Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, February 24, 2014

Season 2, Episode 30 "Catspaw"

Production Number: 30
Air Order: 36
Stardate: 3018.2
Original Air Date: October 27, 1967

So, you remember how the last episode of season one ("Operation -- Annihilate!") was actually pretty good, and there was not that much to mock, and so the review was not terribly funny, and I almost outright apologized for the fact that it was a well-done episode?
Yeah, fuck that.
This week's episode sucks.
While I can't tell you that whatever drug the writers were taking while writing this were either good or bad, I can assure you that they were effective.

It might be worse than "Shore Leave". I'll keep you posted.


We open on a frustrated Kirk, who is trying to locate his missing landing party. Uhura finally hears back from a crewman Jackson, who says he is ready to beam up. Kirk is pissed off because neither Sulu nor Scotty has checked in, but he and Bones go to the transporter room to meet Jackson.
Jackson falls face-first off the transporter pad. He's dead, Jim. Alright, startin' a new season with a crew death! Let's get this party started!
A voice booms out of Jackson's open mouth, addressing Kirk and telling him that his ship is cursed so they better GTFO. You can see Jackson breathing as they zoom in on him. Heh.

This season we get a slightly altered opening sequence with a faster flight shot of the E, and music that is more... Tropicana-y? I dunno how to describe it except by saying that it sounds like it was played by Ricky Ricardo's band. At any rate, I think they switched it up so they could add DeForest Kelley to the credits.

Movin' on up, De

Kirk's Log 3018.2: "Jackson is dead without a reason, and Sulu and Scotty are missing. I'm going down to the surface to get lost myself, and I'm leaving assistant engineer DeSalle in charge, even though we haven't seen him in forever, and even though I'm pretty sure Lt Uhura ranks next in line. In truth, I'm really not certain how the chain of command works on my ship."
So the OT3 beams down, and it's discovered that there's a discrepancy between what is there, and what is being picked up by the scanners. A wailing rises up from nearby, and the landing party find themselves being addressed by three floating heads of old women, who warn them in rhyming couplet that they should leave. It prompts my favorite line of the episode:
Kirk: Spock? Comment.
Spock: Very bad poetry, Captain.

"Those weren't real," says Spock. "But I'm getting life-form readings in that direction."
They move off in "that direction" but are blown off course by a gust of wind, and we get a good look at Kirk's sex hair.

A castle appears. Dramatic music! They stand around outside debating why their scanners didn't pick it up and why the tricorder is registering two life-forms, but the ship doesn't register any, blah, blah, blah. Kirk tries to contact the E, but no luck. 
So... ghost heads, a mysterious castle, some thick-ass fog, and lost communication. Dammit, did I accidentally switch over to Scooby Doo?

They finally go inside and are hissed at by a bad-ass black cat wearing a glass pendant. Kirk says that if he didn't know any better, he'd say that someone was "playing a trick-or-treat" on them, which is a weird way to phrase that. Spock asks what "trick-or-treat" means, and Kirk, sizing him up, replies that Spock would be a natural at it. Was that racist? It feels racist.

Upstairs, Chekov reports that the OT3 is no longer registering on the ship's equipment. DeSalle, who recognizes that he hasn't been seen in 20 episodes, and that how he plays his temporary captaincy role could earn him more screen-time, is a dick to Chekov. He condescendingly asks the newcomer if he needs help calibrating his equipment, to which Chekov indignantly replies, "No, sir. I'm not that green." You tell 'em, Chekov. You may not have any stripes on your cuffs, but you're awesome. You and that uber-Beatles haircut.

Nope, not a tribble. Dude was growing his hair out so they stuck a wig on him.

Downstairs, our boys follow the kitty in the necklace down a corridor filled with dust and cobwebs before falling through a trapdoor and getting knocked out. Oh, no! How will Scooby and Shaggy ever find them now?

When they come to, they are manacled to the wall in a dungeon. Kirk asks if his boyfriends are okay, and there's s sight gag where the camera angle shows McCoy looking at a skeleton. Kirk's line is "Bones? Doc?" Heh.

They start another convo about how this stuff might have gotten on an uninhabited planet, when the door opens. It's Scotty and Sulu! Hooray! No, wait! Dramatic music! Scotty has his phaser aimed at them!

They give no reply when spoken to, beyond Sulu nodding when Kirk asks if Sulu knows who he is. Bones thinks they've been drugged. Sulu unlocks the manacles,and everyone turns to leave. The OT3 attempts to jump Sulu and Scotty, but suddenly the scenery changes, and a guy yells "stop!"
They're all in a throne room with a bald guy in shiny robes.

