Thursday, April 23, 2015

Star Trek TOS (Season 2a)



Season 1dSeason 2b

Season two starts out pretty strong. Two if these episodes are generally considered among the best of the whole series:

Episode 1 “Amok Time”

Summary: Spock gets grumpy because he “isn’t getting any” and must force the Enterprise back to Vulcan to fulfill his arranged marriage. Only, his fiancé has fallen in love with another and schemes to get Spock and Kirk to fight to the death.

Struggle: Vulcan biology/cultural customs feel like something made up for 1960s television.

Thoughts:

This is one of the more well-known and well-loved episodes of Trek. This is mostly due to the iconic nature of the episode, but also for the loss of control Spock exhibits when he discovers that he has not killed Kirk after all. As far as deep thoughts or philosophical meaning, it is a bit weak.

Episode 2 “Who Mourns for Adonais?”

Summary: The Enterpise encounters yet another super powerful being, who happens to be one of the aliens that inspired Greek mythology and worship. He tries to force the crew to be his new adherents, but humanity doesn’t need religion and kills the god.

Struggle: Apollo is a bit over the top and theatrical for an almighty, god-like being.

Thoughts:


Kirk’s famous line about humanity being happy with “the one God” was not the original intent of the show. They really were preaching a humanistic message about mankind being too big for gods anymore… at all. For all of that, the show tends to deal with god-like beings frequently enough you begin to think the writers were obsessed with overcoming a need for God. It is truly a case of the humanistic drive to toss the baby out with the bathwater. Religion is man-made and often terrible, but the idea of an intelligent and even loving creator who is involved in His creation is too compelling to toss out.

Episode 3 “The Changeling”

Summary: The ship comes across a machine—an earth robe that had merged with an alien machine—that is on a mission to purge anything imperfect it encounters. It is under the impression that Kirk is its maker, so he is uniquely positioned to cause the machine to destroy itself. That, and he is Kirk who has the ability to cause any computer to commit suicide!

Struggle: Not much to fuss about here.

Thoughts:

Once again, a God (i.e. religion) story. The writer was interested in a story about a robot with god-like powers. What is more interesting here is the way the robot has had its programing corrupted, and as a result it is doing harm. It is evil. The drive to purge imperfection can be a very evil thing, and that in and of itself is a big imperfection.

Episode 4 “Mirror, Mirror”

Summary: Some of our crew are transported into a parallel universe where Star Fleet is an evil organization. The Kirk of this world has cheated his way to power through the use of an alien technology. Before they find their way back, Kirk manages to set things in motion to change what is wrong with the mirror universe.

Struggle: If you can get past the silliness of the concept, this show is really good.

Thoughts:

Don’t even try to think logically about the transporter accident, or the implausibility of them recreating the accident. Also, don’t stop to think about the myriad of story problems that come with the multiverse concept. What is interesting here is the look at a future without the humanistic ideals of Trek. The evil machinations and the politics. It would have been interesting to explore this version of Trek a lot more.

Episode 5 “The Apple”

Summary: Kirk has to save people from heaven again. This time we find a society of perfectly happy, perfectly cared for people who are under the control of a computer. Kirk and crew fight to kill this “god” so that the people can reach their full potential through struggle, suffering and generally not having their needs met anymore.

Struggle: Once again, it is a bit on the nose. And the episode even calls itself out.

Thoughts:

A common story in the secular humanist Trek is this idea that—since the world is a bad place with struggling, evil, and suffering—then that must be the way things are supposed to be. We would be miserable if we didn’t have those things right? Even though the goal of Trek is an ideal, perfect world achieved through human efforts, it feels like they think we should never obtain that utopia. And certainly not if we are dependent on someone else, especially a god.

Episode 6 “The Doomsday Machine”

Summary: The ship encounters a giant robot that destroys worlds. It has already killed a whole crew, and now that ship’s commodore is seeking revenge. Kirk is helpless while this man nearly destroys the Enterprise, but in the end they use his failed idea to beat the doomsday machine.

Struggle: Not much to complain about.

Thoughts:

This is Moby Dick in space. It is fascinating to see the struggle that Spock faces, following the chain of command, but appealing to reason and using those same rules to act when his opportunities arise.

Episode 7 “Catspaw”

Summary: A surreal Halloween episode of Trek.

Struggle: Just about everything here is bad.

Thoughts:

The whole mess is entertaining in a crazy way, and then you get the final scene… and it was all worth it.

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