TAS: S1E06: “The Survivor”

In which I propose a game, Space Warren Buffet is rescued, and I do drunken metaphysics.

One of the things I like about the Animated series, as I mentioned in “Beyond the Farthest Star,” is that it lets them do much bolder things with the visuals, because, let’s face it, the Gorn looked like what it was: a guy in a rubber mask. One of the things I don’t like is that most of the episodes so far have been just repackaged episodes from TOS, and not necessarily the good ones. Why do I mention these now? So that you can play the same game I’m playing. It’s called ‘spot the plot.’ Try and determine which episode(s) any given Animated Series episode borrows from and… condenses. You can check your answers at the bottom.

And why shouldn't he be? Such style!

And why shouldn’t he be? Such style!

The Enterprise has happened upon a meteor-damaged ship and beamed aboard the survivor, one Carter Winston, a Federation celebrity. Apparently he used his personal fortune to ferry crops to a failing colony. Which is probably the most important piece of information that will be in this episode, since it pegs ‘personal fortune’ as being a Thing in this era. It’s always good to have supporting evidence.

Winston is a good sport when Spock points out that the regulations require them to check his identity. McCoy is more affronted than Winston was, which comes up when he gets strange readings from Winston, and dismisses it as ‘must need recalibration.’ Now, I know you’ll all expect that I go off on McCoy for being a terrible doctor, and you’re right, we can take that as read. But it turns out that this is not unprecedented. Computer systems in this era were huge, underpowered, and largely untested. The fact that we put men on the moon using something significantly less powerful than a computer simple enough that you’re allowed to bring it into the SATs with you is a fact that I honestly have trouble appreciating. I’m having trouble finding a reference to it now, but I remember reading somewhere that they chekced the computer’s calculations against a human’s when they were planning the mission, and if there was disagreement they tended to first assume the computer was at fault. So the fact that McCoy was written in an era when miniaturized electonics were still basically witchcraft somewhat mitigates my disdain.

"Look, Winston. The Japanese have had porn of you since 1814. This one is called 'the Dream of the Fisherman's Wife.'

“Look, Winston. The Japanese have had porn of you since 1814.

I digress. Winston’s fiancee happens to be on the Enterprise, and he doesn’t seem so thrilled about it. He says he’s changed, and that ‘they’ put him back together after massive surgery. I suppose it would take massive surgery to turn him into a sexapedal I-don’t-know-what alien, which gives Kirk a Neck Pinch, puts him to sleep in his quarters, and then takes his form.

WinstonKirk orders Sulu to lay in a course for a planet across the Romulan Neutral Zone, and then just leaves and allows the real Kirk to wake up, and countermand the orders. As Kirk decides that for the first time in his life he’ll voluntarily undergo a checkup, Winston is already commandeering McCoy’s appearance, and after a little counseling of Winston’s fiancee to forget about him, Kirk shows up and WinstonMcCoy brushes him off. But he’s way too genial about admitting there’s always a possibility he made a mistake in his tests.

Kirk comes back when he realizes that McCoy was behaving weird, and they find the (ahem) real McCoy just waking up from his nerve pinch. Now riddle me this: why is Kirk the only one who realizes there’s an extra bed in sick bay? He threatens to throw acid on Winston and Winston turns back into the squid thing and goes on the lam. There’s a brief chase which is interrupted by two Romulan battlecruisers.

The Romulans are seen here using Klingon-style D-7 hulls.

The Romulans are seen here using Klingon-style D-7 hulls.

The Romulans are not pleased about Kirk showing up, and make fun of him for always getting lost and wandering into the Neutral Zone. Kirk hypothesizes that Winston was in fact a Romulan spy sent to take the Enterprise like a chesspiece. The alien sabotages the shields and opens the shuttle bay doors, but Winston’s fiancee stops him. They have a chat, and it seems that these aliens internalize the feelings and emotions of a person the longer they stay in a form. It might be the alcohol talking, but I can see how that might work. I mean, if you emulate something perfectly, including it’s brain, then you necessarily emulate those brain-states. Once we take as axiomatic the existence of an alien that can actually fully shapeshift into a person instead of, say, just changing the outward appearance or projecting an illusion, it’s not so far-fetched that tthey’d take on mental proclivities.

Of course, this brings up the old shapeshifter problem. If it’s emulating brain-states but maintaining knowledge of its own agenda, there’s an implied dualism there, which in turn implies that emulating brain-states is not sufficient to absorb emotional states as well. Unless we decide that these aliens have souls and humans don’t, of course.

Yeah, I’m going to say that was the alcohol. Pear brandy. Thumbs up.


Anyway, “Charlie X” and “Turnabout Intruder.” What were your answers?


Did we miss something awesome?