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.




Sunday, March 22, 2015

Happy Birthday, William Shatner!



Happy Birthday to the guy who brought us the party game known as 
"Shatnering."


I got you this giant bin of Tribbles! Fun, huh?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy Kevin Riley Appreciation Day!

He can sing,
he believes in ice cream socials,
and he almost rid the universe of that crazy bitch
Lenore Karidian.
Raise a glass of green beer to 
Lt Kevin Riley!


Especially if your name is Kathleen.
Drink up - Kevin has promised to be your DD!
Well, he's said he'll take you home, anyway.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Season 3, Episode 71 "Whom Gods Destroy"


"Whom Gods Destroy"
Production Order: 71
Air Order: 69
Stardate: 5718.3
Original Air Date: January 3, 1969

Sorry this took a little longer to post. The wifi thinks it's fun to hiccup today. Fuck you, wifi. I got shit to do.

*******

Maybe we weren't supposed to remember this, but those are
Dr Adams' coveralls from "Dagger of the Mind". Or maybe we're
supposed to believe that the hand-dove-sun motif on his chest is
universal for "imprisonment colony."

Kirk's Log 5718.3: "Orbiting Elba II. It's an asylum for the mentally unstable, and the atmosphere is poisonous. The facility is in a dome. We're taking meds to the governor. They're supposed to make mental instability a thing of the past."

Quick, Trek fans - did you notice the two clever things that TOS kind of did right there? They put the asylum in a sealed dome on a planet with a poisonous atmosphere, making it an intergalactic Alcatraz. Then they named it Elba II after the island where Napolean was banished before he escaped and took over freaking Europe. Ooh, foreshadowing.
So Kirk and Spock beam down with the meds (even though it would probably make more sense to send Spock and Bones), and they meet the governor, Dr Cory. Cory turns the forcefield back on, and jokes that they are now trapped, and that they have no reason now to not stay for dinner. Everybody chuckles (okay, Cory and Kirk do), and Spock gives Cory the medicine. They discuss the newest member of the asylum, Garth of Izar. Apparently, Garth was a starship captain, and Kirk admits that Garth's exploits were required reading at the academy, and that he is one one of Kirk's heroes.
Now, maybe too much time has passed, and he's forgotten, but could someone remind Kirk that way back in season one we discovered that each time Kirk declared someone to be a person he admired, that person would inevitably be the villain of the episode. It seriously happened like three times. Maybe they figured that we would forget as well. But if you were paying attention to the Name Game above, and then matching up the Kirk's-hero-as-villain plot, then you know exactly how this shit is going down.

Think you've seen this dude's coat before? You're right. It was worn by
Commissioner Ferris in "The Galileo Seven", only here they've covered the white
lapels in blue glitter and embellished it with weird jewelry. Star Trek probably figured that
no one would notice, but they weren't banking that, forty years later, some underemployed
blogger with a sharp eye and no life would be scouring these episodes on DVD.

Kirk asks to see Garth, and Cory takes them to a room with three cells. He says there are only fifteen crazy people in the whole facility, so I guess there are a few more rooms like this? Each one is sectioned off like a brig cell, with what looks like an open doorway. The doorways are lined with lights, and Cory clicks a little box to turn off "the forcefield." Clever, Star Trek. Lights lining the doorways is probably cheaper than hiring an animation studio to create force field effects. 
They stop at one cell and a girl Cory calls Marta tries to convince Kirk that she isn't crazy. She's Orion, so we don't know how much we can trust her, given that the last one we met ("Journey to Babel") had surgically altered himself to look like an Andorian so he could fuck up some diplomatic relations. Marta tells Kirk that Cory isn't actually Cory. Cory laughs it off. 

It is driving me insane trying to determine in which episode I have seen this dress.


Guess who is in cells two and three? An Andorian and a Tellarite, both of whom we have encountered before in "Journey to Babel," and both of which Star Trek still has the costumes and make-up for. Putting in the overtime this week, Budget. It's not quite at "Menagerie" level, but still: good job.
Now we come to cell four, and guess who is occupying this one? It's Cory, who is actually floating in the corner. Not sure how that effect was achieved, but it looks pretty good.
"The fuck?" demands Kirk.
"You've been tricked," says the Cory in the cell, wearily.
The other Cory starts laughing. The camera zooms in and unfocuses. There's a boi-oi-oing sound, and then we zoom out and refocus, and Other Cory has morphed into Garth.


Garth has a phaser and the force field clicker, which he uses to turn off the other cells. Marta slithers out of her cell and also out of that dress, to reveal that she is wearing a sort of swimsuit with a skirt attached. The Andorian and Tellarite join them, and now the henchmen are assembled.
Dramatic music!


When we return, Spock has been stunned and is being hauled off by the Tellarite and Andorian, and Kirk has been tossed into the cell with Cory. He's now demanding to be addressed as "Lord Garth." Kirk manages to talk him into letting Cory down from whatever magic is keeping him floating. There's clearly something "off" about Marta. Garth is wearing this fur coat thing that she keeps petting. Then she stares up at the ceiling. Then she plays with her skirt. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
There's also something weird about Garth, who seems to go quickly between calm and demanding, and screaming loudly enough that his voice cracks like a fourteen-year-old. He tells Kirk that he intends to take over the Enterprise, and that Kirk will help him do it. Kirk agrees readily, and I can't tell if he's being facetious, or if he realizes that this guy is out of his mind, and that he should play along for now. It's Garth's plan to hunt down his mutinous old crew and kill them. Marta is now fascinated by a pendant that Garth is wearing, like a squirrel examining a nut. Kirk points out that the E's crew will also mutiny against him, and Garth morphs into Kirk. He tells the E captain that he's destroyed the medicine, which he refers to as "poison." Then he leaves laughing, with Marta on his arm.
"Bye, darling, I'll miss you!" she coos at Kirk.


I have to commend whoever cast this actress as Marta. She really pulls off "not quite there." Speaking of casting, guess which part she also won?

Na na na na na na na na na na na, Star Trek!

