Friday, September 6, 2013

Extended Hiatus

I really have been enjoying doing this blog, but it seems that I simply don't have enough time to keep up with it for the time being. I will probably return at some point, but who knows when and in what form. I might come back and do the same thing I'm doing now, or I might try something different. One idea I've been toying with is watching the episodes with my son when he's old enough and blogging about his reactions to things. Of course that would have to be a few years off if I go that route.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Return of the Archons: TOS Season 1 Episode 21

Plot Summary

We start with Sulu and O'neil on a planet being chased, O'neil runs off but Sulu waits for transport. Sulu gets hit with some mind-altering attack right before he beams up and is clearly acting strange when we gets back to Enterprise. So Kirk and a handful of other guys beam down to try to figure out what is going on, when they get there everyone seems pleasant and ask if the away team is here for the festival. They say yes as it is good cover, but quickly it turns out that the festival largely consists of chaos in the street.

It seems that most everyone is being mind controlled (are you of the body?), but the away team finds a few guys who are not and seem to want to gain freedom for themselves and everyone. Some guards come to them and ask for them to come see Landrew (who is apparently in charge here), they say 'no' and the guards don't seem to know what to do. Spock takes a weapon from one of them, but it turns out to simply be a pipe, it must just be a focusing object for a powerful weapon being emitted elsewhere. Very interesting indeed.

They also talk to the Enterprise and it turns out that some sustained attack is being levied against the ship. They are having to spend all of their energy on shields, and their orbit is decaying. Their time is severely limited.

The away team finds Landrew and talks to him, ultimately they are knocked out and thrown in jail. They eventually break out of jail and Kirk wants to go to confront Landrew about what is going on. After some argument, they are led to Landrew, who was previously a holographic projection on a wall, they shoot the wall and it is revealed that Landrew is actually a computer. This society is how a computer would view perfection, but people are not free even to think for themselves. They convince the computer that what he has done is not in line with the intention of his programming and the computer self-destructs. Then everyone who was brainwashed is set free. Kirk left some people on the planet to help them rebuild their society.

Is Spock Like a Computer?

When they were in prison, Spock and Kirk had an amusing conversation about how the guards responded to them

Spock: Their reaction to your defiance was remarkably similar to the reaction of a computer when fed insufficient or contradictory data

Kirk: Are you suggesting the law giver's a mere computer?

Spock: Simply that all the facts are not yet in.

I found this hilarious, as Spock is saying that not knowing how to react to insufficient data is computer like, then in his next line he does just that. Spock is acting like a computer in exactly the way he is observing the guards. Even more hilarious, right at the end of the episode Kirk tells Spock he would make a good computer, to which Spock replied "thank you".

Part of why this is so amusing is that Spock is apparently a man who aspires to become a machine, where Data in Next Gen is exactly the opposite. I guess that must have been the point when they were initially writing data, turn the premise on it's head.


This same thing happened last episode, but the Enterprise apparently requires power just to maintain orbit. I don't know why this bugs me so much, but there's no reason for that. If they put themselves in orbit properly they would stay that way without power.

Prime Directive

I think this was the first time they mentioned the prime directive. When they were talking about destroying Landrew Spock mentioned the prime directive of non-interference. I was thinking that they had interfered in the past, but mostly they haven't had contact with primitive societies. I suppose Miri is the only episode where it really seems like it might have applied. They also referred to the prime directive of Landrew, that being to destroy evil.


When they were getting ready to go confront Landrew and the men from the surface were scared to do it Kirk said
It's time you learn freedom is never a gift, it has to be earned.
Damn good line. Although it did occur to me that it isn't really true, even in this situation. For everyone who was currently a zombie of Landrew, freedom would be a gift. Nevertheless, the point still stands, freedom needs to be fought for and earned whenever there is someone trying to take it away.



Sunday, August 4, 2013

Court Martial: TOS Season 1 Episode 20

Plot Synopsis

The Enterprise took some damage from an ion storm and the only fatality was Ben Finney. We quickly learn that Kirk and Finney had a history, early on in his career Kirk filed a report that showed Finney in a bad light and it played a part in his slow career advancement. The allegation was that Kirk had something against Finney and the bad report was maliciously, and that perhaps Finney's recent death was intentional. If charges come against Kirk it will be a court martial, the first time it has happened to a captain of a starship. The admiral Kirk talks to tells him to just slink away and they would sweep it under the rug, but Kirk insists he's innocent and demands the court martial!

So a trial ensues, it turns out that in the ion storm they were in yellow alert. At some point when the danger was particularly high Kirk went to red alert, which told Finney that he had to act quickly, he failed to do that and Kirk had to take action which killed Finney but saved the rest of the ship. The prosecution claims that Kirk took that action before going to red alert, never giving Finney the chance to save himself. Kirk insists that this is not the way it happened, but they had damning evidence, video of Kirk pushing the "jettison pod" button with only the yellow alert light blinking

It seems that all is lost, whether intentional or accidental, this seems to be Kirk's fault. He makes some vague statement to Spock about chess as the court is adjourning. Spock goes and plays chess against the computer and wins several games in a row. This should be impossible as he programmed the computer with his own chess skill, he should be coming to a stalemate. It appears that someone has been messing with the computer. Perhaps Finney isn't even really dead, but just trying to frame Kirk.

They evacuate the ship of almost everyone and then have the computer listen to any noise through the whole ship. It can detect everyone's heartbeat, they filter out everyone that is known to be on the ship and there is one heartbeat remaining. They isolate where he is and Kirk goes to confront him. They fight, but ultimately Finney has sabotaged the ship and is ready to die along with anyone else remaining in the ship, Kirk the reveals that he beamed up Finney's daughter. With this information, Finney tells Kirk how the ship was sabotaged and the damage is able to be undone.


