Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, September 1, 2014

Season 2, Episode 49 "A Piece of the Action"

"A Piece of the Action"
Production Number: 49
Air Order: 46
Stardate: Unknown
Original Air Date: January 12, 1968

Special thanks to my friend Boy who had to take my whole fucking laptop apart just to be able to access a pair of tiny screws that hold the frame of my screen onto the rest of the computer. Boy, thank you for disassembling and then reassembling this asinine technology, all with your hella-broken shoulder. To whatever butt-munch designed this laptop: fuck you, buddy. Go back to year one of design school.


This week we open with that nacelle shot that I love. I bet they only had to shoot that once, and then just re-use it over and over again. I really don't care. It's awesome, and it's nice to throw it into the mix every now and again along with the standard shot of the E profile.

On the bridge, Uhura patches in communication from the surface of a nearby planet, and Kirk talks to some guy named Oxmyx, who says that his official title is "Boss." The E has arrived at planet Sigma Iotia II to investigate the destruction of the ship the USS Horizon, which they've only just heard about. Oxmyx is confused, as the Horizon left the planet 100 years earlier. Kirk explains that Iotia is at the far reaches of the galaxy, and when the Horizon was destroyed shortly after leaving the planet, the communication was sent back to Starfleet via radio, which takes a long-ass time to get back to the other side of the galaxy.

I'm a little uncertain of the science here, friends. So I know that radio takes a long-ass time to travel way out into space, and 100 years is not impossible. But here's my concern: I don't know how the math works out on this. Did the Horizon travel faster than radio? If it took 100 years for the black box info on the ship to reach Starfleet via radio, how long did it take the Horizon to reach Sigma Iotia? Does that question even make sense? (Okay, so I learned about how radio travels in space by way of an episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete. Sue me.)

"I'm sorry - what?"

Kirk says he and some others will beam down to talk to Oxmyx, and they make plans to meet at a "yellow fire hydrant" at the end of "a block." The meeting place couldn't be more vague. Yet Scotty has the coordinates immediately. I'm confused. When did Kirk start practicing legilimancy?
Anyway, he takes Spock and Bones with him and leaves Scotty in charge. The trio gets into the lift and they talk about how the Horizon visited the Iotians before the Prime Directive was set in place, so they will probably see a bunch of influence on the aliens. Kirk says that the Iotian civilization is imitative and was at the beginnings of industrialization when the Horizon encountered them.

They beam down to the random fire hydrant and are immediately set upon by the welcoming party, goons in suits who aim tommy guns at them and tell them to get their hands in the air. The trio notices that these wise guys aren't the only ones who practice open carry - every man, woman and child on the street has a big-ass gun.

"The fuck?" asks Kirk.
"We're taking you to see Oxmyx," says one of the goons. He's wearing a hella nice striped suit and a fedora, but he's still aiming a gun at them.
They walk down the street a few feet when a cool, old-school car drives by and, well, engages in a drive-by.
"The FUCK?" demands Kirk.
They encounter some girls who ask the goons about "services", and the goon in brown, Kalo, explains that every person pays a percentage to the Boss, who then provides them with services. Sooooo... government, yes?
They go upstairs to an office, where the Boss is shooting pool while an overly-obvious moll sits on his desk. Oxmyx invites Kirk to play with him, and tells them that he's in charge of the biggest territory in the world.

Kalo tells Oxmyx that another boss called Krako tried to put a hit on them outside, and Oxmyx gives the go-ahead to hit Krako back. Meanwhile, Spock finds this Bible-book:

This is our "a-ha!" moments, friends. The Horizon left this book behind on Iotia when they left, and the Iotians patterned their newly-forming society on this book. Every now and again, Star Trek episodes can be summed up by one ridiculous statement, and A Piece of the Action's TV Guide blurb reads like this: "In this episode, the Enterprise visits a gangster planet." Let that one sink in. "Gangster Planet." Yeah.
Then Oxmyx drops the bomb: he wants the E to give him advanced guns and instructions on how to use them, then he'll off all of his neighbors and be the Big Cheese in charge.
"Fuck that," says Kirk. "We're not helping you do any of that."
So Oxmyx calls in his goons again, and says that Kirk now has 8 hours to give him what he wants, or he's going to kill the away party.

