Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, January 5, 2015

Season 3, Episode 61 "Spock's Brain"

"Spock's Brain"
Production Order: 61
Air Order: 56
Stardate: 5431.4
Original Air Date: 9-20-68

Soooo, "The Undiscovered Country" is a suspenseful movie, but "Wrath of Khan" is Children and Families? Sure, Netflix. Can irritated parents call you when their kids wake up screaming because they had nightmares about alien bugs crawling into their ear canals?


The episode this week starts out with the Enterprise being approached in space by a Play-Doh frosting extruder spaceship. It's kind of a nifty little model. I love it when they make new models.
The E crew is at red alert, trying to figure out what kind of ship it is and why they won't respond to hails. The writers needed to round out the episode to 50 minutes, so at least one of those minutes is spent with the bridge crew staring at the viewscreen, watching the ship approach. Maybe they were trying to build tension, but it's a little like watching your cat stare at the wall.
Spock tells Kirk two things: there's one humanoid on board, and the ship uses ion-propulsion, which is beyond Starfleet's tech. Scotty's about to wet himself with excitement.
A chick beams onto the bridge. Her costume is atrocious. Shiny purple halter thing with a minishirt in a purple tweed (?), plus a ruffle and some kind of purple shiny boots that are combination footwear and garter belt. She keeps this fake-ass smile pasted on her face throughout this whole scene. It's creepy when people smile too much. Stop it, Garter Belt Boots.

Nobody says anything. She gets the Pretty Girl music because instead of being an intruder who randomly beamed onto the most vulnerable part of the ship, she must be a welcome guest. A pretty one. Kirk starts to politely introduce himself, rather than demanding to know who she is and why the hell she beamed onto the ship, probably because he hopes to boff her later. Two level-headed Reds storm from the lift to take out Garter Belt Boots (because they recognize that she's a fucking intruder), but she presses a button on this ugly-ass wrist cuff she's wearing, and it knocks everybody the hell out. Like, ship-wide.

*sigh* It's not even cute from the back. It looks like she's got a
romper on backward.

GBB smiles that creepy smile and walks around the bridge, checking everybody out. Then she puts her hand on Spock's head. Dramatic music! Commercial break!

The lights come up, and the bridge crew spring to their feet and get back to their posts with astonishing ease. Spock is gone. Bones pages Kirk to sick bay urgently. Upon arrival, Kirk sees Spock in a bed.
Christine delivers her one line: "I found him on the table!"
"What's wrong with Spock?" asks Kirk. "Why is he on full life support?"
"He's worse than dead!" says Bones, which really just burns more screen time and tries to build anticipation, when instead you want to yell just fucking tell us already! Quit being vague. "His brain is gone!"
Sorry, what?
"That chick on the bridge stole Spock's brain!" Kirk tells Scotty.
"He can live for about 24 hours without it," Bones says.
Sorry, what?
"You have to devise a way that Spock can come with us," Kirk tells him. "We're going to search for his brain!"

Kirk's Log 5431.4: "For the last 15 hours we've been following the ion trail of the bitch that stole Spock's brain. We only have nine hours left to find her, get it back, and re-weld it into Spock's head. Oh, and Bones has to learn how to do it, as he's assured me that medical science has no idea how to do that yet."

They lose the ion trail, but decide that the ship has gone into a nearby system, and based on the fact that Garter Belt Boots was breathing the air on the E, she probably lives on a class-M planet (smart deduction). There are three in the system, and they briefly debate which one is the best choice. This is probably another way to fill time on this episode, but I actually really like this: Kirk is actively seeking opinions from his bridge crew. None of these planets has tech advanced enough to support an ion-propulsion ship, but they are getting a similar scan from a planet that is mostly glacial.

Kirk's Log 5351.5: "Rehash. Rehash rehash rehash, rehash, rehash Spock rehash rehash. Rehash."

Kirk beams down with Scotty, Chekov and a pair of Reds. This set is a re-dress of Triacus from last week. Good job, Budget. Kirk accidentally calls Scotty "Spock." It's an adorable Spirk moment. Scotty scans for lifeforms and finds five humanoids nearby, but no cities or anything. The away team is then attacked by fur-wearing cavemen, who throw rocks at them. Kirk stuns one. I think that might be Count Rugen.

When he wakes up, the caveman tells them about The Others, who "bring pain and delight", and who sometimes come for them.
"Do they come for the females, too?" Kirk asks.
"WTF is a female?" the caveman asks.
When Kirk requests that the caveman take him to The Others, the caveman pushes him down and runs away.
Chekov comes running up and says that he has found a cave with structures that are really old, and giving off all kinds of signals. No, seriously: is this Triacus? Is the cave full of demonic children?
No, it's full of food and tempered metal tools, with some kind of motion-sensor beam. Kirk, Scotty and Chekov determine that it is a trap for the cavemen, and they decide to set it off to see what happens.
Hopefully, buzzsaws don't descend from the ceiling and slice them up. Maybe there's a rancor waiting to eat them. Possibly Amazonians are hiding around the corner, to kill them by way of snu-snu. Pain and delight, y'all. Kirk is terribly optimistic that this will go well. We should all take a note from his book. Perhaps the IRS is contacting you to congratulate you on your excellent number-crunching. It's absolutely not an audit.

