Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the writer Alice. Her five-year mission: to recap every episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, to post them to this blog, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
And as she goes, she’ll keep her eyes open for the following items:
- Kirk Fu wouldn’t actually help you; it’d probably get you killed instead.
- Roddenberry predicts SCIENCE!
- Space Husbands (Spock/Kirk), Space Boyfriends (Spock/McCoy), and Space Biffles (Kirk/McCoy), oh my!
- Doomed Crewmen Aren’t Always Redshirts (but they usually are)
- The Bridge Crew fulfills their job requirements.
- Social issues are addressed.
- Bones is adorable/grumpy (which is the same thing to me)
- WTF?! moments are my fav.
- WTF?! aliens are also my fav.
- They referenced this in the reboot films!
- Mark Jefferies was a genius!
- Catchphrase running tally:
- Bones–He’s dead
- Chapel–Doctor!/Doctor McCoy!
- Chekov–anything regarding Russia
- Kirk–Kirk out
- Scotty–the laws of physics
- Sulu–repeats an order
- Uhura–Hailing frequencies open
- The Prime Directive doesn’t matter because Kirk knows best.
- Omg, costumes!
- The sexism is rampant and makes me feminist rant.
The Naked Time is one of those episodes that you show your friends when they tell you they think TOS is boring. Because it’s ridiculous and wonderful. Also, Sulu.
Captain’s Log. Our position, orbiting Psi 2000, an ancient world, now a frozen wasteland, about to rip apart in its death throes. Our mission, pick up a scientific party below, observe the disintegration of the planet.
Spock and Tormolen are down on the Hoth-like planet wearing shower curtains:
They’re there to escort the science team back to the Enterprise, but there’s a small problem–they’re all dead. So Spock and Tormolen split up and search for clues. While Spock’s in the other room, Tormolen, like a dummy, takes off his glove to scratch his nose. Dude, you’re wearing a scifi Hazmat suit, you should probably keep it on and, y’know, protecting you. After the glove gets back on the idiot’s hand, Spock returns and tells him:
Be certain we expose ourselves to nothing.
Too late for Toromolen, Spock. The guy took his safety glove off and something orange literally jumped onto his hand. For realsies. But we ignore that for the moment because we’re given this:
Spock: Spock here. Do you read, Enterprise?
Kirk [OC]: Kirk, affirmative.
Spock: All station personnel are dead.
Kirk [OC]: What caused it?
Spock: Unknown, Captain. It’s like nothing we’ve dealt with before.
[super awesome dramatic music]
Firstly, the music is ridiculous in this episode. It’s all super dramatic and reminds you that everything’s tense and you should be appropriately worried at the right times. I love it when the music tells me how to feel on cheesy episodes. It makes me smile.
Secondly, of course it’s like nothing you’ve ever dealt with before, Spock. There are people dead from turning off their own life support systems on a decaying planet and someone died while taking a shower with his clothes on. This is all sorts of weird and we’re only on episode four, so of course you guys haven’t encountered this much weird before.
Also, if it wasn’t weird or if it was something you’ve dealt with before, it would be a really boring episode. Just saying.
After the opening credits, Spock and Tormolen are decontaminated by the Transporter, which is a cool thing for it to be able to do and actually really necessary and clever, and then they’re sent to Sick Bay where Kirk will meet them eventually.
In Sick Bay, McCoy’s finishing up Tomolen’s exam and declares him “fine.” McCoy, you master of understatement. Where’s my witty old-timey phraseology?
Spock gets on the tilting biobed and the monitor’s indicators go haywire because Vulcans are different from Humans and no one in Starfleet though to give the medical equipment a baseline for other races. Way to go, Starfleet Medical Engineers.
McCoy: Mr. Spock. Your pulse is 242, your blood pressure is practically nonexistent, assuming you call that green stuff in your veins blood.
Spock: The readings are perfectly normal for me, Doctor, thank you. And as for my anatomy being different from yours, I am delighted.
Whoa there, guys. There are other people in the Sick Bay with you. #3
What I love most about this little exchange isn’t the rampant Space Boyfriends-ness of it, but the few details they give us about how Vulcans differ from Humans. You know, aside from the obvious ears and eyebrows. Their pulse and their blood pressure are both ridiculous and they have green blood. That’s awesome. And it explains a bit why the makeup department chose to make Leonard Nimoy’s base somewhat yellowish. His blood has copper in it while ours has iron, so he has very yellow undertones compared to our reddish.
