Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, November 24, 2014

Season 3, Episode 56 "Spectre of the Gun"

"Spectre of the Gun"
Production Order: 56
Air Order: 61
Stardate: 4583.3
Original Air Date: October 25, 1968

Many apologies this week. I do not yet have season three in hand and have to do this week's review off of Netflix, which unfortunately features the remastered version of this show. I'm not fond of the remasters. They replaced the animation and models with newer CGI, and it looks out of place next to the untouched scenes and shots. Hopefully I can get the DVDs from SuperDoula next week.

*******




We start this week with the E out in some unexplored area and they come across a space buoy. Already I'm disappointed. That buoy is clearly CGI, and I really want to know what it looks like unaltered. Oh, well.
They try to fly around it, but it follows them, finally speaking and saying that they have entered Melkot space, and they need to turn around and leave. Kirk states that he heard this message in English, but everyone on the bridge who is ESL heard it in their first language. They determine that the message was passed telepathically.
"We come in peace," Kirk hails the buoy. No response.
Spock points out that they are to establish relations with the Melkotians at all costs, and I have to wonder what the Melkotians have that the Federation wants so badly that they would sic the Enterprise on them with orders to force a friendship.
They fly around the buoy and head for the planet.



Kirk's Log 4583.3: "I took Spock, Chekov, Bones and Scotty with me to the surface. Spock will do some science-y stuff, but I brought the ship's surgeon, the chief engineer and the navigator for funsies."

They beam down in some fog.
"Spock, what is this?" asks Kirk.
It's fog, you dipshit. Only I guess the sensors upstairs didn't mention anything fog-like on the surface, so apparently it doesn't exist. And none of their equipment works, so it's a complete crapshoot.


So in season three, they told Jimmy Doohan to comb his hair back. That's the way they wanted it. He did it for like, 6 episodes, then he gave them the finger and went back to styling it the way he had before, which is fortunate, because it looks like shit here.
Kirk tries to comm for a lift home, but of course noting works.
A wild Melkotian appears. I'm not sure what that is, but appears to be LGBTQ-supportive. It looks like a Stephen Gammell illustration from those "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" books.


"WTH?" asks the Melkotian. "We warned you with the buoy, and you came anyway. Clean out your damn ears. Now we're going to punish you in some weird, nonsensical way, because that's how we do out here in space."
The camera zooms in on them quickly, and when it bounces back out, they're standing in the middle of an Old West town, and they're all carrying six-shooters. So now we all know: this is the spaghetti-Western planet.


I want to say that this episode will be fun like the gangster planet episode, but it isn't. I got bored right away with this episode and stayed bored. *Pac-Man dying sound*
Spock suggests that they are in an Old West town in America, and it is surmised that they buildings seem to be in bits and pieces because the Melkotians extracted thoughts from their heads about what an Old West town would be like, and the thoughts were incomplete. So, we know form IMDB that this is actually horseshit, an explanation dropped in probably at the last minute because Star Trek planned to film this episode on the backlot and their budget was cut again (I'm half-convinced that their budget was often literally shoe-strings). So instead they built facades and furnished parts of the "insides" of the buildings and made up that little song and dance to cover it up. BUT I'm not going to bitch about it, because it's psychologically interesting. In Catspaw, Sylvia created a castle and the things inside of it by checking out the minds of the Enterprise crew. It was a whole damn castle. Here, the Melkotians have done the same thing but have found the thoughts to be incomplete, and so have simply created the more interesting or important parts. I once read about an artist who created a model of his elementary school, but the model was incomplete in places. He stated that he felt that he had no recollection of those parts of the school because some trauma had probably occurred there, forcing his memory to erase parts of the school on purpose so that he could not remember and relive those experiences. While that explanation escalates quickly, it's still interesting. So, budget creates brief emergency, which is solved by a creative solution, and an explanation as to why it should be so. Good job, Star Trek.


Unfortunately, it doesn't really get better than that. I'm put off by that dark red sky. And when Kirk reveals that they're stuck in this spaghetti western because the Melkotians looked into his head and found that his ancestors had settled the Old West, I'm disappointed. Star Trek, you had four other characters to choose from here. While Kirk and Bones may have shared similar backgrounds, Scotty's distant past would have offered something interesting. Scotland is a beautiful place with a varied history. As is Russia. Ditto for Vulcan. Nope, the Melkotians are going to kill the away team by putting them into a dangerous situation inspired by Kirk's ancestral past. Yawn.
The away team checks a nearby newspaper ("The Tombstone Epitaph". Heh.) and finds that they are in Tombstone, Arizona on October 26, 1881.
So here comes the sheriff, and he's calling Kirk "Ike." In fact, he gives everyone on the away team a new name.

Check out the modified Star Trek font on the sheriff sign, most
likely a nod to the fact that Kirk and the Enterprise are often presented
as the sheriffs of the galaxy.