In the scene where the admiral was trying to get Kirk to simply slink away quietly, to just go away and avoid his court martial, the admiral was primarily interested in appearance. He didn't really seem to care about what had happened, in fact, it's quite possible he believed Kirk guilty. But he didn't want a stain on starfleet put there by a captain being put through a court martial, he wanted to sweep the whole thing under the rug. Kirk was interested in justice, he didn't care how it looked, he wanted the truth to come out. Great stuff.


There were two things in this episode that from a scientific standpoint caught my attention. The first was a silly little throw-away line from Spock while he was testifying in court. He was arguing that even though he didn't watch Kirk push those buttons, he knew that Kirk had done things in the right order because he knows the man. He said it is no different from dropping a hammer on a planet with positive gravity, he knows it will fall without looking. I love the idea that there could be a planet without positive gravity. Perhaps there is a planet with some exotic substance where gravity doesn't work in our normal sense. Seems a bit silly, but sometimes science fiction is about exploring silly ideas. I liked it, and again, it was just a throwaway line.

The other thing did really bug me though. Near the end they cut power to the enterprise and in a very short period of time they were going to fall out of orbit. This seems to misunderstand what orbit is. It takes power to put yourself in orbit, but once your there you should stay in orbit without the need for power. Sure, over a long period of time a "stable" orbit can decay, but this was a very short period of time, on the order of hours. A similar thing happened in the recent movie, and that bugged the crap out of me too.

Spock and McCoy

Some more banter between Spock and McCoy that caught my attention. When Spock was playing chess, bones found him and was upset that he was doing that, not realizing he was helping the captain with this action.

Bones: Mr. Spock, you're the most cold blooded man I've ever known
Spock: why, thank you doctor.

Love it!

Ripped Shirt

During the fight near the end between Kirk and Finney, at some point Kirk's shirt gets ripped open. I think Kirk needs to stop getting uniforms made out of tissue paper.

Side note here, my wife say me write down the time stamp here and asked what I was doing. She thought it was hilarious that I am keeping track of this. I don't know why it amuses me so much, but I just can't stop laughing when their shirts get ripped.



Overall an enjoyable episode.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tomorrow is Yesterday: TOS Season 1 Episode 19

Sorry for missing a week, and being late this week. I don't have time this week to take screenshots, which is a shame because I find that part of it fun, but I watched an episode last night so I figured I'd write a quick post today.

Plot Synopsis

We start in "present day" Earth, the air force sees a UFO that of course winds up being the Enterprise. It turns out that the Enterprise had gotten caught in a gravity well of some particularly powerful star and had to use full power to get away. There was a slingshot effect that wound up sending them back in time. They are a little disoriented at first, but once they get their bearings they realize the air force has scrambled a jet to intercept them. They try to catch it in a tractor beam but it destroys the plane and they have to beam the pilot aboard. (I was distracted at this point, so I may have missed some finer points, but this seems to be the gist of it)

They now have a conundrum, they can't send the pilot back because he knows too much about them and it will alter the past. Nevertheless, they seem to have no qualms about telling him all kinds of stuff, for example, Spock tells him that he will have a son and the son will be important to history. They also spend a lot of time beaming down to the military base and trying to destroy records of their ship in the sky. Ultimately they accomplish this, but wind up with a second person from the base on the ship.

Now they just need to get home, and they need to find a way to return these 2 guys to the surface without screwing up the timeline (further). They can slingshot around the sun and head back to their own time, but before they go forward in time, they will go backward a little as they approach the sun and they can beam those guys down at the moment when they were picked up. Done and done!

Back and Forth

I didn't understand exactly why they would go backward in time a little bit before they went forward. Spock said something about them going backward when they approach the sun. I guess since the slingshot will fling them into the future as they are exiting the gravity of the sun, they were saying that approaching the sun will send them back in time. I'm pretty sure this made no sense at all.


Let's assume the back in time thing makes sense. Wouldn't the guys they beam down still have the memory of what had happened to them. It seemed that they were put right back where they were and their memory of the intermediate events was erased. That didn't really make sense either.



I love time travel stories, but this one didn't really have much going for it. They talked of not changing the past, but then they did a bunch of stuff that would change the past. Plus a lot of time seemed to just be wasted running around on the military base.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Arena: TOS Season 1 Episode 18

Plot Synopsis

The episode starts with a joyous scene, the crew is going to beam down to Cestus 3 and spend some time with the head of the colony there who has notorious hospitality. However, when they get to the surface they see the colony is destroyed, when Kirk calls back up to the Enterprise they are under attack from a mysterious ship so the away team is on their own for a while. 

They run around on the surface of the planet for a bit and the Enterprise fights with the ship, but then the enemy ship leaves and they are able to recover their people. Kirk concludes that this must be an aggressive species and decides to destroy the pursue and destroy the ship, otherwise they will be back to destroy other colonies. Spock takes issue with this, but Kirk will hear none of it, he says
Out here we are the only police men around, and a crime has been committed
As they are pursuing they come somewhat near to a solar system and the enemy ship stops completely. Kirk is happy that he will now be able to catch up, but the Enterprise is also stopped. They get a signal from the solar system that they are an advanced race who doesn't like the violence going on here, they decide that the best thing to do is take the two captains of the ships, let them battle it out and the winner will go free, the loser will be destroyed.

