Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, December 30, 2013

Season 1, Episode 23 "A Taste of Armageddon"

"A Taste of Armageddon"
Production Number: 23
Air Order: 22
Stardate: 3192.1
Original Air Date: February 23, 1967


Ship Goddess Uhura celebrated a birthday on Saturday. May we all look this good at 81.

*******


Kirk's Log 3192.1 The Enterprise is headed to Eminiar VII to open relations with them. There's an ambassador on board, and you just know that this guy is going to be as big a dick as Galactic High Commissioner Ferris from "The Galileo Seven" episode. Uhura receives a message from Eminiar VII, "code 710", which means "kindly leave us the fuck alone."
"Cool," says Kirk. "We'll leave."



But Ambassador Fox is all, "No, we've lost people mysteriously in this quadrant, so we're going to force our way in and force our friendship on these people."
For once, Kirk is being rational, and thinks that that's a bad idea. Because, you know, it is. But ambassadors have almost as much power as God, so Fox pulls rank and orders them on. The smart thing here would be to consult Starfleet or Yoospa, or whoever the hell is in charge now. But Kirk orders yellow alert and full steam ahead.



Kirk's Log 3192.5: "Now orbiting Eminiar VII, with intent to beam down to establish relations with people who told us to GTFO. Because conditions could be dangerous, and because I'm Kirk, I'm beaming down instead of the ambassador."
Spock reports that Eminiar VII has had space flight for several hundred years, but have never left their own space. When contacted by Starfleet 50 years earlier, they were at war with another planet. The Starfleet ship that recorded and passed along this info mysteriously disappeared. Kirk puts Scotty in charge, then beams down with Spock, two Red Shirts, and a yeoman. It always seems unnecessary to take yeomen on away missions.
The beam-down site on Eminiar VII is the same matte painting and set from Starbase 11 on "Court Martial" and the envelope parts of "The Menagerie".




These are the Eminians, you guys. Everyone is wearing black leggings, and the men are wearing half of the coveralls from "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" Also, I'm pretty sure their hats are something that I've seen on Dr Zoidberg's home planet on Futurama.



I kind of like her costume, though. It's an artfully-draped tartan, and it's not bad. The candy-colored corridors are a bit much, but it's not the end of the world.
The girl introduces herself to the away team as Mea 3, and she gets a bit of Girl-O-Vision, as well as the Pretty Girl music.



Mea takes them to the council, headed by Anan 7, who tells them that the Eminians have been at war with their neighbors for the past 500 years. They warned the Enterprise away for their own safety. Next time, Kirk, just obey code 710. Chuck the rank-pulling ambassador out of an air-lock, and walk away.



Spock is surprised to hear that they are at war still. He says that while his scans show them as being technologically advanced, he can't find any evidence of a war.
"Oops, gotta go," says Anan 7. And a panel slides open in the wall to reveal a bank of cardboard box computers.



As they watch, Mea explains that a fusion bomb hit just occurred there in the city, even though there is no evidence of it. Anan explains that the computers on Vandikar calculate where the strike hits, and how many would die. In this case, it's half a million. That many people in the city then receive notice to report to disintegration chambers and are killed. Then Eminiar VII launches a similar strike against Vandikar. This way, both societies thrive during the war.
"Scientifically logical," notes Spock.
"Thanks," says Anan 7.
"But kind of stupid," the Vulcan adds. "I get it, but it's dumb."
"Oh, well. Sucks to be you, anyway. We told you not to come," says Anan. "Your ship was a casualty, just like that Starfleet ship 50 years ago. We're going to hold you guys hostage until your crew reports for disintegration."
Dramatic music!



Kirk's Log, delayed: "The landing party isn't considered 'dead', but the crew of the Enterprise is."
The away team is being held hostage in what appears to be visitors' quarters, which is weird because, while friendly, the Eminians seem to be xenophobic, so who the hell would they be entertaining? Mea comes in and tells Kirk that she is a casualty, and must report to a disintegration chamber by noon tomorrow. If she or others refuse, Vandikar will launch actual weapons, and Eminiar will do the same. Both civilizations would be destroyed. This is why they play Electronic Battleship: Casualty Edition.

Up top, Bones yells at Scotty for not trying to find the captain. At least he's consistent - he yells at Spock for doing this, too. A message comes in from Kirk, who says the delightful Eminians have invited the entire ship down for shore leave, and that the Eminians will run the Enterprise while everyone is living it up on the surface. We cut back to the council chamber, where Anan is using a voice changer to sound like Kirk.




Fortunately, Scotty thinks it's BS and runs the message back through a voice analyzer. Nope, not Kirk.



Downstairs, Spock uses telepathic abilities through the wall to get the guard to open the door. They escape with the unconscious guard's weapon. Stumbling upon a disintegration chamber, they watch several people get in, but not climb back out. Kirk pulls Mea aside as she is making her way to the chamber to report for death. She and Kirk bicker while Spock strolls up to the guard and pinches him. Then he calmly walks back and Kirk fires on the chamber while the Eminians run.



