In which we run afoul of culture shock, razor frisbees, and upsetting bodysuits.
The Enterprise approaches a planet, and McCoy is giving a briefing about what appears to be a low-tech race that uses razor-tipped frisbees as their primary weapon. They’re also extremely tetchy, so naturally Kirk is beaming down to open trade negotiations with him.
Unfortunately, those negotiations are off to a rocky start. There are Klingons in the area. Like, right behind you, bro. Some dumbass redshirt pulls a phaser and gets razor-frisbee’d to the heart. Starfleet Security personnel are nowhere near as intelligent, tactically minded, or tactful as modern US marines. I can understand having no military-industrial complex, but that was kind of ridiculous. In addition to getting himself killed, he’s put the Enterprise at an extreme tactical disadvantage in bargaining with this tribal, sublight people.
This is a writer who doesn’t have a handle on Kirk. He’s immediately jumping into maudlin ruminations about ‘how dare these people kill one of my crewmembers who was pulling a weapon at the start of peaceful negotiations.’ It’s a really shitty device to draw up emotion and put Kirk off balance.
Meanwhile, it looks like there’s a civil war brewing. The current de jure ruler is favorably inclined toward the Federation, but then there’s that douchebag up there in black who’s ready to declare rebellion and side with the Klingons. This one is another Cold War analogy episode, for the edification of anyone who, like me, never knew the USSR as anything other than that big mass that used up the whole crayon on that map and then they made us memorize like fifty new countries. I digress. Like “Errand of Mercy,” the Federation and Klingon Empire are butting heads over some proxy state, only this time it’s more closely ideologically aligned with the enemy. And whose new leader, after a brief civil war, is the aforementioned douchebag. It’s not the best plot so far, but they’re managing to slip in some good cosmopolitics.
Meanwhile, up in orbit, the Klingon’s scout ship is apparently attacking a frighter and Scotty makes the call to go rescue them, despite not being able to reach Kirk. Because Scotty is a military man who understands these things. Played by James Doohan, a Canadian veteran of World War II and, Canada jokes aside, more badass than you will ever be.
Back planetside, the old leader’s wife is supposed to die because, like lions, you can’t have the old leader’s cub challenging the new one. She’s about to let herself get killed when Kirk stops them, and due to complicated and frankly stupid customs, the landing party are to be killed for helping her, but escape. McCoy does some doctoring, she slaps him, he slaps her, and they give each other lovey-dovey eyes for a while while Kirk sets up an ambush. In this scene, Kirk and Spock use their sonic screwdrivers to explode some rocks onto the Capellans hunting them. I’m not even kidding. I mean, they’re not screwdrivers, they’re communicators, but still.
I’m pretty sure this set is the Vasquez Rocks again. They’re very distinctive. I think it must be one of those things like Swedish Meatballs. There are some universal constants – the Nuclear forces that bind atoms together, the relative weakness of gravity, and the Vasquez Rocks.
McCoy delivers the baby after some suitable awkwardness that means he probably got married to her. The Enterprise determined that the distress call was fake, and after some deliberate faffing about confronts the Klingon ship and manages to arrive just after Kirk’s ability to build primitive weaponry saves everyone from Klingon treachery, and the baby is now the high chief. Hooray. I’m sure he’ll last for a long time in a tribal military culture. Boy Kings tend to do so very well under those circumstances.