I love Vulcans; they’re awesome in so many ways.
My third favorite thing in this scene? This:
But before I can fangirl too much over that, Kirk walks in.
Kirk: How are they?
McCoy: They’re fine, Jim.
Tormolen: Terrible, Captain. It was terrible. They were just sitting, like they didn’t care. Whatever was happening, they didn’t care. I keep wondering–
Kirk: You keep wondering if man was meant to be out here. You keep wondering, you keep signing on.
God, I love Kirk.
Kirk sends Tormolen to go rest because he’s obviously very upset about the dead science team. And just before he leaves, Tormolen freaks out about his clammy hands a little. But we’re spared the reaction of a grown man to a very normal biological happening because we join Kirk, Spock, Scotty, McCoy, and Rand in the Briefing Room.
Spock’s giving everyone a tour of the science base via a video he did not have time to record, and telling everyone how each member of the science team died. They discuss what might have caused it and McCoy suggests that it wasn’t drugs or intoxication because the tricorder said so, but Scotty’s like, well maybe it’s something new that the tricorders aren’t rigged to look for and this makes me want to hug Scotty and never let him go.
They move quickly on from the dead scientists to the other part of their mission, to gather data on a dying planet for Starfleet. Spock reminds everyone they need to be at top efficiency due to how tight an orbit they’ll need to maintain. Kirk asks Scotty if it’s doable, since there will be no room for error, to which Scotty replies:
Unless you people on the Bridge start taking showers with your clothes on, my engines can pull us out of anything. We’ll be warping out of orbit within a half second of getting your command.
Scotty’s complete faith in the Enterprise and his own engineers is amazing and it makes me grin whenever he demonstrates it. Also, foreshadowing, ooooooooh!
Uhura reports from the Bridge that the planet has begun dying and we cut to Sulu and Riley entering the Rec Room for their lunch break. And they’re talking about fencing, which is totally awesome, #10. Sulu’s trying to convince Riley of the benefits of practicing fencing (the results of such benefits will be very apparent later) and they join Tormolen, who is still acting weird. Because he snaps at Sulu for pretty much no reason at all.
Sulu and Riley have to get back to the Bridge, but they want to make sure Tormolen’s all right first. Because they’re genuinely good guys. But unfortunately, Tormolen just freaks out some more:
We’re all a bunch of hypocrites. Sticking our noses into something that we’ve got no business. What are we doing out here, anyway?
We bring pain and trouble with us; leave men and women stuck out on freezing planets until they die. What are we doing out here in space? Good? What good? We’re polluting it, destroying it. We’ve got no business being out here. No business.
If a man was supposed to fly, he’s have wings. If he was supposed to be out in space, he wouldn’t need air to breathe, wouldn’t need life-support systems to keep him from freezing to death.
We don’t belong here. It’s not ours. Not ours. Destroying and watching. We don’t belong. I don’t belong. Six people died down there. Why do I deserve to live?
Which is actually a decent monologue and I may use it for a future audition.
Tormolen’s got what appears to be a butter knife.
Sulu and Riley try to convince him to put the knife down during his Monologue of Despair, but he doesn’t. The three struggle for possession of the knife and in the struggle, Tormolen manages to get himself stabbed. With a butter knife.
Riley immediately calls for assistance from the medical department because, again, he’s a decent fellow. And then he notices his hands are sweaty and is properly concerned about sweaty palms directly after a physical altercation. I don’t understand this reaction, I really don’t.
Later, on the Bridge, we’ve got Riley and Sulu at their posts with Kirk supervising. And we learn that the planet’s gravity is increasing because it’s shrinking in mass and it’s affecting its magnetic field. The Enterprise is going to have to continuously adjust and compensate to maintain standard orbit (which I’m going to have to look up because I’m genuinely curious and surprised I don’t already know it).
Let’s deviate for a moment and talk about standard orbit since I’ve just found the page on the Star Trek wiki. While the page doesn’t discuss standard orbit specifically, it mentions that standard may be synonymous with high orbit, which is defined as:
A form of orbit in which the starship maintains a large distance from the planet’s surface for safety reasons but is still close enough to use the transporter. The USS Voyager parked in high orbit over Earth, when it visited the planet in 1996, at an altitude of 20,000 kilometers. (Voyager, The Future’s End)
Spock even remarks in a later episode, The Savage Curtain (which deals with natural instinct vs. learned or conditioned instinct in an inventive manner), that the Enterprise was 643 miles, 2,021 feet, 2.04 inches above the surface of Excalbia.
