Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, February 10, 2014

Season 1, Episode 29 "Operation -- Annihilate!"

"Operation Annihilate!"
Production Number: 29
Air Order: 29
Stardate: 3287.2
Original Air Date: April 13, 1967

Leonard Nimoy has COPD. He wants all of his Trek fans to quit smoking so they don't get it, too. Auntie Archon approves. She has watched two family members die of emphysema, and it's pretty awful. Please Live Long and Prosper, friends.


We open in the midst of a crisis. The Enterprise is entering a part of the galaxy where mass insanity has taken over civilizations, first the more ancient ones and then the next in line centuries later. Finally, a planet two years before the E showed up. The last one in the line is Deneva, and the Enterprise crew is hoping that the insanity hasn't spread that far yet. As they are approaching the planet, Uhura's hails going unanswered, they encounter a one-man space vessel whose destination is the sun. The man in the ship ignores their hails and pleas to stop, and they are unable to keep him from incinerating himself.
"Free at last!" he yells over the comm before burning up.
Defeated, the E turns back to Deneva.
"Hey, Jim," says Bones. "Isn't your brother Sam and his family stationed there?"
Dramatic music!

Kirk's Log 3287.2: The insanity making its way across the galaxy has already reached Deneva, which was colonized a century earlier.
Deneva is part of a freighter route. When Uhura is unable to raise the planet through regular channels, Kirk gives her a private transmitter signal to try. They briefly get a woman's voice asking for help, and Kirk calls her Aurelan, but the transmission is lost right away. Aurelan is Kirk's sister-in-law.
He decides to beam down with Spock, Bones, Scotty, a yeoman, and a Random Red.

They beam into the capitol city, which appears to be deserted. Spock reports over 100,000 people in the city, but almost no activity. As they walk around, I try to discern where this was filmed. Modern art museum? College? (IMDB says Aerospace campus, which explains the buildings and modern sculpture.)

Suddenly, a group of men in jumpsuits comes running at them, brandishing clubs.
"We don't want to hurt you!" they shriek. They actually sound pretty sincere about that.
The away team stuns them, and Bones does a scan.
"Too much brain activity for being knocked out," he muses.

They hear a scream and go running into a building. A brunette in super-fugly Future Clothes is trying to cover a vent and yells that "they're here!" Kirk grabs her to calm her down, and Bones gives her a hypo. She's Aurelan, and Kirk's brother Sam is on the floor dead next to their unconscious son, Peter. Sam is played by The Shat here. Some guys who have baby faces look better with facial hair (season one Will Riker versus seasons 2-7), but in this case, it's weird. The Shat looks funny in a stache.

Bones beams up Aurelan, their kid, and Kirk. Spock is now in charge of the away team.
Upstairs, Kirk asks Aurelan what happened. She chokes out that "things" came from another infected planet with a ship's crew eight months earlier. The things need a human host, and are using the Denevans to build ships to get to get to more planets. They control the host through pain, which is why she's having trouble getting the info out. Then she screams and dies. (BTW, Peter is heavily sedated. We never actually see him conscious.)

As always, I thought I knew this actress from somewhere, but
it turns out that she hasn't been in anything I've seen before.

Kirk beams back down, reappearing on a set of stairs, like some avenging angel. I have to object here - why stairs? Seems like an unnecessarily risky beam. What if he had immediately tripped and broken his neck?

He meets the away team, who are about to investigate a weird buzzing sound. They go into some sort of courtyard and encounter what can easily be described as the Nickelodeon toy Gak, or fake vomit. It looks like something that Gordon Ramsey finds in the back of a walk-in refrigerator in a diner in the mid-west. It flies like a bat and makes squeaking/farting noises. The team sets their phasers to kill, but when they knock one down and scan it, it's not dead and it doesn't register on the tricorder as a life-form.

"Let's GTFO," says Kirk, and they foolishly turn their backs to leave.
One flies up and attaches to Spock's back. Kirk is able to pry it off, and cradles his boyfriend.
"Spock, are you alright?" For some reason, this line warrants dramatic music and a commercial break, rather than the action of the thing jumping onto Spock's back. Okay, whatever.

In sick bay, Bones and Nurse Chapel are doing exploratory surgery on a puncture wound on Spock's back. He keeps coming out of anesthesia. Bones tells Chapel that they're going to close up, and she protests, as "there is more in his system that needs to be removed". He gets mad and yells at her to help him close up.

