Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, February 3, 2014

Season 1, Episode 28 "The City on the Edge of Forever"

"The City on the Edge of Forever"
Production Number: 28
Air Order: 30
Stardate: Not given
Original Air Date: April 6, 1967

This show has made me an armchair philosopher. I was at the pharmacy today, waiting for a prescription, when an older gentleman approached the counter to pick up meds for himself and his wife. I found myself wondering what kind of meds they were, if they were life-saving pills they need to take to stay alive, or if it was something minor, like antibiotics to fend off an ear infection. If they were life-saving pills, how long had they been keeping this couple alive? This line of thinking lead me down a rabbit-hole of other thoughts, about how modern medicine has now extended the life expectancy of the human race, saving the lives of people whose diseases and injuries would have been fatal a mere hundred years ago. Are we tempting fate? Could we one day end up like Miri's people, attempting to extend life to much greater proportions, only to fall ill and basically destroy ourselves? Are we pissing off nature, who has created natural enemies and illnesses for humans, in order to control the population?
"Knock it off," I told myself, as I signed for my prescription. "You're being paranoid."
Then I opened the bottle and discovered that natural selection intended for me to choke to death on horse pills. Apparently, I will be restoring the balance myself.

*******


This week we open on the bridge. The E is orbiting a planet, and moving through rifts in time, which is causing turbulence. Apparently, something or someone on the planet's surface is causing those disturbances in time. The helm blows up, knocking Sulu out. They go to autopilot and Kirk asks Uhura to send his logs from that week to Starfleet, just in case. Kirk, you get a Command Gold Star for thinking ahead. Good job, buddy.
Bones gives Sulu a hypo of something temperamental to fix him up, and Kirk briefly questions whether or not that's a good idea. But Sulu is now fine, and Bones says, "You went to medical school right, Jim? No? Then shut your pie-hole."
Suddenly, the ship rocks forward, and Bones stumbles, accidentally injecting himself with the rest of the hypo.


Uh-oh. Bones has become a raving, paranoid lunatic. He runs off the bridge screaming that everyone is a killer, and disappears in the lift.
Kirk's Log, supplemental: Two drops of that stuff given to Sulu was enough to save him, but a full hypo induces madness. And now McCoy is loose in the ship.
All decks are on alert, and everyone is searching for him, but the transporter tech is not paying attention, and Bones takes him out with ease, transporting himself to the surface.
"Fucksocks," says Spock. "He beamed into the middle of that temporal disturbance."
"Gonna be dangerous," says Kirk. "I better head up the away team myself."
He's taking, Spock, Scotty and Uhura (plus two Reds), so I guess the recently-injured Sulu is in charge? Honestly, I can't think of another organization where the leader puts himself and his command chain in so many precarious positions. I totally understand why the first conversation that Riker has with Picard is "Your ass doesn't leave the ship. Ever."


The away team beams into some ruins and they explore, looking for Bones. He comically pops up from behind a rock, but no one notices.


Spock and Kirk scan a round-ish thing, and Spock says that it's "10,000 centuries old" (you mean, 1,000,000?), that it's neither being nor machine, and that it's the cause of the time rifts.

Anyone else think the Guardian of Forever looks like bohemian jewelry?

"Sweet!" says the round thing in a James Earl Jones voice. "Been hoping for someone to talk to. I'm the Guardian of Forever, and I'm both the beginning and the end."
"Why you gotta talk in riddles?" demands Spock.
"I'm phrasing it in a way that you can understand," the Guardian replies. Every time it speaks, it flashes light.
"Oh. Courteous," says Spock, because he too believes that humans need to have things dumbed down for them.
"Here's some of your history," says the Guardian, and scenes from Earth's past flash by.


"Oh, it's like a time portal," says Spock.
"To put it primitively," the Guardian replies, which ruffles Spock's feathers.
"Ha!" crows Kirk. "Welcome to the Dumbfuck Table, Mr Spock."
Not gonna lie. After all of Spock's speeches about how stupid humans are, I had to snicker at his being lumped in with us idiots.
No one is paying attention to Bones, who jumps out at them and declares them to be murderers. But it's six against one, and they easily overpower him and knock him out.
"Hey," says Kirk. "Could we go back in time and prevent Bones from getting hypo'd?"
"Nope," says the Guardian. "This is all I got, like photo slides. I can flip through them from the beginning, but you can't pick a place and time."
Bones comes to suddenly, and hops through the portal. The guardian must be pissed that Bones didn't even buy it dinner first.


