Friday, May 22, 2015
Star Trek TOS (Season 2b)
Season 2a—Season 2c
Now reaching the middle of the series’ run, these episodes are all good-not-great.
Episode 8 “I, Mudd”
Struggle: The “illogical” behavior used by the crew is supremely silly.
This feels like a bit of rehashing. Not only is Mudd back, but also the idea of androids and that idea that Trek loves: humanity without struggles, problems, and error is bad. This idea of Secular Humanism is perplexing. They want to improve humanity, but since we are ultimately flawed, those flaws must somehow be a part of our essential goodness. Where biblical faith sees sin as a problem in need of a solution, humanism sees only imperfections that are somehow a part of our beauty. And yet, they want to solve all the specific “sins” that one can mention: greed, sloth, hatred, etc.
Episode 9 “Metamorphosis”
Struggle: Trek’s early sexism is on full display in this episode.
The sexual dynamics are interesting here. Not only is the female guest-star a literal throw-away character, Cochrane is disgusted by the idea of “love” with a non-human. However, the show is careful to point out that the entity is female. Today, in our current climate of define-your-own-kink sexual chaos, this would not have been an issue. I for one don’t see that “development” as a good thing, but this old Trek feels quant and naïve all the same. People today are offended at Cochrane’s repulsion, saying that everyone should define their own sexual pleasure. One wonders how far that line will be allowed to be defined in the future.
Episode 10 “Journey to Babel”
Struggle: This is a fun episode with a lot of aliens and action, but the story is a bit weak.
Spock’s conflict with his father is heightened in a contrived manner in this episode. We see later that multiple members of the senior crew are quite capable of commanding the ship in difficult circumstances. Not to mention, we have already seen that Spock is not all that experienced in command. So, his reluctance to help his dad is probably more personal than professional. For all of that, their conflict is subdued. If one wishes to explain the lack of emotional intensity between a father and son with that much resentment as a Vulcan quality, that raises the question: Is their conflict at all logical?
Episode 11 “Friday’s Child”
Struggle: The parallel to “cowboys and Indians” is unavoidable and uncomfortably out of place. The score really highlights this as it sounds like the stereotypical “indian” musical cue from any western. And, once again the sexism is pretty bad. Want a woman to respect you and maybe even like you? Sock her in the face! Wow.
Not much to say here outside of all the problems already mentioned.
Episode 12 “The Deadly Years”
Struggle: Trek fans are used to the last-minute-super-quick-solution. That doesn’t make it a good thing.
If you ever see a Commodore in Trek, rest assured that he is incompetent. Only Kirk can be trusted to come through under pressure. There are some opportunities here to explore aging in our culture, but they mostly give way to the plot where Kirk has to save the ship from the incompetence mentioned above.
Episode 13 “Obsession”
Struggle: Nothing worth mentioning.
Once again, two weeks in a row we encounter similar issues. Here we have Kirk behaving like so many incompetent commodores the ship has dealt with in the past. Why should we trust him while we were directed to despise the other authority figures? Only because he is the hero. The crew are as mystified with and questioning of his commands as they have been with any other flawed leaders. In this case, the flaw is Kirk’s though, and it is something we all struggle with: self-doubt and guilt regarding things outside of our control. Kirk’s redeeming grace here is realizing his mistake and helping others to avoid it. We all make enough mistakes; there is no need creating more through guilt for the things we have not done.
Episode 14 “Wolf in the Fold”
Struggle: Go all the way into space and alien cultures and end up with belly dancing and séances? And, one could question the wisdom of taking a man struggling with resentment toward women to a brothel for a cure.
We all like the idea that people are not responsible for the evil that they do. The entity in this story is a good picture of what some think the devil is like. Without an omnipresent capacity, the evil here is limited to what a single person can accomplish. Unlimited demonic hordes would be a way of explaining all the evil that men do, but the sad truth is we are responsible for our actions. That does not deny the interesting fact that cultures across the world and throughout history all have a concept of possession. And the Bible allows for that concept as well. Maybe there are entities that “feed” off our fear and worship, but most of the time. “the devil made me do it” is just a cop-out.