Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, April 13, 2015

Season 3, Episode 74 "The Cloud Minders"


"The Cloud Minders"
Production Order: 74
Air Order: 76
Stardate: 5818.4
Original Air Date: February 28, 1969




Kirk's Log 5818.4: "So there's this botanical plague that killing the plants of this one planet, and if the plants go, the people go, too. It's an oxygen thing. Anyway, we conveniently found another Federation planet, Ardana, that has zeinite, which is something we can use to stop the plague."

Uhura tells Kirk that the High Adviser has contacted her to say that Kirk can beam down to Stratos, their city in the clouds, whenever he is ready.
"What?" asks Kirk. "We're beaming down to the mouth of the zeinite mines. The Ardanans just want to throw us some kind of diplomatic party or something. We're not beaming down to Stratos."
He checks with Spock and Scotty to see if they have mine entrance coordinates set, and when they say they do, he takes Spock with him to beam down.
"Tell the High Adviser that we're skipping whatever fancy thing he has planned, and we're going to the mine, because this is an emergency," he tells Uhura on his way out.
And he leaves without waiting to get the response back from her as to why they were being told to go to Stratos. Now, I know Star Trek wants me to think that Kirk is an awesome captain, but we just watched him completely assume one thing and act on it without finding out if it's true or not, and you know that because of the way it was set up here, that Kirk is going to get his sorry ass kidnapped or something.
So Kirk and Spock beam down to the surface alone. Seems like, especially because this is an emergency that involves plants, that they would bring a botanist or something with them (Hello? Sulu?), but I guess Kirk felt that bringing the science officer only would be efficient. They step off a beaming platform and stare up at the sky, at the city of Stratos.


They talk a bit about how art and intellectualism is what the Ardana culture is based on, and about how they've done away with violence. Then they notice that the zeinite, which should have been at the mine entrance, is nowhere to be found. They walk closer, and wonder out loud whether the troglyte mine workers have changed their minds about giving them the zeinite. Then they are lassoed from behind by four miners.
Wow. I never saw that coming.


When we come back from the credits break, Kirk and Spock start an altercation. Of course they win. These miners are unaware that No One in the Known Universe Can Fight. Three people from Stratos beam down, probably because Uhura called them back, and they were all, "WTH? We told him to beam to the cloud city for a fucking reason!"
So the three people who just beamed down are the High Adviser and two guards, and you guys, I have no words for the uniforms on the guards. None. Star Trek has finally rendered me speechless.


Baby blue belted tunics with bell sleeves and over-the-knee black boots. They look like go-go dancers. But those hats, though. THOSE HATS. 
I need a Saurian brandy. You can dispense with the glass.
The High Adviser's guards chase the miners away, shooting one in the back. I guess he's dead? They don't really check on him. Seems like Kirk should insist, but he appears to give no fucks either way. The Adviser introduces himself as Plasus, and he apologizes up one wall and down the other.
"Yeah, don't care," says Kirk. "We need to get that zeinite and get out of here."
"Sooo, the disruptors have taken it," says Plasus. "They agreed to give it up in order to get you guys as their hostages. They're troglyte miscontents who talk the other troglytes into not working. They think that by taking hostages, they can get their demands met by the council."
Plasus sends his go-go dancers to look for the zeinite, then he beams up with Kirk and Spock.
Yeah, that miner is most def dead. Nobody cares. Orange is the new Red.

So I wondered how they were going a "city in the sky" and they actually did a pretty good job. They showed the little matte painting of the city on a cloud, and when the boys beam up, they show just sky and generated clouds outside of the windows. They also show the view looking down, which appears to be just a geographical photograph with some clouds overlaid. Good job, Star Trek. I buy it.


Spock is admiring the technological marvel of the cloud city when Plasus' daughter Droxine comes in. And holy shitsnacks, you guys. The boob hammock has returned! And it's got a cape!



