Star Trek: That Which Survives

McCoy: "What is it, Jim?"
Kirk: "A planet that even Spock can't explain."

This is another episode that had the seeds of a really good story, but didn't quite pull it off.

The artificial "ghost" of a planet idea was cool, and I found it rather creepy – especially the idea of the crew members being stranded there with no food or water. I also thought Sulu's theory that the earthquake was caused by the Enterprise colliding with the planet was creepy and interesting, too.

The scenes with the automated image of Locira were less successful, though. I thought Lee Meriwether successfully projected (pun intended) that "Locira" was conflicted, helpless and sad, and the way she disappeared by turning into a line and then into a dot was effective. But only being able to kill one person at a time — and only after acquiring their name, rank and Federation service number — just didn't work that well. If she had moved like any normal physically able humanoid, she could have touched her target in no time. I also kept thinking that the most logical thing would have been a scene where the crew members were running away as she chased them down and tried to tag them, and that would have looked ridiculous.


The ending reveal about the planetary defense system was sort of a let-down, too. Yes, it was an explanation, but the system's power seemed so godlike and capricious, what with the earthquakes and overloaded phasers and cell disruption. And a planetary defense system that could transport the Enterprise a thousand light years away (okay, 990.7) seemed... well, I think I covered that with "godlike and capricious." I also thought that the theory that Locira's people had been completely wiped out was something of a leap.

My final complaint was the way Spock treated the crew. Spock was in constant insensitive snotty lecture mode with pretty much everyone, but especially Scott. In the first place, when Scotty the miracle engineer tells you that the ship doesn't feel right, you listen to him. And he was right, wasn't he? Spock continued acting like a jerk while Scott was about to die to save the ship, too. For that matter, Kirk was acting rather snotty toward the crew on the planet. Maybe they both got out of the wrong side of the bed that morning.

At least there were interesting crew interactions. Yes, we lost three crew members, two of whom had minimal lines and red clothing, but we also had D'Amato, who confronted "Locira" directly about the food and water situation before his ouchy cellular disruption death. Dr. M'Benga from "A Private Little War" returned briefly and was snapped at by the grouchy Mister Spock. And Sulu's relief helmsman was Lieutenant Rahda, a woman of east Indian descent. And she was actually competent, too. Why didn't they bring her back?

Ben P. Duck says...

Excuse me while I go two dimensional:

|
|
|

And reduce myself to a single point
.

And vanish.



Ahh, that felt good. So what to say about this episode where the best things about the villain were that cool vanishing effect and her eye makeup?

What struck me about this episode was that it was something of the opposite of several episodes in season three in that it fully involved the whole crew. If you think about "The Empath," "Whom Gods Destroy," and certainly "The Mark of Gideon," we spend those episodes focusing on just the Big Three (Kirk, Spock and McCoy) and often on Kirk alone. This episode, in contrast, was full of other characters from the Enterprise with some fun moments for Sulu and some lovely opportunities for Scotty to chew up the scenery a bit. The ill-fated D'Amato got a longer scene of his own than we have seen for a secondary Enterprise character going back to Chekov in "Spectre of the Gun."

Indeed, the episode made me realize just how few episodes we get in season three that make any good use of the second tier of characters (led by Scotty and Sulu, but including Nurse Chapel, Chekov, and extending to those who only appear once or twice, like Dr. M'Benga). We even get new characters (Lt. Rahda) that were both intriguing and set up the potential for the more ensemble feel that we get with Star Trek TNG. Sadly, it was not to be. I suspect Roddenberry always wanted to take the series in that direction, but never could quite escape the self-enclosed episode format of sixties television.

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

— No stardate was given. The Enterprise visited an artificial planetoid created by the Kalandans, who may or may not have been extinct.

— Note the very slow transporter beam out so that the landing party could see "Locira" kill the first redshirt. They did that later in the movies, but was this the first time in the series?

— Speaking of which, Spock was ready to sacrifice himself for the ship by going into the irradiated crawl way. Dan said dryly, "At least he's consistent."

— For some reason, I loved the two red shirts actually picking Scott up and inserting him into the service crawl way.

— Kirk mentioned that a burial in a vault of rocks was suitable for D'Amato, who was a geologist. That was sort of sweet.

— Locira was played by Lee Meriwether, who played Catwoman in the original sixties Batman movie. Her hair was very catlike, too; must have been on purpose. She had striking green and magenta eye makeup, too. Hey, she was stunning. She pulled it off.

Quotes:

Uhura: "What happened?"
Spock: "The occipital area of my head seems to have impacted with the chair."
Uhura: "No, Mister Spock. I meant, what happened to us?"

Spock: "Can you give me warp eight?"
Scott: "Aye, sir. And maybe a wee bit more. I'll sit on the warp engines myself and nurse them."

Sulu: "Once in Siberia there was a meteor so great that it flattened whole forests and was felt as far away as..."
Kirk: "Mister Sulu, if I'd wanted a Russian history lesson, I'd have brought along Mister Chekov."
A mention of the Tunguska event in Siberia. Which made me think of The X-Files.

Locira: "I am only for D'Amato."
D'Amato: "Lucky D'Amato. I want to have a conference about sharing your food and water."

Sulu: (re: D'Amato's grave) "It looks so lonely there."
McCoy: "It'd be worse if he had company."

Sulu: "Such evil. And she's so beautiful."

Spock: "You have eight minutes, forty-one seconds."
Scott: "I know what time it is. I don't need a blooming cuckoo clock."

Scott: "You might at least say thank you."
Spock: "For what purpose, Mister Scott? What is it in you humans..."
Scott: "Never mind."

Two out of four spiky purple cattails,

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

4 comments:

celticmarc said...

Ohhhhh boy.

I REALLY need to make a re-watch of the entire series. I have forgotten a lot. (Like if you bringing me back to forgotten and dusty parts of my Psyche.)

BUT...that vanishing effect made a powerful impression on my impressionable youth ! Whoah !

Mark said...

That melancholy female singing sound effect definitely added to the visual.

Whenever someone makes fun of the dated sfx, I'm reminded of how ground-breaking some of these visuals were at the time, especially done with TV budget and time limitations. (There's a reason why the transporter effect is a part of the public consciousness.)

wt tenn said...

I would like to know who or what made that female operatic sound effect when locira disappeared ???

tinkapuss said...

I used to wish I was Lee Meriwether's Cat Woman when I was about 7 years old. Nice to see her play such a complex character (to the extent that any female character could be considered 'complex' during TOS... :/ )

Loved seeing the new helmswoman - pity she caught the end of Spock's tongue! But then so did Scotty, Uhura, and Dr M'Benga! What a crotchety old fart he was in this one. I did enjoy that Scotty's 'feelings' won the day. Love Scotty.

Coming to the end of the series is making me sad..... I have loved this immersive and nostalgic experience (made all the more enjoyable with your intelligent and hilarious reviews)

:)