"Good job with your itemizing, sir. I commend you."

In preparation, Kirk asks Bones to beam down, and tells Chekov to stay outside the cave with the Reds. Chekov's "aye, sir" is said in such a deflated tone that you know he's disappointed about having to babysit a pair of security guards.
Bones beams down with Spock. Remember when Kirk said he was going to take Spock with him? Yeah. Apparently, he thinks Spock should be present when they find the brain so that McCoy can drop everything that he is doing and perform surgery right there to reattach it. Also, we are made to believe that they crammed all of Spock's body functions and motor control into the device that is on his head.

Let's science for a bit, shall we? According to Dr McCoy, Vulcans have a slightly different physiology, so his organs can do some functioning on their own with less input from the brain than humans require. Okay, fine. It simplifies things to slap a Post-It note marked "alien" on this problem and move on. But Bones now controls Spock's movements through a remote control, the receiver of which is attached to his head, and if  you've been paying any kind of attention to this episode (though I wouldn't blame you if you just wandered off at some point), you know that said head is completely empty. That device is sitting on top of what amounts to a flesh-covered hollow bone-ball. With eyes that have miraculously stayed in place, against all odds (and medical science). Now, the remote will need to tell his muscles how to move and when, and which other muscles to interact with, and in which sequence. If Spock had a brain that was not functioning properly, one could possibly open things up and stimulate the parts of the brain manually, but it would take some practice to get the coordination right. Think of a toddler leaning to crawl, then walk. You can see the wheels turning in their little over-sized heads as their brains figure out how to make that work. They fall. A lot. Supposedly, Bones has had time to figure out which buttons to press at which time to make Spock move and stop at the appropriate times. And also to build some kind of machine that regulates said movements. He had 15 hours in which to do this, and test it out on Spock to get the coordination down. 

Maybe Bones should get him a leash so he won't wander off.

BUT WAIT! I'm not done complaining!
Said device is sitting on top of his head, which, as we all know by know, is fucking EMPTY. Putting it on his head if his brain was not functioning properly would make sense, as the device could be hooked up to send impulses to the brain to get it to make those movements, but there's nothing there. The device is broadcasting into said empty bone-ball. It would make far more sense to slap the thing on his spinal cord, to which the muscles for his legs and arms are connected through arteries and nerves and shit. Right now we have the equivalent of an old desktop computer, with a monitor, tower and keyboard. There are symbols on the keyboard, and I want them to appear on the monitor, but someone stole my tower, so no matter how hard I bang on the keyboard and turn the monitor off and on, I will always be missing the thing which tells the keyboard to move the symbols to the monitor. It's not going to work.

Sadly, this Spock-robot is not even close to being the most ridiculous part of this episode.

"Look, Jim! I've finished building the Vulcan model! I'm thinking
about adding racing stripes."

While I'm on this obnoxious line of thought, do you suppose Bones added in some functions to take care of bathroom issues? Is Spock going to pee his pants at some time, or will Bones find a bathroom, and then have to carefully "walk him through it"? 
"No, Spock. You have to shake again. Shake again, dammit!"
See what you make me think about, Star Trek?

Kirk, unnerved by the empty-headed Spock, directs Bones, Spock and Scotty to get into the cave so they can set the trap off. As soon as they do, a door closes on the cave, there's a whining noise, and whoever is working the camera shakes it back and forth to simulate that the cave is some kind of elevator, taking them down. It's not my favorite effect ever, as it's reminiscent of shaky cams, but it's a quick, easy way to get the point across that they've being shuttled downward without having to build a lift set. A gold star to you, special effects team. It's low-tech, but effective.

Up top, Chekov fires his phaser at a rock to warm it so that he and the Reds can be comfortable while they wait. They look bored as hell. I have to give props to whoever came up with that "red hot rock" idea, too. It was used previously in season one episode, "The Enemy Within", when Sulu and some crewmen got caught on the surface of a very cold planet. I like the idea of it, and the prop they made to go with it, a rock that glows red when a phaser is aimed at it.
In the lift, Scotty confirms that the power he's getting from his scans are ion. The door opens, and there's a chick in a corridor. She's dressed the same way as Garter Belt Boots, only in gold. Alarmed, she tries to press the button her ugly arm cuff to make them pass out, but Kirk stuns her first.

