In which I cave to deadline pressure, the most useful invention ever appears for a single franchise and never again, and conspiracy theories are fun.
Yes, my lovelies, I’m doing the Animated Series. Why? Because I’m super busy and need filler, that’s why.
There is one episode that’s considered canon, and this one isn’t it. For the most part, I’d like to consider The Animated Series as affected by other Star Trek canon without affecting it outwardly. An isolated timeline, if you will, in case anything particularly interesting comes up. For the most part I will probably be making fun of these (with love) and reminiscing about how I used to have all of these on VHS, intercut with amazing commercials from when they were run on Nickelodeon some time during or just prior to my childhood. There was this cereal commercial with a wizard…
I digress. This is still during the Enterprise’s five-year mission, so Kirk is still captain, Spock hasn’t died yet, and McCoy is still in possession of what marbles he has. The Enterprise has once again managed to travel distances that Janeway, decades later, will struggle to match. The ship gets caught in some sort of gravity well as it detects some sort of radio signal. Spock “can only describe it as hyper-gravity,” to which there is only one possible response.
Oh god the science here is so bad. Worse than the Original Series bad. They’re falling toward something with ‘negative star mass.’ Man, if you thought adults in the late 60’s would fall for any technobabble, wait ’till you see what kids in the early ’70s wouldn’t call bullshit on. In order to escape it, Kirk asks if the slinshot effect will be possible. Hopefully he’s just going to try to use that for it’s legitimate momentum-gaining properties, rather than that its time travel.
But who cares about the ship’s imminent crash into the surface of a dead star, when there’s an alien ship to look at, that appears to have been floating there (powerless, crewless, and not sucked into the ex-star) for three hundred million years. Man, I enjoyed watching these as a kid but applying any sort of analysis to it is making my brain weep.
So, in TAS, they have Life Support Belts, which sustain a bubble of contained atmosphere that fits to the form of the wearer. I could go out on a limb and suggest that these are the result of some concentrated research and that it turns out there’s an undesirable long-term effect, but instead I’ll just bite my knuckle and let it pass. Not canon, not canon, not canon…
Important points: the ship was burst from within, but even three hundred million years later and completely deserted, the ship’s onboard energy collector systems are functioning, a fact which becomes more relevant when it locks the away team into the control room and shows them the final distress call. It’s a good thing that whatever drained their phasers and communicators didn’t also drain their Universal Translators.
It’s also a good a good thing that nobody prone to epileptic fits watched this in an age where litigiosity was a sport. The console room explodes, the away team beams back and some sort of green energy being comes with them – the same one that made the insect crew destroy their ship.
The ship also has an autoamted bridge defense system, which has never come up before. It looks like a planetarium projector coming down from the ceiling. Accidents are occurring all over the ship – a hatch traps Scotty and would have crushed him if his life support belt force field (hmm, useful, that) hadn’t saved him. Life support is shutting down all over the ship. The Enterprise fires on the alien ship. And the alien takes over the bridge by shooting pain lasers out of the projector as soon as Kirk and Spock rig a shield around the navigation console. It turns out that it’s trapped by the star and needs a starship to escape. And it wants to go to the center of the galaxy. I don’t think I need to belabor the point, but it’s a hell of a long way. I wonder what it could possibly want there?
Kirk has Spock plot a slingshot effect in his mind so the energy being can’t read it off the computer, and as a last-ditch effort pilots the ship directly towards the star. The alien flees rather than be destroyed with the ship (somehow) and they carry out the slingshot effect. It cries piteously not to be left alone, and Kirk flies away without so much as posting a quarantine beacon.
I’d like to promise you that there’s the seeds of a much larger web here going on in the background, but I’m pretty sure that’s just the human propensity to see patterns where none exist. Nevertheless, I’m going to come back to this later.