You know, I was totally joking last week when I suggested that Star Trek was just hiring whoever had guest starred the week before on Batman, but Yvonne Craig makes the fourth Batman series regular to make an appearance on this show (along with Frank Gorshin, Lee Meriwether, and Julie Newmar). I'm starting to form conspiracy theories, like maybe they were offered BOGO contracts: "By agreeing to play a part in this campy superhero show, you also agree to play a part in this other campy outer space show."
Anyway, back to the story: Kirk talks to Cory. Cory says that Garth claims to have the most powerful explosive in the universe. He says that Garth learned cellular generation techniques from the people of Antos. The regeneration was supposed to help heal Garth's wounds, but he figured out how to manipulate it into being able to take on the appearances of others. The first time they realized it was when Garth morphed into Cory and a hapless guard let him out of his cell. I guess they've played this game enough times to get rid of any other guards on Elba II, because they only other person we see in this episode who lives on this planet is Dr Cory.
Garth goes to the transporter room with his two henchmen, and he contacts the E. Scotty answers the phone.
"Beam me up," says Kirk-Garth."
"Cool," says Scotty. "Queen to queen's level three."
"Huh?" I ask the screen.
"Huh?" asks Kirk-Garth.
"Queen to queen's level three," replies Scotty.
"WTH?" asks Kirk-Garth. "What's with the chess problem?"
"Just following your orders," says Scotty. And he repeats his statement from before.
"Oh. Just testing," says Kirk-Garth, and he signs off.


Once the viewscreen is off, Kirk-Garth throws a massive tantrum, kicking over furniture, tossing his henchmen across the room, and literally beating his fists on the floor, all while screaming. He morphs back into Garth, and once he calms down, pulls his fur coat around him like a blankie.
On the E, Scotty is confused. Kirk was supposed to give him the other half of the code, but didn't. Having a code like that was pretty freaking genius, and I'm kind of surprised that Scotty says that Kirk came up with it. It sounds more like a thing that Spock would come up with. Maybe it was a joint endeavor?
"Captain, it might behoove us to take precautions before beaming up again. The last time that we visited a penal colony, a prisoner escaped and stowed away on the Enterprise."
"That's a good idea, Spock. Maybe a code that only we and Mr Scott know?"
"An excellent idea. May I suggest chess moves?"
Not to say that Kirk isn't smart enough on his own to come up with a plan like that, but... the guy is very leap before you look. There aren't a lot of precautions that exist in Kirk's life that didn't originate with (mostly ignored) Starfleet regulations, or ideas that Spock came up with. Just sayin.'

Scotty asks Uhura to hail the asylum again, but no one is answering. Scotty and Sulu briefly discuss how to get into the dome through the force field. The E is powerful enough to blast through them, but not without destroying the dome and killing everyone inside.
Garth returns to the cell room, all jovial and crap, and reminds Kirk that he invited the captain and Spock to dinner earlier. The henchmen bring in Spock at phaser-point, Marta complaining that she isn't allowed to blow off Spock's ears. Kirk tries to refuse when he learns that Dr Cory is not invited, but Cory tells him not to be foolish.

So the Tellarite is dressed appropriately in what we know by now is the
Tellarite uniform. But the Andorian is wearing a bright orange poncho with
a furry boa collar and lime green-electric blue plaid pants. Normally,
it's the females on this show who look like they got dressed in the dark.

At the dinner party of the damned, they sit at tables laden with food while the henchmen do goofy things for applause. Marta flirts with Kirk. Garth yells at her to knock it off. They start a loud argument, and she says that she's awesome because she paints and writes poetry. She gets up to recite some, and ends up reciting Shakespeare. Kirk and Spock mutter plans to escape.
"You dumb bitch!" yells Garth. "You didn't write that!"
"Yes, I did!" she counters. "He wrote it down hundreds of years ago, and I wrote it down again yesterday."
Technically, she's right. He screams at her in a high-pitched voice that he's going to kill her with his bare hands. She scurries away to hide behind some other inmates.
"Actually," he says in a perfectly calm voice, "she's a really great dancer." This dude is all over the place.
So Marta gets up and does a typical Orion slave girl dance, which is acrobatic, and looks like she should be dancing with a snake. Craig is pretty good at it. Garth asks Spock what he feels about Marta's dance.
"Nostalgic," says Spock. "Vulcan children do a similar dance in nursery school, though they're less-coordinated."
I... I can't decide if Spock is trolling Garth, you guys. Spock has a perpetual poker-face, and is pretty much a level 2000 troll.



When the dance is over, Garth "gifts" Marta to Kirk. Marta pouts, as she should. This is the future, people shouldn't be able to gift people to others.
"Um, thanks?" says Kirk. He's obviously going to leave that particular goody bag on the table on his way out of this party.
"We're friends," says Garth. Then he complements Kirk on his military exploits, and they discuss being space explorers.
"Hey, how come you tried to destroy Antos IV?" asks Spock, who does not chit-chat, but gets right to the point.
"They healed me, I offered them the galaxy in return, and when they refused, I condemned them to death," says Garth casually.
"Um, they're pacifists," says Spock. "Why would you think your crew would be down with that?"
"Because my crew had a decadent weakness," Garth says, even though that shit makes no sense. "You have it, too. Only my new crew doesn't have it, and they are these other crazy sonsabitches." He points to the other inmates. He then goes on a tirade about war.
Kirk interrupts him to say that peace has merit as well, and that peace is what has enabled himself and Spock to become brothers. Garth finds this idea to be goofy, and asks Spock if he considers Kirk to be his brother.
"Kirk is being sentimental, but yes," Spock replies. Whoa. That's a pretty huge thing to admit for Spock.