Bones hypos her awake after Kirk takes her ugly arm cuff. Then Kirk shakes her, demanding to know where Spock's brain is. This girl is super-confused, not knowing what the hell Kirk is asking for when he uses the pronoun "him" to describe a leader. She also doesn't know what a brain is. Bones scans her and says she is telling the truth. 
Wait, when did a tricorder become a polygraph test? Does Bones now have Betazed blood?
She says her name is Luma, and Bones tells Kirk that he isn't going to get very far with his line of questioning because Luma has the mind of a child.
Scotty, who has been scanning the corridor, comes running back with his comm. Spock's voice is broadcasting out of it.
Kirk tells Spock that they are going to come find him. But as they round the corner with Luma in tow, they come across Garter Belt Boots, with two well-groomed cavemen. GBB hits her arm cuff quickly, and everyone hits the floor besides Luma and Spock.

Kirk's Log 5431.6: "We've been kidnapped, which is a totally new experience for me. The cavemen warned us about the bringers of pain and delight, and I guess these chicks are it."

When our away team comes to, they're sitting in some kind of council chambers, and they're all wearing ugly belts. So are the well-groomed cavemen guarding the place. GBB asks who they are and why they are there. She's actually fairly pleasant about it.
Kirk gets up and he's all "Rawr, rawr, rawr, what have you done with Spock's brain rawr rawr?"
GBB is confused. She's also confused about the gender question. We're supposed to believe that these people have no concept of gender, but they do: guys are morgs, girls are eymorgs.

GBB doesn't know what Kirk is talking about when he accuses her of entering the E's bridge and taking Spock's brain. Through roundabout conversation, we learn that GBB is the leader, and that Spock's brain is running the computers that run the underground facility. But Bones points out that she doesn't seem smart enough to do brain surgery. GBB gets angry when Kirk asks to see the Controller, the thing that runs the facility. One of the other girls yells at her "Do not take them to the Controller, Kira!"
Kira presses a button on her ugly arm cuff, and the away team doubles over in pain. She and the other girls leave the team with the well-groomed cavemen.

Sulu's Log, supplemental: "Rehash. Things that happened when you tuned out."

The boys get up off the floor again and marvel at the pain brought on by the ugly belts they are wearing. They're prevented from leaving by one of the morg guards, and another morg guard keeps them from collecting their comms. So they start an altercation.

The morg are bigger and stronger than they are, but Kirk is there, so... you know how this ends.
Bones gives them some knock-out juice and our boys collect their stuff, Kirk attempting to call Spock. When he is able to raise the Vulcan. Spock asks what he is currently.
"A disembodied brain," Bones replies.
Spock has a bit of an identity crisis, but it mostly manifests as his typical "Fascinating."
He then asks why they are there to get him, seeing as how it is not possible to reconnect a brain.
"STFU, you're being negative," spouts Kirk.
Spock beams them a signal to find him, which is terribly convenient. As they go, Kirk asks Spock to find out about their pain belts. Spock is Wikipedia now, I guess. He tells them a moment later that they need to hit the red button on the ugly arm cuffs. Isn't it nice when your best friend's brain is wired into the facility of where you are being held prisoner?
The beam directs them through a door to a room with a bank of computers along one wall, an ugly round lamp-thing in the middle, and a worried-looking Kira. She notices them and hits the green button on the arm cuff.

While they're writhing around on the floor, Bones notices and pants to Kirk that Spock doesn't seem to be feeling any pain. Of course not. Some numbnuts forgot to put Leonard Nimoy's belt back on.

Anyway, Kirk grabs the remote that controls the ol' bone-ball, and he manages to get Spock to grab Kira and press the red button. There's a comical "boi-oi-oing" sound and the belts go flying.
"You can't take the Controller!" yells Kira. "He is young and handsome and will live 10,000 years!"
"That is flattering," says Spock, which is one of the good lines of this crappy episode.
Kirk describes the container that Spock's brain is being kept in, and recounts that Spock said that he felt like he was breathing air and pumping blood and regulating a temperature, and could Spock be controlling the atmosphere in the facility? Probably. Spock is now climate control. Lovely.
Spock and Kira reveal, in bits and pieces, that Kira got the knowledge to remove Spock's brain from The Teacher, a helmet left by the ancient builders of the facility. She and the others are pretty dumb, but putting on the helmet makes them smart. She isn't supposed to unless it's preordained by the builders, though, and her screaming and struggling as Kirk forces her into the helmet makes me more than a little uncomfortable.
You're such a fucking asshole, Kirk. Go soak your head.

