Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, August 26, 2013

Season 1, Episode 06: The Man Trap


Sorry for the late-ish posting, friends. The screencaps were being super-sucktacular this week.


"The Man Trap"
Production Number: 06
Air Order: 1
Stardate: 1513.1
Original Air Date: September 8, 1966

 Stardates crack me up. It wasn't until the Next Generation series that people actually sat down and did the math to come up with stardates that made sense - with TOS the general rule of thumb was that the stardate should be a four-digit number with a number following a point and that they should be going up a bit. It appears that sometimes the writers lost track. "Where No Man has Gone Before" takes place on stardate 1312.4, with the next adventure, "The Corbomite Maneuver" taking place on 1512.2. However, we skip backward for the next episode "Mudd's Women", which takes place on 1329.1. Just for funsies, I pulled up a stardate converter and plugged some of those original stardates in. (Shut up, it was totally fun.) It produced some amusing results. Episodes 10 and 12 ("What Are Little Girls Made Of?" and "Miri") take place on the same day, September 18, 2325, 10 hours apart. Episode 11, "Dagger of the Mind", takes place the next day on September 19th.
The writers probably assumed that no one was paying attention, which is rather funny, as Star Trek produced one of the shrewdest fandoms out there. Trek fans know it all. However, they appear to be forgiving and/or loyal enough to overlook some of these gaffes. The writers got clever by Next Gen, though. Somebody figured out the stardate system, and linguists were hired to create alien languages. This is how we ended up with Klingon Boggle.





In case you desperately wanted to know, "The Man Trap" takes place on July 6, 2324, at 7:04 pm.

The episode opens with the ship orbiting planet M113. Kirk, McCoy and a Blue Shirt medical guy have beamed down to the surface to do a medical exam on archaeologist Robert Crater and his wife Nancy. Nancy, it seems, is McCoy's "one that got away", and because of their bromance, Kirk proceeds to give him some shit about it. He suggests that McCoy bring Nancy some flowers. The good doctor remarks that girls only like Kirk because he bribes them. Suck eggs, Kirk. Bones wins that round.



An aside here - maybe I've been watching too much Next Gen, and maybe that rule hadn't been created yet, but I thought that the captain was not allowed to head up away teams because of the level of personal danger. I recall there being some contention over that rule between Picard and Riker at their first meeting. Maybe Kirk just wanted a look at the weird-ass scenery, which features the desert and some architectural ruins.
The away team goes inside the temple-thing where the Craters are, and McCoy greets Nancy, exclaiming that she hasn't aged a day. But when Kirk greets her, he sees a much older woman with graying hair. Blue Shirt Medical Guy (Crewman Darnell) sees her as a totally different girl - a blonde. Darnell blurts out that she looks just like a girl that he left on Wrigley's Pleasure Planet. Wow, centuries into the future and strip clubs still have stupid names. Though maybe that one has good gum. McCoy barks at Darnell to STFU. Blue Shirt stumbles through an apology and goes outside.



Nancy follows on the excuse of fetching her husband, but then as the blonde, flirts with Darnell outside. She tosses him her shawl. Or I think it's a shawl. It's a part of the neckline of her dress that I didn't think was removable, but there you are: this Nancy has it going on. Darnell follows her like a dumbshit.



Captain's Log: Nobody suspects that each crew member is seeing a different Nancy. Based on past experience, they should be checking her for intergalactic fruit snacks. She's clearly on Venus drugs or something.
Robert Crater enters the temple-thing and bitches about having to have yearly exams while he's out working in the field. On a side note, why has the Enterprise drawn this assignment? Wouldn't it make more sense to have a medical ship go from planet to planet doing that job?
Dr Crater submits to the shortest medical exam ever, then demands more salt tables and tells them to GTFO. He hears Kirk call Bones "McCoy", and realizing that McCoy was the McCoy that probably did his wife all those years ago, he's suddenly pleasant and cooperative. Bones remarks that Nancy hasn't aged a day past 25, and Kirk tells him to take off the beer goggles. Dr Crater says that he's glad McCoy still feels genuine affection for her... because that makes sense. Nancy screams from outside and they all run to her, ending the weird suggestion by Crater that Bones should lust after his wife.



The Nancy outside is gray-haired again, and her dress is longer, with a higher neckline. (Actually, it's not a dress, it's a shorts-jumper thing. Ugh.) She's sobbing over the body of Darnell, whose lifeless face seems to suggest an accident while filming tentacle porn. Bones utters his famous "He's dead, Jim" while Kirk pulls a piece of plant from Darnell's mouth. Well, whaddaya know - the red shirt in this episode turned out to be blue.



