Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, January 27, 2014

Season 1, Episode 27 "Errand of Mercy"


"Errand of Mercy"
Production Number: 27
Air Order: 26
Stardate: 3198.4
Original Air Date: March 23, 1967

*sigh*
Nobody hates late posts as much as I do. But between a wrap party, a nerd con, volunteer work for a cat sanctuary, and being sick, my post is once again late. And once again, I apologize. Here are some con pics.
This guy attempted to do all three days in his Data make-up and
gold contacts before discovering that it sucked tribble balls.
He showed me his cell phone selfie of the completed
costume, though. It was pretty impressive.

I stalked this girl half-way across the floor to get a shot of her Enterprise ball gown.
That hoop skirt must suck at times, but I have to give her props for not dressing
like Harley Quinn.

*******


Hot dog, you guys! It's Klingon time!
The Enterprise is headed to Organia to keep our war-minded friends from using the planet as a base of operations. The planet is Class M, inhabited by humanoids whose culture seems to be of throw-away value to Spock, and it's sitting in a good spot for take-over by either the Klingons or the Federation.
But oh, crap! Now we're being fired upon, and everybody does controlled falls to the floor.


You know, every time they do those controlled falls, all I hear is Austin Powers saying, "Oh no! I fell over! Oh no, I fell over again!"


The E returns fire, and Sulu reports that all he's picking up is debris. They decide that they destroyed the other ship, and Starfleet calls to tell them that the slap-fight they just engaged in was considered an act of war.
Kirk's Log 3198.4: They're orbiting Organia, which is peaceful.
Uhura reports a fleet of Klingon ships nearby. Kirk tells Sulu that he and Spock are going downstairs (big shocker there), and that Sulu is in charge. How nice of Kirk to perpetually leave the ship in order to provide lower-ranking officers with the opportunity to prove themselves. After a five-year stint under Kirk, everyone on the bridge should have enough experience to skip straight to admiral.


Kirk tells Sulu that if the Klingons try to engage them, Sulu should turn tail and run. Sulu objects, but Kirk has 1 1/2 extra stripes on his shirt, so the helmsman has to cooperate.


Kirk and Spock beam down onto the set of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, then remark that none of these backwater ignoramuses bowed down at their feet for being technological gods. They're welcomed graciously by a guy named Ayelborne. I can't decide if he looks more like the dad from Family Ties or Count Rugen from The Princess Bride.


"Take us to your leader," says Kirk.
"We don't have leaders," says Ayelborne. "But I'm chairman of the council."
He offers to take them both to the council to chat, but Spock declines in the name of science, wanting to get in his scan quota for the day.


Look at these goats, you guys. I'm torn between laughing at the fact that they thought, "The green hair and purple polka-dots indicates an alien goat", and awarding points for effort: somebody had to dye those goats those outlandish colors. Let's go with both.
Getting back to to the story - Kirk meets with the council and tells them that the Klingons want to make Organia their base of operations. One of the council members astutely repeats back what Kirk just said from their point of view - he wants them to choose the Federation over their enemies. Kirk goes into a spiel about how the Klingons are bad. He sounds like an intergalactic insurance salesman. He's totally up against a wall, trying to convince the Organians that the Federation members are the good guys. They aren't buying it. They want to see what the Klingons are peddling first.
Dude, I love this. I love it when Star Trek takes on the idea of "what if our protagonist isn't right?" This right here is what makes this show worth watching.


Ayelborne insists that Kirk is the one who is in danger, and suggests that they leave. Kirk is fighting a losing battle with these guys, and he admits that he is not a diplomat. No shit, Benedict. They ask him to leave so they can consider what he has to say.
Spock comes in and quietly tells Kirk that the Organian society has been on a slow train to Nowheresville, and that they haven't made any technological progress for tens of thousands of years. Twenty bucks says Kirk will violate the Prime Directive by offering them advanced tech to use against the Klingons. He's basically courting the Organians in the Federation's war against the Empire.