Kalo gives Oxmyx the comms and phasers that he took off of the landing party, and Oxmyx demands that Kirk explain them. He's delighted with the phaser, and tells the goons to take the trio away to the warehouse to keep an eye on them. When they leave, he calls Scotty on the comm, and demands that they beam down "100 of those fancy heaters" and people to show his goons how to use them. Now Scotty knows that Kirk got his ass into trouble again. (Honestly, you'd think they would have learned by now. Every day, this guy gets himself kidnapped.)
"You understand?" asks Oxmyx.
"I... don't know," says Scotty truthfully. Oxmyx's choice of words is so riddled with 1920's gangster slang that the engineer can hardly figure out what the hell just happened.

Yes, they DO stare up at the ceiling while talking to the orbiting Scotty.
I found it to be kind of goofy at first, but now I think it's rather brilliant.
It shows an earnest naivete.

In the warehouse, Bones points out that one stupid book put this society on a fucked-up track, and that they have to fix it, because the Federation is essentially responsible. Spock agrees, and says that Oxmyx's plan to put one guy in charge, rather than having all those little rival gangs, is actually a pretty good one. He just has a shitty plan of execution. No, really. He's gonna execute everyone, and that's shitty.
Kirk forms a plan. Because Kirk always forms a plan. He interrupts the goons' card game to tell them that he knows of a more manly game to play, fizzbin. Shatner ad-libbed this scene live. He just made this shit up, so all of his dramatic pauses here are actually being filled by the inner monologue of "Dammit, what should I say next?"

The card game makes no fucking sense of course, but once all of the goons are engaged in watching the play, the trio starts a fist fight and wins easily, because of the rule that No One Else In the Known Universe Can Fight. Kirk tells Spock and Bones to get to a radio station and contact Uhura, who is conveniently monitoring all of the radio transmissions. They should request a beam-up. Kirk will come later with Oxmyx in tow. So Kirk gets picked up by a goon outside of the warehouse (which is damn convenient - how did he know that they had escaped two minutes earlier?), and Spock and Bones call Uhura.
"The fuck?" says Uhura.
"Yeah... just beam us up," says Spock.

Meanwhile, it turns out that the goon who nabbed Kirk works for another boss, Krako, the dude who did the hit at the beginning of the episode.

Krako wants the same thing that Oxmyx wanted, a bunch of guns and guys to show his goons how to use them, only he offers Kirk a third of the profits. He sics his moll on Kirk for some reason, and she sits on the arm of Kirk's chair and rubs at his shoulders. I didn't mind Oxmyx's moll so much, because she looked period and acted accordingly. Krako's moll is very late-sixties mod, and rubs Kirk's shoulders in a creepy way.

Kirk refuses to play ball, saying that he thinks all of the bosses should get together and talk, try to run things as a unit.
"Fuck you," says Krako. "Now you can't screw my ugly moll, I'm not giving you any money, and I'm kidnapping you."
Wow, what's new?
Oxmyx calls the E, and talks to Spock and Bones, telling them that Kirk has been kidnapped. Their lack of surprise at this news is telling. Spock agrees that they will beam back down into his office to discuss the gun thing, and Oxmyx says that in return, he can get Kirk back. Spock trusts Oxmyx about as far as he can throw him, but they agree, because leaving Kirk's sorry ass behind on this planet would mean a lot of extra paperwork to fill out.

"You put our captain in a bag? Why?"

Meanwhile, Kirk is all alone in his holding cell, which looks like a cheap hotel, and he forms a plan. He pulls a length of wire from the back of a radio, then creates a trip-wire with it. He then yells for help in a way that no self-respecting guard would fall for, and when they come running, the wire trips them up and he kicks the crap out of both of them, because of that rule about how fights must always be lost to Kirk. Fight over, he grabs a downed guard's gun and runs out... right through the trip wire that supposedly took down two goons. Way to pay attention, Shatner.

