Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

ST:TAS Season One, Episode Six: The Survivor

"The Survivor"
Air Order: 6
Star Date: 5143.3
Original Air Date: October 13, 1973

Blargh. I hate late postings. Like, really really hate them. This one involves a hiccuping modem in my laptop, several library computers that didn't want to play Hulu episodes of TAS, another library computer that doesn't support Netflix, and a system-wide library computer time cap of ninety minutes, coupled with four-hour production times.

tl:dr: Technology really sucks sometimes.


Kirk's Log 5143.3: "We're patrolling the edge of the Neutral Zone, and we've spotted a one-person ship that's been damaged by meteors. I don't find this suspicious at all, finding a damaged spaceship on the cusp of Romulan space. So we've changed course to help this person out."

Kirk, Spock and Bones go down to the transporter room to greet the pilot, and Spock tells Kirk that he may be surprised when he finds out who it is. He tells the boys that the ship is registered to Carter Winston, and Bones says that that can't be right, because Winston has been missing for five years.
"Bitch, did I not just say you would be surprised?" asks Spock.
A guy appears on the pad, and Bones agrees that is, most definitely, Carter Winston.

Introductions are made all around, and Bones mentions that his daughter Joana was going to school on some planet where they hit some kind of crisis, and Winston used his personal fortune to have supplies shipped to the planet to keep the people alive. (This is actually the only time Bones mentions his daughter. She was supposed to be featured heavily in "The Way to Eden", but she was scrapped in favor of Irina.) Anyway, the gist is that everyone thinks that Winston is the bees' knees, and that they admire him. Really, this should send up a red flag, because remember every other time on this show where someone says "I admire that guy" and then he goes nuts, or turns out to be some kind of psycho?
So then Spock mentions how awesomely coincidental it is that Carter Winston's fiancé from back in the day is on board the ship, a security Red named Ann Nored. Winston is surprised. I would be, too. What are the freaking odds? (It's Star Trek. The odds are astronomically in favor.) Spock says he will tell Ann that her guy has essentially returned from the dead, just as soon as he can see Winston's space passport.
"That's really shitty," says Bones. "This guy is  some kind of minor hero, and you want to see his credentials?"
"Dude was missing for five years," shrugs Spock. "Protocol says we check him."
Because Starfleet needed to have instructions for "what to do when you find someone that everyone thought was dead." Clearly, Kirk was not following the rules when he stumbled upon Zephram Cochrane and didn't ask to fingerprint him against identity theft.
"Naw, he's right," says Kirk.
"It's cool," says Winston. "Here's my identity tapes, and I'll totes consent to a medical check-up."

Later, in the debriefing room, Kirk and Spock are going through the identity tapes, and Kirk is talking about how awesome Winston is, being a successful trader, who then gives all his money to good causes. The computer confirms that Winston is who he says he is, matching fingerprints, voice records and a bunch of other stuff.
Winston is in sick bay, being checked out by Bones. Bones is a bit confused, because he says that the instruments read as being slightly off for a human. Winston jokes that maybe he is not human, and Bones brushes it off, saying his equipment needs to be recalibrated.

Christine enters to tell Bones that Winston's ID has checked out, and that she's informed Nored that her guy is alive and onboard ship. While she's here, I have to complain briefly about her animated anatomy: to wit, her giraffe neck. Now, I know that having a swan-like neck is thought to be an asset in Western females, and I know that Majel Barrett has that to some degree, but this is ridiculous. Has Bones documented how many extra vertebrae Christine has?

She and Bones leave, and an excited Ann Nored comes in. Winston is hesitant. When she asks what's wrong, he says that when he left five years earlier, he was totally ready to marry her. But now he's a different person. he crash-landed on Vendor, and gradually got his health back, but now he's a new man, and she should just forget him.
"It's not you, baby. It's me."

Ann has that neck thing too, though not as badly as Christine.

Kirk is in his quarters when Winston comes in. They briefly discuss Winston's damaged ship, and when Kirk looks away, Winston morphs into some kind of space kraken, who then does like a Vulcan neck pinch on Kirk and knocks him the hell out. The kraken rather tenderly lays Kirk out on his bed, then assumes the form of the captain.

