Oh Me oh My; it’s a bit of an interesting Star Trekkin’ we’re about to embark on folks. This post is gonna include some of the mightiest giants of the Trek world, some of the most astonishingly dismal world outlooks and a conclusion from myself in which, well, I kinda end up thinking Kirk is a massive dickhead… shall we get on with it then?
We start with
120 TOS A Taste Of Armageddon
So what we have here is an episode which seems to be a big fat slab of steaming social commentary. I mean, most episodes are that, but this one really aims itself at pointing a finger at the big bad culture of the cold war and telling it, in the simplest terms, to go and fuck itself. With a rusty knife. In the face.
Yup. It’s that blunt.
So a general gist; we have a couple of planets that have been at war for centuries (5 of ’em to be exact), the enterprise is going to one of them on a diplomatic mission and they get told to bugger off. Some dickhead (clearly my word of the day) of an ambassador tells them to keep going in, which they do. Landing on the planet Kirk learns of the century long war but he is ultra confused when an attack hits… mainly because there are no signs of ANY ATTACK TAKING PLACE apart from little circular lights on a computer monitor, He questions this and it turns out that the war is fought in the form of, well, an elaborate ‘we’re bombing you’ computer game.
That seems pretty cool, actually; certainly if were thinking that there are warlike tendencies in man it makes sense for these to be purged in a completely harmless manner by doing things like shooting each other up in an extracted metaphysical sense; sure there are some associations of loss with it, and I guess on a political scale there would be some weird issues like, you know, what’s the outcome, but surely removing the loss of life would be a good thing? What’s that… OHHHHHHHHHHHH SHHHHIIIIIITTTTTT.
Turns out that loss of life is still the outcome of these virtual battles; just rather than also destroying culture, infrastructure etc. etc. through an all out war casualties are indicated by the computer games and the lives of the real corresponding people need to be taken to represent this in reality.
Yeah, shit just got really, really dark.
There are lots, and lots, and lots of questions that we can already start riffing on; but given the impossibly impenetrable nature of the last trekkin’ post I’m gonna leave them up to you to muse on. I will, however, give you one of my favourite moments from the episode:
KIRK: A very efficient weapon. I’m not afraid of using it.
ANAN: My first impression was correct. You are a barbarian.
KIRK: I am?
ANAN: Don’t sound so incredulous, Captain. Of course you are. We all are. A killer first, a builder second. A hunter, a warrior, and let’s be honest, a murderer. That is our joint heritage, is it not?
KIRK: We’re less cold-blooded about it than you are.
Erm… seriously. This shit is scintillating…
This was another great, great episode; yes there are dodgy sets, costumes and a little bit of hammy acting but what a beautifully composed story, theme and… just go watch it.
121 TOS Space Seed
So, what’s happening now. Oh, I don’t know, JUST THE INTRODUCTION OF KHAN.
So Khan has been consistently voted by organisations (that aren’t even just sci fi oriented) as one of the most beloved, and glorious, on screen villains of all time. Which is super duper cool because, well, he is. The majority of that, no doubt, is the incarnation of him in the film Wrath Of Khan. Some of it, I have no doubt, is because of this episode.
What we have here is a wonderful character piece; a nuanced and detailed investigation into the workings of tyrrany, and greatness. How the former and the latter can be seperated and viewed under a microscope. All of that is pretty fantastic stuff and really enables us to understand how admiration can be professed for historical bastards like (and yes, they’re namechecked in the epsiode) Napolean and Caesar. That’s a pretty fab thing…
I’m going to leave a lot of the discussion on Khan as a character that can arise from all of this though; I’m guessing it’s a path that has been walked a great number of times already and, well, when we get to the film I’m sure I will be wordifying all about him.
What I would like to talk about with this little chinwag is the origin of Khan and, more specifically, the eugenics wars…
So Khan is a ‘superman’ from the mid 1990’s (folks, we now have to start thinking of star trek as an alternative future show founded on an alternative past) in which a bunch of scientists basically set out to breed mega strong, mega healthy, mega smart and mega sexy humans. These ultra humans took over the planet, imposed dictatorships and the rest of humanity fought to get rid of them… dude.
Trek is once more making assertions about things and using the whimsy of a science fiction show to make weighty comments, weighty conversation and weighty assertions about shit that is geniuninely frightening and genuinely something that, quite frankly, we need to make opinions on BECAUSE SHIT LIKE THIS HAPPENS. Ok, ok, we havent reached a stage where we can actually create mega-humans (have we?) but there is definitely the mindset in a vast swathe of people that want to do such things. I don’t just mean this in the crazy Hitler way of destroying cultures to reach a subjectively chosen super race; I mean this in the way inferred in this episode of Trek. I mean this in the ‘we can objectively see that these people breeding with these people breeding with these people has produced people who have increased lung capactiy, IQ’s measuring higher than the average human and an attractive rating on match.com of a shitload’.