Dr Crater angrily insists that Kirk employs idiots. Nancy cries that she'd gone after Darnell to tell him that she wasn't offended by his calling her a high-priced whore, but that she was too late to keep him from eating the plant. Dr Crater tells them to leave again, and Nancy stops crying long enough to remind him that they need more fucking salt tablets. "Booohoohoohoo, that poor young man. SALT. BRING US SALT." This woman switches emotions so quickly, she should join a reality show.
The next shot is of the Enterprise, and there is no possible way for them to hide the fact that it's a model. Still, it's an interesting, sweeping shot. The following scene is one where Uhura tries to engage Spock in conversation. She flirts with him a bit, and tries to get him to describe how Vulcan looks when the moon is full. He answers that Vulcan has no moon. That makes me sad, you guys. I really wanted to see a Vulcan werewolf. I think I'll go sob in a corner, then angrily demand salt.



The transporter room announces the arrival of the landing party, with one dead. Spock acknowledges and Uhura calls him heartless for not responding emotionally. Wrong tree, honey. Your barking will go unheeded.
In sick bay, Spock relays the information that the plant in Darnell's mouth belongs to the nightshade family, but that the marks on his face came from something else. McCoy says that means that Darnell wasn't poisoned. Candlestick in the drawing room, Doctor. It's always the candlestick. McCoy dreamily waxes rhapsodic about Nancy, Kirk yells at him to keep it in his pants, and I shake my head at Kirk's hypocrisy.



Stardate 1513.4 (or 9:42 pm)
Kirk and Spock are on the bridge when Bones pages them back to sick bay and explains that Darnell's body lacks salt. The only clues are those rings on his face. Kirk offers McCoy an apology and they kiss and make up before returning to Sherlocking: isn't it weird that on a hot, arid desert planet that people would ask for salt tablets?
It is a sad, sad day for science, kids.

Kirk and McCoy beam down to the temple-thing to ask why the Craters didn't request pepper, too. A Gold Shirt is dispatched to get Nancy. A Blue Shirt is told to collect more samples of that nightshade plant. I hope you weren't attached to either of them.

"The body requires sodium, which is lost when you sweat. How did either of you pass any entrance exams in Starfleet without knowing that?"

Kirk warns Dr Crater that he and Nancy are in danger of "something", and they'll need to hang out with them on the ship for a while. Crater tells them to take a flying leap. When Kirk and McCoy are distracted, Crater slips outside.
He stumbles onto the body of the Blue Shirt first, lying among the ruins with his polka-dot face. Crater then calls to Nancy, who is with the body of the Gold Shirt. The exact line is "Nancy! You! Salt. Smell it." Hey, that's nice. Totally gonna ask my significant other to call me "you" from now on. It can be a pet name. No, we won't get weird looks in public when people think he's calling to a sheep.



I'd like to take this moment to ponder on Nancy's age. Bones says that she still looks 25, and that he hasn't seen her in 10-12 years. Really? She looks to be in her late 40's to early 50's here. I thought arid climates were best for preservation. Then I have to wonder about the ages of Bones and Kirk. If Bones is in his late 40's, and Kirk is supposed to be 10 years younger than him, then Kirk is supposedly pushing 40. Dude does not look 40 to me. Oops, wait - IMDB says that Shat was about 36 here. Damn. He's got a total babyface.
Kirk calls out to Dr Crater, who runs and hides. The captain and McCoy discover the body of Blue Shirt, and call out to Gold Shirt. Nancy hears them calling and morphs into Gold Shirt (like we didn't see that coming). Nancy/Gold Shirt then beams up to the ship with the others.



While Kirk heads to the bridge, Nancy/ Gold Shirt encounters Yeoman Rand and her Texas debutante hair in the corridor. She's eating off a tray that's clearly meant for someone else, but when N/GS reaches for the salt shaker, Rand slaps his hand away and asks who he thinks he is.Then she takes another bite just to prove that she's Head Bitch in Charge. Just eat her, Nancy. I won't mind.



Some crewman flirt with Rand on their way past, and I paused to vomit a little in my mouth.
The tray is for an unsuspecting Sulu, who will now undoubtedly get Rand cooties. While Sulu eats, Rand plays with a plant that's obviously a glove covered in petals. N/GS comes in to stare at the food tray but gets the hell out of Dodge when Sulu's plant freaks out.
Out in the hall, Nancy/Gold Shirt morphs into a handsome Blue Shirt who flirts with Uhura in Swahili. He backs her against a wall, but she's saved when Kirk pages her back to the bridge and she hops into the lift with Yeoman Bitch and Sulu.



McCoy lies down in his quarters to nap, but he can't sleep. I don't blame him. He's got these carved bookends that are heads, and I have to wonder who would want that behind their bed. Who wants to be watched while they sleep? (Okay: Bella Swan. But doormats don't count.) Kirk suggests that he take some red pills to sleep. In The Matrix and Total Recall, a red pill symbolizes waking up to reality. While TOS pre-dates both of these films by 20+ years, I can't help but think, "Take the red pill. Wake up and realize that your ex has been eating your shipmates."



