Tag Archives: Mr. Spock

The Menagerie (Part 2) Review

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Overall this is a satisfying conclusion to the story. It is enjoyable and intriguing but is not without its problems. Let me show you what I mean.

Number One: Recap

The recap is handled via a Captain’s log. I like this style and feel it works better than the style used in later iterations. Not only do we get the recap but we also get an insight into Kirk’s thoughts on the situation. It works very well.

Number Two: Clunky Exposition

Because of the need to include the clips, and set up for them, it can feel a bit over done. There are points in the episode where Spock is asked a direct question but he will only say they need to watch the transmission. Things would be simpler if he just explained – but that would gut the mystery. I understand fiction has rules and it can’t always follow logic – which I am sure annoys Spock to no end.

Number Three: The Telosians

In his cell Pike meets with the Telosians. The alien makeup is wonderfully done and the voice without lip movements gives them a very alien quality.

The Telosians analyse Pike and speak of an experiment a good hook for the audience. Aliens experimenting on us is probably one of the most basic of science devices. Here though not only do we wish to know what the experiment is but also why Spock would wish to bring pike back to these people.

Number Four: The Crew that Never Was

We cut to a briefing room scene as the senior staff discuss the problem. Despite the fact that there are two free chairs Colt chooses to stand – maybe enlisted folk don’t get chairs.

Spock is quite different in these scenes. He speaks in a more colloquially style and clearly has emotions – I am not going to attempt an explanation as to why that would be. This is before the character was pinned down in to what we all know today – I am a stickler for continuity but even I am not bothered by every little change or thing that doesn’t quite make sense.

Doctor Boyce comes across a fatherly type. In another reality, where this cast remained, he would probably have been the mentor and the one who has seen it all.

Lieutenant Tyler is the young hot-headed officer. He advocates for using the ship’s power to rescue Pike. Although this is ultimately the plan that is gone with it is telling about his character that he cuts straight to the idea that action must be taken.

Number One is the ship’s executive officer. I like this character. She clearly has the respect of the crew and makes the necessary decision quickly. Up until Discovery, which I haven’t seen, this was her only appearance and it would have been so interesting to see where she went as a character. It should be noted that much of her demeanour was transferred to Mr Spock.

Number Five: The First Illusion

Pike faces off against a Kalar. This illusion comes from his memories of a mission from two weeks prior. Only this time he has Vina to protect.

I appreciate the continuity shown in this episode – or rather the continuity shown in The Cage. Despite being written as a pilot the crew have been on other missions and have a history together.

Naturally Pike defeats the Kalar and he and Vina end up back in his cell – where she immediately embraces him.

Number Six: Any Woman You Ever Imagined

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Vina seems to want Pike to believe that she isn’t real – that she is just an another illusion. Pike is naturally only interested in finding a way out of the cell and the limitations of the Telosian abilities.

Vina explains that war made the surface of their world barren, they came underground and developed their mental abilities – so Pike, and the other specimens, are there for entertainment. The Telosians create an illusion and they watch his reaction.

A similar idea was put forward in the Stargate SG-1 episode:

I mean, imagine if you were locked in a room for a thousand years with only a VCR, a TV and five movies. How long could you watch those five movies until you were bored silly? What you wouldn’t give for just four more.

Daniel Jackson: (Stargate SG-1: The Game Keeper)

There is more to it than that though. The Telosians want more humans – so the question becomes where are they going to get, in the words of the episode, an Earth woman?

Number Seven: Big Space Gun

Where would science fiction be without a big gun? They do seem to show up all the time. Well in this instance the landing party attempts to blast through the door to the underground environment. They are unsuccessful. As Doctor Boyce reiterates they can’t be sure of anything on this world.

Number Eight: Dinner Time

The Telosians feed Pike. The “food” is a liquid but can appear as any food. I have seen this idea elsewhere in science fiction and have always rather liked it. How great would it be to have nourishing food but feel as though you are eating something fried and crispy. (He said making Homer Simpson noises)

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Pike is not inclined to be co-operative. When he suggests starving as an alternative the Telosian creates a hellish environment to punish him. The scene does give important information about the limitations of the Telosians – they can’t, for example, put irresistible hunger into a person’s mind.

Number Nine: Two Conversations in One

Pike and the Keeper have a conversation – to be more accurate they talk to each other about separate things which eventually becomes one.

