Tuesday 31 March 2015


It's back! Let's get the second season of the original series completed, then we'll see what else we fancy. Possibly Enterprise. Possibly Space Dandy.

2.13) Obsession
Captain Kirk vs. the Monster from his Past

The Mission: Survey planet Argus X. Rendesvouz with the Yorktown in order to transfer vaccines to planet Beta VII.

Planets visited:

Argus X: A craggy planet with some plantlife, rich in tritanium (twenty times as hard as diamond, dontchano). It's a thousand light years from...

Tycho IV: Seemingly uninhabited, except for the cloud monster. It returns there to reproduce.

Alien Life forms:

The Cloud Monster: When you can't afford an alien, use a cloud. The alien appears as nothing more than a big cloud of dry ice. It's composed of dikironium, which should only exist in the lab. It's surprising, in that case, that the tricorders can even scan for it, and the life form does not immediately register. It can change its state and structure, hiding from scans. It can travel at high warp speed, travelling thousands of light years, using gravitational fields to propel itself. Oh, and it's a vampire! It drains the body of red corpuscles, which is good and scary although it does make you wonder how the hell it could have evolved in the first place. And it smells of honey.

Captain James T: For a moment, he appears paranoid, immediately reacting to a familiar smell as if it means his old enemy is present. He's right though, although he's needlessly mysterious about everything. He puts tracking down the creature ahead of his mission to get the vaccines to the Yorktown, ignoring communication from Starfleet. He's seriously gung-ho in this episode; we haven't really seen him like this before.

Eleven years ago, Kirk encountered the alien while he served on the USS Farragut. He's convinced it's intelligent. He's extremely hard on the one surviving security officer for not taking the creature down with his phaser – the son of his old captain, Garrovik. He blames himself for the death of his old captain, for freezing just like the younger Garrovik. He becomes increasingly obsessed and irrational as time passes.

Green-Blooded Hobgoblin: He's handy to have around when you need some reading done, since he can get ten hours worth done in a few hours. He accepts that the alien is intelligent once confronted with its actions. He goes to cheer up Garrovik, telling not to blame himself for being a foolish, instinctive human. He's not harmed by the alien – it can't eat his copper-based blood cells.

The Real McCoy: Both he and Spock decide that Kirk's behaviour has become irrational, and move to have him declared unfit for duty – unless he makes his actions clear. He stands up to Kirk against his monster hunt once the creature gets on board. He apologises, though, even though he's actually in the right; the alien would never have attacked the ship if Kirk hadn't chased it.

Future Treknology: An antimatter bomb, containing only an ounce of antimatter, is enough to blow a hole in a planet.

Cliche Count: It's yet another Moby Dick tale, not long after the last one. There'll be a few of these over the years. Four redshirts die on the planet, and at least one other crewman bites it on the ship.

The Verdict: The second episode in a row that deals with Kirk's competence being questioned, but considerably better done than the previous. It's pretty obvious that the alien will turn out to be immune to phasers, making both Kirk's and Garrovik's guilt unecessary. Kirk's belief that it's the very same creature that he encountered before is never proven; there could be a whole species of these things out there. Nurse Chapel gets some nice moments, which is needed in this rather butch episode.

2.14) Wolf in the Fold
Captain Kirk vs. Jack the Ripper

Planets visited: Argelius II – Planet of Free Love! 120 light years from the Jewel Stars, Argelius II is united under a government and a legal system based on love. Aw. The Argelians have signed a treaty with the Federation so that Starfleet can use the planet as a port. It's strategically important – the only spaceport in the quadrant. It's presumably not a member of the UFP, especially as it has the death penalty for murderers – by slow torture, no less. So much for love.

Sexy Trek: Let's get it out of the way immediately: Kirk's taken his crewmates down to perv on dancing girls. Both Kirk and McCoy know a place across town, where the women... well, we never find out, but Jesus, are they off to a brothel? That dancing girl music is still bloody awful.

Great Scott: He's an old Aberdeen pub crawler, apparently. He seemingly has a resentment towards women, and this trip is Kirk's way of setting him right. When have we ever seen any evidence of that? He's suffered a blow to the head that may have given him some sort of brain damage. Possessed by Redjac, he murders an Argelian dancing girl, Lt. Tracey from the Enterprise, and the Prefect's wife, Sybo. but can't remember any of it. He doesn't trust the Argelians' “spooky mumbo jumbo.”

Captain James T: Both Kirk and Spock want to believe Scotty is innocent but can't ignore the evidence. He is torn between friendship, justice and duty.

The Real McCoy: He's primarily here to back up Kirk and declare that “she's dead!” In case multiple stab wounds didn't give it away.

Green-Blooded Hobgoblin: Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his own abilities, Spock is able to accept the Argelian psychic techniques, but finds it unscientific and does not trust it in a legal matter. He forces the alien out of the computer by making it calculate pi to the last digit. His knowledge of alien life forms is encyclopaedic.

Alien life forms:

Argelians: Some of them, such as the Prefect's wife, have psychic abilities. Some of them, such as the Prefect, have awesome beards. They're basically hedonistic and most of them don't want mcuh to do with running things.

Redjac: No two ways about it, Redjac is a demon. As far as we can tell, it originated on Earth, although it's not impossible it arrived there from somewhere else. Since human spaceflight began, it's been hopping from planet to planet, possessing various victims so it can conduct its murders. Back in the 19th century it was known as Jack the Ripper, natch. It went to Mars, Heliopolis on Alpha Eridani, Rigel IV (where it was known as Beratis), before hitching a ride to Argelius in the body of Mr. Hengist. It feeds off pain and fear, nourishing when it kills its victims, blinding all others with a hypnotic scream. It can even possess computers. At the end of this, the monster gets beamed into space, where it is hoped it will starve and disperse. Odds on it turns up again someday.

The Drella: Another alien life form , from Alpha Carinae 5, that feeds on emotions, in its case, love. You'd think the Drella would come along to Argelius, it should be a buffet.

The Mellitus: A being Kirk has seen, solid when at rest, gaseous in motion.

Future Treknology: Starfleet have a “psycho-tricorder” that can record and explore people's memories. Why do they not use that more often? It would solve a hell of a lot of issues.

Trek Stars: John Fiedler does his best as the authoritarian investigator and later murderer Hengist, but his voice is too squeaky to take seriously. Charles Macauley is pure class as Prefect Jarris.

Author, Author: Robert Bloch, the author of this script, essentially rewrote his own short story, Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper. He'd already adapted it into an episode of Thriller in 1961. He's not the only writer to propose a supernatural explanation for the Ripper murders, of course.

The Alternative Factor: James Blish goes into great detail when describing visions of hell on the computer screens, pushing the idea of Redjac being a demon further than the episode. Several Trek comics have sequelised this story.

The Verdict: A change of scene for Star Trek – a supernatural story with a few sci-fi overtones.It starts with an exotic dancer and ends with everyone blissed out on sedatives. The characters all accept the idea of an immortal phantom that used to be Jack the Ripper far too easily. James Doohan puts in an excellent performance as the condemned Scott, and deserved more starring roles in episodes.

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