Kirk and Spock return to the surface to look for Crater and Nancy. Nancy/Blue Shirt becomes just Nancy again, and enters McCoy's quarters. She flirts with him and offers to get him water for his red reality pills. Meanwhile, Sulu and Rand stumble upon another pock-marked crewman.



1513.8 (July 7, 1:13 am) I think they're trying to use the number beyond the point to mark off the hours, so four hours later than the last time the stardate was noted.
Nancy gets McCoy to take a nap, but then Bones is paged to sick bay. She seems torn between whether or not to eat him. In a cool camera move, the shot goes from sleeping MCoy, sweeps around the room, and ends on Nancy-McCoy next to the door. I love this because it's creative and probably cheaper than time-lapse morphing photography, not to mention better-looking than split-screen. Points to the budget.
On the surface, Kirk and Spock confront an armed Crater, who tells them to GTFO. Spock stumbles upon the body of the Gold Shirt, and they realize that the murderer is on board. Kirk puts the ship on lockdown.
Upstairs, Nancy/Bones shows up on the bridge and overhears Spock, Uhura and Rand talking smack about him/her/it.
While attempting to confront Crater, Kirk and Spock run serpentine through the ruins with phasers out and communicators open. I'm reminded of little boys playing Cowboys and Indians in suburbia. Kirk stuns and disarms Crater, who gives a sort of drunken soliloquy on the buffalo before admitting that his wife has been dead for more than a year. The Nancy-thing is the last of it's kind. Crater seems sad about this. It ate his wife, but he still feels bad for it. I'm struggling to label his feelings here. Is it a kind of Stockholm Syndrome?



Ship-side, there's a staff meeting with Crater. There are Red Shirts patrolling the corridors and salt traps on each deck. Nancy-McCoy suggests offering "the creature" salt without tricks, and he and Crater talk about survival tactics and incisor teeth. Kirk wants Crater to help them hunt the creature, and Crater tells them he won't, because the creature needs love as well as salt, and changes its form to become Nancy for him. Ewwwwwww. Just... ugh. I'd like to think about that as much as I'd like to think about Hagrid's parents.

Nancy/McCoy and Spock go to sick bay with Crater, but the professor attacks Spock. Nancy/McCoy tries to eat Spock, but his Vulcan salts taste funny, so s/he sends the science officer back to the kitchen for re-seasoning.



The facade of the good doctor eats Crater instead (so much for the Good Ship Crater-Creature), then morphs back into Nancy to wake The Real McCoy. (He's been sleeping, remember?) Kirk bursts in armed with a phaser and offers Nancy salt tablets. McCoy refuses to believe that this woman isn't Nancy, and she puts her hands on Kirk's face in preparation for sucking the salt from his body. Spock runs in a demands that McCoy shoot Nancy, but Bones can't do it.The first officer starts a stage fight with Nancy, who knocks him against the wall. While they watch, Nancy changes into her true form, a hairy gray bi-ped with suckers on her fingers, a lovely summer frock composed of kelp, and the saddest eyes ever. Sadder than Willow the Concerned Kitty, which is pretty damn sad.


"That's soooo sad!"



Bones shoots the creature, who morphs back into Nancy for one last guilt trip. Another shot and she dies, changing back into her true form for the last time. Good job, y'all. You killed the space buffalo. They kind of laugh about it on the bridge, too.Kirk tells Sulu to put in a new heading, and the viewscreen shows them rapidly reversing away from the planet. Um, it's not a car, you guys. You don't have to back a spaceship from an orbital parking space.
The moral of the story is: Exes suck, but sometimes it's just because they're hangry.

RIP

This Blue Shirt

This Blue Shirt

This Gold Shirt

And this Dude in a Hazmat Suit

***

A brief confession: Auntie Archon is a visual artist, and as such, is friends with visual artists who have friends who are also visual artists. As a result, a lot of cool artwork shows up on her Facebook feed. A lot. Like this Spock painting by Scott Scheidly.


It's from his Pink show, where he takes on masculinity and power. The rest of the paintings in this show are not to be missed (pink Chewbacca? Sign me up!). You can check them out here http://www.flounderart.com/ or like his fan page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Scott-Scheidly/237889139606146?ref=hl .
I'm a fan of his Hitler, who is swathed in a pink cape worthy of Dolores Umbridge, which makes me happy inside. Dolores Umbridge had a hell of a lot of power, and while she was not directly involved with Voldemort, she did believe in his ideas; and Voldemort, the Deatheaters, and his view of ethnic cleansing are all based on Hitler and the Nazi regime.

Sorry. Went all Potterhead-artist on you there.

"I don't always talk about art, but when I do, I make weird
connections that make no sense to anyone but me."
This week's tea is Wild Orange Wulong by Teavana, recommended for the express purpose of making daiquiris.





