In which the Klingons are bad at stress testing, genetic engineering is a fun fad, and Kirk gets buried in his work.
The Animated Series’ theme music is really swingy. That is all for today’s intro.
The Enterprise is escorting two robot ships to deliver a shipment of grain, when they come across a Klingon ship pursuing a civilian freighter. The Klingons appear to be horrible shots here. This is, however, borne out by the scene in Search for Spock when Kruge’s weapons officer accidentally destroys the Grissom. It would appear that precision targeting computers are not yet a thing. Scotty tries desperately to beam the pilot aboard, and has just enough trouble for several seconds of stock footage before a new Klingon weapon is deployed.
The new Klingon weapons disables completely any high-energy operations of a starship. Except for the Transporter, and also, somehow including the torpedoes. If we were making canon inferences here, we could deduce, therefore, that the torpedo propulsion system relies on a lightweight reactor of sufficient strength that the field shuts it down, because that’s more fun that taking Uhura’s statement “We could always throw rocks at them” and deciding that the writers cocked it up anyway.
The Klingons are not here directly antagonistic to Kirk. Their commander appears willing to release the Enterprise so long as he hands over the ecological terrorist they were pursuing. There are two problems with this. First, you don’t back Kirk into a corner because he does not like losing. Second, they haven’t finished beaming him in yet.
Kirk, reminded that they have robot ships under their control, commands the robot ships to ram the Klingons. The Klingons in turn extend their superweapon to hit the robot ships as well, but the power drain shuts it down. Next, the Klingons blow up the nacelles on one of the robot ships and run away, too low on power for a fight. With the Klingons gone, they’re able to re-integrate good old Cyrano Jones and four stacks of tribbles.
As if the title hadn’t given it away, that explains the charges of ecological sabotage. Kirk knows. Nobody is amused, except that Jones claims these are genetically engineered not to breed. Don’t think about that too hard. Apparnetly he got off K-7 by conjuring a tribble predator out of thin air, and then sold Tribbles on a Klingon planet. This episode reminds me of early trek, both because of Kirk’s command style and because McCoy is a terrible doctor again. He scans the tribbles once and determines they can’t reproduce, they just get fat. You will find out why this is terrible doctoring soon, I promise.
Predictably, the Enterprise has had to transfer the grain from the damaged ship aboard herself, so now they have grain containers in the corridors and tribbles running loose instead of, say, all being swept into a couple of holding cells. This episode also has some great visual gags, and I recommend watching it for that reason alone.
A space battle begins when the Klingons come back, which lasts long enough for them to disable the other robot ship and break open all the grain barrels in the corridors. This episode is also objectively good because they take mass and inertia into consideration, which is why the robot ships were necessary to begin with. But it does raise the question of how tribbles manage to get places like, for instance, Kirk’s chair. Twice in the span of thirty seconds.
In With two crippled robot ships, the Enterprise is not in great shape for a fight, but fortunately, the Klingon weapon, though it can neutralize photon torpedoes, is not exactly combat effective when not deployed in a fleet. With even one other ship it would be devastating, since one ship could sit there and keep the Enterprise trapped while the other whittled away at it until even Kirk would have to admit defeat. But with only one ship and that weapon, all it does is create a stalemate that drains the power of the ship using it. If Kirk weren’t mightily distracted, this wouldn’t even be a contest.
All the Klingons have is ‘boarding plan C’ and Kirk readies emergency response plan B, which is to transport all the tribbles over to the Klingon ship. Again. With this, the Klingon commander is finally willing to say what he actually wants – the tribble predator, which Jones stole from a Klingon planet. It’s the prototype, because Klingons are terrible at lab procedures and saving their work, apparently. With that, an amicable solution is reached and hostilities end. The Klingons find out whaty McCoy missed the first time around – that the fat tribbles are actually dozens – nay, hundreds of tribbles inside a single skin. Please don’t think about that too hard either. They’re willing to try to incinerate the tribbles with disruptor fire, but somehow not to do the same to the little ones. Aww. And as is traditional with a Tribble-based episode, we end on whimsey.