So, despite the fact that this is hella sci-fi porn, I actually kind of like this costume. The color is a nice on one this girl, and it, along with the shimmery quality of the fabric, makes one think of light, airy, puffy clouds and sky. The skirt is long to balance out the fact that there's so much skin up top, and the boob hammock is actually architecturally interesting. (You see that last sentence? "...the boob hammock is actually architecturally interesting"? That sentence is the reason why I can't list this blog as experience when applying for writing jobs. Well, that and the F-bombs. Also, the fact that I keep insisting that Kirk has a physical relationship with the Enterprise.) I could do without the cape, but in future scenes, it appears to be part of the whole Stratos fashion culture, so at least they're consistent with it.
Plasus introduces his daughter as "a work of art." She is excited to meet Spock.
"I've never met a Vulcan, sir."
"Nor I, a work of art, madam." 
Plasus starts to walk them around the council chambers, showing them the different kinds of sculpture, when he comes upon a weird Ardana knife in the wall next to one. He goes off on a rant about disruptors and how they are making demands. When Spock asks about said demands, he is brushed off.
"Just stuff they want."

This is kind of a cool shot, with the sculpture in the extreme foreground.


The boys are given quarters to rest in, as they must be exhausted from engaging in a fight that they started with people on the surface, after Kirk ignored the message to come to the cloud city instead.
Plasus and Droxine have a convo in which Droxine seems to be concerned about diplomatic stuff with the Federation, when really, she's worried about the tasty first officer of the Enterprise. Two go-go dancers come in with troglyte. This guy claims he's there to make repairs, but he doesn't have any ID or papers on him to prove it. Plasus angrily tells him that he needs to rise above his status, and the troglyte angrily replies back that the people of Stratos have declared that that isn't possible. Plasus accuses him of stabbing the wall with the knife he found, then orders him to be tied up, the troglyte throws himself over the balcony instead, and we see him falling. It's just a cut-out growing smaller over the geographical photo, and it's a bit cheesy-looking, but at least they tried. They could have just had him jump and yell progressively quieter.


We get a weird thing in the next scene: Kirk is sleeping in the rest chamber, but Spock is sitting in a chair thinking, and we get a voice-over from him, thinking about the social situations on Ardana. It's not a log of any kind, just Spock thinking. He pretty much compares the people of Stratos and the troglytes, and notes that that the miners seem to do all of the work, and the people in the clouds seem to benefit from it without working for it. He wonders if Droxine is aware of the differences.
Then he says that her name is appropriate for her. I looked it up, thinking it was some clever allusion to some Greek goddess of inequality or something. Star Trek loves doing that. But you know what happens when you Google Droxine? A shit-ton of Star Trek pages come up, all about this episode, and talking about this girl. If you dig really far down in the hole of the internet, you start pulling up sites that list medications, and that is where one finds "droxine:" it's a medicine used to treat hyperthyroidism and goiters. Not even kidding. Maybe Spock sees the situation on Ardana as a social goiter that he hopes she can cure?



Anyway, he calls her "lovely" and "sweet" and basically they want us to believe that he kind of likes her, which, yeah, I don't completely buy. It seems like once a season or so, some episode comes along where they're like, "Let's write a romantic episode for Spock." (Actually, they've done that a few times. Scotty has had two romance episodes that I can recall; off the top of my head, Bones has had two or three; Christine got one (minus that ridiculous crush on Spock they keep trying to push on us); Uhura hasn't really had any; Chekov got one; Sulu got none; and Kirk is a stone-cold mess. If I'm counting correctly, this is Spock's third such episode. And I only ever fully bought the one with the Romulan commander. 
 Spock wanders out into the corridor, where Droxine the Goiter Killer is doing something that includes lightly rattling china. She apologizes for waking him, and he says that he doubts that anyone but a Vulcan would have noticed, because Vulcans have hella good hearing. She says that she's heard that Vulcans are as enlightened as Stratos city dwellers. That's pretty high and mighty talk there, Droxine.


While they're talking, another chick sneaks by them and into the rest chamber. Another boob hammock, another cape, and she's about to stab Kirk with one of those weird trowel-like troglyte knives. Only Kirk is a light sleeper, and they wrestle on the bed. (No, like, actual wrestling. Not the boot-knocking kind.) Turns out she's the troglyte in the purple coveralls, minus the fancy sunglasses and the do-rag from before.


"Hey, it's you. You changed your dressmaker," he quips.
He's got her pinned down, and he says he will let her up if she agrees to answer some questions. She acquiesces, he lets her up, she dives for the knife. he holds her again.
Now we switch back to Spock and Droxine in the corridor, who seem to have noticed neither the girl who snuck by them, nor the struggle in the rest chamber.
You know, it's funny, Spock. I thought you just said you had super-hearing, yet you managed to not hear your captain in the next room over, fending off the chick with the knife?