Sunday, August 18, 2013

Season 1, Episode 05: The Enemy Within

"The Enemy Within"
Production Number: 05
Air Order: 5
Stardate: 1672.1
Air Date: October 6, 1966


This time, we open on a planet surface set where the crew appears to be gathering samples to study. Supposedly, the "surface sets" are far more expensive to create than the on-ship sets, which is probably why the next two budget decisions were made. Sulu is holding a dog (I think it's a terrier) that's wrapped in orange fur and has a horn and two feeler things. This is the local fauna, apparently.



Hey, kids! Make your own TOS creature at home! Just buy one of these



and some straws (but not the bendy kind, because that would look ridiculous), and a few yards of neon-colored fur from your local craft store - the more Muppet-y it looks, the better. Attach the horn and straws to the top of your dog's head and wrap him/her in the fur. Voila! Your very own dog-thing from Planet Somethingorother.



The other budget-y thing is that one of the crew members gathering "ore" slips and cuts himself and his uniform is covered in yellow paint. It looks like someone literally dipped a paintbrush into a can of Road-Stripe Yellow paint and brushed a strip on either side of his chest. I guess buying powder was more expensive?




Kirk sends the crewman upstairs to get checked out by Bones, and Scotty struggles to get him transported up, as the beamer is hiccuping. It's a few minutes before Scotty can beam up the captain. When he's finally able to do it, Kirk stumbles off the pad, feeling weird. Scotty offers to accompany the captain back to his quarters, and Kirk tells him not to leave the transporter room unmanned, but Scotty replies that he'll only be gone for a second. Gee friends, when would this ever actually be a problem unless it was a plot device? It's like the over-used telephone situation, where one person is on the phone but repeats back to the unknown caller everything they just said so that the audience knows what's going down on the street. In fact, I don't think we even need that line between Scotty and Kirk, because as soon as they leave, the beam glows, and Evil Kirk steps off the transporter pad. How do I know he's evil? He's dramatically lit in an odd way, he's overly shifty-looking, and the music says that he'd like to steal candy from small children. All he's missing is a mustache to twiddle.




 Captain's Log 1672.11 The crew of the Enterprise was doing a specimen-gathering on Alpha 171 when the transporter malfunctioned. They have to get that shit fixed quick because the temps drop to below freezing at night, and pretty much their whole away team is stuck down there until they can fix the beams.

Good Kirk/Bad Kirk sequence: Good Kirk goes back to his cabin to lay down because he doesn't feel well. Bad Kirk goes into sick bay and demands Saurian brandy. Good Kirk does his homework. Bad Kirk terrorizes neighborhood pets. Good Kirk looks both ways. Bad Kirk runs out into traffic, causing several collisions and ruining perfect driving records and low insurance premiums.



Good Kirk is in his cabin, shirtless again. I'm pretty sure that's in his contract or something. Maybe Bill Shatner used to be a nipple model and they're trying to exploit his talents, like how Nichelle Nicholls sometimes sings on the show.



Anyway, Spock comes in and says that Bones tattled on Kirk for roughing up the doctor and taking all the booze like a little bitch. Kirk laughs and says that Bones is just screwing with Spock. The captain gets paged to the transporter room, where Scotty shows them two identical dog-things. The transporter beamed aboard one good dog and a one-headed Cerberus. "The landing party is fucked," says Scotty. They can't beam anyone on board unless they want an evil copy of everyone.

...um, hello? Shuttlecraft?

Just to make things easier for the viewer, the captain has donned a conveniently green wrap-around blouse so we can tell the Kirks apart. This green shirt appears at other times, but is never explained. It's like his "on vacation" shirt, because there are no official uniform markings, but I swear sometimes he wears it while on duty.



Yeoman Rand enters her quarters and attempts to fix her hair, but she fails miserably, as it remains in that basket-weave beehive thing. Evil Kirk jumps out and demands that they knock Federation-issued boots, then he forces and icky-looking awkward kiss on her. They struggle, and she scratches his face. The door opens, and the geologist from earlier (Fisher) is in the corridor. He runs to the intercom to page Spock, but Evil Kirk punches him first.



Spock fetches Good Kirk and tells him what Rand has accused him of, and that Saurian brandy was found in her room. A tearful Rand tells them and McCoy what happened, and that she was unsure, because, you know, he's the capatain, and she didn't want to get him into trouble. Kirk points out that she claims to have scratched him, yet there are no scratches on his face, and she gets confused. But then a roughed-up geologist Fisher comes in and corroborates her story. Everyone is confused but Spock, who says that the only logical answer is that there's an impostor on board. Yes, Spock. I suppose that when you're in a science-fiction drama, the only logical answer is that an impostor exists, and not that your captain is lying.



