In which Kirk gets kidnapped for his body, time flies like an arrow, and fruit flies like a banana. Scott is currently runningt things. We might speculate that this is because the Enterprise, not being run by superbeings that have no need of sleep, might have different shifts to let other command-qualified personnel take a turn in the Captain’s chair, but no, it’s nothing so mundane as that. Instead, Kirk is, as always, leading the landing party. One wonders how they always manage to make interesting things happen when Kirk is awake and running the show, but I suppose they can adjust their Warp factor most of the time and calculate their arrival to be bright and early, ship time. Also, it’s likely by this point in the five-year mission that all of the bridge crew are capable of going about their functions if the Captain is not watching over them 100% of the time. Therefore, if Kirk is tired, he can go have a nap to keep himself fresh in case something eventful happens.
Anyway, I digress. Kirk and Crewman Soon-To-Be-In-A-Fatal-Chainsaw-Accident over there have beamed down to follow up on a distress call. The ship beamed them directly to the specified coordinates, and the ship can see a crowd of people on screen in that exact location, but Kirk doesn’t see anyone. Since this is all happening simultaneously and the title references a very quick unit of time measurement, we can presume that something hinky is going on with how time works on or near this planet. MyCoy tells us it’s a barren world, with no animal life and very little plant life, though Kirk keeps swatting at insects he can hear. The mystery isn’t allowed to go on for too long before a different redshirt, Crewman Killed-To-Demonstrate-The-Anomaly-Of-The-Week (it’s an expansive family line, but not a very long-lived one) vanishes in a burst of v-hold static (Kids, ask your parents). The transporters apparently malfucntioned on the way up. Malfunctions all over the ship, in fact. Spock was in sick bay, but he’s better now. Maybe it was just standard quarantine procedures, because McCoy is calling everyone down to Sick Bay. Also, someone has been going through the medical cabinets. It might not be something wrong with time then, but rather something insubstantial abducting and otherwise messing with the ship. It’s sabotaging the life support and put up force fields so that only Kirk and Spock can investigate.
Since Kirk has determined to be calm and not react, forcing the invaders to make the next move and reveal themselves, it looks like they decided to drug his coffee. Or slow down time so their ambassador can molest Kirk. Yes, I sead that in the right order. She appears to have sped up his personal timescale so that the rest of the crew appear to be in stasis. She is the queen of the time-distorted society, and wants to make Kirk their king. And apparently this is how they do. They lure passing ships into the area and abduct their people. Then they indoctrinate those people into their society. And it looks like they take those people as concubines. Exposition time. Assuming we can trust whatsherface, they polluted their planet and the radiation accelerated them and made it impossible to breed within their own species, so they pull in other species. Good thing there’s such a steady supply of space travelers. However, this time they’re putting the Enterprise into a deep freeze so they can use them later. Given that there’s no plant or animal life, there’s still a question of how these folks eat. Even accelerated, I would expect to see trees and grass, even if it’s just as a green and brown blur. All of a sudden Kirk appears super brainwashed. We’re meant to believe that his biochemistry is adjusting by making him docile, but given his prior history I suspect he’s fucking with her. Kirk has notably high willpower when it comes to resisting brainwashing. And that happened way too quickly. Fortunately, Spock and McCoy figured out a cure, so Spock accelerates himself using the radioactive water so he can deliver it. The question remains of what to do with these folks, however, since it’s unknown if that cure will affect them. Is it ethical to allow this condition to continue, with a species of mayflies abducting passing starships. The writers couldn’t think of a good solution so they just kind of left it there.