Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, October 13, 2014

Season 2, Episode 51 "Return to Tomorrow"

"Return to Tomorrow"
Production Number: 51
Air Order: 49
Stardate: 4768.3
Original Air Date: February 9, 1968


Hello, Trek fans. Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day (aka, Random Bank Holiday) to our readers from the States, and Happy Thanksgiving to our Canadian readers. Either way, it is not the wrong day for some Trek.

*******



We begin this week on the bridge. The E is heading toward someone or something out in BFE, Space that has lit up their distress signal detectors, but it is not actually broadcasting a distress signal, just some coordinates. The spot they stumble upon is some neon green Class M planet, and Spock relays info from the Science Station: the planet is similar to Earth, but has been dead for half a million years. There's no atmosphere.
"What else? Why are we here?" demands Kirk.
"Like I know," shrugs Spock. "Just because I know a lot doesn't mean I have every answer."
This is seriously the second time this season that he's said that to Kirk, and it feels like an important distinction. Not every person is going to have every answer, and expecting someone to just know everything is dumb. I bet Spock gets that a lot, actually.
 "You're smart, tell me the solution to this mystery when we have no clues!"
Sit your ass down and let Velma gather some info first, Fred.
As it so happens, Velma is off the hook, as a disembodied baritone broadcasts onto the bridge that they have been guided to the planet by thought energy, and now that they are close enough, the voice can actually speak to them. The voice is named Sargon.
"Please assume standard orbit around the planet," says Sargon.
"Is that a demand or a request?" asks Kirk.
Bitch, did he stutter? If someone uses the magic word, it is a request. Hashtag: things I learned in kindergarten.

"Seriously, Jim. Did you not hear him say please? The rest of us did."

Sargon gives them some cryptic shit about being as dead as the planet, and about mankind possibly perishing, and everyone on the bridge exchanges funny looks before we break for opening credits.

Kirk's Log: 4768.3: "So we're orbiting this dead planet, but this voice is telling us that something has survived this whole time. Because I'm Kirk and never assume that anything is a trap, I'm probably gonna go down to see what it is."

Kirk asks Uhura how long until Starfleet receives his log, and she reports back that it'll be at least three weeks. Oh, good. That'll give your body plenty of time to decompose out here in the middle of nowhere.
Spock reports from Science that his equipment senses a cavern deep in the planet where some energy is emanating.
I shit you not, Sargon chimes in with, "Your probes have touched me, Mr Spock," and the helm is obviously holding in a "that's what she said!"



Sargon then requests that the crew beam down into the cavern, below 100 miles of solid rock. "I'm altering your transporter to make it so, and the chamber is safe for humans," he says.
Spock is obviously itching to go, but Kirk tells him that it would be foolish if both the captain and second-in-command were to go on the away mission.
What?
Hold the motherfucking comm badge, is he serious?
After weeks of just outright ignoring protocol and dragging him along, now Kirk has decided that it's a bad idea? You know what would be an even better idea, Kirk? If your chubby ass stayed onboard and you let the science officer do his job.
But apparently Sargon isn't down with the idea of leaving Spock behind, because he shuts off the damn ship without saying anything.
"Spock should come along," suggests Kirk, and the E turns on again.
Soooo, we're beaming down through 100 miles of solid rock on a dead planet to seek out the energy behind a disembodied voice who throws silent tantrums. Good plan.
Only Scotty and Bones seem to think this idea sucks, and they both object when Kirk and Spock reach the transporter room. Kirk assuages them by saying that he thinks if Sargon wanted to completely destroy them, he/it would have done so. I wonder if ants have this conversation before being fried by some psycho kid with a magnifying glass.
The camera switches over, and someone new joins in.
Holy shitsnacks... it's Diana Muldaur, you guys.