Captain's Log 1672.9 Temperatures on the surface are dropping and the away team is in danger. Hey, really? We hadn't noticed. I'm pretty sure at this point that log entries are just recaps for viewers who forget the whole plot during commercial breaks. "OMG, that was an amazing ad for Ovaltine! Wait - what was I watching again?"

So Good Kirk is starting to come off as indecisive and unsure. He snuggles the nice version of the dog-thing while talking to Spock. The Vulcan points out that when going after Evil Kirk, they can't kill him, because they have no idea what would happen. he then reminds GK that he doesn't have the luxury of appearing to be less than perfect to the crew. He must not appear wussy, indecisive, overweight, or with less than baby-butt smooth skin. He may never get a pimple, and must always be fit enough to stroll around the ship shirtless. No pressure, though.



1673.1 Good Kirk announces to the crew that there is an impostor on board, who can be identified by scratches on his face. He tells the crew to arm themselves, but to set their phasers to stun rather than kill. Evil Kirk hears the announcement and loses his shit. This is understandable. In his eyes, he is the captain, and now some spineless wimp is declaring himself captain instead? In an effort to make himself look more like Good Kirk, he uses make-up to cover the scratches on his cheek. Maybe he's beamed with it. Maybe it's Maybelline. Evil Kirk opens the door to find a crewman, whom he addresses by name. He tells the crewman to give him his phaser, and they make small talk before Evil Kirk knocks him the hell out.



The temperatures downstairs have reached twenty below. Some heaters were beamed down, but they duplicated and failed to turn on. The attack on the crewman is reported to Spock and Good Kirk. The science officer asks the half-captain where he would go if trying to evade a search. "Engineering," replies GK.

Down in Engineering, the two Kirks play Spy Versus Spy for a bit and Evil Kirk manages to blast a hole in some wiring. GK gives the other a speech about how they need each other to survive. EK starts to scream that he doesn't need Good Kirk, but then Spock rolls up from behind and drops him with a nerve pinch. And that's how they get things done on Vulcan, bitch.



Back in sick bay, Spock waxes poetic about the fact that here was proof that both light and dark sides are needed to survive. He surmises that Good Kirk has become an indecisive wuss because the leadership traits belong to Evil Kirk.

Sulu reports that it's now 40 below. he and the away team huddle under a blanket and he asks if the Enterprise can find a long rope to lower down a pot of coffee or some sake. Dude is probably dying of hypothermia, and he's cracking jokes. Given his penchant for humor, I have to wonder if George Takei wrote any of his own lines. You're pretty much the coolest guy on this ship, Sulu.



Meanwhile, back in Engineering... Scotty has discovered that the wiring that Evil Kirk blasted was running the transporter. Of course it was. ETA on that repair: a whole flipping week.

Good Kirk makes a rather emo log, and Sulu checks in again. 75 below, and he's using hand phasers to heat rocks. He makes a joke about ski season. You know, I'd really like to see the spin-off where Sulu is captain. I would so sign up for that mission. Hell, as long as we're making Christmas lists, I'd like a Doctor Who Christmas crossover special, where George Takei is the companion.
"Where is the heading, Doctor?"
"Not where, Georgie, but when."

 Evil Kirk is dying. Good Kirk takes his hand and gives him the Jack-and-Rose-on-the-raft speech about not letting go. It's a very tender moment for those who ship Kirk with himself. Scotty pages Good Kirk to the transporter room, saying that he's fixed the problem (one week, my ass, Scotty). They decide to knock out the evil dog-thing and send them both through on the same pad. But when they beam them back, only one dead dog-thing returns. They surmise that it died of shock.



1673.1 Spock makes this log, and it's just another recap. "Spock here, everything's the same, life sucks right now, and we're all SOL. More to come!"

Bones plans to do an autopsy on the dog-thing to find out if it really died of shock, or if it was the transporter. he wants some better answers before sending Jim through. Spock wants to finish the repairs to the transporter and risk sending the captains through. Kirk laments on what to do, then decides to do both. Come on, dude. It took the little Mexican girl in the taco shell commercial less time to make decisions.

Deciding that they should both get on the transporter pad, Good Kirk unstraps Evil Kirk from the sick bay bed. EK is nice to him for all of three seconds, then drops the act, and they struggle. Holy crap, Bill struggles a lot in this series. So far, he is always shirtless, wearing ripped clothing, or struggling with someone. I may start keeping track.
Evil Kirk knocks out Good Kirk, and he grabs a green blouse from the captain's quarters so that they look more alike. Running into Yeoman Rand in the corridor, he tells her about the double and how "he scratched my face to make us look alike." An uncomfortable Rand agrees to see him in her cabin later to talk about it.



