Monday, March 23, 2015

Short Treks Season 2.2

“Mirror, Mirror”
Air Date: October 6, 1967
Mom Title: “Spock With a Beard”

Note: Mom doesn’t need a title for this one, I just like typing "Spock With a Beard."

Before going any further, I’m sure a bunch of you feel the need to see jokes about “Uhura’s flirting having no effect on Sulu.”  Go ahead, there’s gags all over the internet about it, feel free to look some up, I’ll wait here.

Done?  Good.

It’s an obvious, but pointless joke. Yes, Sulu is awesome because George Takei has been awesome long before social media discovered it.  George Takei was and is an accomplished actor, which means while much of Sulu comes from his performer; the Helmsman is not 100% Takei.  Watch the scenes, the flirting definitely works on Sulu, showcasing the man’s acting ability.
Plus the George Takei has gone on record as saying the Lieutenant was straight.

Quick recap:  All that is awesome about Hikaru Sulu is because of George Takei, but it is still a role he plays, and plays well.

As long as we’re talking about Mirror Sulu, if he’s the security chief, why does he sit in the most logical position for the pilot to occupy: in front of the big screen?

Answer:  Because of the way the hierarchy is organized, the Security Chief’s station is placed directly in view of the Captain’s chair to allow all actions to be monitored by the C.O. at all times.

On the other side of that flirting, how about Uhura unleashed?
She’s smart, resourceful, brave, kicks some serious butt, and looks quite ready to deal out a great deal more with that dagger she wields.  I guess the re-teaching program worked.  That recent trauma probably explains the brief waffling when they first realize where they ended up.  It’s a rare sight that she was in the landing party at all. They must have needed her unparalleled communication skills in the negotiations.

While some clichés are going strong (Redshirts in any universe are toast) this adventure doesn’t solely focus on the Big Three and gives the entire bridge crew fun stuff to do. 

When the Captain is preparing to be left behind, Scotty gets his only “Jim moment’ of the series.  That actually highlights something about the connection between Kirk and another officer.  Scotty does it once.  Spock uses “Jim” only in moments of great emotion, when their bond is the strongest.  Bones calls him “Jim” constantly, because the emotional and compassionate doctor feels like that all the time.

It’s hard to guess what Mirror Spock will do at the end of the episode.  Based on comments in the episode, the Kirk and Spock friendship seems just as strong in that universe.  Then again, in order to become Captain, Mirror Kirk assassinated Captain Pike. Considering the lengths our Spock went to for his former commander, it’s kind of surprising Spock with a Beard didn’t kill Mirror Kirk immediately.  Plus, between that beard, the shiny shirt, the dagger and the sash, Mirror Spock does look a great deal like a pirate! 

Here’s a question with a terrifying answer:

If this is the Mirror universe, where the good people we know are evil, and the good Federation we know is a militaristic empire, shouldn’t the peaceful Halkans be war like and violent?

The answer is no, because the only thing that’s “Mirror” in that universe, are the rules.  The individuals are technically unchanged.

The other two of the Big Three made comments about how similar both Spocks are, and they’d know better than anyone.  In both cases he’s following the logical path to be allowed to continue as a scientist exploring the galaxy.

Spock with a Beard points out that Mirror McCoy is “soft and sentimental.”   Sounds like the Bones we know.

Uhura is clearly a woman in charge of her department who can take care of herself, and from the way people respond to her little games, she was acting exactly like her counterpart, implying the same is true of the Mirror communications officer.

Chekov is young, intelligent but inexperienced, enthusiastic to the point of recklessness, 
and screams a lot in both universes.

We don’t get to see almost anything of Mirror Scotty, but from the way the engineers react to the real one, we can easily see he keeps his engine room at maximum efficiency and functionality via the approved methods of whatever universe he’s in.

Then there’s Sulu. At first the sadistic security chief seems the total opposite of the swashbuckling helmsman we know and love.  However, which Sulu does this describe?

He’s a highly motivated young officer who made sure to be the absolute best in his position.  A position chosen to focus his career path on following in the footsteps of Captain Kirk and gaining his own command.

Spooky, eh?

Speaking of Captain James T. Kirk: Here is a guy whose self-confidence is so great he’s logging when captured by Chekov.  I think that gives us the final proof that those “logs” are simply him making mental notes as a continuous internal running commentary of his own awesomeness.