Anan gets word of what they have done and gives the order to destroy the Enterprise.

Captain's Log 3193.0: "Scotty here. Kirk and Spock missing for the millionth time. Looking for them. At least the ship isn't broken."
The ship rocks, and the dummy light comes on. Scotty and Bones are discussing firing back on the planet when Fox shows up. Remember that dude? The one that said "Ignore their wishes, and the damn Prime Directive, because I want to make friends"? Yeah, that dude.
"You can't fire on them because of reasons," he declares. And he orders Uhura to open a channel to Eminiar VII.



The away team breaks back into their holding room with Mea, on the pretense that no one will look for them in there. That's actually pretty smart. In their raid, they got some male uniforms, a bunch of weapons, and a communication device, which Spock is going to alter to call the E.
Somewhere, two guys are waking up naked on the floor, moaning, "No, not again!"
Kirk pulls Mea aside and tells her that he wants to stop the killing. He convinces her to help him.



In the council chamber, Anan is enumerating why it sucks to be them right now: their weapons did nothing against the Enterprise's shields; one of their suicide booths was murdered; and their killing quota has not been fulfilled. Fox calls them. Anan gives him a flowery, diplomatic lie.
"So sorry, we fired on you by mistake! Our bad! You wanna beam down so we can become BFFs?"
"Totes!" gushes Fox, like a schoolgirl.
Anan switches off the channel and tells a flunky to blow up the ship once the shields are down.
Up top, Fox smugly tells Scotty to beam him down and lower the shields.
"Fuck that noise," replies Scotty. "I drop the shields, they blow us up."
"I'll have you tossed in a federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison!" barks Fox.
"Do it," dares Scotty.
Now would probably be a bad time to remind you of the fact that, technically, you have to drop the shields in order to beam Fox down.



Kirk sneaks into a room where Anan is having a drink by himself. The councilman invites the captain to join him, and Anan remarks on their races' shared instinct for violence. Kirk says that he could destroy Eminiar VII with one disruptor. Anan volunteers the whereabouts of Kirk's comms and weapons, but secretly, he has called for help. Once in the corridor, Kirk is overpowered by two guards, then dragged unconscious to the council chamber.
Meanwhile, Fox and some nameless assistant beam down to the surface. Anan greets them diplomatically, then informs them that they are going to die. What does the Fox say? It sure as shit isn't ring-a-ling-a-ling.



Spock finally gets a hold of the E, and tells Scotty that no one should beam down under any circumstance.
"That dumbshit Fox just beamed down," relays Scotty.
The look on his face gives Spock's thoughts away. They're here on the ambassador's orders, completely fucked, and now Fox has gone all damsel in distress. Clearly, Spock would like to leave the guy's sorry ass behind, but that would be unethical, and they're kind of responsible for Fox's safety. Spock takes the two Red Shirts (now dressed like Eminians) and leaves Yeoman Temula in charge of Mea.



The Eminians are attempting to shove Fox into a disintegration chamber when Spock and the Red Shirts show up. They take out the guards and blow up the chamber. Fox agrees to take up a weapon to help them find Kirk, which is pretty generous considering his idiot decisions got them into this mess in the first place. None of the Eminians seem to care enough to stop them. They're probably just glad that they aren't dead now.
Meanwhile, Kirk and Anan 7 are playing Cuban Missile Crisis in the council chambers. By not dying, Anan says Kirk will start a regular war, with destruction and disease and famine and suffering and all of that jazz. He opens a line to the Enterprise, but when Scotty answers, Kirk yells "General Order 24 in 2 hours!" Anan then tells Scotty that they have his people, and that he needs to start transporting E crew members down in 30 minutes so they can kill them.
"Dumbass," laughs Kirk. "I just gave the order to destroy the planet. Right now, my guys are targeting each of the cities on the surface. They'll do it in two hours."
Anan tries to get his own people to fire on the starship, but it is reported that the Enterprise has moved out of range.



Vendikar calls. They're pissed because Eminiar hasn't reached quota. Then guards check in to say that the away team is fucking up all the shit. Anan laments, Hamlet-like, because his world has gone to hell, and when his back is turned, Kirk easily takes out the entire council and all of the guards, ending up with half a dozen people at gun-point. Are... are you kidding me? These guards fold easier than Stormtroopers in red tunics. Spock & Co burst in to find that Kirk is all good.



They send everyone out into the corridor and Spock figures out which computer to destroy to bring down the entire system.
"You've killed us all!" says Anan. "A real war will start now!"
"Yep," says Kirk. "Without the messiness of war, you guys just killed your own for 500 years. So now you can build bombs, or you can wage peace."
Eager to have something useful to do, Ambassador Fox offers his services as a negotiator.



