Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, September 14, 2015

ST:TAS Season One, Episode Fifteen "The Eye of the Beholder"

"The Eye of the Beholder"
Air Order: 15
Stardate: 5501.2
Original Air Date: January 5, 1974

This is my new favorite thing, you guys. I love, love, love when fictional characters and situations are dragged into the "real world" via advertisements, PSAs, travel posters and the like. It's probably because I make my own fan work like this, but it's so awesome when I see it done by others. I was fishing for the artist credit via Google (it's really freaking hard to find artist credits sometimes) when I stumbled upon this one as well:

Check out the Archie comic-styling paired with the WWII poster slogan! Plus, instead of a hapless Red, this crewman is in command gold!
(I'm seriously not about slut-shaming Orion girls here, though. I'm just really digging the fan work with the retro STD PSA vibe.)


Kirk's Log 5501.2: "Orbiting Lactra VII. A six-man science crew is missing, and we beamed some guys aboard the other ship to see if there was anything that could point us in the right direction."

I guess they grabbed the captain's logs because we see our boys of the E gathered around the viewscreen in the briefing room a moment later, watching some logs being replayed. The guy on the screen, Lt-Commander Markel, says that they sent out three guys who never returned, so he and remaining two plan to beam down to the surface to find them. We never learn what happens next, because Kirk switches off the log in the middle of the sentence, and bitches about how Markel went down to the surface against orders, and that one should always follows orders, and blah, blah, blah.
Fuck you, Kirk. You disobey orders constantly. I bet Tiberius is Latin for "screw you, I'll do what I want,"
"Meh," says Spock in response, "Humans don't always follow the rules."
Therein follows a quick tirade from Bones that's mostly insults about Vulcans. Kirk tells him to STFU, because he isn't helping at all.
Spock reports that Lactra VII is very similar to Earth, but what's known about it is what the other ship was able to collect six weeks ago when they arrived. They don't know anything about any possible life forms. He says that Arax is doing further scans and will report on what he finds.
"Naw, that'll take too long," says Kirk. "We should just beam down to the last coordinates they used."
"That's dumb," replies Bones, surprisingly the voice of reason here. "Two parties of people disappeared from there and we don't know why."
Kirk shrugs him off, because again, Kirk does what he wants.

So our intrepid trio beams down to the surface, right after Scotty has let them know that Arax discovered several life forms, but no big groups or cities. They beam down next to several boiling lakes, and Bones complains that they might have been cooked upon beaming. Query: wouldn't the transporter chief see that that was there, and adjust for it? Or is Bones just being his usual dickish self about beaming procedures?

Spock things it's weird that the lake even exists in that climate, but then Kirk notices that they have company, and I have the same reaction here that I did to the space kraken on the Aquaman episode: "Haha, sweet!"

It comes toward them, and Kirk gives the order to stun it. But the phaser fire only seems to irritate it. Rather than being stunned, it dives into the water to get the hell away from the rude little snacks on shore.
A little ways away, Kirk takes out his comm to try to call the crew members of the Ariel, the other ship. They get some static, which Bones takes for an answer, if not a verbal one, and they head off in the direction from which they feel the answer came.
Oops, they encounter another monster. Man, I love these things. They're ridiculous, and I laugh when they appear onscreen, but they're awesome as hell.

This one also appears to be pissed off when they stumble upon it. So what do they do? Shoot it. Does this help? Of course not.
"I think it's feeding off of the energy that we're shooting at it," suggests Spock.
So does Kirk bring a halt to the phaser fire? Noop. 
Then there's this weird animation effect thing that they try that could either mean one of two things: 1) the monster was further away from the rocks than we thought, and it moves closer when they continue shooting; or B) the  monster somehow converts the phaser energy over into some kind of growth hormone or movie monster radiation, and it grows to like, double its size.

Anyway, the thing eventually ends up being stunned, only it falls on Bones and they have to dig him out. It's kind of this awesome Wizard of Oz moment.
Spock says they still have 1.1 kilometers to go before they get to the spot where the comm signal originated, and Kirk acts like it's the end of the world, and it's so far, and maybe there are more unarmed monsters to shoot and however will they make it? For those of you not laughing at this already (ie, my fellow Americans who do not use the metric system), Kirk is whining about having to walk a little more than half a mile.

