Sunday, July 15, 2018

Star Trek -- Season 1 Episode 7 (What Are Little Girls Made Of?)

It’s a bog universe.  There seems to be a lot of planets that were once inhabited.  Exo-III is one such planet and it’s being studied by Dr. Roger Corby.  Or, at least it was.  He hasn’t been heard from in a while and landing parties have been at a loss to locate him.  He’s also engaged to be married to Nurse Chapel, who signed on to the Enterprise in hopes of finding him.  When the Enterprise approaches Exo-II at the start of the episode, Korby does respond.

Korby insists that Kirk beams down alone.  When Chapel identifies herself, Korby allows her to beam down, as well.  Kirk and Chapel do beam down, but with two security officers.  (This begins the trend of security officers who won’t see the end of the episode.)  Kirby has made an incredible discovery.  He can duplicate a person and transfer their memories and consciousness into the newly formed android.  This would allow everyone to become immortal.

Kirk doesn’t seem to like the plan and tries to stop Korby, who duplicates Kirk and sends the android back to the ship.  Korby reveals his plan to infiltrate some colony, preferably one of Kirk’s next few stops, and test out the procedure there.  He can do it incognito and see how it goes.  Fortunately, Kirk is able to thwart Korby.

This is one of those episodes that raises questions rather than attempting to answer them directly.  My first question would be why Chapel signed on to the Enterprise thinking that she’d be the one to find Korby.  At best, it would give her an inside track if someone did find here.  There’s on reason to believe she’d be on the ship to locate him, assuming he’d be located at all.

The big question, though, is what it means to be human.  Assuming the transfer were successful, is it still the same person?  How much does the duplicate Kirk resemble the actual Kirk?  Korby also mentions that undesirable traits, like fear and jealousy, could be edited out, meaning that the androids would be less like an actual human.  (It’s not mentioned if the offer of immortality would be extended to other races.)

There’s also the problem of humans not being able to reproduce again.  The androids aren’t immune to everything.  (Phaser fire seems to be a notable weakness.)  There might come a point, even with the androids, where humans would no longer exist.  Consider that a civilization died off, despite having this technology.

It’s hard to think of Korby as being a villain, but he is.  He seems to genuinely want to help humanity.  It would remove the threat of disease.  It’s more his desire to do it outside of official channels that makes him the antagonist.  He could submit his findings to Starfleet Medical or some other agency for further study.  Instead, he wants to do experiments covertly.

I would call this one of the better episodes, despite the familiar elements.  We have someone studying a long-dead planet.  Kirk is duplicated.  The use of androids is new, but would be no stranger to the franchise.  It uses familiar elements to tell a new story.  It does leave you wondering about certain things.

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