Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, April 28, 2014

Season 2, Episode 38 "The Apple"

"The Apple"
Production Number: 38
Air Order: 34
Stardate: 3715.3
Original Air Date: October 13, 1967

We start this week with an unusually large away team: Kirk, Spock and Chekov, along with two security reds and one Red yeoman. A moment later, Bones beams down with two more Reds. Crimony, why do they need so much cannon fodder? I've never seen them form an away team so large that they needed two beam-downs. Maybe the E has an overpopulation problem.
The away team starts scanning the landscape, and I'm briefly excited that the sky is burnt orange, but I have to disappoint you: they're not on Gallifrey.
The OT3 talks about how lovely this planet is, with it's tropical plants and exotic flowers. Spock remarks that the whole planet is room temperature. Chekov says that it makes him homesick for Russia. When Bones suggests that the planet is more like the garden of Eden, Chekov says that Eden is just outside of Moscow.

It's part of this thing that Chekov does where he attributes non-Russian things to Russia. Apparently, the writers are riffing off this stereotype that I've never heard of, where Russians try to claim things that are not Russian. I can't decide if playing off of a stereotype makes the writers racist, or if that makes Chekov endearing for saying shit that he doesn't actually believe. I feel like the answer is "kind of both."
So Kirk exposits that Starfleet had gotten some weird scans off the planet during a fly-over, and they've been sent here to check it out and meet the natives.
Not two minutes in, we get our first Red death. The dude gets one line - "Captain" - before a flower fills his chest with poison darts. Oh, yay. Another planet where the flowers shoot shit at people. Only this guy is dead instead of high.

Kirk's Log 3715.3: The E is exploring Gamma Trianguli VI, and a Red bit the dust.
Kirk radios Scotty, who is in charge. Scotty relays some minor Disable the Ship issues, but it's boring gobbledegook, so I won't bother translating. He then drops some heavy, unsubtle hints that he wants some shore leave. Kirk tells him to fix the damn ship, and he signs off.
The away team heads for the village. Kirk paints some giant targets on a pair of Reds by sending them ahead as scouts. The pouty-faced yeoman complains of being frightened, but actually looks pretty pissed off. Chekov cuddles up to her and gives her a line usually reserved for drunk girls at the bar. Flirty Chekov is kind of creepy.

"Quit dry-humping," barks Kirk.
"Um, I was just about to scan something," says Chekov, employing the line that every guy uses when caught groping a coworker.
The group is being followed, and decide to keep moving. You know, because that will keep the person following them from following them. Yeah, that's how that works. A bush menacingly shakes as they walk by, as dramatic music plays.
Spock stumbles upon some spray-painted foam pieces and lists off what kind of rock minerals it contains. He snaps it in half for collection and study later, and carelessly tosses the other half away from him. It explodes.
"Yeah... maybe not," says Spock, who carefully sets the other half down.
We cut back to Scotty, who says their Disable the Ship problem is originating from the surface. Show of hands: who is shocked?

The away team moves on. Kirk doesn't notice that one of those flowers is turning toward him. Spock shouts "Jim!" and pushes him out of the way, taking the darts himself. Leonard makes this face - 

- and then he starts to fall forward, but when he reaches the ground, he realizes that he fell incorrectly, and flips over before "passing out."
Bones gives Spock a hypo. He didn't hypo the dead Red, but I guess being the captain's boyfriend has it's privileges. Nothing happens, so Kirk radios for a beam-up. They get into position - one guy standing over Spock - and they shimmer a bit, but nothing doing.

Scotty calls. "Captain, I cannae do it because of shields tractor beams from the surface failing warp engines decaying orbit alien sabotage blah blah blah."
Oh, no! They're trapped on the surface, just like every other week of their five year mission. By my crappy math, that's 260 times the dude gets stuck somewhere familiar and possibly dangerous.
Kirk's Log, supplemental. "Screwed again."
Spock hops up as though nothing happened, and the darts are miraculously missing from his chest. Without thanking Bones, he gripes about the hypo making him feel like crap. Bones makes a racist remark back. Kirk yells at Spock for taking a bullet for him. It's kind of an obvious Spirk moment.
Ominous clouds roll in, bringing lightning with them. The lightning strikes just enough to pick off the Red standing off to the side by himself, then the clouds clear, leaving a smoking crater.

The rest of the team rushes to the crater's aid, but it's too late. Another one of those Red scouts radios back to say that he's found the village. The message is garbled, and the away team heads in his direction. Too bad the Red is headed back toward them as well. He steps on one of those exploding rocks and He's Dead, Jim. Hearing the blast, the away team rushes forward. Kirk starts Hamletting over the dead Reds.
(Tangent Train: The Dead Reds sounds like a great TOS parody band. Can someone please start this band and play the con circuit? I'll even join. I play the triangle, but I'll only do it if someone else plays the theramin. Not enough bands with theramins.)
Spock interrupts Kirk's long-winded monologue to point out that their stalker has returned. Kirk forms a plan, and has Spock and Chekov start a loud argument, which includes a funny moment:
Spock: Ensign, I will not have you address me in that tone of voice!
Chekov: What do you want, violins?

