One thing that comes up for me again and again while watching TOS is the general disrespect Spock receives. He is the executive officer of the ship and yet the crew do not treat him as they should.
Before that though we are introduced to Galactic High Commissioner Ferris – he will be our obstinate bureaucrat for the episode. For those that don’t not know the obstinate bureaucrat is it is a character who seems to exist purely for the purposes of standing in the way of the other characters.
In this case Kirk has stopped to investigate Murasaki 312 – and the commissioner is here to remind him of the ticking clock of the episode. The Enterprise has a deadline – the delivery of medical supplies. So rather than warping away, making their deliver, and coming back Kirk decides to stop for a scientific study.
A shuttle with seven people on board is drawn into the phenomenon and before you can say whoopsie doodle the shuttle loses contact with the Enterprise and crashes.
It is difficult to see this episode on its own. A shuttle crashing becomes a staple of Trek later on. In Star Trek: Voyager so many were lost. However this episode is the first shuttle crash.
I find myself agreeing with the High Commissioner. Kirk shouldn’t have sent out the shuttle party with such a small amount of time available.
Nevertheless the stakes are well established. Much of the Enterprise’s equipment will not function meaning that they will have to come within visual range of their people.
The shuttle crew find a planet to set down. In Star Trek there is always a convenient planet! And not just a planet but one with a breathable atmosphere.
We immediately set up the theme for the episode. Spock is logical.
Also McCoy is emotional since we are stating the obvious.
Spock tries the communication system. Scotty questions this as the system is unlikely to work.
I expect nothing, Mister Scott. It is merely logical to try all the alternatives.Spock (Star Trek: TOS: The Galileo Seven)
Meanwhile on the Enterprise another shuttle is launched as the transporters don’t work. This is not so good. Because, unfortunately, the shuttles are not exactly a formidable craft. Sorry, Master Bra’tak.
The Galileo doesn’t have enough fuel to reach escape velocity. They are 500 pounds over weight. Which is 226 kilograms. I don’t know why Starfleet is using pounds!
Since the shuttle has very little in excess weight the only option maybe for someone, or several someones, to stay behind. Either that or start running around the planet to lose weight!
To Spock the idea that someone may have to stay is treated as a logical reality of their situation. The crew respond calling Spock heartless.
The thing is these are military personal. I know Starfleet is not supposed to be a military but if it looks like a duck… so shouldn’t the idea of sacrifice have entered there minds? Do they not cover that in Starfleet training?
Spock is logical which means he would choose himself to die if that was the best chance for all the others.
If any minor damage was overlooked, it was when they put his head together.
Not his head, Mister Boma, his heart. His heart.Boma and McCoy (Star Trek: TOS: The Galileo Seven)
The the inevitable happens. Someone dies. I bet you didn’t see that coming did you? To be fair that particular trope hadn’t really become so much of a cliché yet – also the dead guy wasn’t in red.
Here is where I do want to levy some criticism at Spock. His obliviousness. When he sees that Latimer has been killed by one of the natives he focuses on the weapon used rather than the fact that someone is dead.
While Spock may not experience emotion he should surely understand them. To be clear I am not saying this is bad writing. On the contrary a character having a flaw is very welcome indeed.
There is a brief scene on the Enterprise but all that happens is we find out they are having no luck and Ferris reminds Kirk of the ticking clock.
On the planet the landing party are arguing. Mr Boma wants to have a service for Latimer. Spock feels it is a waste of time. On this one I have to side with Spock.
They are in a dangerous situation here. The focus needs to be on the still living crew members. I am reminded of Q Who from TNG. Eighteen crewmembers are killed in that episode and Geordi has to remind Ensign Gomez that right now the shields need to be their focus and they can grieve later.
Right now getting off this rock is there top priority. If they don’t get off this rock in a timely fashion they are all going to die. A service for Latimer can be done later. This would be different if there was no hurry but there is a hurry and they have other priorities. The humans support a violent response.
I am frequently appalled by the low regard you Earthmen have for lifeSpock (Star Trek: TOS: The Galileo Seven)
This is a rather odd statement given that they do have stun weapons. However it could be argued that since they know so little about these people that maybe it would be difficult to judge what setting to use. Gaetano and Boma’s insubordination is grating. It is not so much what they are saying as how they are saying it. I have been watching Stargate SG-1 recently and there are times when Carter or O’Neill disagree with orders but, on the whole, they are able to express their displeasure in constructive ways.
Meanwhile Scotty has a plan. Who else where you expecting to get them out of this mess? He will drain the phasers to use as a power sauce. The problem is that they are also their only defence against the natives but with no other choice that plan is a go.
And then… another one bites the dust…
Gaetano is presumed dead. And then confirmed dead. Spock picks up his body to return to the shuttle.
I think here he is showing a sign of beginning to understand. Taking the body back is illogical but he knows that it is what the humans will want.
Spock’s plan relies on his interpretation of what the natives will do. He predicts that the natives will be scared off by their superior fire power. Instead they attack.
They were perfectly predictable to anyone with feeling. You might as well admit it, Mister Spock, your precious logic brought them down on us.Doctor McCoy (Star Trek: TOS: The Galileo Seven)
The landing party continue to argue. This seems to be a constant theme of TOS – yelling at each other in times of crisis. Spock is different. He experiences the world in a way foreign to others. I am reminded of a line from Blake’s 7.
I have never understood why it should be necessary to become irrational in order to prove that you care, or, indeed, why it should be necessary to prove it at all.Avon (Blake’s 7: Duel)
That is a very Spock line. I think it explains perfectly the way Spock sees things.
Spock does care about the crew. However, as I said before, he will do what is best for the most people. As he will say later it is the needs of the many that are important. Spock would pull the lever in the trolley problem.
In regards to the the argument about the service of the dead. Spock is right. Such a thing is a luxury that they do not have time for. It wouldn’t exactly be good if they all died because they were having a funeral?
I do like that McCoy and Scotty eventually call Mr Boma out on his attitude.
Meanwhile, on the Enterprise, one of the search parties returns to the ship with one dead. And the Enterprise is forced to leave. Kirk being Kirk he does this as slow as possible to give the shuttle crew every last second.
The shuttle manages to lift off. Since they cannot maintain the orbit for long, nor live on the planet, Spock detonates their fuel – this is essentially like sending up a flair.
The Enterprise sees it, obviously, and the survivors are rescued.
The episode ends with making fun of Spock for the, in the minds of the humans, emotional decision. In other words it is very light-hearted. Only three men are dead?
In conclusion I am not completely sure what to make of this episode. It certainly has its moments and the logic versus emotion is interesting. However I could have done without the ticking clock element to the story. I really don’t feel it adds anything – and it is rather silly that Kirk sends his people into danger with so little time.
I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.
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