Spock and Droxine talk about pon farr, and she feigns sadness that he only gets to do the horizontal mambo every seven years. She asks if there's anything that can disturb the cycle.
"Extreme feminine beauty is always disturbing," he replies.
It is?
Kirk calls him from the other room. Spock looks mildly interested. Droxine looks fully cock-blocked.



 So everybody piles into the rest chamber, and Droxine knows the knife-less girl, Vanna. Seems that Vanna used to serve in the High Adviser's household previously. She's here to kidnap Kirk again because the troglytes think that the E is only there to put the smackdown on them. Droxine calls for security. An argument breaks out between them. Vanna says the trogs just want what the Statosians have, which the opportunity to bask in the warm sunlight. Droxine says that's crap, that Stratos is for smart people, and anyway, the trogs have eyes that are sensitive to sunlight, and also, caves are warm. 
Caves are warm.
Yeah, maybe the kind in the sides of active volcanoes.
I don't think they have those on Ardana.
The go-go dancers come and haul Vanna off. Kirk and Spock have noticed that Droxine doesn't science. And also, that she's kind of a bigot.
"So, hey, Droxine," asks Kirk. "WTF?"
"We have a good balance of work and leisure here," says Droxine. "They work, and we play."
"Y'all are not enlightened like you think you are," Spock tells her.
"We have no violence," she insists, just before the scene changes to show Vanna tied to a pillar, about to be tortured.


Plasus asks Vanna how the disrupters are, and she insists there are none, so he turns on this thing that flashes lights at her and makes some kind of high-tech laser noise. She screams, and our boys come running. Vanna passes out.
"The fuck, Plasus?" demands Kirk.
"You wanted the zeinite quickly," he shrugs.
"Not if you're gonna pull this Guantanamo Bay torture bullshit to get it," snaps Kirk.
Droxine kind of says in this round-about way that the trogs are beneath them.
"So you get better shit than they do?" asks Spock. "You get to live like humans, and they get to live like animals?"
She seems pretty put-out that he just gave her a tongue-lashing in equality, and she walks away.
"Troglytes are not smart enough to understand how to function in the world," Plasus tells Kirk.
"Vanna seems smart enough to understand leadership and loyalty," Kirk barks back.
"Naw, that's just because she was a household servant," says Plasus. "We bring up some trogs, give them a little more education, and make them our servants. Like the go-go dancers."
The argument goes on, and Plasus threatens to have them removed. Kirk says the Federation would not take kindly to the Ardanans laying hands on their officers. Plasus then threatens to call Kirk's manager and get him fired. Ardana, as a member of the Federation, no longer qualifies for the protection of the Prime Directive, but he claims that he'll still tell Starfleet that Kirk is interfering in the development of Ardana's culture.
Stuck, Kirk flips him off, and they beam back to the E.
Plasus gives the order to kill Kirk if he comes back.
That escalated quickly.



Kirk's Log 5819.0: "Been here eight hours trying to get this shit. If we don't get the zeinite to the plague planet in the next twelve, they're totally screwed."

Kirk is in his chair on the bridge when Bones enters.
"So, hey," says Bones. "I got a little container of this unrefined zeinite sent up to me, and it's totally poisonous. It's sent all over the galaxy once they've refined it, but when it's like this, it gives off an odorless gas that makes you dumb and angry when exposed to it too long. The Stratosians removed themselves from the process, and are no longer dumb and angry, but the trogs who mine this shit are exposed to it constantly. That's why there's such a huge gap in the intellect of the Stratos people and the cave people."
"Vanna and the other servants were removed from that exposure for a while when they were on Stratos. Their intellect went up, so they were able to lead the revolt," says Spock. "Removal from the zeinite restores intellect."
Bones grabs a filter mask and they head to the transporter room to communicate with Plasus. They explain about the gas and the masks, but he isn't buying it. He thinks that the trogs evolved separately, because they're an inferior species.
"Fine, fuck you!" yells Kirk. "I'm gonna give these masks to Vanna in exchange for the zeinite."
"I forbid it!" barks Plasus. And he hangs up.
"My diplomacy is somewhat inadequate," Kirk tells his boys. Good job, James. Admitting you have a problem is half the battle. "I'm gonna beam into Vanna's cell. She needs to get something for her people, or she won't give us the zeinite."
"I should go instead," says Spock. "They'll kill you if they find you, and I'm more expendable that you or McCoy."
"Noop," says Kirk, hopping on the transporter pad. "This mission is now unofficial. Going rogue."
I'm shocked.

