In which we briefly consider the nature of philosophical zombies before getting drunk and sidetracked, William Shatner chews the scenery, and Spock and McCoy confuse the captain merely by being in the same room with each other.
It has come to my attention that my numbering scheme for the first season is off, because I counted the pilot and maybe I shouldn’t have. There, I have addressed it, so if anyone was going to complain about it, don’t.
Styrofoam rocks,beach blankets, and a unicorn dog. We are off to a strong start. Again, we’re on a planet because of the human desire to go to terrible places and know things, and in so doing we expose ourselves to danger. During the beam-up process, something sad happens but Scotty is pretty awesome, and compensates for it. And like a good technician he’s double-checking his work before he lets the highest-ranking human in local space go through a human-dsassembler. And if this is the episode I think it is, today we’ll be talking about P-zombies. Oh look at that. A second Kirk has beamed up rotated 180 degrees and is giving the camera an Look. I was right.
While the credits roll, P-zombies are a thought experiment in which you exactly duplicate a person except for the ‘soul’ or whatever buzzword you choose to use. They don’t experience pain, but they act like they experience pain. Go look it up on wikipedia, I won’t do it justice.
Kirk’s log-taking style is interesting. He gives it like an after-action report, so we have his normal dispassionate voice while his clone is molesting a transporter console. Also, when he beamed up, he didn’t have an insignia on. Some subtle statement about him not being whole,I’m sure. Nice Kirk doesn’t flirt with Yeoman Rand. Evil Kirk goes into medbay and orders a brandy, which is an interesting setpiece about the state of medicine in the 23rd century. It very much says ‘frontier’ medicine without saying it. Consider: Picard’s enterprise doesn’t even have alcohol unless you’re good friends with Guinan, but on Kirk’s enterprise the brandy is right there in medbay. They don’t have a designer drug yet for every possible ailment, nor beeping bits of technology that send numbing EM pulses through your achey bits. The doctor sedates you with brandy, presumably because it has fewer side effects and contraindications than most of the drugs they have. This is helpful when the entire purpose of your mission is filling the computer banks with every unknown thing you can find.
We also don’t spend long before being presented with the problem of the week. Nine minutes in and Scotty straight-up tells us that the transporter is creating docile and aggressive duplicates. This knowledge will not help Yeoman Rand, who is about to be molested for what promises to be a long and illustrious career of being molested. It sucks to be Yeoman Rand. What is nice though is that she really does not seem inclined to put up with anyone’s shit. She threatened to break various of Charlie Evans’ appendages, and you get the sense that the only reason she’s not doing the same here is because Kirk is the captain. This is very Not Cool and she should’ve punched him in lots of places, but these things are difficult in the military, and the Constitution-class is very much ordered like a military ship. This is actually really uncomfortable. She scratched Evil Kirk’s face and is giving her deposition in front of Nice Kirk which is the absolute worst way to get the statement of a rape victim. On top of that, the unscratched Nice Kirk is making her doubt her sanity.
Here’s where we learn that phasers have multiple settings and that they can be set to stun. Here’s also where we start to be shown that Nice Kirk is not an effective decision maker. Here’s also where we learn the true acting range of The Shat, as he shouts “I’m Captain Kirk” repeatedly in a crazed madman’s voice before calmly applying foundation cream.
What exactly happens if you split a space heater into ‘good’ and ‘evil’ halves? Or ‘calm’ and ‘willful’ or however you want to designate the duplicates? What, here, is being separated out, and by what criteria? This phenomenon really needs to be studied. Sulu asks for coffee or rice wine. What, exactly, would happen if you beamed them? They need to take a sample of that ore back to Starfleet command and set it up with a transporter setup.
I’m so excited for how they handle the faceoff between the two Kirks. Oh no wait. They’re just using extreme close-ups and a not-very-good body double. That’s really sad. What’s really interesting here is that Spock, a Vulcan, is arguing that an effective leader needs to have emotional and hostile undercurrents. Also a functioning liver, though, so Scotty better fix those damn transporters right quick. Also, Kirk is hugging himself and making statements that can be taken out of context pretty hilariously. If Evil Kirk takes Nice Kirk in a manly fashion, is that masturbation?
I’m really not certain how patching the transporters through the sublight thrusters is supposed to fix them. Over the years, the Treknobabble did get somewhat better. It does help that several real-world particles were actually named after things from Star Trek, ready for use by The Next Generation. And here we have the first instance of those famous words, “He’s Dead, Jim” uttered over a dogicorn.
Spock’s choice of words is interesting here. “I have a human half and an alien half.” Perhaps it’s because he’s talking to McCoy, or because Starfleet is still primarily a humans-only club, but the implication, by death-of-the-author, is that Spock has habitually had to think of himself as a member of the majority culture, that is part outsider. It’s not likely to help much that Vulcans are the best friends Humans have out there in the black – not being able to accept your heritage is Uncool. Not like Sulu who, down there on the frozen planet, is very cool. Frosty, even. I digress. Spock’s word choice is telling, and I think we all learned a valuable lesson here.
Always use the shuttlecraft.