“Star Trek”: Season 3, Episode 7 (“Day of the Dove”)

[1] Filled with action, intrigue, a dash of horror and mystery, along with a good deal of fret by both sides of the coin, this episode brings the awful truth of wartime drama to the audience.

[2] This episode delivers a few memorable scenes of our heroic Enterprise officers behaving in atypical fashion, recalling a few other episodes where they were subverted mentally somehow. In this case, it involved reversion to basic primal instincts such as race hatred and bloodthirst, allowing actors Kelley, Doohan, Koenig and even the usually placid Nimoy to tap into their inner rage. The intense quarrel between Spock and Scotty is especially startling.

[3] Michael Ansara’s Kang was superbly cast in his role as the Klingon commander who has no qualms about torturing Chekov or shutting off life systems in those sections of the Enterprise which the Federation crew still control. Bixby also gives an important role to Mara, Kang’s wife and one of the only Klingon women ever depicted in TOS, as the peacemaker of the show who ultimately convinces Kang to reach a truce with Kirk.

-Excerpts from IMBD reviews

After receiving a distress call, the Enterprise goes to a Federation colony; when the landing party beams down, they find no one. Capt. Kirk (William Shatner) and the Enterprise have to deal w/ a nearby Klingon ship which they believe to be responsible. When the Klingon ship is disabled, they assume the attack came from the Enterprise. Commander Kang (Michael Ansara) argues with Kirk about who attacked who, then holds Kirk and his party hostage. Kirk sends Spock (Leonard Nimoy) a signal before they’re beamed up. Spock beams the landing party up and keeps the Klingons de-materialized until a security team is ready to subdue them. Kirk imprisons the Kilngons (about 40 in total). Kang wears the same golden sash that would be worn (on the opposite shoulder) by Lt. Worf in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Spock informs Kirk that the Klingons were too far to attack the colony. After some Klingon plotting and waiting to take over, the Enterprise crew loses control (the ship starts warping in a random course). A large portion of the crew becomes trapped on an isolated area of the ship, leaving 40 men. The usual phasers we see turn into swords; this ep has sword fighting. Kirk uses a US Model 1860 cavalry saber. Scotty finds a type of sword in the armory which Scots are very proud of- a basket hilt Claymore (from the Elizabethan era or later).

Mr. Spock: [deflecting Scott’s maniac temper from Kirk] Easy, Mr. Scott.

Scott: Keep your Vulcan hands off me! Just keep away! Your feelings might be hurt, you green-blooded half-breed!

Mr. Spock: May I say that I have not thoroughly enjoyed serving with Humans? I find their illogic and foolish emotions a constant irritant.

Scott: Then transfer out, freak!

An alien creature of unknown origin has come aboard; it feeds off hate and violence! A wild-eyed Scotty (James Doohan) nearly gets into a fight w/ Spock (who is also changed) on the bridge; the captain has to intercede. Chekov (Walter Koenig) wants revenge for the death of a brother (though Sulu explains that he’s an only child). He nearly assaults Mara (Susan Howard), Kang’s wife/science officer, but is stopped by Kirk and Spock.

Dr. McCoy: Gentlemen, if we are pawns, you’re looking at one who is extremely sorry.

Mr. Spock: I understand, Doctor. I, too, felt a brief surge of racial bigotry. Most distasteful.

I was looking up reviews for this ep when I found a (hilarious) Trump parody.

“Star Trek”: Season 3, Episode 2 (“The Enterprise Incident”)

D.C. Fontana’s initial inspo for this story/title was the Pueblo incident which involved the capture of an American intelligence-gathering ship, the USS Pueblo (AGER-2), by North Korean forces during the Vietnam War. North Korea claimed, w/o evidence, the ship had violated its territorial waters. The incident occurred on January 23, 1968, just two mos. before Fontana completed her first draft story outline. Although the crew was released after nearly a year, North Korea still maintains possession of the vessel as a “war trophy.”

