Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Star Trek -- Season 2 Episode 20 (Return to Tomorrow)

There were a few Star Trek episodes where I wondered about the implications.  It’s easy enough to write a scenario into a script, but it’s another thing to have actually gone through it or to have to carry it out. As they say, it looks good on paper.  One has to wonder what it actually means to have been implemented.

The Enterprise comes across a planet that’s lifeless and barren.  Except that the crew is greeted by the voice of Sargon, who invites them to a subterranean chamber where he and two others are stored in several orbs.  (The other two are his wife, Thalassa, and his former rival, Henoch.)  The three of them want to use the bodies of Kirk, Spock and a third crewmember to build permanent android bodies for them to live in.

Yes, it’s a risk.  In fact, there’s no good reason why the ship’s top two officers have to volunteer.  There are plenty of security officers onboard.  But, Kirk eventually agrees to let the survivors build their androids.  The androids could last for thousands of years, but will be limited in sensation.  This leads to Henoch wanting to keep Spock’s body.  In the end, the survivors realize that their time has passed.  They agree to depart their respective bodies in peace.

It’s hard to imagine that their consciousnesses were stored in orbs for however many centuries.  It must have been a boring existence.  I can hardly take being trapped indoors for 18 months with COVID.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to be contained in such a small space.

You’d think that they would have just gone ahead and built the android bodies.  True, that would have required resources.  The android bodies would require power and they could have been trapped underground anyway.  But, you’d think they’d maybe build a few anyway just to have them ready when a ship came along.

For that matter, it’s stated that their race seeded several other planets elsewhere.  This would mean that they had their own ships, or at least the capability of building them.  Why not build a ship and leave the planet themselves?  Even if they didn’t have warning that their planet would die, they could build enough android bodies to build a ship.  (There were originally more survivors.  Only three orbs made it to the episode’s present day.)

Ultimately, it’s a shame for the race to die out like that.  To spend all those countless years underground in orbs only to give up.  The tantalizing thing is that this is the first real mention of a race that seeded the galaxy.  There were other episodes that alluded to this, although there’s no mention if this is the same race that was seen in The Chase.  Just to have the three survivors pass on some information would have been nice.

I don’t really dwell on this episode, but I often wonder why more wasn’t done to preserve the last of that race.  I also wonder how the three survivors survived for so long and what actually happened to the others.  It would have been nice to know.


IMDb page


Monday, August 02, 2021

Star Trek -- Season 2 Episode 19 (A Private Little War)

Many of the stories in Star Trek were allegories.  The problem with this is that sometimes, the meaning is lost.  Take, for instance, A Private Little War.  The Enterprise visits a planet Captain Kirk had visited years before.  The inhabitants are relatively primitive.  They shouldn’t have weapons at all, which makes it surprising when one of the tribes has guns.

Kirk is good friends with a member of another tribe, The Hill People, who doesn’t have weapons.  Kirk’s friend is a member of The Hill People, which allows Kirk to get some information.  The other villagers started using weapons a while back and it was assumed that they were making them.  It turns out that the Klingons are supplying the weapons, which created an imbalance in power.

Now, the Klingons aren’t bound by The Prime Directive, but Kirk is.  He can’t use phasers in front of The Hill People.  He really shouldn’t be giving weapons to them, either, but he feels the best thing for The Hill People is to be put on equal footing. 

The episode was supposed to be a commentary on the Vietnam War.  A lot of that is lost on me, as I’m not very familiar with the context, but some things do come through.  The most notable is that there really isn’t any good option for Kirk.  He can’t stop the Klingons from supplying one tribe.  Even if they seemed to agree, they could turn around and go right back to supplying weapons.

Supplying The Hill People with weapons does seem like it would at least be fair, but more weapons would necessarily balance power.  It could just lead to more violence.  There’s nothing preventing one tribe from stealing the other’s weapons or just killing everyone.  And the Klingons could just as easily supply better weapons.

Escalation solves nothing, but doing nothing isn’t the right answer, either.  I suppose Kirk could call it in.  The Federation and Starfleet must have someone who would be better equipped to handle it.  Still, there is no real good answer to the problem.  The options are to let one group kill the other or make it so both sides could kill each other and hope that neither does.

This is one of those episodes where I would have liked to see some follow up.  There were a few cases where it was a shame we never get to see the consequences of what happened.  This is one of them.


 IMDb page