Yay, Christine is back! I wish they'd stop screwing with her hair
color, though.

Bones takes a specimen cup full of water and jellyfish tentacles to Kirk on the bridge. Spock, Aurelan, and the nephew Peter are full of them. He explains that when the thing attacks, it leaves a stinger, like a bee, and puts out these tentacles, which then wrap around the nervous system. There's no way to get them out. Spock and Peter are screwed.
Spock wakes up and busts out of sick bay. He ends up on the bridge, and throws Sulu out of his chair, trying to take the ship. There's a struggle, and they manage to hold him down and hypo him. Then they tie him to the sick bay bed.

Spock wakes up in the bed later, and tries to convince Kirk and Bones that he can control his pain and the madness that comes with it. "Fuck my human side. Untie me."
"Can't risk it," says Kirk. "Maybe later."
Kirk and Bones leave, and Spock musters some Vulcan control to break his restraints. He hits the transporter room, requesting a beam-down. When Scotty objects, Spock tries to pull rank. Spock easily overpowers the other Red in the room, but Scotty pulls a phaser and calls Kirk.
Kirk and Bones show up with a pair of armed Reds. Spock logicks the hell out of the situation, explaining that he has the pain under control, that they still need a Thing to study, and that as someone who is already infected, he's a prime candidate.
"Agreed," says Kirk, after a bit of thinking. He arms Spock, and beams him down. Bones pitches a fit, saying he's too sick, but Kirk brushes him off.

On the surface, Spock is immediately attacked by a Jumpsuit with a giant key or something. It's a doodad, a ring on a pole. Anyway, Spock puts the Jumpsuit down easily, because Vulcans are the Chuck Norris of alien races. Overcoming another wave of pain, he returns to the courtyard and collects a Thing.
Up in a science lab that we've never seen before, Spock is examining the Thing under glass. Bones tries to sneak in a scan of him.
"Bitch, I'm working here," says Spock, waving him off.
"Excuse me for caring," counters Bones.
"I think it's like a single brain cell," Spock tells Kirk.
Kirk attempts science. "So they're each part of a larger entity. That's totally new and different."
Not really, dude. It's like an army. Each individual is working toward the same goal. Not new or different at all.

Later, in the same lab, Bones and Christine explain to Kirk that they can find no way of killing Thing, let alone how to kill it while saving the human host. Or rather, Bones explains this. Christine is simply photobombing every shot. She's been in three scenes so far, and has only had like, four lines in one of them. Holy crap, Majel Barrett is under-utilized.
Kirk is frustrated because he might have to kill Spock, Peter, and a million Denevans to keep the Thing from spreading across the universe. Ten galleons says the Thing is a space buffalo.

Kirk's Log 3289.8: "This situation sucks."
Kirk calls an officer's meeting. That POC yeoman is there, probably to record stuff. I like her. She doesn't have any lines, but she seems competent at her job, and she isn't throwing herself at Kirk. Bet we'll never see her again.
So Bones says that they can't exterminate a million people, including Spock and Peter. Spock says that they have to kill a million Denevans in order to save billions of others in the galaxy. Kirk says that neither solution is a good one, and wants a third. How realistic, Kirk. Bet the old USS Mary Sue will pull it off, though. Let's see if Spock Disables the Ship first.

In Kirk's quarters a bit later, the OT3 meets to talk about the fact that they have bupkis. Kirk attempts science again by saying that the Denevan who flew his ship into the sun somehow seemed to have gotten rid of the Thing. They list features of the sun.
"How about light?" Kirk finally asks. "Those creatures were hanging out in the shade."
They agree to try light, and put the Thing in a room in yet another science lab.
Damn. All the money for this episode must have gone into building new lab sets. Wonder if we'll ever see them again.
Everyone puts on ski goggles and they throw the switch.

Go Go, Star Trek Rangers!

The Thing has died.
"Now me," says Spock. "I'll guinea pig it for you."
Bones tries to talk him out of it, but they need a human to experiment on, so he gives in. Then he tries to give Spock goggles to wear in the room, but Spock refuses, as the Denevans won't have any.
Why not? You can't figure out a way to give them protective eyewear?
"You'll fry your eyes," says Bones.
You know, usually these episodes are Spirk-heavy, but with Bones' concern for Spock's well-being, this week I'm feelin' the Spocoy love.
Spock decides to risk the eye damage and climbs in. Bones throws the switch. When Spock steps out a few moments later, he says that the Thing within him has died, but that he's blind.
"Worth it," he declares.
I wonder what kind of guide dog he'll get. Please, let it be this one.

