TOS: S1E29: “Operation: Annihilate!

In which I relive a traumatic moviegoing experience, a perfect opportunity to glass a planet is missed, and GOD DAMN IT, MCCOY.

The end of Season 1. 1/28th of the way there, not counting the movies, which are another 24 hours or so. Those of you who bet on me not making it through a single season, send your apology note on the back of a $20 to… um, maybe just wait ’till I put up a paypal link in a shameless effort to turn this into a revenue stream.

All is quiet on the spaceship front. Too quiet – Uhura is trying to hail something. There’s a straight line of mass insanity and death sweeping through the galaxy at what sound like sub-light speeds judging by the timeline. How have they not just located what’s doing it and.. oh right. Because at this point the Enterprise is the only ship in the sector of any clout. This is still the 23rd

I needed an image. Shut up, they can't all be winners.

I needed an image. Shut up, they can’t all be winners.

century and it’s all about frontiersmanship.

Goddamnit McCoy. You don’t say “there’s no medical or scientific cause.” The fact that you don’t know what the cause is doesn’t mean there’s no cause. The Enterprise finally picks up a distress beacon from a ship being pulled into a star and chases after it. Good thing there’s a cheap and easy means of time travel, so they can go back in time to undo all the damage. That probably won’t cause anything like the Nazis winning World War 2. The last transmission of the ship is “we’re finally free.” Ominous, Unfortunately, this smells like an episode of mystery but without specific world-building importance. This one might be sparse.

Kirk’s brother and family are on the planet that’s next in line to have everyone go insane. Kirk just lost his girlfriend, even if she was rather too old for him – now his brother is at risk? He’s having a rough couple of weeks. Transmissions are cut off, but all the life signs say that there are the correct number of humans down there. Deneba has some nice sculpture gardens, and makes me think of Miranda from Serenity. If the first impressions are at all

In case you were wondering how to calm down someone suffering paranoid delusions and hysteria, THIS ISN'T IT.

In case you were wondering how to calm down someone suffering paranoid delusions and hysteria, THIS ISN’T IT.

telling of the plot, I wouldn’t be surprised if Joss Whedon was influenced by this. And here come the Reavers carrying plexiglass clubs. McCoy is actually contributing now. They all go to find Kirk’s brother and it looks like he’s dead. Man, it sucks to be Kirk sometimes. At least his nephew is still alive. And his sister-in-law, though a bit hysterical and raving about “them” being here  and desperately covering the vent.

Kirk, just because she’s not related to you by blood doesn’t mean it’s okay to hit on your recently-widowed sister-in-law.

Some sort of Things have come to the planet by forcing the crew to bring them. Seems like some sort of parasitic infection, which would explain the whole “we’re free” transmission. Obviously, heat kills the whatever-they-ares, at slightly lower temperatures than it takes to kill humans. Well, that was easy. Strict quarantine procedures for anyone who’s been to the planet, a careful regimen of putting people in medically calibrated heat chambers to detoxify them, and then good old General Order 24 to make sure the planet is no longer a threat. Sounds good to OH MY GOD KIRK WHY DID YOU BEAM BACK DOWN WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?

Well, regardless of what's currently wrong with him, I know what's ABOUT to be wrong with him...

Well, regardless of what’s currently wrong with him, I know what’s ABOUT to be wrong with him…

I’m getting flashbacks to the movie adaptation of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, starring Donald Sutherland. I don’t think any movie has scared me as much since seeing that when I was nine or ten. Startled, yes. Scared, no. Kirk, why haven’t you glassed the damn planet yet? Terrifying flying pancake monsters make them go away. Make them go away. They don’t die under phasers and don’t show up on scanners, and now they have Spock. And since he’s the smartest person on the Enterprise we appear to be in deep shit. The pancake monsters appear to implant a stinger which creates a root system around a creature’s central nervous system. McCoy can’t figure out how to stop them, but I’ll cut him some slack because he didn’t hear the transmission that the rest of the bridge heard, about heat killing them.

We’ve heard about the strength of Vulcans before, but it’s impressive to watch Spock fighting off the entire bridge crew to try to get to the navigational console. We also now know what one of the needles on the sick bay scanners do. The K3 indicator registers pain levels. K3 appears to be the second dial on the left side. Just in case you were wondering. Fortunately, now that Spock knows what’s going on, he appears to be able to resist pain that is, quite literally, off the charts. Apparently WEulcans go through the Gom Jabbar oh no wait he snapped his restraints and is capitulating to the thing. Or enacting some clever plan. Seems like he wants to capture one of them. I guess maybe that’s slightly better than just baking Spock until they discover what the right temperature to kill the things is, but some basic quarantine procedures could’ve solved this to begin with.

So the thing is a once-celled brain cell that appears to be part of a hive mind, and are so different from known life that the phasers just can’t handle it. There’s some pretty wild speculation going on about the things coming from a place where different physical laws apply. This seems pretty clumsy to me. First, what’s wrong with just “they’re a hive mind and the stun setting doesn’t register on the greater whole much more than a pinprick would to a human?” Second, of they come from a place of different physics, how’d they get here and why didn’t they disintegrate into whatever matter is made of over there once they hit the universe. This is one of those times when old popsci just doesn’t hold up and it’s painful. “City on the Edge of Forever” should have been the last episode of the season.

Hmm, McCoy tried baking them at 9,000 degrees. Whether that’s F, C, or K, that’s still more than organic life can take. So what was it about flying into the sun, then, that set the crew free? I still say glass the planet on principle, and it looks like Kirk is considering it, but he doesn’t like no-win situations and is demanding a third alternative. Kirk suggests that maybe the creatures are

Kids - do not stare directly at, nor fly into, anything as bright as the sun. It's bad for you.

Kids – do not stare directly at, nor fly into, anything as bright as the sun. It’s bad for you.

photosensitive and that’s what killed them in the sun. That’s way easier than baking someone nine-tenths of the way to death. They need to make it so bright that light comes through opaque walls. It works on the critter, so they have to test it on Spock.

Aaaaaand Spock’s blind. How’s he going to look through his little desk microscope now? VISORs haven’t been invented yet. Fortunately, it looks like they don’t need to blind a million colonists to save the planet, but of course it still kind of sucks for Spock.

Also, the light spectrum that kills the creatures is UV. I’m pretty sure that even if you didn’t put the bright white light in there, a million candlepower UV beam directed at the planet is still not good for your face.

Supervillain-level shit right here.

Supervillain-level shit right here.

Massive respect to Starfleet engineering. They threw that shit together in like an hour. No respect to McCoy, though. Terrible rigor practices. The fact that Spock just happens to have uv-shielding nictating membranes doesn’t stop McCoy from being a terrible doctor.

 

 

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