There's a short scene in sick bay here where Christine tells Bones that she's double-checked all of the equipment, but everything is working fine. She asks about the tests results, and he says that some tests were off by a small amount, and others were just fine. Clearly, Winston is an honest human, so it must be the instruments.

The kraken-Kirk arrives on the bridge, and orders Sulu to change course to go to Rator III. Sulu points out that going to Rator III means crossing into the Neutral Zone.
"Sulu, STFU and do it," says kraken-Kirk. "I know what I'm doing, and I know that means breaking a treaty."
"Yeah, I think that's a bad idea, too," says Spock. "My instruments says there's a ship in the Neutral Zone right now, and we have no idea what it is. Could be nothing, could be bad news bears."
"Dude, whatever," kraken-Kirk brushes him off. "I talked to Winston, and he says that it's totally safe and there are no Romulans, and also, that Rator III needs help desperately, so we're going."
Kraken-Kirk leaves the bridge.

Spock's Log 5148.7: "We're going hella into the Neutral Zone, but you already knew that, unless you got up to get more cereal just before the commercial break."

So non-kraken Kirk wakes up in his quarters and goes back to the bridge. He notices that some time has passed and remarks to Spock that he must have fallen asleep while writing his report to Starfleet. Then he notices that they are balls-deep in the Neutral Zone, and demands to know who the hell gave the order for the E to go there.
"You," says Spock.
"Like hell I did!" Kirk argues.
And then they do that thing that drove me nuts on TOS as well: they play back earlier footage from the show (Trek-ception!). I suppose this is the easiest way to do it, but seriously, where the hell are the cameras on the bridge that are recording this footage? And who is splicing the different angles together? On closed circuit tv footage, there aren't different camera angles involved. And how does Spock have access to it that quickly?

So Spock plays back the earlier footage showing Kirk ordering Sulu to fly into the Neutral Zone, and Kirk has him shut it off, ordering Sulu to warp the fuck out of the NZ, because he has no idea why they're even there in the first place. Kirk and Spock get in the lift.
"Dude, I don't remember giving the order to fly into the Neutral Zone," Kirk admits.
Spock suggests that he go see Bones, and Kirk agrees, noting that if he's susceptible to blackouts, then he's a danger to the ship. What's this? Kirk being reasonable? Wowie-zowie.

Bones is in sick bay going over Winston's test results again when Winston comes in. He waits until Bones looks away to become the kraken, pinch Bones, and drag him away.  So when Anne shows up a moment later, she is greeted by kraken-Bones. (Heh.)
"I need to talk to someone," she admits. "I'm all messed up about this thing with Carter."
"Yeah, he told me about that earlier," says kraken-Bones. "Let's chat."
Okay, this is a little creepy: Anne is about to get counseling about Carter from Carter, only she thinks she's talking to Bones. That's kind of effed up.
"I'm still in love with Carter," Anne admits.
"Yeah, but people change, as he has," kraken-Bones states. "And he asked you to forget him and move on. You should probably take that as him being kind and concerned for you, and just forget him as he asked."
Bones isn't a jerk about it, and you kind of get the impression that the kraken's suggestion is based on the feeling of "it's for your own good." Anne is a little put-off though, because let's face it, she's dealing with an "easier-said-than-done" situation here.

Kirk and Spock come in, and Anne excuses herself.
"Hey, can I get an exam?" Kirk asks Bones. "I feel off, and some shit went down that I don't remember."
"Yeah, later," says kraken-Bones. "I have tests to run and stuff. Gotta process more stuff on Winston."
"About that," says Spock. "Do you think you might have made a mistake or something on Winston's tests?"
"It's possible," admits kraken-Bones. "You guys should leave so I can get work done."
Kirk says he'll report back later for that exam, and he and Spock step into the corridor.
"Bones was humble just now," says Spock. "That's weird. Bones is not humble."
"Agreed," says Kirk.
They go back into sick bay to find no Bones. But then they hear him moaning from another room, and when they open the door, they find Bones sitting up on the floor.
"I think I took a nap?" mumbles Bones.
Spock's line here is awesome: "You are a man of curious habits, Doctor, but I have never known you to nap on the Labratory Room floor."
Kirk goes back into the room with the sick bay beds, and notices that there is one too many. He addresses the extra table.
"Okay, Winston or whatever-you-are. Show yourself."
"Kirk, have you lost your shit?" asks Bones. "You're talking to a table."
Kirk grabs a vial of acid from a medicine cabinet and threatens to pour it on the table. The table shimmers and becomes the kraken, who looks agitated as hell.
(Am I the only one who thinks that Spock should have been the one to figure this out before Kirk? Spock had way more information, and had been present for more stuff than Kirk. Let's face it: Kirk is a Gryffindor, suited for jumping in without looking, and Spock is a Ravenclaw, suited to solving puzzles. I don't question Kirk threatening the kraken with acid, but I do question him being quicker on the uptake than Spock.)