Christine rushes in with the test results from the death of the first Thing.
"Um..." says Bones. "Looks like ti was only killed by one kind of light, and I threw the switches for all of them. Overkill."
"Asshole!" yells Kirk. "You blinded my boyfriend for no reason!" He may also be jealous of the Spock and Bones' love.
"Chill, broseph," says Spock. "I hopped into that chair before we got the full test results back. Totes my fault."
Yeah it was. That was shoddy scientific method. Bad Spock. Bad.

Back on the bridge, they've deployed 210 satellites around the planet and are preparing to turn them on.
Um, where did they get 200 satellites? Do they just carry that many around with them?
They turn on the satellites to shine the lights on Deneva. On the surface, the Things begin falling off the walls and ceiling, like flapjacks at a diner with an inexperienced grill cook. And like those flapjacks, they smoke and leave greasy stains on everything.

Kirk calls sick bay to tell Bones that the plan worked.
"Cool," sighs Bones, who is having a pity party.
"It wasn't your fault," says Kirk, trying to make up for the fact that he yelled at the doctor. He probably doesn't want to keep sleeping on the couch.
Bones doesn't answer.

Kirk is talking to the cool yeoman when she finally gets two lines: "Captain! It's Mr Spock!" It would have been nice if she'd had a bigger part, but we got two women of color in decent jobs on television in the 60's, so I'll take it.

Anyway, she was drawing Kirk's attention to the fact that Spock has just casually strolled onto the bridge, eyesight returned.
"Sorry," he says. "Vulcan has a really bright sun, so we developed nictitating membranes. I forgot I had that. Guess I had my eyes closed, in a manner of speaking."
Vulcans have cat eyes. I seriously grow more envious of this race every day.

Vulcans have this, the lucky bastards.

So Spock and Bones trade more barbs that make you want to say "just kiss already!" and they all live happily ever after.

A couple of questions left that we're probably supposed to ignore:
- They never wrapped up the Peter sub-plot. There's a deleted scene where Kirk tells his nephew that he's setting it up so that he can live with another scientist on Deneva, but does Peter really not have any other family that could take him in? That kind of sucks.
- We never find out anything else about the Thing. They never actually gave it a name beyond calling it the Thing, and never attempted to communicate with it and determine why it is leap-frogging across the galaxy, taking humanoid hosts, forcing them to build ships for space travel, and then abandoning them when insanity sets in. One would think that with a title like "Operation -- Annihilate!" that there would be some sort of conquest-type reason for these actions, but none is given. Were all of the Things on Deneva, or were small pockets of them elsewhere? We don't know, and since it isn't discussed, I have to wonder if it's a space buffalo, which is now of course dead.

Despite these questions, I feel like this was actually a pretty good episode. They didn't try to trick us with fake science, and Kirk didn't do anything overly obnoxious, reckless, or lecherous. While I'm glad of these episodes, because it makes for a better-quality program, it also leaves less for me to make fun of, and it makes for a slightly more-boring blog post. Bummer.

So this is the last episode of season one. Next week I'll do a season review, then we'll move onto season two. Roomie's mom must be happy, because I've had her DVDs for seven months now. She wouldn't give us season two until we returned one. Probably smart. Sorry, SuperDoula. All I can say is that at least I've been using them for good and not evil. Well, not too much evil, anyway.


This week's tea is Sweet and Spicy, by Good Earth. While it boasts a list of spices, the one that comes through the most is the cinnamon. I'm not a huge fan of cinnamon, but this one wasn't bad. It was a bit like Red Hots or Big Red gum, without the bite at the end. While I had a hot cup, Roomie tried it iced and said it was lovely. She recommends a slightly more-concentrated cup, and we agreed that it would be good mixed with other things. I tried it in a glass of Mango-orange juice, which was pretty good, but I was also thinking of cider, or perhaps made into ice cubes to go into blended cocktails.




