Monday, July 4, 2016

Star Trek: Elaan of Troyius

It is time for for me to look at another episode of classic Star Trek, today I bring you my thoughts on:

Trek borrows from Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew in this season three episode. It has a few bumps, but otherwise is a good episode where we see a green-skinned alien that's not an exotic dancing girl, sabotage, green chicken, Kirk teaching manners and courtesy, dilithium crystals, and a space battle with (finally) a cool looking Klingon Battle Cruiser. 

There's to be an arranged marriage that will bring peace to two neighboring planets and the Enterprise is to escort the Dohlman Elaan to the planet Troyius.
Members of Elaan's royal guard look pained by the terrible costumes they are forced to wear. I can't say as I blame them.
As they slowly make their way to Troyius, the green-skinned Ambassador [Rob] Petri is to instruct the spoiled and uncouth Elaan in "Troyian customs and manners." As you can see (above, left) Elaan didn't take too kindly to Ambassador [Rob] Petri's instructions.

The task of instructing Elaan falls to Kirk, who must also keep a careful watch on the Klingon Battle Cruiser that is following them.

The Enterprise has had space battles with Klingons before and, interestingly enough, they were mostly not shown. For instance, in the excellent season one episode Errand of Mercy, which introduced the Klingons, we never see their ship even though there's an impending space battle with them. In season two's Friday's Child we finally see a Klingon ship of sorts.
Yes, the ship on the left is the pretty terrible Klingon ship shown in Friday's Child. The appearance of the new Klingon ship in Elaan of Troyius is wonderful in comparison. Awesome, in fact. I've read that the new ship came about because a company that sold toy models paid for the creation of that production model of Klingon ship in exchange for the rights to sell the models. Anyway, back to the story...

Mmmmmm. Green chicken, peaches and watermelon: It's what's for dinner.
Kirk's instruction of Elaan doesn't go especially well, but at least he didn't get stabbed. Kirk threatens to spank her, calling her a spoiled brat. At one point she locks herself in next room and won't come out, saying, "If I have to stay here for ten light years, I will not be soiled by any contact with you." Ten light years?! Yes, Elaan indeed has a lot to learn. A light year is a unit of distance, not time, your Glory. Alas, some of my astronomy students can't seem to remember that either.
When he's dealing with Elaan, Kirk doesn't hold back. "Nobody's told you that you're an uncivilized savage, a vicious child in a woman's body, an arrogant monster!" Unfortunately, he also doesn't hold back when talking about her to Spock: "Mister Spock, the women on your planet are logical. That's the only planet in this galaxy that can make that claim." Sigh. Star Trek wasn't always forward thinking, especially in its treatment of women and it shows here.
Alas, their conflict ultimately brings tears to Elaan's eyes and nobody thought to tell Kirk Ambassador [Rob] Petri's warning, "A man whose flesh is once touched by the tears of a woman of Elas has his heart enslaved forever." This isn't the biggest problem though. The Klingons are threatening and Scotty has discovered sabotage.

The anti-matter pods have been rigged to blow up the moment they go into warp drive and the entire dilithium crystal converter assembly is fused. That's bad. They're not going anywhere anytime soon, even with Scotty around to try to save the day.
Just as the Klingons are closing in, Spock detects an unusual energy reading on the bridge and it is coming from Elaan! She's wearing a necklace of "common stones" which are none other than dilithium crystals. That explains why the Klingons are interested in this system. Thankfully, Spock and Scotty are able to make use of the cyrstals and the battle commences!
Kirk and the Enterprise damage the Klingon ship and Kirk surprises Elaan by letting it go without destroying it. Mercy, its what they do in the Federation.

Yet the mission must be completed. The Enterprise proceeds to Troyius to deliver Elaan for her arranged marriage. But what of Kirk? He's in love with Elaan, right? In the end McCoy discovers a cure for the tears, but Spock informs him that the cure isn't needed, telling him "The antidote to a woman of Elas, Doctor, is a starship. The Enterprise infected the Captain long before the Dohlman did." That doesn't help Kirk in Requiem for Methuselah, does it? Oh well, it works here and that it good enough.

Elaan of Troyius has just enough of everything to be one of the better episodes for season three. One element that is just wonderful here was its musical score. Composer Fred Steiner delivered 31 minutes of mostly great action music that really, especially in combination with the new model of the Klingon Battle Cruiser, propels the episode forward. The level of excitement and drama here wouldn't be what it was without Steiner's great score. I'm very happy that to have this music in my collection, thanks to La-La Land Records complete release of all the music from classic Trek.

Elaan of Troyius gets a strong thumbs up from me.

Next up, The Paradise Syndrome.