The Organians finish their talk and thank Kirk and Spock, then politely tell them to GTFO. Kirk gives an impassioned plea to the council about how he'll solve all of their problems in exchange for buying their loyalty. He's interrupted by a call from Sulu, who says that Klingons have arrived and are opening fire. He can't beam them up while the shields are in place, so Kirk and Spock are trapped on Organia for the time being.


A council member named Trefayne says that there are 8 Klingon vessels in orbit, and that men are beaming into the citadel. He knows this just because.
"I guess we should protect the human and the Vulcan," says another council member. Kirk thinks the Organians are nuts for thinking that he and Spock need more protection than the natives do, and he is baffled as to how Trefayne knew about the Klingons.
Kirk's Log 3201.7: There are Klingons on the surface, and Kirk and Spock have been given native clothes as a disguise.
Ayelborne admits that he took their phasers to prevent violence, which pisses off Kirk. The captain will pose as Baroner, an Organian citizen, and Spock shall poses as a Vulcan merchant, which should fly under the radar of the Klingons. Kirk, count yourself lucky that you look like these aliens.

It took me a shockingly long time to realize that they dressed Spock
in blue and Kirk in gold. Way to observe, blogger.

The Klingons come in, 12 kinds of shiny, and bathed in bronzer. Ayelborne graciously welcomes them, and the head Klingon introduces himself as Kor, the Military Governor of Organia. Wow, presumptuous. Bet he has his toothbrush on him, too.
He notices Kirk right away, and after a brief exchange where the captain gives clipped answers to his questions, Kor decides that Kirk is sassy, and that he'll use him as a liaison between the too-smiley Organians and the Klingons. They take Spock into custody, because Vulcans are part of the Federation, then Kor tells the Organians that they had better behave or they'll be punished with death.
"Cool," says Ayelborne. "We just want peace."


Kor takes Kirk to his new office and gives him the regulations that he's set forth for the Organians. Kirk is supposed to present them to the council.
"You're responsible for making sure that no one steps out of line," says Kor.
A Klingon underling comes in with Spock and says he's just a merchant. Apparently, they have this "mind-scanner" thing that goes through your brain and extracts info. If they push it too hard, they can strip the person of all recognition. Geez, does everyone in the universe have a neural neutralizer? Spock, ever the professional, has played his part well, and they buy that he is just some merchant.


Kirk and Spock walk through the citadel, openly discussing the mind-scanner. Kirk bumps into a Klingon and a fight almost breaks out, but Spock smooths things over between them. Then he calls Kirk "captain" in front of a bunch of other Klingons, who are either deaf or oblivious. Way to be inconspicuous, guys.

"Bitch, don't be lookin' at my human boyfriend."

They move on and begin plotting to make trouble using the Klingon weapons pile outside of Kor's new office. Again, they're lucky no one caught them. After dark they sneak over to the office in their tights and leg warmers.


Kirk takes out a Klingon guard while Spock uses a sonic grenade to blow up a pile of corrugated cardboard boxes that are supposedly full of chemical reactors. Then, because they're dressed for it, they perform selected scenes from Flashdance in celebration.



Back in the council chamber, the Organians are upset with Kirk and Spock for disrupting the peace. The captain and first officer try to convince the others to be wolves instead of sheeple. Kirk tells Ayelborne to grow a pair, and gives another speech about fighting back. Too bad Kor bugged the council chamber like an episode of Big Brother.



He and his entourage bust into the chamber to arrest Kirk, telling everyone how he is going to use the mind-scanner on him to find out who he is before he kills him. Obviously, this sucks for Kirk, because the Klingons will find out about his torrid affair with the Enterprise.
"Be cool," says Ayelborne. "You don't need to probe him. He's James Kirk of the Enterprise."
Kor pretty much does a dance of excitement, because he's got the Federation's Golden Boy.
"Ayelborne, you dick!" says Kirk, and the Klingons drag him off to Kor's office for a coffee date.