Pike wants to find weaknesses in the Telosians and the Telosian want him to be attracted to Vina. The upshot of the scene is that Pike discovers that primitive thoughts put up a block that can’t be read and the keeper is pleased that Pike seems to be starting to show sighs of affection for Vina – suggesting that he should be the one punished as he is the one not co-operating.

Number Ten: In the Park

For the next illusion Pike and Vina are in a park – probably somewhere on Earth. We get more of the tragic background of Vina. She has been alone on this world for 18 years. She has tried to block out the Telosians with primitive emotions but has found she can’t keep it up for long. They have, in someways, broken her. ‘They own me.’ she says.

I do not think the Telosians are evil. They are doing all that they are doing to help their race and for Vina I think they have tried to make life comfortable for her – of course the desperation of the species doesn’t excuse the tourture.

Number Eleven: She’s…she’s green.

If there is one scene that is most famous from this episode, and maybe Star Trek as a whole, it is this one. The Green Orion slave girl. As described by Mendez no human male can resist them. (Apparently gay women are immune and gay men are susceptible. I know 60s gunna 60s.)

The purpose of this illusion is that it is something Pike could never have. As a Starfleet officer (No Starfleet yet but for simplicity I will say it.) he has to be proper and respectable – this is presented as the opposite of that.

Two things that come to mind though. Firstly Pike did take about having a life like this at the beginning and two one of the men watching with him is in a Starfleet uniform so doesn’t that make for a contradiction.

Incidentally the music in this scene is very effective.

Pike can’t take his eyes off Vina. As Kirk observes he is starting to weaken.

Number Twelve: THE WOMEN!

A landing party prepares to beam down but as Spock dramatically says only Yeoman Colt and Number One end up beaming down. The good news is they brought guns. The bad news is they don’t seem to work.

Number Thirteen: A Computer

Number One and Colt are there to provide Pike with a choice of mates. VIna is not impressed with either of them. She calls Colt stupid, in so many words, and compares Number One to a computer. Given that Majel Barret would go on to voice the computer it is a wonderfully ironic line.

Number Fourteen: Colt is Horny and Number One is Intelligent

Sorry to be so blunt but that is essentially what the Keeper says. Which shows how horrible it would be to be in the presence of a telepath!

Number Fifteen: Misshapen Heads

Given the anti-racism message of Star Trek hearing racist words spoken by one of our heroes is not easy. However I don’t think that Pike actually harbours racist thoughts. It is a tactic in order to block out the telepathy.

Number Sixteen: The Truth

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It is night time in the cell. A door opens at the back and a Telosian comes through to try and take the guns. However if the guns were useless why would they care?

Pike wraps his hands around the neck of the Telosian – they quickly transform into a… creature of some sort… trying to scare Pike and the others. Pike has had enough at this point and knows what he is seeing isn’t real. The Telosian stops the illusion – but threatens to destroy the Enterprise.

Surrender your weapons, or die where you stand!
Oh, if I had a nickel.

Garan & O’Neill (Stargate SG-1: It’s Good to be King)

Yes the Enterprise is always under threat of being destroyed – and taken over – by advanced aliens, conmen, robots, children and hippies!

Yeah I love this show but it is so silly at times.

Pike gambles that the Telosians won’t kill the crew of the Enterprise and figures out that the guns do work and them not working was another illusion.

Number Seventeen: Guilty

This is what I was talking about before – the images suddenly stop. While they are stopped Spock is found guilty of the crimes of which he is accused.

Number Eighteen: On the Surface

Pike, Number One, Colt and Vina emerge onto the surface of the planet. They immediately see that the big space gun did indeed blast through.

Pike agrees to stay with Vina but Number One has other ideas. She sets the gun to explode – preferring to kill all of them rather than allow Pike and Vina to leave as slaves.

We had not believed this possible. The customs and history of your race show a unique hatred of captivity. Even when it’s pleasant and benevolent, you prefer death. This makes you too violent and dangerous a species for our needs.

The Magistrate (Star Trek: The Original Series: The Menagerie)

I feel the need to call BS at this point. I find it hard to believe that any sapient species would enjoy captivity. Of course it is silly to make this point here as the diversity of the Star Trek universe had not yet been established.

Also it is pointed out how humans are uniquely adaptable – humans always right that about humans!