So Garth goes on about fleets, and says that Spock will command his own ship with Garth's army.
"Dude, where's your fleet?" asks Spock.
"Gonna steal it," Garth replies.
"Bro, you're trying to start the same shit that landed you in here. And you can say all you like that you were betrayed, but you tried to annihilate a race of people, and then you were kindly placed here to get better," points out Spock.
Garth shrieks "Remove this animal!" and Spock is hauled away.
He then attempts to get Kirk to give him the reply to "queen to queen's level three," but Kirk plays dumb. Marta tries to weasel it out of him by saying that if he just gives Garth the reply, that she and Kirk can go away and be together. She sort of purrs it in his ear, like Garth isn't listening to everything she's saying, and he plays along, but whispering in her ear that he can't.
Garth has his lackeys bring in the chair from "Dagger of the Mind." Only this time, the chair has colorful Princess Leia buns attached to the headrest. Kirk recognizes it as a therapy tool, but Garth says he "fixed" it so that now it just administers pain. He puts Cory in the chair and demands to know the response to the queen riddle. Kirk clams up and Garth tortures Cory.


Garth forces Kirk into the chair and turns it on. Kirk refuses to give up the ghost. Marta begs Garth to let him go, and promises that she can get Kirk to talk. He agrees.

There's a brief scene on the bridge where Scotty, Sulu and Bones discuss options, but there really aren't any, so it's back to the drawing board.

In a bedroom, Marta brings a sleeping Kirk some kind of drink. She tries to convince him to give her the answer, but they make out instead. Then she tries to stab him. He manages to push her off, and she grabs the knife off the floor, only to have Spock enter and grab her by the wrist. He then pinches her, and she drops like a fly. They head for the control room. Spock stuns the Tellarite guard, then gives Kirk that phaser. Kirk calls Scotty once inside while Spock drops the forcefield. He requests a contingent of armed Reds, and Spock suggests that Kirk go back upstairs and leave himself behind in charge of the security Reds.
"Reds are ready," says Scotty. "Queen to queen's level three."
"Um, Spock will respond," says Kirk, eyeing his "brother."
Spock turns off the forcefield and *booi-oi-oing!* becomes Garth.
"Ha! I gave you a dead phaser!" Garth crows at Kirk.


Kirk tries to talk Garth down, reminding him that he was once a well-respected member of Starfleet, and that people looked up to him. It goes about how you'd expect: Garth is actually going along with it, remembering the ol' days, but then of course it all falls apart when Kirk says that Garth is sick now and needs treatment to get back to the guy he was before. He goes off on a rant about old Earth rulers who got too big for their britches and didn't succeed at world domination (yep, he mentioned Napoleon), and how he was going to do better than all of them. Kirk makes a rush for the forcefield controls, but Garth stuns him.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

When he comes to, Kirk is being held by the Tellarite and the Andorian  Telly and Andy, and Garth tells him that they are getting ready for the coronation. He asks Kirk if he'd like a larger role in the ceremony and suggests that he might be the human sacrifice.
"No, I wouldn't enjoy that at all," replies Kirk.
You know, most of Kirk's jokes are kind of lame, but every now and again, he reaches a Harry Potter level of sass that makes me snicker.
"Meh, I was gonna use someone else for that, anyway," shrugs Garth. "You should be the heir apparent."
What, like his son? Garth is exhibiting the kind of weird behavior that would leave me less than surprised if he requested that Kirk call him "Daddy."
The set-up is done (a chair on top of a table, and a gold table runner or something on the floor), and Garth enters the room again, flanked by Marta, who is carry a pillow with some kind of silver crown on it. There's some horn fanfare, though it isn't obvious where it's coming from, as no one is blowing a horn.
"None of you bitches is illustrious enough to crown me, so I'm gonna do it myself," Garth announces. Notice again, the Napoleon reference. All they're missing is the funny hat and a white horse. He names Marta as his consort, and he puts a necklace on her. Then he announces Kirk as his heir. Yeah, remember earlier when this asshole said everybody but himself and his new psycho friends had a "decadent weakness"? Please, tell me more about your crown and your fur coat and all of your jewelry.



He has Telly and Andy take Kirk to the transporter room, where Kirk tries to reason with the boys. They just aim phasers at him and say nothing. Garth strolls in a moment later. He shows Kirk a shampoo bottle filled with colored beads and tells him that it's the most powerful explosive in the universe, and that if he dropped the bottle, he could vaporize this planet. Is it now up to Kirk to determine if Garth is bluffing, or actually believes that what he has is an explosive? Nope. Because he planted one of those beads in Marta's necklace, and has had two of his guys drag her outside in the poisoned atmosphere.

Hey, look at that: those ridiculous hazmat suits from "The Tholian Web".
Good job, Budget.

They watch through the window as Garth's dudes leave Marta outside to cough up the crappy air.
"Aww, she's suffocating," says Garth. "Poor thing. I'll help her."
He presses a button on some remote control, and there's an explosion. Bye, Marta.
Upstairs, Sulu registers the explosion as a large one, and Uhura confirms that it didn't wipe out everyone on the surface. Scotty commands that they change orbit and blast through the weak point in the forcefield, which is on the other side of the planet. They try a pair of phaser blasts, but nothing doing: forcefield is still holding strong.


Downstairs, Garth is tossing the bottle around like a toy. "How's it going, Kirk?"
"Meh," Kirk replies. "You use that, we both die. Immaterial."
"You're hard to break," muses Garth. "Maybe I'll have them fetch your friend Spock."
Spock, meanwhile, is studying the forcefield in his cell when Andy and Telly come in. He feigns unconsciousness so that Andy and Telly have to each grab and arm and drag him backward through the force fields. Once they're through, he pinches them at the same time, and they drop to the floor. It's clever, if a bit convenient. Spock grabs a phaser off one of them and heads for the transporter room.
"Gonna convince Spock that he should come around to my way of thinking," says Garth.
There's some kind of beep, and he turns on a viewscreen. They can see Spock cautiously wandering the halls with his phaser. Okay: what kind of alarm did Garth have set up? That the equipment should beep if someone is loose in the hall? Or that it should go off if Telly or Andy lose consciousness? Is it a "transporter room proximity" alarm? I dunno. But it finds Spock right away, supposedly through closed-cicuit television.
Spock finds the transporter room, and the door slides open to reveal... two Kirks. I'm impressed, Star Trek. Seeing this scene over Spock's shoulder is an interesting viewpoint, and there isn't even an obvious seam in the film between the two Kirks. Good job.