As they go along, Kirk and Spock discuss how the last monster that they fought was very much like a monster-thing on this other planet, light-years away, and how the desert region that they are walking through at the moment is similar to that other planet as well. Bones breaks in with a random comment about how his boots are full of sand.
"Bitch, who asked about your boots?" asks Spock. "We're sciencing over here, and you're talking about fashion."
"Come say that to me in my medical lab," retorts Bones.

They walk into a jungle area, and are confused how the landscape could change so rapidly. Kirk calls Scotty, and the show saves money on animation by showing static shots of the E in orbit while they play a voice-over of the convo. Arax, Scotty reports, has found some kind of city or something 98 kilometers away, in roughly the same direction as the signal came.
Spock is weirded out that the pond they have stopped next to is filled with water that is "too pure." He thinks that a rain forest has no right to be sitting next to a desert, and proposes that the landscapes they have seen so far have been created rather than actually growing that way. There's a brief discussion about terraforming, but Spock doesn't think this fits the bill.
Ugh, we haven't landed on the shore leave planet again, have we? I'm so over that shit.
He and Bones exchange some more barbs, and then they're attacked by dragons.

"MOAR PHASERS!" yells Kirk.
The dragons fly away, but Spock thinks they hit some kind of invisible force field, rather than being driven away by the phaser fire.
They're paying too much attention to notice that they're now being taken hostage by giant slugs or legless elephants or something. Which are pink. Ten bucks says they were supposed to be grey.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

When we return, the elephant-slugs are carrying our boys someplace, and Kirk reckons it's toward the northwest area where the signal was coming from. They've apparently been letting these things carry them for hours, and I guess Kirk hasn't tried to shoot them. So we get to the city, and it looks like a stack of weird pancakes or a peppermint. Not my favorite alien architecture on this show, but they're trying something new, so I'll give them credit for that.

Once inside, our boys are deposited in some building that has an archway with a force field. Spock is pretty sure that they're telepathic. he starts forming a hypothesis of what's going on: the pink elephant-slugs are so advanced and so intelligent, that he can't actually capture their thoughts, because they think too fast. He makes the comparison of humans to ants, with themselves as the ants. Then he goes on to surmise that the monster things they saw earlier are not just really similar to animals that they've seen on other planets, but actually those animals from those planets, in landscapes created on this planet for them.
Bones points out that their tricorders, comms and phasers were taken from them, and it's debated whether they were taken to study or to keep from being harmed. Frankly, if they were watching Kirk shoot at everything under the sun, then my guess is the latter.

After a few minutes of debate in the little cell, the elephants take them to a new enclosure that contains grass and trees and a building. Once again, they're sealed behind a forcefield.
"A human habitat, and now they're safe from us," muses Spock.
A dude approaches them. He's Lt-Commander Markel from the Ariel, and he has Randi Bryce, the biologist, in tow.

Markel explains that they weren't able to beam down in time to save the original three crew members, but the third of their group is in the house, sick. he says they've been expecting our intrepid trio, ever since they heard the comm signal. Apparently, the aliens have taken all of the equipment, and it's sitting on a table outside of the force field, so they couldn't call ahead and warn our boys not to come. He confirms Spock's suspicions that this is a zoo.

Let's pause for a moment and recap, shall we?
A ship is missing, so the Enterprise is sent out some time later to investigate.
The ship is found with just a few survivors on the surface. The captain beams down and encounters hyper-intelligent aliens that communicate telepathically.
The captain is taken prisoner and is tossed into an alien zoo.
Any of this sound familiar?
I'l give you a hint: do you have the strangest feeling that this girl might show up soon, but you're not certain why?

You're right, this is pretty much the same story as "The Cage," later re-packaged as "The Menagerie". I have to wonder how often a script would show up at Star Trek and they'd approve it, only to have someone point out that it's really, really similar to an episode that they've already done (sometimes more than once!), and the Powers That Be shrug and say, "Meh, it's different enough."