"Um, my comm isn't working," says Uhura. Scotty's isn't, either.
"Your friend changed something," says the Guardian. "So now your ship doesn't exist. Butterfly wings and shit."
Well, fuck. Now our intrepid explorers are trapped in BFE: Space, and nothing as they know it exists, and their ship is gone, and no one knows that they are there. You want to know the saddest part? Wherever and whenever they are, there is no George Takei. How terribly unfair.

Kirk's Log, no stardate because time is all FUBAR'd. McCoy has effed things up.

"We can't survive here... we're all wearing red!"

Spock was recording the images when Bones jumped, and he thinks he can get an approximate handle on where he and Kirk should follow. The Guardian says that if they are successful, they will be returned like nothing happened.
"You should try it too," Kirk tells the others. "If you get trapped, make yourself a nice life in that time."
Really? So if Uhura lands herself in the South during the Civil War...?
Then Kirk and Spock jump. They land in the US during the Depression, about a week before Bones is due. Unfortunately, people on the street notice their Starfleet jammies and Spock's ears.


Kirk spies laundry drying on a fire escape and steals the clothes. When they're caught by a cop, Kirk stupidly starts trying to talk his way out of Spock's appearance rather than the fact that he's brazenly stealing shit. Here is the actual story he tells the cop while clutching a bundle of someone else's clothes:
"My friend is... Chinese. He was in an accident as a child, where he got caught in a mechanical... rice picker. And an American missionary nearby happened to be a plastic surgeon."

"I think he's buying it."
"Are you high, Jim?"

Oh, man. Too many jokes. Should I go for blatant racism? Sheer ridiculousness? The fact that he can't process that what the cop wants is an explanation of why he's stealing clothes?
Despite the fact that there were a number of people watching, Spock pinches the cop, and they bolt with the clothes, ending up in the basement of a building. Coincidentally, there's a beanie in that pile of clothing for Spock to hide his rather prominent Legolas implants.
Spock tells Kirk that he needs to build a computer of sorts to hook up to his scanner, but this time in history really sucks for tech.
The upstairs door opens and a woman comes in. She's gets a bit of the old Girl-O-Vision when she asks what they're doing there.


"Baby, it's cold outside," says Kirk.
"BS," she counters. I like her.
"Okay. We were being chased by the cops. We stole some clothes because we don't have any money," Kirk offers.
"I'm Edith Keeler," she says, "and I run this mission. If you help me clean it, I'll pay you 15 cents an hour for a 10-hour shift."
There it is, you guys: proof that at one point, full-time jobs existed! And they paid better, too!
The boys go upstairs to the soup kitchen, and when they sit down, the guy sitting next to them tells them that they'll have to pay for their soup by listening to Edith yak. He starts to say that he'd rather Edith sucked his dick, but Kirk tells him to shut the fuck up. I'm having this weird feeling, you guys. It's new and different. I think it's respect for Kirk.


So here comes Edith with a book, and she hops onto a small stage, and I groan inside, because here comes the religious lecture. But it's not. Instead, she talks about science and space travel, and things of that nature to look forward to in the future. I damn-near fall out of my chair.
Here's the thing: having Edith give a religious lecture is appropriate for that time and setting, which is why it didn't surprise me when she appeared with her book. Especially in a missionary. And I was shocked when it wasn't that. When you offer hungry people soup there's a trade-off. It should be "I will give food to this hungry person, and while they receive nourishment, I will get the warm fuzzies that come from helping my fellow man, and become a better person." It's a bit of the old Golden Rule. But all too often that trade-off is "I'll give you this bowl of soup if you convert to my religion." I have zero respect for that. Dangling a desperately-needed thing over someone's head, and then adding that the price is their immortal soul, is a scummy thing to do. Edith side-steps this conundrum by talking instead about how there's hope for the future. I like this chick. Kirk does too. Only not in his skeevy Zapp Branningan way.
Later, Edith tells Kirk that he and Spock did a killer job cleaning, and that she knows of a place where they can rent a room to sleep.