The away team cancels Order 24 and beams back up. After a while, Fox calls to say that the Eminians and Vandikarians are talking tentative peace treaties.
Kirk and Spock discuss the weight of the gamble that Kirk took. He told Mea that he wanted to stop the killing, but did so by forcing them to choose between war and peace. He might have actually caused more deaths by doing what he did. Let's call that outcome a "maybe". The other thing he said he would do was take out the whole planet with one disruptor gun. He actually did do that, so he feels his odds were good. Spock replies that Kirk almost makes him believe in luck. Kirk counters by saying that Spock almost makes him believe in miracles.


Let's talk plot holes: we never see the Vandikarians. We never hear them, either. We just get messages relayed through Eminarian flunkies, who are receiving messages from computers. There's a direct line from the Eminian high council to the Vandikar high council, but no one has used it in several hundred years. For all we know, they don't actually exist. I know that was done because of Budget, but it's possible that Vandikar was made up by the Eminian government, and they've been exterminating their own people for 500 years. So that's my lame-o conspiracy theory for this episode.



Some things that you were not allowed to discuss on television in the 1960's: war, equality among the genders, and race relations (among other things). So what is frequently discussed or addressed on Star Trek? War, gender equality, and race relations. Gene Rod and Co could dance around these issues because it was supposedly science fiction, emphasis on the "fiction". This is one of the things that I really like about this show - whether it reaches a resolution or not, they always try to add in the subjects that make you think. In this case, what if war was neatly packaged? What if one could wage war against someone else that did not include the "messy" parts? It's actually a rather elegant solution. The civilizations continue on, in spite of the differences, and the casualties appear to be chosen by lottery. The thing is, it works better in theory than in practice. As Kirk pointed out, by simplifying things and not allowing the messy bits to occur, the Eminians have allowed the war to drag on for 500 years, at the cost of 3 million dead per year. They've become complacent with this outcome, and have decided that it's easier to just carry on like always and accept it, rather than try to work things out. At the end, Kirk remarks that Eminians are a very "tidy" people with a "tidy" society, and that they'll fall all over themselves to keep it that way, battling the instinct for violence in the name of peace and civilization.




*******

This week's tea is brought to you by Teacup, who for Christmas gave us baked goods, Japanese candy, homemade marmalade, and Comfort and Joy Tea by The Republic of Tea. I was hesitant because the description listed both the C-word and the Other C-word (cinnamon and cloves), neither of which I find enjoyable in larger quantities. But both were subtle, and went well with the black tea and apple bits that the blend boasts. It was good. I would buy some of this. But if you're going to do so, you might want to get it now, because according to the tin, it's a limited edition.

Spoils of war Christmas

Monday, December 23, 2013

Season 1, Episode 22 "The Return of the Archons"

"The Return of the Archons"
Production Number: 22
Air Order: 21
Stardate: 3156.2
Original Air Date: February 9, 1967

Let's start with a pun:

GORNAMENT.

*******


This week, we open on a studio backlot, which is dressed like an old-fashioned city street. Sulu and another dude are booking it away from... something. They're dressed like Ben Franklin, tri-cornered hats and all. Out of places to run, they stop, and Sulu requests an emergency beam-up. They're being advanced upon by monks. Or dementors. Guys with cloaks and sticks.


The other dude gets scared and takes off. Meanwhile, the guys dressed like bottles of Frangelico reach Sulu and touch him with their sticks. He goes stiff and then relaxes before being beamed back aboard the Enterprise.
"Where's O'Neil?" Kirk asks Sulu.
"You're not Of The Body," Sulu replies. Then he gets mad at a Blue Shirt nearby. "You gave us the wrong clothes! They knew we were Archons! These are the right clothes!"" And he throws clothes at the Blue Shirt. Then he blisses the fuck out and says "Landru" dreamily, as though he's hoping Landru will ask him to homecoming.

Sulu + Landru: he ships it.

After the credits break, we get an establishing shot of the Enterprise, as seen from the warp nacelles. I really like this shot. It's an unusual angle, and it looks less like a model when shown this way. I feel like TNG utilized this shot more often.


Kirk's Log 3156.2 The Enterprise is orbiting Beta III, where 100 years earlier, a Starfleet ship named The Archon went down. Kirk had beamed down an away team (Sulu and O'Neil), but one had not come back, and the other had beamed up sans sanity. 
Kirk feels that he has no choice but to beam down himself... with an away team that consists of his second-in-command, his third-in-command, and what one can only assume are three red shirts. So, given that Sulu (4th) is probably holed up in sick bay with Nurse Chapel, then either Uhura or Scotty is currently in charge. While it's totally inadvisable to leave your ship open to danger like that, at least Scotty and Uhura are both competent choices.

I'm totally loving the costuming change on the away team. They look like refugees from Bonanza (as does the set they've used this week). And because they couldn't hide Spock's ears, they've elected to cover them with a short cloak. He looks like he's going to storm the castle to stop Buttercup from marrying Humperdink.


