Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Star Trek -- Season 1 Episode 29 (Operation - Annihilate!)

Star Trek could be a little inconsistent at times.  This was most notable in The Original Series.  Most episodes were commentary on some sort of issue.  Many were about war.  Some were about power imbalance or racial intolerance.  A few were a little harder to figure out.  Take Operation - Annihilate!  (Yes, there’s really an exclamation point at the end of the title.)  A swarm of pancake-like aliens has attacked Deneva.  It’s not only a Federation colony, but it’s where Captain Kirk’s brother, Sam, lives.  (Sam happens to have a wife and child to add to the tension.)

By the time the Enterprise gets there, it’s too late.  The colonists are already infected.  However, one colonist is in the final stages of piloting a ship into the system’s sun.  His final words are that he’s free.  On the planet, a horde of colonists attack the landing party.  When Kirk checks in on his brother, Sam is already dead.  Kirk’s sister-in-law, Aurelian, is acting irrationally and her son, Peter, is comatose.

Aurelan is able to tell Kirk that the pancake-like creatures use humanoid hosts to build ships to get to the next system.  It’s implied that the Federation, or at least Starfleet, knew about the pattern of civilizations disappearing.  The ship is able to come up with a solution to cure the planet in time, as the next planet has over a million inhabitants.  (It’s implied that someone knew the pattern before the organisms attacked Deneva.  Even if no one knew the cause, why not show up in advance of the problem?)

The previous episode, The City on the Edge of Forever, was a great episode.  It’s a shame to have followed it up with this one.  My big problem is that the subplot of Kirk’s family seemed unnecessary.  One would think that it’s enough that the planet is facing the crisis.  You could have any child affected by the organisms.  There’s no need for it to be the captain’s nephew.

On that note, that angle is never followed up on.  I don’t recall any of the later series having a relative of Kirk on board.  You’d think at some point, someone would have been Kirk’s great-grandnephew or something.  Nope.

Another thing I noticed was that the aliens went in a straight line.  There was no mention of the aliens spreading out.  If they have a concept of space travel, you’d think they’d split into two or more groups to increase their odds of survival.  Reproduction of the organisms isn’t discussed.  For that matter, this is another angle of the episode that’s not followed up on.  (For all I know, they do split off.  If that were true, you’d think that there’d be some mention of it happening elsewhere.)

This was the final episode for the show’s first season.  I’m kind of wondering if they needed one more episode and found this script lying around.  It’s not terrible.  It’s just that it doesn’t really seem to have the impact that other episodes had.  It’s just a case where the Enterprise has to deal with an enemy.  There’s little talk of morals or ethics.  They have to find a way to protect the next planet if they can’t at least protect this one.  I just wish I knew what to make of it.

IMDb page

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