If we take this information and lump it together, we can probably very safely assume that standard orbit is one in which they do not exceed the distance the transporter can reach, but also do not put the ship in any danger from the planet below them be it atmosphere or surface to air weaponry. This probably changes depending on the planet and the circumstances.
In the case of Psi 2000, they’re probably on the very outer edge of the transporter’s reach seeing as the planet’s going to eventually implode and Scotty needs some buffer space to get them out of there in a hurry. Just in case. With the planet condensing itself, the helmsman and navigator will need to adjust their orbit to maintain the orbit they require for their study of the dying planet. The planet itself, however, is trying to pull the ship down to it, so it’s not a matter of having to get closer to it, but needing to keep proper distance from it. It’s all very tense.
Spock and Kirk take a moment to discuss Tormolen and his accident:
Kirk: Tormolen’s record?
Spock: Psychiatric file, personality quotients.
Kirk: Was he trying to kill himself?
Spock: It’s doubtful he meant to. He was confused, self-tortured.
Kirk: Doesn’t sound like the man I know.
Spock: His capacity for self-doubt has always been rather high. What puzzles me is what brought it to the surface with so much force.
I adore this exchange. I really, truly do. It showcases that Kirk is the sort of captain who does his best to know his crew. To know their personalities, their interests, their records. He isn’t just a figurehead, not just a commanding officer. He wants to know his people so he can know the best way to use them to serve Starfleet. It’s fantastic.
Meanwhile, McCoy’s operating on Tormolen to sew him up and save him (#5). And nothing’s working. Which is somewhat depressing seeing as McCoy’s one of the best surgeons in Starfleet and Tormolen’s wounds weren’t very severe. Seeing as he stabbed himself with a butter knife. (I will never get over this death because it’s ridiculous, #8.)
We can’t focus too much on what’s happening in the Sick Bay, though, because on the Bridge, Riley’s losing his focus to the point that Kirk himself had to compensate for the gravitational pull of the planet. He scolds Riley, who acknowledges his error, McCoy requests Kirk’s presence in the Sick Bay, and then this:
Spock: Planet breakup is imminent, Captain. Shrinking in size at an increasing rate. As the planet continues to shrink in size, it’s surface moves away from us.
Kirk: Forcing us to spiral down to maintain the same distance from it.
Spock: Exactly. We must be prepared to respond instantly to any sudden change.
Kirk: Engine Room from Bridge.
Scott [oc]: Scott here, Captain.
Kirk: Tie into the helm, Scotty. If we should call for power, we’ll want it fast.
Scott [oc]: No problem, sir. You’ll have it.
Honestly, as a writer, I feel like they’re really trying to hammer home how much danger the crew is in by repeatedly bringing up the need to make a quick getaway. I totally understand why they’re doing this as they set up what’s going to happen for the rest of the episode, but we’re only fifteen minutes into the forty-five minute episode and they’ve mentioned it at least five times. I get that there are some things that need repeating, but I don’t think this is one of them. Star Trek audiences are not stupid. We watch Star Trek, for glob’s sake.
Anyways, Kirk decides everything’s fine on the Bridge and heads down to Deck 7 and Sick Bay to see what McCoy wants. And Sulu decides it’s time to play hooky:
Sulu: Don’t know if it’s this planet or what happened with Joe; I’m sweating like a bridegroom.
Riley: Yeah, me too.
Sulu: Hey, why don’t you come down to the gym with me, Kevin m’lad?
Sulu: Why not? Light workout will take the edge off.
Riley: Sulu, what about–Hey, Sulu, don’t be a fool!
But it’s too late, Sulu has left the Bridge. And he’s just abandoned his post while on duty. Which is not something taken lightly in any sort of militaristic organization. Also, he’s the helmsman, so him taking off to go workout while he’s supposed to be working is doubly bad.
I do want to point out the language used in this exchange. I’m not sure if it’s typical of most or all shows of the late ’60s, but I love it. The word choice is refreshingly different from what we hear on the streets or in our media today. And as will be apparent in my coming post about Ripper Street, I’ve been having a love affair with language the past few months.