Everyone on the street appears to be as blissed out as Sulu. It's like a rave with no music. The away team is stopped by a guy who smiles too much. Did you know that humans find it psychologically disturbing when someone smiles too much? That's why only some goldfish crackers are the snack that smiles back.
"Hello, you be strangers," smiles Smiley smilingly. He has some sort of weird-ass accent that I can't place. I guess it's supposed to be mid-Western, but I don't really care, and clearly, neither does he, as he keeps slipping in and out of it. "Are you here for the Festival?" he asks.



"Uh, yeah," says Kirk, just making up shit as he goes along.
"You should find a place to sleep, but you better hurry, because the Red Hour is starting in five minutes." Apparently, Smiley is head of the Beta III Bureau of Tourism. "You should sleep at Reger's house." And he randomly grabs a girl from the street. "Tula, these six strangers can sleep at your daddy's house, right?"
"Yep," says Tula, who also smiles too much. But then the clocks chime 6 pm, and Tula suddenly loses her shit.
In fact, Smiley and everyone else on the street does, too. They scream and throw rocks through windows, beat up and rape each other. What a great festival! The away team makes for the house that Smiley pointed out.


They go inside and encounter a group of old men.
"Hey, so we're strangers, but some guy on the street said we could stay here before he flipped out," says Kirk.
"Also," says a Probably Red Shirt, "whoever is Reger, your daughter Tula is outside losing her shit."
"Yeah," says Reger sadly, "that's Landru's will..."
"Hey," says one old dude. "You're young. How come you're not at the Festival?"
"We need lodgings," says Kirk.
Reger leads them upstairs while his friends argue about whether or not to call the Lawgivers on the away team. Apparently, it's not cool to skive off the Festival.
Upstairs, Kirk tells Reger that they're not there for the Festival, and that they want to know about Landru. Reger is hesitant.
Without getting his answer, we skip to the next scene, where Kirk hands out assignments to the away team, figuring they have until morning to gather info. When 6 am rolls around, all the looting stops, and everyone goes back to being smiley and bland.
Downstairs, Tula is back, and she's hysterical. Bones gives her a hypo to sleep, and one of Reger's friends accuses the away team of not attending the Festival.
"Um, are you Archons?" Reger asks Kirk. "It was foretold that more would come."
"Maybe," says Kirk.
Reger's old dude friend Hacom arrives with a pair of Lawgiver Frangelico guards. He turns in the other old dude, Tamar, for mocking the Lawgivers. The Frangelicos pull out metal pipes, but instead of beating him with them, sparks and smoke come out of the end, and he falls to the floor, dead. Then, in robotic voices, the Frangelicos tells Kirk that they're going to absorb him.
"What do you mean, absorb?"
Come on, Kirk. Absorb: indoctrinate, brainwash. Assimilate. Exterminate. Delete. Imperius. To make out with a dementor.
"Landru is gentle," they intone. Just the tip. Landru promises to use lube.
"Fuck that shit," replies Kirk.

Maybe they're just giant jawas.
"The sand people will return in greater numbers
to beat you with metal pipes!"

The Frangelicos turn toward each other and just stop functioning. They just stand there.
"How'd you do that?" asks Spock.
"They're not used to outright disobedience," says Kirk. "They don't know what to do."
Bullshit. Lucky guess, if you guessed at all. They said come, you said no, they backed down, you claimed credit.
Kirk takes one of the Frangelico's weapons, and hands it to Spock, who says it's just a plain metal pipe. It doesn't do anything.
Reger takes the away team outside and everyone is all smiles again. Suddenly, the Betans all stop and pick up rocks and sticks, advancing on them like an angry flash-mob.
"It's Landru!" says Reger.


The away team uses their phasers to stun small groups of the mob, and discover Lieutenant O'Neil, dragging him along behind them. Reger leads them into a building and takes out a secretly-hidden lighted panel. He says it's from Before Landru, and even though no one is positive how long ago that was, they think it might be 6000 years. Spock says this tech is too advanced to match their culture. But he thinks it may match the tech of the energy signal that his sensors are picking up, and which may also match the energy powering those metal pipes.


Reger says that when the Archons first came, they were unruly and resisted Landru. They were either killed or absorbed. Reger is part of an underground resistance movement. Apparently, some people are immune to Landru's power. Tamar, the dead dude, was his contact. Bones gives O'Neil a shot to keep him asleep so O'Neil won't give them away. Reger explains that Landru controls the population by telepathy. They are The Body. Somehow, everyone seems to have forgotten that they have a person upstairs who is Of The Body. Who may be sitting at the helm of the ship, fucking things up in the name of Landru.
Reger then says that Landru was the one who pulled the Archon out of the sky. Spock confirms that that power source could handle that kind of job. Kirk calls the E, and whaddaya know? 
Scotty and Uhura answer. Landru has heat beams trained on the ship. Their shields are holding, but sucking up energy. If they try to use the engines, the shields will fail and they'll fry. But they only have enough power for a 12-hour orbit. Once again, let's play Disable the Ship. Clock time: 12 hours.


