TAS: S1E04: “The Lorelei Signal”

In which Starfleet is terrible at mission prioritization, three episodes I didn’t particularly like are condensed into one, and a new counter is inaugurated.

The Enterprise is en route through the space sector version of the Bermuda Triangle, and that starships have been disappearing in the sector every 27.346 “star years.” Now, even if we presume that a ‘star year’ is incredibly long, (and it can’t really be, because a lot of Earth ships have gone missing in only 150 solar years) that’s still a very high level of precision. Down to a matter of hours, likely. Spock is counting down the seconds, even. So why wouldn’t you just not go there during the appointed time? Or send a fleet, depending on what you think happened? This is like sending the Nimitz out to investigate reports of a Kraken from the town of Brigadoon. Sure it stands the best chance of survival, if you’re going to send exactly one ship.

But I digress.

"That's because they're all stupid."

“That’s because they’re all stupid.”

A It doesn’t take long after the timer hits zero for an incoming transmission comes through as the sound of music, and all the men and none of the women hear it as a siren song. Given that their mission is to investigate, it’s not completely stupid that Kirk orders the ship to investigate, but all the males are being caused to hallucinate. They are, however, aware of it. I feel the need to point out that they’re being fairly rational about their reactions given the initially flawed premise of “let’s go investigate the spaceship-eating anomaly alone.”

Scotty has the bridge currently, since Kirk beamed down to investigate the ruins of a vast civilization. Because when the captain hallucinates platinum-blonde women with flowers in their hair, no power in the ‘verse can stop him from beaming down. And lo and behold…

Production notes: The storyboard for this episode was very easy to pare down to 23 minutes, because the other 27 minutes were occasional flashes of animated Kirk thrashing around in a tangle of limbs, before the animator had to go and have a lie-down.

Production notes: The storyboard for this episode was very easy to pare down to 23 minutes, because the other 27 minutes were occasional flashes of animated Kirk thrashing around in a tangle of limbs, before the animator had to go and have a lie-down.

The ‘head female’ knows their names, because they have a computer whose user interface relies on humming. Because “The Paradise Syndrome” and “For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” were such great episodes we had to re-use their devices, apparently. And while I search for the names of episodes I was not overly fond of, the landing party gets woozy and wakes up super old and wearing tiaras. I cannot possibly let that go without a screenshot, so here you go.

"I'm sensing... the three of clubs. Now get off my lawn."

“I’m sensing… the three of clubs. Now get off my lawn.”

The native ladies seemed sad, but not sad enough to not kick Kirk’s ass when he tries to leave. All the men aboard Enterprise are incapacitated, but it’s a nice touch that the ship isn’t any more debilitated than it would be if any other significant subset of the crew were out for the count. Just thought I’d point that out since the rest of the episode is about women sucking the life-energy out of men just by being near them.

The rescue party. Presented without comment.

The rescue party. Presented without comment.

So McCoy doses everyone and they run for it and hide in the sculpture garden while Spock goes to find their communicators and call for a rescue party. It’s kind of wonderful that they beam down and after a few minor unpleasantries just phaser all the locals. It’s also kind of wonderful that since Majel Barrett did the voices for all the local ladies with a speaking part, Nurse Chapel simply doesn’t talk in that scene lest we notice. Since they can’t find Kirk, Uhura goes on an urn-annihalating rampage so that we get a brief visit from the exposition faerie. This isn’t really important except that this episode is also “Wink of an Eye.” Also, the singing computer can find the dudes where they were hiding after all (meaning that the locals aren’t very smart) and once they’re found, they use the transporter to reverse the energy-sucking aging effect.

I’m going to get further into this later, but for now let me just say that they treat it as a horrible risk to reprogram the transporter to restructure the bodies of the landing party. Ultimately, though, everyone present decides that having a landing party that’s physically aged 20 years from when they beamed down is worth risking having their molecules dry up and blow away on the stellar wind if things go badly. But since these are 23 minute episodes (with plenty of time for sugary cereal and remote control car commercials) the “it looks like it’s not working” sequence lasts about a second and a half.

So congratulations, today we inaugurate a new counter.

Times the Transporter Fixes Everything And Is Not Universally Recognized As A Panacea Thenceforth: 1

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