Okay, there's a faded pinkish line close to the Kirk on the right. But it's subtle, and the film doesn't jump around, indicating that it was spliced together.
Immediately, one Kirk insists that Spock shoot the other. Ah, logic time.
"Queen to queen's level three," he says, stepping fully into the room.
"Not gonna answer that," says one of the Kirks. "Garth wants the answer."
The other Kirk agrees.
"I'm gonna call for security," says Spock, going to the forcefield panel.
"No!" says a Kirk. "Garth's guys could still overpower us, even with Reds!"
"True," agrees Kirk #2.
Spock tries asking about which manuever was used in a certain situation, to which one Kirk immediately answers, but then other points out that said maneuver is common, and every starship captain knows it.
"Fine," sighs Spock. "It must take energy to maintain the Kirk disguise, so I'm gonna wait you out."
He pulls the chair toward himself, but one of the Kirks knocks him out of it, and an altercation begins. There are a few shots where it's obvious that they've used a look-alike, but they typically just show the back of that dude. I wonder if Kirk is enjoying this, fighting himself. I bet he thinks he's a worthy opponent. This is probably also the closest thing he'll get to being able to experience himself as his own lover. Kirk ships it.


One Kirk lifts the chair over his head with the intention of clobbering the other one with it, and yells for Spock to shoot while Kirk #2 is on the floor.
"You have to shoot both us, to ensure the safety of the E!" yells Kirk #2. Translation: "Don't let Garth get his hands on my titanium pussy!"
Spock shoots the Kirk holding the chair, and that Kirk immediately morphs back into Garth. Fuck, dude. You should have just shot them both to begin with. Then you'd two unconscious guys, but they'd be separate people.
Spock turns off the forcefield and calls the E.
"Queen to queen's level three," says Scotty.
"Queen to king's level four," replies Spock.
Clearly, that was the answer, as our next shot is of Andy getting a dose of meds from Bones and Cory. Bones says the medicine should start repairing the affected areas of the brain immediately. Garth is in the therapy chair. Cory gives it a moment, then turns it off. Garth doesn't recognize Kirk or Spock, and he shakes Kirk's hand when Kirk introduces himself. Apparently, he got meds before the chair treatment, and a now-docile Garth is headed back to his cell for some rest. He doesn't remember a damn thing.

Also, check out our boy in red back there. He's just a lineless extra,
an NPC, but he's taking this role of Security Red very seriously. Bet
he's gonna use this footage to land himself a role as "Buckingham
palace guard" later in the year.


"Hey, Spock," says Kirk. "How could you not know your own boyfriend? How come it took you so long to figure out which one of us was me?"
"It didn't," Spock answers. "I decided to see who won the fight. I was banking on Garth to win."
"Hey!" says Kirk, massaging his bruised ego.
"Don't be like that," says Spock. "They kicked the crap out of you with that chair earlier. There's no way you were going to win that fight."
Again, I'm left wondering if Spock is trolling again.
Kirk makes a joke about King Solomon, which leaves Spock pondering, and the captain calls Scotty for a beam-up.






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, just Marta. Poor, poor, crazy Marta.

This episode is shockingly similar to: "Dagger of the Mind" from the first season. There are a few distinctions, of course. In DOTM, a mad doctor is experimenting on inmates in a penal colony, a bit like Nazi doctors in WWII Germany. Here, the mad doctor is replaced by a mental patient who has taken over the asylum. Both are similar to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in that one slightly-off dude runs amok with institutionalized people, though "Whom Gods Destroy" lacks a Nurse Wratchet character.

*******

So I was planning on continuing with my Doctor Who sample teas from Adagio this week, but I was out of town this weekend, and it's kind of a pain in the ass to pack one's tea strainer and loose-leaf tea. Speaking of strainers, I happened to see this at my local grocery store:


Now, I have an odd fascination with large-scale human tragedies, but... this is a bit much. It's creeptacular, and kind of really not clever. Some shit, for me at least, will always remain on the "too soon" list.


Anyway, my aunt offered me a cuppa this weekend, so I selected the Bigelow green blend. It was pretty good, though not as fragrant as some other greens, and less floral as well. I guess if you're looking for a less-floral green, this is your brand.









Bratty judges those who buy Titanic tea strainers.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Season 3, Episode 70 "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"


"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"
Production Order: 70
Air Order: 70
Stardate: 5730.2
Original Air Date: January 10, 1969

Y'all, I'm laughing so hard right now. So, the Westboro Baptist Church (aka, the Assholes of the Universe) tried to picket Leonard Nimoy's funeral... but they couldn't find it. Not even with both hands. They decided to do an online protest instead, but what the fuck is that worth? You know the only people who follow them online do it ironically. When they announced that they were going to do the picket in the first place, my friend posted this to Facebook:




The service was held privately and quietly, so no one knew where it was, but imagine that: a Pon Farr arena. Bells are shaken. Warriors in Vulcan and Klingon cosplays enter carrying sharpened lirpa and bat'leths. The challengers: WBC members, armed with signs. T'Pau gives the signal to begin. And thus did the WBC learn that it is not wise to fuck with Trek fans.

*******

I really like this shot of Kirk's chair, as seen from next to the helm. 

Kirk's Log 5730.2: "Going to the planet Ariannus. They all have the plague or something, so we're going to disinfect it. Probably with spray bottles or some shit. I don't know why we're even doing this. We're not a med ship."

(According to the stardates, this episode takes place almost a week after the next one. Heh. Way to pay attention, Star Trek.)

Kirk is making last-minute prep checks with his bridge crew when Sulu reports a vessel up ahead on an erratic course. They put it on screen. It turns out to be a Federation shuttlecraft. I'm pretty sure that's the Zombie Galileo, you guys. It does, in fact, have the Enterprise's call numbers on the side.