It turns out the enemy is the Gorn, they are extremely strong physically, Kirk throws some rocks at him, and even drops a boulder on him from quite high up, but he is not killed. Kirk then takes a bunch of minerals and puts them into a bamboo shoot to make a cannon of sorts. He nearly kills the Gorn but changes his mind at the last second. Leading up to the final attack by Kirk, the Gorn tells him they killed the colony because it was encroaching on their territory. Upon reflection, Kirk realizes this is a possibility because it is an unexplored area of space.

An angel looking guy shows up, he's from the nearby solar system and is supremely impressed with Kirk for not killing the Gorn. He says they are still half savage, but perhaps in a thousand years or so they can make contact with each other again.

Red Shirt

I don't think this is the first "red shirt" moment, but it was the first that really jumped out at me because it seemed to be quite ridiculous. When they beamed down to the destroyed colony Kirk motioned for the red shirt to look around and he was immediately killed. 

However, moments later both Kirk and Spock were running around with no cover and they were just fine. It looked like they were being attacked with mortars, but nothing like what the red shirt had to endure


This episode was tested out on mythbusters, unfortunately it was busted. There was no way for the bamboo to hold any blast sufficient enough to kill the Gorn. Unfortunately, it also means that I knew what was going to happen in this episode, although I guess I can't complain too much to have a 50 year old show spoiled :)



Solid episode, some iconic stuff in there. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Squire of Gothos: TOS Season 1 Episode 17

Before I get to this episode, a caveat, I didn't watch it under ideal conditions by any means. I was interrupted multiple times and wound up watching it over a few days. I won't be surprised I will have missed some interesting things.

Plot Synopsis

The Enterprise stumbles past a rogue planet (not orbiting a star) that is not in their records. Spock mentions that this is an extremely unlikely occurrence and suggests that something strange must be going on. They were going to make a note of the planet so starfleet could send a science team out at a later date, but then Kirk and Sulu disappeared off of the bridge. Now Spock is in charge and the next order of business is to check out the planet and get their crewmen back.

The planet has an atmosphere that is not ideal for humans, so they beam down with some breathers. But when they get to the surface it turns out the atmosphere is perfect for them. Peculiar indeed. They come in to an old style room and see Kirk and Sulu and a guy named Trelane. Trelane is a very powerful being, but he keeps making strange mistakes. He's apparently been observing earth, but doesn't realize that since he is hundreds of light-years away from earth, his information about us is quite old. He also had a fire with no heat and food/drink with no taste.

At some point the realize that there is a mirror in the room that seems to be a source of his power, they trick him and break the mirror and he is temporarily stripped of some of his power. In this time they are able to communicate with the Enterprise, beam away and run. Of course this isn't the end of the story, Trelane catches up to them and Kirk is brought back down to the planet to a trial. Trelane wants to give Kirk the death penalty because he's so angry, but then he calms down and realizes that the anger was something novel and interesting. He then complains to Kirk
This is becoming quite tiresome, it's also very easy.
Kirk responds with a great speech
That's your problem, everything is easy. It's giving you a bad habit. You're not aware of it, but you have it. You don't think, Trelane, that's your problem. You miss opportunities, like your anger before, and mine right now. You enjoyed it, but you couldn't have accomplished it without me. You know why? Because you're a bumbling, inept fool. Here you have an opportunity to experience some thing really unique and you waste it. You want to commit murder? Go ahead! But where's the sport in a simple hanging?
Kirk then convinces him to hunt him in the forest and only attack him with a sword. His intention seems to be to try to evade long enough for the Enterprise to get away. Trelane chases him and seems to have having a great time, but eventually gets bored and pops some walls into existence so that Kirk can't get away. When he's about to kill him the most hilarious thing happens.

Trelane's parents show up. It turns out he is just a kid from some other powerful race! They scold him, apologize, and let Kirk get away.

Rogue Planet

One thing I thought was really peculiar is the surprise that Spock exhibited about the planet not being in their data banks. I think they were just trying to lay the groundwork that something was odd, but there's no reason we should know about every planet around stars, let alone in the middle of nowhere without a light source. I suppose if it was in familiar federation space there might be something there, but they are on a mission of exploration right? It seems that they would come across new stuff like this all the time. Hell, last week they stumbled across a quasar, certainly it shouldn't be a surprise to find a random rogue planet.

He's Looking in a Mirror!

There was one scene where a security officer tried to sneak up on Trelane but was caught and frozen by him. The problem was, Trelane was looking in a mirror at the time. This seems like the worst possible time to sneak up on someone. I have no further point here, but it cracked me up.

Spock Objects

There was a line from Spock when he was talking to Trelane that I thought was really good. Trelane felt like Spock was challenging him, and Spock said
I object to intellect without discipline, I object to power without constructive purpose
Again, I don't have a deeper point here, just thought it was a great line.



Enjoyable episode for sure. I like the idea of the super-powerful being and figuring out his flaws and what-not. No real flaws in the episode that I saw with the exception of the planet thing, but that was certainly a very minor point.

The Upcoming Weeks

I will most likely miss a week or two. Several people are going to be visiting and I think it will be somewhat of a madhouse. I will probably not be able to sneak away long enough to write one of these. I will try as I find them a lot of fun to put together, but I might disappear for a bit. See you in a few weeks.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Galileo Seven: TOS Season 1 Episode 16

Sorry I missed a week, but in my defense, I do have a good excuse. I am going to try to keep up with them once a week because I have fun writing them, although I might have to streamline it a bit. I'll probably have to do a lot fewer screenshots. It's a shame, because I have a lot of fun going and getting them, but it does take a lot of time.

Plot Synopsis

The Enterprise is on a relief mission of sorts, they need to get some medicine to some people, and they have 5 days to get there. It is only a 3 day journey so they decide to send some people in a shuttle craft to investigate at quasar. Things of course go south and the shuttle lands on a nearby planet. Because of radiation the transporters and sensors are pretty much useless, and now they only have 2 days to mount a proper rescue before they must leave to deliver their medical supplies.