For those of you who are strict TOSers, or you just can't place where the hell you've seen this chick before, Diana Muldaur played Dr Pulaski on Next Gen. She replaced Gates McFadden as the ship's doctor in the second season, when McFadden wasn't certain that she wanted to return. McFadden played Beverly Crusher, who had a lovely "will they, won't they?" with Picard. Pulaski was set up to be the Bones to Patrick Stewart's Picard, a curmudgeonly doctor who was even suspect of the transporter, as Bones is in TOS. While Dr Crusher was well-liked among fans, Pulaski was universally hated for picking on the charming android Data, calling him "it" and mispronouncing his name. I'm gonna try to be objective about her here. Dr Pulaski is, for me at least, the Rand of TNG: she serves little purpose, I hate her guts, and she got the boot after one season. I'll start off by saying that, though I don't love the way that they've done up her hair, she was actually pretty attractive in her younger years. Then I'll ruin it by laughing at the fact that they made her a Red.


So, anyway, Muldaur gets the Pretty Girl music, and Kirk approaches her, because he's never met any of the people on his ship outside of his bridge crew. That's an awful lot of strangers to just blindly trust, Kirk.
Muldaur says that she's Dr Ann Mulhall, an astrobiologist, and that she was ordered to report to the transporter room for away mission duty. When Kirk asks her who told her to report there, she is confused, and admits that she doesn't know. Apparently, Sargon is going to pick his own welcoming committee. Kirk is still fine with this.
They get on the pad, and Bones hesitates when Sargon announces that he has set the controls instead of Scotty. But he climbs up there as well, and our trio (plus Mulhall) energizes and transports down, leaving the random pair of security Reds behind.


Kirk briefly contacts Scotty about their missing Reds, but decides to shrug it off. Kirk is the sort of guy who will agree to carry suspicious luggage onto a plane for you. The away crew looks around the transporter room, and the wall opens onto another room with a super-ugly lamp. The lamp speaks. It is Sargon.


Despite having encountered this numerous times, the away team is surprised that Sargon's people have evolved past the point of needing physical form and just being pure thought and energy. Sargon explains that previously, his people had bodies, and were much like humans. He calls the away team "my children" because he thinks that they may be distant descendants of his people, as they engaged in universal seeding. Mulhall says that human life evolved independently, but Spock admits that this theory could explain how Vulcans came to be. Sargon isn't certain. He talks about a time when his people nearly destroyed themselves, and Kirk starts bragging like a total douche how humans managed to evolve beyond nuclear crises, but Sargon is all, "Yeah, we had that primitive nuclear war and shit, but this was bigger. That'll happen to you at some point." And Kirk gets the verbal smack-down put on him.


"Ummm, you said you wanted some help?" asks Kirk.
"Yeah," says Sargon, and Shatner does some iffy acting that's supposed to signify a transfer of minds to body. When he speaks again, it's from Kirk's mouth, and The Shat walks stilted and stiffly around the room, complimenting Kirk on his excellent body. You can tell it's Sargon rather than Kirk speaking, because reverb is used on the voice.


He says that Kirk is in the ugly lamp, but isn't smart enough to be able to talk to them from it. Bones and Pulaski Mulhall tell Sargon that his being inside of Kirk is killing the captain, and Spock says that Sargon needs to hurry the fuck up with whatever he's doing. Sargon explains that he needs the bodies of Mulhall and Spock to house the essences of two more of his people.
Dramatic music and commercial break!

Sargon takes the away team into the next room, where there are more ugly lamps on IKEA storage units. He says that when they hit their Big Destruction, the best minds were secreted away, and two more besides him have survived: his wife Thalassa, and Henoch, who was "from the other side." Sargon was put into the other room to search outer space, in the hopes that someday, descendants of their race would come back and help them. I guess Thalassa and Henoch have been hibernating?


Sargon wants to use Kirk's body, and those of Spock and Mulhall, to build android bodies so that the aliens (no collective name given to them) can inhabit those bodies instead. Apparently, the humans can't do it for them, because they're too stupid. Kirk is not doing well, so Sargon hops back into the lamp. Kirk claims to understand and trust Sargon now, and is willing to go along with the plan. Bones and Mulhall think it's crap.
"What if we say thanks, but no thanks?" asks Spock.
"It's cool," says Sargon. "You can leave if you don't want to help."