 He makes his way to the bridge, announces that the away team is toast anyway, and tells the helmsmen to leave. The bridge crew protests, but Evil Kirk tells them to go fuck themselves. Good Kirk enters the bridge and Evil Kirk freaks out, saying that he's going to kill Good Kirk, and that he just wants to live, dammit! The crew seems uncertain as to which one to grab. *sigh* Grab them both, idiots. They're both going to the same place. There's another struggle, and EK gets a hypo to the neck.



In the transporter room, both Kirks get onto the pad, and Good Kirk holds Evil Kirk in a warm embrace, as though they're slow-dancing. No seriously, why do more people not ship K/K?



Spock beams them down and back again, with only one returning. He steps off the pad and booms a command to beam the others on board. Bones remarks that but for a little frostbite, he's sure that the away team will be fine.



So... the guys on the surface have been down there for hours, and this is the first mention of frostbite, despite the fact that that was my first thought. Sulu's last check-in reported that two guys were already unconscious. How have they not all died from exposure by now? Are they really trying to convince me that the technology has advanced so far that their PJ-like uniforms and those thin blankets were keeping them warm enough in temperatures that are twice as low as the lowest temps on Mt Everest? Give me my money back - I'm not buying it.

***

So, setting aside this week's theme of yin-yang/light and dark, an idea sprouts that has since been explored in other science fiction, that of "what happens to The Other?" On the bridge, Evil Kirk yells that he wants to live, and views the rejoining of Good Kirk as a death for himself. He will cease to be as he knows himself, and will be blended back together with Good Kirk to just become Kirk. This "what about me?" idea has been looked at in other mediums and shows, including another Star Trek (Next Gen), where a transporter accident splits Riker into two parts: one that made it back onto the ship, and one that was beamed back onto the now-unmanned station on a planet's surface. Secure in the knowledge that they had Riker on board, the ship leaves, and the other Riker is stranded for some 8 years before being discovered by the Enterprise. In this case, both Rikers are full people, simply created twice by the transporter, and both have full memories of those 8 years. Those years have had their effect on each, and while one continues his career with Starfleet, the other becomes a rebel. In this case, they are not two halves of the same person, but two separate people. There is no talk of splicing them back together again, and the rebel (who changed his name to Thomas) is allowed to go about his business. In another example that I am familiar with, companion Amy Pond falls out of  time sync with her husband Rory and The Doctor while at a medical facility. When they try to rescue her, they find that they have both the Amy that they just left, and an Amy who has lived at the facility, battling euthanasia robots, for a whopping 38 years. The problem here is that if they rescue the Amy who has just entered the facility, they essentially destroy Amy 38. She refuses to help them and requests that they take her with them when they rescue Amy 0. Again, the question is, what happens to that very real person with the very real experiences who wishes to keep on living that way? Do you force them into obsolescence? How will things be altered if left alone?
In this episode of TOS, it is made clear that both halves require each other to live, because the basis is the philosophical idea of a person being made of good and bad, light and dark, and a necessity of balance. Spock insists that he is similar, being made of human and Vulcan parts, and that his intelligence triumphs over both, allowing him to live with his two warring halves.
But sometimes the answer to this question is less clear than "let's put them back together". In the Doctor Who episode, taking Amy 0 back into the TARDIS and not Amy 38 really would wipe out 38's existence. She will have ceased to exist, as well as the memories of things that she had lived through in her years of existing first as Amy 0, then as Amy 38. She pleads her case to Rory and The Doctor, stating that she wants to live.
I suppose that this is not really a problem with a straight-forward answer. It really does depend on the circumstances - can one live without the other? If yes, then what are the other implications of allowing there to be two separate versions of that person? It is not as though they were twins and began life as two people. Both persons were one at some point, and split. It seems as though the passage of time makes a difference.

Okay, sorry for that brief philosophical interruption. I blame it on this week's tea, "Courtesan's Blend" from the Firefly collection by Friday Afternoons (www.fridaytea.com). It's an oolong, with clove, cinnamon, and vanilla flavors, lovely as both a hot tea and a cold one, but a touch too light to be used in a mixed drink, as it would probably be overpowered by the alcohol taste. You can find it listed under Geeky Blends.



Monday, August 12, 2013

Season 1, Episode 4 "Mudd's Women"

I'm so excited, you guys! We took the foster kittens to the eye vet this week to have them looked at, and to find out how much it would cost for their surgeries. Not only are their treatments going to be less extensive than we thought, but the vet is pretty confident that the procedures will be simple, and because we're with a cat rescue, she's giving us a great discount. We initially thought we might have to spend up to $6300 for all three, but it looks more like $2500 total – we only have to raise $1300 more! Twelve kinds of Happy Dance!