So it turns out that the call numbers on the side are there because they re-used footage from "The Galileo Seven". Points to you, Budget. But it makes no sense to have those call numbers on there indicating that the craft belongs to that specific ship. I guess they couldn't get rid of them then, though in the remastered editions, they gave the shuttle call numbers from nearby Starbase 4. 

Uhura tries hailing on all frequencies, but there is no response, as Spock reports that the one humanoid on board is most likely suffering from some kind of leakage. They tractor the shuttle into the hangar. Looklooklook! Models! I wanna kiddie-clap at this shot where the shuttlecraft enters the hangar. Fuck CGI. Models and puppets 5ever, y'all!


There's a short scene where Kirk and Spock are traveling down to the hangar in the lift and Sulu calls in to say that the shuttle has successfully docked. Maybe the episode was five seconds too short? That scene was really not necessary. Especially considering that they get out of the lift and travel down the corridor leading to the hangar. Obviously, we knew where they were going. They meet two Reds at the door, unaware of what they might find when it opens. So what happens? A dude whose face is half white and half black stumbles through the door and passes out without saying anything.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!


When we return, our boys are down in sick bay talking to Bones about this new guy. No one knows of a planet where the people might be two-toned. Spock and Bones reach the conclusion that this dude is a genetic anomaly, one of a kind.
"So if he's one of a kind, how come you're pumping him full of those medical chemicals that you always use?" Spock asks.
"Bitch, I don't know his specific anatomy, but the same shit is basically there, so I'm treating him like any other humanoid," barks Bones. 
He's annoyed, but Spock has a point. We know this guy probably comes from a Class M planet, as he seems to survive in this atmosphere, but how do we know that he hasn't evolved to the point where he only drinks Jagermeister? I guess you gotta make some guesses based on commonalities, and just hedge your bets.
Bones makes a note that this guy has good recuperative powers, and Majel Barrett says her line: "He's coming around, Doctor."
Dude kind of sits up, and Kirk tells him that he's on the Federation starship Enterprise. They get into a brief argument where Kirk states that the shuttlecraft was stolen from Starbase 4, and the black and white guy yells back that he had a need for the shuttle, and he was only using it, and he doesn't appreciate Kirk yelling at him.
"Beeteedubs," says Kirk. "We're gonna take you and the shuttle back there so you can talk to Starfleet about taking it."
"Cool," says the alien begrudgingly. "I'm Lokai, from the planet Cheron."
Kirk is surprised, and says that Cheron is in "the southern-most part of the galaxy." Gonna call bullshit there: can one have a southernmost part of the galaxy? It's a vast, open space with no center, according to scientists. Now, there's most-likely a southern-most part of Cheron, as the ninth Doctor was kind enough to point out that "lots of planets have a North," but I don't think you can have directional location like that in space.
Anyway, we get some light dramatic music here, probably because we're supposed to take note that Kirk can't seem to pilot for shit. We'll get more of this dramatic music throughout this convo. Lokai angrily calls Kirk "monochromatic," and says they're all alike in that they accuse him of things. Bones insensitively calls Lokai "a specimen" twice. Lokai refuses to give more info and insists that he's tired.
"Whatever," shrugs Kirk. He has Uhura inform Starbase 4 that they have their shuttle. But then Chekov pages him to the bridge because they've encountered an alien ship.
On the bridge, the viewscreen shows nothing but the starscape.
"Um, where is it?" asks Kirk.
There's this funny shot where Chekov looks back at him and shrugs in confusion.


They scan it some more, and they talk about it, but it isn't like anything else. Kirk asks if it's a cloaked Romulan, but Spock says no. It's a little scout, totally invisible, with no weaponry.
"Crap! Collision course!" yells Chekov. They try to dodge the invisible ship, but it seems determined to hit them.
Kirk yells for red alert. The red lights flash, the klaxons sound... and some dumbass  decided that it would be a good idea to set off my vertigo by zooming in and out quickly on the flashing light.
Don't... don't do that, Star Trek. It's terrible.


Everyone braces for impact, but then it doesn't come.
"The other ship disintegrated," reports Spock. "But it deposited someone on the E."
"Where?" asks Kirk.
"Here," says a voice, and everyone turns to the back of the bridge. It's another Cheron, only the black and white sides of his face are reversed from that of Lokai.
Dramatic music! Only it's there because Kirk is now challenging Spock's opinion that Lokai was a fluke, rather than the fact that some dude just crashed his invisible ship into the E and forcibly transported his way onto the bridge. Priorities, Kirk.


Real quick, let's look at Cheron fashion: gloves, boots, pants and shirt are all dove grey. Boots and pants seem almost seamless. There are silver embellishments at the waist, collar and glove cuffs. Very simple and understated. I'm giving it a nine out of ten this week because there isn't anything overly ridiculous about it. They only miss that last point because those pants are tight enough to remind me of David Bowie in "Labyrinth." You know what I'm talking about.
Fun fact: the script didn't call for gloves, and they aren't discussed in conjunction with character anywhere. They were added by wardrobe because painting the actor's hands would have meant getting paint on everything they touched. Looks like Star Trek learned a few lessons from those crappy painted-on tans in "Day of the Dove".

Anyway, this new guy says his name is Bele, and that his ship was made of materials that rendered it invisible, and that it served him well, but it disintegrated, and it's lucky that he was able to beam onboard the E, or he would have disintegrated as well. 
I'm torn. Should I make fun of Star Trek for coming up with lame excuses for not having to make new models of alien ships, or should I praise the Budget coming up with creative ways to avoid spending money on models that they'll never use again? I feel like the answer is "both." It happens more often than I thought it would, when I want to both mock and praise ST for the same thing.
Kirk asks why Bele is there. Bele replies that he's here to claim Lokai.
"Bitch, we're evolved on this ship. Nobody gets to claim anyone else," snarls Kirk.
Bele backtracks and says that he's the Chief Officer for the Commission on Political Traitors. Oh, okay. Bounty hunter and government lackey. Got it. He says that Lokai was convicted of treason and escaped. He asks to see Lokai.
"Yeah, I guess," says Kirk. "But remember that I'm in charge, and we operate by Federation rules."
He and Spock take Bele to sick bay.


