Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, March 23, 2015

Season 3, Episode 72 "The Mark of Gideon"


"The Mark of Gideon"
Production Order: 72
Air Order: 71
Stardate: 5423.4
Original Air Date: January 17, 1969



Kirk's Log 5423.4: "So this planet Gideon wants to join the Federation, but they don't want Federation delegates to come to their planet. Guess they're xenophobic or something. Basically, they want to join our group to get the benefits from being a member, but they don't want to talk to anyone once they do. They're insisting that I be the one and only Federation representative to beam down there to talk to them. I'm flattered enough that I'm going to ignore that it's weird that they're insisting on me specifically, doing it alone."

Kirk and Spock head for the transporter room. Kirk hops onto one of the pads.
"Hey. Hey, Spock. Sucks that you can't go, huh? Sucks to be you, because supposedly this planet is super-cool, but you can't go down, because they only want me. Nyah-nyah."
"Dude, don't be a dick," says Spock.
He calls Uhura to get the beam-down coordinates, and she reads them off. He reads them back as he plugs them in. Now, there are only two reasons for us to be witness to this number reading, otherwise she would have just sent the coordinates to the transporter controls: A, those numbers are integral to the plot; or B (and I can't believe how often it seems to be B), the show is a few seconds too short, and the transaction is used to bulk up the show time. Just in case you were wondering, those coordinates are 875-020-079.
So Spock transports Kirk, and Kirk disappears from the pad, only to re-materialize a moment later. He's confused as to why he didn't go anywhere, and he turns to say "WTH?" to Spock, but finds the transporter room empty. He hits the controls and tries raising Spock that way. No answer.
He goes to the bridge. Empty.


Shots from around the E show every place to be deserted, and Kirk's voice is echoing over the PA, looking for someone, anyone. Nada. He notices that he is still orbiting Gideon, but that's all the info he has. We go to credits break as nothing more has happened. It usually takes four minutes or so to set up the plot issues in the opening, but this time it only took 3:15. I guess "missing crew" just isn't that dramatic.
When we return, Kirk is wandering around the empty ship, trying to figure out where his crew has gone, and what might be happening. And, oh yay! We get an inner monologue! Hot dog. The only new info that we get from this rehash is that Kirk someone got a bruise on his arm, and he doesn't know where it came from. He chalks it up to memory lapse, even though the most logical explanation is that he banged his arm on something in the last few hours. But no, this mysterious bruise includes a memory lapse. Fine. Whatever.
Back on the E, in different space or time, or wherever the E crew still is, Spock is contacted by Ambassador Hodin, the dude in charge of Gideon. He wants to know where Kirk is.
"Dunno," says Spock. "I beamed him down. He's not here."
"Well, he's not here either," says Hodin.
They confirm coordinates.
Hodin talks like a Southern politician without the accent. His voice is pleasant and he seems friendly, but he's the sort of guy who says "Bless your heart" when he means "fuck you." He basically blames Kirk's missing status on Spock and the E crew, despite the fact that no one knows yet what happened.
"O...kay," says Spock. "Gonna wanna beam down to Gideon to look for Kirk."
"As if," says Hodin. "We told you, we don't like other people. We'll look for him here. You look for him there."
He signs off.


Bones, who has come onto the bridge during this exchange, is irked. He yells at Spock to get his ass in gear in looking for Kirk, as he always does. Spock is mildly irritated that they have to go through these time-wasting channels. Chekov says they shouldn't have agreed to those conditions, and Spock remarks that Starfleet did, not them. They can't scan Gideon because the planet is shielded, so they have to deal with Hodin either way. He has Uhura ask Starfleet for extra permissions in dealing with the situation. Not really having any other course of action, he asks Sulu to scan space, one degree at a time, in 360 degrees.
We return to Kirk, who is still wandering around. Oh wait, what's this? It's a beautiful girl in a terrible costume and tons of hair, also wandering the corridors! Because if anyone is going to be discovered wandering the halls of an otherwise empty ship with James T Kirk, it's gonna be someone bangable.


She's wearing a shiny, denim-colored one-piece swimsuit, and someone has decided that it's futuristic to sew it into a pink mesh romper-thing with bell-bottoms. The neck trim is ruffled, too. Ugh. Up close, you can tell that this poor girl isn't wearing any kind of lining under that mesh, either. I feel terrible for her. That must be crazy uncomfortable. This, friends, is what comes to mind when I think of the words "space Barbie." Maybe it's the high, flowy blonde ponytail embellished with a huge jewel. Or maybe it's that exact shade of Barbie lipstick.
Actually, Mattel made an astronaut Barbie in 1985, probably hoping to cash in on what would become the Challenger disaster. Let's take a look at that one, shall we? It's got a tiny skirt and a helmet that doesn't connect with any kind of breathing apparatus. But look! It features your typical Star Trek sparkly tights! Either way, all of these "girl in space" costume designs suck.