The away team beams back to the E, and there's a smash cut to the debriefing room, where Scotty gives a spluttery, censor-friendly version of WTF?! to Kirk. Bones of course, is not onboard with the plan, but Mulhall is now interested. To convince Bones, Kirk and Spock start telling him how the aliens are going to give them all kinds of advanced technical and medical advice. Umm, is this not reverse-Prime Directive? Are they allowed to profit from this situation like that? Seems like it would give the Federation an unfair advantage. Kirk tells Scotty that with those kinds of advantages, they could end up with starships who have engines the size of walnuts. Scotty seems twelve kinds of offended.


Bones points out that this whole thing could be very dangerous, and that they don't know these aliens at all, and Kirk agrees with him, but gives this impassioned speech about how their very mission to explore the stars is risky, and hadn't man moved himself forward by learning to fly even though he didn't have wings? It works, because no one dissents, and they beam the receptacles on board.

We cut to sick bay, where the transfer is made. Spock/Henoch responds to the transfer by immediately hitting on Christine. It's a bit creepy, but it seems innocent enough.


Mulhall/Thelassa gets up, reveling in being in a solid form again, and she goes to Kirk/Sargon. They call each other "beloved", and marvel at one another's new bodies and kiss. This is not the cheesy "Kirk kisses every new female featured on the show," though. And it's not one of those "switched bodies" things where you never fully believe that it's someone else's mind in another person's body, where it just looks like the same person is acting funny. Maybe it's the reverb that they use, but I actually buy this as ancient beings borrowing the bodies of the Enterprise crew, and I totally buy that Sargon and Thelassa are that excited to see each other. I think I actually ship that as well.


Henoch seems extra pleased with his lot, getting better strength and hearing from his Vulcan host than his fellows, who just got crummy human hosts. He tells Bones that he is surprised that the Vulcans didn't conquer the human race. But then Sargon and Thelassa start to faint, and they are moved back to their beds to rest. They transfer back after Henoch agrees to make some sort of serum to stabilize the human hosts. Henoch takes Christine to pharmacology to make the serum.
Down in pharmacology, Henoch makes up the hypos and has Christine label them for himself, Thelassa and Sargon. She notes that Kirk's serum is different, and that he will die if he doesn't get the same serum as the others.
"That's okay," says Henoch pleasantly. "Nobody will notice because you are giving them." Then he mind-melds with her. "We cool?"
"Yep," says Christine.
Then, a monologue: "Awesome. I intend to keep Spock's body, but Sargon won't let me, so I have to kill both him and Kirk."

Can we please, PLEASE stop screwing with Christine's hair?
The whole top is a wig and it's awful-looking.

Bones' Log 4769.1: "So the aliens are inhabiting the bodies of three crew members, and they're making androids. I'm still paranoid as hell, but there's nothing amiss yet. Please look for my I told you so at the end of this episode."

Sargon and Thalassa are building their androids in the lab and canoodling a bit when Henoch comes in and reminds Thalassa that she should not get used to the sensation of touch, because her android body won't have that. I'm really digging this Nimoy-as-Spock-as-Henoch. He's a touch creepy without necessarily setting off any warning bells. He makes people just uncomfortable enough that they squirm, but not so much that they suspect anything. Just the right combination of  Khan and blissed-out Spock from "This Side of Paradise". Sargon tells Thalassa that they will be able to use their android bodies to move among the living, and guide the humans away from the mistakes that they themselves made long ago. But then he stumbles out of the room to get another hypo of poison.


Down in sick bay, Christine confusedly tries to tell Bones about the effed-up hypos, but can't remember what she needs to tell him, so she ends up saying that the serum is working perfectly.