So, both Bele and Lokai looked familiar to me, and while it turns out that I hadn't seen Lokai (Lou Antonio) anywhere else, guess who Bele is? Under all that make-up is Frank Gorshin, AKA, The Riddler. I'm seriously starting to wonder if the casting agents for Star Trek started saying, "We need a guest star for an upcoming episode - who was on Batman last week?"

Bele goes in to see Lokai, and they are immediately like two dogs who randomly meet on a trail and their owners have to keep yanking the leashes back while they bark furiously at one another. Bele accuses Lokai of being sneaky and underhanded. Lokai accuses Bele's people of selling his own people into slavery. As the argument goes on, we get some semblance of a background story: thousands of years earlier, Bele's people (black on the right side) enslaved Lokai's people (white on the right side). Later, they were freed, but the Black on the Right Side people didn't treat them equally. Lokai and others like him started a revolt and fucked up all of the shit, burning property and demanding equal treatment. Remember how Kirk made that ridiculous statement earlier about how Cheron was in "the southernmost part of the galaxy"? Yeah.
Star Trek likes to use itself to talk about topical or political subjects that you weren't allowed to talk about on television in the late sixties. Sometimes, they do it subtly and beautifully, and you walk away from it quietly wondering about your own stance in the matter. And sometimes, they paint people half black and half white, and talk about slavery and racial hatred, and hit you over the head with the Lesson Hammer.


Bele loses his shit and screams at Lokai. Lokai demands political asylum on the E. Bele demands that Kirk hand Lokai over to him. Kirk calmly informs them that they're both fucked. Lokai is going to Starbase 4 to be tried for stealing a shuttlecraft, so he gets no asylum. And Cheron is not part of the Federation, so there's no extradition for Bele to claim. Bele says he wants Kirk to take them directly back to Cheron, as he no longer has a ship.
"Did you not hear me?" Kirk asks. "I have a plague planet to decontaminate. We're going there first to save lives. Then we're going to Starbase 4, where I'm dumping both of your demanding asses. If you wanna cooperate, Lokai can stay here in sick bay and rest, and you can have some quarters on deck six, Bele. Otherwise, you ain't getting shit."
Kirk and Bele leave, and Bones comes back into the room, where he stares at an angry Lokai for no reason. I have no idea where the fuck Spock went. 


Kirk and Spock get off the lift at the bridge - was Spock in the lift this whole time? So the E has gone off course, and no one has any idea why. Kirk calls Scotty to find out what the malfunction is, but Scotty can't find an issue. He switches to auxiliary power so they can get shit under control, but it doesn't work. Scotty then transfers engineering over to the bridge and heads up. Kirk puts the ship on red alert. This time, there are two instances of that zooming in and out on the flashing red alert lights. And because the zooming, flashing lights and klaxon aren't enough, Kirk gets on the PA and announces that they have lost control of the ship and are on red alert.
NO. FUCKING. SHIT. SHERLOCK. The whole motherfucking universe knows that you're on red alert. Unborn, VISOR-less Geordi LaForge knows you're at red alert.
Spock determines that they are on a course for Cheron, and here comes Bele out of the lift.
"Haha, fuckers! I took your ship by sheer willpower, and we're going back to Cheron, because I don't give a shit about your medical errands, and all of those sick people can go to hell. I've been chasing Lokai for 50,000 of your years, and I won't be deterred now."
Wait, what? Are you fucking kidding me, Star Trek? This guy is more than 50,000 years old? You couldn't make it 50 years? Five? You had to go and make it 50,000? And in the same breath you have this guy declare that he's taken over the ship through willpower?
Scotty reports in that the ship is at warp ten and increasing, headed for Cheron. Bele has Disabled the Ship. The lift opens, and here comes Lokai, screaming that he won't be taken back to Cheron. They take turns yelling at each other how the other is horrible, and why he himself is right, and then Lokai grabs Kirk's arm and insists that the captain kill Bele.

Unexpectedly awesome screencapture of Kirk's WTF face.

Kirk has had enough. He orders both Cheronians into the brig, but when two security Reds step forward to grab them, they are knocked back by personal shields. Kirk then orders phasers set on stun, but again, more shield animation.



"You guys are weak," says Lokai. "I can't believe I asked you for help."
"Alright, you guys are both douchebags, and you've taken my ship. Totes blowing it up," says Kirk.
"You're full of shit," says Bele.
"Computer, gonna blow up the ship," Kirk announces.
The computer does some computing to set the program up, then Kirk gives his code. The cinematography is broken down into a series of shots... the computer panel... Kirk's eyes... Bele's eyes... Spock's eyes as he gives his code... Bele again... Scotty's eyes... Bele... Scotty's mouth as he gives his code. Reaction shots of Lokai, Bele, Chekov, Sulu and Uhura. They're seriously drawing out the anticipation here. It's interesting in that they haven't used this before, but it's only so interesting for so long... then I get tired of it and start comparing it to reality and competition shows where they're about to announce an elimination, and take twenty minutes and four commercial breaks to do so.


Kirk gives the code for the countdown, and wouldn't you know it, shit gets dragged out until like seven seconds to destruction, when Bele says he'll let go of the ship. Everyone relaxes as Kirk calls it off. But Bele just lets the E spin in space.
"Well?" asks Kirk.
"So you can go on your little mercy mission," says Bele, "cuz it would be asshole-ish of me to kill all those people for my own gain, but you're gonna drop us off at Cheron right after, yeah?"
"I said no, muthafucka," replies Kirk. "We're going to Ariannus, then Starbase 4. Quit screwing with my itinerary."
Bele pouts for a moment, then releases the ship. Kirk has Uhura cancel red alert, even though the klaxons had stopped a while ago, and then picked back up again once Bele had let go of the E.
"I should toss you in the brig," says Kirk. "But I'm not gonna, because you're kind of guests and you don't know how we do in the Federation."
Bele leaves, and Lokai tells Kirk that he speaks well, but he's holding out judgment on Kirk until after Ariannus. Then he skulks off as well. Spock and Scotty talk shit about Bele and Lokai.