The man who will shortly be told both that he’s a “convincing Nazi” and “You’re a Roman, Kirk, or you should have been” needs zero adjustment time to fall into the salutes and totalitarian mannerisms of the Mirror Universe.  His posturing, his fighting, his force of nature command methods…face it the guy fits in perfectly.  He’d have had no problem staying behind, relying on those “negative emotions” that give him his ability to command to function as the Captain of the I.S.S. Enterprise.

(Which looks quite nifty in its metallic finished nastiness in the remastered edition, if I do say so myself.)

Heck, the first thing “Good” Kirk does back on his own bridge is start putting the moves on the just met Lieutenant Marlena Moureau. 
That is not an innocent “Howdy and welcome aboard” strut and grin used as he saunters over to the young lady.

“The Apple”
Air Date: October 13, 1967
Mom Title: “Vaal”

Gamma Trianguli VI contains yet another society where everyone is healthy, happy and the opposite of the classic Type A personality.  Amazingly, Kirk briefly considers following the Prime Directive today.  That is, he considers it until he discovers this half-dressed group of young attractive natives has no sex in their society.  
The status quo becomes immediately threatened, and once Kirk figures out a computer is running the show and has been killing crew members and threatening the Enterprise, Vaal is doomed.

Interestingly, once more we see a machine built by unknown ancients with reality controlling abilities (weather, health, energy drain) that uses humans (ish) as worshipers.  This is either a large connective thread, or a whopping great coincidence. Monitoring will continue.

Honestly, I think this episode would have been better without the natives:

Killer flowers!
Exploding rocks!
Directed lightning strikes!

Before the oddly colored Love In gang show up, it was close to “The Enterprise vs. Ego the Living Planet.”

Scotty requests shore leave in this one.  In fact, he seems enthusiastic about it.  We’ll have to keep an eye on that attitude.  He’s denied, because it’s time for another massive bout of problem solving with an engineer at the conn. Although at times it’s difficult to take the gravity of the situation seriously, such as when Lieutenant Kyle pulls a bunch of data from the computer, and then gives Mr. Scott hand written calculations.

At one point in the crisis, the Chief Engineer is threatened with being fired if he doesn’t do the impossible…


Speaking of being fired, Ensign Chekov must have an incredible amount of skill and potential to come out of this mission with his job intact.  Between his general demeanor towards superior officers, and his actions with Yeoman Landon, he may have been sentenced to some time phaser buffing the toilets when they got back.

The young Yeoman gets her own moment to shine when she turns the Big Three into a single Uncomfortable Dad with her line of questions.

Continuity and traditions continue this time around.  Impressively, the two phase beam down on the planet shows the production team paid attention to the transporter capacity, even though the ship’s pad isn’t shown.

Also, a Redshirt gets nailed before the opening credits, and he isn’t the last to go.

Perhaps that security guy who walked right up to the moving killer flower was new, but there’s no excuse for Spock not seeing one till the last minute when they were supposed to be looking out for them later on.

Then again, Spock is really off his game this time.

He casually lobs an exploding rock, scaring the bejoobies out of everyone, and doesn’t look surprised when it goes off.

He also gets knocked on his Vulcan hiney by walking directly into a force field he had just detected and analyzed.

Why is Spock so distracted?

The answer comes in the debate of the big three on figuring out what to do with this society.  Unusually this time, it is the logical Mr. Spock pointing out that even though the culture does not progress normally, everyone is happy and satisfied.

Sounds very much like another stagnant, non-violent group Captain Kirk messed up where a certain first officer was happily hanging upside down in a tree and fooling around with Leila Kalomi.

No wonder he’s not fully focused.  Pavel and Tonya even steal some of his romantic music in this similar setting.

The most amazing part of this episode is that the censors let it air at all.

There are other times the Enterprise crew refers to ending Eden, or proving it doesn’t exist. This is often at the expense of futuristic love children.

This one however, though they laugh it off by making fun of Mr. Spock’s ears again, is a scathing attack at fundamentalist religion.

Vaal is a god who demands services, obedience and chastity.  All his followers talk about how he “loves them.”  
He orders a violent religious war on those who question faith in him, and there are three direct attacks on Spock, the personification of the scientist.

The Crew destroying Vaal and getting the worshipers to give up their faith is shown as freeing them from slavery.

By teaching the natives to be independent, it’s basically casting them out of their blissful existence, and giving them the knowledge of good and evil.

Yes, Kirk and Crew are not only Satan in a retelling of the story from Genesis, but in this version, they’re clearly the good guys.

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