This smart, tense, and dramatic ep has some romance- something not often done well in Star Trek series. As w/ shows like The West Wing and Law and Order, the characters’ personal lives (love) take a backseat to their work (duty). It begins w/ Dr. McCoy recording his medical log (something we’ve never heard before). He explains that Capt. Kirk has been acting unlike his usual self these past few weeks. In the next scene, we see Kirk snapping at officers on the bridge. Kirk decides to fly into the Neutral Zone, which threatens the cease-fire between the Romulans and the Federation. The Enterprise is quickly surrounded by three ships. Why were Klingon ships used in this ep instead of Romulan ones? The Romulan Warbird model was accidentally broken by a PA.

Lt. Uhura says there is a call from one of the ships. Subcommander Tal (Jack Donner) somehow knows exactly which Federation ship this is and who is in charge. Tal declares that they surrender or be destroyed. Kirk retorts that if the Romulans board, he’ll blow up his own ship! Tal notices that Mr. Spock is a Vulcan; he then takes a call from his commander. Tal gives Kirk one hour to decide what to do w/ communication channels left open. Kirk had Uhura send a sub-space message to the Federation, but Tal knows that will take 3 weeks. Wow, they must really be far out in space!

The senior officers meet in the conference room. Spock figures that the Romulan ships are equipped w/ a “cloaking device” (which made them undetectable to sensors). However, Spock says they wouldn’t be in this situation if Kirk hadn’t ordered it! McCoy is shocked and angered; w/o orders directly from Starfleet, Kirk had “no right” to enter the Neutral Zone. Kirk yells at McCoy to get out- another unusual display. Tal calls again, saying that his commander wants to meet w/ Kirk and Spock in person. While they are away on the Romulan flagship, two of the centurions will stay on the Enterprise.

Capt. Kirk: What earns Spock your special interest?

Romulan Commander: He is a Vulcan. Our forebears had the same roots and origins. Something you wouldn’t understand, Captain. We can appreciate the Vulcans, our distant brothers.

It turns out that the Romulan Commander (Joanne Linville) is a woman; both Kirk and Spock are surprised by this revelation! She speaks first to Kirk, who says that his ship made “a navigational error” (which she doesn’t believe). Then she calls Spock in, who she knows (as a Vulcan) “can’t tell a lie.” We see that she is interested in Spock; he may be somewhat intrigued. It looks like Spock has betrayed his captain to the enemy- whoa! Two guards take Kirk away, but not before Shatner does some scenery-chewing dramatics.

When they are alone, the Romulan Commander praises Spock and wonders why someone as “capable” as him doesn’t command his own starship. Nimoy has his arms folded, yet is listening intently as if he might consider her ideas. Meanwhile, Kirk attempts to escape his cell, he is zapped by some lasers. McCoy is called to attend to his injuries right away.

Romulan Commander: I neglected to mention. I’ll expect you for dinner. We have much to discuss.

Spock: Indeed.

Romulan Commander: Allow me to… to rephrase. Will you join me for dinner?

Spock: I am honored, Commander. Are the guards also invited?

They go to Kirk’s cell where McCoy explains that he is “unfit” (at the moment) to be in command of the Enterprise. The commander and Spock discuss what should be done next for “the safety of the crew.” Kirk (seething w/ rage) suddenly attacks Spock, who grabs his face and applies “the Vulcan death grip” (not real, but Romulans don’t know that). McCoy declares that Kirk is dead! We soon realize that Kirk has his own plans (while Spock is on his dinner date).

Romulan Commander: Romulan women are not like Vulcan females. We’re not dedicated to… pure logic, and the sterility of non-emotion. Our people are warriors. Often savage. But we are also many other pleasant things.

After this flirtatious speech, Spock leans back on the lounge- closer to the commander. Spock has some good lines, which Nimoy delivers in a dry, suave manner befitting a Vulcan. Cunning, smart, and tough, this female seems like the perfect match for Spock. I loved her off-the-shoulder dress (second outfit); the pattern on it even matched her statement earrings. In the original script, the characters were supposed to kiss, but Nimoy and Linville came up w/ a (creative) alternative. They had some amazing chemistry, too. What about this line? It’s ambiguous, just as we’d expect from Spock!