The shuttle crash lands on a planet and Spock is the ranking officer. There is an immediate clash between the other crewmen in the shuttle and Spock over his logical approach to command. This pretty much seems to be the whole point of the episode. He's cold and calculating, for example the other crewmen want to bury a guy who died, but Spock said it's not worth doing because it's dangerous, they are battling the clock and there's no advantage to it. Why is it dangerous? There's some big monster guys on the planet.

Ultimately they are able to lift off of the planet, but they are too late as the Enterprise has already started leaving. Even though they have very limited fuel Spock dumps it and ignites it, dooming them because without the fuel they will fall back to the planet. But this allows the Enterprise to find them and beam them out. Oh yeah, in the meantime they fixed the transporters.

Spock is super Logical!

The way they portray Spock as a 100% logical being was kinda rubbing me the wrong way in this episode. It's not just that he's logical and without emotion, he can't understand emotion and refuses to consider that others might act emotionally. It's hard to imagine him rising to this rank in starfleet without ever learning this lesson.

Transporter Malfunction

I also found this a strange choice. I guess it was one more obstacle to overcome, but they fixed it before they needed it anyway. And there wasn't something interesting or novel about the fix as far as I can tell. It was just "the transporters don't work" and then later "they work now!"

Against the Clock

I know they were trying to create a situation where Kirk would have to leave them behind, but it seemed like an incredibly poor choice to send the shuttle out when they had such a small time window. It was just a quasar, it would be there in a week or whatever. They should have delivered the medicine and come back. I suppose it could have been doing something that is rare and they could witness it, but I don't think that was the case here. Plus, if you are delivering medicine it is silly to plan to get there in exactly the time you need instead of getting there as quickly as possible.

Original Versus Remastered

I thought the quasar graphic was really cool, and I was curious what the original looked like, so I went and looked at the non-remastered version. It's quite a difference. They really did a good job on the new effects.



I'm trying to decide between 6 and 7 here, guess I'll split the difference. It was a fine episode, but there were definitely issues.

Intense Debate Comments

I've decided to remove intense debate and go back to the default blogger comments. Of course, ID holds your comment threads hostage so you will stay with it, but luckily I don't have too many. I have taken screenshots and edited them into the bottom of their posts so they won't be lost.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Shore Leave: TOS Season 1 Episode 15

Plot Synopsis

We start this episode with Kirk getting a massage from a Yeomen. They quickly reflect on how stressed everyone on board is because of all of the crazy stuff this ship has had to deal with. Everyone could use some shore leave, and we are in luck, they have found an uninhabited planet with earth-like vegetation which is perfect. A few people are sent down first to scout before letting the entire crew down. Bones is in this group and he sees a white rabbit with a pocket watch run by with Alice chasing behind.

Kirk comes down to the planet thinking that this is possibly a joke that Bones is playing on him, but soon he sees man sized rabbit tracks and realizes something really weird is going on. They cancel shore leave for everyone else still on the ship and investigate things further to try to figure out what is really going on. It turns out that things that people have been thinking about (an old friend, a tiger, a flock of birds, a samurai, etc) manifest and interact with them in the natural way.

At some point Spock calls down and says that there is some kind of energy field draining their power, it is interfering with communication somehow. At that time Kirk was talking to what appears to be an old girlfriend. He is clearly very smitten and doesn't want to leave and says that they don't currently have a good enough reason to leave. I must say the whole thing reminded me of an anglerfish, it certainly appears to be a trap of some kind and Kirk is too mesmerized to run away while he still can. Shortly thereafter Spock realizes that they have a short period of time left to act and beamed down while he still could.

Meanwhile Bones is with the Yeoman who had previously conjured up a change of clothes to a medieval princess looking thing. She conjured up a knight that was going to attack them. Bones refused to believe it was real and asserted that it couldn't hurt him, so he got run through and killed (I imagine this could have been a very dramatic scene had I not known he does indeed live on). Kirk and Spock come upon the scene and investigate. It turns out that the knight's armor was just filled up with a dummy, furthermore all of the stuff on the planet (everything they've been conjuring in addition to the plant life and so forth) all have the exact same cellular structure, it's all manufactured somehow.

Shortly thereafter they realize they while they have been talking both the knight and Dr. McCoy's body have disappeared, and then a guy shows up who says he's the caretaker of this planet. Also, McCoy shows up again, he says they have an amazing facility (I guess underground) where he was able to get patched up, and he has apparently figured out the trick to manifesting his fantasy because he came in tow with 2 beautiful women he remembers from some Cabaret. The caretaker says his race has built this planet as an amusement park where your fantasies can come true. You can relive memories or create any situation you want and enjoy yourself.  The people who run this planet didn't realize that the crew didn't know what they were doing. Kirk tries to ask him more details about their race, but he simply says that they aren't ready to know, but invites everyone down to the planet to have a good shore leave. Kirk says that everyone is going to have a great time.

Why the power drain?

My biggest issue with this episode is the power drain. When it was revealed that something was draining their power, interrupting communications and interfering with transporters, it really looked like they were in some kind of a trap. I'm pretty sure that was the whole point of it, provide some tension and try to lead you down the wrong path. This was of course heightened when bones was killed. But it turned out it was just a misunderstanding, but then why the power drain on the ship? It was never explained and doesn't really make a lot of sense. I was thinking that perhaps someone wanted the communication to be cut off, but certainly once they realized something was up and it wasn't fun anymore, they would change their mind, or at least other people there would want to have communication and it would counteract it. It kinda reminds me of the Corbomite maneuver, in trying to throw in a twist they made things not quite make sense.

