Sunday, July 5, 2015

Star Trek: Obsession

Today I bring you my thoughts on:
Obsession is not without its flaws, it's pretty hard on the Red Shirts, but it is good Trek.
As the episode begins Kirk, Spock and three Red Shirts are on a geological survey mission (looking for tritanium), which is kind of odd in that the Enterprise is carrying highly perishable vaccines that they need to deliver them to the USS Yorktown in just eight hours. This proves two things - 1) there's always time to stop and collect rocks and 2) by the 23rd Century people have gotten over the anti-vax movement and accepted that vaccines work. Hurrah for Science!
As they finish up the survey Kirk smells "a sweet odor, like honey" which triggers a memory of events that happened to him 11 years ago. As we soon learn, the odor is from a deadly, "gaseous cloud" that Kirk encountered on his first assignment after graduating from the Academy. Naturally, he sends the three Red Shirts to check it out. What could go wrong?
Plenty! Two Red Shirts are killed, including Mr. Lesley (who will show up quite alive in future episodes) and the third is nearly dead - all before the opening credits roll. The cloud feeds on red corpuscles, so I'm guessing it's pretty happy that the landing party arrived here.
Mr. Lesley killed by the Killer Outer Space Vampire Cloud
23rd Century Coffee Makers look really complex
In spite of the fact that the Enterprise needs to head out to meet the Yorktown and that the gaseous cloud isn't showing up on scanners, Kirk leads another landing party to look for the creature. With him is Ensign Garrovick (above, left) and four more Red Shirts. Garrovick is the son of Kirk's first commanding officer, the captain of the USS Farragut who was killed 11 years ago by what Kirk believes to be the same beast. Also in the landing party was real-life film score composer Basil Poledouris (above, center). Poledouris later wrote the music for movies like Conan the Barbarian, The Hunt for Red October and Starship Troopers.

Kirk has the landing party split up with Garrovick taking two Red Shirts with him. 
Yeah, that doesn't end well either. 
Afterwards Garrovick is grilled debriefed by Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Kirk isn't at all pleased to learn that Garrovick shot at a large, hovering cloud and missed. Actually, that's not quite correct. He didn't shoot while it was hovering. He hesitated and then missed his shot as it was moving. As we soon learn Ensign Kirk did pretty much the same thing 11 years ago and is still blaming himself for the deaths of 200 people aboard the Farragut. Garrovick is relieved of duty and confined to quarters. 
Red Shirts are dying, the Yorktown is waiting for the Enterprise to deliver perishable vaccines to take to Theta VII and the crew is questioning why Kirk is keeping the Enterprise here, so McCoy and Spock decide to confront Kirk about his possible obsession with the Killer Outer Space Vampire Cloud. 

Before they can come to any conclusions, the cloud leaves the planet and heads away at warp 8! The Enterprise takes pursuit, but can't keep up.
Kirk has them fire phasers and photon torpedoes, but they have no effect. Instead, the Killer Outer Space Vampire Cloud turns and attacks the Enterprise. As Spock points out, "Its method was well-considered and intelligent."

You may recall, that Kirk, Spock and McCoy have encountered intelligent gas clouds before. In Metamorphosis they even used the Universal Translator to communicate with one. Not so here, that's never even considered. It is too bad that they never tried communicating with it, but this is a Fight the Monster episode, not a The Monster's Not Really a Monster episode (like The Devil in the Dark), so deal with it.

Spock has figured out that the Killer Outer Space Vampire Cloud has the ability to throw itself out of time sync, which makes it possible for it to be elsewhere in the instant a phaser hits it and that neither Kirk nor Garrovick should be blamed for not killing it. 
When he stops by Garrovick's quarters to explain, the creature enters his quarters through his AC vent. Spock tries to stop it with his bare hands (!) and we fear the worst, as they cut to commercial. Thankfully, his green blood saved him & the creature heads out into deep space.
Interestingly, Kirk thinks he knows where the Killer Outer Space Vampire Cloud is headed and why it is doing so. They take pursuit. Spock clearly trusts his captain's instincts now as he tells Dr. McCoy "evidence indicates the creature is here to spawn. If so, it will reproduce by fission, not just into two parts, but thousands." I can't imagine what that evidence is other than Kirk's intuition.
Naturally, Kirk has a plan to kill the creature. They plan to bait it with a Big-Jar-O-Blood and blow it to heck and back with an antimatter bomb that will "rip away half the planet's atmosphere." Yes, he's going to kill the biosphere of an entire world! He really wants that cloud to die, doesn't he?
Once on the planet, they have to carry the bomb a few feet away (I'm not sure why) when Garrovick notices that the cloud is already drinking up all the blood that they brought. Damn! Instead they'll have to bait the trap with themselves.
I'm not sure why when they have a bomb that will rip away half the planet's atmosphere that the Killer Outer Space Vampire Cloud has to be so close to them for this to work, but that's TV for you.  They call for a beam out and the detonation of the bomb.
Kirk somehow manages to put his communicator away during transport, but it doesn't matter as the day has been saved - unless you happened to be a living thing on Tycho IV. If so, then your days are over.

If you made it this far, you might also be interested in reading the blog post about this episode written by director Ralph Senensky.

Alas, there was no new music for this episode, but it borrows heavily from the Sol Kaplan score for The Doomsday Machine. It works well here, especially since the two episodes have very similar endings.

Next up is The Immunity Syndrome.

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