The bald guy is Korob, and he assures the OT3 that their shipmates are simply under his control. He talks to the black cat, and Spock makes a remark about wizards and familiars. Korob says that Spock seems different, that he doesn't buy the illusion.
"He doesn't know about trick-or-treat," smirks Bones.
"I don't understand that reference, so it is not important," shrugs Korob.
That's... a rather unintelligent notion. People have probably died from such assumptions.
He waves what is either a wand with a crystal on the end, or a very short pimp cane, and a banquet appears on a table. When they are unimpressed, he tries to bribe them with jewels. Again, they tell him to fuck himself.
"You passed our tests," he says, which sounds like BS that he made up on the spot to cover the fact that he can't get a handle on them. He tells them that they are loyal and brave for coming to the scary castle for their friends, and that they have integrity for not accepting bribes.
The cat leaves, and a woman comes in. Ugly outfit, ugly wig, wearing the same necklace as the cat. Korob introduces her as Sylvia. Blech, just go back to the cat form.

Pretty sure that's the lace bodystocking worn by "Ruth" in Shore Leave.
It's not cute here, either.

She and Korob admit that they are not natives to this planet, and that they are controlling Sulu and Scotty with what Sylvia calls "sympathetic magic". She says she made an image of Jackson, and when she thought of him as dead, he was. Sylvia gives Kirk his comm and pulls out what is clearly an Enterprise Christmas ornament on a chain.

And every Trek fan screams "OMG, WANT!!!!!"

He calls the bridge while she holds the ornament over a lit candle. DeSalle reports that they are being cooked alive. Once Kirk gets Sylvia to move the ornament, his comm stops working. Korob asks about human technology. Kirk counters by asking about their technology or magic or whatever. Sylvia verbally bitch-slaps Korob about how much they should tell the humans, and his response is to make a face into the camera. It's freaking weird. He's not breaking the fourth wall per se, but it's almost as if, post-shoot, they decided they wanted shots of his response, but none of the other actors was on-set anymore. It's also hella Scooby Doo.

He's now in the position of facing the throne instead of standing next
to the table.

Korob prevents the E from sending down a search party by encasing the ornament in crystal. Up top, Chekov reports to Acting Asshole DeSalle that they have been surrounded by a forcefield.

Sylvia, who comes off as more of a tired soccer mom than a scary witch, orders the boys back to the dungeon before deciding to keep Bones behind.

In the dungeon, Kirk and Spock have a long-winded conversation wherein they guess that Sylvia and Korob attempted to create an environment from the consciousness of the humans, but didn't do a good job, as they conjured fog, castles, dungeons, black cats, and sorcerers, thinking that this was a normal human situation. Were all of the humans thinking about Halloween and B-movies at the exact same time as their minds were being probed? I must apologize here. If I had better Photoshop skills, I would have 'shopped a jowly Great Dane into every one of these screen-captures.
Bones comes in with Scotty and Sulu, and because we've forgotten about the plot from "Return of the Archons", we're all shocked to see that Bones has become One of Them. They take Kirk away.

Poor Sulu. His whole part in this episode consists of silently unlocking
manacles. And least Georgie and Jimmy were paid for this crap.

Sylvia and Korob are bickering like an old married couple. Or like Spock and Bones. Whatever. Same thing. Apparently, in their real forms, they don't feel physical sensations, and Sylvia has become kind of a glutton about it. Korob tells her that she's forgotten why they are there, and about their instructions from the Old Ones. Spoiler alert: we will never find out why they are here, and we will never hear more about the Old Ones. Sylvia calls Korob a fool, and says that he's a puppet. Spoiler alert: yes. Yes, he is.
Again, his responses are recorded looking straight into the camera. And it's pretty much the same shot as before. WTH?
When Kirk arrives, Sylvia boots everyone else, though Korob watches her and Kirk through patterned holes in the wall like a guy in a Rococo painting. Sylvia wants to ride Kirk's D-Train. She thinks he's a real E-ticket. Shut up, that was kind of funny. Kirk gropes her and tells her that she's sexy (no). Then she "changes form", even though it's just her in different outfits. There's this:


and this:

Oh my fuck, no.

and he tells her that each of those forms gets him hot. They make out while Kirk asks about their tech. She admits that a transmuter gives them form. Suddenly, she realizes that he's been pumping her for info, and she screams at him. He points out that she was doing the same. Sylvia has him hauled away. Silly Sylvia. Did you really think that Kirk was going to pick you over the Lady E? 

Upstairs, the bridge crew has been slowly melting a dent in the forcefield, and DeSalle is actually polite to Chekov.

Korob returns to the dungeon to free Kirk and Spock, giving them their stuff back and telling them to leave. He's taken the forcefield down, and he says that the stress of being in human form has taken it's toll on Sylvia, who is losing her mind. They make their way through the castle, and shots of the cat in a model of the corridors are supposed to read as Giant Pissed-Off Sylvia Cat. Kirk, Spock, and Korob end up in the room beneath the hole in the floor, and Korob closes the door. Kirk and Spock try to climb up through the hole, and Sylvia Cat knocks the door in on top of Korob. Then we get this:

This shit is terrible. Points for trying, I guess?