Which Yeoman?

I really liked Yeoman Janices character, and was alarmed at the beginning when there was a different Yeoman doing what it would seem she should be doing. I checked wikipedia, and it looks like she's off the show, bummer! It seems that the reason she left are not completely clear, wikipedia gives a run down of them.

Budget running low?

As I was watching this episode, I was wondering if their effects budget was running low. There were not really any special effects here, the whole episode was pretty much just them running around some park. I've seen in commentaries of other shows that they sometimes do this to recoup the cost of really expensive episodes. Not that this is a bad thing necessarily, Data's day is one of those episodes, and it is among my favorites. I'm pretty sure the friends episode where no one is ready is one of those as well, and that is also a great episode.

Getting Kirk to the planet

At the beginning of the episode Kirk was not planning on taking shore leave with everyone else. There was an amusing interaction between him and Spock that convinced him to go. It was one of those things where you knew exactly where it was leading right from the start, but it didn't make it any less great to see play out.

Spock: Captain, there was something I did come to discuss

Kirk: Yes Mr. Spock, what is it?

Spock: I picked this up from Dr. McCoy's log. We have a crew member aboard showing signs of stress and fatigue, reaction time down 9-12%, associational rating norm -3

Kirk: That's much too low a rating

Spock: He's becoming irritable and quarrelsome, yet he refuses to take rest and rehabilitation, now he has that right, but we've found...

Kirk (interrupting): The crewman's right ends where the safety of the ship begins. That man will go to shore on my orders, what's his name?

Spock: James Kirk *smirk* Enjoy yourself captain.

Shore leave for Spock?

Early on in the episode, Spock declares that everyone in the crew needs shore leave, except for him of course. He says
On my planet, to rest is to rest, to cease using energy. To me it is quite illogical to run up and down on green grass using energy instead of saving it.
More ripped shirts

I don't know why this cracks me up so much, but it seems that at every opportunity Shatner rips his shirt and exposes his manly chest.

We also have a ripped shirt from the new Yeoman, and perhaps a continuity error, it seems to me that when she puts her uniform back on later the rip is on the wrong side, unless she put it on backwards or something



I was debating whether to give it a 6 or a 7 I guess I'll split the difference. It was a bit of fun, and kinda goofy, but it didn't seem terribly well thought out to me, and it lacked a bit of punch I would say.

Intense Debate Comments

I've decided to remove intense debate and go back to the default blogger comments. Of course, ID holds your comment threads hostage so you will stay with it, but luckily I don't have too many. I have taken screenshots and edited them into the bottom of their posts so they won't be lost.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Balance of Terror: TOS Season 1 Episode 14

Plot Synopsis

We start this episode with a wedding on board where Kirk is officiating, but we get interrupted by a distress call of a ship under attack near the Romulan neutral zone. We soon learn that there was a bloody war between humans and Romulans about 100 years ago. They never made proper contact, we don't even know what they look like, but we eventually were able to negotiate a neutral zone. Either side venturing into the neutral zone would be an act of war. The Romulans are supposedly very good tacticians and relish war, so Kirk is reluctant to provoke them. Any act that could be interpreted as aggressive by the Enterprise could give the Romulans an excuse to go to war. Although we are also reminded that this is speculation as our real knowledge of them is limited.

Somehow they get a video feed from the Romulan ship. I wasn't completely clear how this happened, but I think it was from passive scanning, it was supposed to be a video feed from one part of the Romulan ship to another and the Enterprise picked up the signal (please correct me if I'm wrong). It turns out that the Romulans look a lot like Spock! There was one guy on the bridge that was very suspicious of Spock, even accusing him of being a spy under his breath (and later more forcefully I think, damn, I really need to write these the same day I watch the episode). Anyway, Kirk announces that he implicitly trusts Spock to address the potential thoughts everyone is having (or maybe the explicit accusation thrown around). Spock of course isn't phased by this, and uses the information to guess that the Romulans and Vulcans must have a common ancestor and uses the information to guess at their demeanor. Spock says that the Vulcans were very savage before they found logic and is assuming the Romulans have a streak of brutality.

This is also the first time the crew of the Enterprise had ever seen a cloaked ship. Spock mentioned that the Federation had tried this type of thing, but the power requirements made it impossible. He notes that the Romulans must have found a way to get around them, but they know that power will be a limiting factor for the Romulans. 

Although they can't see the ship, they can detect some signal from it, Kirk decides to follow it, but instead of plotting an intercept course he matches their movements perfectly so that they will appear as a sensor echo. Given the power requirements of the cloak, they figure that even their sensors will not be at full strength, and won't necessarily want to use up power doing full scans. There is a comet up ahead and Kirk figures that once they go through the tail it will give them a target and they can blow them up. As the Romulan ship goes gets to the comet Kirk runs around to the other side and gets ready to fire. But on the Romulan ship the "sensor echo" goes away. The Romulan commander figures out exactly what happened and changed course to avoid Kirk's assault. We have now seen that both Kirk and this Romulan commander are great tacticians.

There are some pretty interesting skirmishes, but ultimately Kirk wins. With the Romulan ship crippled he hails them and offers assistance. The Romulan acknowledges how similar they are and ponders that in another world they could be friends, but it can't happen here. He sets off his ship's self-destruct so the Enterprise can't take their technology. I guess this makes a lot of sense since they have a (potentially experimental) cloaking device.