Suddenly, Landru appears. Or, you know, a holographic image of Landru appears on the wall. He says they are evil, and a disease, and that Beta III is a world without war or crime or anything evil like that. He says he is going to absorb them. Then he disappears, and a high-pitched sound fills the room. Everyone covers their ears and collapses.

No crime? I think your hairdresser should be arrested.

Kirk's Log 3157.4: "Ship disabled. Scotty in charge. Been kidnapped by Landru. Sucks to be us." 
And again, I have to ask how Kirk makes captain's logs when he is nowhere near the ship.
The group wakes up in a new place, minus Bones, O'Neil, Reger, and one of the Red Shirts. In trying to figure a way out of this predicament, Kirk suggests that they Just Say No again, but Spock says it won't work. He surmises that the Lawgivers reacted before like a computer which has been fed bad data, but will have been trained not to do so again.
A door in the wall opens, and Bones and the other Red Shirt enter with some Frangelicos. Oops, more crew members are Of The Body now. The Frangelicos tell Kirk to come with them. He tells them to fuck off, but they threaten to kill him.
"Told you so," says Spock. "Just go, you dumbass."
Kirk goes with the Frangelicos. They strap him to a device in the wall, and a dude who is dressed like a monk, but not like a Frangelico, turns a machine toward Kirk.


Spock attempts a Mind-Meld on Bones, but doesn't get anywhere because the mind control on the good doctor is too powerful. The door opens. The Frangelicos want Spock. On his way in, he passes Kirk, who is all, "Peace and brainwashed sentiments to you, friend."
Spock is strapped to the wall, and lights flash as the Frangelicos leave.
"Ha!" says the monk. "I'm Marplon, a guy with Reger's resistance group, and you and your captain are fine. Here are your phasers and stuff. Your coming was prophesied. Just act all brainwashed when you leave, 'kay?"
So the Vulcan goes back to his group, spouting tranquility and crap to the Frangelicos.


Kirk, Spock and the remaining Red have to be careful, because the doctor and the other Red are still brainwashed. They quietly form a plan while pacifying Bones with wishes for peace and shit. Spock says the planet has been brainwashed into thinking everything is hunky-dory, and that Landru isn't real.
"Let's pull the plug!" says Kirk.
"What about the Prime Directive?" asks Spock.

WHAT? HOLD THE MOTHERFUCKING COMM BADGE.
Are you serious? We haven't heard a damn thing up until this point about the PD, and so I assumed that it didn't exist yet. It's such a darling of TNG that I thought it hadn't been invented until then. In fact, Kirk spends so much time wiping his boots with the Prime Directive that I not only assumed that it didn't exist yet, but also that it was invented specifically BECAUSE of this dipshit's exploits. And now I come to find that it's been in place the whole time?! Kirk breaks the Prime Directive EVERY. FUCKING. WEEK.

"The Prime Directive is only for growing, thriving cultures," replies Kirk.



No. No, it really is not. If that were the case, any captain (say, YOU) could walk up to a developing culture, decide that they had hit a plateau, and "gift" them with tech or something. Listen to your science officer, Kirk. He knows the rules better than you do.

Reger and Marplon come in, and Bones yells for the Lawgivers. A fistfight starts, and Kirk knocks Bones out before he and Spock take down the Frangelicos. They put on the Lawgiver robes and page the Enterprise. Scotty estimates 6 hours left. Kirk finally recalls that he's got a Landru-ite on board, and orders a guard on him.
"Okay," he says to Marplon and Reger, "give us the full shit on Landru." 
"We had war and strife," says Reger. "Landru was our leader, and fixed things so that we had peace. He took us back to an earlier time." But then Reger starts to doubt his own actions, requesting that he be allowed to submit to the will of Landru.
Spock pinches him, and Kirk makes Marplon take them to the Hall of Audience, where they can talk to Landru. Once inside the Hall, Kirk announces that the Archons have returned and demand to speak with him.

Also, look how dapper Spock is in that shirt and vest. Hella dapper, y'all.

The holographic Landru appears again, and Marplon hides his eyes. It tells Kirk that he will be killed, as well as everyone who has come with him, and everyone who has seen or been in contact with him. Landru refers to it as "cleansing the Body". Kirk tries to reason with it, but Spock reminds him that you can't argue with a projection. So they pull back the curtain. Or, you know, phaser a hole in the wall. *gasp!* The Wizard of Beta III is a computer! Great. Now Spock will never get his heart, and Kirk will never get a brain.

You know what I love best about the computers on this show?
They look like the sort of computers/robots that little kids make
out of cardboard boxes
.