Anyway, the aliens come to the forcefield, and our boys walk forward with Markel. Kirk tells Spock to communicate telepathically with the aliens, and he tries, but all they do is shake. Spock reports back that is having trouble communicating with them, and that he thinks the shaking is them laughing at him and his efforts.

They go inside the little house to have a look at the sick Red. Bones is pretty sure she has malaria of some kind, but he can't do anything for her without his medikit, which the aliens have. Kirk asks about food, and Bryce says that they bring some to the table with their equipment about once a week. Bones surmises that if they ask about the medikit, it may be returned to them based on the fact that it would be used to heal one of the "zoo specimens" rather than harming anyone. He concentrates on asking for help with the medikit, but the Lactrans send food instead. Later, they all go out to the forcefield and think real hard about the medikit, which one of the Lactrans hands over.
Bones leaves to treat the sick Red, and Kirk talks to Markel about escaping. Markel says they've tried it all, and Spock butts in to suggest to Kirk that he start thinking about how they are fully trapped here in this zoo, and that every possible escape route will have been thought of and planned for. 
That probably sounds pretty bleak, but it makes sense - if the Lactrans can sense that all of their humans are trying to think of ways to escape, then they'll head them off at every pass.

Later, they are hanging out in the courtyard area of the human enclosure, and they notice that they are getting a large crowd. Bryce asks Spock if he has learned anything about them through telepathy, and Spock replies that they are far too intelligent for the likes of him, but that he's pretty sure the kids are afraid of them, and that the females find them ugly. Important things to know about your captors, I guess.
He brings up the E, and the possibility that Scotty could beam down a rescue party, but Kirk says he told Scotty not to do that. Spock suggests that they get the comm back from the Lactrans, and he puts forth the idea that they do a spin-off of the ol' sick prisoner trick. Has this trick ever worked outside of television? Because I'm thinking that the answer is no.
So Kirk lies on the ground pretending to be sick, and the others think "communicator" real hard at one of the little Lactrans, who approaches Kirk with the comm. Kirk suddenly calls Scotty for a beam-out, and realizing that he shouldn't have given Kirk the comm, the baby Lactran snatches it back.

This crappy, unintended consequences. Not only is Scotty left at a loss as to what to do with this baby Lactran, but Spock reports that its parents now blame Kirk for making the baby disappear. They think he harmed it. Kirk crumples to the ground in pain, bombarded with the thought "what happened to the baby?" At first, this sounds like a good idea. The Lactrans can read Kirk's "primitive" mind, and find out where the baby is, and that it's unharmed. But then Spock points out that the Lactrans think too quickly, and that Kirk's mind is overwhelmed, so he tells Kirk to fight the intrusion.

Scotty is hustled onto the bridge by the baby Lactran, and he tells them to clear off. he's decided to let the baby take the helm or something. Yes, you should let the baby steer the ship. Unfortunately, the ship goes wonky and out of orbit, and he shouts at the baby for making it do that.
Downstairs, the Lactrans have decided that they can't break into his mind individually, so a bunch of them are going to tag-team him. Spock suggests that all of the humans think about Kirk, and that way, they can form a mind-shield. Umm, treading close to scientific crap again, Star Trek. Thinking real hard about a guy will keep someone else from breaking into his mind? Really?
Fortunately for Kirk, it doesn't matter either way if it's crap or not, because Scotty and the baby beam down into the enclosure just then.
"This thing made contact with me," says Scotty to his baffled crewmates. "It's only six, but it's IQ is in the thousands, It soaked up the ship's databanks and it took the ship for a joyride. I managed to convince it that I wasn't a cool pet, and we got in the transporter to come back down."

And because these aliens think real fast, the baby has already communicated the entirety of the history of the Federation to its parents. They've decided that the humans are simple creatures now, but evolving, and are where the Lactrans were tens of thousands of centuries earlier. The Lactrans don't want the humans in their zoo anymore, and they're free to beam back up to the ship and leave.

