Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, March 3, 2014

Season 2, Episode 31 "Metamorphosis"

"Metamorphosis"
Production Number: 31
Air Order: 38
Stardate: Unknown
Original Air Date: November 10, 1967

On Oscar night, U2 was photobombed by Khan.

*******


We jump right into the story, beginning with one of the shuttles. The OT3 have picked up one of the Federation's assistant commissioners, Nancy Hedford, who was trying to prevent a war on an alien planet. She's contracted a rare disease, so they're taking her back to the E to get her fixed up before returning her. She's pretty pissy about it, although I can sympathize - she was just trying to do her job, and this has set her back. Lacking anyone else to point a finger at, she decides to blame Starfleet for not inoculating her against it.


Spock and Kirk see some kind of flashy blob on their scanners that headed for them at warp speed. They attempt to maneuver away, but it matches their moves and overpowers the shuttle. Kirk and Spock cut power to the rest of the shuttle so it won't be destroyed. Both Nancy and Bones object, bitching about Nancy needing to get to the E for treatment. Because, you know, when you're hopelessly stuck somewhere, the best course of action is to complain about how you have somewhere to be.


Here, Nancy. Here's your Disable the Ship sign. Please put it on so we'll remember that you're the time frame within which we need to work. The puzzle has to be solved before you die.
After the credits jump, we find that the shuttle is on the surface of a small planetoid. Kirk attempts to radio for help.
"Come in, Enterprise. Do you read me? This is the Galileo."
Stop. NO. Are you shitting me, Star Trek? The Galileo was destroyed last season. Remember? It burned up in the atmosphere as it's crew was attempting to escape the planet that had spacesquatches? It was called "The Galileo Seven"? Hello?
Crimony, Trek fans. I don't know if the writers weren't paying attention, or if they assume that the viewers were not. Either way, someone should be insulted.
Anyway, they determine that the planetoid is a class M, and venture outside to assess the damage.

Seriously, how hard would it be to paint a Roman numeral II on the shuttle?
I would totally buy that they had two shuttles named after Galileo on board the E.
Instead, they chose to have this one rise from the grave.

Kirk and Spock figure out that there's nothing wrong with the shuttle, but that nothing works. Bones reports that the same cloud thing that knocked them off course is on the surface, a little ways away.
Suddenly, from over the ridge comes a dude in orange jammies. He says his name is Cochrane, and that he's been marooned there for a long time. He admires the shuttlecraft and Nancy, and reports that they can try to fix their ship, but there's a damping field on the planetoid which makes it impossible to get out of there.


Kirk and Bones quietly discuss how Cochrane looks familiar. I think so, too. I thought at first that he looked like an older version of Charlie X, but maybe not. Then I decided that it's because all of the "good guys" on this show look like Kirk - young, virile, strong jaw, built, good hair. In the future, everybody looks like The Shat.
Anyway, Cochrane invites them back to his place, which looks like a futuristic Flintstones house. He says he made it from spare parts after his crash.


They go inside and Nancy complains that it's hot. She has a fever. While Cochrane is fetching them drinks, the OT3 look outside and see this:

Ghostbusters has taught me that this a Class 5 free-roaming vapor.

When he returns, they ask about it.
"Um, that's the Companion," he says uneasily. "It found me in my disabled ship, and bought me here. I was dying of old age."
"Respectfully, sir, I think you're full of shit," says Spock.
"Hey, what's your first name, anyway?" asks Kirk, and there's no covering the fact that that was a weird question asked specifically at this time for the purpose of making a reveal.
"Zefram," he says. "Zefram Cochrane."
Because the 1967 audience is unaware of who this dude is, the OT3 has to exposit that Zefram Cochrane is the father of the modern warp drive, and that he died 150 years earlier. Shocked faces from everyone including Nancy, and dramatic music!