When Kira takes the helmet off, she uses her now much-larger vocabulary to tell Kirk that he is correct in his assessment that the helmet makes people smarter, and that this is how Kira removed Spock's brain. Unfortunately, the helmet also made her smart enough to figure out how to use a phaser, which she pulls from behind that giant ruffle on her skirt, which is probably why that thing was added to her costume in the first place. It's set to kill. The phaser, not the skirt.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Kirk and Kira have a brief argument over the philosophical reasons for killing someone, then Scotty lamely falls backward with an "Oh!" and when Kira turns to look at him, Kirk grabs the phaser. Really, all that did was provide a bit of drama around which to frame a commercial, and they didn't need it after two minutes, so they got rid of it.
Kira admits that the knowledge gained from the helmet only lasts 3 hours, and Bones estimates that it's just enough time to put Spock's brain back. Okay, it's never been done before, so how the hell would you know, Bones?
She refuses to cooperate, so Bones volunteers. He says that, being a surgeon already, he might be able to retain the information, which would then benefit the world. Sorry, which world? There are many. Also, do you foresee this happening again, Bones? Someone stealing someone else's brain and installing it on their own planet because their air conditioner is broken?
Bones puts on the helmet, and it turns on, and he collapses when it's done. But he's now saying the surgery is no longer difficult difficult lemon difficult.

Kirk's Log 5432.3: "Bones is performing brain surgery on Spock, just in case it's not obvious from the scene in which this voice-over is being overlaid."

Kira is all concerned because there will no longer be a brain controlling everything. Kirk takes her aside and gives her that same lecture that he gives to all civilizations when he sweeps in and takes away their tech: that they'll develop on their own and live full lives the way they were mean to, blah, blah, blah. This is a pre-warp civilization, Kirk. You just broke the fucking PD. Again.
Unfortunately, while Kirk is being all sanctimonious off to the side, Bones' knowledge wears off, and he makes that face that I would make in math class when I would flip the test over, scan the problems, and realize that I had no way of figuring out how to get any answer, let alone the right one. But instead of quietly sobbing over the test like I would, he rants to Kirk that he can't do it. Kirk convinces him to soldier on, which I'm pretty sure is a bad idea when we're talking brain surgery.

Kirk's Log, supplemental: "Everything that has just happened in the last 30 seconds, plus now I've told Bones to connect Spock's vocal chords."

This is where this episode gets face-palmingly bad. Spock rasps that if Bones will reconnect his speech center, he will help guide him through the surgery.
Number 1: your speech center is connected, otherwise you wouldn't be fucking talking.
Number 2: you yourself have said several times that reconnecting a brain is not possible, because medical science has not figured it out at this point, yet somehow you have enough knowledge of the way it should work that you're going to walk Bones through it.

That's right, boys and girls: Spock intends to tell Dr McCoy how to perform brain surgery. On Spock's brain. While it is happening. Now, I know that brain surgery is frequently performed while the patient is awake, because consciousness is important to the process. But never at any point in history (unless I missed that giant news item) has anyone walked a doctor through their own brain surgery. I think they usually talk about boring, banal shit just to make small talk.

So Bones finishes up, and they test some things going along, and Spock sits up, just fine, zero scars or blood or any kind of incision. He's not even missing any hair. McCoy waved a magic wand over it and reconnected the brain with sleight of hand. 
Spock immediately begins telling Kira about the fascinating history of her people, about how they had a very advanced civilization, and a glacial age destroyed a lot of it, and how they built an underground facility for the women while the men stayed up top, and the civilization has been sliding backward into a more primitive culture ever since.
"I knew I shouldn't have reconnected his mouth!" says Bones grouchily, completely interrupting the only interesting thing in this whole damn episode.
Everybody laughs.
No, fuck you, Star Trek. This episode sucked, and you left the explanation for this scenario until the last ten seconds, and then you interrupted it. Bite me.

Congratulations, friends. We've officially made it through the episode that always comes up on every fan's "worst episode ever" list. I bet you don't even have to guess that hard to figure out why. In the end, they didn't even kill any crew members out of courtesy.

Death Toll:
Red deaths this episode: 0
Red deaths this season: 3
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: 3
Total crew deaths thus far: 45


Last flavor in the Tea of a Kind (TOAK) brand was Citrus Mint Green Tea. I... tasted no mint. In fact, it tasted surprisingly like a white grape Fruit Roll-Up (I don't think they even made such a thing). Also, I have no idea how citrus mint becomes white grape. It wasn't terrible, though. I liked it better than the acai-pomegranate. The thing that I really like about green-based teas is that they tend to be light. In fact, when I stumbled out of bed in the middle of the night, throat as dry as the Mojave desert, I grabbed the remaining tea in this bottle and chugged it rather than grab a glass of water. It was light and refreshing, with a bit of flavor, but not so much that I woke up the next morning with a gross taste in my mouth. I think I would recommend this to people who like greens and are okay with stevia. You're not gonna get the mint, if that's what you're looking for, but you will get white grape.


This is how Uhura keeps her whites their whitest.

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