Production Order: 07
Air order: 4
Original Air Date: September 29, 1966
According to behind-the-scenes information, this episode is based on the idea of "what if the Enterprise crew all got sick with something that made them behave as though they were drunk, without the swaying or slurring?" Okay, gotcha. An illness that lowers inhibitions.
Captain's Log: The Enterprise is orbiting a dying planet. A scientific crew has been on the surface monitoring things, but now that the planet is finally giving up the ghost, the ship is there to pick them up, and orbit the planet to watch it die completely. The writers have named this planet Psi 2000. I'm tempted to add a picture of Grumpy Cat here. Oh, hell. Here you go:
Psi 2000 is a stupid name for a planet. Do you have a machine that people climb into that makes a loud whooshing noise, and when they step out, they are young and beautiful? That is the Psi 2000. Have they invented a Ouiji board that contacts people from the future who have yet to be born? That is the Psi 2000. Did Sarah Jane's dog K-9 somehow produce a litter of robot dogs, the tiniest of which is the Doctor's favorite? That cyber-puppy is Psi 2000. Adding "2000" to the end of anything implies that is futuristic and technological, and possibly mechanical. We're talking about a planet that is so old that it's sun has died, and now it is dying as well.
While we're talking about dying planets and dead suns, at one point during this episode, Spock remarks to Kirk that they might be looking at the future of Earth. When Kirk gives him a WTF look, Spock explains that this frozen planet was once very much like earth before it's sun died. Hey thanks, asshole. Because what I want with my sci-fi show is a healthy dose of melancholy for the planet where I was born, which will someday die when the sun does as well.
Spock and a crewman beam down to the science station on the planet in these awful orange hazmat suits. The fabric used looks like it would be quite at home on a disco skate skirt. The helmets are not sealed to the suits at all. What exactly are these protecting them from?
The science station is frozen, as someone has turned off the environmentals, the crew all dead. I know it's supposed to be ice, but everything in the station is covered with some lumpy white substance - fire extinguisher foam? Library paste? Maybe the set dressers painted everything with cottage cheese.
Spock and the crewman wander around with their equipment and check everything out. One guy is dead at his post. A woman on the floor has been choked to death. And one guy was found in the shower, fully clothed.
While exploring, the crewman takes off his glove to scratch his nose. He then gets down on his hands and knees to take some more readings and, unbeknownst to him, he gets orange goo on the back of his hand. He sniffs at it before putting his glove back on. I can't tell what color his shirt is, but dude is going to die. if you're wearing a hazmat suit, why would you expose yourself that way? That's like the Blue Shirt last week, following the blonde into the desert. How the hell did this guy get into Starfleet and secure a science post? Frankly, I'm almost surprised that this genius didn't lick his hand while he was at it.
Log entry: 1704.2 The science crew is dead, frozen to death, life support turned off. Kirk decides to hang out in orbit, and watch the planet die anyway.
Scotty beams Spock and the crewman back, then runs them through a decontamination cycle. That's pretty sweet... too bad it doesn't actually catch what it needs them to catch this time. They get sent to sick bay as well, so Bones can make extra sure that they didn't bring back whatever killed the science crew. the crewman - Joe - is fine. Bones and Spock exchange some slightly racist banter about Vulcan physiology, but Spock is fine, too. Very fine, actually. He's pretty hot in that little black t-shirt.
Joe rubs at his arm while warning music plays. He's totally weirded out.
Majel Barrett makes her first appearance of the series here as Nurse Christine Chapel (for those of you screaming "OMG, what about Number One?": chillax. I'll be covering Number One during The Menagerie). I like Nurse Chapel alright, but Majel Barrett is awesome. She's sort of like the First Lady of Trek. One thing that I don't love though is the wig they've got on her. The front of it is that "so platinum that it's silver" color, which looks atrocious on damn near everyone. I've only ever known one girl who could pull it off, and she had a rather ethereal personality to begin with.