Kirk figures out that the away team is supposed to be the Clanton gang, and that they will have a gunfight with the Earps and Doc Holliday later that day at the OK Corral. They go into the saloon across the street and the bartender greets them warmly. The saloon girl greets Chekov by licking his uvula.
Oops, there's Morgan Earp by another table, and he and Kirk briefly make threatening gestures at each other before Spock tells Kirk to sit his ass down. The saloon girl, Sylvia, fawns all over Chekov until Earp walks up and tears her away. Kirk and Morgan get into an argument about whose dick is bigger, and Morgan ends up leaving the saloon. 

Morgan needs a haircut.

Sylvia returns to macking on Chekov.
"Um, could you not do her here?" Kirk asks the navigator. He is clearly unaware that this is how other people feel when he pulls the same shit in front of them.
"We're supposed to maintain good relations with the natives," Chekov replies.
"Sorry," Kirk tells Sylvia. "Bros before hos." And she skips off to another part of the saloon.
Kirk talks to the bartender, trying to convince him that they're from the future. The bartender laughs.
Next, he goes to the marshal's office to talk to the Earps.
"I'm James Kirk, not Ike Clanton," he tells them.
"Nice to meet you, Kirk," says Virgil Earp. Then he punches Kirk.
"We don't want any trouble," Kirk tells Wyatt and Virgil.
Wyatt accuses Kirk of having scurvy (what?) and being yellow.
"At five o'clock, we're blowing you guys away," he says.

Wyatt is fugly.

Kirk goes back to the saloon, where Bones wipes his swollen lip with a rag soaked in bourbon. Scotty downs more booze. Spock tells Kirk that he can't make another comm because they don't have the right alloys in this time period. Um, alien planet. Not wrong time period. You actually have no idea what's on this planet, Spock, because you have no way of scanning the landscape for said alloys.
In the meantime, Chekov is fraternizing with Sylvia again.
She tells him that he shouldn't have come back into town, and that Morgan will kill him because Morgan wants her. Chekov laughs and says that if Morgan tries to kill him with him with his  "primitive weapon", he'll just step out of the way. Okay, Chekov. I know you've got some bravado, and that you're young, but that's probably the stupidest thing you've ever said.


The away team attempts to get the hell out of Dodge, only to find that force fields have been established at the edge of town. No way out.


The clock tower strikes three. Chekov says that if he were in charge of the E he'd be scanning for the away party. Spock says there's no way of figuring out where their beam-down site was located. Bones unhelpfully yells at Spock for being unhelpful. Kirk asks his team what sorts of materials were available in 1881.
"Um, poisonous snakes and cacti?" asks Chekov.
"Oh! I know!" says Bones. "I can make a tranquilizer!"
"I can make a delivery system," Spock offers.
Once again, Star Trek thinks that it's Macguyver. This episode reminds me a lot of "Arena." The Enterprise flies into someone else's space. That someone is not pleased to see them. A punishment is devised where Kirk must fight to the death (only in this time with four others). In both cases, a weapon is created with crude materials that is designed to take out the enemy. In Arena, it was a bamboo cannon filled with diamonds (whut?). Here, it's a tranquilizer bomb.
Bones goes to the local dentist/barber and asks if he can have some chemicals. Oops, looks like he asked Doc Holliday, who is friends with the Earps, and intends to blow Bones away. Holliday gives him the chemicals, anyway.


Chekov exits the general store and runs into Sylvia, who says she has been shopping for fabric to make a dress for a dance, which is one week away. And I call bullshit because you can't make a full-length dress with a bustle in a week. Especially if you lack a sewing machine, which I'm willing to bet she does.
"We should get married," she says out of the blue.
"Um, no thanks," he says, suddenly jumping up and leaving.


She goes after him, telling him that she doesn't care if he's a cattle rustler and a horse thief, and they start to make out again, but Morgan comes by and punches Chekov. When Chekov gets up and yells at Morgan to take his hands off of Sylvia, Morgan turns and shoots him. Oops, he forgot to simply step out of the way. Sad trombone.


The away team comes running.
"He's dead, Jim."
And based on a quick death they saw earlier, they know that once you die here, you're straight dead. Dramatic Music!
Morgan and his fugly brothers try to goad Kirk into starting shit early, but Kirk insists until they wait until five.

Back at the saloon, Spock, Scotty and Bones are working on the tranquilizer grenades while Kirk Hamlets at the bar.
"He wouldn't be dead if I had heeded that Melkot warning buoy," Kirk laments.
Bones tries to say that this is what happens when you sign up for "the service", but it's really not. This is what happens when you sign up to serve under Kirk. There's probably some Enterprise-specific waiver you have to sign before you come on board.
Bones has no idea how to work a mortar and pestle. He's stirring it gently instead of crushing things in it. I have no clue what Scotty is actually doing, but Spock appears to be painting the insides of some tin cans.
Scotty and Bones make some racist remarks about how Vulcans have no feelings, simply because Spock has remained level-headed, even though Chekov is dead.


