Monday, May 4, 2015

Short Treks Season 2.8

“The Immunity Syndrome”
Air Date: January 19, 1968
Mom Title: “Giant Space Amoeba”

Time for another bottle episode, or more accurately a Star Fleet Battles solitaire mission.

It just goes to show that with strong characters and well written drama, a show can churn out gripping stories using only its standing sets, and no guest stars.

Based on Spock’s command times, we’ve seen pretty clearly that pure logic is not the best way to run a starship.  His successes have come from a combination of knowing when to buck his Vulcan heritage, and input from his irrational coworkers to give his sound logic a spark to edge it into the flexibility needed for command.   It’s amazing the USS Intrepid survived pulling out of space dock never mind to this teaser.

Everyone was exhausted at the start of the story, maybe this whole thing is an illusion caused by the extra-galactic invaders and/or Talosians.  Kirk being tempted by a lovely planet
(or at least a lovely Yeoman) usually gets tied in to those and energy and emotion manipulation are often those beings’ normal modus operandi.  I’d use a giant one celled space monster being kinda silly as further proof, but it could be explained by their irradiation of the smaller space amoebas on Deneva, or by being a distant cousin of the vampire cloud.  They do get rid of it the same way as the latter.  I may be falling prey to my own conspiracy theory.  To be fair though, I’m not expecting anyone else to.

Honestly, it’s far less silly than a giant, indestructible, weaponized space cannoli. 

Transporter chief Kyle is at the helm wearing gold, further supporting my temporary transfer theory.  In other lower level return crew member news, Lieutenant Leslie is the first one on the bridge to collapse from the energy drain, which -considering he was dead a few adventures ago- is understandable

Relationship note:  Thought they no longer look to the other the same way as they did at the start of the five year mission, Spock is the first one by Uhura’s side when she falls.  Awwwww.

The series focus is now squarely on the Big Three and it is they who carry the load.

It’s obvious that Kirk, Spock and Bones are the absolute best choices for “boldly going.”  Everyone on the ship is dying, nothing technical (including physics) works correctly, and a giant hither to unknown beastie has eaten an entire solar system and a fellow starship.  In the face of all that, The Big Three remain excited about what they’ll be able to learn from this new finding.

They are able to have extra time to discover a solution, because McCoy just happens to have enough stimulants for each and every crew member on board.  My guess:  he had them to counteract the volume of sedatives he stores as witnessed in orbit around Argelius.  Too bad he stocked so many uppers and downers. He could have used that space for cures or treatments and have ended several other problems they faced in about five minutes.

Kirk’s insisting that insufficient data is “insufficient” is typical managerial thinking.  What makes him a great leader is following that by coming up with the top level idea of using reverse logic, then trusting his people to work out the details.  This continues when he realizes McCoy figured out the final solution with something he said before the Doctor himself caught on to the importance of his own statement.

With the entire ship and crew in what appears to be unsolvable danger, Kirk stops logging for most of the episode to focus on motivating his people.  He only turns to the log when he has to decide which of his two best friends to likely condemn to death, in order to more clearly work through magnitude of the decision.  I think we’ve found the reason behind his compulsion, it helps him focus

The stress and exhaustion gets to everyone. Spock and Bones tear into each other constantly and with heightened venom.  It reaches a point that Spock needs to call McCoy out on the fact that hundreds of Vulcan’s just died and blasted him with a giant mental space noogie.

The emotional (for our pointy eared friend), “Wish me luck,” to the Doctor before they split, possibly to never see the other again, summarizes the importance of their friendship. 

And in case that less than subtle exchange was missed: what Spock thinks is his final log entry focuses not on scientific discovery, but friendship.

“Captain” McCoy finishes hammering the point home in his usual emotional style:
“Shut up Spock, we’re rescuing you.”

“A Private Little War”
Air Date: February 2, 1968
Mom Title: “Mugato”

I have a “Bad Trekkie Confession” to make about this heavy handed Vietnam allegory.

