Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, September 23, 2013

Season 1, Episode 10 "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"

"What Are Little Girls Made Of?"
Production Number: 10
Air Order: 7
Stardate: 2712.4
Original Air Date: October 20, 1966

Kittens go in for surgery Wednesday. Just so that I can say I did my part for fundraising, gonna leave this here: http://www.petcaring.com/animal-rescue/rescued-vulcan-kitties-need-surgery-/35765


We're trying to raise a little extra so that we can pay it forward to other kitties with eye problems :)

******

We start this episode with the Enterprise in orbit over some blue planet (no, not our blue planet) and Nurse Christine Chapel is on the bridge. They've changed her hair so that the front is now a light blonde instead of the silver from before. It's much more flattering. Kirk says something about her giving up a career in bio-research, and she replies that she knows "he's alive down there." Kirk says that "his" last message was 5 years ago. Turns out they're looking for Dr Roger Korby. Two expeditions have failed to find him, but because this is the USS Mary Sue Enterprise, they'll totally find him. Unless, of course, dude radios in right after Uhura announces that she's been getting no response from the planet.




Captain's Log: 2712.2 They're orbiting planet Exo III. The Enterprise has been contacted by Dr Korby, who has been living in underground ruins with other survivors.
Korby requests that Kirk beam down alone, as he has made important discoveries of a sensitive nature. Kirk says that he's beaming down with Christine, and Korby sounds excited. Seems they've been engaged this whole time. Kirk is only acquiescing to Korby's weird request because Dr Korby's work is required reading at the academy. He seems to have a man-crush on Korby. Just before Christine leaves the bridge with Kirk, she catches an "I'm so happy for you" hug from Uhura.


Here we have two women who are friends and talk to one another, who have names,
but this hug is about a man. Bechdel fail. *sad trombone*




The pair beam down, but Korby is not there. As a precaution, Kirk calls up and requests a pair of red shirts. They leave one at the beam-down and take the other, Mathews. The trio makes their way through the caverns where they're greeted by Dr Korby's assistant, Dr Brown. Unfortunately, the red shirt falls to his death while no one is looking. They rush back to the ledge and Kirk stupidly asks if there's a path down there. No, dude. The bottom of this bottomless pit is lined with memory-foam mattresses and the sort of soft, freshly-laundered towels that the Snuggle bear likes to jump in. Maybe if Mathews subscribes to the Alice theory, he'll fall straight through the center of the earth and come out the other side, where people walk upside-down.


Christine calls him Brownie. Why do all guys named Brown end up with that nickname?
Do they secretly hate that nickname?


There's a furtive shot of some mysterious big guy, and - holy shit, you guys! It's Lurch! He disappears down some tunnel. Clearly in this Whodunnit, he dunnit.



Brown remarks "Aw, well. Sucks to be that red shirt. Who the hell are you, now?" Then he says "Oh, yeah. You're Christine. Let's go see Korby." Kirk is suspicious of Brown and radios the other red shirt to check in every hour. As soon as the red shirt signs off Lurch grabs him from behind. 
While Brown takes them to Korby, he talks about how the former inhabitants of Exo III were forced underground as their sun dimmed and the planet iced over. They became super-mechanized.
The trio enters a cavern full of furniture and they stop to wait. But when the door slides open, it's not Korby. It's a young dark-haired girl. She's wearing the same overalls a Brown, but without a shirt. The straps on the overalls serve as a shirt. It's a bit like a more-covered version of female game characters' costumes, and most definitely like something you'd see cosplayed at a comicon. I read a smallish interview, years ago, with one of the costumers of this show, who said that conveying sexiness was not about how much skin was showing, but where. It was about exposing skin that would usually be covered.



This new girl introduces herself as Andrea. Dr Korby comes in, and seeing Christine, immediately begins to make out with her. He introduces himself to Kirk, who asks him to list the items and personnel he needs to beam aboard the Enterprise. 

Korby is played by Michael Strong, who is one of those guys who's in everything. I swear I know him from somewhere, but typically, when I look him up, it turns out that the only thing I've seen him in is the thing I've just finished watching.


Kirk tries to contact his other red shirt, who is not responding. He goes to call the ship, but Brown pulls a weapon on him and forbids Kirk more contact. Korby agrees. He insists that his work is crazy-important, and then orders Andrea to grab Kirk. But the captain ends up grabbing her instead, and not in the way that seems part and parcel to his character. Turns out she had a little hand weapon, which he steals. He pushes her away, and when Brown won't back down, Kirk fires on him. Lurch rushes in and disarms Kirk. Christine screams. There's a hole in Brown's torso filled with smoking wires and burned machinery. Oops. Robot city.