Kirk tries to jump in and defend his boyfriend, but Spock quietly tells Kirk that his crewmates have forgotten that he's half-human. Bones and Scotty have the decency to look abashed at acting like dicks.
It's four o'clock. Spock says that he is confused about the logistics of this fight. If each member of the away team is represented by an actual person, then there's a loophole: the guy that Chekov represents actually survived the gunfight at the OK Corral, yet Chekov is dead.

Kirk goes to the sheriff, hoping he can talk the guy into stopping the fight.
"Hell no," says the sheriff. "Folks are counting on you to get rid of the Earps. Also, you can get revenge for Billy."
Kirk shakes the living fuck out of the sheriff, screaming "I can't just kill 'em!"


He returns to the saloon to find Spock and Bones assembling their tranquilizer grenade. Spock pays Bones a compliment. Bones is shocked. Kirk insists that they test the grenade. Scotty volunteers. Spock pulls the trigger and the can smokes profusely. Holding the thing in his face, Scotty proceeds to not pass out. An argument breaks out about how it should work, but doesn't, and why. Spock posits that maybe things don't work the way they should on this planet. They need to figure shit out, because they only have ten minutes left until five o'clock.



Kirk announces that instead of going to the corral, that they're going to stubbornly stay inside the saloon until after 5 pm. Of course there's the sharp zoom in, and when it zooms out again, they're standing in the corral. Dramatic music and commercial break!
When we return, they are attempting to leave the corral, but find that the force field is in place around the outside.
"I got an idea," says Spock. "Physical laws don't seem to apply here they way they should. None of this is real, so the bullets in those imaginary guns shouldn't kill us. What killed Chekov is that he believed the bullets were real."
"So he may not be dead?' asks Kirk.
"Dunno," says Spock.
For those of you at home, we've moved from Macguyver to Schrodinger's Matrix. Chekov is both dead and not dead. The away team can dodge bullets. Fucking Chekov. His cheeky response about stepping out of the way was kind of right.
"You should mind-meld us," says Kirk. "That way, we won't have any doubts that the bullets aren't real, so we can't be killed by them."
"Cool," says Spock.



And here come the Fugly Brothers.

America's Next Top Marshal

Everybody in the corral, Kirk does the wiggly-finger thing near his gun, and the Fugly Brothers start shooting. The fence behind the away team is being destroyed, but they're still standing there.


Kirk and Wyatt move forward, and then Kirk starts a fight in which he easily kicks Wyatt's ass, because even though the laws of physics don't seem to work here, the law that nobody else can best Kirk still applies. He draws his gun, but decides not to shoot Wyatt. Everything goes wavy, and we return to the bridge.
Bones scans Chekov. The navigator doesn't remember anything but the girl. He's in perfect health.
The buoy comes back. Kirk makes orders to fire weapons on it, but instead, it blows up. Then the Rainbow Melkot appears.
"You didn't kill the other guy. Is this the way of your people?" it asks.
"Yes," says Kirk. "We believe you shouldn't fight unless you have no choice."
Really, dude? Shall I go back and count the number of fist fights you've started since the beginning of this series?
"We're still here on a peaceful mission," says Kirk. "We want you to join us in the Federation."
"Cool," says the Melkot. "We'll totes hop over to your ship. Will there be like a cocktail hour or a mixer of some kind so we can suddenly be BFFs even though we just tried to kill you?"
"Totes," says Kirk, and they sign off.


"That was crap, Jim," says Spock. "You were going to kill that ugly guy."
"Yeah," admits Kirk. "That's the was it was in 1881."
Yeah, only it wasn't 1881. You didn't time travel, Kirk. You were on another planet that was half-set up to look like 1881, with people who didn't actually exist. That shit was all on you.
"I wonder how humans survived to this point," Spock muses.
"We evolved, got over it," replies Kirk. Bones nods as though he's trying to agree with that crapola.
Spock gives him a look that says he sees right through it.
But oh, well. On to the cocktail hour.




Death Toll:
Red deaths this episode: 0
Red deaths this season: 0
Gold deaths this episode: 0
Gold deaths this season: 0
Blue deaths this episode: 0
Blue deaths this season: 0
Total crew deaths this season: 0
Total crew deaths thus far: 44

And Chekov was Schrodinger's cat this episode, but I'm only counting permanent deaths, so he just gets a footnote.


*******

Fourth in the Celestial Seasonings Fruit Sampler box is the Country Peach Passion. It's good, lighter than I would have expected, one where you can taste the tea along with the peach nectar. It's lightly spiced rather than heavily, and would probably make a good iced tea.





Dammit. Cat melted again.


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