"The hell is that?" demands Bones.
"It's a Vendorian," says Spock. "Their planet is quarantined, so very few people know what they look like. Peeps don't like them because they can shapeshift, and they're known liars."
Kirk yells for Spock to call for security, but the kraken grabs them with its tentacles and throws them against the wall before escaping into the corridor, where it morphs back into Winston. Spock makes a general call over the PA, warning the ship that they have a shape-shifting intruder aboard.
Winston steps through a door, only to find himself on the wrong end of Anne's phaser.
"Heeeyyy, Anne. What's up?"
"I'm not dumb," she answers. "You're the only stranger on board. You're the shape-shifting alien."

But she's distracted by a noise in the corridor, and when she glances away, he karate-chops the phaser from her hand. She grabs it just as he's going back through another door, but she pauses. Kirk runs in in time to see Winston disappear through the door.
"Bitch, why didn't you shoot him?" he demands.
Anne looks thoroughly miserable. "I couldn't. He looks like Carter."
"Carter Winston is dead," he says in an unfeeling way.
"I know that now," she replies in a small voice.
I totally feel for Anne here. Just today, she found out that her fiance, a guy she thought was probably dead, was actually alive. Then he dumps her. Then she finds out that he really is dead, and that a shape-shifting alien has taken his form. She has a moment where she isn't able to do her job correctly because she has a major case of The Feels, then Kirk comes in and yells at her. The stardate says that this date is a Friday, but Anne is totally experiencing Monday-type problems here.
The ship goes to red alert, and Kirk calls the bridge to find out what's up. Scotty reports back that they're being approached by a pair of Romulan ships.

Deceiver, dissembler, your trousers are alight.  Those are Klingon battle cruisers.
But they're not. Remember way back to "The Enterprise Incident"  when an assistant stepped on the Romulan ship model, so they used Klingon ships and added in a line for Spock about how the Romulans were now using Klingon ship design? Apparently, they've decided (probably for budget's sake) to make that canon or something, because it appears that they're going to just use the Klingon ships for both. It's cheaper for them to pay Jimmy Doohan to specify Romulan or Klingon, and just use the same ships than it is to design and animate Romulan ships as well. *sigh*
So anyway, dramatic music and commercial break.

Kirk's Log, supplemental: "We're still in the freaking Neutral Zone, thanks to this dumb kraken on board. And according to the treaty, the Romulans now have legal claim to impound our ship. Feels like a Monday."

Kirk goes back to the bridge to talk to the Romulans on the viewscreen, and guess what background they use for the Romulan bridge? Yup, the same ones as the Klingons.

Kirk tries to tell the Romulan commander that they've crossed into the Neutral Zone by mistake, and the commander replies snidely that it never seems to be on purpose when the Federation crosses into the NZ. He says that when Kirk surrenders the ship, he'll take Kirk and the E crew back to the nearest outpost that's guarding the NZ. That... actually seems pretty fair, to be honest. They're not declaring war, or taking prisoners, they're just escorting trespassers back off their land. It sounds like they intend to keep the Enterprise, which would suck, but no lives would be lost in the process.
Kirk replies that this is acceptable, and asks for five minutes to alert the crew. Once the viewscreen is off, he calls Nored to find out if they've caught the kraken, but they haven't been able to catch him yet. Then he turns to Spock.
"The kraken is a Romulan spy," he says. "It took Winston's shape and his wreaked ship, and they dropped him off at the edge of the NZ, hoping we would take him on board. We were baited. It works nicely for them to use a shape-shifter because I'm pretty sure that when I was in my quarters and "fell asleep" it was because the kraken took my shape and ordered us into the Neutral Zone."
Again, it seems like a stretch to me to have Kirk put this puzzle together with nearly no pieces. Are we having him make this huge leap because there's less than ten minutes left in the episode, and we have to get this wrapped up?
"Lieutenant M'Ress, open a channel so I can talk to the Romulans," directs Kirk.
And we get our first look at M'Ress, a Caitian communications officer. Where is Uhura? Voicing Anne Nored. Who voices M'Ress' purry lines? Majel Barrett. I guess Anne got too many lines for them to have Uhura on during this episode, so they used M'Ress in her place.