In the Sick Bay, McCoy’s reasonably upset that he lost a patient:
McCoy: Intestinal damage wasn’t that severe. I got to him in plenty of time. That man should still be alive. The only reason he died, Jim, is he didn’t want to live. He gave up.
Kirk: That’s a supposition, Doctor, not a fact.
McCoy: Well, that may be. Maybe. I’ve lost patients before, but not like that. Not Joe’s kind. That kind of man doesn’t give up.
Kirk: Coincidence? Maybe.
McCoy: You mean that Joe was down on the planet surface and you’re gonna ask me if it’s connected.
Kirk: That’s exactly what I was going to ask.
McCoy: Jim, he was decontaminated. He’s been medically checked. We’ve run every test we know for everything we know.
Kirk: That’s not good enough.
McCoy: Well, we’re doing everything that’s possible.
Kirk: Bones, I want the impossible checked out, too.
Kirk, love, you’re asking for miracles. But this conversation beautifully sets up the main plot of the episode. I really honestly love it when Kirk asks for miracles, because it demonstrates that he knows without a doubt that his crew is capable of being exceptionally spectacular and that’s what makes him Best Captain. #5
Back on the Bridge (I really feel like we jump around a lot in this ep, so you should probably take some motion sickness meds or something), Spock notices that Sulu’s vanished and he runs to the helm to compensate for the gravitational pull:
Riley pretty much refuses to tell Spock where Sulu scuttled off to and instead starts going off on how one Irishman (himself) is worth ten thousand of everyone else. Spock relieves Riley of his duties, putting Uhura at Navigation and Rand (not Janice; it’s a dude) at Helm, and sending him to the Sick Bay, because obviously, he’s gone bananas. Riley saunters out and Spock requests Kirk return to the Bridge.
Ladies and gents, we’re at the point in the episode where the shenanigans begin. Buckle up; it’s gonna be fun.
In Sick Bay, because Riley actually went there, but not to get himself examined or anything, he bumps into Nurse Chapel as she writing her report on Tormolen.
Riley: Where’s Joe?
Riley: He died, didn’t he?
Riley: You know something? You have such lovely eyes, pretty lady.
[He touches her face.]
Riley, that’s not an appropriate response to finding out your friend bit it.
Chapel: I know he was a friend of yours. This must be a terrible shock.
Riley: You know what Joe’s mistake was? He wasn’t born an Irishman.
Then he swaggers out and Chapel notices that her previously not-clammy hands are now clammy.
There are no words to describe how much I love and adore Majel Barrett’s Christine Chapel. She acknowledged the character wasn’t a very strong woman, something we’ll get into later in a few episodes in What Are Little Girls Made Of? But she still played her with that sort of gentle strength I see in my mom when she’s doing mom things. Like comforting someone or being the voice of emotional reason. I seriously, seriously, seriously love her. And not just as Chapel. I get to squee over her as Number One in the original pilot when we get to The Menagerie Parts One and Two.
So we leave Chapel looking very confused because she wasn’t engaged in any strenuous activity and now she has sweaty hands. Weird. And an appropriate response, actually. Well done. But when we leave Chapel, we go to the corridors on another deck, I’m guessing it might be where the crews’ quarters are located, and we’re given this:
So obviously, Sulu’s gone off the rails and is running about the ship brandishing his foil and calling everyone he meets “Richelieu” and challenging them to a duel. When they scarper, he declares them cowards and laughs maniacally.
And things are officially bonkers.
Back on the Bridge, Kirk is totally unaware that his crew is starting to go mad:
Kirk: What were their symptoms?
Spock: Nonviolent at this stage. Slightly disoriented. Riley seemed rather pleased with himself, as if he were–
Kirk: Irrational, or drugged.
Okay, well maybe he’s starting to get the idea that something’s up. Because he definitely has Uhura put security protocols in place, ordering Sulu and Riley to both be confined and for anyone who comes into contact with them to report to Sick Bay for a once over.
Before she can comply, though, Uhura gives the report that Sulu’s chasing people with a sword and Nichelle’s expression is precious:
Spock: Fascinating. A pattern is developing. First, Tormolen. Hidden personality traits being forced to the surface. Then Riley, who fancies himself a descendant of Irish Kings, and now Sulu, who is at heart a swashbuckler out of your 18th century.
