Organians. The alien version of the Irish Mother.
Errand of Mercy is next week. We’re still on Devil in the Dark.
I always liked Devil in the Dark, except: It doesn’t seem to me that the being we see in the show can have done the things it is supposed to have done. That thing can barely belly-crawl across the flat cave floor. It’s not slow, I don’t mean that; I mean it’s limited to movement on horizontal surfaces. How did it pounce on its victims? How does it make a circular hole in a vertical cave wall which starts several feet above the floor? Does it jump?
(Yes, I know, creature effects limitations etc)
People do not parse strangeness very well. The miners were not expecting anything like the horta. When it appeared they did what any human would. They froze. And while their brain tried to figure out what was happening the horta killed them. They were killing its children.
I only watched the beginning of this episode last week, didn’t have the chance to see the rest before my CBS sub expired. (Don’t worry, I won’t fall too far behind this time, I plan to get Netflix soon when Hassan Minaj’s show comes back).
I do love that near the start of the episode, they go to war with the Klingon empire. And the way they find out is a short message from Starfleet. That’s it. We’re at war. No big announcement, nothing dramatic. Just a message. And there it is, says Kirk, we’re at war.
Very “Cold War” in it’s resonance. Reflective of 1966. Everyone thought war (big, World War kinda war) was just one radio message away, and society had been living that way for 15 years.
All right, so let’s talk Errand of Mercy. As @Rock8man notes, at the beginning of the episode the Federation goes to war with the Klingons and by the end of the episode, war is over. In between, not a whole lot happens. I say that a lot, but in this case, it’s an unusually low-key set of hostilities.
I’ll get this out of the way upfront - I don’t really like this episode. It’s the first episode to really devote any time to the Klingons, and it’s kind of cool for that, but I can’t find much else to like. Kirk and Spock and alone on the Organian planet and wage their own kind of resistance against Kor’s invading force and then just when things are getting interesting, the intergalactic grownups show up and take everyone’s toys away. I’m just not a fan of these kind of deus ex machina endings, where the all-powerful alien beings show up, do their thing and then go back to doing whatever it is they do in their spare time.
I have to agree with @RichVR’s perspective on the Organians themselves, they’re a smug bunch of bastards, aren’t they? Content to sit around and smile passively at the visiting aliens until violence threatens to break out and then oh no, we can’t have that, let’s just crank up the heat a little bit. I was a bit amused at both Kirk’s and Kor’s immediate distaste for the Organians’ placid, smiling demeanor and I can’t blame either of them for seeing stupidity behind their vacant appearances. I’d have probably talked down to them too.
Anyway, not much else to say from my end of things. I’d love to hear from someone who has a more favorable perspective on this episode.
Star Trek had a knack for introducing smart ideas that turn out to be future plot killers. Hey, we have transporters? No more stories based on the heroes being trapped somewhere! Communicators? Guess they can’t ever be out of touch. This episode introduces another. If the Organians won’t let the Federation and the Klingons fight, then no more stories about fighting the Klingons. I guess we’ll have to invent another enemy.
Not I. It’s a middling episode, mainly due to the alien deus ex machina Gene foists upon us, though the writers and DC do a good job later of using the Organian imposed peace to create some interesting situations and stories later, despite the future plot-killing boneheadedness @scottagibson rightfully refers to.
On the positive side, we get Kirk and Spock playing insurgent which is fun and we do get a fantastic character in Kor and a masterful performance by John Colicos in that role. “It would have been glorious.”
Remind me, is this the first time for the Klingons on the series, or did we have Klingons seen or even mentioned before that I’m forgetting?
Cool. That’s quite momentous. That means this episode introduced a species that is most closely associated with Star Trek to this day, I’d say. Though Vulcans would also be just as frequently thought of as the first aliens people think of I suppose. I never would have guessed before this re-watch that the Klingons were introduced so late, and well after the Romulans.
Kor (and later Koloth and Kang) are the reason they have that staying power. Good characters, well acted.
Yes, it’s interesting to see that the Klingons are a fairly bald-faced representation of the perceived Communist threat, in opposition for all that the Federation stands for. The Klingons aren’t yet at the point where they stop making sense as a species, in that they love only war and openly disdain any of their fellows who do anything else. I have no idea how such a race could achieve anything, let alone progress beyond the stone age (see also Ferengi, and their single minded racial trait of the pursuit of all things trading).
At this point, the Klingons aren’t even as alien as Vulcans, and their main difference between themselves and humans seems to be cultural. It will be fun to see how they progress and get fleshed out over the series.
This. And it brings to mind one of the reasons TOS was so good: The quality of all of the guest stars each week was routinely very high. Were there any bad guest star appearances? Maybe Melvin Belli.
It may be that the resolution of this episode was deliberately designed to force the two sides into a Cold War detente. If they couldn’t fight a war, they could still mistrust each other and compete with each other and fight proxy battles and generally engage in US / Soviet style opposition. I haven’t read enough about this episode to know if that was deliberate, but that’s the way it worked out.
Yeah, we’ll definitely be returning to the theme of the Federation and Klingons fighting proxy wars against each other through less developed civilizations (I won’t go into details just in case anybody might want to be unspoiled, but you’ll know it when you see it). I don’t doubt for a moment that it was intentional.
Yeah, we get some good episodes out of it. Including a certain bar fight.
And a guy in a white Gorilla costume with a horn in its forehead.
Wow, I had managed to put that Melvin Belli episode completely out of mind. Thanks /sarcasm
It’s that time again folks! This week, we’re watching “The Alternative Factor”. I found it an interesting episode overall, mainly because it plays its cards fairly close to its vest for most of its runtime. Lots of episodes put the central conflict right out there pretty early - we know the stakes and the players, and just let the episode unspool how it will eventually play out. But there’s a central mystery in this episode, who is Lazarus? And we as the audience figure it out fairly quickly, it takes the crew a while to work it out. Although I was a bit off in my first assessment, I thought Lazarus was going to end up being a split personality kind of thing, not two actual beings.
We’ve heard talk of matter and antimatter relationships on previous Star Trek episodes, but not really any discussion of how it works, or really where antimatter comes from. The reaction between the two drives the Enterprise, along with the ubiquitous dilithium crystals (which we actually get to see in this episode!). Does the federation have to dip into this negative universe in order to obtain antimatter, and if so how does it do so at will, and safely? Or does antimatter occur normally in our universe as well somehow? Maybe it doesn’t pay to think too deeply about the details.
But Lazarus doesn’t come our universe. Well, I guess one of them does, but the non-crazy one doesn’t. He also doesn’t come from the mirror universe, though that’s also a topic for another day. But there’s a flip side, a negative to our positive. The idea that discovering you have a negative twin would drive you to murderous deeds is a little funny, but I guess everyone’s got their breaking point. Incidentally it reminds me of that Jet Li movie where he tracks down his counterpart in other parallel universes, getting stronger each time he does so. I guess that doesn’t happen in this episode.
Like I mentioned, I have mostly positive thoughts about this episode. While it did maintain my interest, I did feel like it dragged a bit. Watching Lazarus wrestle with his counterpart and the crew of the Enterprise wrestle with the central mystery went on just a bit longer than I would have liked it to. But the wrap-up was also interesting, with the two Lazaruses fist fighting throughout eternity in some existential doorway. That’s one hell of an afterlife.