"Makes sense," says Spock. "Computer's idea of perfection is peace, but no soul."
"I am Landru," says the computer. And a bright light shined in their direction supposedly neutralizes their weapons.
"Landru is dead," says Kirk. "Maybe Landru programmed you 6000 years ago, but you are not Landru."
"I am," says the computer. "And you're going to die for the good of The Body."
So Kirk comes up with a new plan: he gives the Landru computer an existential crisis. He tells the computer that by denying the people/Body the freedom to be creative, that it has become evil. And the computer's job is to destroy evil, so it must destroy itself. 
"Are you aiding the Body, or destroying it?" asks Spock.
Pathetically, the computer ends up short-circuiting itself while repeating "Help me! Help me!"


Kirk kind of dusts his hands and strolls from the Hall, suggesting to a Frangelico that he look for another job. Marplon is remarkably calm for a guy who just watched two aliens kill God. Scotty calls to say that the heat rays are gone, and Sulu is back to normal, just in time for his shift.


Kirk's Log 3158.7: They're leaving a sociologist and a team of experts behind to help the culture get back to it's roots.
On the bridge, Spock comments, "That was a remarkable program."
"Yeah, but Landru couldn't give it his soul," counters Kirk. 
The sociologist calls to report that people are highly emotional, and that there have been at least two fistfights already. "It may not be perfect, but it's human."
Yeah... those are not humans.
Spock remarks that humanity has always pined for a society as peaceful and tranquil as the one on Beta III, but has never gotten it.
"Just lucky, I guess," laughs Kirk.



I love this episode. I don't know why, though I suspect that it might be those Bonanza suits. There's just enough in this episode to make it intellectually interesting, but just enough ridiculousness for me to make fun of it. I also hate technology, and anytime a computer is destroyed, i cheer. Team Sarah Connor all the way. And plot holes. My God, the plot holes. I think what happened was that they had a cool backstory, but couldn't fit it all in, and stuff was dropped in the interest of time. For instance, why are some people immune to Landru? Why is it mostly older people? Why are older people who are inside not affected by the Red Hour? Tamar and Reger were immune to Landru, and would have to fake it, but Hacom was not - he turned in Tamar for making fun of the Frangelicos. The older people seemed to have their minds completely to themselves as well. Tula and Smiley, younger people, talked like they were being controlled. Hacom didn't, and he was supposedly with Landru. Did the mind control wear off as one got older and less hot-blooded? Crimony. This is starting to sound more and more like 1984. Eventually, you turn yourself in because you caught yourself cursing Landru?
And what the hell was up with the Red Hour, which is never explained? It starts at 6 pm, and everyone loses it, and destroys everything. The Star Trek Encyclopedia suggests that it may have been a time period set aside for people to have an emotional outlet. I was guessing that it might have been a 12-hour period where the 6000 year old computer briefly lost control over the citizens - a regular glitch. I mean, they were all expecting it, so it clearly comes around at regular intervals, and they call it Festival, so it was probably something they actually enjoyed. It's entirely possible that this might have occurred if the computer had gone long enough without regular maintenance. 
Also, the Archons - it really took Starfleet 100 years to go looking for a ship that was known to have disappeared/gone down over a specific planet?
And what the hell happened to the third Red Shirt that beamed down with the away team?

*******
I'm feeling obligated to not only try the teas we already have in our cupboard, but also ones that are holiday-themed. I guess they figure tea-drinkers are all over holiday-themed stuff, so there's no short supply of teas with those kinds of blends. This time I tried Nutcracker Sweet by Celestial Seasonings. It boasts black tea, vanilla, and cinnamon. I was hesitant when I grabbed it off the shelf, mostly because of the C-word. But I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that cinnamon was used as a spice, and not a flavor. It was subtle. The vanilla had a bolder flavor, but not overwhelming. It was kind of creamy, and sweet, and tasted like a cookie. Going thumbs up with this one.




*******

Let's bookend with another pun.
We have had a brush with fleas of late, and while we are treating for them, we are keeping a close eye on the cats nonetheless. So I was horrified in stumbling upon Uhura the other day, booty-scooting across the carpet. Knowing that fleas will sometimes lead to worms, I panicked and chased her down. Scooping her up to check her backside, I was relieved. It was not worms. Uhura was just trying to deal with some Klingons.
Ba-dum-tissssss.



Also, the Gornament is made by Hallmark, and available in their stores and online: http://www.hallmark.com/products/general/keepsake-ornaments/arena-2995QXI2155_DK/

Monday, December 16, 2013

Season 1, Episode 21 "Tomorrow is Yesterday"

"Tomorrow is Yesterday"
Production Number: 21
Air Order: 19
Stardate: 3113.2
Original Air Date: January 26, 1967

This is why Picard is my captain.