Some time has passed when we next see our boys. Spock has partially built a radio. Kirk returns to their domestic bliss with groceries, and Spock says that he needs some platinum.
"Seriously?" asks Kirk. "Why don't you walk into the middle of the bubonic plague and request a vaccine?"
"These materials suck," pouts Spock.
Edith enters without knocking. Rude - what if she had interrupted their Alone Time? Anyway, she has a job for them. She notices Spock's "mnemonic memory device" and he sarcastically says that he's making a gadget with stone tools.


The next evening while they are cleaning at the mission, Spock spies a guy fixing a broken chair using tiny tools for fine work. He picks the combo lock on the mission's tool box and takes them, but Edith confronts him. Kirk assures her that Spock really needs them for his project, and that the tools will be returned the next day. She agrees to look the other way if Kirk will walk her home.

"Sure, I'll walk you home. But I'd like to sell you some paper towels first."

Outside, Edith says that Kirk and Spock don't fit in and she guesses that Kirk is his CO. He admits that they serve together, but he refuses to say where.
Back at the room, Spock gets his thingy to work for a few seconds, and the screen shows Edith Keeler's obituary. Oops.
Kirk comes back from his quasi-date, and they take another look. This time, it shows them a newspaper article saying that Edith will meet with FDR.
"So there are two possible futures," says Spock. "Either Edith will die this week, or she'll have some sort of historical significance in the next few years. Only one of those things will happen, and we have to figure out which one will set us back on the correct timeline. I'm sorry, Jim. You're dating Schrodinger's cat."
Unfortunately, the machine blows a fuse, so there's no way for them to know. Spock tells Kirk that he'll need two days to fix it.


Out on the street, Bones hops out of the Guardian of Forever. I kind of expected to hear the TARDIS noise, but I didn't, so I'm a bit sad about that. Holy crap, does he look like shit. Kudos to the make-up team this week. He scares the holy hell out of some hobo, and the guy takes off with certifiable Bones at his heels.


Kirk walks Edith home again, and gives her some shit about man landing on the moon. She laughs and says they think alike.
Meanwhile, Bones has decided that they're in some alien museum that's set up to look like old-school Earth. He gropes the hobo to be sure. Then Bones collapses, and the hobo returns the favor by stealing his phaser. Too bad he doesn't know what it is, and he accidentally sets it to "kill."


The next morning, Bones stumbles into the mission. He looks like death warmed over, and Edith helps him onto a cot in the office.
That night, Spock pulls a Scotty and has the machine running well enough to give them the whole story: Edith leads the pacifist movement, which delays the entry of the US into WWII. The delay is just long enough for the Axis Powers to finish developing the A-bomb, and Germany wins the war.
"Edith was right about people using money and resources to help their fellow man," says Kirk.
"Yeah, but at the wrong time," says Spock. "She has to die."
"That sucks," says Jim. "I'm in love with her."


Bones wakes up lucid, but because he can't remember how he got there, he tells Edith that he's pretty sure that she's a hallucination. Being a good serviceman, he gives her his name and rank.

Back at the boarding house, Kirk and Edith are flirting on the stairs. She stumbles and starts to fall, but he catches her. Edith thanks him with a kiss. When she goes back to her room, Spock points out that she might have died falling down the stairs had Kirk not stopped it.
"Just fuck off," says Kirk, who is already aware that he really doesn't have it in him to let the little space girl die.

Edith checks on Bones and finds that he's much better. During a friendly exchange, she remarks that it's funny that he doesn't know who Clark Gable is. In their last encounter, she noted that she kept meeting men who referred to Earth in strange ways. Edith has the puzzle pieces, but can't figure out how they fit together. Anyway, she has to go, because she has a date.

Edith is played by Joan Collins, who can't seem to recall if the part she's
playing is English or American, as her accent keeps slipping. She sounds
like a Companion every time she calls Bones "Doctah".

Kirk and Edith leave the mission, and Edith says she's looking forward to the Clark Gable movie. Kirk says "who?" and she laughs and says that Doctah McCoy said that, too. She says he's at the mission, and Kirk gets all excited, running across the street yelling for Spock. Bones come out of the front door just as Kirk and Spock reach that point, and there's an OT3 reunion with hugs and shouting.
Edith steps off the curb into the street toward them. Both Bones and Kirk see the truck that she doesn't see, and they start forward, but Kirk grabs Bones at the last moment and holds him there.
A screech of tires, a scream, some bystanders gathered around Edith's body.