Firstly, Spock, I wouldn’t necessarily say that Sulu’s a swashbuckler at heart seeing as he’s got a ridiculous amount of hobbies that also include collecting antique firearms. I’d say he’s a massive history nerd. And really, is this any time for speculation and analysis when the helm decides to not respond?
Kirk’s like, “Whoa, not good. Warp us out of here.” But that doesn’t work, either. And before Kirk can get into contact with Scotty down in Engineering, Sulu appears on the Bridge, leaping into action, brandishing his sword and calling the Captain “Richelieu.” Kirk tries to take the sword from Sulu, but discovers the point is sharp and I’m sitting here, thinking, “Kirk, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen you do. Way to go.” See? My Captain is not infallible.
Since Kirk’s clearly not able to get Sulu to surrender, Uhura tries her hand at it and is instantly captured by him. Which would normally piss me off and get me started on a rant about damselling female characters, but this happens before I can open my mouth:
Sulu: I’ll protect you, fair maiden.
Uhura: Sorry, neither.
And instead of ranting, I’m cheering because Uhura is a Self-Rescuing Princess!
With Sulu distracted by Uhura’s escape, Kirk is able to grab the helmsman and Spock delivers the first Neck Pinch (I believe):
With Sulu properly incapacitated and carted off to Sick Bay, Kirk discovers that Scotty is not in Engineering. But who could possibly be in Engineering if not Scotty, you ask?
This is Captain Kevin Thomas Riley of the starship Enterprise.
Eeyup. Now we’re in trouble.
Kirk argues with Riley for a minute or two, trying to get him to relinquish control of Engineering to Scotty, but to no avail. And Spock decides to be helpful by reminding us what’s currently at stake:
Spock: Captain. At our present rate of descent, we have less than twenty minutes before we enter planet atmosphere.
Kirk: And burned up. I know, Mister Spock.
The Captain’s having none of your shit, Spock. He’s stressed out enough as it is.
After the commercial break, Kirk delivers his handy-dandy summary:
Captain’s Log, Stardate 1704.4. Ship out of control, spiraling down towards planet Psi 2000. We have nineteen minutes of life left without engine power of helm control.
And we rejoin Kirk with Scotty outside Engineering, trying to get through the bulkhead door.
Kirk: How did Riley get in there?
Scott: He ran in, said you wanted us on the Bridge.
Kirk: He’s cut off both helm and power.
Scott: And he shut the door behind us and locked off the mechanism.
Kirk: Can’t you get to the auxiliary?
Scott: I can’t. He’s hooked everything through the main panel in there. [to Redshirt] Get up to my office and pull the plans for this bulkhead. [to Kirk] The only way to get that door open is to cut through these wall circuits here.
It’s established canon that Scotty’s got an office and I want to see it. I bet it’s got little half-finished experiments and wires everywhere.
Up on the Bridge, Spock’s pacing and giving orders that the Bridge crew is having difficulty in following because Riley’s screwing around. And singing. Poorly. Uhura gives the security alert order over the comm, and when Kirk enters, he tells her to continue the alert that suddenly stopped. But she can’t. Because Riley cut off the alert channels. And then Riley scolds her:
Lieutenant Uhura, you’ve interrupted my song. I’m sorry, but there’ll be no ice cream for you tonight.
Kirk and Uhura work to cut Riley off from his broadcasting, but they can’t because he controls the main power panels and can override any channel from Engineering. Which seems like a problematic design, but I can see why they would do something like that. In the event the ship is commandeered at the Bridge, they’d be able to maintain or regain control from Engineering. But right now, it’s a problem.
The ship jolts and McCoy calls up from Sick Bay, requesting Kirk to keep the ship steady because he’s trying to run tests on Sulu. #5
McCoy [oc]: So far there’s nothing unusual in his bloodstream. Body functions seem normal.
Kirk: Riley’s the immediate problem, Doctor. Is there any way, anything you can do to snap him out of it?
McCoy [oc]: Negative, until I can get a little farther on these tests.
And meanwhile, Riley’s issuing ridiculous orders regarding how the female crewmen do their hair and makeup. They’re not there for your viewing pleasure, dude. And then he starts singing again and Kirk’s like, “Please, not again.”