*******

This week's episode starts off not with an establishing shot of the Enterprise, but of Air Force jets on a base. A dude at a radar screen reports to his CO that something just appeared on the screen - no approach - and the CO calls someone to have it investigated as a UFO. A plane takes off, and we hear the Star Trek theme music as the Enterprise floats across a cloud-filled sky. The effect is kind of crappy and pasted-on-looking, but I'm not gonna fault them for it because it gets the point across and because this show tries a lot of special effects that kinda-sorta work. Points for at least trying.


So I'm sure people tuning in for the first time were confused when they got a pre-credits scene with Air Force officers instead of Starfleet. "WTH? I tuned in to watch Star Trek. What is this, I Dream of Jeannie?" I like it. The story people stepped out of the bridge-shaped box and showed us another side of the story. A Command Gold star for them. It's a bit like Balance of Terror (S1, E9) when we go on board the Romulan ship. I know it's more costly, but I like when we get a break from the same old bridge shots.


Kirk's Log 3113.2: The Enterprise got sucked into the gravitational pull of a black star. They threw the warp engines into reverse and it shot them back in in time to their present location.
Everybody gets up off the floor and does damage control, checking what works and what doesn't. Now taking bets as to how long Scotty claims he'll need to fix the ship, and how it long it actually takes.
Spock reports that they are inside Earth's atmosphere, and have the energy to propel themselves into orbit and remain there. Uhura says that she can't get a hold of Starfleet command, but they are picking up air-to-ground communications. A news reporter talks about the upcoming moon shot.
"That was in the late 1960's!" says Kirk.
"Yep, that's when we are," replies Spock.


That plane catches up to them and the bridge crew can hear his transmissions. Sulu is attempting to limp the ship away from the missile-carrying jet, but not getting there quickly enough. Kirk orders them to tractor the plane in, but the material isn't strong enough, and the jet starts to break down. Kirk has the pilot beamed aboard.


Down in the transporter room, Kirk checks out the pilot like he's a newbie yeoman. He gives Kirk his name, rank and serial number like a good little officer. He is Captain John Christopher.
"Cool!" says Kirk. "I'm a captain, too! Twinsies!"
Because he's never encountered time travel, Kirk invites Christopher to the bridge and tells him all about the ship. He explains that they're part of the United Earth Space Probe Agency. Great. We're back to Yoospa again. Can we please just pick a governing body and stick with it?

"Wait, you let your women out of the kitchen?"

Up on the bridge, Spock pulls Kirk aside to say that Christopher's plane is toast, and that by beaming the pilot aboard, he may have fucked up all the shit. It's okay, Kirk. Here's how you tell if you fucked up all the shit: get a picture of yourself and your siblings. Attach it to the neck of your electric guitar. Play Johnny B Good at the high school dance. If no one disappears from your photo, then you have successfully not fucked up all the shit. Also, avoid dating your MILFy mom.
"Good to know," Kirk tells Spock.


Kirk invites Christopher to chat in his office. They've given the pilot some new threads - a command gold uniform. Kirk talks to the computer, and when it responds, it isn't Majel Barrett efficiency. It's all a purry come-hither mess. It calls Kirk "dear".
Spock says that when they last did computer maintenance, it was at a starbase on a planet dominated by women, and it would take three weeks to overhaul it to get rid of Slutty Siri. I'm facepalming, you guys. Uhura on the bridge takes us two steps forward in feminism and equality. This computer program takes us back three or four. At least we get to see Kirk squirm here.
Christopher is thoroughly amused. "Wish I could be here to see how things work out with your girlfriend."
Damn. Dude is on board for 10 minutes and even he ships Kirkerprise.
"Yeah, about that," says Kirk. "You can't go home because you know too much. Sorry if I fucked up all of your shit."
Christopher, who has probably seen "It's A Wonderful Life", points out that if he disappears, things will change.
"No, I Googled you," says Spock. "You don't do anything significant," which is a lousy thing to say to someone.


Christopher points out that he's married with kids. Spock looks mildly interested, but Kirk pages Scotty.
"I can give you engines in four hours," says Scotty, "but where the hell are we gonna go?"
"Ha!" says Christopher. "You douchebags are stuck here too!"

Kirk's Log 3113.7: "Engines being repaired. Nowhere to go. Have a guy on board that we have to keep, but don't want."
Kirk threatens the computer with scrapping and it responds in a pouty voice. I really hope this is the only episode with this crappy side-plot. I know it's for laughs, but it's really not that funny.
Spock pages Kirk, saying he wants to see both captains. But Christopher isn't answering his page. Kirk alerts the Red Shirts. In the meantime, Christopher takes out a Red Shirt in the corridor, steals his phaser, and demands that the dude in the transporter room send him back to Earth. Kirk comes in and knocks him out.


Down in sick bay, Kirk and Bones chat about the implications of having to stay in this time period, and of going Back To The Future with Christopher. Spock enters and announces that he made a mistake, which delights Bones to no end. Seems Christopher is supposed to have a son who hasn't been born yet, who heads some important Saturn mission. Everyone but Spock dreamily imagines spawning males.