I constantly get “A Private Little War,” “The Apple” (platinum blonde natives and a crew analogy as good Satan) and “Friday’s Child” (One officer has a prior visit, Spock injured, lame Klingon) confused. Plus, they’re clumped fairly close together, like the first season was known to do with theme episodes.  Still, it’s better than how the episodes clump in the third season. (By a significant drop in quality.) Luckily there are also unique elements.

For today’s story, the white, horned, venomous gorilla stands out.  Oddly, the Mugato is listed as a “Gumato” in the credits.  Maybe that’s an Italian relative.

A possibly easier to remember difference is the presence within the excessively typical group of Star Trek natives of Nona.  Somehow the raven haired, deeply tan, Kahn-ut-tu witch woman parading throughout the otherwise pasty population in leather bell bottoms and an orange shag carpet wonder bra stands out. 

Another truly embarrassing admission:  Nona always reminded me of Medea in Jason and the Argonauts.  Until this viewing, I had no idea they were the same actress. 
(Insert any snide “not looking at her face” accusations here.)

Awesomeness in the Trek galaxy seems to be grouped by starship. Besides the Enterprise, the subordinates of Kor, and Koloth have been (and those of Kang will be) far more competent than the other Klingon captains we see.

Speaking of awesome crews: Uhura, Scotty and Chekov are all historians and planetary technological development experts.  It’s a shame those courses are only taught at Starfleet Academy, and not to members of the Federation Diplomatic Corps.

For a change, Human Resources did something useful by bringing Vulcan specialist Doctor M’benga on board after the emergency with Sarek. Dang, they shot Spock clean through, lucky every other race in the galaxy has their heart where we do; otherwise they might have aimed at his.

Hmm…going into a complete immobile unconscious state in order to recover health?
How about that? I fight sickness like a Vulcan.

It’s McCoy’s turn to showcase the awesomeness of the Big Three bonds. First, he nearly places Spock’s condition above the encroaching Klingons. Because he’s (as mentioned) awesome, and a military man, he gets his priorities straight in time to do what he must.  Also, when both of the other two are out of action, he fills in for them and logs into the spaces of his own mind.

Not all choices make full sense.  Per the prime directive, phasers are COMPLETELY FORBIDDEN…but are brought anyway. 
Still, they do try. McCoy only uses his to heat some opposed to building a fire like any native would be able to do without attracting attention.

Kirk does his part as well, attacking an enraged Mugato with his bare hands WHILE WEARING A VISIBLE PHASER that everyone in the immediate area is aware of its function. 
Eventually he remembers he’s packing and chooses sanity and safety over drop kicking the poisonous, pointy primate.

Once again, Klingon and Federation representatives are battling one another with no appearance from the Organians, which is odd since the hill people are EXACTLY the types of non-technological pacifists the Organians were pretending to be. You’d think they’d have a vested interest in preventing contamination of those cultures. 

Speaking of watchdog entities not paying attention, how about the CBS censors?

Besides there being a great deal of blood in this one, (albeit mostly green) there’s Nona.

Ignoring the most obvious scene, there are two others that one would expect to bring down network control’s fist of prevention:

Kirk finding her at the waterfall,

Her being attacked by the village people.
(No, not those Village People, I don’t think they’d be interested in Nona.
Too bad, Kirk doing a pose down to “Macho Man” would work for many and varied reasons.)

The key scene, though, is Nona healing Kirk.  They should have hired her for the Tribbles the way she makes that Mako root vibrate to life. 

Nona’s and Kirk’s reactions as she writhes and moans next to him, with her shag carpet heaving were…stimulating.  The moral guardians must have been napping during the screening or something.

Her husband and Kirk’s buddy, Tyree, was even in the room with a drum.
Didn’t Buddy Hackett make a rhythm method joke like that once?

