of it.

Scotty lasts longer until the idea of technical theft hits him.

Sulu keeps his cool even during lapses of control, showing again why he’s Captain material.

Spock only cracks when teased, due to his rough childhood, no doubt.

He also uses a “Jim” moment to save his protégé, Chekov, from a pummeling.

Kirk’s emotional control comes and goes with the wind, as he’s pretty hot headed to begin with.  He always maintains command though.

Technical Notes:

Klingon transporters glow red instead of blue. Nice touch.

The Enterprise has instituted a one button “beam everyone up and hold the ‘not us’ in the buffer” command. This is likely after the “Condition Green” near disaster on the Roman planet.

Click to continue

Click Here for ShortTreks Index

No comments: