Star Trek

Star Trek

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.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Season 2, Episode 37 "The Changeling"

"The Changeling"
Production Number: 37
Air Order: 32
Stardate: 3614.9
Original Air Date: September 29, 1967

So wandering the webs for a while now has been a brief article that gives one a glimpse into the Star Trek TOS character Bible. As in, the booklet given to people who might be interested in writing episodes. As much as I like the idea of  a group of writers hanging out around a table offering things like, "what if Kirk gets trapped on a some planet and bangs a chick and saves the day at the last minute?", that's not the full story. Sometimes they asked established sci-fi writers to take a crack at it. Sometimes they used unsolicited materials or bought short stories. Either way, the treatment would then go to their head writers, who would edit or change things, or just ensure that it was keeping with the full flavor of Star Trek. The character Bible gives brief information about the characters, situations, sets available, and who to contact in order to talk about science stuff.
Earlier this week, I was randomly telling Roomie and Dubs how I'd like to have a copy, just for funsies. Unbeknownst to me, Roomie then discovered online that she could get PDFs of each page, to be sent to FedEx to be printed and bound. She returned triumphant that night, telling me that having the booklet in her possession had earned her a nerdy conversation with not one, but two, gas station pump jockeys. Handing it to me, she stated, "I'm doing this for blog cred." Okey-doke, Roomie. You get a Command Gold Star.

And I now have the TOS nerd-cronomicon. Mwahahahaha!


*******


We start out with a mystery - the E can't seem to raise any of the 4 million people in the sector where they are currently located, including the Starfleet science team on one of the planets. Oh, no! Maybe it's a zombie windsock!
Sulu reports that they are being fired upon, and the viewscreen shows a wobbly white fireball making its way toward the ship. They take a hit, and the bridge crew does one of their exaggerated tandem tumbles. This time, though, the fixtures seem even more tilted, the falls a bit less rehearsed. I wonder if they've mounted the bridge set on a platform that can shift as needed... that'd be cool.


When they've righted themselves, Spock reports that the bolt of energy that hit them was the equivalent of 90 photon torpedoes, and that it traveled at warp 15. Kirk asks Sulu for evasive maneuvers, but the helmsman can't comply, as Scotty has diverted power from the warp drive to the shields.


They fire a photon torpedo at whatever-it-is that is firing on them, but the thing just absorbs it. Kirk is astonished. Really, dude? You gave it one where it gave you 90, and you're shocked that there was no damage? My 6-year-old nephew could do that math, and he didn't spend years in Starfleet Academy.
They take another hit of 90, and Scotty reports that they're toast if they take one more, so Kirk decides to try talking. You can't run it, outmaneuver it, or outgun it, and now you're going to try talking. Good choice.
While Uhura works on opening a channel, Spock reports that the thing is heavy, but is only like three feet tall.
"What the hell kind of intelligence could you have being that small?" asks Scotty.
"Size is no indication of intelligence," Spock reminds him.
Yeah, no shit. Ever hang out with toddlers? They're ridiculously smart. Good thing they aren't able to learn quantum physics. We'd be so screwed.
After a few bumps in the road regarding translation, Kirk is able to tell the thing that he's Capatin James Kirk of the Enterprise, that they're peaceful, and mean it no harm. It replies back that it is Nomad, and is also peaceful. Nomad asks Kirk if he will step outside to chat.
"Um, no?" says Kirk. "But you can come aboard my ship." 
"Cool," says Nomad, and Kirk grabs Spock, Scotty and Bones to come with him to the transporter room. They beam Nomad onto the E. I think it's a Kirby vacuum cleaner. That hovers.
 Dramatic music!
Nomad asks Kirk where he's from, and Kirk replies that they're with the Federation.
"No, dipshit," says Nomad. "WHERE are you FROM?"
"Come out and talk to us," says Kirk.
"It's not full of tiny people," says Bones. "It's a machine."
Kirk, why are you so stupid this week? Have you been chugging the Saurian brandy in sick bay?
"Lemme see your star charts," says the thing. It keeps ending every few sentences with "I am Landru Nomad." Maybe it's for Kirk's benefit. Maybe, because Kirk is being so unbelievably thick this week, it thinks it might need to keep reminding the captain of who he is talking to.
Spock says that there was a probe sent from Earth in the early 2000's named Nomad, but it was thought to have been destroyed.

Kirk takes the hovering Nomad to a room to look at star charts, dragging Spock and Bones with him. 
Ha! Pluto is listed on that star chart. I'm just gonna go ahead and declare that, in the future, Pluto has been reinstated. Suck it, IAU. Star Trek says it's a planet, so it is.
Nomad asks Kirk if he is from Earth. When Kirk replies that he is, Nomad refers to him as the Creator, the guy who programmed him. Bones asks what Nomad's function is. Nomad tells Kirk that his job is to sterilize things, to destroy imperfections.
"The fuck?" demands Bones. "You killed all of those people?"
Nomad calls Bones irrational. When Kirk replies, "yeah, kinda", Bones gives him a nasty look.
"How come you keep calling me Creator?" asks Kirk.
"Dude, let him," says Spock.
They leave Nomad with a confused Red, and move into the corridor to talk.


"Been looking up stuff in the computer," says Spock. "I think the Nomad was damaged in a meteor collision and repaired itself. It has mentioned an accident, and the Other. Also, I think Nomad thinks that you're the guy who made him, Jackson Roykirk. It's destroyed memory banks probably picked up your name, thinking you were Roykirk, and that's why it stopped firing on us. Nomad was designed to be a thinking machine, and to seek out new life-forms. But now it seems to be seeking out perfect life-forms, and destroying everything that doesn't meet its higher-than-high standards."
"Awesome," says Kirk. "It'll kill us all."


Mr Singh, the Red that was left with Nomad, gets a comm call from Uhura. While he's fetching her information, she sings "Beyond Antares" to herself. Nomad goes off in search of her when Singh turns his back. Can't say I blame Nomad. If you had the chance to hear Nichelle Nichols sing "Beyond Antares" in person, wouldn't you?
Scotty quietly calls Kirk to tell him that that weird vacuum cleaner is on the bridge. The OT3 heads off in that direction.
Nomad confronts Uhura, demanding to know what she's doing. Uhura attempts to explaining singing and music, but Nomad gets impatient, and scans her head instead.


"The fuck?" yells Scotty. And in an action of chivalry and grave stupidity, he grabs Nomad. Nomad then blasts him backward.


A dazed Uhura is hauled off to sick bay while Bones looks over Scotty. Apparently, he's dead, Jim.
"Nomad, what the hell?" asks Kirk. "I needed him!"
Nomad keeps referring to the crew members as "units". It thinks Kirk built his crew, like Dr Korby. Silly Nomad. If Kirk had built his crew, none of them would look like Scotty. They'd all look like Andrea. They'd probably be (un)dressed like her, too. (Although the female crew uniforms certainly look as though Kirk picked them out.)
"I can fix the unit Scott," says Nomad. "It's super out-of-date, though."
They upload all of the tapes on human physiology, and Scotty in particular, to Nomad's memory banks, and it follows Bones back to sick bay.
There's a cool shot here of the camera following Nomad as it follows Bones. I like this. It mixes things up nicely. Always welcome when they take a chance on a new camera angle.


Down in sick bay, Christine scans Scotty while Nomad hovers nearby. She tells Bones that there isn't any change, and he snottily replies that he can see that for himself. Christine treats him to the briefest eat shit look before all of Scotty's vitals shoot up. Scotty wakens and asks how the hell he got to sick bay.


Kirk tells Nomad to repair Uhura, but Nomad replies that she is undamaged. It just "wiped her memory banks".
Spock suggests that Uhura just needs to be re-educated. Kirk asks Bones and Chapel to do it, then tells Nomad to go with the nice Reds to the "waiting area" in the brig. Goodbye, Reds.
Later, Spock is trying to scan Nomad for information, but it refuses to allow him to do so. Kirk orders Nomad to drop it's shields and let Spock look at it. So far, Nomad has told Kirk that all of his biological units are chaotic, irrational and unpredictable. It calls Spock "well-ordered". Spock decides to take the compliment, which is to say that his eyebrows go up. Nomad agrees to the probing.
Meanwhile, Christine is teaching Uhura to read. I like that when Uhura gets frustrated, she lapses into Swahili. But I hate the wig that they put on Majel Barrett. It looks like a ratty tribble, and it's not even the same color as her hair.


Spock isn't getting anywhere with his scans. There's too much buried and inaccessible. He suggests a mind meld. Kirk tells Nomad that Spock is going to communicate by touch. When Spock talks during mind melds, he typically tosses out words or phrases that have to do with the other person. This time he mentions the name Tan Ru, and he struggles to disconnect from Nomad, even when he steps away. Kirk has to bark at Nomad to let go. Stepping out into the corridor to talk again, a shaky Spock tells Kirk that Nomad was damaged in a meteor collision, and encountered another probe (Tan Ru), whose directive was to sample and sterilize soil samples from planets, probably with the idea of colonization in mind. (Yes, Tan Ru is Wall-E. Heh.) Tan Ru and Nomad helped repair one another, merging programs, so that Nomad's new directive was to seek out life, and sterilize "biological infestations".
Kirk compares it to the mythological creature known as a changeling, wherein a fairy replaces a baby with a fairy child, and the new creature grows up as a human. "The only thing that's been keeping us from being "sterilized" is the fact that it thinks that I'm it's mother." They take off down the corridor for no reason other than to progress the story.


Nomad breaks through the force field in the brig and starts to float off down the corridor. When the Reds fire on it to get it to stop, of course it vaporizes them. Two down.
It floats down to engineering, ignoring Scotty yelling at it.
"Your ship is inefficient," Nomad tells Scotty. "I'll fix it." It interfaces with the control system and begins pushing the E to warp 11. The engineers are not able to stop it.


Kirk, who has been alerted to the situation by an engineering Red, strides into the room and demands that Nomad stop. When the robot replies that it is making the ship more efficient, Kirk replies that the E can't take the stress of warp 11 and will break apart. Funny that this stupid machine couldn't figure that out.
Spock comes in and reports that the other Reds from the brig are missing, and presumed dead. Nomad tells Kirk that his biological units are inferior. In his dumbest move of the episode, Kirk shouts back that he is a biological unit, and that he is the creator. Nomad pauses. Kirk makes a great "oh, shit" face as he realizes what he's done. Spock gives Kirk a look that says he'd like to slap the captain upside the head.


"Um, I need to think about some stuff before I return to the launch point," says Nomad.
Kirk orders him to go with another pair of Reds, who are now rethinking their choice to get dressed and report for duty this morning. The camera follows Nomad again as it heads through the engineering doors, toward the waiting Reds, who are backing uncertainly into the corridor.


"That was kind of the dumbest thing ever," says Spock. "It now views you as inferior. Also, it probably figured out how to get back to Earth based on those star charts, which means it'll kill everyone on the planet. Good job, moron."
"Yeah," Kirk admits, "that was a pretty dumbshit move." Knowing is half the battle, Kirk.
Kirk's Log 3614.9: "In my infinite wisdom, I set a killing machine loose on my ship and let it know that Earth is full of innocent people ripe for the picking. It would have been better not to come to work high today."

Nomad gets off the lift with the Reds. It starts to wander off on it's own, and the Reds call it back. When it doesn't respond, they shoot at it. It then vaporizes them. Reds are dropping like flies this episode.


Nomad takes a Jeffries tube down to sick bay. Kirk and Spock are paged there, and when they open the doors, Nomad strolls out, ignoring Kirk's orders to stop. Bones tells Kirk and Spock that it got into the medical and personnel files, and shocked Christine when she tried to stop it.
"It probably looked at your files and figured out that you're full of shit," Spock tells Kirk.
Scotty calls Kirk to report that life support systems are going out all over the ship, and manual override is blocked. Kirk tells Scotty to meet him in engineering with anti-gravs, then high-tails it down there himself.
Nomad is there. It tells Kirk that, by switching off life support, it can get rid of the biological infestation without harming the ship, which is not perfect, but can be made so. It is also refusing to answer to Kirk anymore.
This is, of course, where Kirk gives Landru Nomad an existential crisis, because that is how one handles a sentient machine hell-bent on killing you. Someone should have told Sarah Connor. That would have been helpful.
He says that, as an imperfect being, he created Nomad, but how can something imperfect create something perfect? (Let's hope Nomad is completely unaware of Renaissance art, shall we?) Kirk also reiterates that Nomad must destroy things that are not perfect. Kirk yells that he is not Roykirk the Creator. Roykirk is dead. This means that Nomad made a mistake in identifying him as such, and another in not recognizing it. Two errors makes Nomad imperfect. The fact that he then did not sterilize himself means that he made a third mistake. Nomad loses it's mind, screaming in helium-laced tones that it is in error, and must sterilize, and analyze.


Scotty and Spock rush forward to slap anti-gravs on Nomad, and haul him up to the transporter room. You know, when moving between decks during an emergency, I always wonder about un-filmed scenes in the lifts. 
Spock and Scotty hauled the anti-grav'd Nomad into the lift with them, struggling to keep it centered and balanced. Kirk bounced in after them, barking at the computer to close the doors post-haste.
"Transporter room! Now!"
The computer, sensing the urgency in his voice, propelled the lift in that direction, bars of light sliding past the frosted window panels. The men grabbed the handrails to keep from falling over.
"Error, error!" chirped Nomad. It did not struggle in the anti-gravs, but Scotty could smell a distinct burning scent wafting from the inner workings of the metal beast. He tried to focus on something else other than the impending explosion of Nomad and the possible destruction of the ship and everyone on it. He zeroed in on the music playing faintly through the lift's speakers.
"Which song is this?" he asked, more out of the necessity of having something to do than out of interest.
Spock paused, directing his hearing at the speakers. "I believe that is a slow, instrumental recording of "Carry On My Wayward Son" by the Earth band Kansas. The original is not quite this apathetic, however."
Scotty nodded. The song that he recall included guitar solos that spoke of youthful rebellion rather than a skip through a meadow. There was another pause, long and painful, as the lift made it's way forward, and the air continued to fill with the sound of dying machine and the smell of frying circuit boards.
"Captain," he said suddenly, "have you had your hair cut recently?" 
Kirk touched the back of his head. "Yes, um, last week. A little shorter than usual, but I thought maybe if I cut it shorter this time, it would be a little longer before I had to schedule another."
"Efficient," said Spock.
The others nodded, and time stretched out before them. The bars flashed past the window panels, but they seemed to be no closer. Scotty had decided that he hated this song.
"Soooo..." Kirk fished for something to say as Spock and Scotty shifted Nomad between them. "Spock, have you spoken with T'Pring lately?"
Spock's illogical human half wanted to ask Kirk why the fuck he would ask about the woman who had been screwing around on him and had forced him to kill his best friend so she could get him to divorce her, but his Vulcan half recognized Kirk's effort to pass the time. "I have not," he replied. "I assume she is well."
In another moment, the lift slowed to a stop and the doors opened, the computer announcing the deck. All three tumbled out as though they had been trapped inside with a gaseous Vogon poet.
"Slow-ass fucking lift," they each thought silently.

They haul ass into the transporter room and dump Nomad on a pad. Kirk eggs it on a bit more to commit suicide, and they beam it out into space, where it explodes.
I in no way received deja vu from this scene in comparison with last week's episode, where they beamed Piglet the Ripper out into space in order to keep him from killing everyone on board the ship as well.



On the bridge, Spock congratulates Kirk on his logic of using the same damn plan that he used against Landru. Kirk jokingly suggests that Spock didn't think he had it in him. Spock truthfully replies no, and it takes Kirk a second to realize what Spock just said. Bones enters the bridge to say that Uhura's education just hit college-level, and she should be back to work in a week.
Spock remarks that it's a shame that they had to lose Nomad, which was a cool instrument.
"Meh," says Kirk. "It was going to exterminate us all. Besides, why are you crying? That thing thought I was it's mother, which makes it my son. I should be sadder than you. It showed promise as a doctor when it fixed Scotty. My son, the doctor."
And Spock makes a face that clearly says that he wishes he had gone with Nomad, rather than continue to be trapped on this tin can with these weird-ass humans.






Death Toll
Red deaths this episode: 4
Red deaths this season: 1
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: 8
Total crew deaths thus far: 24

There were two Reds down in engineering in that last scene, but I'm counting them as knocked out, because when Nomad killed the previous 4 Reds, he completely disintegrated them. Also, Kirk is seen taking one man's pulse, and then other Reds rush in and try to revive them.

*******

Took a trip to a restaurant this week where they served Numi tea, which I haven't found anywhere else. It must be other places, though, as you can order it online. I tried the Orange Spice, but the leaf base was white rather than black. The difference is pretty small, but with the white, which is less bitter, the spice and orange citrus flavors were a little more pronounced. It was nice. Bonus: it was pretty late, and I didn't want to be awake all night, which I would have been with a black base. Also, it's organic. Niiiice.





"I help you iron?"

Monday, April 14, 2014

Season 2, Episode 36 "Wolf In The Fold"

"Wolf In The Fold"
Production Number: 36
Air Order: 43
Stardate: 3614.9
Original Air Date: December 22, 1967



The interwebs hit a brief uproar earlier this week when it was discovered that Kate Mulgrew did narration for a "documentary" touting geocentrism. The whole fandom went "WTF?"  Then Kate Mulgrew also went "WTF?" Apparently, it was a voice for hire thing, and she didn't know what the "doc" was about until the fandom asked her what the hell she thought she was doing, and she then took a look at the project and said that she had been "tricked". Looks like one of the scientists who appeared in the film said something similar, guessing that the filmmakers had gotten a hold of some footage of him, (un)cleverly edited it down to make a different point than the one he was making, and plopped it into their film. Now, I like Janeway, so I'll buy that she didn't realize exactly what the project was, but I have to ask.... did you read the script, Kate?

*******




No beating around the bush this week: we're starting out with sex appeal, in the form of a belly dancer in a cafe. They're reusing the Orion slave girl dance music to let us know that you should most definitely be leering at the girl in her underwear. She's actually a really good dancer, even if she is dancing in a skirt made of hundreds of broken cassette tapes.
We swing back to find Scotty, Kirk and Bones at a table. Scotty enthusiastically offers his appreciation for the dancer, and Kirk says that he's invited the girl to sit with them post-performance. Bones remarks that this planet, Argelius II, is totally hedonistic, which is kind of funny, because he gleefully agreed when Spock called him a sensualist last season.


When the cassette dancer finishes her dance, she sits down at their table. Scotty immediately asks if she wants to take a walk at night. Through the fog. Wearing a glorified bikini. She agrees and they leave so that Kirk and Bones can provide backstory. It seems that, at some point, there was an accident. Scotty got knocked into some equipment and got a concussion. It was a woman's fault, and he had come to resent all women for it. So Bones prescribes him time on a pleasure planet, so that he can re-learn that women are not evil, but are there to serve him. Sounds like a plan. And also like the shittiest psychology ever.

Seriously, Star Trek? That server is wearing a bikini and some
electrical tape.

Kirk and Bones take off for a whorehouse across town for some moist shore leave, passing a pair of extras in the street who were firmly planted in the club a second earlier. Points for re-using extras, Budget?
There's a scream, and Kirk and Bones go running. They find the dancer face-down on the ground, dead.  Scotty is standing nearby, holding a bloody knife, totally weirded out. Dramatic music!


Kirk's Log 3614.9: "So we were getting Scotty some therapy poontang, but it looks like he killed her instead. We may have to re-think his recovery plan. We're meeting with Mr Hengist, the local cop."
So this cop is tiny, shorter than both Bones and Kirk, and there's something super-familiar about him. A quick search reveals that he's best known for this episode, then for playing a semi-regular role on The Bob Newhart Show. But where I know him from (and where you probably do too, and didn't realize it) is as the voice of Piglet. Like in every Pooh cartoon ever. And his "real" voice is not much different from his "voice-over work" voice. Kind of a weird choice for a cop, but whatever.


Hengist the cop is surprised that a murder took place on Argelius. He says the Argelians are a "gentle, harmless people", and as such, hire off-worlders to do their administrative work. He himself is from Rigel.
He asks Scotty about the bloody knife, and Scotty, frustrated, says he doesn't remember. He and the girl were walking through the fog, and he was leading the way. She screamed, he turned, then he doesn't recall the next part.
Bones pulls Kirk aside to say that memory loss could be a part of Scotty's injuries, and that Kirk needs to make sure that Scotty doesn't get arrested for this. Kirk says his hands are tied, diplomatically. They have to follow the rules of Argelius. This is where Kirk waffles between episodes. He either rides in on a white horse, self-righteously declaring that the rules don't apply to James T Kirk; or he sighs and says "My hands are tied."

Every shot of Scotty in this scene is filmed like this, with Hengist's
hands holding that knife in front of his face.

A new man comes into the cafe where they are talking. He is the Argelius Prefect, Jaris. He introduces his wife, Sybo. Whoa. The girl who plays Sybo is Philipino. Interracial marriage! Bold move, Star Trek.


Jaris says that everyone should come back to his place so that Sybo can do Argelian empathic contact stuff with Scotty, to find out the truth. Hengist objects in the most Piglet way possible, smiling and suggesting meekly that Jaris let him take care of it, seeing as how he's the resident cop. Jaris flicks him away like an uninvited ant on a picnic blanket.
They all go to Jaris' house, and Kirk asks if they can beam somebody down with a psycho-tricorder to scan Scotty. The machine will determine everything that Scotty has done in the past 24 hours. Jaris agrees, as his wife needs to meditate before she can do her thing. Again, Hengist objects to this plan, and Jaris politely tells him to fuck off.
Trying to be useful while being emasculated, Hengist suggests that he go fetch the other witnesses, some guys who both left the cafe before Scotty. Jaris agrees, and Hengist pauses to creepily check out the blonde Blue who has just beamed down with the tricorder.


After he leaves, Jaris directs Scotty to a small chamber off the room they're in now. He'll hang out alone with the Blue, Lt Karen Tracy, while she uses the psycho-tricorder on him. Yeah, that seems smart. This is being set up like Clue in Space. We all know she's gonna die. Only we got Piglet to try to guess whodunnit instead of Dr Frank-N-Furter.
While everyone else is gone, Bones quietly tells Kirk that it's possible that Scotty can't remember anything because he actually killed that dancer, and feels so guilty about it that he blocked the memory.


Jaris and Sybo come back in, and Sybo asks to see the knife. It's gone. There's a scream. Guess who it is? Everyone goes running, and - surprise! Lt Tracy has been stabbed multiple times, and Scotty is passed out.


They bring Scotty up to the main room and revive him. He's shocked to find the lieutenant that he was talking to is now dead. He freaks out.
Hengist has returned with two guys. The first is a musician from the cafe, who admits to being the dancer's father. He's angry this has happened, for good reason. The other guy was sitting at the next table over in the cafe. He's the dancer's fiance, and he left the cafe out of jealousy when the dancer (Kara) sat down next to Scotty. Kara's dad, the musician, obviously doesn't like her fiance.

Does this guy look vaguely like one of Samantha Stevens'
husbands to anyone else?

Sybo says that she is ready to do her thing. Kirk agrees to participate as long as the room is sealed, and Jaris obliges. Spock briefly calls Kirk to say that the Argelian empathic technique is interesting, but not as accurate as the E's computer. Kirk agrees, but again, his hands are tied. Everyone sits in a circle and joins hands. Sybo moans about evil in the room. She says it has a name: Beratis Kesla Redjac.
The lights go out, there's a scream, and when the lights come back on, Scotty is holding Sybo. She falls forward, a knife in her back. There is literally blood on Scotty's hands this time.


In the following scene, everyone is standing around asking what happens next. Three women are dead, and it looks like Scotty did it. Kirk offers the E's computer to Jaris, with the promise that it will uncover the truth. Jaris agrees, but warns Scotty that if he is found guilty, it will mean death for him by slow torture. Wanting some answers, Scotty agrees to the terms.
Kirk's Log 3615.4: They're going upstairs. Wow, that log was needed really badly. Because, you know, it's not like the shot of the outside of the ship gave us that information, or the fact that we're back in the briefing room.
Kirk explains to the group that when you sit in the witness chair and put your hand on the plate at the end of the armrest, the computer measures whether or not you are lying. It probably works like a lie detector, measuring heart rate and shit. Scotty hops into the chair. The computer tells the room about his head injury, but when Kirk asks it if the injuries could have lead to functional amnesia, the computer says no. Dramatic music!


It then says that Scotty was not lying when he says he can't remember the first two murders. Scotty says when Sybo was killed, he heard her scream, and rushed toward her, but something was in his way. The computer says that this is also the truth.
Hengist objects to the way the murder investigation is being conducted. 
Just for fun, imagine Piglet saying "murder investigation". I'll wait until you've finished laughing.
Jaris tells Hengist to STFU, and Morla (Kara's fiance) takes the stand. (And yes, Morla is also the name of the big-ass turtle with the allergies that lived in the Swamps of Sadness in The Neverending Story.) The computer verifies that the dude Morla didn't kill anyone. 
Getting nowhere, Kirk turns back to the name that Sybo mentioned: Redjac. When fed through the computer, the answer comes back that Redjac was a nickname for Jack the Ripper. Dramatic music again! 
When everyone protests that Jack the Ripper died hundreds of years earlier, Kirk comes up with the sort of hypothesis that he pulls from the air with little to no evidence:
What if Jack the Ripper was not a man, but an entity that lived a really long time, and fed off of emotion? 
Spock gives the computer these parameters, and asks if something like this exists in the known universe.
"Yep," says Majel Barrett. "It's a cloud creature from Alpha Majoris I, and it can take a physical form."


Spock asks the computer about similar unsolved serial killings, and the computer lists off a slew that occurred between Earth and Argelius, in chronological order. Kirk surmises that when humans moved out into space, the Jack the Ripper creature went with them. Spock asks the computer about the other names mentioned, Kesla and Beratis. Kesla is the name given to a unidentified serial killer of Denab II, and Beratis is the same for Rigel. What's more, all of these killings were stabbings, and the knife comes from Rigel. Majel then tells them that the Rigel murders took place a year ago.

Sorry, this is a long scene with mostly just talking. Here is a
screencap of Spock thinking about Kirk's "Jack the Ripper
was an alien" theory.

Everyone looks at Hengist.
"Get your ass on the stand, Peter Pettigrew," says Kirk.
"Fuck you guys," says Hengist. "This is a dumb theory." (Yeah, it kind of is.)
Then he tries to bolt, fighting past the long end of the table toward the door. This way, he has to punch more people, and the fight is more impressive than if he had just pushed past two or three people.


Kirk takes him down with one punch, and Bones pronounces Hengist dead. Kirk has the humility to say "WTF?" But then the lights flash, and a maniacal voice laughs "Redjac, Redjac, Redjac."
"Shit," says Spock. "Dude took over the computer."
And now, for a sentence that one can only find in a Star Trek review:
Jack the Ripper Disabled the Ship.
Thinking quickly, Spock notes that the creature could kill them all by shutting down life support instantly, but with 440 people on board, it will probably try to cause terror and fear among the crew first, to feed.
Bones says that he has some tranqs that would stop an active volcano. Dammit, Bones. You're a doctor, not a volcanologist. Kirk sends him off to hypo the crew.
Then Kirk and Spock head for the bridge. Redjac/Hengist/Piglet sends the lift into free fall, but they switch it to manual in time.
Once on the bridge, Kirk orders everyone to switch to manual override. There's another awesome shot of Kirk and Spock working in a panel.



Redjac calls mockingly to them over the comm system, telling them that they are all going to die in horrible ways. I guess I can see why they picked this actor. With his voice amplified and reverberated back, I can't tell if Piglet yelling "Die! Die! Die!" is creepy or unsettlingly funny. Both, probably.
A Blue assistant enters the bridge to hypo everyone. The tranqs make everyone super-happy, as though they've been sniffing those exploding flowers. Spock asks the computer to find the last digit of pi. Locking up the computer like this pisses of Redjac.

I feel like I have a crap-ton of screencaps featuring Sulu high
on something.

Kirk and Spock go back to the briefing room, where Jaris is the last guy yet to be hypo'd. Spock reports that the entity has left the computer. There's a quick scuffle as Jaris is possessed by Redjac, but when Spock pinches the Prefect, the entity hops back into the Hengist body. He tries to take a giggling Red hostage with the murder weapon, but they successfully hypo Hengist, who then allows Kirk to fireman-carry him through the corridors. He's still promising to kill them all in his Piglet voice, only now he's giggling as well. They dump him on the transporter pad, and beam him into deep space, scattering his molecules over a wide area.


Bones and Scotty come tripping into the transporter room, laughing.
"Hooray!" says Scotty. "I'm innocent, and that thing is gone!"
Bones says that it will be 5 or 6 hours until the tranqs wear off. Spock suggests that Kirk use that time to relax, as they're still technically on shore leave, and the crew will be useless until that time is up.
"Yeah!" says Kirk. "You and me, bro! I know this great whorehouse!" And then he pauses, realizing that he just invited an asexual to engage in squishy activities.
The look Spock gives him says, "Not only are you barking up the wrong tree, but this is the wrong forest, in the wrong ecosystem."
"Yeah, maybe not," says Kirk.
And everybody leaves the transporter room laughing.


*******

Okay: so two things. Firstly, I feel like we really didn't need the "Scotty hates women" part of the backstory. To be honest, I never bought into the idea that, prior to showing up on Argelius , he had come to resent women. Scotty is kind of just too nice for that. What's more, there was no evidence that that resentment had ever existed. So let's fix it, make it simpler. Scotty had been involved in an accident, which had given him a concussion. Bones recommends some R&R, and Argelius is the nearest planet on which to take some shore leave. While they're there, Bones recommend some time off for Kirk as well, which is why all three are on the surface. That "Scotty hates women" bit wasn't needed in there because it didn't come into play later. Sure, I suppose it could have been used against him when trying to determine if Scotty was the real killer, but it never came up again, and he was definitely sweet on Kara.
Parte dos: this is the second time we've seen Kirk attribute historical Earth mysteries or myths to alien visitors. The first time was when he suggested that Greek and Roman gods were actually part of an advanced alien race that were mistaken for gods on Earth and worshiped as such. I kind of get that. It works. But this is the second time he's done that, just grabbed a random guess out of nowhere that turns out to be right, and it's more of a stretch this time. It doesn't work as well. I feel like, as far as inserting historical Earth figures into Star Trek goes, the best, most believable stories involve time travel or the holodeck, not random shit that Kirk pulls out of his ass.

Oh, you guys. This is one of those times when I wish I was a video artist. I would compile footage of Piglet animation, and lip-sync it to the creepier parts of Redjac's dialog where he's yelling about killing all of them. Seriously, this needs to happen.




Red deaths this episode: 0
Red deaths this season: 1
Gold deaths this episode: 0
Gold deaths this season: 2
Blue deaths this episode: 1
Blue deaths this season: 1
Total crew deaths this season: 4
Total crew deaths thus far: 20

+2 civvies if you're counting.
I don't think I can count Redjac/whoever because scattering his molecules to the far-flung stars wouldn't necessarily kill him. He can still exist in all those little bits.


*******
So Roomie stayed in a fancy-pants hotel for a bit and brought back individual bags of tea, because, you know, it's not enough that we have a tea cupboard. Among them was a bag from a company that I've never heard of before, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. (Guess what they make? Heh.) So I decided to try the chamomile, which was pretty good. Lightly-flavored, kind of creamy, kind of minty. And it's a caffeine-free herbal, which won't keep you up all night. I think a lot of people like to drink it before bed because it helps you get ready to sleep, but I really can't attest to that, as I generally fall asleep in front of a movie, and this time was no exception. Oddly, I couldn't find straight chamomile on their website, just the lemon kind. Since my bag wrapper doesn't mention lemon at all, I'm guessing it's a different blend. Either way, here's a link to the lemon.