Kirk takes the transmuter and he and Spock climb up through the hole. There's a fight scene between them and the Mind Control Gang which may have been added because they still needed to fulfill their weekly fight quota. When everyone is subdued, Kirk tells a giant cat shadow that he has the transmuter. Sylvia the woman appears and tries to seduce him. When he doesn't go for it, she grabs her necklace, and they are transported to the throne room. She makes another bid to get him on her side. Sylvia really wants to go where many a girl has gone before. He tells her to go fuck herself (which actually would have solved a lot of her problems), then smashes the crystal on the end of the Pimp Cane wand.

The scene melts and Kirk finds himself outside on a rocky outcropping. The others come running and they all stare at the ground. Kirk had pulled the masks off of Sylvia and Korob and discovered this:

"I've got no strings -"

They created everything with a transmuter, coming to this planet to do Zod knows what, and they would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for those meddling Starfleet officers. And then the tiny puppets die.
So this was it, kids. This is what happens when Star Trek makes a Halloween episode. I hope that sometime mid-December, we get one where Kirk teaches Khan the true meaning of Christmas.

They didn't even leave me anything to think about later, the assholes.


Gonna go ahead and give points to this episode for again attempting to create aliens that were not humanoid. They weren't especially well-done (they seemed to be going for Ray Harryhausen but fell short) but it was something. Also, the title: "Catspaw" makes a nod to the cat in the episode, but the term mostly refers to a person who is used as a tool (Sylvia and Korob use Sulu, Scotty, and Bones as tools; Sylvia attempts to use Kirk, he attempts to use her). It can also refer to the Cat's Paw Nebula, which is part of the Scorpius constellation.

Attempted cleverness: they switch back and forth between long-haired cats and short-haired cats. The fandom cried "inconsistency!", but the producers insist that they were trying to show Sylvia's shape-shifting capabilities. Points for that, but it was way too subtle to read that way. This may be the only thing I've encountered where crappiness was not made up for by the inclusion of a black cat (the coolest kind of cat there is).

Bonus trivia: I learned through IMDB that Jimmy Doohan lost one of his middle fingers during WWII. It's usually not visible because of clever blocking and camera angles, but in this episode, there are places where it is more obvious.

I'm staring this new thing: death counters. I got the idea from the King of Counters, Andrew from Frasier Denied . I had been thinking of adding in death counters for a while, but it reached a critical point last week when I realized that I wanted a tally for Red deaths in season one and had no way of getting it besides slogging through seven months' worth of back-posts.
Without further ado:

Red deaths this episode: 0
Red deaths this season: 0
Gold deaths this episode: 1
Gold deaths this season: 1
Blue deaths this episode: 0
Blue deaths this season: 0
Total crew deaths this episode: 1
Total crew deaths this season: 1
Total crew deaths thus far: 17

I'm suddenly glad that I don't write a Game of Thrones review blog.


I fell off my "no soda" wagon a bit this week and paid for it by being awake too late for far too many nights. It was mostly for that reason that I grabbed a box of Sleepytime Peach by Celestial Seasonings. It's caffeine -free, and boasts chamomille, spearmint, lemongrass and "more". I'm not sure what the "more" bit is, but I kind of taste banana. Sounds kind of weird, but it's not. Maybe it's just my imagination. It's good, though. Fruity. And sweet. I feel like it's naturally sweet enough that I could back off my regular dosage of Probably Too Much.


So far, I don't think I feel sleepy, but I do feel relaxed. Good job, tea.


  1. I'm sad that my favorite character gets introduced in such a pile of garbage.

    1. Please tell me you mean Chekov, and not that horny bitch Sylvia :P

  2. I will definitely be trying to tell ten people "People have probably died from such assumptions" this week.

    Returning the shout out (or.. whatever the kids are calling it these days) on this week's review. Thanks! The death counters are the shit. Gene would have wanted it that way.
    :-P Cheers,
    p.s. Frasier Denied is on Facebook now, too! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Frasier-Denied/438798789584329

  3. I was wondering if there was a D&D connection here but the episode is WAY too early for that.

  4. What the fuck even is this? The big hole at the middle is that we have no idea what the hell Korob & Sylvia were even trying to do there before the Star Treks showed up, much less what they were trying to do with the OT3. The best I can say is that the episode feels like a cat idly playing with toys it found. There doesn't seem to be a central thought to why this story happened; it feels like they inherited a horror film set about to be torn down, raided the dumpster behind a Mod clothing shop and rolled cameras.