Right now, instead of trying to break into Engineering, Scotty’s working in a Jefferies Tube to reroute helm control to the Bridge to at least keep the ship stabilized. Yay, Scotty! #5
Spock: Sixteen minutes left, Captain. We’ve stabilized, but still spiraling down.
Uhura: Emergency signal, Captain. Both decks four and five. Fights and disorders.
Kirk: Get me Sick Bay.
Uhura: I have no intercom for Sick Bay. He keeps switching channels on me.
Kirk: [to Spock] See what you can do to help Dr. McCoy. Better check Scotty first. Move him faster. He’s got to get through that bulkhead.
I felt all stressed and tense just typing that for you.
Spock decides to go down to Engineering personally to check on Scotty. As he goes, he runs into various sick crewmen. One’s laughing like a loony after painting on the walls and another’s harassing Janice Rand.
Outside Engineering, Scotty’s working to cut through to the bulkhead wiring:
And Spock shows up, being his usual cheerful and charming self:
Spock: Message from the Captain.
Scott: Tell him I’m doing my best. If I cut through the wrong circuits–
Spock: We have fourteen minutes left.
Scott: Even if we were under a full-scale attack I couldn’t move any faster, not and maintain a safety factor.
Spock: At the rate you’re proceeding, calculations show that you’ll take a minute a half more than we have left. You can’t afford a safety factor.
Okay. You listen to me, Spock, and you listen well. You’re a freaking ray of sunshine right now. You get that, right? You just keep reporting and reminding everyone of bad news without them asking you to do so. This is not helping. You’re just stressing them out further. They get there’s a time crunch. They really do.
And another thing, you keep reporting the time the crew has left. And while that might seem logical to remind people of how much longer they’re going to live, it feels to me that you’re doing it as an emotional response to your current situation, like you’re already quietly freaking out. Telling Scotty he’s taking too long doesn’t seem logical. Not really. On the surface it does, but when you say crap like, “You can’t afford a safety factor” to a man like Scotty, it just reeks of emotionalism on your part.
Scotty is all about being a good Engineer while making sure everyone around him is safe, even if he’s not. You don’t know what might happen if he doesn’t maintain his safety factor while cutting through that bulkhead. He could very well explode Engineering if he gets the wrong wire. You don’t know. You’re not an Engineer, Spock; you’re a scientist. Let the Engineer do his job without you telling him to cut corners and freaking him out further. His department, his baby has already been compromised; you’re not helping the situation.
Now. I’m done lecturing you, My Favorite Vulcan. Get your green-blooded ass up to Sick Bay. You’ll be more helpful there. I promise.
In Sick Bay, McCoy’s trying to get into contact with the biopsy lab to get his reports and he can’t. So he leaves to retrieve it himself, leaving Chapel alone with Sulu. But she’s acting strange, kind of dazed with a distance to her voice. A few minutes after McCoy leaves, Spock enters, looking for him. And this happens:
Spock: Nurse? Where is Dr. McCoy?
Chapel: He’s gone to the lab.
Spock: [trying the comm] Lab. Lab, respond please. Spock here. Lab!
Chapel: Mister Spock.
Spock: What is it, Nurse?
Chapel: Mister Spock. [takes his hand] The men from Vulcan treat their women strangely. At least, people say that, but you’re part human, too. I know don’t–you couldn’t–hurt me. Would you? I’m in love with you, Mister Spock. You. The Human Mister Spock, the Vulcan Mister Spock.
Spock: Nurse, you should–
Chapel: Christine. Please. I see things. How honest you are. I know how you feel. You hide it, but you do have feeling. Oh, how we must hurt you, torture you.
Spock: I’m in control of my emotions.
Chapel: The others believe that. I don’t. I love you. I don’t know why, but I love you. I do love you just as you are. Oh, I love you.
Spock: I’m sorry.
Firstly, I think it’s amazing they established Chapel’s love for Spock so early in the series. Secondly, this is all kinds weird. Obviously, they’re sick. If she weren’t, she would never have told him how she felt; she’s too shy. And if he weren’t, he wouldn’t be genuinely upset by this declaration from her. There’s emotion in his voice.
So, clearly, Spock has to skedaddle because his emotions are gaining control.
Outside Engineering, Kirk joins Scotty and gives the security team the order to set phasers to stun and to only fire if Riley’s armed. They make it inside and arrest Riley, whose only response to this is, “No dance tonight.” And then Scotty gets to work.