Number Nineteen: I Can’t Go With You

In the closing of the episode we find that Vina’s real body is actually damaged. Her appearance has been an illusion this whole time. Unfortunately the episode misses the mark a little here. Rather than it being stated that she can’t go to the Enterprise because she would be in constant pain what is focused on is her beauty. It is as if she can’t go because of how she looks. I read it though that she is in pain and even the technology of the Enterprise can’t give her as comfortable a life as she can have on this world.

Number Twenty: He Has an Illusion and You Have Reality.

Read that way it makes for a nice conclusion. Pike’s situation is a mirror to hers. Which would you rather? A fantasy world where you can live out anything you can imagine or being stuck in am ion long totally immobilised?

Number Twenty-One: There is no Commordor

Yes as the episode comes to an end it is revealed that the Commodore himself was an illusion. This is a part of the episode I do not like. The Enterprise was traveling for days and for the Telosians to be able to project quite so far seems to make than bit too powerful – just my opinion.

Number Twenty-Two: Conclusion

As stated in number twenty Pike beams down to the planet. Somehow Spock is able to get him to the transporter room in about five seconds!

Naturally the consequences of Spock’s actions are forgotten and there will be no death penalty. Obviously I do not want Spock to die but this whole plot point seems so silly. He would still be court martialled for illegally taking the ship.

I like this episode. The final creepy smile from the Keeper is marvellous.

Captain Pike has an illusion, and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant

The Keeper (Star Trek: The Original Series: The Menagerie Part 2)

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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Gene Roddenberry: Section 31 and the Perfect Human.

20140202_221815As a Trekkie I’m of course indebted to Gene Roddenberry for creating the universe of Star Trek. However my favorite Star Trek series is Deep Space Nine and it contains many elements that Roddenberry would have hated.

The Star Trek universe is supposed to be ideal. Humans are supposed to be perfect. He saw a world without hatred, racism and war. That’s a fantastic vision of the future but it may not be terribly realistic – and creating a story without conflict is difficult bordering on impossible.

Things are only impossible until they’re not.‘ – Captain Picard.

Racism was present in TOS. Most notably in Balance of Terror. How this episode came to be written is something of a mystery to me. In this episode the Enterprise becomes the first ship to get a visual of the Romulans. They find out they look like the Vulcans and Lt. Sties starts to think that Mr. Spock is a spy.

‘Leave any bigotry in your quarters. There’s no room for it on the bridge.’ Captain Kirk.

I realise its odd to praise an episode for bigotry but let me explain. I firmly hope that we can one day come to a ‘perfect’ future. We may well be able to do away with war and famine in the years to come. We all know that there is enough food to feed everyone. Also, and I know its hard to believe, we are in the most peaceful period in history.

However the instinct that lead to prejudice won’t magically evaporate. I’m not an anthropologist but it seems fairly clear that for a lot of history anyone not like you was a threat. Britain has been invaded many times not to mention the countries we’ve invaded. You only need to look on Wikipedia at the pages for various countries to see how many of them have had to gain, through conflict or diplomacy, their independence. Thus even if we have a ‘perfect’ world those instincts would remain – and would show themselves in extreme situations.

“There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy” Alfred Henry Lewis.

The thing about Star Trek is that only humans seem to have achieved this perfection. Its great to have such principals but if others in the galaxy are ruthless you might need to be too. The Klingons in TOS were written as an evil empire that killed civilians. It was perhaps for that reason that Section 31 was created.

Section 31 was introduced in Deep Space Nine but retconned to have been their from the beginning of the Federation. This doesn’t really present a continuity error as they are a secret organisation. They are the self appointed guardians of the federation. They are prepared to do whatever it takes to protect Federation principles. Sloan, one of their agents, describes it to Doctor Bashir.

Federation needs men like you, Doctor – men of conscience, men of principle, men who can sleep at night. You’re also the reason Section 31 exists. Someone has to protect men like you from a universe that doesn’t share your sense of right and wrong. Sloan

Roddenberry would have hated the idea of Section 31, especially after you know what, and I’m not defending that. However its hard to imagine the Federation without some form of covert group. The questionable history of the CIA is well known but spying can also be of use.

