In which I open a bottle of BenRiach 12-year, Kiirk gets pornographic malware, and we see the least coherent theory of time travel ever.
We’re opening on a US Airforce base. Since all of those were destroyed in the Eugenics Wars, we can presume this is either one of those ‘duplicated earth’ episodes or this is the payoff from the time travel method we discovered in “The Naked Time.” The Air Force appears to have discovered the Enterprise on their radar. And it appears to be teetering back and forth through the sky like it’s drunk.
I never noticed that in the opening credits there appears to be a hurricane covering most of the northern hemisphere of a desert world. What’s up with that?
The Enterprise seems to have been caught near a “black star” or more probably a black hole and done another slingshot maneuver like in “The Naked Time” (Ha! Called it!) to wind up, in Kirk’s words “here, wherever we are.” Helpfully, as soon as the ship is in good shape Kirk orders starfleet command notified so they can update their maps. Presumably therefore, in the 23rd century they have yet to master sensors that operate at high warp. But when they call Starfleet, all they get is the evening news about the first manned trip to the moon. Extremely topical.
It’s worth noting at this point that anything the Enterprise does that affects the past will be altered by any events which alter Kirk’s life. I’m looking at you, JJ Abrams-universe.
The Temporal Prime Directive doesn’t exist yet, though, so Kirk has the pilot of a US Air Force jet beamed aboard. I suppose it’s better than accidentally
killing someone by tearing their fighter jet to pieces, but still. And the Transporter can apparently reconfigure his bone structure in the matter stream. This is an indicator of some of the next-level transporter magic we’re going to be seeing down the road. Kirk is trying to be all gentle and understanding and the fighter pilot is justifiably terrified and responding as if he expects to be taken prisoner.
On the lift ride to the bridge, Captain James Kirk gets to explain some details about the Federation to the pilot, Captain John Cristopher. There are 12 Constitution-class ships in the fleet and Starfleet is apparently called the United Earth Space Probe Agency. This is not as punchy and I can see why they changed it. There’s a cute moment as they step off the lift, Captain Christopher roundly denouncing the existence of ‘little green men’ and Spock agreeing. We have to remember that Captain Christopher is from a world still waiting to see if the two ‘winners’ of World War II are going to destroy each other. The idea of a United Earth and military service for aliens is exactly the kind of jarring, hopeful note that Star Trek is about. Checkov hasn’t shown up yet, but Uhura and Sulu are prominent bridge officers to constantly remind the viewer that this is a multiethnic crew that represents all of Earth, and beyond.
Spock gives Kirk a brief lesson on temporal paradox, they all meet up in his
quarters, and the Computer starts talking sexy at Kirk in front of company. I’m not even joking. He’s making a log entry and it responds “Computed and recorded, dear” in Majel Barret’s sultriest tones. We can presume this is some kind of malfuction either due to the damage, the time warp, or some sort of high-level ARPA electronic warfare. As a veteran of Next Generation, though, I have to wonder if the computer just gained sentience. Kirk, however, is having none of it.
Nope, I was wrong. Apparently, the last time the Enterprise was in for maintinance, the engineers didn’t think the computer had enough of a personality. Since their entire engineering team was female and Kirk probably tried to bone half of them, this is clearly some form of elaborate revenge. But in the midst of this levity, Kirk breaks the news to Captain Christopher that they can’t let him go home. Not that they have anywhere to go, either. CUE DRAMATIC HORNS AND COMMERCIAL BREA- oh wait, Netflix. Carry on.
Oh well. Good thing they have to return him because he has another son who’ll be instrumental in the space program. I guess they’ll have to send him back, either sworn to secrecy or as a conspirator, and remove all evidence of their presence. Looks like conspirator is going to be the order of the day, so that’s nice and heartwarming, at least. Almost makes up for Kirk and Sulu getting caught erasing the evidence and accidentally kidnapping an MP. This is rapidly turning into one of those plans where they kidnap everyone who notices that they’re kidnapping people. Hey, I saw a clip from this epiosode this morning in a music video I remember from years ago. It’s just a feel-good video.
This episode has some of the best looks so far. It’s a comedy of errors and whatever else he is, The Shat is very expressive. They’re really getting into the stride of it by this point – over the last five episodes we’ve had a good mix of heavy episodes and silly ones, with most of the teething problems sorted out except McCoy’s obstinate refusal to be anything like a rational person. This interrogation scene makes me really want to skip ahead to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home but I will be good and get through it all. For you, dear reader. All for you.
This episode also marks the first time we see anything resembling a replicator. Presumably it was installed when the Enterprise got the pornographic desktop app installed, because up until now food has only come from the galley and has mostly been gelatinous protein cubes. Now they can make chicken soup in the transporter room. However, it looks like they need to use removable memory cards to load in the replicator pattern.
I’m not sure I follow Spock’s logic that the same thing that sent you back in time will also send you forward, but I guess that’s why he’s the Vulcan and I’m not. As they make a course for home, Captain Christopher, waiting to be transported back to Earth before the entire episode happened, gets to be the first man past Mercury.