Now, because I am not the 1967 audience, and because I am viewing things back-asswards, with all of TOS falling last, I already know who Zefram Cochrane is, and when he gives his name, I sit up and yell "Fuck, yeah!" I already know that this guy is the post-apocalyptic drunken badass who blasts Steppenwolf on his maiden warp flight. Aw, yeah.


Cochrane explains that he had been tired, and had gone into space when he was about 85 to die. Spock scans some equipment that came off of Cochrane's ship and says it checks out, reminding the group that Zefram Cochran's body had never been found. Cochran confirms that when the Companion rejuvenated him, she also made him permanently 35. Kirk asks why they have been brought there.
"So..." says Cochrane. "I told the Companion that I needed other humans for company, or I would die. I figured it would let me go. Instead, it found you and brought you here to keep me from getting lonely."
Nancy flips the fuck out, screaming that they are not animals and cannot be kept in captivity. Bones has her lay down in the back room. The Disable the Ship disease has begun the Final Countdown.


Kirk asks Cochrane if he wants to leave.
"Hell, yeah," says Cochrane. "Immortality is boring."
I'll bet. Dude has been hanging out and growing vegetables for 150 years. He figures if he leaves, he'll start aging normally again from 35. He and Kirk agree to work together to get everyone off the planetoid.

Spock is working on the Zombie Galileo when the amorphous mist appears behind him. He makes the rookie mistake of sticking his hand in it, and there's a bang. Spock is thrown backward and the repairs that he started catch on fire. That's a bad touch, Spock. One does not stick one's hands in another life-form without consent.


Nancy is getting worse. Kirk asks if the Companion could cure her.
"Maybe," says Cochrane, and they go outside so he can contact it telepathically.
When it shows up, it envelops Cochrane completely, and he stands there communicating. Soft music plays.
"That looks like love, rather than a pet-owner relationship," remarks Kirk.
The Companion leaves, and Cochrane reports that it says it cannot help Nancy.


Bones comes across Spock on the ground near the shuttle.
"I groped it," says Spock, "and it basically tasered me, bro."
"Can we short it out?" asks Bones.
"I think so," replies the Vulcan.

There's a cut shot back to Cochrane's house, where Spock has a metal box with switches, and explains that he thinks they can short out the Companion.
"What if it dies?" asks Cochrane. "I'm not down with killing it. It saved my life, and we're kind of buddies."
Though he hates the idea, Cochrane goes outside to call the Companion, and when they are joined up, Spock throws the switch. There's electricity, and what sounds like thunder, and Cochrane collapses. The Companion glows red, and hurries inside to envelop Kirk and Spock, who writhe on the floor in pain. 



Cochrane, getting up, hears Bones yelling at the Companion to stop killing his boyfriends. He calls the Companion back outside, where they join up and commune again.
"How am I supposed to kill that?" Kirk asks Bones.
"Um, thought you were a trained diplomat?" Bones reminds him.
"I am?" says Kirk. "I'm not supposed to play Fuck, Marry, Kill with every new life-form I encounter?"


Ship's Log 3219.8: "This is Scotty. Where the holy hell is the Zombie Galileo?"
The E comes across the last known location of the shuttlecraft, and Scotty deduces that lack of a ship, debris, or intergalactic chem-trails means that the shuttle was dragged off or something. He tells Sulu to follow the course laid in, and that they'll discover what they discover.
"It's a big galaxy," says Uhura.
"Yeah, it is," agrees Scotty.
You know, it's these tiny scenes where they exchange glances and frank, almost casual conversation that makes me believe that these people have served on this ship together for years. Uhura isn't questioning his command or telling him that his plan is stupid, just acknowledging that this carefully combing of this part of space is going to take a while, and that, because fellow crew members are missing, they might be in it for the long haul. But they'll do it because they have to, and they know that other crew members would do the same for them. There were some nice moments like this between Sulu and Scotty in this episode as well. I know the main focus of this show is typically on the Big Three, but the secondary characters really sell it, too. It's a great ensemble.