Nothing says "space majorette" like high pink boots
and leg-of-mutton sleeves.

Anyway, space Barbie is dancing around the corridor when Kirk approaches her. She seems surprised to see him, but says her name is Odona. She isn't sure who brought her there or why, or how she got there at all. She says the last thing she recalls is being in a huge crowded auditorium, being squeezed in on all sides by other people, and that she was suffocating. She also doesn't know how long she's been on the E, but she's excited because there's so much empty space. He decides to take her with him.

Back on the bridge, Spock asks Uhura about Starfleet's answer. She replies that she's getting some bureaucratic bullshit run-around, and she sounds like her patience is about to wear thin. Spock is also nearing the point where he stops being polite.



Back on... another bridge, Kirk checks the chronometer, and determines that nine minutes of his life is missing. He mentions Gideon, and guesses that when he tried to beam down there, that Odona was beamed up. She is confused, and says she has never heard of Gideon. However, she also has no idea where she is actually from. Yeah, right. He checks the viewscreen, and Gideon is gone. Now they seem to be moving through space, though he doesn't recognize the stars. Sooo, you have star charts memorized, Kirk? Yeah, right. Kirk tells Odona that they were brought there together for a reason, but he doesn't know why.
"I'm afraid," she says.
People are afraid! Dramatic music! Commercial break!


When we return, it is to the bridge where Spock and the others are. Gideon calls.
"Good news!" says Hodin. "Kirk isn't here!"
"Dude, that's not good news," says Spock. "He's still frickin' missing. Also, that's not what we asked for. I asked to beam down to look for him."
"Yeah, well, you're not getting that," replies Hodin.
They start an argument in bureaucrat-ese, wherein they say a bunch of nothing, and take a long time to do it. Despite the fact that he has no love for it, Spock appears to be rather talented at it. Probably comes from being raised by Sarek the diplomat.
Here's a translation:
Hodin: "Told you you're not coming down here. Wanna fight, bro?"
Spock: "No. I'd waste you anyway. But I think you didn't hear me right."
Hodin: "You're just some dumb space cowboy. You don't get words."
Spock: "No, I science, which means I have to communicate well."
Hodin: "Good. Be better with words then."
Without actually turning off the viewscreen or communicator, the bridge crew starts talking shit about Hodin. Like, not the whispery kind, either.
Hodin: "Hey, Spock. I can't hear what you were saying over all those little bitches on your ship."
Spock: "Yeah, sorry. The gist is, I need to beam down. I told you that like, an hour ago."
Hodin: "Still no. Also, your equipment sucks, so it's your fault that Kirk is gone. We think that your shitty equipment is gonna cause trouble for us later."
Scotty: "Hey, fuck you, assholes! There's nothing wrong with my transporter!"
Spock gives him a look. "DUDE." He sends Scotty down to the transporter room. Scotty does not go quietly.
Hodin: "Hey, WTF was that?"
Spock: "Nothing. The engineer says the transporter is fixed. I'm coming down. You don't get a choice anymore."
Hodin: Bluster, bluster, bluster, begrudging agreement. "But hey, we want a test, too. So we'll send you one of our dudes to check it out."
Spock: "Fine. Do it."



Hodin's lackey: "Okay, here are the coordinates: 875-020-709."
Scotty plugs them in, and beams the lackey on board. Did you notice those coordinates were different? Yeah, me too. Let's see how long it takes the Enterprise to notice. 
"Your dude is here in one piece," says Spock. "Now I'm beaming down."
So then Hodin tries to spin it again, saying that they only agreed to one beam-down (Kirk) and they can't take any more chances. Now he's saying that he overstepped his authority in promising that Spock could beam down, and he'll take it up at the next council meeting (time TBD). I feel like everybody on the bridge crew would like to throat-punch Hodin now. Like, they would line up to do it. I'd wait in that long-ass line. I'd Fast-Pass that shit.
He signs off and Uhura tries Starfleet again.