He beams into the prison cell to talk to Vanna. He tells her about the gas and the masks.
"I'll swap you for the zeinite. A mask for every trog, to keep you safe. Then, when I'm done taking the zeinite to the plague planet, I'l come back and represent the trogs in front of the Stratos city council."
"No way," she says. "You won't come back. Generations ago, the people of Stratos said they were building a city for all of us to live in, then they ditched us on the surface."
"Dude, you gotta trust me!" pleads Kirk. "If you guys don't wear these masks, then you're going to continue in this way forever, being poisoned and staying in the mines. And I won't get the zeinite, and a planet full of people will die."
"...yeah, okay," she says finally. "The zeinite is hidden in a place where I can't give you directions. I have to take you there."



I like her little halter-style prison dress. It's simple, and the lines are clean. I don't know if those symbols on the front are for decoration, or that's her inmate number, but I kind of hope it's the latter. I like seeing other species' writing systems.
So Kirk hides when the guard brings in Vanna's dinner, then Kirk stuns him, and they leave, resetting the forcefield behind them.

Down in the caves, Vanna bangs one of those weird knives on a rock to summon her remaining trog friends, whom she greets warmly.
"I brought a hostage!" she says gleefully, and she promptly takes Kirk's phaser and communicator as her friends grab Kirk's arms.
"Vanna, WTF?" Kirk demands.
"You tried to trick us, but now we have you as hostage!"
And she forces Kirk to dig for zeinite with his bare hands.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Spock's Log 5819.3: "Rehash, but also, we have no idea where he is, and we can't contact him because we'll give him away, and then Plasus will kill him. Sucks to be us."

I think this shot may be an attempt to mirror the other one, where
the sculpture sits in the extreme foreground. here, instead of a sculpture,
we get a side view of Midros' sexy leg.


Down in the mines, Kirk is still digging. She tells one of her friends, Anka, to put the mask on the transporter pad so that Plasus will know that they have Kirk as a hostage. She tells her other friend Midros to go tell the other disrupters that they have a hostage now. Midros argues with her in short, simple sentences, that he thinks they should kill Kirk. He finally leaves, but he doesn't look happy. 
"How long are you keeping me here?" asks Kirk.
"Until we get help in the mines, and then we can live in the clouds," she replies.
I see. Her intention is to subjugate someone else, and force them to do the dirty work instead. What a lovely, cyclical plan.
He throws dirt in her face, and they once again end up wrestling for a weapon. He manages to get to the phaser first, then uses it to cave in the entrance to that room.
"You asshole!" she screams. "We're trapped now! The atmosphere will go, and we'll die!"
And Kirk, who has been taking jabs this whole time about "unseen gas" from both her and Plasus, replies, "Die, from something that can't be seen? You astound me, Vanna." 
*snort*
He contacts Spock, and orders him to beam Plasus to his coordinates without talking to him first. A surprise beaming.

Plasus is talking to Droxine on the balcony in Stratos, and she admits that her ovaries throb for Spock. He replies that Kirk is trying to "destroy our power and society." There's a brief cut to the E, where Scotty says that he can't beam the Adviser away because he is standing too close to someone else (Droxine). A go-go dancer comes in to say that a guard was found unconscious in Vanna's empty cell, stunned by Kirk. You wanna tell me how he knew it was Kirk? Cuz by all rights he shouldn't know that. Annoyed, Plasus sends Droxine away to study.
She pauses on her way out to ask, "Are we so sure of our methods that we never question what we do?"
Dramatic music! Surprise beaming!

Down in the caves, Kirk is starting to look and act slightly insane. It doesn't help any that he's filthy and holding his gun like a mobster from a Prohibition-themed movie.