Spock: [to the Romulan commander] Military secrets are the most fleeting of all. I hope that you and I… exchanged something more permanent.

There are several plot holes in the ep, which you may notice on the second viewing. Transporter beams can’t penetrate shields, but Kirk is able to beam to the Romulan flagship and back again. So, the Enterprise and the Romulan warships had their shields down the entire time. After the Romulan commander leaves Spock alone, he pulls out his communicator to contact Kirk. It makes no sense that she would’ve allowed him to keep this (as a non-Romulan). In order for Kirk’s plan to work, he would’ve had to have prior knowledge that the Romulan Commander was female, would take an interest in Spock’s Vulcan heritage, and have romantic attraction to Spock, so that he could go through w/ the whole charade of Spock being a “traitor.” Otherwise, he would have just been winging it. He was lucky that everything worked out in the end!

“Star Trek”: Season 2, Episode 20 (“Return to Tomorrow”)

From a planet devoid of life for half a million years, the Enterprise hears the voice of a powerful being (Sargon- voiced by James Doohan), who can control ship. He transports the landing party (Kirk, Spock, McCoy and astro-biologist Ann Mulhall) to room miles underneath the planet. However, the security guards they planned to take along were prevented from coming along. Sargon is one of only three survivors of an intelligent race made of pure energy/pure thought. They started life on Earth and spread out to many other places, so refer to our heroes as “my children.”

Suddenly, Sargon possesses Kirk’s body! He requires Spock’s and Dr. Mulhall’s bodies, too, but promises they will be returned after they build advanced robots to house themselves. Sargon gives them time to freely make up their minds and beams them back to the ship. McCoy warns against hosting the lifeforms, but Kirk, Spock, and Dr. Mulhall (Diana Muldaur- Dr. Pulaski on ST:TNG) are intrigued. We soon see that the aliens can only survive in human bodies for short periods of time w/o killing their surrogates!

It must’ve been fun for Shatner and Nimoy to take on two roles as aliens inhabiting the bodies of Kirk and Spock. Shatner as Sargon goes from over-the-top dramatics to being dignified and caring. His scenes w/ his wife Thalassa (in the body of Dr. Mulhall) are sweet and touching. Nimoy gets to play Henoch, who seeks to remove Sargon from the equation and take over. Nimoy has an excuse to play w/ different emotions; he creates a twisted (yet smooth-talking and smiling) villain. Henoch tries to trick Nurse Christine Chapel, who we know loves Spock.

This ep and its writer, John T. Dugan, earned a WGA Award nom in the category Best Written Dramatic Episode in 1968. Dugan wrote the original script after he had read an article about highly sophisticated robots. In his original draft, Sargon and Thalassa continue their existence as spirits w/o bodies, floating around the universe. However, Roddenberry (as he often did) re-wrot the script to change the ending (w/ the aliens fading out into oblivion). This is the reason Dugan put his pen name (John Kingsbridge) in the credits.

[1] Dr. McCoy’s objections are warranted and well expressed, but a final centerpiece speech by Kirk explains the risks and rewards of flight, space flight, sciences and alien encounter. He states “Risk is our business” in a well written and delivered plea.

[2] It’s haunting, tragic, deeply romantic, dream like, and sensual. The idea that god like aliens long to be human, to have all the feelings and emotions we take for granted, is deeply inspiring.

I loved how the “temptation” of Thalassa was so Biblical, with the suave Henoch in the role of the serpent.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Star Trek”: Season 2, Episode 24 (“The Ultimate Computer”)

Spock [to McCoy]: The most unfortunate lack in current computer programming is that there is nothing available to immediately replace the starship surgeon.

Capt. Kirk replies to an urgent message from Commodore Enright, which tells him to report to the nearest space station. Once there, most of the crew is removed from the Enterprise leaving only a minimal crew of 20 on-board. Commodore Bob Wesley (Barry Russo) arrives and informs Kirk he’s the unwitting “fox in the hunt” of simulated war games. The purpose is to test out the top-secret M-5 computer; the latest invention of the brilliant Dr. Richard Daystrom (William Marshall), creator of the computer systems which power Enterprise, as well as many high-end systems. James Doohan provides the voice of M-5, as well as playing Scotty.