Later, we see Sulu and three crewmen in the rec room, listening to Lokai orate how much he struggles. Lokai is clearly practiced at this, with a little "everyone thinks me a madman" kind of spiel. It's interesting how the shot is lined up, backing slowly out of the room through a slightly open door or an opening in the wall. You see Lokai pacing in the room while the crewmen watch him like tennis spectators. Finally, we pull far enough out that you can only see his shadow on the wall. Spock stops to eavesdrop. Chekov tells Lokai that there used to be oppression of that kind on Earth, that he read about it in history books. Lokai says he lived it rather than reading it. He is obviously trying to stir up sympathy for his cause, even though Kirk declared that the E was going to be neutral in this fight. The best part of this scene? Chekov's voice is heard, but he wasn't actually in the room. None of the guys at that table was Chekov.

You are one fine specimen, Mr Spock.


Later, Kirk and Spock sit down for drinks with Bele, who is suddenly cheerful and cooperative about having to go through the proper Starfleet channels. He and Kirk toast to swift decisions by the Federation.
"Um, you may not get what you want from Starfleet," says Spock. "They'll probably try Lokai for stealing the shuttlecraft, and you may go home empty-handed."
"No way," says Bele. "Murdering millions of people is worse than stealing a shuttle."
"We don't know that he did that," snorts Spock derisively. "It's all he said-he said here."
Uhura calls with Starfleet's answer: a flowery message that basically says what Kirk told Bele: no one is extraditing anyone anywhere. Everyone goes to Starbase 4 after Ariannus, and shit will be decided there.
"Told you," says Spock.
Bele talks some eloquent shit about Lokai. "He's an inferior race," he finishes.
"Bitch, y'all are the same race," says Spock.
Bele is confused. "No, we're totally different. I'm black on the right side. Lokai is white on the right side. Are you like blind or something?"
Kirk and Spock look nonplussed.
"So, Vulcan used to have this problem," says Spock. "We managed to mend our differences, and it saved us from extinction."
"That's nice," Bele brushes him off.
Kirk suggests that Bele hear out Lokai's story, but Bele shrugs that off as well.
"Once upon a time, you guys were probably all the same color," suggests Kirk.
Now Bele looks nonplussed. He decides to slip in an underhanded comment: "I heard you guys were descended from monkeys."
Like the dry smartass that he is, Spock gives him a brief, one-sentence explanation of the theory of evolution, implying that they are possibly more fully evolved than Bele.


Scotty calls to report that they have reached Ariannus. Apparently, this part is easy enough that Kirk doesn't need to be there. There are tanks and sprayers mentioned, but the E is positioned in orbit and not attached to the planet in any way, so maybe they're operating things remotely? I dunno. All I can say is that they get the go-ahead, and then we see the ship in orbit, and the planet suddenly changes from bluish to gold, only your friends see it as blue and black and can't figure out why you're seeing white and gold. The gold clouds disappear again as the E flies past. They do a second run for good measure.



Kirk's Log 5730.7: "So, now that we're done with Ariannus, we're heading back to Starbase 4 with our Cheronian friends. I invited that asshole Bele up onto the bridge as a show of good faith, even though he totally took over my ship before and tried to force us to go to his planet. I bet it won't happen again, though."

On the bridge, Chekov and Uhura explain to Kirk that certain instrument panels have gone dead.
"Which ones?" asks Kirk.
"Navigation and self-destruct," replies Bele from behind them. Then that braggy douche says, "I did it like this," and he holds out his hands over the controls, and they flash red, blue and green. Like, forever. Really milking this flashing special effect thing.
The camera pans across Kirk, Spock, Chekov and Uhura, showing them gnawing their lower lips in  nervousness.

Kirk's Inner Monologue 5730.7: "Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck."




Kirk's Log 5730.6: "Somehow, I've either forgotten what time it is, or we've gone back in time an hour... anyway, that dick Bele took over my ship again! How'd he do that? Damn!"

Lokai steps off the lift onto the bridge, and overhears how Bele has taken over again, and how they're heading for Cheron. He starts yelling about justice, and I know that some other words are in there, but over the course of about three sentences, he yells the word justice like six times. Then he finishes by pointing dramatically at Bele and screaming, "Kill him!"
Lokai and Bele start another argument. Apparently, whatever color is on the right side of your face is the color that you are associated with - Bele is "half-black,"  Lokai is "half-white," and I am 100% done with this shit. There's an altercation where they grab each other and those electrical powers light up.



Kirk manages to talk them down for a moment, pointing out to each that they'll never get to see the results they want if they die in space. Lokai makes a statement, and Kirk agrees with him to get him to shut up. He does the same to Bele. You can tell that he's just trying to get them to knock it off.
Bele agrees to give control of the E back to Kirk, and Spock announces that they are within visual and scanning range of Cheron.

This is also a pretty sweet shot.

Kirk asks Spock what kind of scans he's getting. Spock reports no life forms, but vast numbers of corpses scattered around abandoned cities, and plant-life taking over.
"Everyone is dead?" asks Kirk. "They killed each other? That's fucked up."
"I agree that it is fucked up," Spock replies.
Bele and Lokai kind of stand there whimpering for a moment, and I wonder briefly if Spock just made that shit up. It doesn't matter, but the realization of what their hatred has wrought is totally lost on the two remaining Cherons. Bele loses his shit again, and attacks Lokai, because "this is your fault." Way to extend that olive branch, Bele.
Kirk talks them down again, telling him that this is where their hatred has brought them, that they are the last two in existence, and that if they give up this futile fight, they can join the Federation and start new lives in peace.
Lokai yells that Kirk is an unrealistic dreamer, and he takes off in the lift.
Bele turns to the lift also. There's magically a new, empty lift there when the doors open.
"Don't go!" says Kirk.
"He must not escape me!" says Bele.
"Where can he go?" asks Spock sensibly.
Bele's eyes flicker to the viewscreen, and he also disappears into the lift.
Oh, for fuck's sake! Did that planet - that blue and black planet from the last screencap - turn up as gold in this shot?