...tonight I know how many missiles the enemy has and…our guesses were way off. And we were doing things that we didn’t need to do. We were building things that we didn’t need to build. We were harboring fears that we didn’t need to have. President Lydon B. Johnson, 1967

Section 31 are extreme in places but their existence isn’t unbelievable.

Let’s make a deal, Doctor: I’ll spare you the ‘ends justify the means’-speech and you spare me the ‘we must do what’s right’-speech. You and I are not going to see eye to eye on this subject, so I suggest we stop discussing it. – Sloan

In Roddenbury’s mind humans will always do the right thing. This however presents a problem. The no-win scenario. The Kobayashi Maru. What do you do when faced only with bad and worse choices. Neither action or inaction is acceptable.

You were The Doctor on the day it wasn’t possible to get it right.The Doctor

In that case we have to make the best of the bad choices. Most of us won’t ever have to face that situation. In Star Trek though we’re talking about Starfleet personal its part of the job. This brings me to ‘In The Pale Moonlight‘.

“I was going to bring the Romulans into the war.” – Sisko.

In this episode Sisko faces that choice. In his mind he either brings the Romulans into the Dominion war or the Federation is defeated. That defeat would lead to millions, maybe billions dead. In one episode we see Weyoun casually mention irradiating Earth’s population. Sisko didn’t hear that but its safe to assume he knew what the Dominion would do if they won. Sisko tries to bring the Romulans into the war legitimately but when that fails he is prepared to use any means necessary.

I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all… I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again, I would. Garak was right about one thing – a guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant. – Sisko

In the Pale Moonlight is my favorite episode of Ds9 and maybe all of Star Trek. It is extremely well executed but of course Roddenberry would have hated it.

Here’s the thing. I don’t know what Roddenberry saw when he first thought about  Star Trek. Lets say it was the perfect society. The crew of the 1701 represent all of Earth. They show us that we can all work together and that things will be better tomorrow than they are today. How much did he see other than that? He wouldn’t have bothered to invent all the nuanced details. He wouldn’t have known about Section 31 because no-one did at the time of TOS. Roddenberry saw the perfect future but perhaps that was just the outside. The side that the Federation shows. At the end of the day although these humans are ‘perfect’ they still carry weapons wherever they go, they have a ship that can render a planet uninhabitable, and every week a crewman is killed by an unforgiving galaxy.

I realise I’m describing this as if Roddenberry had a vision. As if he saw the universe and wrote it all down. It is like that sometimes with creating fiction. You don’t see everything though. The Federation may be largely the ideal place to live but every society is going to have its less savory aspects. I believe that Roddenberry saw the dream society but didn’t think to look behind the curtain. We can strive to be good but there are times when its not possible.  Captain Kirk doesn’t believe in the no-win scenario but they do exist.

I never took the Kobayashi Maru test. What do you think of my solution? Spock.

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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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Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015

Leonard Nimoy died yesterday. I wanted in my own small way to pay tribute to him

I was born in 1987 so ‘my’ Star Trek series was Deep Space Nine. I have of course seen the original series too. Although it looks a little dated, both in terms of effects and cultural attitudes,  it still stands out as an excellent series.

I always felt that Mr. Spock was a, to use exactly the right word, fascinating character. That of course was a lot to do with Leonard Nimoy. He came up with the Vulcan salute and suggested the finger touching, in The Enterprise Incident, as an alien alternative to kissing. This gave Spock a wonderful mystique. He was a wonderful character. I wasn’t born until eighteen years after the cancellation of Star Trek but Spock is still more iconic to me than any other character in any of the series.

I never got to meet Leonard Nimoy and always hoped I would.

In interviews it is obvious that he was a very thoughtful man both as an actor and a human being. In one interview he describes hearing Spock in his head – helping him to come to better ways of dealing with a problem.

Nimoy was aware of his condition before his death.  Earlier this year he tweeted:

“I quit smoking 30 yrs ago. Not soon enough. I have COPD. Grandpa says, quit now!! LLAP”

I’d like to echo that. I know many people who smoke and it saddens me to see it. I’ve never smoked but I understand that quitting is a difficult thing to do.

Leonard  Nimoy did live a long and prosperous life but, like Andreas Katsulas, died sooner than he might have due to a smoking related condition.

Like Leonard Nimoy says: ‘Quit now.’

In closing it only remains for me to say: Live Long and Prosper.

….

 

And quit smoking.

 

Please.

 

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