Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Star Trek -- Season 2 Episode 22 (By Any Other Name)

I’ve been watching a lot of the original Star Trek episodes so that I might review them for this blog.  It’s amazing how little I seem to have forgotten about the episodes.  Then again, there are a lot of factors that contribute to that.  I’ve seen most of them numerous times.  I had also reviewed a lot of the episodes when I was writing on Epinions.  One might say that the episodes were well-written, but I suspect that it has more to do with how straightforward the writing was.

Take “By Any Other Name”.  The Enterprise responds to a distress call from an uncharted planet, only to discover several humanoid aliens.  The landing party is quickly captured and told that the aliens, who call themselves the Kelvans, require the ship to return to The Andromeda Galaxy.  (Their ship was destroyed by an energy barrier surrounding The Milky Way.)

It will take approximately 300 years to get back to the Kelvans’ home, which will require a generational ship.  It’s discovered that the Kelvans are actually and advanced species with hundreds of tentacles and the ability to control each independently.  They took human form for convenience and have accepted that the return trip will be generational.  Their mission is to find planets suitable for colonization, as the Kelvins need to conquer.

Because of the Kelvan’s technology, the crew of the Enterprise is easily subdued, but Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty are able to turn the tables and incapacitate the Kelvans.  By taking on human form, the Kelvans have also taken on human weaknesses, which the four officers can exploit.

It’s a bit of an odd episode.  I don’t want to say that it’s simplistic, but it had me asking a lot of questions.  First, the 300-year trip means that the Enterprise would get back at least 600 years after the Kelvans first left.  It would take another 300 years for a colonization ship to return to the Milky Way.

Add to this the fact that the Kelvans didn’t really look around much.  Granted, they have Starfleet’s flagship, which would likely contain more than enough information to get the Kelvan government started, but you’d think they’d want to look around first.  At least check to see how accurate the information is.  It took them three centuries to get here.  They could at least spend a few days to check things out and fill in a few gaps.

Also, as humans, there would likely be ten or so generations of humans.  Even if the Kelvans reproduce as humans, their descendants will have no loyalty to the Kelvan government.  What’s to stop the second or third generation down the line from turning the ship around?  The entire plan doesn’t seem to be that robust.

There are some memorable scenes and the acting is good, but it wasn’t one of the better episodes, in my opinion.  It could have done with some more detail.  I get some of the constraints, like making the Kelvans human.  It would have been difficult to present them as hundred-tentacled creatures.  But you’d think they’d be able to build a faster ship.

The biggest shame is that we never find out what happened to The Kelvans.  Those that took human form are left on that original planet.  They present as perfect humans, but it’s still a limited population.  Also, a probe is launched back to Andromeda.  It will take 300 years, presumably, so we’ll never know what becomes of those waiting for the would-be invasion party.  Perhaps with all the new Star Trek series on Paramount+, we’ll get some answers.


IMDb page


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