Interestingly, though, each time they used an overhead shot of the bridge, they showed Uhura at communications. Most likely stock footage.

So M'Ress opens the channel again, and Kirk tells the Romulan commander to blow the surrender out of his ass, because the Roms lured the E into the Neutral Zone (a violation of the treaty) by way of a Vendorian spy (further violation of the treaty). The Romulan commander says that Kirk is nuts.

Down in engineering, Scotty has come across some random Red, who has opened a panel and is gleefully ripping wires out of it.
"The hell?" he demands.
The random Red gives him a regular old Vulcan neck pinch, and continues with his wire-ripping.
Up on the bridge, Sulu reports that the deflector shields are down.
When Kirk calls engineering, another Red responds that Scotty is missing.
And now Sulu is yelling that the hangar doors are opening in the shuttle bay.
Kirk gives the bridge to Spock, requesting that he stall the Romulans, and goes to engineering himself. Security Reds are sent to the hangar deck.
Scotty explains that he found the random Red ripping the panel wires out, then he doesn't remember anything after that. he says it'll take two hours to repair the deflector shields.
This scene is framed by the open panel with the ripped wires, which is awesome. More of these shots, please.

Down on the hangar deck, Anne has cornered the kraken, who looks like Carter Winston again. She's determined that he will not get away this time.
Winston-kraken starts to tell her his story. It seems that the real Carter Winston crash-landed on Vendor, and was cared for by the kraken that is standing in front of Anne now. He lived for a year, telling the kraken how much he loved Anne, and what kind of person she was. Because the kraken spent so much time in his presence, the kraken absorbed a lot of Winston's thoughts and feelings, enough to where he could imitate him completely. The kraken cares for Anne now as well, but shows her his true form, asking, "Could you love this? This is why I told you to forget me."
And this, friends, is why this is Star Trek, and not just some cheap cartoon.

Kirk comes in. The Romulans choose to fire on the E at this point because they have not surrendered.
Kirk goes back up to the bridge with Nored, and M'Ress puts the Romulan commander on-screen. There's some general alien dick-waving, then Sulu reports that one deflector shield is up, the one that's immediately between themselves and the Romulans. Kirk orders him to fire on the Romulans, but only to take out their propulsion systems. The Romulans take some shots, and Sulu takes some shots. He disables one ship, and the other moves off.
"Awesome job on that deflector shield," Kirk congratulates Scotty.
"Wasn't me," says Scotty. "I told you two hours, and like, ten minutes have passed."
"It was probably the kraken," says Spock. "Dude was an exam table, he could have become a deflector shield."
"That's nuts," says Scotty.
But then the lift opens, and the kraken enters the bridge.
"Sorry if I put the ship in danger," he says.
"How come you helped us?" asks Kirk.
"On my planet, I'm kind of a nobody, not really good for anything," the kraken explains. "The Romulans asked me to help them, and my life had some meaning, because I could be useful. But I absorbed a lot of Carter Winston, and he loved Anne. So I couldn't bring myself to hurt her, or you with her."
"Cool, thanks," says Kirk. "We have to take you into custody, though. You'll stand trial as a spy, but you'll get brownie points for defending us from the Romulans."
"Can I be his guard?" asks Anne. "I still kind of love him, even if he is in a different form. I could maybe get used to the hentai. Maybe."
"Yeah, okay," says Kirk. They exit the bridge as Bones gets out of the lift.

"Oh sweet, he's under wraps," notes Bones. "I shudder to think what might have happened if we'd've ended up with two Spocks."
"Really?" asks Spock, deadpan. "Because I think two Dr McCoys might have brought the  medical efficiency on this ship up to acceptable levels."
And Bones makes a face at Spock, and they all live happily ever after, with no thoughts whatsoever for the Romulans, whose ships have disappeared.