ASDFGHJKL!?

Lokai jumps out of the lift on deck three and runs at top speed around the corner. A moment later, Bele hops out on the exact same deck, even though he really has no idea where Lokai may have gotten off the lift. Hella lucky guess, I suppose. We switch back to Lokai, who had tons of energy a second ago, but now looks like he hit the last leg of his 5K and is severely dehydrated. You can see a rope in the actor's hand that's attached to the camera, and which guides him in how close to stick to the camera. There's a bit of that in the next shot with Bele as well. Only, what's this? Now they've overlaid footage of London buildings burning during WWII. This is Bele being reminded that his planet is dead, that they've all killed each other.

Lucky remastered-episode viewers do not have to deal with this
London burning overlay shit, as it was removed in the later editions.

Star Trek takes a step back on one leg and uses both hands to swing that Lesson Hammer extra hard. Two colors, black and white. The Hammer whistles through the air. Tensions in the south part of the galaxy. The Hammer makes contact with your temple, and you briefly register cold metal on your skin. Half of the race considers itself to be superior to the other half, and enslaves them. A crack in the skull, and a gush of blood. The enslaved rise up and revolt! Skull fragments lodging in your brain! Everyone is dead! Hatred killed the Cherons! Back by the craft services table, a stagehand waits next to a deceased equine, taking practice swings with his baseball bat, just in case.

So this is how this shit comes to a head: Bele and Lokai end up running aimlessly through the corridors of the Enterprise, feeling sorry for themselves because their people are gone, and each one is certain that it's the fault of the other. Also, London is burning, because it takes two big, strong heavy hands to swing that Lesson Hammer.
On the bridge, Spock is watching their progress and announcing it to the crew like he's commentating on the world's least interesting horse race.
Oh, the burning! Oh, the running! Bele seems half-asleep, running everywhere with his eyes closed, for God only knows what reason. Lokai reaches the transporter room, and even though he's never been on this ship before and never seen how the transporter works, he manages to figure it out in one second, then set the controls, and beam himself down. Spock reports him to now be on the surface of Cheron. A moment later, Uhura reports that Bele has activated the transporter. Kirk basically responds "meh." Why the fuck should he care? Now he only has to drop off that shuttle at Starbase 4, and he can get on his way without a bunch of red tape. He can probably file the shuttle-incident paperwork on his way to the Starbase. Those dipshit Cheronians just made his job easier.

First time we see the transporter room from the alcove. Nice!

On the bridge, the crew members discuss how illogical it is that both men would transport down to the surface of a dead planet to chase each other through mountains of corpses.
"Do you suppose that hatred was all they ever had?" asks Uhura.
"No," says Kirk, "but that's all they have now."
And Chekov looks determinedly forward as the Lesson Hammer comes down harder and harder. He hopes there won't be too many of these episodes left, because he's tired of cleaning blood off the floor.



Why this episode is annoying as fuck: there's no one to root for. We're sort of presented with Jean val Jean and Javert characters, but they aren't really rounded out well. And neither is sympathetic. Normally, I'd be a little more moved by the oppressed guy, who is tired of the inequality, and maybe gets carried away because he's been kicked so often while he's down. But I'm not moved at all. Far from being a val Jean, Lokai is a total dick to everyone. And Bele isn't remotely interested in mending fences or even considering Lokai's position. All either of them wants to do is spew angry speeches at one another. Gimme a break. Here's a summary of this episode: The E encounters some assholes in space. They continue to be assholes to each other and everyone around them until the E takes them back to their planet. Then they beam down to be assholes to each other for the rest of their lives. Everyone on the bridge considers how stupid that is.
Also why this episode is stupid: I think a better direction to take this in, one that isn't quite so Hammer-heavy, is the ponderance that two groups of people must now live together peacefully, where one enslaved the other. This type of situation never comes out cleanly. Each group has formed its own culture, typically based upon the ideas of haves and have-nots, and the pieces don't fit together very well afterward. Rather than go round and round about how much each group hates the other, I feel like a better use of this episode would be to show a struggle for unity while still illustrating how each group had diverged from the original race. This is covered a bit in the TNG episode "The Vengeance Factor," though not completely, as there's espionage involved. A better example are the "Unification" episodes, where Spock and several Romulan politicians suggest closing the rift between their divided cultures. The divide in the US during the sixties was based on the racial tension between the ancestors of the freed African-American slaves, and the ancestors of the Caucasians (Yes, Star Trek. Black and white *sigh*). The Emancipation Proclamation had been signed more than 100 years earlier by 1969, and the country was still dealing with that divide. Hell, we're still trying to deal with it now. It's not going away magically because someone watched this episode and thought, "My God! This is a metaphor! I should be nicer to my neighbors!" I know Star Trek has a hard-on for Hmmm Moments, but they're far more effective when handled subtly.
Seriously, we could do without the Lesson Hammer, Star Trek. Put that shit away.


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



*******

Following last week's brewing fiasco, I opted to look up this week's blend online for brewing suggestions, and it was the same: three minutes. This one, however, did not come with review warnings that the aftertaste would be bitter if over-brewed, so it wasn't as big a deal. I went for the Ten blend this time around, which comes with glowing reviews and polite confusion that the flavor combo sounds funny, but the taste is amazing. The base is an Irish Breakfast (black leaf), with marigold petals, and - I shit you not - the tiniest chocolate chips you've ever seen. It's pretty damn good. There's a hint of banana as well, which sounds weird, but isn't. Lots of reviewers advocated for adding milk, which really isn't my thing, but just might be with this blend, which tastes like a combination of black tea and hot chocolate.




You iz need to watch less Sherlock.