TOS: S2E13: “Obsession”

In which Kirk hunts his white whale, the sanctity of life is completely ignored, and I fantasize about the greatest crossover of all time.

Full disclosure: I just marathonned True Detective so an episode called “Obsession” is not good news for me.

OH NO IT'S A CLOUD!

OH NO IT’S A CLOUD!

The Enterprise is mining for some incredibly hard mineral, and as they get a sample, a curl of smoke exudes form a rock and then gets sucked back in, and now Kirk is smelling something so he tells his redshirts to shoot clouds on sight. It seems like he’s being insane  but I guess he has experience with this ‘dicoronium’ stuff before, and it’s no bueno. The cloud appears and it starts suffocating the security team to death. They don’t bother with their weapons despite Kirk’s orders for them to be ready to fire on it. Kirk has definitely met this thing before, and they’re not friends. Let’s get our Ahab on!

Kirk is even sacrificing the medical relief mission to Theta VII to hunt this thing down. He’s waking up one badly injured crewmember just to prove to us, the audience, that this is the same thing that apparently killed a bunch of people on the Farragut 11 years previously. Which means it’s going to be some sentient creature that’s tragically trying to communicate.

This one doesn’t feel like a good episode. That… thing Shatner does… pausing at… odd places to inject… dramatic tension – so far he only seems to rely on it when he doesn’t believe in the script. One of the things happening in this episode is we met a redshirt by name and he appears competent – this just after the implication that the cloud creature might be able to shapeshift. We didn’t actually see the redshirt’s phaser shot. The point of this is either that the redshirt is someone’s kid and therefore Nepotism is Bad, or that there’s some collusion for some reason.

Not a good episode. If this was one of the episodes where an evil duplicate Kirk is in play, his behavior would already have the crew suspicious enough to relieve him of duty or dump him in the brig. He’s sacrificing a vaccination program that will save considerably more lives than could conceivably be lost even if the Enterprise keeps throwing redshirts at the Cloudkill. Either way, no lives would be lost if they left and met the Yorktown, maybe throwing a quarantine beacon around the planet to make sure everyone knows not to beam down. Either way, this episode relies on the idiot ball in order to even happen. Here’s how this episode should have gone:

KIRK: That’s odd. I smell something I’ve only ever smelled when a cloud murdered half the crew of my first ship. Everyone watch out. Don’t spread out. Phasers up and hold a defensive position.

Some redshirts ignore his orders and die. The manner of their death proves that Kirk was correct.

KIRK: Well, shit. Everyone beam up. Tell Starfleet the minerals we were looking for are here but there’s a blood-eating omnicidal cloud here, too.

SPOCK: Captain, the Yorktown is expecting to rendezvous with us to deliver those vaccines.

KIRK: Quite right. Well, no point letting any more of my men die. Fire several message buoys to warn ships of the danger and head out.

End of episode.

SPLIT YOUR LUNGS WITH BLOOD AND THUN-DER!

SPLIT YOUR LUNGS WITH BLOOD AND THUN-DER!

Okay, fine, strike that. Apparently it can travel at warp. Okay, fine. When the crew claimed you were behaving like a maniac, you could have at least told them ‘nah, broseph. This thing can escape and kill starships if we don’t stop it here.’

The idiot ensign is going to let it aboard. He accidentally turned off air ventilation somehow, which will, I guess, let his quarters exchange air with the outside. You know, space. There’s even a close-up of the air filter switch to show us this. Why would you even. Just… why? In order to flush it out, Kirk tells Scotty to flush radioactive waste into the ventilation system in order to flush out the creature. This is a plan that Charlie Kelly would come up with. In fact, this whole episode would be so much better if it were done by the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Can we get someone on that?

Spock is engulfed by the cloud while holding hs hand over the vent. His hand which is like a quarter the size of the vent, because Spock understands how airflow works. And of course Spock is fine because his blood is green, not red, and therefore it tastes gross to the cloud.

Kirk is just making stuff up. The creature smelled different so Kirk decides it’s going to a planet he was near once before, and they’ll bait a trap with medical blood stores, but that plan goes up in smoke so they have to use Kirk and Named Enseign as bait to get the thing next to the antimatter. One would think if the bomb would strtip away the planet’s atmosphere, the cloud wouldn’t literally have to be right next to Kirk in order to be destroyed.

Seriously, though. Can we get Charlie Day, Glann Howerton, and Rob McElhenney on a rewrite of this episode? The plans would be about the same but the dialogue would be considerably snappier.

Did we miss something awesome?