So our boys in blue beam down into Oxmyx's office, knowing that it's probably a trap, and of course it is. One of the goons has told Oxmyx that the Federation officers can't do anything "until they're done sparkling." That guy is actually pretty astute. He should be Boss instead.

Spock's Log: "Well, we're prisoners again, and those goons took more of our phasers and comms. God, we're going to have to requisition a lot of shit when we get out of here."

Spock goes a bit Grammar Nazi on Oxmyx's choice of wording, then informs him that they agree with his plan to have one boss only. Oxmyx argues that they're lying, and Kirk bursts in with a tommy gun of his own. He has a plan to kidnap Krako, so he forces a pair of goons to strip down at gunpoint so he and Spock can cosplay 1920's gangsters. Then he and Spock steal a car in a brief, hilarious scene, wherein the once-boastful James "best pilot on the ship" Kirk is discovered to be a shitty driver, and I snort with laughter at his ineptitude.
"Wow, you suck," Spock tells him.

OMG, you guys. Look at Spock in that pinstripe suit. Sploosh.
Also, I guess Kirk looks okay, too.

They arrive carsick at Krako's place, only to find two guards on the stoop. Some little Huck Finn dressed like a newsie approaches them and asks if they're hitting Krako.
"Um, no?" replies Kirk.
"Bullshit," answers the kid. "I can help you get in, but I want a piece of the action. And if you're hitting Krako, that shit's gonna be big."
"Cool," they answer. "We'll cut you in."

So Huck goes to play by the stoop, and he deliberately falls and hurts himself, screaming for his daddy. It's not bad, as diversions go. Spock and Kirk run up, demanding to know what the goons have done to Kirk's kid. I dunno, maybe the kid belongs to both of them. Maybe they're a nice gay couple with a delinquent son. Anyway, Spock pinches his dude, and Kirk wrestles his inside, taking him out with one punch because nobody else is allowed to have fighting skills on this show. They stun two more goons inside, but here comes Krako and the Mod Moll. They were expecting Kirk to return, enough to have posted two more goons nearby. Kirk directs them into the office so he can explain how their "fancy heaters" work, but once they get in there, he and Spock proceed to tell Krako that the Federation is taking over, but in a subtle way. Shatner's weird-ass dramatic pauses actually work pretty well mixed with the 1920's slang that he's affected. He tells them in their own language that the Federation is gonna put one guy in charge, but work that guy a bit like a puppet. Kirk offers Krako "a piece of the action." He puts his feet on the desk and Spock awkwardly copies him.

Krako agrees to this plan, and still thinks that the Feds are giving him fancy guns and training to Make It So. Instead, Kirk calls Scotty and tells him in a roundabout way to beam Krako to the ship. Krako dematerializes.
"The fuck?" ask the goons.
Of course Kirk and Spock knock them out before leaving.

Krako steps off the pad and into phaser crosshairs.
"The fuck?" he asks.
"Cooperate with us, or you'll be wearing concrete galoshes," Scotty tells him.
Points for doing some homework, Scotty. But minus points for getting the slang wrong enough to be corrected by the dude wearing the boater hat.

Kirk and Spock run out to the car.
"No way," says Spock. "You can't drive for shit."
"It's cool," says Kirk. "I'm good now. I'll get us there."
And they drive off, Spock leaving him lunch behind, and Kirk taking out three old ladies, a woman with a stroller, and a stop sign.
They bust in on Oxmyx, his guys, his moll, and Bones. Kirk refers to McCoy as "Sawbones", which is an old-school term for doctor.
Wait, is this where that nickname came from? I've never heard of it before, and kind of always wondered why they called him that. According to IMDB, they never call him Sawbones again. It's kind of cool, though I also like the explanation given by the JJ Abrams movie, where McCoy admits that his wife divorced him, leaving him with nothing but his bones. 
Anyway, Kirk tells Oxmyx the plan with the Feds, and he agrees to cooperate. Kirk calls Scotty to ensure that the engineer still has Krako. He uses 1920's gangster slang to tell Scotty that they're going to make some phone calls, and he should use legilimancy to find the recipient of those calls and beam them to their location in Oxmyx's office.
"The fuck?" asks Scotty.
So Kirk repeats himself in regular English, and Scotty agrees.

