Star Trek: Wolf in the Fold

Jaris: "How could any man do such monstrous things?"

Why are there so many science fiction stories about Jack the Ripper? The obvious answer is that he was never caught, and that he was so incredibly evil and vicious that he seemed inhuman. Actually, I think most of us find serial killers so alien that we'd prefer that they weren't human. With the possible exception of Dexter.

The opening scenes on Argelius are somewhat weak and improbable – mostly in regard to Scott and a blow-on-the-head in an explosion caused by a woman being a ridiculous excuse for Scott to kill women. (And on the day that "straw-grasping" was redefined, we stood in awe and watched.)

But I always enjoyed the briefing room scenes with the lie detector as Kirk and Spock slowly came to realize what they were dealing with. The idea of a murdering entity feeding on fear is sort of fascinating. And I've always liked the contrast between the fleeing monster and the giggling, tranquilized crew. Good thing Sulu didn't decide flying the Enterprise into a star would be funny, too.



I've always wondered what Hengist was. Just a physical manifestation of the monster? A humanoid possessed by the entity, as the ship was? (If so, poor guy.) He was from Rigel. At this point, there have been many references to Rigel. Makes you want to see the place, doesn't it?

Ben says...

This episode was written by Robert Bloch, who along with H.P. Lovecraft and Alfred Hitchcock is probably one of the most influential figures in the development of horror (and suspense) as we know it today. This plotline where the killer lurks, completely undetectable, in the form of a normal man is so common as to be a cliché at this point. You actually see Lovecraft's influence in that it's an entity living somewhere between personal insanity and demonic possession which slips into an otherwise normal man. You can see this same pattern in the Bloch/Hitchcock masterpiece Psycho, in The Shining (especially the Kubrick film version) and right up to the present in Dexter (one of Billie's favorites) or Diablo Cody's ode to the teenage girl as hell-beast Jennifer's Body. It's all about the mental breakdown and violence that follows, whether motivated by the from beyond or a workplace accident (really, Scotty, someone bonks you on the head and you resent all women?). It's at this point that horror becomes about what is going on inside us, even when what is inside us is some kind of externally originated evil.

That said, why wasn't this episode better? Scotty at his scenery-chewing best, Sulu flying stoned, the revolving door of murder-able women, the Psycho-tricorder (which not surprisingly detects Psychos), and a lot of other silliness. And yet still cheesy, but there's no cheese like aged cheese.

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

— Stardate 3614.9. Argelius 2. There was mention of the Martian colony in 2105, and Alpha Iridani 2.

— Argelius was supposed to be a pleasure-loving, hedonistic society with a population much like sheep. I thought this seriously conflicted with their (ancient) method of execution, death by slow torture.

— Scott is from Aberdeen, and confessed to being a pub crawler. I never would have guessed.

— A "psycho-tricorder" tells you what happened to you in the past 24 hours.

— Lt. Karen Tracy beamed down and was almost immediately killed by Jack the Ripper. Like Lt. Galway in "The Deadly Years," she wore a blue uniform but was obviously a red shirt.

— Morla, the first victim's fiance, is the same guy who played Flat Nose Curry in the classic movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. If you have never seen this movie, please go stream it immediately.

— Kirk was a bit too ready to go partying on Argelius afterward. I'd think they'd want to get as far away as possible. Maybe he just wanted to support the Argelian economy.

— This episode was written by sci-fi master Robert Bloch, who wrote two other Star Trek episodes as well as the famous Hitchcock thriller, Psycho. And a short story called, "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper."

Quotes:

McCoy: "She's dead, Jim."

McCoy: "She's dead, Jim. Just like the other one."

Sybo: "There is evil here. Monstrous, terrible evil. Consuming hunger. Hatred of all that lives. Hatred of women. A hunger that never dies. It is strong, overpowering, an ancient terror. It has a name. Beratis, Kesla, Redjac! Devouring all life, all light. A hunger that will never die!"

McCoy: "He's dead, Jim."
Kirk: "That's impossible."

Sulu: "This is the first time I heard a malfunction threaten us."

Sulu: "Whoever he is, he sure talks gloomy."

Spock: "Compute, to the last digit, the value of pi."
Computer: "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, nooooo!"

Three out of four bar crawls,

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

5 comments:

barbara said...

Another piece of cast trivia:

Sybo was played by Pilar Seurat, the mother of writer/producer Dean Devlin.

Mark said...

That incredible bit of psychology came close to ruining the episode for me. They could have had Scotty accidentally drink some cordrazine that was sitting around McCoy's office, with it's drug-induced psychosis.

Juliette said...

I felt like there was something uncomfortably sleezy about Kirk, Scott and McCoy's behaviour at the beignning - but then, that scene did remind me of Carry on Follow that Camel, so that could be why.

tinkapuss said...

Ewwwww!!! Their lecherous expressions at the start of the episode when they are salivating over the dancer are quite revolting. Normally I can put the sexism of the 1960s in its proper perspective but how, for once, I would like to have seen them land on a 'pleasure planet' just for women! Not cool, boys. Not cool.

Outsider65 said...

This episode was too sexist forme to really enjoy it. "We must go have women serve us and dance for our pleasure because we're blaming one for an accident Scott had and he'll become a women-hater from it and oh that's motivation to kill them all too". Riiiight. What a sexist excuse to go to a sleazy bar. That whole opening sequence was pretty gross.

Redjac was lame. He got caught and then kept possessing weak people. Stupid, stupid. Pick someone who can overpower others, not just random dudes. Never even went after Kirk or Spock. I wanted to see them get high, too. (Well, there's always Nimoy and Shatner's singing careers if you want to see examples of what they'd have been like baked.)