Alien Races

We get to meet the Romulans in this episode, pretty cool. I'm not sure how much they had planned on these guys being a recurring enemy or not. Perhaps they had just thought it would be a good one-off enemy and they liked them and used later, or perhaps they had intended from this point to use them long term. Either way, it's neat to see where they started from


It was also really cool to see the cloaking device make its debut. As I mentioned above, they talked about how it takes a ton of power, which is a limiting factor. Here, the enterprise was able to detect some signal from it, I guess we can chalk that up to it being an early model. My memory is that in TNG a properly working cloaking device will mask all signals. Also, it is established  in this episode that they can't fire while cloaked, it takes too much power and must be turned off to power up weapons. 

Unique and Non-unique

There was a great little speech from Bones about how there are so many people out there like us (hence we are not unique), and yet there is only one exactly like us (hence we are unique). I love stuff like this
In this galaxy, there's a mathematical probability of three million earth type planets. And in all the universe, three million, million galaxies like this. And in all of that, perhaps more, only one of each of us.
Spock Describes the Romulan mindset 

Spock: If the Romulans are an offshoot of my Vulcan blood, and I think this likely, then attack becomes even more imperative

Bones: War is never imperative Mr. Spock

Spock: It is for them Doctor. Vulcan, like Earth, had its aggressive, colonizing period. Savage even by Earth standards. And if the Romulans retained this marshal philosophy, then weakness is something we dare not show



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Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Conscience of the King: TOS Season 1 Episode 13

Plot Synopsis

The Enterprise is called to a planet by Thomas (an old friend of Kirk's) who says he found a new way to make synthetic food. It turns out that he had just wanted to get Kirk there so he could see the lead actor in a play which is being put on by a travelling group of actors. Thomas thinks it is someone from their past, Kodos the executioner. He was originally thought that he had died 20 years ago, but the body was never found. Thomas is pretty sure that it is his, but he wants Kirk's opinion too. Kirk compares the two pictures, he seems thinks it is him, but he's not totally sure and he doesn't want to wrongly accuse somebody of something so terrible. It also turns out that the actor has no history before Kodos supposedly died, and it matches up almost to the day.

Thomas winds up killed, and Kirk arranges to take the acting company onto the Enterprise rather than having them use their normal transportation. It turns out that there are only 9 people who could identify Kodos, and all but 2 are dead, both are on the Enterprise, one is Kirk and the other is some low level officer. Someone tries to kill the low level officer with poison but he pulls through. It's not completely clear that it is attempted murder, it could have been an accident because of the type of poison used (it was lubricant they use in engineering or something, it could have reasonably been accidentally dropped in his drink), but that seems pretty unlikely. And of course the viewers know it was attempted murder

Eventually Kirk actually decides to confront Kodos and they have an interesting back and forth. Kirk has his read a sentence and they can analyze if it is really him. They can't get a complete answer, but it certainly seems like it is him. Later on, the crewman who is recovering overhears that the actor might be Kodos and he heads over to the play to kill Kodos as revenge, but Kirk is able to stop him but they make enough noise that the actors realize what is going on and there is a confrontation. It turns out that Kodos' daughter has been killing the other witnesses, Kodos is completely distraught over this. She did it to protect him, but he didn't want any more bloodshed in his name. Finally, she tries to kill Kirk and Kodos jumps in front of Kirk and takes this hit.


There's a funny conversation between McCoy and Spock. 

McCoy: Would you care for a drink Mr. Spock?

Spock: My father's race was spared the dubious benefits of alcohol

McCoy: Oh, now I know why they were conquered

In addition to simply being an amusing conversation, we learn that Vulcan was conquered at some point.

Crime and Punishment

There was a really great scene with McCoy, Spock and Kirk. Spock and McCoy are confronting Kirk about why he brought Kodos on board and why he hasn't accused him yet.

Spock: Almost certainly an attempt will be made on your life, why do you invite death

Kirk: I'm not, I'm interested in Justice.

McCoy: Are you? Are you sure it's not vengeance?

Kirk: No, I'm not sure, I wish I was.

...(skip a few lines)...

McCoy: What if you do decide he's Kodos? What then? Carry his head through the corridors? That won't bring back the dead Jim

Kirk: No, but they may rest easier.

This scene was fantastic, and I thought it brought a few things into focus. Why hasn't Kirk just accused the guy? There certainly seems to be plenty of evidence. Kirk says he's not sure, he needs more to know that this guy is actually Kodos. But why? It seems that Kirk might not turn him over to the courts for normal prosecution, perhaps he is going to take matters into his own hands. If that's the case he will need a crazy amount of evidence, he certainly doesn't want to kill an innocent person. If he's certain it's Kodos perhaps he will take the vengeance route rather than justice. And best of all, when he's confronted with this he admits that it is a possibility and he's not even sure what he will do. That last line seemed to be him justifying to himself that vengeance is a reasonable path.

Sheer Brutality or Tough Leadership?

Another very interesting thing that was brought up in this episode is what Kodos did twenty years ago. It seems that he was the leader of a colony and their food supply was nearly gone. They had 8000 people, but only enough food to feed 4000 of them before their resupply would get there. He decided to kill half of the people so the other half would live. Tragically, the resupply ships arrived ahead of schedule and the deaths were completely unnecessary. It would seem that he is a brutal monster.

But is it that simple? Suppose the supply ships had not been early. In that case, the 4000 people would have survived and the other 4000 who were killed would have died a painless death. If Kodos had not acted all 8000 people would have died a slow painful death. Without the surprising rescue, what he did would be brutal for sure, and yet necessary for the safety of the maximum number of people possible. (note: this is a little hard to say for sure with food, but I've seen this story play out with oxygen elsewhere, it's a bit more clear cut then, but the moral difficulty is the same) Not that what he did was necessarily the best solution, but to do nothing and let everyone die is obviously not the best answer either.