Thalassa is down in the lab admiring her reflection in what is actually the metal lid of a chafing dish, but which I'm sure is supposed to be some kind of futuristic something-or-other. ("Hey, prop guy. We need some kind of reflective surface that's shiny and futuristic-looking." "Hmmm, have you checked the craft services table?") Thalassa is wearing her hair in the style of Girl In Love, which is actually really flattering on Diana Muldaur. Scotty comes in to give her some piece of tech that she needs for the android, and he expresses concern that it won't work. Henoch enters and tells him that it will if he stops wasting Thalassa's time and lets her finish. Scotty leaves and Henoch takes the opportunity to win over Thalassa, saying that the android bodies are 1000-year prisons, and when those wear out, they'll build more, on into time immemorial. He tries to talk her into keeping Mulhall's body. She pulls away from him and stalks out while he smiles.



Thalassa finds a sick-looking Sargon in the briefing room, going over Henoch's formula. He seems paranoid, but declares the formula to be correct, and calls Bones for another shot. Thalassa, not looking forward to android bodies, tries to talk Sargon into keeping Kirk. He doesn't like the idea of going back on his word, and promises that everything will still be awesome when they have their new artificial bodies. They kiss again, but he collapses on the floor, and we get this cool shot of Bones and Christine running in to help. They hypo him, but he's dead, Jim.


Bones' Log 4770.3: "Sargon is dead because he was too far away from the receptacle when Jim's body died. Jim's body is being kept alive on machines, but his consciousness is still in the receptacle."

Down in the lab, Henoch finishes work on one of the android bodies.
"Why are you working on that?" Thalassa asks him. "You plan to keep Spock."
"Naw, this is yours," says Henoch. "You know Sargon wouldn't want you to keep Mulhall. You can be trapped in this crappy non-feeling fake body, and I'll continue to walk around like I own this one."
"Screw you, I'm not doing that!" she yells, and runs from the lab.

I cannot for the life of me figure out how the prop guys made that android.
Did they paint an extra with latex paint? Did they use a mannequin?
At one point, the arm raises by itself - was it a puppet?
It's creepy as hell.

Thalassa goes back to sick bay and tells Bones that she has the power to save Kirk, that they have powers that Sargon wouldn't let them use. Then she tells him that she intends to keep Mulhall's body.
"The hell you are!" he responds.
"Nobody has to know," she says. "Besides, why are you upset? You didn't really know her."
"Her body isn't mine to give away. I will not peddle flesh!" he hisses. (That's a great line, by the way.)
She angrily refers to him as a "primitive medicine man" and gets a bit of a God Complex about her, saying that she could destroy him with a single thought. He doubles over in pain while animation lines dance around him.


The thing is, Thalassa seems to have decided that doing this makes her a bit monstrous, and she stops, asking Bones for his forgiveness. Apparently, Sargon forbidding them to use those extra powers was a good thing. But then Sargon's voice booms out over Sick Bay, telling Thalassa that he's proud of her for coming to that conclusion on her own. It seems that Sargon had powers that Henoch didn't know about, and he seems to have uploaded himself into the ship or something. Don't tell Kirk. He'll freak out if he finds that you're involved with his woman like that. Christine enters just as Thalassa asks Bones to leave so she and Sargon can get to work. He does, but when he realizes that Christine is not behind him, and the door closes and locks, he pounds on it like Fred Flinstone trying to get back in the house after Dino throws him out during the closing credits. Not gonna lie, him doing that is the only reason why we're supposed to feel like something's amiss.


He tries to radio for security Reds, but then the door opens and Christine walks out wordlessly. Running back into Sick Bay, he finds Kirk awake and alive. Mulhall is there as well, and says that Thalassa is gone. Shocked, Bones turns to the receptacles. Each one is destroyed. Bones flips out.
"WTF? The receptacles are gone! What about Spock?"
"We had to do it," says Kirk. "Now you have to mix a hypo of poison strong enough to kill a Vulcan so we can kill Henoch."

Fried fiberglass is seriously icky-looking. To be honest, I hope the
prop guys kept these. They look like alien eggs. It would be awesome if
they showed up in some future episode.