Kirk sneaks behind a big rock, flushing out the stalker. He ends up punching the guy, who is... a very tall Oomploompa. The Oompaloompa starts to cry, and in a lovely bit of irony that Kirk probably doesn't get, he tells the native that he isn't going to hurt him.
"You hit me!" the native sobs.

At a loss, Kirk asks who he is. The guy replies that he is Akuta, and that he serves Vaal. He was watching the away team because he is the eyes and ears of Vaal. There's a close-up and dramatic music as we are shown that Akuta has wires attached to his head. This is how Akuta talks to Vaal - but only he gets to do it. The wires were given to him in the "dim time." Akuta agrees to take the away team to Vaal.
There's a brief pause while it's made clear that there's a crisis upstairs, and Scotty has it covered, but who really cares, because you know he'll pull that shit out in the end. With moments to spare.
Akuta takes them to see Vaal, which is a papier-mache cave in the shape of a snake with painted eyes.

Kirk's Log 3715.6: "So Vaal is just some lame-ass cave, not a god like I thought. Akuta says Vaal controls everything. It looks like the energy signature from this planet comes from the cave. I'm underwhelmed, even if the dramatic music did play when we approached the cave."
Spock scans Vaal and gets knocked back on his ass by a force field, which his scanner probably indicated was there. Chekov and Yeoman Landon exchange a smirk.
Akuta says that Vaal is asleep, and he takes them to the village to meet more Oompaloompas. The costume designer for this week clearly specified that he wanted blankets, bikini slings, orange paint, and espadrilles.

Kirk looks around. "Where are your kids?" The villagers are confused. "Little people, like you? they grow?"
Akuta laughs. "Replacements? We don't need those. Vaal forbids them."
"Um, what happens when you sleep together?" asks Landon.
"Huh?" asks Akuta.
This shit makes me snicker. Watching Star Trek trying to talk about sex in 1967 is as funny and awkward as sitting in a 7th grade sex ed class while 13-year-olds attempt to pronounce the word vas deferens.
Landon tries to explain without explaining. "When a man and a woman love each other..." and Chekov snuggles up to her in a way that makes you wish he hadn't.
"Oh, that," says Akuta. "Yeah, Vaal forbids that, too."
He has the village welcome the away team. One woman asks Spock his name, and when he tells her, the whole village laughs. Rude.
Akuta shows the Hilton Suites of huts, and Kirk calls Scotty again. But we're only 24 minutes into this show, which is way too early for the ship to be fixed.

Bones returns from spending about two seconds in scanning the natives and reports that they are in perfect health, but there is no sign of decay, and no way to tell how old they are.
Kirk and Spock go outside. It's Vaal Feeding Time, and they follow the natives to the cave. In pairs, the natives walk forward and drop something into the cave. I thought at first it was food, but now I kind of think that it's those exploding rocks. I feel like what they offer the cave should be important to the plot, but it isn't, so whatever, I guess. It doesn't matter. Vaal is a machine, so neither food nor rocks would make that much of a difference either way.

Bones joined Spock and Kirk, who are hiding in the bushes, and Bones and Spock get into a philosophical debate about how the culture functions. Kirk tells them to STFU, then calls Scotty to tell him that the force field is down when Vaal "feeds."
Back at the hut, Kirk asks Yeoman Landon what she thinks would happen, hypothetically, if one of the natives died by accident, and they needed a "replacement". The conversation is filled with ums and sentences that trail off at the end. I feel like Star Trek makes fun of the fact that they're not allowed to talk about the birds and the bees and the eagles and salmon, so when they do, they make it as awkward as humanly possible.
Spock says that, if need be, the natives would receive instructions. Sure, why not? Vaal provides everything. Rain, sun, crops, and copies of the fully-illustrated Kama Sutra falling from the sky.

Landon and Chekov venture into one of the village gardens to make out. A pair of natives watch from the bushes, as though they were living in a Rococo painting. All that missing is a damn swing. They decide to try their hand at making out as well. Unfortunately, they are cock-blocked by Akuta, who tells them that Vaal will punish them if they don't keep it in their pants.

This is the only natural-looking kiss I've seen on this show,
and these are supposedly people who don't know how to kiss.

 Vaal has Akuta invite all of the menfolk to a secret meeting. Once everyone has arrived, Akuta says that Vaal has told him to show the others how to kill the dangerous strangers. The natives have no concept of the word "kill", so Akuta shows them how to crush the away teams' skulls using a melon and a big stick, in much the same way that Bob Ross show a television audience how to make Happy Little Trees.