You're blocking the eye candy, Oxmyx.

Oxmyx calls another boss, a old dude, and Scotty finds the guy and beams him into the office. I swear this dude looks like he's about to have a heart attack and die, but Oxmyx is charmed by the light and magic show.

After a bunch of bosses have hitched a ride to the office through the telephone transporter, Kirk holds a meeting, or rather, everyone yells while Kirk walks around on the pool table. He says that the Feds will be taking a 40% piece of the action while pulling the strings, but they have to work together. The Iotians think Kirk is full of shit, and that he only has a few guys to back him up rather than the Feds.

Oops. Krako's goons have woken up, and through a meeting of the Goon Union Local #645, they decide to hit Oxmyx's place. So they pull up in cool old-school cars and starting shooting up the place. Everyone runs to the window to see, and Krako grabs Bones' tommy gun, making him a hostage again.
"Lemme just say goodbye to my crew," Kirk begs the gangsters.
They acquiesce, and instead, Kirk tells Scotty to set the phasers to stun everyone within a one block radius of where they are, because, you know, legilimancy. Oddly, only the people outside are stunned. Also, this is the only time in the series when they fire up the phasers to stun a shit-load of people on the planet's surface, from way the hell out in orbit.

"Ha, bitches!" says Kirk. "Those are the kinds of heaters I got on my ship, and if I wanted them dead, they so would be."
Suddenly, the gangsters believe that Kirk can mess them up, and maybe they should listen to what he has to say. Oxmyx likes the idea of a syndicate with Kirk in charge.
 Kirk laughs, because the thought of him in charge of more than 400 people really is a joke. He suggests Oxmyx be in charge, and report in to the Federation, who will return each year to collect 40% of the profits. Everybody agrees, and they have a drink.

Back on the ship, Spock tells Kirk that his solution is weird, and wants to know how he's going to tell Starfleet command that they have to collect a piece of the action every year. Kirk figures they can put the money into a trust to guide the Iotians into a more honest future. 
"Sooo, hey," says Bones. "I think I left my comm in Oxmyx's office."
"That'll fuck up all of the shit," says Spock.
"Yep," agrees Kirk. "They'll probably figure everything out, become hella-advanced before their time, and Bones has just screwed up worse than the Horizon and their dumb book."
Annnnd end on a joke.

No one wants a piece of your action, Kirk.
But I'd gladly take a piece of Spock's.

Every now and again, Star Trek will bust out a story that has pretty much no science, and whose sole purpose is to be ridiculous and fun. Hence, "let's make an episode where the E goes to a gangster planet." Really, if they tried science here, it would all fall apart. For instance, the Iotians could emulate gangsters from 1920's Earth, but shit-ton of stuff lead up to the creation of the automobile, things that would not and could not be replicated in exactly the same way. So we have no choice but to go with a brief, willing suspension of disbelief. Doesn't bother me too much. It is kind of fun to imagine a planet of nothing but gangsters, and the lack of most science means that there's nothing to make me irrationally angry. Sometimes, though, I wish they'd put Bones in a costume. He never gets the opportunity to ditch those Starfleet-issued jammies.

Death Toll:
Red deaths this episode: 0
Red deaths this season: 17
Gold deaths this episode: 0
Gold deaths this season: 6
Blue deaths this episode: 0
Blue deaths this season: 1
Total crew deaths this season: 24
Total crew deaths thus far: 41

Nada this week. Better luck next time!


You know, every now and again, you try something new and your brain explodes. "Dear God, why did I not realize that I've always wanted these flavors together?!"
I like blackberries a lot. I like lime a lot. I kind of like mint. Mojitos are pretty tasty. But holy shit snacks, the Blackberry Mojito Tea from Starbucks, you guys. It's probably seasonal, which means next week it'll be replaced by something pumpkin-flavored, and I'll be super-sad, but we have it now, and we can revel in it's glory. Go get you some while it lasts.

All of your food are belong to me!