A staff meeting is held to discuss the situation. Kirk remarks that if it wasn't so serious, the science crew's positions would be laughable (drunk illness, remember?). Bones says that, based on the info collected, there was nothing wrong with them. A form of space madness is suggested. Scotty says that decontamination found nothing, but Spock points out that those systems were only designed to filter out those things with which they are familiar. I think that's a really good point. How the hell do you account for things heretofore unknown? Maybe that "space booger" has a more complex society than yours, hooman.
|It seems like Rand's other job is to provide Kirk with a selection of colored tiles.|
In the commissary, Joe gets lunch and keeps wiping his clean hands on his shirt. Sulu comes in with Kevin Riley, and I cringe at the sound of Riley's voice. Between the initial viewings, write-ups and screencaps, I end up watching each episode 3 or 4 times. If you've seen this episode in particular, you may be familiar with my urge to mute Kevin. Anyway, Riley and Sulu are talking about rapiers and fencing. They sit with Joe, who is flipping out with the OCD hand-wiping. When they ask him if he's okay, he goes off about how people have no business in space exploration. He actually brings up some good points - in exploring, man does destructive things, pollutes the very place that he is curious about. On the other unwiped hand, to not explore one's surroundings might bring about a cessation of curiosity, and lead to xenophobia. These are some pretty heavy thoughts, ones that I'm sure explorers have had for centuries. No wonder dude is pulling a Lady MacBeth.
When Sulu touches his shoulder, things get physical and he brandishes a butter knife at them. No, seriously. It's as dull as waiting in line at the DMV with a dead phone. It's like trying to attack someone with those cheap wooden pull-apart chopsticks that come with your Chinese take-out. Joe turns the butter knife on himself and there's a struggle. When they get up from the floor, Joe has pink stuff smeared on him that's supposed to be blood. There's no open wound or rip in his shirt, but there's a light pink blotch on him. Minus points, budget. You couldn't borrow a sharp-looking stage knife and some fake blood that looks like blood? Riley calls for a medic, then starts Lady Macbething.
Captain's Log: They have to stay in tight orbit in order to get the info they need from the dying planet, which means moving in closer as the planet below them shrinks.
Sulu and Riley are at the helm. Riley keeps wiping his hands on his pants.
In sick bay, Bones and Chapel operate on the wounded Joe. For no discernible reason, he dies. Bones surmises that Joe died because he simply gave up.
Sulu, wiping his hands on his pants, suggests that he and Kevin go to the gym for a workout, and he just takes off. Minutes later, Spock asks where the hell Sulu is, and Riley responds, "Have no fear, O'Riley is here!" Sick of that shit immediately, Spock orders him to see Bones. In sick bay, Riley encounters Nurse Chapel, and he asks about Joe. She replies that she's sorry, but he's died. In response, he flirts with her, touching her chin. When he does so, it makes this sound like a rattle snake rattle. Then he tells her that Joe's problem is that he wasn't born Irish, before sauntering out again. Of course Christine goes Lady MacBeth.
The lift doors open and out jumps a shirtless, oiled-up helmsman with a foil. Helloooooo, Mr Sulu! He shouts some fun fencing banter at some crew members and chases them down the hall.
(A funny note here - the original script called for Sulu to brandish a samurai sword.
"Um, WTH?" asked George. "I may be from Japanese descent, but I'm an American. As a kid, my friends and I played Robin Hood and shit. My anglophile father named me after a king of England. I wanna play Three Musketeers."
"Can you fence?" asked the writers.
"Fuck yeah, I can!" he answered.
So they wrote it in... and George ran off to find a fencing school.
I have to give mad props to him for that. He could have gone on camera and waved the foil around and faked it. But dude went out and acquired form. He was also able to adding fencing to his resume. You go, Georgie.)
Up on the bridge, the ship is being pulled toward the planet. Kirk pages Scotty and engineering to no avail. Reports come in about Riley and Sulu causing disturbances, and security is told to find and confine them. Sulu bursts onto the bridge with his foil and grabs Uhura.
"I'll protect you, fair maiden!"
"Sorry, neither," she replies. Uhura is a BAMF. Interestingly, though Sulu grabbed Uhura, she does not contract the illness. She's just that badass.
Spock takes down Sulu with a Vulcan nerve pinch, and Kirk attempts to contact engineering again. Riley answers. He claims that he relieved Scotty, and puts out a PA that he is the captain, and that everyone gets a double portion of ice cream. Hell yes! I'd sign up for that mission!
Unfortunately, his next move is to start singing "I'll Take You Home Kathleen". It's a pretty sweet song, but the lyrics that we can hear sound kind of dirge-y. "The roses all have left your cheek/ I've watched them fade away and die/ Your voice is sad when e'er you speak/ And tears bedim your loving eyes." Sounds like Kathleen is dying or dead or something, when really he's offering her a trip back to Ireland.The last time that I watched this episode with a group of people a discussion broke out about the dirginess of Irish songs.
|What's missing here, kids? You're right: it's a microphone, a beer, and a bored KJ.|
Captain's Log: 1704.4 Spiraling down in toward the planet, and they have 20 minutes left until they hit the surface.