I guess by the time we hit this scene, Plasus has been down in the caves for an hour. He's angry and yelling at Kirk, but Kirk is having none of his shit. he orders Plasus to dig for zeinite in order to expose him to more gas. He makes Vanna dig as well. Spock does a quick contact-check to let Kirk know they only have five hours left. Spock and Bones are concerned when Kirk barks at them to STFU, then hangs up on them.
Vanna and Plasus are getting dizzy, but neither wants to admit there is gas in the cave. Plasus pulls out two digging knives and comes at Kirk, who tosses the phaser away in a "come at me, bro" gesture.


Vanna is finally convinced that there's a gas in the caves that's making them dumb and angry. She watches them roll around on the floor, then grabs Kirk's comm, and magically teaches herself to use it in the space of an instant.
"Helphelphelphelp! They're gonna kill each other! Beam us out!" she screams at Spock.
He obliges, and all three appear on the transporter pad. Kirk and Plasus finish their fight there, and Kirk knocks Plasus the hell out.

Back on Stratos, Vanna has gotten what she wanted, and delivers the zeinite to Kirk. Plasus is still angry and doesn't hesitate to keep yelling at her. Apparently, he's pissed off that when the trogs become smart from wearing the protective masks, that they'll all become as demanding as Vanna. You know, wanting their freedom and equal treatment and shit.



Spock says goodbye to Droxine. She's decided to make a trip down to the mines to see what this whole kerfuffle has been about.
Kirk tells Vanna that he'll give his report to Starfleet and recommend that someone is sent to mediate between the Stratosians and the troglytes.
"Fuck that!" yells Plasus. "You're not coming back here!"
"Personally, I wouldn't set foot here ever again!" Kirk barks back. "You threatened me!"
"Yeah, well, you kidnapped me!" counters Plasus. "So I'm reporting that!"
"Y'all, maybe you should just call it even," suggests Vanna. "Nobody reports anything."
Plasus looks moderately mollified, and Kirk laughs. "You're right. Let's just forget it."
Kirk and Spock hop up on the balcony, and with three hours left, beam up with the zeinite.



So I'm sure I don't need to mention that this is a thinly-veiled story about racism and slavery, and the further troubles of race in America. In truth, the story could have been far more heavy-handed that it came out, so no complaints there. In the original script, there were actually two groups of troglytes battling the city-dwellers, one lead by a pacifistic MLK-type, and the other lead by a Malcolm X-type, with the ending only reaching Kirk being able to get them to talk to one another. Here, the ending is similar, but original scriptwriter David Gerrold being unhappy with it because it turns out that the troglytes' anger is based in part on toxic gas, and wearing the masks keeps the troglytes in service to the Stratosians. However, Vanna seems determined to eventually get her own castle in the sky, and the episode also ends with the promise of mediation. To be honest, this episode was not as formulaic as I thought it would be.


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

Just that one troglyte that no one seemed to give a shit about. I guess maybe animals ate him or something.

*******

Went into a less-frequented grocery store this week, and they had a better selection of pre-made teas than my regular place, so I grabbed a can of Inko Citrus Black Currant Oolong. It was a little heavier on the citrus than the black currant, but that was okay. It had nice notes of oolong as well, and the best part: no creepy sugar. I would definitely drink this again.






1 comment:

  1. This episode was kind of weird. I never really got what Spock was supposed to be attracted to in Droxine other than her looks- which he's supposed to be immune to, isn't he? She came off as pretty dumb and naive for a "learned" person. And he immediately starts telling her about Pon Farr. Lol, I thought that was supposed to be a secret? How did they get on that topic, anyway?

    Droxine: You know, I've never met a Vulcan before. I've read you are anatomically similar but physically superior to my people. We should 'do it'. You know, for science. *plays with cape* It would be of great academic value to me.
    Spock: *eyebrow* As fascinating as that would be, I'm afraid your timing is most inconvenient. It's just not 'that time' for me. Rest assured that were it not for this unfortunate fact of life, I would gladly engage in your 'experiment'.
    Droxine: 'That time'? *tilts head*
    Spock: There are certain aspects of Vulcan biology we prefer to keep from those outside our race, due to their rather... Embarrassing nature. Surely you understand.
    Droxine: Oh, of course. *pouts* But learning about Vulcan biology might have been such an educational experience. It's disappointing, really, such a waste of an opportunity to deepen my knowledge... *pouts more*
    Spock: Desire of learning is a noble goal. Perhaps, for a living work of art such as yourself, exceptions can be made....


    And it all goes downhill from there. Gag.

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