Of course, we also have the way he enacted this plan. There was some reference to the fact that he used some form of Eugenics. Kodos personally decided who lived and died. Certainly there are certain things you need to be careful of in such a plan, you need to make sure you keep enough people alive with all of the skills necessary to run the colony, but having one guy just pick and choose is obviously a problem.

Future Technology From the Past

One final thing I want to add here, there was a scene where they were comparing the voice output of the actor with the old voice output from Kodos, it was of course two big pieces of paper and they were checking the differences. I just love to see old visions of the future.



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Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Menagerie: TOS Season 1 Episode 11 & 12

Plot Synopsis

This is certainly an interesting episode, the original pilot "the cage" was only shown to the television executives. They wanted to repackage that episode and deliver it to the public, so they combined it with another story and made it a two-parter. According to the wikipedia page, with all of their special effects they were having trouble getting things done on time, so this not only kept them from wasting the footage of the original pilot, but it also gave them some breathing room.

We start the episode with the enterprise coming to a starbase, which is apparently an unscheduled visit. Kirk insists that they were called there and the guy in charge of the starbase insists that it didn't happen. Kirk says the only possibility is that Spock lies, which is impossible since he's Vulcan. Of course, he's half human, but that part of him is repressed so it still seems impossible. We soon find out that indeed Spock is behind all of this as he sneaks around and uses recordings of various voices to take control of the Enterprise.

The reasons for doing this are not immediately clear, but we do know that it has something to do with Captain Pike and the forbidden planet Talos 4. Breaking the quarantine is the only thing left that still holds the death penalty. Captain Pike was seriously injured in an accident, he was saving children from a fire, or building collapse, or...something, I forget. The point is, he helped a bunch of people but got really hurt in the process. He is confined to a wheelchair and can only communicate through beeps (one for yes, two for no) but his mind works perfectly.

Shortly after Spock has taken the Enterprise and is en route to Talos 4, Kirk figures out what is going on and follows in a shuttle, he won't be able to catch up, but once he runs out of fuel and is stuck Spock goes back to pick him up and submits for a court marshal. But he has the computer set to autopilot to go to Talos 4, and he somehow tied the engines in with life-support so it can't be canceled. We proceed with the trial in which Spock shows evidence which basically consists of showing The Cage interspersed with scenes of the trial. 

The rest of it was pretty much the same except for the ending. In the Cage, when they let the Enterprise crew go and the girl stayed, a copy of Pike was left there for her to love. In this episode, they seemed to just let the Enterprise crew go and she stayed there, apparently alone. Then they cut back to the ship and Pike was sent down the the planet to be with the Talosians who could give him the illusion of having a body, and effectively escape the confines of his broken body. Then they cut to the same scene with Pike and the girl. I like this ending much better, as the illusion of Pike staying behind always made me a bit uncomfortable.


Spock: This may or may not be the first time we've seen this, but they talked about how Vulcan's can't lie and therefore Spock shouldn't be able to, but he might be able to break this as he's half human. (Episodes 4 and 5 mentioned that he was half human, but I don't think it has mentioned that Vulcans can't lie yet)

Enterprise: Again, not exactly a character, but learning things about the ship sort of fits in the same category. We learn that the events of The Cage happened 13 years ago, but the opening credits say the ship is on a 5 year mission. I never really thought about it before, but I guess the ship had been around longer in the past, and it is just embarking on this particular 5 year mission recently. I had always assumed that the 5 year mission started when the Enterprise was first built, apparently not.



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Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Corbomite Maneuver: TOS Season 1 Episode 10

Plot Synopsis

The Enterprise is once again farther out than anyone ever has been before. They were soon blocked by a cube in space. As they tried to move away from it, the cube compensated and stayed in their way. It was also emitting some kind of radiation so they needed to get away from it. When the situation began, Kirk was getting his quarterly physical, so he didn't see the red alert right away. This was great for two reasons, first, it was an excuse to have Kirk with his shirt off again, and two, it allowed Bones to deliver the line "What am I, a doctor or a moon shuttle conductor?" Great stuff

Kirk gets to the bridge and asks for an update. Spock says they are caught in fly-paper, an apt analogy. Given that communications are not being returned they have a few options. They can sit and wait for whoever put them in that trap, but they throw out that idea as it just shows weakness. This leaves them the options of destroying the cube or trying to get away from it. They decide to first try to get away, but it matches their every move and the radiation gets worse so they are forced to eventually destroy it. Kirk is not deterred and continues moving forward. 

After a bit of time goes by, another ship shows up, a gigantic sphere. It gets them in a tractor beam and scans their ship. It is quickly apparent that it is far superior to the Enterprise, it gives them "ten Earth time periods, known as minutes" to get their affairs in order and then it is going to destroy them. Spock compares their situation to a game of chess and they are definitely losing. Kirk instead compares it to a game of poker and performs a pretty epic bluff. He says that starfleet ships all have a secret material in their hull call Corbomite, any attacking ship will get their weapons bounced back to them. No ship has ever been destroyed, instead the attacker always loses. The big ship decides against destroying the enterprise and instead is going to tow them...somewhere, with a smaller ship.

They figure that the small ship must have limited power and the tractor beam must use up a lot of that power, so they slowly turn their engines on to work against the tow and to drain power from the small ship. At some point the little ship is incapacitated and the Enterprise gets away. They are all set to run off, but they realize the little ship is sending out a distress signal and the big ship is too far away to receive it. Some people still want to run away, but Kirk points out that finding new life is their mission, and they beam over to the little ship. It turns out that this whole thing was a test by an alien (who looks like a little kid) to see how they would react. The scan suggested they would pass the test, but those records can be manipulated, he couldn't know until he really did it. Everyone had a good laugh

Does it make sense?