Back on the Other Bridge, Kirk is trying to raise Starfleet as well. No answer. So he and space Barbie Odona sit and stare at the viewscreen and play footsie. She wants them to be alone together forever, and says that all anyone on her planet dreams of is being alone. When he asks why, she replies that her planet is so overpopulated that the people are literally standing shoulder to shoulder. He wonders who sent her there, and she replies that no one sent her there, that no one commands her to do anything.
"Oh, you're here to kill," he says.
I - what? Like, where the hell did that even come from? She says that no one commands her, and that no one sent her here, so she must be an assassin? WTF, Kirk?
Then he guesses, "You're here to die."
Let's put this conversation into another context and see if it makes sense:
A kid walks into the front office at a theme park. "Who sent you?" asks the guy behind the desk.
"No one," sobs the kid. "I don't know where I am. I'm lost."
"Murderer!" yells the clerk. "Unless you're here to die?"
And the kid walks out of the office, confused because the clerk is high on something, like Kirk is now.
Nope, this shit is still insane. So Kirk has accused Odona of being there to kill someone (presumably himself), and of guessing that she's chosen the Enterprise as a good place to die --
"I don't know," sobs Odona. "I don't care."
What? Was this script written while drunk?
Then Kirk and Odona fucking make out, because why the fuck not?
How did this show get green-lighted, you guys? I mean, I know it was based on the strength of "The Cage," but this shit is so far away from that pilot that a Scottish band couldn't write a song about it.

Da lat da, da lat da, da lat da, da lat da,
da-dda-da diddle un-diddle uh da da!

Then, while they're making out, the camera swings to the front of the bridge, and this appears on the viewscreen, and I start to re-evaluate the fact that I spend hours of my life each week watching this crap and writing attempting to write about it.



When we return from the break, Kirk and Odona are walking arm in arm in the corridor all smiles and honeymoons, and he remarks that he needs to find a medical kit to fix his bruise. She asks if he will become sick and die if he doesn't cure it, and he replies that eventually, it'll just go away on its own. They hear a sound like wind whistling through the trees. She suggests there's a storm outside, so they go to a viewing port. When they lift the hatch, surprise! It's more people! Kirk grabs Odona. The people fade, to be replaced with stars. Kirk says it's like millions of people are pressed against the ship, and she protests because he said they were traveling through space. He wonders if it's a mirage. She encourages him to get to the bottom of this so they can live on the E in peace.
Kirk loses his shit at this suggestion. He wants to find out what happened to the crew, and he shakes her in anger. She's acting oddly.
"Is this how it feels to be sick?" she asks. "My people can be sick and die!" Odona is surprisingly stoked at this thought.
Oh, wait. Did I forget to mention that all of this is being watched by that creeper Hodin and his council? Yeah.


So Odona passes out, and Kirk scoops her up and carries her away. I guess this is a commercial break for the council, because they all get up from the table and file out of the room to pee and get a snack before returning to their voyeurism. As they do, they pass by a window, and we see more people milling around outside, all bumping into each other.



So Kirk is carrying Odona through the corridor, and guess who steps into his path? Hodin and the freaking council.
Hodin is stoked as well. "Hooray, the first part of our experiment is complete!"
"The hell?" asks Kirk. "Move out of my way, I'm taking her to sick bay."
"Naw, son," says Hodin. "Things have turned out just right. That's my daughter you're hoping to boff, and I'll take her now from you. Also, you'll be locked up because we'll need you later."
Oh, lookee there: Kirk got himself kidnapped again.


On the bridge - the real bridge - Spock is talking to some admiral on the viewscreen.
"Our captain is missing, and we need to look for him, but the Gideons are not cooperating."
"So what?" asks the admiral. "Your captain goes missing every week. Sorry, not helping here. No wars will be started because Kirk can't seem to use the buddy system on field trips."



Odona is lying on the bed in some quarters while Hodin talks to her. She asks how long it will take for her to die.
"Depends on the strength of the person who is infected," he says. "You're pretty strong, so... probably a while. Bet it will suck, too."
"It does kind of suck," she replies.
"You are suffering, and that's awesome," he gushes.
Father of the Year, friends.
He steps into the hall, where Kirk asks to see Odona. Hodin tells him that Odona has Vagan coreo meningitis.
"Fuck, that could be fatal," says Kirk. "I almost died from that."
"Yes, exactly!" says Hodin, who acts like Orion slave girls are pleasuring him just below screen level. "We found out about it from looking you up, then requesting you as ambassador. So we took some of your blood, which is how you got that bruise, and we infected her. Did Odona tell you that we don't have doctors?"
"You dick!" yells Kirk, launching himself at Hodin.
Altercation: Kirk and two Gideon guards. They take him hostage again.


Back on the bridge, Spock is deciding to violate orders to rescue Kirk. He's finally figured out that there are two sets of beam-down coordinates. It's taken seventeen minutes of show time for them to catch that, which translates out to several hours in plot time. Spock and Bones bicker for a few minutes over which one of them will go, and Spock wins out, beaming onto the other Enterprise. He attempts to page Kirk with the transporter controls, but to no avail.