Kor wants to chat. He says that Kirk and the Federation are like himself and the Klingon Empire: predators.
"Screw you," says Kirk, who is still butthurt about Ayelborne.
Kor asks for the Federation's plans, and Kirk smiles before telling him to go fuck himself. The Klingon threatens to kill his Vulcan boyfriend and turn the captain into a vegetable before throwing Kirk into the brig with Spock. Kirk has twelve hours to change his mind.



Um, why does this cell exist? The Organians are pacifists and wouldn't need it. And the Klingons wouldn't have thrown one together because they shoot on sight. Way to pay attention, writers.



Kirk and Spock have been hanging out in their cell for five hours when the door opens. They plan to jump the Klingon guard, but look! It's Ayelborne!




"The fuck?" asks Kirk.
"They were going to hurt you," says Ayelborne. "We don't roll like that here."
He takes them to the council chamber.

Meanwhile, a guard reports to Kor that the prisoners are gone. Nobody saw them leave. Kor gives the order to punish the Organians.

In the council chamber, Kirk yells at the guy that just rescued him. Okay, Ayelborne landed him there in the first place, but still. Kor gets on the intercom to say that because the Organians probably helped Kirk and Spock escape, they'll be punished. There comes the sound of disruptor fire, and Kor says that he just killed 200 Organians. There's no budget to clothe 200 extras and then kill them with special effects, so we'll just take his word for it, shall we? Kor says he'll keep at it until they turn over Kirk and Spock. Kirk flips out while the council just chills in their chairs.



Kirk convinces Ayelborne to give them their phasers back, and he and Spock head out, hell-bent on playing revolution.
"So that's gonna suck," says Ayelborne, and the others nod.

Kirk and Spock wait until dark to stun a pair of guards, then Kirk uses his rope belt to choke info out of another. They end up in Kor's office.
Back in the council chambers, Ayelborne and the council make like the Mystics from The Dark Crystal. Ohm, muthafuckas.



"Your guards are no longer in perfect operating condition," says Spock to Kor, which is Vulcan for, "Yeeeah, boi! We opened a can o' Starfleet Whoop-Ass on yo' lackies!"
"S'all good," says Kor, and he gives a speech about how the Federation and the Empire are going to clash, but that the Feds will fall. "By the way, my office is bugged."
Klingon guards burst in, and Spock and Kirk rush forward, but everyone yells and drops their weapons. Upstairs, the bridge crew leap out of their chairs.



"Everything is too hot to touch!" says Spock.
Kirk and Kor circle each other, but they are also too hot to touch.
Ayelborne and his friend Claymare come in and apologize for stopping the war and Disabling All the Ships. Kirk and Kor call their fleets to find that power is off and their weapons systems are dead.
"The hell?" Kirk yells at Ayelborne. "You have no right to stop our war! The Klingons are evil!"
He and Kor bicker like an old married couple (or, you know, Spock and Bones), and Kor ends up telling Kirk that together, they could totally destroy the Organians for ruining all the fun.
"You'll be BFFs in the future," says Ayelborne, "but you'll kill a million people first. In the meantime, not in my backyard."
Then Ayelborne and Claymare become throbbing balls of light and disappear.



Apparently, millions of years earlier, the Organians were humanoid, but had gradually evolved into pure thought. Kind of surprised that Spock's initial scan didn't pick that up, but I guess that would have ruined the surprise twist.

The Klingons didn't kill 200 Organians because there was technically nobody to kill. And the forms the Organians took, as well as the buildings, their culture and everything else, was all for the benefit of the Federation and Klingon "visitors".
"So that sucks," says Kor. "I was looking forward to fighting you."
"Oh, well. Next time, I guess," shrugs Kirk.
This "respect for your enemy" thing is pretty chivalrous, but I have to wonder how often it occurs outside of Star Trek.

You know how you get to be Head Klingon in Charge? By growing the
best Fu Man Chu. Just show up on the Klingon homeworld with your
quasi-stache, bark a little, and you'll be issued a bat-leth.


Upstairs, Kirk seems to be feeling kind of craptacular.
"What's wrong, little buddy?" asks Spock.
"That was humiliating," says Kirk. "We were advocating war, and we got rushed to the burn unit by smarter life forms. Humans are dumb."
Though he obviously agrees with that last sentiment, for once Spock is not a dick about it. "It took them millions of years to reach that kind of enlightenment. None of us is arriving there tomorrow."
Kirk feels better, and they get the hell out of Dodge.



*******

This week's tea selection was a bit of a gamble. A BuckSlave recommended their tea lattes to me, especially the Vanilla Rooibos Latte. Then, a few days ago, out of the blue, my cousin Agent K messaged me: "Ugh, never get the Vanilla Rooibos Latte at Starschmucks! It tastes like anise!" One dose of high praise, one of disgust, and now I was curious. I knew that drinks from Starschmucks could vary quite a bit between locations and baristas, but how could rooibos taste like licorice? "They listed licorice root in the ingredients," she typed. "My kid agreed that it was gross."
When a friend suggested that we get together for a catch-up at Starschmucks, my fate was sealed.
Honestly, mine tasted like cranberry bread. It was tangy rooibos, steamed milk, and simple syrup. I thought it was pretty good. Just to be safe, though, I only ordered a tall. No need to tempt said fate.


Agent K surmises that her teabag may have been sitting for quite some time, as she lives in an area where she suspects very little tea is consumed, and that might have lead to the weird taste.
But if you're still hesitant, don't worry - if they make it, and you hate it, they'll make you something else.


Moe's eyes keep following me...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Season 1, Episode 26 "The Devil in the Dark"

"The Devil in the Dark"
Production Number: 26
Air Order: 25
Stardate: 3196.1
Original Air Date: March 9, 1967




We're setting the scene with a matte painting. Yesssss.

We open this week by zooming in on a planet and cutting to some caverns under the surface. men in yellow and orange coveralls move through the caverns, tracking a "monster" that killed 50 people. A hapless guy named Schmitter is being left on guard with a phaser, and he asks the chief if the Enterprise will be arriving some time within his shift. Already this episode is awesome. I love it when they start straight-away with the conflict rather than dilly-dallying around with the E and a captain's log. In those cases, we have to hear about the conflict from Third-Party Kirk.


The chief and crew leave, and they're maybe one cavern away before an antsy Schmitter turns toward a noise, and screams "Nooooooo!" The others come running to find that Schmitter is toast. Burnt toast. Thank you for not showing Schmitter's burned husk, Star Trek. *shudders* That shit freaks me out.


Kirk's Log 3196.1: The E got a distress call from the pergium production station on Janus VI. Kirk, Spock and McCoy have beamed down to talk to Chief Vanderburg. (BTW: pergium is another element made up by Star Trek. Apparently, we won't discover it for another ten years or so.)
Vanderburg tells our boys that the planet is rife with minerals of all kinds, which get shipped all over the Federation. They opened a new section for mining, and their equipment started eroding. Then men started being attacked by some thing that burns them to a crisp. The creature has been moving up the mining levels, corroding machinery and killing miners. One of the miners, Ed Appel, comes in and says that he got a glimpse of the creature, which was big and shaggy. Vanderburg says that if  the federation wants the pergium so bad, they can just take care of the problem themselves.


Bones leaves to examine Schmitter's body, and Spock asks about a shiny playground ball on Vanderburg's desk. The chief growls that it's a silicon nodule, and that there are millions in the caverns, but that they're worthless. When Bones returns, he says it looks like the body was thrown into a vat of acid rather than burned.


Down in the reactor room, another guard is killed. An alarm goes off, and everyone rushes to that room. A corrosive has eaten through a door and a pump in the device that provides the station with life support has been stolen. Like most government-run operations, everything hinges on the functionality of an out-dated piece of tech.
Kirk pages Scotty, who says that no way in hell do they have spare parts for the planet's antiquated mining equipment. He might be able to jury-rig together something from spare parts he has lying around, but it will probably only run for two days.

Unless he's talking, all shots of Scotty look like this.

In Vanderburg's office, Spock brings up a theory that the monster might be silicon-based rather than carbon-based. Bones thinks he's nuts, but Kirk entertains the thought. The miners are armed with low-level phasers that would be ineffective against such a thing, but Enterprise crew members have a higher phaser setting, and Spock could alter them further to work better against silicon. He is still pondering the silicon nodule. He thinks that the missing pump may be the creature's way of saying "Humans, GTFO."


Scotty has beamed down with a junk drawer of spare parts and is building a replacement pump. Kirk tells him to treat the pump like he treats the E. (I dunno, Scump is a creepier ship that Kirkerprise, if you ask me.) Then the captain goes upstairs to inspect his crack-team of Red Shirt monster bait. He's sending them down to level 23, where the shiny playground balls were discovered.


Kirk and Spock go down to 23 with the Reds. I want to say that at least Kirk is willing to take on the same task as the Reds, but who will run the ship when your ass gets fried, Kirk? Spock is scanning for silicon-based life when they hear a scream. They go running to find a smoking, charred pile. Down one Red.


Kirk and Spock are investigating the scene when suddenly - the thing appears! Dramatic music! They phaser it, knocking a chunk from it, but it quickly scoots into a tunnel and disappears. Spock scans the tunnel and says it was only made in the last two minutes. They surmise that the monster secretes a super-corrosive acid that melts through rock, machinery, and Red Shirts. 
And you just pissed it off. Good job, you guys.


So the monster looks like Pizza the Hutt from Spaceballs. Go on. Tell me I'm wrong.


I'm actually kind of hungry for pizza now. As goofy as it is, though, I can rag on it too hard. This is the first time Star Trek has really attempted to create a non-humanoid alien that's more than just a hand-puppet plant or a dog with antennae.
Think of the logistics of this thing. It has to move, so it probably has someone inside moving it, or else being controlled by remote (IMDB says that a performer built it, and the producer liked the costume so much that he actually wrote this episode to feature it). Parts on the outside move, which means hidden bladders and pumps. It's more than just putting make-up and a costume on an actor.
Spock scans 100 miles out in a circle. His tricorder finds all of their men, the miners, thousands of tunnels... and one creature. He says that to make that many tunnels, the creature is either very old, or else it is another space buffalo.
"It would suck to kill it," says Spock.
"Man, fuck that noise," says Kirk. "My space buffalo record is 2-0. It's silicon-based head will grace the walls of my quarter. Besides, the pergium from these mines powers the life support systems for half the federation."
"I guess so," says Spock, pouting in the way that Vulcans pout.


Red Shirt reinforcements have arrived, and Kirk tells them to aim their beefed-up phasers at what they guess it the creature's head, and then everyone should fire together for maximum damage. Spock tells the Red Shirts to capture the creature, but Kirk gets mad and tells them to kill it. When the Reds disperse, Kirk confronts Spock.


He gives the Vulcan some passive-aggressive bullshit about wanting him to help Scotty with the pump. Spock immediately calls him on it, stating that Scotty knows more about nuclear reactors that he does. Kirk then tries to say that it's not a good idea for both the first and second in command to be on the same mission. Really, Kirk? Then go back to the fucking ship. Spock counters with the calculated odds of them both being killed, which are 2000+ to 1.
"Okay," Kirk concedes. "You got me."
OMG, you guys. Just kiss already.
Scotty interrupts their interlude to say that the pump has finally broken. Kirk gives the order to evacuate most of the miners.
(Fun fact: it was this scene, with Kirk's passive-aggressive rank-pulling, that convinced me to start this blog. I really, really wanted to make fun of Kirk. He has not disappointed.)


The six remaining miners are assigned to the two teams of Reds, and Spock and Kirk encounter a pair of tunnels that merge further on.
"Let's split up," says Kirk, who has just told groups of men not to go anywhere alone.
So if Kirk and Spock split up and go into separate tunnels, which one will meet the serial killer? I think it's Kirk, who is simultaneously The Jock and The Slut. According to Joss Whedon, killing Spock is optional.
Kirk's tunnel is filled with shiny playground balls. Spock tells Kirk over the comms that he has a theory, and warns Kirk not to harm the playground balls.The Pizza Creature moves in the shadows, creating a cave-in. Spock is concerned, but Kirk reminds him that the tunnels meet up further down. Only - dramatic music! - the Pizza Creature tunnels out of the wall and traps Kirk!

Not The Shat. Totally a stunt double here.

There's a stand-off between Kirk and the Pizza Creature, and Spock radios in to tell Kirk to kill it. When Kirk asks why Spock changed his mind, Spock replies that Kirk is in danger.
Aw, Kirky. He luuurrves you. He wants to have your gaybies.
Spock comes running down the tunnel to find Kirk and the Pizza Creature kickin' it. Kirk says that the creature has not attacked him because it is injured. Yeah, you guys did that...
"I have an idea," says Spock. "What if I mind-meld with it?"

This is totally a screen capture of Spock doing a mind-meld. It
only looks like Leonard sneezing.

Spock does a touch-less mind-meld with the creature and ends up yelling "pain!" before stumbling backward. recovering, he tells Kirk that the creature is a Horta, is highly intelligent, and that it's in extreme pain from the wound they inflicted upon it. The Pizza Horta moves over a flat rock and corrodes it to say "No Kill I". Apparently, it's a quick learner, although it has a terrible grasp on grammar.


Kirk pages Bones to get down there with his bag of tricks. He hopes to patch up the wound that they gave the Horta.


Spock does a second mind-meld while Bones scans the wound.
"It's like rock," Bones complains. "I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer."
"You're a healer," argues Kirk. "Work your magic and shit."
Spock, through the mind-meld, directs Kirk into a side tunnel where he can find the pump, and Kirk ends up in a room full of the silicon nodules, some broken open.


he brings the pump part back and drags a tearful Spock away from the Pizza Horta. Now this is an emotional Spock that I can buy. He's upset because he's essentially absorbed the feels of another being. So much more believable than "Tra-La-La, I'm High" Spock.
The miners, which suddenly number far more than 6, are angry at the Pizza Horta, and come barreling down the tunnel to kill the creature.


Kirk and Spock explain to them that every 50,000 years, the entire Horta race dies, leaving one female and thousands of eggs. The remaining Horta was cool with sharing the planet with humans until they busted up her nursery, and she had to go all Mama Bear.
"Here's the deal," says Kirk. "The little dudes will hatch. They ingest rock, and tunnel. You will then have access to minerals that you didn't have access to previously, and you'll be a million times more efficient." Really? You're choosing compromise and diplomacy over phaser fire? Is that a first, Kirk? You also let a space buffalo live! I'm shocked.
"Wait," says Spock. "We fatally wounded her."
"Naw, we're good," says Bones, who is up to his elbows in gray stuff. "I had the E beam down the silicon-based compound that we use to build emergency shelters. I made a plaster from it. She'll be fine, cuz I'm the shit."


Up top, Vanderburg calls the bridge to report that the Horta juniors are all hatching, tunneling, and opening up scandalously rich pockets of minerals. he says that the Horta aren't so bad once you get used to their appearance.
"Mama Horta said the same thing about humans," Spock remarks.
Kirk and Bones try to give him some crap about being a Vulcan and being less attractive than humans.
"Whatever, ho," says Spock. "She liked my ears."


*******

RIP Roll-Call

This dude Schmitter

This blond miner

This Red

Surprisingly, out of all the Reds we had on this episode, we only lost one.

*******

This week I wasn't thinking too much and bought a box of Safeway brand tea, Amaretto Rooibos. I guess if you live in an area where they have Safeway grocery stores, you can possibly find this tea on the shelf. I was attracted to two things: 1. It's a rooibos, always a winner with me; and 2. It's amaretto-flavored (almond and vanilla). Curious, I opened the box and the inner bag to smell it. It smells like tiny, expensive, fancy cookies. The tea bags were the pyramid ones, and they included a string, which I like. It's much heavier on the almond flavor than vanilla, but not unpleasantly so. It's a bit like liquid biscotti. It's tasty.