Back on the planetoid, Spock has been dicking around with a universal translator in order to talk to the Companion. Cochran calls it back, and when Kirk asks to speak to it, the Companion is interested. The translator has given the Companion a female voice.
"Ha!" whispers Kirk. "You're not his zookeeper, you're his lover!" For Kirk, it always comes down to sex.
"Ooh!" says Spock. "Ask her about her existence and stuff. We can learn so much from her."
"No way," says Kirk. "I'm trying to get us out of here. Put your science boner away."
Kirk asks the Companion to let them all go.
"Nope," says the Companion. "The man says he needs friends or he'll die. Everybody stays. I've stopped you from aging so you can all be together forever."
"But Nancy is dying," he points out. "If you let us go, we can save her." Interesting that the Companion can keep Cochrane from dying, but not Nancy.
"I'm done," says the Companion, and disappears.


The OT3 heads inside and in stomps Cochrane.
"Why'd you give the Companion a girl's voice?" he demands.
"We didn't," says Kirk. "Male and female are universal constants." (Hmm, yeah. Except in beings that are neither. I also know a lot of people who would disagree, but this was 1967, and even though Star Trek was generally ahead of it's time, I wouldn't expect them to be on top of gender-queer issues. Hell, we're barely on top of it now.) "The Companion is female."
"She views you as a lover," says Bones.
Cochrane flips his shit. "No! That's gross! I let that alien into my mind for 150 years and it's not human, and that's indecent!" And he storms out before I get the chance to reach through the screen and bloody his nose for being an asshole.
"Well, that was fucking close-minded," says Spock. Even the non-emotional guy gets it.


Nancy calls Bones back to her bedside.
"I heard that douchebag yelling," she says weakly. "He's been loved for 150 years, and no one has ever loved me. That's really unfair that he would just throw that away. That guy is a dick."


Ship's Log 3220.3: "Still looking."
The E comes across an asteroid belt and Scotty decides that they'll search each one until they find their missing shipmates.

Back outside, Cochrane has called the Companion back, though how they talked him into that, I don't know. Kirk tries to explain love to her, and she admits that she feels something like that for Cochran.
"You have to let us go," says Kirk. "Your keeping him here is not a good existence. Humans need obstacles to overcome, challenges to strengthen them, or they grow weak and die. That's not a good life."
Okay, seriously: this is the speech that I wanted to hear in the Just Say No episode "This Side of Paradise." This argument holds water because it's fucking true.
But then he tells her that she can't love Cochrane because she's not a human and can never understand love. So... the next time my cat comes to me for a snuggle, I'm going to push him away, because he's not a human and can therefore not experience love. Kirk says so.
I mean, fuck, Kirk. I know you're trying to get out of there, but jeez.
"What if I was human?" she asks before fading away.
Awesomely, both Spock and Bones tell him that that was a dick move.
"I was hoping for the old if you love it, let it go," he admits.

And now, a valentine from James T Kirk: "Roses are red, violets are blue,
but you're not a human, so what the fuck do you know?"

Nancy appears in the door of the house, totally better. Bones scans her and says that she's fine.
"We are both here," she says, and she tells them that Nancy was almost dead, so the Companion took her body so that she could be a human and love Cochrane.
Cochrane is weirded out at first, but Nancy is pretty cute, and he decides that it would be worth it to teach her about humans and love. They decide to take a walk.
"You can go," she tells Kirk. "I won't keep you here."


Upstairs, Scotty gets a call from Kirk, whose comm works now. He gives them their location, and they rush to the planetoid to assume orbit.

Cochrane is waxing rhapsodic about all of the things that he and Nancy will do when they leave. She's watching him through her scarf. It's subtle, but you can tell that she's seeing him as she did when she was in her amorphous mist form. It's a nice moment. Good job, Star Trek.
"I can't leave," she says sadly. "I can't exist outside of this place."
"You gave up everything to be human?" he asks.
"It was worth it," she says, and they kiss. Another nice moment.