Kirk supposedly checks in with the ship, telling them that everything is fine, but when we cut back to the caverns, we see that Lurch has thrown his voice to sound like Kirk. Korby warns Kirk that if he struggles, Ruk may hurt him. (I guess Lurch's name is really Ruk.)
Ruk is played by the awesome Ted Cassidy. While I'm sure he didn't get many "leading man" roles, dude had the market cornered when it came to giant, scary guys with deep voices. IMDB also says that he did the voice of Balok's puppet on The Corbomite Manuever.
None of this, of course, explains why Ruk is dressed like a Golden Girl on steroids. He's already huge, and they padded out the top of his costume. He's wearing what I can only describe as a lavender floor-length robe over a pink patterned dress. They went to the trouble of getting a big intimidating guy, then put him in bad drag.




Korby has Ruk imitate Andrea's voice, somehow thinking that this will convince Kirk that he is trustworthy. Korby is unaware of the definition of non sequitir. Ruk imitates Korby next, and finally, Christine. Korby gets pissed off at this last one, and chastises Ruk. He tells Ruk that he is not to imitate or harm Christine and a quick-thinking Kirk adds that Ruk should follow her orders. Korby pauses, then agrees.
Kirk demands to know what happened to his red shirts, and Korby admits that Ruk was programmed to protect his experiments, and killed the both. The captain then asks if Ruk is an android like Brown, which seems to offend Ruk, who declares himself superior to Brown and states that he was left behind to tend to the machinery built by the "Old Ones". Korby used Old One knowledge to reprogram Ruk, and build Brown. Kirk declares him nuts and tries to escape, but Ruk picks him up like a fucking rag doll and throws him across the room. Korby keeps Ruk from killing Kirk.
Andrea is confused as to why Christine is unhappy, seeing as how she's gotten her man back. Andrea uses the name "Roger", which appears to piss off Christine, and Korby requests that she address him formally as "Dr Korby".
Korby gets down to explanations. Andrea is an android. Andrea the Android? How terribly Stan Lee. He tells them that Andrea is a marvel, that she has a life-like pulse and physical sensation. Christine replies sarcastically that he built one assistant and one "mechanical geisha".


You live with a half-naked girl, and you can't figure out why your fiancee is pissed off.
For a smart guy, you're a dumbass, Korby.
Yes, let's talk about mechanical geishas. There's a conversation in season 2 of The Big Bang Theory that sums it up nicely:
Sheldon: Okay, then, riddle me this: Assuming all the good Terminators were originally evil Terminators created by Skynet but then reprogrammed by the future John Connor, why would Skynet, an artificial computer intelligence, bother to create a petite, hot, 17-year-old killer robot?
Leonard: Skynet is kinky? I dunno.
Sheldon: Artificial intelligences do not have teen fetishes.
Now, I know this is kind of a one-shot throw-away gag, but Sheldon has a point. Why would anyone bother to make a hot android if the point wasn't to seduce someone (ie, the Fembots from Austin Powers or the "machine man" Maria from Fritz Lang's Metropolis), or to get some robot-lovin'?


Built for sexy times (and killing)


Built for killing

Built for seduction

Built for innocently helping Dr Korby with his work
I mean, it would be one thing if Korby had made two assistants, one male and one female, and made Andrea average-looking. Is it bad that she's attractive? No. But it seems like a waste of time to make her extra-attractive if you're only going to be treating her like an assistant. 
Now we come to the question, "Why do androids exist?" If it's a machine, and an intelligent one, why make it look like a person and not, say, a Cyberman? Comfort. People are more comfortable in dealing with AI when it looks like themselves (ie, Data from Next Gen). Okay, I get it: Korby wanted assistants that would be palatable to others. Would Christine have the same reservations about Andrea if she were fully-clothed and wearing a lab coat? Possibly, but it seems like her complaints would be fewer if ANDREA WAS WEARING A FUCKING SHIRT. I mean, damn - Korby fully-clothed Brown. He couldn't be bothered to find a shirt for Andrea? Like this, she offers "easy access", and being an android, she's probably programmed to just let you have it. Christine is suggesting that Korby is kinky like Skynet. I agree. She straight-up asks if he fucked Andrea. Korby replies that she's incapable. Bullshit. I'll bet she's fully functional and programmed in multiple techniques. (Yeah, I know. He meant that she's incapable of love, but you know he's playing semantics to sidestep Christine.) 
Korby tries to make his point by ordering Andrea to kiss Kirk, then slap him. "She only follows orders. She's totally logical." No one is convinced, so he takes them to the lab.


...Very innocently

"This is how you make an android," Korby announces. The lab has some machinery, but instead of an operating table, there's like a playground merry-go-round. A creepy dummy is strapped down on one side. It's lumpy and green and has no features and lacks the bottom half of it's limbs.