Kirk is in the council chambers, yelling at Hodin about how Gideon lied to the Federation, saying they were some kind of paradise. Hodin tries to play it off, saying Gideon was like that a long time ago. The atmosphere is germ-free, and the people did well, to the point where lifespans were extended. People stopped dying. Birth rates went up, and now they found themselves awash in people.
"Yo, contraception?" asks Kirk. "Maybe you've heard of it?"
"Naw, we think life is super-sacred," says Hodin.
Ohhh, I see. You don't believe in contraception or abortion because life is sacred, and because you don't believe in interfering with it in that way. Introducing a deadly disease that causes pain and suffering before death, you're down with that. Basically, I sat through forty minutes of crap, of Kirk and Odona wandering throughout the ship, to get to the gist of this episode, which is population control through contraception vs population control through disease.
Kirk points out that it was kind of shitty for Hodin to have his own daughter infected to kick off this party.
"Naw, she's down for it," says Hodin. "She was hoping that you would fall in love with her, and chose to stay, so we could keep mining you for deadly diseases."
You got honeypotted, Kirk. Womp, womp. Don't feel sorry for you, either. You do this constantly to females.
This also explains why they asked for Kirk, instead of a legit ambassador like Sarek.
One of the guards steps in to say that Odona is dying.


Spock makes his way to the other bridge, where he tries some buttons and exposits that the Gideons have made an exact replica of the E on their planet, and that they beamed Kirk onto it rather than into their council chambers. And because he's actually smarter than Kirk, Spock flips open his hand-held communicator to call Scotty and Bones and relay this information. Really Kirk, why would you not try the hand-held? Did Gideon tell you that it wouldn't be necessary? Did you then argue back that you would need it later to let them know when you were ready to beam back? Because that would have solved a lot of issues.

Spock's Log 5423.8: "I think the Gideons created this replica E to do experiments on Kirk. I should find him. I'm guessing the captain is gonna die if I don't."

In his fake quarters, Kirk visits Odona as she dies. He pleads with Hodin to let Bones cure her, because then she wouldn't die, and the disease in her blood could be used to infect others, which means that he could leave. This pandemic idea is only distasteful to him so long as it pertains to Odona and himself. Fuck the other Gideons. They're just faces pressed against the window.
But Hodin refuses, excitedly telling Kirk that Odona will be the poster child for this weird genocide.
Kirk goes back to Odona and also begs her to let Bones cure her. She refuses and spouts some sappy crap about wanting to be with Kirk forever before she passes out.


Out in the corridor, Spock comes upon the guards from behind. He pinches one, then carelessly tosses the other down the hall like a rag doll. He makes his way into Kirk's quarters, where he calls Scotty for a beam-up for himself, Kirk and Odona.
"Your excellency," he says to Hodin. "Please do not interfere. I already have one serious problem to resolve with upper echelons."
I snicker as they beam up. Spock gets the best lines.

In sick bay, Bones pronounces Odona cured. Odona sheepishly tells Kirk that he doesn't have to come back to Gideon with her now, as they can use the disease in her blood to spread more disease across the planet. She isn't sure why he's smiling, and she apologizes profusely for lying to him and getting him to fall in love with her so they could use him for their own purposes.
HEY KIRK, ARE YOU TAKING NOTES? WHEN YOU USE SOMEONE LIKE THAT, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO FEEL BAD.


Odona asks him one last time to go with her, because what guy wouldn't want to see a young woman doing her duty, and infecting a whole planet with a nasty disease? He refuses, she says she will miss him, and then she beams down. Yay, a happy ending for no one!

Death Toll:
Red deaths this episode: 0
Red deaths this season: 6
Gold deaths this episode: 0
Gold deaths this season: 0
Blue deaths this episode: 0
Blue deaths this season: 1
Total crew deaths this season: 7
Total crew deaths thus far: 49

No crew deaths, but presumably a large chunk of the population of Gideon will be dying soon.

So Odona seems pretty happy at the end of this episode, but how's she gonna feel when other Gideons start dying off, and she has to watch it, knowing that she is the cause, and knowing how lousy it feels to be that sick? Pretty shitty, I'm guessing. What's more, they are transferring the disease by way of serum, which means they will be selecting which people die. Maybe they'll hold a death lottery. Maybe they'll televise it, and a smiling Odona will pull the balls and announce the "winners." I gotta say, if I were a Gideon, and I found out that Hodin's daughter had gotten this disease, and then been cured, but I would not receive the same treatment, I'd be pretty freaking angry. There may even be some thinning of the ranks by way of a war between the people and the government.