So this episode is interesting in a few ways. While they were able to squeeze in some backstory with feels, I've noticed that that's the one thing that seems to be missing from the animated series. I don't think that it's necessarily because of people on the outside advising Star trek that kids wouldn't follow that kind of story on Saturday morning cartoons. I'm more apt to blame the lack of time. There have been a few cases where I've complained that certain scenes were added to pad the script out for time, like watching ship duties that are unrelated to the plot. But after all is said and done, they do actually add to the overall effect of "these people are serving in a starship out in space." Some of that is missing a bit with this series, but more than that are the inter-personal relationships of the characters. We have no idea thus far what Sulu thinks of Arax, because we haven't really seen them interact in a way that wasn't revolving around flying the ship. With this episode, we get back to that a bit with the relationship between Anne and (what was) Carter, and the early relationship between Anne and the Vendorian (whose name we never learn). What makes Star Trek so good (for me at least) are not the moments of "isn't it cool that we're out in space?" but how each of the characters relate to one another. It makes them more rounded and less cardboard. I feel like someone watching just the animated series would not get the fullness of Star Trek without watching TOS as well. I could be totally wrong about that, of course. I've talked to people who missed TOS by a few years, but managed to catch TAS on Saturday mornings, and were introduced to Trek through this series alone. They may feel that TAS did a good enough job portraying those relationships in 24 minutes than they did in 54 minutes using live-action.
It's also interesting to me how and where they spent money on this show. Like with TOS, there are some places where they cut corners with set design or the like, but then shoveled out some cash for a guest star. Here, we have a replay of the Romulan-Klingon ship design to (most likely) save money, but they ponied up to hire Ted Knight to play the voice of Carter Winston. (You probably know Knight as playing Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore show.) While I don't know how much voice work paid compared to other guest roles in live-action shows, I do know that he was familiar with voice work, and was right in the middle of doing The MTM Show at the time he did this episode, so I can guess that he was probably paid more than an unknown.

This episode is shockingly similar to:

"The Man Trap" An alien shapeshifter somehow manages to get aboard the Enterprise and fools everyone into believing that s/he is the long-lost love of one of the crew members. That crew member is then unable to subdue or kill the alien shapeshifter, even after said alien is exposed as such, because that alien looks like that lost love.

"What Are Little Girls Made Of?"  A successful female crew member joins the Enterprise after her fiance goes missing. Both men are found after five years, and both turn out to be now not-human, though they retain the memories and feelings of those men. In the case of this episode, Carter is an alien spy. In the case of Little Girls, Roger Korby was made into an android.


Happened to be in a Starschmucks this week, and they had ads up all over the place for their new Mango Black Tea Lemonade. (Something I've come to like about Starschmucks: they always have new iced tea blends out every summer. There are some that I've come to adore, and then been disappointed when they turned out to be "limited time only" and went away, but I'm glad they make the effort all the same.) I've found that as I try more teas, that I've gravitating away from the blacks and more toward the herbals, whites and greens. But this sounded pretty good, so I figured, why not?
And it is. It's fruity, but not so much that you might mistake it for juice rather than tea. You do get some tea flavor, but you also get a bit of tartness, owing to the lemonade.
Here's where you might say "Yes, this is for me!" or "Ugh, get it away!" : the mango syrup sweetens it, which means that if you like you tea sweeter, this might be a good choice for you. But if an unsweetened tea is more your dance, you'll want to stay away.
Me, I'll have another.

Moe enjoys the sun.


  1. I thought it was pretty funny that when Kirk came back to the bridge all confused and said he must have fallen asleep Spock tried to brush it off like it was normal behavior. Are we to assume he thinks his aging captain needs naps, or is he just that out of touch?

    The part with the extra hospital bed bugged me too. Bones was the most likely to notice (he works there!), then Spock (attention to details!), then Kirk (how often does he even go into that room?). Why is Kirk the only one who notices at first?

  2. Vendorians look kind of like octapus with all those tenticle and they can do the vulcan neck pinch as well but this one could allow anyone to come to harm