“Return to Tomorrow”
Air Date: February 9, 1968
Mom Title: “Sargon in a Light Globe”

This is the first of two episodes where we learn a great deal about that extra-galactic invasion I may or may not have made up.  Though trapped in globes, Sargon and company are non-corporeal with advanced transporter capabilities.  It’s like The Providers who succeeded in the next evolutionary step. Their consciousnesses left their bodies and brains behind but still need to maintain a “home” in a “Mod” light fixture.

All the other “dead” spheres may actually be beings that made the next leap and are floating around the galaxy as pure energy, and causing problems in other episodes.

Hey, Sulu’s back, and in the Captain’s chair...and Chekov’s gone again.  Poop.

As they prepare to beam down Doctor McCoy becomes the only person in Enterprise history to question the risk of sending both senior officers off into the unknown.  This is acknowledged as an excellent point…for all of five minutes. Then the aliens force changing it to be impossible, and no one ever brings it up again.

Speaking of risk: Captain Kirk gets one of his greatest speeches in the history of his command this time out. It’s the famous “Risk is our Business” exhortation. Granted, it would have been much more impressive if this undertaking actually yielded them any benefits at all, but you can’t have everything.

Vulcans can withstand the transfer of these beings much better than humans.  Obviously, they couldn’t have selected a ship full of that race, as it was just eaten by a giant space amoeba two weeks before.  Talk about bad timing.  Still, someone should have questioned putting the leader of the opposition into the most powerful individual on the Enterprise.

Nimoy certainly plays the mustache twistingly evil villain well doesn’t he?  No wonder he was Galvatron.  We’ve seen him as emotionally uncontrolled, but even his Mirror version wasn’t this nasty.  Between his deviltry, and Shatner looking like the only direction he was given to play Sargon was, “LET IT FLY, BILL!” it must have been an interesting few days on set.

We learn more of Spock’s home planet. This episode asserts that none of the Ancient Astronaut theories on Earth are true. (Contradicting what was said before, and will be said in Season 3 and the Animated Series.) However, those types of visitations are a fact on Vulcan.  Considering almost every race they meet looks like Earthlings, maybe the Vulcan documentation exists because they chased the ancients away before they could sneakily seed the planet with more humans.  Sargon does refer to the crew as “my children.”

They also point out the dangers of being treated as gods, with what sounds like the voice of experience.  There are an awful lot of non-corporeal aliens and eons old society controlling machines trying to be worshipped in and around the Federation.  This invasion has been going on an exceedingly long time.

Their big plan is to construct advanced robot bodies to live in, which nicely explains the ancient androids on Mudd’s world, Exo III and Omicron Delta, all built long ago using highly advanced technology.  Sargon and company’s skills must have atrophied being stuck in light globes all those years.

They could have stayed longer in the human bodies, but it caused dangerously high heart rates and temperatures.  If only doctor McCoy had some kind of tranquilizer in stock?  He might have, if he hadn’t recently used up the entire supply up by injecting the whole crew.  More bad timing.

The true give away that the sphere people are connected to the extra-galactic invasion capable of Talosian like illusion generation and mind control is Doctor Anne Mulhall.

She’s an Astrobiologist, clearly a scientific post, and wearing red. Why?
Because she’s an illusion generated to talk the others into letting aliens take over their minds.  She pushes for it when the others doubt.

The strongest proof she isn’t real?  (And this is above and beyond someone else suspiciously involved with a non-corporeal alien showing up that looks exactly like her next season, not to mention someone else looking exactly like her showing up to mess with the crew chemistry on a whole other Enterprise.)

Doctor Mulhall is a Lieutenant Commander.  Not only is she the highest ranking woman we see on the ship throughout the original series, but all totaled and including the bridge crew, there are only about a half dozen officers on board with equal or higher ranks.

And Kirk, Spock and McCoy have never heard of her.

Totally fake.

How does the day get saved? We learn it is because Spock can easily hide his consciousness within another person.  Here’s hoping someone writes down how to do that, as it may prove useful in the future.

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