HOW DO WE FEEL ABOUT THAT????
Watching the Trek episode we’re not really given the answers either. Yes the tyranny of the greater has been opposed but, discussing the benefits of the super human conquest, we’re left in muddy waters. I mean, really, we spend a lot of the show watching Kirk and Khan circle around each other like nought more than brothers…
Maybe it’s meant to be the focus of the human race to get better and beetter, to reach the pinnacle of our natural abilites? Hell isn’t that what the olympics is set up for? Don’t we all love the Olympics… imagine if a scientist one day was like ‘yo Usain, hook up with Jessica Ennis’ and Usain was all for it… is that wrong?
We, as a society, believe yes… but why is that? I know why I believe that it’s wrong but… well, this isn’t about me. This is about the fact that, once again…. STAR TREK IS MAKING US THINK, as well as depressing the shit out of us and throwing us into a world where we question the very point of even living.
You know what though? Star Trek can lift you right outta that with so much mindlessness… this episode, well, lets deal with the dreamy good looks of Khan…
sorry, what was that… you started shouting about the objectification of men in start trek??? I better counter act that with…
yup.. Uhura’s knickers for everyone to see…. really star trek. Really.
122 TOS This Side of Paradise
Moving swiftly on we have an episode which, well, is a massive brain fuck. I don’t mean that in a ‘woah man, they like, totally inverted the nature of space time and I dont understand how this is going on’ I mean this in a ‘I totally don’t understand why these decisions have been made. What the Fuck’ kind of way.
It’s difficult for me to explain this without spoiling the episode too much… but fuck it, i’ll give it a try.
So there’s this colony of humans which, by rights, should be completely dead. Upon beaming down we find out they ain’t dead. It then transpires that theyre all really happy, pretty productive in doing whats necessary to survive and persist as a group, they love the position theyre in and are in the best health ever… all of this is ostensibly bad.
It transpires that there is a lady in the group that has had previous connection with spock; turns out she loves him and they were in some kind of relationship.
A whole lot of stuff happens and, well, basically Spock gets in touch with his emotions. He appears truly happy (hell he even says it at the close of the episode) and everything is, well, actually ok… just look!
The thing that happens to Spock also happens to the rest of the crew and they all decide that theyd like to remain on the planet and just live a happy, and simple existence… oh, but wait, this beautiful harmony doesn’t gel with Kirk. He finds out the way to combat the whole situation is to inspire anger, sadness and all those negative emotions in everyone.
So he does. The planet basically start beating the shit out of each other and then they’re all back to normal… which is cool, I guess. You know I’d be the first to talk about the multiplicity of human emotion and how it’s all valid in terms of human being-ness, but there’s just something about this whole situation which was just… well… depressing. I wanted Spock to stay happy, and, well it seems like his choice was that too, given that when he turned back to plain ole spocky kins he utters this line:
SPOCK: I don’t belong anymore.
And then at the close of the episode:
KIRK: We haven’t heard much from you about Omicron Ceti Three, Mister Spock.
SPOCK: I have little to say about it, Captain, except that for the first time in my life I was happy.
Seriously, there’s a heart rending scene between spock and his ex-loved one aboard the enterprise which, whilst being a little schlocky, was destroying…. Nimoy really shines throughout and, well, I felt so unbelievably sorry for Spock.
WHAT THE FUCK KIRK!!! LET THE MAN EMBRACE WHO HE IS FULLY!
Ok, ok. Some over simplifications and, if you watch the episode, you’ll see there are comebacks etc. .. but ultimately, to me, the message was… there was a chance for a beautiful world of harmony; of feeling at one one with each other and taking time to understand the beauty of existence. Kirk didn’t want his people to have that because, well, because he’s a bit of a dick and wanted all of his crew to retain their dickishness. It’s kind of that simple…
Of course there’s more to it all so, please, if any of you in the internet lands are reading this, I would love for you to stick down any points of rebuttal; anything supporting Kirk, or opening this up to a different interpretation. I’m itching for some serious discussions with folks about this stuff and have more that can be said. For this post though, we are complete.
Though a little shout out to this site for the lines quoted in this post:
an awesome site with all of the Trek transcripts… and a bunch of things I haven’t checked out yet! MANY THANKS CHAKOTEYA.NET
Sigmund Freud is judging anyone that didn’t realise there are only 4 EPISODES OF SERIES ONE LEFT!!!!