Turns out Riley told Scotty that he was wanted on the bridge, then locked him out. All controls have been routed through engineering. Uhura is getting reports on all decks of disturbances and fights, and responds with alerts. Riley cuts her off and takes her ice cream privileges for interrupting his song. Fuck you, Riley. She can have my other portion. And your karaoke sucks, beeteedubs. Riley then announces a formal dance in the bowling alley at 1900 hours. wait. Hold the motherfucking comm badge. A bowling alley? This ship has a bowling alley?
Bones is running tests on Sulu, the ship is being pulled into the dying planet's atmosphere, and Riley is commanding that female crew members wear their hair loose and their make-up light. Uhura looks like she wants to smack a bitch. Dude sings "Kathleen" again.
Scotty attempts to break into engineering. Everyone is losing their shit and running amok. I'm losing my shit because Riley singing "Kathleen" is being broadcast in the background throughout this episode. Spock goes to sick bay, where he encounters Nurse Chapel. She touches him, telling him that she loves him, and there's that rattler noise. He's paged to the bridge and stumbles into the corridor.
Scotty finally breaks into engineering and they grab Riley. OMG, thank you. I will gladly forfeit all of the ice cream in the world to get Riley to shut the fuck up.
Spock goes into the briefing room by himself and sobs, trying to use simple math to regain his logical half and control his emotions. He fails and breaks down completely. (The original script called for Spock to be doing something else - I forget what - but Leonard Nimoy felt that it was out of character and suggested a breakdown between his human and Vulcan halves. I like that Nimoy is considering character at this early stage, and that the writers aren't so married to the script that they will allow the actor's input. Teamwork, yo.)
So, down in engineering, they're screwed. Scotty discovers that Riley has shut the engines off completely, and he'll need thirty minutes to warm them up again before he can start them. They have like 13 minutes left. Kirk suggests that they mix the matter and anti-matter cold, and cause an engine implosion, but Scotty is not convinced they should do it. Spock is not responding to pages, and he's probably the only dude onboard who could calculate the intermix formula needed.
|He canna change the laws of physics, but he WILL get your ship started at the last second. Sometimes I think Scotty is secretly a Q.|
In sick bay, Doc McCoy has isolated the issue and made a serum, curing Sulu. He says it changes the water in one's body to something akin to alcohol, affecting judgement centers, and that it passes through sweat. Jim finds Spock, who is crying about his mother. Spock tells Kirk that when he feels friendship for him, he feels ashamed. Ouch. That has to suck for Kirk. The captain starts a bitch fight to snap Spock out of it, all the while trying to explain that they need him to make an intermix formula. Of course in the process, Kirk grabs his hand.
Three minutes until they all die, and Kirk goes Lady MacBeth. He immediately starts talking about how pretty Rand is (gross, no), but that he's not allowed to notice her, and that his lady is the ship. He uses the term "flesh-woman" and I dry-heave. Kirk tells the Enterprise that he'll never lose her.
|"Flesh Woman" sounds like the new modern sculpture installation at your local art meseum. Don't bother going to see it, though. Nobody gets it but the artist.|
Meanwhile, Spock has regained enough control to think of a formula. He goes to engineering.
Kirk makes his way to the bridge and upon stepping out of the lift, Bones rips his shirt and hypos him in the arm. There you go, ladies and gentlemen. We were two minutes until the end of the episode, and Kirk's shirt had not been ripped off, so Bones did it for him. Out of the six episodes that I've reviewed so far, four have featured scenes where Kirk is either shirtless, or otherwise exposed.
So now they've beaten the mysterious alien illness and we've got to tie up the loose dying planet ends. What happens next? Well, they mix the matter and anti-matter while cold. It implodes. And it sends them back in time three days.
Apparently, when one mixes shit cold, one does not get gazpacho. One gets time travel. Now, I'm not going to claim that I know how warp engines work, because I don't. Not even close. But that sounds stupid to me. The two outcomes were die a horrible death, or time travel?
And Kirk ends the episode by saying that now that they know how to do it, they may try it on purpose next time.
Sometimes, Trek fans, I just have to shrug off this goofy-ass show. Sometimes the stuff they come up with leaves me frowning at the screen and saying, "Wait, what... just... huh?"