***

Mudd's Women
Production Number 04
Episode Air Number: 6
Stardate: 1329.1
Air Date: October 13, 1966

This episode opens in an action scene, with the ship pursuing an unidentifiable vessel which won't respond to hails. (My guess is that the vessel is drug-running in a bad part of the galaxy. You can tell because they added after-market parts and rave lights to the underside.) The little vessel that couldn't ends up overheating its engines, and at the risk of doing the same to the Enterprise, Kirk orders that the deflector shields be placed around the other ship.


Like so many classic cars, the Enterprise has a "dummy light" that goes off whenever anything is wrong. I swear this light is used for deflector shields, engines, life support, angry Klingon in the vicinity, ect


When we return from the opening credits we find out that the Enterprise has blown two lithium crystal circuits. They lock onto a life signal from the other ship and beam aboard a guy who is dressed like a pirate. Or a carny. He introduces himself as Captain Leo Walsh. He's very nonchalant as everyone else panics about the possibility of his ship blowing up. Just as it's about to go, Scotty locks onto three more life-forms and beams them aboard. So... those life-forms weren't detected previously or what?




I kind of don't get beaming. Is it that your chances of successfully transporting go up if you're standing on a pad? We already know that you can beam with a pad on just one end, otherwise they couldn't beam to the surface of unexplored planets. Is that why they couldn't detect said other life-forms onboard the other ship? But if that were the case, you could only detect how many people were standing on the transporter pads. And if they could detect four, why not just beam over all four?

Oh, never mind. I'm wondering how they eat and breathe, and other science facts. I'll repeat to myself “It's just a show – I should really just relax.”

It's more difficult to beam these new people aboard because the Enterprise is mostly on battery power, but Scotty manages to get all three just as the unidentified vessel is hit by an asteroid and blows up.




The group beamed aboard are females and the show employs what I call Girl-O-Vision. The girls are filmed in a soft light with a Vaseline-smeared camera to make them seem... I dunno... more desirable or something? It's always accompanied by music that seems to want to convince you that this girl is worthy of being stared at. It's as though the producers are holding up audience-direction signs, but instead of saying “applause”, they say “get boner now.”




The trio on the transporter pads are certainly looking for attention. Hair and make-up are all done up, and because that sort of thing is appropriate for space travel, two of them are wearing glittery floor-length gowns. The third is wearing what I swear is a sequined poncho.

Scotty looks stunned. McCoy is sporting a creepy blissed-out smile. Spock doesn't give a shit either way. 




Irate at the lack of verbal response from his crew, Kirk demands via intercom to see the asshat captain that caused them to blow two circuits, and the girls follow the pirate-carny out of the transporter room. They're accompanied by burlesque music that includes heavy drumbeats with each sway of the hips. And because that's not enough, there's a gratuitous ass shot added in. They might as well have broken out the stripper poles and space dollahs.




When they get in the lift with Spock, Walsh asks the science officer if he's part-Vulcanian (I find that added suffix to be weird), and then tells the girls that they can turn off the charm because it won't work on Spock. The blonde in the pink dress apologizes for her captain's remark. A pretty girl with gumption on a 60's TV show... this chick is a unicorn among goats. Her captain tells her to just stand there and look nice.




Spock takes them to the briefing room, and looks ridiculously amused as he alerts Kirk to their presence. Kirk intends to tell off Walsh, but the Girl-O-Vision kicks in with the music, and he fumbles things. Walsh admits that the girls were the cargo, not crew, of his ship. The girls leave, and Spock looks as though he's barely holding in a smart-ass remark about human endocrine systems. Kirk tells Walsh that he's going to hold a ship's hearing against him, and he's confined to quarters while on ship.





Captain's Log 1329.2: Kirk says that he is concerned because he and the male crew members are all twitterpaited.


The hearing is convened and the computer calls all of Walsh's bullshit. He's actually Harry Mudd, which is rather apropos, and he's got a laundry list of past charges, which includes “crimes against fashion” and “fake-ass accent”. Kirk decides to charge him with operating an unlicensed vessel, and demands to know what Mudd is doing. Mudd tells them that he recruits wives for settlers. Awesome. He's the OKCupid of the stars. Not fully believing him, Kirk orders the computer to scan the girls. It returns no reading on the girls, but reports that the male crew members present are all sporting wood.





Evie, the blonde in the pink dress, assures Kirk that they've gone willingly with Mudd in order to get husbands, and now the Enterprise is keeping them from new lives. Kirk replies that he's only charging Mudd and that girls are free to pursue their weird arranged marriages.


Sulu tells Kirk over the intercom that Rigel XII, where they can get more lithium crystals, is two days away. Kirk leaves and Mudd nearly wets himself with glee, as this presents access to rich husbands. I wonder how Mudd gets paid... first by the girls, then by the husbands? Does he make anyone put down a deposit or down payment?


No, really... pirate or carny?



