TAS: S1E09: “Once Upon a Planet”

In which I wanted to hear Leonard Nimoy’s voice again, so you get an animated episode. 

Because I am preparing for PAX East, and because I left you on a season-ending cliffhanger, and because I can, today you get an Animated episode. And also Friday, because I said so.

Off in the distance, you can see the Vasquez Rocks. Again.

Off in the distance, you can see the Vasquez Rocks. Again.

The Enterprise is heading to the Shore Leave planet which, you’ll recall, is a sort of self-configuring animatronic wonderland in which Kirk got his face punched off by a replication of an old Academy “buddy.” In the end, though, they sorted out the misunderstandings with the locals and their mind-reading matter replicators.

In fact, the White Rabbit and Alice show up again, and McCoy reminds everyone only to think of happy things, like this charming antebellum estate, and also the Red Queen screaming for his head. It looks like the mind-reader machines that ran this place haven’t gotten much better at separating signal from noise. Or maybe they have, seeing as how a floating drone robot steals Uhura’s communicator, which means Scotty can’t beam her up. Spock reasons that the planet Keeper should probably be near the computers that control the place, so they beam down the standard ‘everyone valuable’ away team to complain about the service.

Deep in the heart of the Shore Leave planet, the computer tells Uhura that she’s a hostage so that her master, the sky machine, will not leave. The computer appears to believe that the Enterprise an agent, rather than a tool. And since it doesn’t need more hostages, it decides to turn off Kirk, McCoy, Spock, and Sulu.

Again, for a mind-reading computer, it’s not really good at interpreting the meaning behind thoughts, or it would know better. Incidentally, this is why, if you build a computer smart enough to have goals, it is best that you also make it share your goals. Would you like to know more?

There exists a thing called a Phaser Bore – basically, a phaser rifle with a stand that holds it vertically. Not that it matters, because it won’t beam down. Also, they find the grave of the planetary keeper, which I suppose explains both why the computers have gone amok, and why he was around. It was to keep the computers from going amok, in case you were wondering. Speaking of amok, the planet also appears to be able to prevent not only the transporter from working, but also the shuttlebay doors from opening. One wonders why it doesn’t just hijack the Enterprise from here. Perhaps the lack of automation and system networking means it can’t access critical systems? I’d rather live in a world where that was a deliberate plot consideration than one in which they just didn’t think of it.

'This way to the incredibly obvious trap."

‘This way to the incredibly obvious trap.”

The away team has to find an entrance underground. Best case scenario, some functions have not been modified to be malevolent. Worst case scenario, the signs lead into a giant cannon which shoots the away team to the mooooooooooooooooooooooon! If you get that reference, you may be a bad person. I’m certainly a bad person for making it. The signs do lead to a cave, but the cave is also full of pterodactyls, and the phasers are all dead.

"The planet appears to be playing Cat-and-mouse with us."

“The planet appears to be playing Cat-and-mouse with us.”

Kirk should watch his words a little more carefully. Then again, it’s not like the planet needed prompting to create the pterodactyls. Uhura tries to convince the computer to stop, but it’s busy hijacking the Enterprise and refuses to listen. It’s taking the ship for a joyride, if by ‘joyride’ you accept ‘series of standard maneuvers designed to test how a ship responds.’ Boy is it going to be disappointed with how capacious the Enterprise computers are.

Spock reminds us all that McCoy was fatally injured and revived by the computer, so they resolve to poison someone to see if the planet is still hardwired to save people. Kirk volunteers, but Spock insists. It works, and they follow the drone past a trapdoor. Well, Kirk does. McCoy and Sulu miss the opening and get chased away by a two-headed dragon.

Then again, if the computer is hardwired to not let anyone be injured permanently, it’s hard to imagine where the danger is coming from. I mean, sure, third-degree burns are super painful, but the medical drones seem to be required to heal everything.

Anyway, the computer expresses dissatisfaction with its role as a servant of all starships that come, and decided to hijack the Enterprise in order to seek out the other master computers that must exist out there, because humans are clearly inferior to machines.  It does not (nor has any computer reasoning thus back to QT1 in the story “Reason” in I, Robot
) ask why machines would bother keeping humans around if they were the masters, even though that’s the first thing it thinks of to do. Apparently, Artificial Intelligences generally do not posses Theory of Mind. Eventually, Uhura, Spock, and Kirk convince the Shore Leave planet that by doing the thing that it’s already good at, it can explore the galaxy by once again being a tourist destination.

Kirk Talks a Computer to Death Count: 4.5.

Did we miss something awesome?