Kirk clutches at Bones, who does not understand. Just to pile on the guilt, Bones hisses that he could have saved Edith if Kirk had not deliberately kept him from it. Kirk literally goes into a corner to cry.
Ow, my feels.


The boys come back through the portal, and Scotty tells them that they just left a moment ago.
"You solved it!" says the Guardian. "Everything is back to normal. Want to play again?"
The Guardian of Forever is an insensitive dick, you guys.
Kirk clearly wants to tell it to get fucked, but he's quiet until Uhura reports that the E is back. 
Then he requests a beam-up.



Aaaargh! Fuck you, Star Trek! You finally wrote a character that I could reasonably ship with Kirk, then you killed her off. She wasn't a whiny, bitchy damsel like Rand, and she wasn't some girl of the week like Lenore Karidian. She was strong, goal-oriented, and kind. What's more, she called Kirk on all of his BS, and didn't bother in inflate his already gigantic ego.  She wins "Are You as Awesome as Uhura?" without even having to play. This girl was actually suited to him, but you made it so that she had to die in order for history to proceed as usual. You killed Edith - you bastards!

This is another one of those heavy "thinking" episodes. Last week we got "war is kind of stupid" where the federation and the Klingons were insisting that they be able to fight one another, to the point where it became ridiculous. This week we got "war is sometimes necessary". Was that intentional? Oh my God, yes. This episode was meant to be a counter-point to the peace movement during the Vietnam war. It kind of surprises me that during the 1960's one was not allowed to talk about the war or equality movements on tv, yet both of those topics were regular contenders on Star Trek. "No, it's okay. It's just science-fiction. No one is paying attention." Sometimes I wonder if television executives can find their asses with both hands.

*******

I keep ending up at Starschmucks, you guys. This in itself is unusual, because coffee hates me, but it seems like all of my friends want to meet there to hang out, and there are only so many "hang outs" where one can get away with paying less than $10 rent on a table to stay all day. Ever the multi-tasker, I've been ordering tea so I can then report back on it and scratch something else off my to-do list.
I walked in and asked the guy what kind of tea they have, because my glasses broke nearly a year ago, and I haven't had the money to replace them, and I can't read the freaking menu.
 All of their teas are Tazo, and included Calm (chamomile), the Vanilla Rooibos that got such mixed results, and Passion (passionfruit and hibiscus). There were some others, but I was distracted, and don't recall what else he said they carried. I walked in upset, and probably should have gotten Calm, but Passion sounded better. It was about $2 for the oddly-named "tall" size.
I'm not certain of the base, but it was red like a rooibos, and I was once again shocked by the ginormous size of the Tazo tea bags, which are like knapsacks of dried leaves. I swear half of that "tall" cup is filled by the teabag.
Passion is pretty good, mellow and fruity, though not as fruity as that Adagio Fruit Sangria. It has some notes of the hibiscus, which is also good, though I'm always weirded out when I admit that flowers taste good. Seems like they shouldn't, seeing as how perfume tastes like Lysol.
And now I have PTSD from that last Sherlock episode. *shudder*
I think I prefer the Passion as part of their PassionTea Lemonade, which is a guilty-pleasure drink for me, and one which I typically only buy if someone has given me a Starschmucks giftcard. Overall, though, it's a nice herbal tea.

Blog Buddy Oscar Wilde

5 comments:

  1. Hey! The first review of an episode I've seen. (I think. I'll have to trawl the archives at some point.) I remember liking this one. And I definitely remember the feels...

    Thank you for introducing me to "fucksocks." I'm envious, to say the least.

    Also: "So if Uhura lands herself in the South during the Civil War...?"

    Dying.


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    1. Sadly, I cannot take credit for fucksocks, which was penned by my favorite author Christopher Moore. (If one is so inclined, one may actually purchase fucksocks here: http://www.throx.com/home.html )

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  2. I wanted to edit my comment: "'Fool' is one of my favorite books!", but "delete" seemed the only option - oops! Anyhoo, I believe "fucksocks" is from "Fool". I loved this episode of ST TOS. I always get choked up!

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    1. It is in Fool, but I think it was first used by Abby Normal in either "A Dirty Job" or "You Suck: A Love Story." And most definitely in "Bite Me." :)

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    2. I loved those books! I should read them again (it's been a while).

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