So there's a problem: Christopher's plane wreckage went down in Nebraska, and contains recorded information about the Enterprise. They need to get it back from the base. Christopher offers to sketch the layout of the base for them.
Sulu and Kirk beam down to the base, where they break into an office and marvel at an old-ass computer system.
"I've seen one of these in a museum," says Kirk.
Funny, so have I.
They grab some reel-to-reel tapes, but an Air Force officer bursts in. He demands their Batman utility belts and Sulu's purse.


An antsy Bones and Spock try to contact Kirk and Sulu, but the AF officer has the comms. Our boys in blue beam up the signal. And that kids, is how Spock and Bones fucked up all the shit, too.


Kirk's Log 3113.9: "Spock recording. Because there was not quite enough drama in this episode, we beamed up a second person."
Kirk pages Spock and asks that the AFO be kept in the transporter room as damage control. He and Sulu grab more tapes and stuff them into the bag, which was apparently left behind. They sneak into the photo lab and steal the reel of negatives that Christopher took of the Enterprise, but they're given away by some sort of security device. Sulu beams up with the evidence while Kirk starts a fistfight with the officers.


Up top, Spock examines the evidence and tells Scotty to turn on the engines to test his theory of how to get back to the correct time. Bones loses his shit with Spock over the captain, the same way he always does when Kirk idiotically takes off and gets himself trapped.


Downstairs, Kirk is being interrogated by by the AFOs that grabbed him. He kind of gives them the run-around, and they mess with his Away Team stuff.
"For pulling a B&E on the Air Force, I'm gonna lock you up for 200 years!"
And I swear to Zod, Kirk breaks the fourth wall to say dryly, "Yeah, that should just about do it."



In the briefing room, Christopher says he knows where the AFOs probably took Kirk, but he'll only tell them if they take him along. Spock hesitantly agrees, and he, Sulu and Christopher beam down in front of the amazed AFO stow-away. The stow-away is further amazed when the transporter dude orders him up some chicken soup from the replicator.


The boys karate-chop their way into the interrogation room to rescue Kirk, but Christopher pulls a pistol on them as they're preparing to leave. Luckily, Spock anticipated this and takes him down with a Vulcan nerve pinch.

Kirk's Log 3114.1: "Scotty and Spock have a theory as to how to get us the hell out of here."

So all of the science in this episode revolves around the slingshot method. They got into this pickle because the black star pulled them in, and their engine reverse snapped them back in time. Now they propose that getting too close to the sun will send them back in time to before the incident with the tractor beam, where they will drop Christopher and Sargent Stow-Away. Then they will reverse the engines to go forward in time. Somehow, the chronometer will magically keep track of where they are in time, rather than continuing to keep time from the 24th century.

 

So again, I have zero knowledge of warp engines, but this sounds like a lot of crappola to me. "If we reverse away from the gravitational pull of the sun really fast, it'll allow us to travel in time." Oh, Star Trek. Your saving grace here is that no one has actually figured out how to travel in time. Yet.


The model shots of the ship kind of jerking in space are super fake-looking, but we'll shrug it off again, this time because it seems they hadn't figured out that ships in space don't move like ships on the water... they move like ships under water. Plus, it's kind of amusing when they all rock in unison like that.


They reach the beaming point for Christopher and beam him down at around the time they beamed him up. He simply reports back that the UFO disappeared.


So, I have a problem with the beaming of Sargent Stow-Away. They beam him back to when he's still in the corridor at the base, just as he's about to nab Sulu and Kirk in the computer room. BUT - instead of beaming his essence back into his body, as they appear to do, wouldn't it beam another physical version of him onto the base? He didn't actually beam up until several minutes later, so wouldn't beaming him back early convolute the timeline far more?


They start moving forward again through the decades, apply the brakes about forty years in the past, and magically arrive right when they need to. It's a rough ride, with more of that rocking ship in space nonsense, but they know things are fine when Starfleet hails them.


Places where this episode went right: opening with shots of the air force base, which is a nice break from the regular shots of the Enterprise.
Places where this episode needed work: wonky science concerning space travel and beaming.


*******

This week's tea is "Bengal Spice", an herbal tea by Celestial Seasonings. The package says it has cinnamon, ginger, and cardamon. I was kind of okay with this, because I love ginger and cardamon. I usually swap out the cinnamon called for in fruit-based recipes with ginger and cardamon, because I feel like cinnamon is really over-done, and overpowers the fruit taste. That was kind of the case here as well. It's a bit like liquefied Red Hots, without the bite. If you like cinnamon, this is your cup of Earl Grey. If you don't, back away slowly.

The tiger on the box is pretty bad-ass, but I've just realized that the
website says that it's their take on chai. No wonder. I don't
like chai.





Roomie and Dubs: "Look, look, look! The White Menace is
snuggling with the DVD case! You should take a picture, and put it on your blog!"
Ladies and gentlemen, The White Menace.