In which we meet the most reasonable planetary governer of all time, a locked room mystery is invalidated, and Jack the Ripper is done much less well than Babylon 5 will doin the ’90s.
We cold open on a belly dancer. I don’t remember this episode at all and given that they had to start it out with base fan appeal, this is not a great sign. Kirk, Scotty, and McCoy are sitting in some sort of opium den on, I guess, Argelius, a society completely devoted to hedonism. As a worldbuilder, I absolutely hate monocultures like this. Now, it could be that the crew is just steryotyping, but when this turns out to be some sort of diplomatic mission, all that excuse will do is make it even worse that they did none of their homework. Anyway, the question is, who builds all the buildings – oh, no wait, the question is – why is the belly dancer Scotty left with dead, and Scotty holding a bloody knife?
So, apparently the Argelians have to outsource everything that’s not directly hedonistic. This episode is going to come down to some energy being or mind control or telepathic virus or whatever, but really the question remains ‘how the goddamn fuck did this society get past the first crisis. Humans survived tigers… oh, no wait. I guess they had a social awakening two centuries ago and they have some sort of mind meld. I guess that’s why Spock isn’t in the landing party – his presence on the planet would make a Mind Meld possible. Instead we have a psycho-tricorder, giving us another instance of machine telepathy in TOS that’s leaps and bounds above any such technology in TNG. Something better go horribly wrong with this to justify why the Federation abandoned the entire research line.
Of course, the excuse for making Scotty at all a credible suspect (which he still isn’t) is that he got knocked on the head and now he hates women. So of course they beam down a female tech with the the psycho-tricorder because that just makes sense.
Well, there wasn’t a whole lot of time between the scream and the camera following Kirk onto the scene, so we’re either looking at a very sophisticated transporter or some sort of programming to try to turn the planet against the Federation or other space trade. If this were a product of the Gritty Aughts I’d suspect ideological reasons. My current suspects are the jealous ex-fiancee and the weasly counselor from another planet. If the former, this whole episode will be an aesop about duty and responsibility over pleasure and hedonism. If the latter, I kind of want him to be a Klingon or Romulan spy.
They hold a seance and the medium lady gets stabbed, so they’re going to put everyone in a lie detector chair and have yet another interminable trial sequence. Yawn sign. As far as I’m concerned, there’s exactly one trial sequence in Star Trek: “Measure of a Man.” I guess “Court Martial” was okay. Scotty is testifying that there was some cold entity between him and the Seance lady. I’m going to be somewhat disappointed if it winds up being an energy being. Or, say, the ghost of Jack the Ripper.
Hnnnnggggh. Wild mass guessing is, in fact, leading us toward an energy being, possibly one that inhabits bodies and makes them murder people, some sort of body-hopping presence. And it kills women because women get more scared than men. Hooray, Star Trek of the ’60s. You never disappoint.
Given the lawyer’s objection after every time the crew make some wild speculation that gets corroborated by the indisputable word of the computer, and his sudden reluctance to take the stand, we have a suspect. Kirk lays him out with a punch and then the lawyer dies as the energy being moves into the computer, because that’s how these things go. Now the computer is controlled by Jack the Ripper. Time for Kirk to talk it to death.
Or Spock could just order the computer to calculate the last digit of Pi to keep the entity busy so it has to jump out into someone. Like, back into the dead lawyer, whi they tranquilize and beam out into space without a solid endpoint. Now everybody’s doped up and if they’re very very lucky, nobody will accidentally crash the ship. A happy ending, I guess.