Asked and answered: this is what little girls are made of.

A naked Kirk is strapped down on the other side. (We got no shirtless Kirk last week, so they made up for it by featuring a naked Kirk instead.)


Hey kids! You too can have your very own android! Simply strap your friend to a piece of
playground equipment, add a foam dummy, and spin!

While the machine spins, making another Kirk, Christine complains that old Roger wouldn't have done this, that he considered life to be sacred. Korby completes the process by syncing New Kirk to the mental synapses of Kirk Classic. "I could replace the captain and no one would know," says Korby cheerfully. Kirk makes a rude, derogatory statement about Spock (really? Spock?), and to prove they are the same, the android repeats it.
They switch scenes. Chapel is sitting down to a meal served by Andrea, who declares that she is now programmed to please Christine as well. "Great. Could you put on some clothes, please? kthxbye." Kirk comes in and they sit down to talk. Christine is convinced that Roger is really Roger, that he's just acting oddly. Kirk broaches the subject of her possibly having to choose between Korby and taking orders from her captain, and she admits that she'd rather go hang out with Mathews than chose between them. Kirk pushes away his plate and declares that androids don't eat. 
Oh noes, you guys! Christine got duped!
The real Kirk comes in with Ruk and Korby, and he sits down next to himself. They've put New Kirk in the Starfleet uniform and Kirk Classic in their ugly coveralls. The two Kirks have a pissing contest about gastronomic delights, and Kirk Classic grills New Kirk on details of his own life. New Kirk answers correctly and Korby dismisses him.



Then Korby starts monloging, which is how you know he's the villain in this piece. He tells Kirk that he has the ability to transfer consciousness and soul into an android so that essentially a person could live forever. He needs "raw material", and wants Kirk to drop him on a planet with a smallish population so he can secretly churn out androids. That's why he was being subversive - he felt simply showing up on the Enterprise with his android-making kit would get him tossed into Bellevue.He wanted to give Kirk a demo and an explanation. He wants to do this crap in secret because he feels that if he introduces his plans too soon, there will be backlash from "uneducated minds". Now, I have to agree with him in part here. If you're going to introduce something new to a population, it's best to do so slowly and offer up information along the way. There will be some backlash, but you won't have wide-spread panic. This is the correct method for introducing new things. BUT it is not how one takes over a planet with androids. Especially when dealing with a race that prizes uniqueness.
See, kids? You can paint pretty much anything with the logic brush, but the crazy shows through in the end. This is why you find yourself nodding along half-way through Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal", but growing more disturbed the longer you think about it.
While Korby is talking, Kirk has unwound a piece of braided twine from the base of the chair he's sitting in, and he pretty much says "Yeah, fuck you, doctor," before lunging at Korby and trying to garrote him. They struggle and Kirk runs out into the cave system. Korby sends Ruk after him.



Christine is torn. Roger is injured, but Ruk is going to kill Kirk. She runs through the caverns screaming at him not to harm Kirk, and reminding him that he agreed to obey her. Lady, Ruk has zero fucks to give for you or the captain.
In the caverns, Kirk has hidden behind a wall and is pondering a stalactite. After some thought he snaps it off with a loud crack. You can't disguise this thing, you guys. It's a big pink schlong. And it appears, however subtly, to be anatomically correct. I have to wonder... did William Shatner piss off the writing staff? The prop guys?



Anyway, Ruk hears the noise and calls to him in Christine's voice. Kirk gives his position away and Ruk sneaks up on him. They struggle, and Kirk stumbles down a precipice, hanging on with one hand. Ruk considers him for a bit, then pulls him up.
Back on the Enterprise, Kirk struts down the hall and into his quarters, surprising Spock, who was not expecting him back so soon, and who follows him. Kirk gets some stuff from a safe. The first officer asks him a simple running-of-the-ship question, and Kirk barks out the derogatory statement from before: "Mind your own business, Mr Spock! I'm sick of your half-breed interference!" Shit, dude. I know that bros rag on each other, but damn. Spock takes it in stride, but is suspicious enough to order a security landing party to beam down after Kirk.


On the planet, Kirk gives Korby the stuff from the safe and says that he's located a planet with a small colony that will fit the doctor's needs. I'm creeped out by the fact that Korby refers to people as "raw materials". Also, his plan has holes. In a small colony, does he think that no one will notice that gradually, everyone will have a doppleganger? Or is he planning to dispose of those "raw materials" once he's made each duplicate?
So of course the one on the ship was New Kirk, who is still wearing the command gold uniform. I want to say that his calling Spock a half-breed wasn't so bad because he's an impostor, buuuut... Kirk Classic said it first.
Stuck in his cavern quarters, Kirk Classic decides to seduce Andrea. She pushes him away, telling him that she wasn't programmed for him. He kind of forces a kiss on her, and she escapes just as Ruk comes in to intimidate Kirk.