Upstairs, the E is leaving, and Markel is bitching about the fact that he was part of a scientific fact-finding mission that didn't really get any facts.
"Meh, who cares?" asks Kirk. "We learned they're hella smart, and if we got there again, we may get dumped in a zoo."
Spock gets one last telepathic message from the Lactrans, saying that they will be welcome to visit again, in 20 or 30 centuries.
Here comes our closing joke. Ready?
"Is that our centuries, or theirs?" asks Kirk.
"Theirs," replies Spock. "And it's going to take a hell of a long time for me to calculate that difference."
"Either way," says Kirk, "it isn't our problem."
These jokes are terrible, you guys. It's like dads in space. Ugh.

So while this episode kind of blatantly stole the plot from the unaired pilot episode of its predecessor, there were also good parts. I liked the fact that Scotty briefly made a little buddy from the young Lactran. There wasn't enough time in the episode to show it, but it was nice all the same.

I wondered, going into the animated series, how it might differ from the original series. Half the time for the story, and I mused on what might get cut from the scripts in order to make that twenty-five minute run time. As it turns out, a lot of what didn't transfer over, simply because of time constraints, was inter-personal relationships. In the animated series, Spock and Bones trade almost no barbs. They simply don't have time to squeeze those moments in because they have to devote everything to telling the same kinds of Star Trek stories in a shortened time frame. And I'm finding that I've missed it. For all the crappy effects and the budget-cut scenery and the science that's really more fiction, the thing that holds it together are those inter-personal relationships. Here, we get just the tiniest taste of it again. Maybe the plot wasn't long enough and they needed some filler. 
Or maybe they recognized that we needed to see more of it every now and then.

Weird, quasi-trivia: the crew members from the Ariel are wearing arrowhead insignia. In TOS, every ship gets a different insignia, and the arrowheads are designated for the use of the Enterprise. By the TOS films, it had been decided that all ships in the Federation should carry the arrowhead insignia, rather than having different ones for different ships. The guess is that by that later stardate in the first film, they had changed how things were done. But here we have Ariel crew members wearing the Enterprise insignia. Had the writers changed their minds while writing for TAS, and the idea transferred over to the film writers (probably many of the same people)? Or did the animators screw up and paint the wrong ship's insignia on their uniforms?


So I noticed that Jack in the Box has flavored teas now. (Not gonna lie: I now notice when anyone has flavored teas.) If I recall correctly, the flavors are raspberry, peach, and mango. While raspberry is almost cliche in a flavored tea at this point, and peach is generally my tea spirit animal, I decided to be different and get the mango.
A word from the wise: flavored teas are like martinis and must be either shaken or stirred. Seriously. When you get a flavored tea from a restaurant, they tend to pour the syrup in first to measure it in the cup/glass, then fill the rest with tea. Then you know what happens next: you take a sip and get a mouthful of syrup. Somehow, I always forget to mix.
"This tastes like a mango smoothie," I thought on first sip. "How is this tea again?"
It would be nice if Jack in the Box gave their employees long-handled spoons to mix their tea with, but I guess that might eff up their dive-thru and order times, so I just admit that I'm freaking lazy, and let's face it, I can do that shit myself. 
Once properly mixed, the mango tea was pretty good. Sometimes, the syrups in flavored teas overwhelm the tea flavor, and then the tea just becomes a vehicle for the syrup. In those cases, why have tea? You're not getting any tea flavor, and you might as well just have poured the syrup into some soda water. But again, once I had mixed it, the tea was more evident, and it blended nicely with the mango.
The price for what you get isn't terrible, either. It was $2+ for the flavored tea versus the tea you buy as a fountain drink, so you know you're probably paying for that syrup. But the smallest size they offered was at least equivalent to a medium-sized drink, so you're at least getting a good amount. Better value than the $3-4 that Starschmucks charges, anyway.

According to the website, they don't have these flavored teas in every restaurant, so you might want to check ahead to see if they have them before trekking all the way out to one specifically for tea.

Moe in the sun

1 comment:

  1. The interpersonal relationships are the reason I watch Star Trek. The Spock/Bones slap-slap-kiss bromance is the best part, because it's funny and leads to "aww, they really do care" moments at the same time. And Kirk's dad jokes are hilarious, if only because they show off his goofiness and exasperate the crew a little.