In the Briefing Room, Spock’s having an emotional meltdown:
This scene is always really hard for me to watch because Leonard Nimoy’s acting is damn near perfect as he tearfully and with frustration delivers this brief monologue:
I am in control of my emotions. Control of my emotions. I am an officer. An officer. My duty… My duty is–is… My duty is to… to… Too late. I’m sorry. To… Two, four, six… Six. Six times six.
He has to revert to maths to regain control over his emotions and I just want to take him home, make him a cup of tea, and have a discussion about relativistic physics. And I don’t know anything about relativistic physics. But the feels I get while watching this are the same I get while watching Sherlock’s breakdown in The Hounds of the Baskerville. Two men who are usually in complete control over their emotions, using logic and science to guide their way, are having emotional breakdowns and I’m reduced to tears. Every time. Can’t help it. If you only watch this episode for a single scene, let it be this one.
Back in Engineering, Uhura hails Kirk from the Bridge and informs him they’re entering the planet’s outer atmosphere when Scotty makes a terrifying discovery:
Kirk: What is it?
Scott: He’s turned the engines off. Completely cold. It will take thirty minutes to regenerate them.
Uhura [oc]: Ship’s outer skin is beginning to heat, Captain. Orbit plot shows we have about eight minutes left.
Scott: I can’t change the laws of physics [#12]. I’ve got to have thirty minutes. [commercial break] Maybe twenty-two, twenty-three minutes.
Kirk: Scotty, we’ve got six.
Scott: Captain, you can’t mix matter and anitmatter cold. We’d go up in the biggest explosion since–
Kirk: We can balance our engines into a controlled implosion.
Scott: That’s only a theory; it’s never been done… If you wanted to chance odds of ten thousand to one, maybe, assuming we had a row of computers working weeks on the right formula.
So we’re clearly in trouble. Scotty’s rambling off all this science that sounds just mad enough to work. And Kirk’s the sort of captain mad (or desperate to save his crew) enough to try it. But he needs Spock to figure out the formula. Because Spock’s the best at maths? Aside from Spock being First Officer and Kirk’s bff, I’m not really seeing the logic line that brings him to go hunting for the Vulcan. Maybe it’s narrative convenience. Or maybe he knew Spock knew enough controlled implosion formulae to have one stored in his brain that would help them in this situation.
In Sick Bay, Sulu wakes up screaming in pain, and then he’s totes confused since the last thing he knew, he was on the Bridge, being a helmsman, with McCoy standing over him ominously holding a hypo. But McCoy’s figured it out! #5
McCoy: McCoy to Bio. We’ve isolated it. Start preparing serum.
Harrison the Bio Tech [oc]: What, Doctor?
McCoy: It’s water. Somehow on this planet, water’s changed to a complex chain of molecules.
Harrison the Bio Tech [oc]: What’s that, Doctor?
McCoy: That’s how we missed it. It passed from man to man through perspiration. Once in the bloodstream, it acts like alcohol, depresses the centers of judgment, self-control. Now get someone to the lab. Tell them the serum works, and start preparing more.
Sulu’s released from his biobed and we hop on over to Briefing Room 2 in which Spock is still having a good cry when Kirk finds him:
I don’t feel like I can actually add anything to this scene, so you’re getting the transcript of it. Just know it’s a beautiful example of Shatner and Nimoy’s acting abilities and they’re perfect. Just saying.
Kirk: Where have you been? What happened?
Spock: My mother. I could never tell her I loved her.
Kirk: We’ve got four minutes, maybe five.
Spock: An Earth women, living on a planet where love, emotion, is bad taste.
Kirk: We’ve got to risk a full-power start. The engines were shut off. No time to regenerate them. [Beat] Do you hear me? We’ve got to risk a full-power start!
Spock: I respected my father, our customs. I was ashamed of my Earth Blood. [Kirk slaps him.] Jim, when I feel friendship for you, I’m ashamed.
[Kirk repeatedly hits Spock in an attempt to snap him out of his funk.]
Kirk: You’ve got to hear me! We need a formula. We’ve got to risk implosion!
Spock: Never been done! Understand, Jim. I’ve spent a whole lifetime learning to hide my feelings.
[Spock finally hits Kirk and starts to sober.]
Kirk: We’ve got to risk implosion. It’s our only chance.
Spock: It’s never been done.