  1. "While I'm glad of these episodes, because it makes for a better-quality program, it also leaves less for me to make fun of, and it makes for a slightly more-boring blog post. Bummer."
    Yyyyyeah. Not that I thought your post was boring (I liked it, but since I haven't seen the episode maybe that's because everything was fresh to me), but I know the feeling. Whenever I finish an ALF episode that was actually kinda decent, I know I'm going to write a review that disappoints the snark-hounds. :( Fortunately that's happened like...twice ever.
    The tea sounds good. I've had a "Big Red" sort of blend before...they sold it at Barnes and Noble a few years back and I haven't been able to find it again. I'm not usually a big cinnamon guy either but it was delicious...I'll have to try this one and see if it measures up.
    Space Buffalo was the original Brain Slug.

    1. I hate it when I reach the end of an episode and think "Dammit, this review will not be funny. The writing was too good." I remembered City of the Edge of Forever as being really good, and I feared a boring review then as well, but then I was blessed with Kirk's dumbass "my friend is Chinese" story.
      Oh, well. I guess decent episodes will happen every now and again. But I am hopeful - Buzzfeed (or another site like it?) made a list of the worst costumes of Star Trek, and OMG, I may never have another boring review ever based on that list. Two words, coined by another reader: "Boob sling".

    2. There's no such thing as a good episode of ALF. You're pulling our legs.

  2. I watched this episode yesterday! I just love how Star Trek TOS can apply high octane, uber moral horror-movie seriousness to anything at all, using only facial expressions and a sharp *BWAWMP!* from the orchestra.

    I dig the "quit smoking" msg from Mr. Nimoy. Why doesn't everyone go outside and eat an apple instead? Ever stand outside of a bank or something and just eat an apple? I understand the "take five" thing-- isn't that what it's really about? That and deep breathing. Take a break, do the breathing, and munch on an apple.

    Are you the only one to have taken on an hour-long show? I revere your reviewness. -AP

    1. I know for some it is about the "taking 5" aspect. Back when I was a baker, and most of my friends were chefs, the only two reasons a chef was allowed to leave the kitchen during meal service were bathroom or smoke breaks. One was not allowed time to simply sit on a milk crate in the alley. The head chefs understood only peeing or smoking as viable reasons to leave the line. Sadly, many a chef has become a smoker because of it (with the exception of one clever friend who took up pipe-smoking and mostly just used up his break sitting on said milk crate loading the thing).

      I do think I might be the only one foolish enough to have taken up an hour-long program. I wasn't thinking about that when I selected this show, but I must confess to being slightly envious of my sitcom-er friends. This shit takes hours. :P

  3. You missed it, the science is horrible in this one. They claimed that they "tried every form of radiation known to man" but dumbasses left out the visible spectrum (aka LIGHT) and then ended up using UV radiation to kill the things (UV is not within the visible spectrum, humans cannot see it). UV radiation is dangerous, it causes skin cancer, blindness, etc. and is the reason we need protection from sunlight. UV waves from sunlight don't penetrate buildings, they don't even fully penetrate glass, so how they proposed to kill those things just by irradiating the planet (which was already getting the UV rays found in sunlight, which they claimed was what killed the creatures) I don't know. Maybe they found a way to amp up the power and break through the atmosphere, bombarding the planet's surface with all sorts of radiation, including even more dangerous versions of UV than that found in sunlight. In which case the parasites wouldn't be the only things dead down on the planet. Oh my.

    I'll complain about the sci-fi too, since I'm here. Spock's "oh yeah I forgot I have third eyelids and didn't realize I had them closed" was pretty dumb. Did Bones not examine him and just take his word for it when he said he was permanently blinded? Otherwise he would have caught that. Also how the hell did he not realize he was blind immediately? He walked out of there and ran into a freaking table before he said anything. Idiot doesn't realize he has his eyes closed, doesn't realize he's blind until he runs into something. Also, Bones should know these guys have third eyelids. Although even Spock forgot so maybe Vulcans were too dumb to add them to the physiology charts. Wonder what else they left off. Hope it's nothing important, or the next Vulcan Bones works on could be screwed. No wonder they hired Dr. M'Benga in the next season. Maybe he got to study the unabridged charts.

  4. This plot reminds me a LOT of Heinlein's The Puppet Masters, which also had Gak take over people's nervous systems. Speaking of not getting full test results back, did they not even consider checking to see if one or two Things out of a million might have survived?