They smash cut to the Ship Goddess, who screams in pain while Henoch does some kind of creepy mind thing to her. She falls over in pain at her console and he casually makes his way to the captain's chair, threatening to inflict pain on Sulu if he tries anything. Kirk, Bones and Mulhall enter from the lift, and Kirk and Mulhall are quickly doubled over in pain as well. Bones tries to hypo Henoch, but the alien in the stolen Vulcan vehicle can read everyone's thoughts. 


He orders Christine to take the hypo and inject Bones with it, but at the last moment she injects Henoch instead. He laughs, saying that he will simply transfer his consciousness to someone else, but then he begins a silent communication with Sargon, who is clearly refusing him the transfer. Henoch/Spock collapses on the floor. 
Kirk checks him: "He's dead, me."
"Yeah, sooo..." comes Sargon's voice over the bridge PA, "that ended badly, huh? Totes didn't mean for this shit to happen, and I really dislike the idea of you not having your friend because our friend turned out to be a dick. Gonna give him back, okay?" Blue lights fill the bridge, and Spock gets up as Christine stumbles. "The poison in the hypo was only enough to knock Spock out, but I made the doctor think it was enough to kill him. Henoch read his mind, fled the body, and that was it."
"Spock's consciousness was stored in me. We shared a consciousness," says Christine in a mildly suggestive way.
Gross. Still don't ship that.


Sargon requests one last transfer so he and Thalassa can kiss one more time, and Kirk and Mulhall agree. There's some more blue light and they tell each other in reverb that oblivion will be okay as long as they are together. They kiss, and as soon as their lips part, Sargon and Thalassa are gone, leaving zero time for Kirk and Mulhall to adjust back to the situation. Kirk says he thinks that the aliens appreciated their cooperation, and Mulhall says that she was happy to help. Then Kirk smiles at her like he would appreciate her cooperation later in his quarters, and we end with her reaction shot. Oh, Diana Muldaur, I forgive you for your future crimes against Star Trek, if for no other reason than the look on your face here.




Death Toll:
Red deaths this episode: 0
Red deaths this season: 18
Gold deaths this episode: 0
Gold deaths this season: 6
Blue deaths this episode: 0
Blue deaths this season: 1
Total crew deaths this season: 25
Total crew deaths thus far: 42

This was actually a pretty good episode. I feel like I'd rate this one as Most Late-Sixties Sci-Fi-ish, because, frankly, it sounds like late-sixties sci-fi. I was surprised not see like an Isaac Asimov writing credit on this one (he never did write any episodes, though he was actually a good friend of Gene Rod, and they would sometimes exchange correspondence about the show). The whole thing feels like a novel with terrible cover art and a questionable font in neon green: fun and campy, but still kind of serious.



I've become kind of intrigued by the Girl In Love hair. Every time a girl on this show decides that she's in love with someone, she moves from wearing it up in some crazy chignon to wearing it down around her shoulders. The thing is, this isn't an isolated incident, because I've seen the same thing happen to Aunt Polly in the 1960 movie Pollyanna. I think it's an historical thing, and probably related to the phrase "let one's hair down", but I doubt that this is of interest to anyone but me and my little Hermione brain, so I won't waste more typing space on it.
IMDB says that this is the first time that Diana Muldaur appears in the Trek 'verse, and that we'll see her again one more time on TOS before she morphs into Dr Killitwithfire on TNG. We'll see how she does on that second episode.


*******

I've developed the kind of throat cold where you cough inconveniently and your voice changes just enough that you can hear the difference, but no one else can. Anyway, it's fall, bitches, and that means hot tea season is back! YES! Hot tea is awesome for "you don't hear it?" colds, so I made Ginger Peach Green Tea from The Republic of Tea. I'm starting to feel like I like my fruity teas with a green base because the leaf base competes with the fruit less. Either way, the tea and the fruit flavor were both really light and refreshing. Not a lot of ginger, so if you're looking for more, it might behoove you to add some crystallized bits to the hot tea. The peach was nice but also light, and you could taste the green. They blended nicely. It's a good one.






Uhura ate one of my sewing needles. And this is why I can't make
nice things. :P


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