I really like the idea of this episode. A stronger being pretending to be weaker and seeing how we react. It goes a long way to see someone's true nature when they think they have the upper hand. How do they treat people who are in a position of weakness. Of course they will treat you well if they think you can squish them, but if the tables are turned will they squish you or treat you fairly? But I have a few problems with their execution here.

1. The cube. Their initial contact with these people did not leave them with choices. It didn't let them retreat, it refused to communicate, and it almost killed them with radiation forcing them to destroy it. I suppose there was some aspect of a test here that they kept moving forward after they destroyed the cube, but it seems like with that framework much more could have been done. (the cube could have let them retreat, or there could have been a simple message transmitted that would test them in some way.

2. The sphere. What exactly was the test that was being conducted when the enormous sphere was going to kill them all in 10 minutes? Again, he wasn't letting them get away, and the communication was minimal. Presumably Kirk would have failed the test if he had fired on the sphere, but when the timer was almost gone what other choice would he have?

3. The bluff. Did the alien really fall for the bluff, or was that all part of the plan?

It seems to me the ending of "I was testing you" was just added at the end because they didn't know how else to end it. Kind of a bummer and I really was digging the episode up until that point.



Other than the lame twist ending, I thought it was a pretty good episode

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dagger of the Mind: TOS Season 1 Episode 9

Plot Synopsis

Right at the start there is a bit of tension between Bones and Kirk as they have different opinions about prison in general. Kirk says he has been very impressed with the new type of prisons "they're more like resort colonies now". Bones responds that "A cage is a cage". Kirk says that Bones is behind the times, but he was having none of it. A little bit later on in the episode Spock has an amusing comment "Interesting, your people glorified organized violence for 40 centuries, but you imprison those who employ it privately". Anyway, they had to beam down some supplies to the penal colony and they brought back some mysterious classified box of stuff that they weren't supposed to look at. But it turned out that a prisoner (Gelder) had snuck aboard in the box and he soon he knocked out the transporter operator and stole his clothing.

Dr. Adams (the guy in charge of the penal colony) tells them that Gelder was very intelligent and dangerous. Which set up an expectation for me that they would have a lot of trouble catching him, but he pretty much went right to Kirk and requested asylum. They knocked him out and took him to sickbay, and intended to return him to the penal colony but Bones thought that something was up and insisted that he keep Gelder aboard to study him. He quickly discovered that Gelder seemed to have fragments of memories, but there was a lot of missing information. He also discovered that Gelder had been a doctor. Something is definitely amiss! When they arrived back at the penal colony Bones remained on board to continue studying Gelder, so he sent Dr. Noel along with Kirk to go down to the planet to check things out. Hilariously, Kirk had previously hit on Dr. Noel at a Christmas party and was annoyed that Bones had sent her. He said she had better be the best choice for the job

When they get down to the planet they meet Dr. Adams and a number of other people who seem to be working for him. Everyone except for Dr. Adams has a blank look on their faces, it seems very strange indeed. Dr. Noel for some reason is very invested in Dr. Adams, because she seems blind to all of the strange stuff that they are seeing. Kirk is asking a lot of questions, and focuses on a strange looking machine which includes a prisoner sitting in a chair getting his mind manipulated. Kirk thinks Adams is being evasive, so he comes back later to investigate with Dr. Noel. He sits in the chair and she uses the machine to implant memories into his mind. She starts making him feel hungry, and then tries something a bit more difficult, she makes him remember that Christmas party with him taking her back to his quarters.

Adams catches them and takes over the controls. We see his real methods as he turns the intensity of the machine up and tells him that if he remembers what really happened here he would be consumed with great pain. Luckily, Dr. Noel was able to get away. In the meantime Spock does a mind meld (the first ever!) with Gelder to find out the horrible things that Adams has been doing. Being afraid of what is happening on the planet with the captain, he prepares to beam down but can't get through while the shields are up. Luckily, on the planet Dr. Noel is turning off the power. In addition to allowing Spock a chance to get down to the planet, it saves Kirk from the chair. Kirk then kicks Adam's ass and he winds up in the room by himself. When the power comes back on Adams is hit with the full force of the machine. His mind is emptied, but there is no one there to fill the void. This kills him. We get another very nice "he's dead captain" from Bones.

Bones says that it is hard to believe that he would be killed from this machine, Kirk responds "not when you've sat in that room"


Spock: We learn about the mind meld. It's pretty cool to see the first instance of something that wound up being so iconic. As the writing in these seems to be pretty "seat of their pants", I imagine it was just thrown in without much thought for the convenience of this episode and it just became a mainstay later.

Kirk: The scene where Kirk first realizes that Dr. Noel was going to accompany him was pretty amusing. He seems like a ladies man as he has clearly at least flirted with her in the past, but he is also somewhat embarrassed by her being there.

Bones: Dr. McCoy was the first to think that something was up with Dr. Adams, and he stuck to his guns even when everyone else seemed to think he was wrong. It was really great to see him stand up to the challenge.

First time

In addition to the mind meld which I mentioned above, they mentioned that they can not beam through shields. It makes me wonder if the very idea of beaming produces some clear writing problems and they decided to make the rule that they can't beam through shields to set limits to transporting.


Obviously the big theme of this episode was prison. Bones was against the very idea of prison, no matter how nice things are. Kirk was more focused on the fact that the prisons are very nice and not the cages the we all imagine as a typical prison. I think Kirk was more focused on the practical implications (we need to do something with criminals) while Bones was being more idealistic.



Very enjoyable, and I love that I got to see the first instance of a few things that became prominent later in the Star Trek universe.

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