In the hut, Kirk says that he wants to  kill Vaal to "set the natives free". Spock points out that this plan violates the Prime Directive. Kirk glances outside and notices that the villagers are gone. Kirk and Spock go out to Vaal, where Kirk attempts to talk to the snake cave. He once again lies and tells it that he won't hurt it. In response, Vaal starts another lightning storm. Spock is struck down, and Kirk carries his smoking body back to the village.

Bones examines Spock and tells them that the science officer has second-degree burns. He fails to congratulate him on, you know, surviving. Suddenly, the natives jump out with big sticks and start a fight. The other members of the away team rush out, and hand-to-hand combat ensues. That final Red goes down quickly, but Landon kicks ass. The natives are quickly defeated. Kirk orders the natives to be held in one of the huts. They go quietly.

Vaal calls the natives. They try to leave to feed the cave, but the away team pushes them back into the hut. Kirk forms a plan. He and Spock scan Vaal, whose force fields are down for feeding. Kirk calls Scotty and tells him to fire on the coordinates of the energy signal. Vaal is weakened because the E was able to pull away from it's tractor beam/whatever, and it is struggling to raise it's shields against the phasers. It calls up a storm, and Kirk and Spock cling to a tree, because that's a smart thing to do in an electrical storm. Some stagehand that's hiding in the cave sets off some sparklers and smoke bombs. After a while, the cave goes dark. 

Kirk lets the natives out. They're stunned that he killed God. 
"Vaal did stuff for us," says Akuta sadly.
"You can do that stuff yourselves," Kirk tells him. "I won't tell you how, but you can grow your own fruit. It'll be awesome, and you'll love it. Also, you should make some kids. Again, I won't tell you how, but you'll figure it out. You'll also really like it."
Ummmm, no. Both of those things take millions of years of evolution to figure out. You can't just leave people with no instructions and declare that they'll love it. Dick move, Kirk.

Upstairs, the trio finish their philosophical discussion. As per the usual, Spock errs on the side on logic and Prime Directive, stating that the natives had a system that worked for them, and they should not have interfered. Bones says that, by removing Vaal, they set the natives back on the correct evolutionary track. Kirk takes Bones' side, and tells Spock that this was a lesson in what happens when you let a machine do too much for you. Spock replies that this situation reminds him of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, and that the natives were perfectly happy being provided for, just as Adam and Eve had been before Eve had been offered that apple.
"Dude, are you comparing me to Satan?" asks Kirk.
"Maybe," says Spock.
"Yeah, out of everybody here, who looks the most like Satan?" Kirk asks, staring at Spock's ears. Bones stares, too.
"Fuck you guys," says Spock.

This episode was not my favorite. It left a lot of loose ends. Who/what was Vaal? How does it control the elements? How did it get there? Did the natives build it long ago? How old are those natives? Why don't they die? If they start making new generations, how quickly will they overpopulate the planet, because no one ever dies? Did Vaal keep them immortal? What was the "dim time"? Why were they forbidden from procreating? How did Akuta become the Metatron for Vaal?
This episode also felt really formulaic. Away team lands. They find that the surface is dangerous, after feeling that it was harmless. The E is disabled, and they cannot beam off the surface. They must find a way of either fighting off the danger, or being diplomatic. Diplomacy is not as exciting to watch, so Kirk says "the hell with it all", and breaks the Prime Directive, or sleeps with some alien, or makes trouble in general. Scotty fixes the ship, something blows up, Reds die. Kirk is declared the hero. The trio jokes about how they fucked up all the shit, and the credits roll. This one tried to incorporate a Hmmm Moment with the debate between Evolution vs Non-Interference, but I was kind of bored. Guess we'll try again next week.

Red deaths this episode: 4
Red deaths this season: 5
Gold deaths this episode: 0
Gold deaths this season: 2
Blue deaths this episode: 0
Blue deaths this season: 1
Total crew deaths this season: 12
Total crew deaths thus far: 28


I decided to try a tea a second time. The first time I had Strawberry Grapefruit Xue Long green tea, it was mixed with Jasmine Green. This was the Pez-flavored tea blend that I was less than thrilled with, and which I have not had since. On it's own, the SGXL tastes far less like Pez. One can taste the strawberry and citrus individually, and it's better that way. It's not my favorite tea ever, but it's not bad. It has a green base, but the strawberry chunks give it a red color.
By the by, when one uses a TARDIS tea strainer with a red tea, removing the strainer makes it appear as though the TARDIS is bleeding. It's a bit creepy. Probably best to use a different strainer.

This week's blog brought to you by newborn kittens.
Kittens: it's what happens when you spy on
snogging Starfleet officers.

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