Kirk: Don’t tell me that again, Science Officer! It’s a theory. It’s possible. We may go up into the biggest ball of fire since the last sun in these parts exploded, but we’ve got to take that one in ten thousand chance!
Uhura [oc]: Bridge to Captain. Engineer asked, did you find–
Kirk: Yes, I found Mister Spock! I’m talking to Mister Spock, do you understand?
Uhura [oc]: Yes, sir. Three and a half minutes left, Captain.
Kirk: I’ve got it, the disease. Love. You’re better off without it, and I’m better off without mine. This vessel, I give, she takes. She won’t permit me my life. I’ve got to live hers.
Kirk: I have a beautiful yeoman. Have you noticed her, Mister Spock? You’re allowed to notice her. The Captain’s not permitted.
Spock: Jim, there is an intermix formula.
Kirk: Now I know why it’s called she.
Spock: It’s never been tested. It’s a theoretical relationship between time and antimatter.
Kirk: Flesh woman to touch, to hold. A beach to walk on. A few days, no braid on my shoulder.
Kirk: Scotty, help.
Spock: Stand by to intermix. I’ll call the formulae in from the Bridge.
Uhura [oc]: Entering upper stratosphere, Captain. Skin temperature now 2,170 degrees.
Kirk: I’ve got to hang on. Tell them. Clear the corridors, the turbolift. [Scott and Spock leave; to Enterprise herself] Never lose you. Never.
If I had the attention span and the emotional drive required, I could write massively long articles regarding Spock’s emotional struggles and Kirk’s issues with his office and his feelings regarding the Enterprise. But I’ve been at this recap/analysis for more than four hours now and the end is in sight and I can’t right now. Some day, perhaps.
Anyway, Kirk makes his way to the Bridge, where McCoy immediately gives him a hypo.
And while Kirk’s cured, Spock’s still pretty much in command seeing as he’s the one working primarily with Scotty to do the cold implosion thingy with the engines (if the fake science was explained better, I could feel infinitely smarter than anyone else when it comes to fake science. Just sayin’). The engines implode properly, which is a weird thing to type, and they’re off, flying in the direction they came.
Spock: Obviously, we were successful. The engines imploded.
Sulu: Captain, my velocity gauge is off the scale.
Spock: Engine power went off the scale as well. We’re now travelling faster than is possible for normal space.
Kirk: Check elapsed time, Mister Sulu.
Sulu: My chronometer’s running backwards, sir.
Kirk: Time warp.
(I’m a terrible person and I should be punished. But not really, because I’m so not sorry. Everyone should enjoy the Time Warp from time to time.)
So, their speed and engine power shot them backwards in time, sending them three days into their past, and really opens up the Trek world to the question of time travel. And they utilize time travel several times in TOS and occasionally in the subsequent series. Most notably in the DS9 episode Trials and Tribble-ations.
But that’s the end of the ep, really. Everyone’s safe and they have some interesting theories to work with and report to Starfleet and most importantly, Spock is no longer having an emotional crisis.
What I loved about the episode:
This really opened Spock up to some deep scrutiny regarding his attempt to adhere to Kolinahr and his relationship with his parents and Kirk and McCoy. And Kirk’s relationship with the Enterprise. Seriously, some day I’m going to really explore these subjects and it’ll be long and in depth and verbose. Ye be warned.
What I would change:
Probably every time Spock reminded people of how long they had to live. As I said earlier, it seemed unnecessary and while it emphasized the dire-ness of their situation to the audience, it was added stress the crew did not need.
What I hated:
Again, Spock’s internal clock reminding everyone of their imminent doom.
Headcanons I developed because of this episode:
Spock truly cares for Nurse Chapel because he is genuinely sorry that he cannot love her the way she needs him to love her. Also, Uhura has a crush on Kirk. But a little one.
Catchphrase Tally for this episode: 2.5
.5 because we had an inverted catchphrase in which Nurse Chapel stole Bones’ and said, “He’s dead.” So, we’re at 8.5 for Season One.
Thanks for being so patient with me on this one. I had a ridiculous amount of technical difficulties with WordPress deciding to refresh the page and deleting everything I had typed. I would get through Tormolen’s Monologue of Despair and then, BAM, gone. So I gave up and then got distracted for… (April, May, June, July, August, September…) five and a half months? I had every intention to get this up, but I cannot focus on the important things sometimes.