This plot also has some weird issues which are not addressed. Gideon is severely over-populated: how do they feed all of those people? Do they have fields of produce somewhere? Factories to produce it? How do they have the room for such things? And how do said factories and fields produce enough to feed all of those people? Are they severely malnourished? Did Gideon experiment with allowing people to starve to death? Hodin says that their people have awesome restorative powers, and that organs just kind of grow back. Why do they think that giving everyone meningitis is going to work? Won't they just get better on their own? Speaking of disease and food, if they have enough to feed everyone, then where are these people relieving themselves? If they're packed so tightly that they cannot hardly breathe, then how is sanitation covered? Are they just going wherever? Surely that creates some disease right there?
What a weird-ass episode.

*******

So last weekend I did this out of town thing, and I was sharply reminded why it is not a good idea to share a hotel room with my mother, brother and stepfather: they all snore like competing lawnmowers. The next morning, I was asked if I slept alright, given the noise from the nearby freeway. If I had not actually seen the freeway there the day before, I would not have realized it was there over the cacophony of sinus issues. I needed an energy drink to survive the following day, and I ran across a display for Mountain Dew KickStart in a grocery store. I bought it with a "sure, why not?" attitude.
This one was an "energizing" pineapple-orange-mango flavor that supposedly has a "hydrating boost." Like, what does that last one even mean? It's liquid. I'm sure it is doing some hydrating. Is it supposed to be quenching my thirst more? I dunno. I'm not certain of the qualifications here.
Taste-wise, it does not taste like Mountain Dew. It tastes like that tropical combo they promised, which is alright, and tastes like other energy drinks that include tropical flavors. You know what it also tastes like? Fakey sugar. I missed the little label on the can that tells you how many calories it contains. Not the nutrition label. The extra label that they put on stuff that's sugar-free or low calorie or crap like that. The "this many calories per can" label, and you know the caloric count is too low for that amount of product. The label that is typically a big red flag that says "This will have a cloying, chemical aftertaste. You will feel gross after drinking it."
So, I get it: high fructose corn syrup isn't good for you, and people are wanting to move away from it. But they're doing it by replacing some of that HFCS with sucralose, that stuff that adds the chemical taste. I hate that stuff. And the only way I know which stuff it's in is to carefully cull the nutrition label. Should we all be doing that? For every product that goes into our shopping carts? Probably, but...

Who's got two thumbs and is not turning an hour-long grocery store trip into an 12-hour excursion by reading every label? This Lady of Archon. They need to just start labeling things that taste like shit. They could put it on stickers: "Tastes Like Shit!" It would go on the durian fruit in the produce section and boxes of generic mac and cheese and laundry detergent pods and everything that's made with sucralose. Then you'd know before that crap went into your cart.
So this KickStart stuff: it doesn't taste too bad, barring the sucralose. And maybe sucralose is your thing and you prefer it over HFCS. Good on ya. This drink has some of both. Do I feel extra hella hydrated after drinking this? Meh, no more than usual. Was it "energizing"? Well, yeah. It contains caffeine, which is why I bought it, and why they can advertise it as an energy drink.
Bottom line: tastes okay. Gives energy. Not super-hydrating. Contains sucralose. Seems to be marketed as a specialty soda rather than a straight energy drink, so the cost is lower. But not buying it again because sucralose is nasty.






Teacup's cat Momo is fairly certain that that grass over there is better.




3 comments:

  1. This episode was stupid. These idiots are so overpopulated they can barely move and they won't stop having sex and making more? Wtf. The Federation could help them colonize a few other planets, but these people would rather die. Okaaaaaaaay. Doesn't sound like life is all that sacred to them after all, if they'd rather kill their people than look for a better solution. Kirk not having his handheld could be explained by them having stole it when they took his blood, but they should have brought it up at some point that he didn't have it anymore to explain why he didn't try it. Spock should have immediately caught that the beam down coordinates were different, being OCD about numbers is his forte. Heck, even one of the other bridge crew would have probably thought to check if they matched, if not noticed it themselves. There seem to be quite a few episodes, season three episodes especially, where Kirk just wanders around in trouble and then Spock storms in and saves him at the end. Kirk, stop being such a damsel in distress. Can't we have more episodes where Kirk saves himself? And let's have more side characters in the action, there's only so many times we can watch Kirk romance someone before we get bored. Or anyone romance someone, really. Enough romance subplots, unless they're actually well-written.

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  2. Uhura and Spock can be heard at the end of Mathematics of Chaos on Killing Joke's Pandemonium album reciting the transfer coordinates and the First Officer's report star date number. GIDEON is the Global Infectious Disease Epidemiological Network.

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