McCoy [to Kirk]: Did you see the love light in Spock’s eyes? The right computer finally came along.

Daystrom (“a failing genius striving for one last success” according to D.C. Fontana) is confidant his unit can not only take control of the ship, but do a better job than humans can. At first, the Enterprise under M-5’s control, easily defeats two other starships in the games. Troubles arise when the computer begins to act on its own and can’t be shut-off! A similar theme was explored w/ HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Spock, who is fascinated by the working of the M-5, eventually realizes that it can’t replace the leadership of his captain. McCoy had joked earlier that Spock was in love w/ the M-5 (LOL)! In one of the best scenes, Spock explains to Kirk that a computer couldn’t ever replace the leadership of the captain.

Spock: Computers make excellent and efficient servants; but I have no wish to serve under them. Captain, a starship also runs on loyalty to one man, and nothing can replace it, or him.

In TNG, DS9, and Voyager, there are references to the Daystrom Institute that has been founded on Earth. It’s explained that Daystrom is a great man of science; he must’ve been to have his work/reputation recover from this experiment. In the 1999 essay “Welcome Aboard the Enterprise,” sci-fi author Robert J. Sawyer writes, “…the ship’s computers, as seen in ‘The Ultimate Computer,’ were designed by a Nobel-prize-winning black cyberneticist, played with equal dignity by William Marshall. During the era of MLK, Jr. and the Watts Riots, it was a powerful, important statement to have the white captain of the Enterprise deferring to black people; as Marshall observed thirty years later, the single most significant thing about his guest-starring role was that he, an African-American, was referred to as ‘Sir’ throughout the episode.”

Spock: It would be most interesting to impress your memory engrams on a computer, Doctor. The resulting torrential flood of illogic would be most entertaining.

This ep was a social commentary on the American job losses caused by increased mechanization during the ’60s. The script came from an unsolicited screenplay by Laurence M. Wolfe, a mathematician. John Meredyth Lucas chose to adapt the story, feeling that it would make for a relatively inexpensive and quick episode to produce. Fontana rewrote much of the story, as much of the original screenplay was primarily focused on Dr. Daystrom and the M-5, w/ little emphasis on the show’s regular characters. In those days, there were no writers rooms; scripts were submitted by many writers. They were often re-written to reflect Rodenberry’s vision of the series.

“Star Trek”: Season 2, Episode 18 (“The Immunity Syndrome”)

The Enterprise is sent to investigate the disruption of the Gamma VII-A solar system and the destruction of the U.S.S. Intrepid, staffed by Vulcans. When they arrive, they find a large dark mass floating in space. This ep has a great introduction w/ Spock realizing that his own people died and sensing their “astonishment” (fine acting from Nimoy). Spock doesn’t know how the ship is being drained of energy and pulled towards this “hole in space.” Life support systems are diminishing quickly. Stimulus is injected in the Bridge crew (esp. Kirk) to keep them going despite exhaustion from a previous mission.

Drawn into the mass, they find a huge amoeba-like creature. Kirk and McCoy wonder that mankind’s sole destiny may be in repelling such invaders of our galaxy; our species may act like antibodies of the galaxy-body, fending off invading cosmic viruses. Were this creature to reproduce, as the crew discovers it is about to, it would eventually fill the entire galaxy. The crew is working as a team under pressure against an unknown threat. There is the drama of Spock and McCoy competing to see who gets to take the shuttlecraft to get a closer look and research further. Kirk must decide which of his two friends to send on the dangerous mission. Scotty is worried about the engines, which are losing power fast. There is a lot of atmosphere, foreboding, character development, and dialogue (incl. science and medical talk).

Mr. Spock: I’ve noticed that about your people, Doctor. You find it easier to understand the death of one than the death of a million. You speak about the objective hardness of the Vulcan heart, yet how little room there seems to be in yours.

Dr. McCoy: Suffer the death of thy neighbor, eh, Spock? Now, you wouldn’t wish that on us, would you?

Mr. Spock: It might have rendered your history a bit less bloody.