Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What Are Little Girls Made Of? TOS Season 1 Episode 7

Plot Synopsis

We start the episode in orbit of the planet "Exo-III" where a brilliant scientist Roger Corby was apparently on the surface. He had gone missing a while ago and they think he is here. It is difficult to imagine he has survived on this planet, as the surface temperature stays below 100 degrees, but they guess that he perhaps stays underground. They get a transmission from Corby that only Kirk and his Fiancee Christine (who is a nurse on this Enterprise) should beam down. They comply, but when they beam down Corby isn't right there and Kirk thinks things are suspicious so he calls down a few security guys as well. It doesn't take long for these security personnel to be killed, one by a really scary looking guy

We finally meet up with Corby and he is acting very strangely. He certainly shows no compassion for the security who just died, and he refuses to let Kirk contact his ship. He's made some important scientific discoveries and he is afraid that they will be lost if they are not properly handled. He says
Do you realize the number of discoveres that have been lost because of superstition? Of ignorance, of a layman's inability to comprehend?
I certainly don't want shortsightedness to inhibit scientific discoveries (stem cell research comes to mind), but we really don't know what he's up to yet.

But we soon learn that Corby has been making androids based on the technology from the ancient race from this planet. Corby shows his servant android (pictured above) to everyone, but we soon learn that everyone down on the planet with Corby is an android, and ultimately Corby himself is revealed to be an android too. He was dying and transferred his mind into the android body, but he insists he is still himself.

But he's not himself any more. His emotions have been taken away, or at least changed significantly. He claims that everyone should be transferred to an android body, it would remove jealousy, greed, hate. Kirk retorts that it would also remove love and tenderness. Christine argues that he had no compassion for the people he is hurting and he is not acting like himself. He insists that he has constructed a perfect being, all of the benefits of humanity without the flaws. But it is clear that he doesn't even believe what he is saying and ultimately kills himself along with the hot servant android

Interesting Themes
  • What makes us human?
Obviously a major point of this episode was the question of what makes us human. Is it our flesh? What if we could transfer our brains into android bodies? Would we still be human? It took the position that even if we transfer our memories we lose something in the transfer. I would argue that it should be possible to make a better android and transfer mechanism to remove this, but it is still a really interesting topic, at what point would you not be human any more?
  • Is there a point when technology has gone too far?
The race that lived on the planet previously got wiped out by their own creations. At some point they tried to shut the android down, they rebelled and killed their creators. It reminds me of I Robot.
  • Programming consciousness is too complicated to really control
The hot girl android was supposed to be a simple machine to take commands, and yet it wound up having some emotions and acted unpredictably in the end. Even if we could make machines like this, should we? We would have to acknowledge that controlling them might not be possible.



I enjoyed this episode, but something is keeping me from giving it a higher score. I guess I would have liked to have seen some of those themes explored a little more deeply. It was certainly good fun, and a bit step up from last week.


  1. Not one of my favorite episodes, but it has more than a couple of moments going for it. For openers, Kirk recognizes that he is potentially in a bad position, once his security officers have been killed and he discovers Ruk, who is a clear threat. His injunction to Ruk not to disobey Christine reflects this, and Korby, not wanting to create undue friction, goes along.

    Then, when Korby is in the process of duplicating Kirk, Korby gets a bit too much into monologing about how perfect the clone of Kirk will be. Kirk recognizes this and makes sure that if Korby attempts to pass his clone off as the real thing on board the Enterprise, that at least ONE rather important person will realize the switch.

    One other moment in the episode which is worth mentioning is the interaction between Kirk and Ruk, where the captain draws Ruk out about the past and the Old Ones who made Ruk. Ruk tells Kirk that he was programmed by Korby and must remain loyal. Kirk reminds Ruk that his original creators programmed him, too, but it became possible and indeed necessary to act against them as well ... and Ruk has a breakthrough:

    Ruk: THAT was the equation. EXISTENCE!... SURVIVAL... must cancel out... programming!

    No, not the best of episodes ... but a fair distance from the worst.

    1. Yeah, that interaction between Ruk and Kirk was pretty cool, although it was a bit goofy as well. Actually, I think that might be a decent description of this episode as a whole, interesting ideas but the execution was always just a

      "Kirk recognizes this and makes sure that if Korby attempts to pass his clone off as the real thing on board the Enterprise, that at least ONE rather important person will realize the switch."

      I actually missed that. When the clone called Spock a half breed I figured it was just because the copy was a dick. Was Kirk focusing on that when he was being copied? Later when Kirk said "he got my message" I didn't know what he meant but it didn't register enough that I went back to look.

  2. Watch while Korby is yammering on about how the clone will be a near-perfect duplicate of Kirk. Kirk hears this and begins to repeat to himself, "Mind your own business, Mr. Spock. I'm tired of your half-breed interference." He did that with sufficient intensity and commitment that that meme was imprinted onto the clone.

    As I said, Kirk was very aware that he was in enemy territory, though it initially might not have seemed so to a casual observer, and he took every precaution he could to reinforce what for him was a very bad position. That the situation resolves before the cavalry arrives in the person of Mr. Spock doesn't change this. If Andrea hadn't malfunctioned and helped maintain Korby's position of advantage, Spock's efforts would doubtless have been much needed and appreciated.

    They say it's better to be lucky than good. Kirk is BOTH, mostly because he seizes on opportunities which advance his position.

    1. I don't know how I missed that, I guess I was focused on Korby's yammering :)

      And yeah I totally agree about Kirk being aware. Many people would have probably missed that the situation was so dangerous.

  3. I wonder what Data and Lore would think of such technology ... and the Enterprise's conclusions about it?

    1. Interesting point, particularly considering that the equipment Korby discovered was almost certainly taken aboard the Enterprise and returned either to Earth or some Federation science station. Question is, what happened to it after that time? Is it possible that not much was done about it until a young and aspiring cyberneticist named Noonien Soong came upon it and began to dig?

      No telling, really...

    2. I was thinking that the big difference between these androids and data/lore is that these ones are based on that alien technology. But Troubleshooter brings up an interesting point, it seems like a safe assumption that they would bring the tech home. It is certainly reasonable that data is at least somewhat based on these ones.

      Neat :)