Ruk admits that saving Kirk was illogical, and he's clearly pissed off that he had to follow Christine's orders. Kirk decides to fuck with Ruk's head. He asks about the Old Ones and Ruk recalls that the emotional creatures that built androids like himself became fearful of them and began turning them off. He admits that he destroyed what was left of the Old Ones, but that Kirk brought this new chaos, not Korby. Then Ruk has a revelation: survival cancels programming, and Korby invited Kirk into their world. Korby must be destroyed rather than protected.



Speak of the devil, Korby and Christine enter. Ruk prepares to kill Korby, but the bad doctor pulls out a hand weapon and disintegrates Ruk. Remember in The Man Trap when Dr Crater was talking about the salt monster and an ancient Earth animal? Yeah, Ruk was another space buffalo.
There's s truggle between Kirk and Korby, and some skin is scrapped off the back of Korby's hand. Christine screams. Ba-ba- BUUUUUMMMMM! Korby's an android. Show of hands: who's surprised?


Korby tries to convince them that he's the same dude but Christine isn't buying what he's selling. His impassioned plea is interrupted by an alarm and he pages Andrea to get a weapon and deal with it. She meets New Kirk in the corridor and offers to make out with him. When he refuses on the grounds that it's illogical, she vaporizes his ass. Interesting. We completely skip the "I want to live" speech given by the double this week because... he was offed by another double first.



(Aside: if they need an original person to make an android, and Brown was made from the first Brown, and Korby from the first Korby, where did they get Andrea's "raw materials"? Was she part of Korby's original team? She doesn't seem to have the same... depth as Korby. Korby mentioned that his own "raw materials" were dying when he was "saved". Was the original Andrea already too far gone for soul and consciousness transfer? Was she already dead?)
Andrea bursts in and reports that she killed New Kirk, thinking he was Kirk Classic, and Kirk Classic gets self-righteous on Korby, saying that his image of perfect beings is flawed because his machine men are running around killing others. To prove that he's not a machine, Korby challenges Kirk and Christine to test him, but all he can come up with are computations and transmissions. #androidfail
Feeling broken, Korby gives Kirk his weapon, but Andrea refuses to do the same. In her weird, convoluted way, she tries to tell Korby that she loves him, but he tells her that she is not a human and cannot love. That was kind of a dick move. I feel bad for Andrea. Presumably the first female she's ever met is bitchy to her (though for a good reason); Kirk tries to force himself on her and confuses the hell out of her in the process; and when she admits that she loves a guy, he tells her that she's incapable of such a thing. They kiss, and he pulls the trigger on her weapon, vaporizing them both.


Technically, as an android, you're not capable of love either, you asshole.
Christine sobs. This has been a shitty day for her. She gave up a promising career to join a starship in the hopes of going to the planet where her fiance was last seen. She miraculously finds him only to discover that he is some kind of freakish self-aware robot who makes out with a mechanical geisha before committing suicide in front of her. If that doesn't give you intergalactic PTSD, nothing will.
Back on the bridge, Christine tells Kirk that she's staying with the ship rather than pursuing that aforementioned career. Good. I like Nurse Chapel. She has gumption. Actually, most of the women on this show have some kind of backbone. (Yes, even Rand. Sometimes.)

Spock confronts Kirk about his use of the phrase "half-breed". He calls it an "unsophisticated expression", which is Spock-speak for "You're a douche-weasel, Jim. Don't talk shit about me again or I'll put your head through the communications console."
 They prepare to leave, and I am once again wondering what Kirk's reports back to Starfleet look like. I bet half the time they assume that he made that shit up.

******

This week's tea is Wild Sweet Orange by Tazo Teas. I think it's available in grocery stores. I had mine at an eclectic restaurant known for their cocktails and unusual cuisine. It's not super-heavy, but plenty flavorful. However, if you're looking for a hint of orange flavor, this is not your tea. But I would like to say that it's not Tang, either. I tasted a bit of lemongrass mixed in, and just the right amount of licorice (the right amount being "barely present"). It's available online as well if you can't find the one you want in-store. http://www.starbucksstore.com/tazo-wild-sweet-orange-filterbag-tea/000151598,default,pd.html?&srule=Featured&start=0&sz=16&prefn1=teaForm&prefv1=filter-bag&cm_mmc=Tazocom-_-WhereToBuy-_-BuyOnline-_-Evergreen&cgid=tea



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