Star Trek: Obsession

Spock: "Do you smell something?"

A fluffy white cloud. Perhaps not as effective a villain as Ricardo Montalban. Although there was definitely a resemblance to Moby Dick. Well, it was big and white, wasn't it?

The idea of a sentient vampire cloud that could travel at warp speed was rather cool, and this episode could have worked. I think it just suffered from poor writing. I kept thinking that Kirk was acting just a bit too irrational, unprofessional and paranoid, even though he was (of course) right in the end. What I would have liked to see is more about Kirk's past. Flashbacks to the U.S.S. Farragut eleven years ago might have been fun, although budget issues probably nixed that possibility. I did like how Kirk backtracked on his too harsh criticism of Ensign Garrovick, because it suggested that Kirk was finally able to forgive himself for his hesitation in firing on the creature eleven years ago.

For me, what really stood out in this episode was the flagrant elimination of red shirts. The first beam-down included three red shirts, all of whom died, although Rizzo hung on for awhile. The second beam-down consisted of Kirk and five red shirts, two of whom were immediately killed; we never did learn if the third one made it.


One of the many dead red shirts was Lt. Leslie (Eddie Paskey), who still managed to hang around in the background during the rest of the episode. Paskey was also Shatner's stunt double and played other parts throughout the series. He was in more episodes than some of the cast, so at least it wasn't really the end for him.

Ben says...

Wow wow Wubbzy, that is a lot of dead red shirts. This episode has to be some kind of record, and they definitely don't fit the pattern typical of Trek. Usually it goes like this: kill one or two to demonstrate how serious the threat is, generally in the first act, often before the opening credits. Causes of death have included exploding rocks, Horta-ing, dart plants, battle discus, hurling by android, and pissing off Ricardo Montalban. It's a tough job.

This started out the same way but then just kept going, because the deaths here served a different purpose. As with "Metamorphosis," this episode is about Kirk's life. If "Metamorphosis" was about the end of the Trek, I think this episode was about the beginning. Garrovick is obviously the mirror of Kirk with the same faults and potential. The narrative device is an interesting one and would have been done as a flashback in a lot of current shows, but you see this one throughout all the Trek series (even much of the Wesley Crusher stuff was about Picard as a young man). It's this episode where you see it most clearly though with the fantastically unlikely coincidences of Garrovick being present at all when the Honey Cloud attacks, then being the one who hesitates to fire, and finally the mass casualties of Enterprise red shirts (who get to stand in for the dead of the USS Farragut). Good episode if you aren't a red shirt.

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

— Stardate 3619.2. An unnamed planet with loads of tritanium, a material twenty times harder than diamond. Enterprise was late for a rendezvous with the U.S.S. Yorktown to pick up vaccines for planet Theta 7.

— Kirk served as a lieutenant on the U.S.S. Farragut under Captain Garrovick eleven years ago. Two hundred crew members were lost to the creature.

— Both of the uninhabited planets we saw in this episode were temperate, with an oxygen nitrogen atmosphere (no space or environmental suits). This is one of those yes-I-know-it-was-the-sixties and yes-it's-a-television-show things, but I'll say again that if this was reality, class M planets that supported human life would be rare and valuable and pretty darned important.

— Phasers have a new setting: "disruptor B." And we learned that a tiny amount of anti-matter can create an explosion that can rip away half of a planet's atmosphere.

— The Enterprise sets seemed a bit more colorful than usual. There was a lot of purple in this episode.

— How could they be certain the vampire honey cloud was dead? What if it had "shifted" the way it had before when it was fired upon?

Quotes:

Spock: "I need your advice."
McCoy: "Then I need a drink."

Chapel: "You know, self-pity's a terrible first course. Why don't you try the soup instead?"

McCoy: "I'll bet he left a bad taste in the creature's mouth, too."
Spock: "Colloquially expressed, but essentially correct."

Scott: "Thank heaven!"
Spock: "Mister Scott, there was no deity involved. It was my cross-circuiting to B that recovered them."
McCoy: "Well, then, thank pitchforks and pointed ears."

Two out of four honey-scented sparkling vampire clouds,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

4 comments:

Mark said...

I did like the Kirk-Garrick fight. There have been enough movies and TV episodes with the noble sacrifice of a character, nice to see Kirk say that he had no intention of dying with the creature.

As far as the number of budget-saving habitable planets they visit, "Balance of Terror" helps out:
McCoy: Something I seldom say to a customer, Jim. In this galaxy, there's a mathematical probability of three million Earth-type planets. And in all of the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all of that and perhaps more, only one of each of us. Don't destroy the one named Kirk.

spidd said...

I saw this episode as a child and it hunted me in my dreams for years. All those pale faced red shirts clearly got to me back then.

The vampiric honey cloud lost some of it's creepiness by now, but I still like it a lot. Kirk in Ahab mode is pure fun.

tinkapuss said...

I still find this episode quite tense to watch - I think they generated a good deal of suspense and I enjoyed seeing Kirk so snappy towards everyone. Understandable. McCoy was quite fearsome in his 'chat' with the captain as well; it's good to see how he effectively pulled rank.

Outsider65 said...

No love for the pep talk Spock tries (and fails at) giving the kid? "It's not your fault because you're a human and humans just suck"? All while the kid is being polite but obviously wishing he would go away? I thought it was hilarious. Worst pep talk ever. Leave the psychology to Bones.