As the OT3 readies to leave, Cochrane and Nancy return.
"I'm gonna stay here," says Cochrane. "I realize now that I love her too, and we'll grow old together and die."
"Illogical," says Spock. "But a good choice for you."
As they walk back to the shuttle, Bones suddenly says, "Hey, what about that war that Nancy was helping to prevent?"
"Meh," says Kirk. "They'll find somebody else to prevent that."


"Dear Mr and Mrs Hedford,

It is with a bit of regret that I inform you that your daughter is gone from this world. I don't mean to say that she is entirely dead, just her spirit and all of her essence. While engaged in diplomatic work for the Federation, she contracted a rare disease, and we attempted to take her to our ship for treatment. However, we were way-laid by an entity that had fallen in love with a human, and it kept us on some dusty rock just long enough for your daughter to kick the bucket. At least, I think that's what happened. I don't really know for certain. I told the entity that it couldn't love a human, so it commandeered her body so that it could be human. The entity plans to use your daughter's body to grow old with a man long-thought dead. If you like, I can send you directions on how to reach the little planetoid so you can visit, but really, there's nothing left of her but the husk that the entity is... renting? Really, it's just some mist in a human's clothing, so to speak. Anyway, sorry about your daughter, and I really wish that she had been able to prevent that war, but shit happens, right? Maybe the Federation will send you a nice plaque so you can remember your daughter, even though we can't send you a body to bury. Because it's being used. By an alien.

Sincerely,
James T Kirk, Captain, USS Enterprise


*******

This was a pretty good episode. Enough goofy stuff to mock, but it also came equipped with "Hmmm Moments". Some stuff to think about: learning to love someone who is different, especially when you loved them before and changed your mind; and what humans need to survive, which includes purpose and struggle.
Also, I finally found a female on Star Trek who isn't dressed like a Cirque du Soleil act! Hooray!

I'm not really into the gloves, matching handbag, colored tights with green sandals, or head scarf, but it's really not the worst thing ever. The handbag, gloves and head scarf kind of lend themselves well to the fact that Nancy Hedford, Assistant Commissioner, is kind of uptight. I like her little coat, which has patches of her dress fabric on the front, and closes with a beaded flower brooch. It's shorter in the front than in the back, which, when paired with the shorter sleeves, is architecturally interesting.

This little sundress is really cute. The tailoring is simple, and the shape doesn't compete with the busy pattern. It's also figure-flattering, and classy-looking with the scarf draped over the front of the dress and down the backs of her shoulders. I don't even mind the colored tights here.

It looks good from the back, too. Bonus points: they didn't do weird shit to her hair! She looks nice, and even better, normal. It was not annoying to me when they gave her a bit of Girl-O-Vision and the "pretty girl" music, because she is a pretty girl. I don't understand why the Star Trek costume designers think that "futuristic" means "fugly and strange", but how about we get more of this, okay?
Yeah, we probably won't.

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

*******

I found this week's tea on clearance, which made me skeptical, but buying a new box of tea each week is frickin' pricey, especially if it turns out to be awful. Our tea collection will soon reach that point where people come over and ask for tea and get that list from "Scott Pilgrim Vs The World". I wish I had pretty hair, like Ramona Flowers....
Anyway. Tea. It's Celestial Seasonings' True Blueberry, and there's a bear white-water rafting on the box. Some of the boxes appear to have just the box of blueberries in the river, but that's lame. Bear. Yes. Always. Good. Also, the bear is smart, because he's wearing a life-vest. That beaver looks annoyed at him.

I'm sorry. It's late.

This tea has a lot of berry flavor, to the point where it kind of just tastes like juice. It's pretty good hot, but it might be nice as an iced tea, or in a blended drink.

*******

A tiny poll:
Pi Day (March 14th) is fast approaching, and my friend Teacup has suggested that we have a pie party. She has claimed Key Lime, so the question is: what kind of pie should I make? 




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