Sunday, March 8, 2015

Star Trek: A Private Little War

It's somewhat ironic that just after the passing of Leonard Nimoy I am getting around to posting my next look at a Star Trek episode and it is the one where Nimoy's character Spock has the least to do. Yup, it's the strange episode known as:
I've gotta say, this one ranks pretty low for me. It's certainly my least favorite of the Season Two episodes that I've covered so far (though there are some turkeys on the horizon).

The story is supposed to be a Cold War analog that teaches us about the balance of power, but it really doesn't make sense. Kirk, Spock and McCoy are on a planetary survey mission. Kirk is surprised to see that some of the inhabitants have flintlock rifles, as they had only advanced to the level of the bow and arrow when he led the first survey there 13 years ago.
Before the opening credits roll, the landing party is spotted and Spock is shot, pretty much ending his role in the episode. Before the landing party was discovered, the bad guys (wearing black wigs) were intending to shoot the good guys (wearing gray wigs). In the gray wig group is Kirk's friend, Tyree.

We never see their starship, but the Klingons are in orbit and Kirk suspects that they're the ones responsible for arming the black-wig-wearing natives.

How does arming some natives help the Klingons? Kirk says that by breaking the treaty the Klingons are risking interstellar war. Why would they do this? There's no reason that makes any sense. I mean none, other than maybe they got the thought, "Let's f*ck with some humaniods by giving some of them weapons and see what happens."

For anyone that doesn't get the parable they are spinning, Kirk later asks Bones if he remembers "the twentieth century brush wars on the Asian continent?" Explaining, "Two giant powers involved, much like the Klingons and ourselves. Neither side felt they could pull out..... The only solution is what happened back then. Balance of power." Kirk is just as crazy as the Klingons and feels that the Graywigs need guns too to balance out what the Klingons are giving to the Blackwigs and Kirk's the one to give them what they need.

Anyway, the Enterprise has to go runoff and hide from the Klingons (like they did in Friday's Child). Kirk and McCoy darn native clothing and beam back down only to be attacked by the most ridiculous monster in all of Star Trek, the Mugato.
When I was a kid I thought that the Mugato was pretty cool. Now? Not so much. 
The surprised Mugato is zapped by the phaser-weilding McCoy, but not before the beast manages to land a poisonous bite on Kirk.
We soon meet Kirk's friend Tyree, of the Graywig people, and his saucy and ambitious wife, the witch doctor Nona. Theirs is a mixed marriage as she comes from the Blackwig tribe. They take Kirk and McCoy to their village, a collection of tents next to a cave.
Kirk (under the pile of furs) is taken into the cave, while McCoy phasers some rocks to heat up the place, not realizing that Nona is looking on.
Back aboard the Enterprise, Spock is being treated by the awesome Dr. M'Benga. The dude interned on Vulcan and obviously learned much during his time there. As he explained, "If he's going to live, his Vulcan physiology will have to do it for him." Yeah, so he's no help at all, is he?

But he does explain to Nurse Christine Chapel that Spock is in "a form of self-induced hypnosis." She asks him, "You mean he's conscious?" and M'Benga replies, "Well, in a sense. He knows we're here and what we're saying, but he can't afford to take his mind from the tissue he's fighting to heal."
This is all very interesting, because a short while later Spock asks Christine to hit him, saying that "The pain will help me to consciousness." When she refuses he says, "Blast you, strike me! If I don't regain consciousness soon, it may be too late. Hit me. Harder!.... Again. Continue. The pain will help me to consciousness." Yeah, that's Nimoy's "big scene" for the episode. It's okay folks, they can't all be good.

I still don't understand the Spock consciousness thing though. M'Benga said Spock was conscious (but focused inward) then Spock talks, replies, makes requests and interacts with Christine, and then says that he's not conscious. I thought that having a conversation and asking for things was pretty much a sign that you were conscious. Whatever.
Back on the planet Nona is doing her witch doctor thing in healing Kirk. Afterwards she says, "Our souls have been together. He is mine now." That could be trouble.
Speaking of trouble, the Kingons (well, one of them anyway) are here and are giving firearms to the Blackwigs.
Kirk's response is to arm and train the Graywigs. Even Tyree, their pacifistic leader, gets into the act, though his heart isn't into it.
Nona puts the moves on Kirk when another Muguto shows up. Kirk dispatches it with a phaser, giving Nona another glimpse of the power she desires and, since she can't get Tyree interested in being much of a man, she decides to take action for herself. Nona conks Kirk on the head with a rock,  steals his phaser and takes it to the Blackwigs.
This doesn't exactly go as she planned though. They jump her, the Graywigs catch wind of this and a scuffle ensues. Alas, Nona is killed and Tyree is now ready to be armed and make war with the Blackwigs--giving us the opposite of a happy ending. Bah.

There was no new music written for this episode and that's okay as it probably wasn't worth the effort.

Next up, is The Gamesters of Triskelion. I can hardly wait. 

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