Ruthie, the brunette, announces her presence in sick bay with GOV and boom-boom music. She hits on McCoy in an effort to ask him how many miners are on Rigel XII and if they're young and healthy. She sets off his medical scanner, and I wonder if this is the reason why they weren't beamed aboard right away. Because they're clearly mutants, or aliens or something. Bones asks her if she's wearing an unusual perfume or “something radioactive” (...seriously?), and she purrs, “No, I'm just me” before leaving.





Kirk enters his quarters to find Evie lying on his bed. She simpers that she ducked in there to escape the leering of the crew. She starts talking about loneliness and how lonely he must be as a starship captain. She tries to kiss him, but then backs out, saying that she likes him, but that Harry Mudd is an asshole, and she leaves. I like Evie. She has a backbone.





Magda The Other Blonde enters Mudd's quarters and she and Ruthie give him the info about the miners that they wheedled out of the crew members. They remind him that they're trapped on the Enterprise. Evie stumbles in and yells at Mudd for being a douchebag.


On the bridge, Kirk and McCoy ask each other if these girls are actually beautiful, or if they just act that way. Or if they're actually an alien illusion. Personally, I'm blaming the Girl-O-Vision and the Pavlovian music that makes their shorts drool. In the meantime, Magda steals a communicator and Mudd contacts the miners.





The Enterprise enters orbit above Rigel XII and contacts the miners. Spocks says that they have three days' worth of battery power in which to get the crystals, more than enough time if all goes well. Yeah...


In Mudd's cabin, the women are looking decidedly older, more tired, and less cute. In truth, they mostly look like the same girls with no make-up and ratty sex hair. Mudd frantically searches for something that he hid when he came on board. Apparently, he's forgotten in the two hours or so that they've been there. The women are flipping out. Then at last he finds his little red pills. Of course they're red. Ruthie and Magda gulp them down, but Evie insists that it's cheating.





The miners come on board and say that they're willing to trade Mudd's women for the crystals. They've told Mudd that, in exchange, they'll get the charges against him dropped. Kirk laughs. “You're fucking with me, right?” (On a side note, how do these random miners out in BFE Space have any authority to get those charges dropped?) But Ben Childress, the head miner, says that it's the girls or nothing. Mudd parades in with his cargo and there's more Girl-O-Vision shots and stripper music.





With little choice, Kirk, Spock and Mudd beam down with the girls and the miners. An awkward mixer starts, and the miners dance with two of the girls while Evie stares out the window at the desolate landscape. When she refuses to dance with Childress, he cuts in on Ruthie, and a fistfight starts. In an emo teenage moment, Evie shouts, “Why don't you just hold a raffle and the loser gets me?” before running out into a nasty magnetic storm. We managed to go from ST:TOS to Harry Potter 5 in one line. Angst, angst, angst.





Kirk and Childress run after her, but when they turn up nothing, Kirk and Mudd return to the ship, where the captain chooses to use the ship's equipment to search through the storm and expend all but 43 minutes' worth of power. They spy a heat signature coming from Childress' quarters, and Kirk and Mudd beam back down.


Childress had located Evie and brought her, unconscious, back to his bed before collapsing on a bench to sleep. Now, Evie is up and cooking. Childress gets up and makes snide remarks about her food. They bicker like an old married couple. After a while, Evie sits down to play cards (round, because this is the future), and Childress bitches about how she's gotten homely. Honestly, I think her “homely” moments make her look like Frances McDormand more than anything else.














Kirk and Mudd burst in and tell Childress that Mudd gave the women Venus drugs (see, told you that vessel was carrying illegal drugs), which exaggerates their feminine attributes. The other miners have married the other girls by sub-space radio, but Kirk tells Childress that they can get out of it because the marriages are frauds. Evie gets pissed and takes a pill. The Girl-O-Vision returns and she asks Childress if he wants a fake wife. Then Kirk declares that she took a placebo and that what those pills really gave her were confidence. Evie and Childress decide that they'd like to talk things over, and Kirk takes Mudd back to the ship so he can be turned over to the authorities.


I'm pretty sure those are fruit snacks.



Wait – WTF? An episode that features a pirate-carny who buys and sells people has a moral about self-confidence? I mean, don't get me wrong - “believe in yourself and you can do anything” is a good moral. But it seems weird that it would be paired with consensual human trafficking.


And frankly, now I have to question what I actually watched. Because on that last go, Evie takes the red placebo pill and the audience sees her go from “homely” to “bombshell”. Girl-O-Vision, music, the works. Her hair goes from ratty to styled, and she “develops” make-up. Does the viewer have Saurian brandy goggles on as well? Her glamor came out of nowhere and it was supposedly all in her head this time. Did it actually happen? Did we just imagine it? Did Kirk and Mudd see her physically change the way Childress, Evie, and the viewer did? … or are we living in Evie's head?





...I'm going to go sit in a corner and mutter to myself about solipsism. Feel free to let yourself out. I'm pretty sure you can check out anytime you'd like.