In which the Shuttlecraft Galileo is earning a fearsome reputation, some interesting facts about the timeline are revealed only to be ignored, and someone tried to shoehorn a bodice-ripper into a Star Trek episode and failed, badly.
Ah, the good old shuttlecraft Galileo. I wonder if they’ve retooled it so that every control isn’t in the worst place imaginable. Doesn’t look like it, since Kirk just had to flip a switch over by Spock’s foot. The shuttlecraft is picking up a Comissioner who contracted some extremely rare disease and blames Starfleet Medical for being full of terrible inefficiency which, if season one-era McCoy
was the best they could do, I agree with. Then the shuttlecraft collides with an angry floating comma and it looks like we have our problem of the week.
So, this is one of those episodes in which the main component of interpersonal drama will come from someone in a civilian oversight position not understanding the dangers and rigors of space travel and command, and demand Kirk do something stupid or impossible. Which is remarkably militaristic of a show I generally think of as very much not promoting that.
Anyway, I alluded to it earlier. The *Galileo* has crash-landed on a planet like that’s its job. Kirk asks the civilian to stay in the shuttle, a directive which she promptly ignores. And on the planet they are immediately met by a man named Cochraine, stranded on the planetoid, who recognizes Spock as a Vulcan. This will be important.
Cochraine seems, oddly, to have an intuitive understanding of the shuttle’s warp field, which Kirk pretends to ignore but does, in fact, recognize Cochraine as ‘looking familiar. Cochraine has built a tiny little hovel complete with overstuffed leather chairs, and the Commissioner is either beginning to suffer the effects of her illness or is just a truly and fundamentally annoying person. Literally complaining about everything possible. Fortunately, McCoy tells us this is, in fact, the first symptom of the Space Flu or whatever.
Cochraine explains that his ship was disabled and he was dying when an energy creature brought him to the planet and rejuvinated him. Spock doesn’t quite believe that part, but McCoy has a look on his face.
Apparently, in the Star Trek Original Series timeline, before all of the mucking around with slingshot maneuvers happened, humans lived on Alpha Centauri before the invention of the Warp engine. Some time between Kirk’s time and the battle of Sector 001 near the end of Picard’s tour, the timeline has been altered so much that Cochraine was instead a drunk living in Bozeman, Montana. This Cochraine is much more of an explorer at heart, although the fact that he’s basically been some energy creature’s teddy bear for a hundred and fifty years might have something to do with it.
Oh, the creature attacked Spock while he was reapairing the shuttle, which means it’s either a projection of Cochrain’s Id or something else out of Forbidden Planet, or else Kirk is going to have to explain something about the inherent dignity of man or something. Given that their first impulse is to make a grenade to scramble the thing’s electrical impulses (somehow) I suspect a peaceful resolution will be impossible.
Or not, I guess. They attack it, it attacks them, and then they try to wire up the universal translator. That’s totally the correct order in which to do those things. And it’s apparently important that the energy cloud is ‘female.’ Please don’t ask me how that works. And here comes the Kirk speech. Apparently, according to Kirk, “the idea of male and female are universal constants.” Of course, at that, we see just how much humanity has grown in 150 years – Cochraine goes off the deep end at the thought that the energy cloud loves him, the dying commissioner is having deathbed regrets about never settling down with a man, and everything is getting incredibly tiresome.
Okay, there’s a twist. The energy being took over the commissioner’s body. That’s not skeevey at all. They’re doing some weird body-sharing thing and then it’s just nothing but strings and sappy pulp romance novels until the end. I had such high hopes for this season….