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Star Trek The Animated Series: The Survivor

The Agents of Doux are covering The Animated Series with "discussion reviews."

Mikey Heinrich: The crew of the Enterprise come across a one-man ship in distress and are more than a little surprised when the occupant turns out to be Space Warren Buffet, lost philanthropist Carter Winston, who has been missing for the last five years.

But of course it soon becomes clear that it isn't really Space Warren Buffet at all, but is instead a sneaky alien shapeshifter pretending to be Space Warren Buffet, as happens. The sneaky shapeshifter has been employed by Romulans to trick the Enterprise into the neutral zone so that they can then claim the ship as per the terms of the treaty.

But wait – fortunately, the fiancée of the real Carter Winston just so happens to be a crew member of the ship, because of course she is. And the alien shapeshifter has spent so long being him that he has begun to understand This Thing You Call Love, and does a last minute doublecross on the Romulans to save both the ship and the day. He reveals himself to the fiancée in question in his true form as a floaty space octopus and she's like... not... not into it.

I feel like I should logically hate or at least sternly disapprove of this one, but honestly, there's something kind of charming about it to me and I'm not even entirely sure what it is. Guest star Ted Knight has a certain intrinsic charm all his own, but his performance as Carter Winston isn't anything particularly special.

A few of the details regarding the shapeshifter are kind of fun. He saves the day by transforming into a working part for the deflector shield, which raises interesting questions. Hiding as a table was an amusing moment. And the transformation effect itself was so in keeping with the look of the effects from the Original Series that it made me go "Awwww, bless." Also, bonus points big time for Anne Nored, the fiancée, being a security officer instead of a nurse or a seamstress or something.

I'll leave it to Billie, who is far more versed in these things, to confirm, but I'm almost positive the "Romulans have planted an agent on the ship to get it into the Neutral Zone so we can claim it" plot was done either before or after or maybe even both.

An Honest Fangirl: Wasn’t there also a TOS episode where the away team are trapped on a planet by a shapeshifting creature in order to provide This Thing You Call Love to a woman who was living there? Its true form was a kind of gas cloud that the woman ended up being not not into?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shapeshifter turn into a mechanical part in order to solve a problem before. That’s actually a really cool idea!

(A little later) I looked it up. The episode was "Metamorphosis," where a shuttle is trapped on an asteroid to provide companionship for the inventor of the warp drive by a feminine, electrical cloud.

Billie Doux: Yes, indeed: this is yet another Star Trek plot soup episode. "Metamorphosis," as Fangirl pointed out, and yes, there have been Romulan spies and Kirk doubles. The one I'm most reminded of is "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" that featured Christine Chapel's long lost presumed dead fiancé showing up and turning out to be a robot. And the very first aired episode, "The Man Trap," had a tentacled being masquerading as McCoy. I believe that episode was originally titled, "The Unreal McCoy." (Or did I just make that up?)

I'll admit that like Mikey, I was also charmed by the Vendorian turning itself into an examination table, not to mention a deflector shield. How could a living being possibly become a deflector shield, as if it were an actual physical thing that jumps out in front of the ship? Isn't it supposed to be like a force field? Okay, back to the sheep, I loved Carter Winston's wardrobe, like he was a refugee from the sixties with an ascot, of all things. I loved the looks on Kirk's and McCoy's faces when they realized they were being felt up by an unexpected tentacle.

A couple of lines actually made me laugh. Like, Spock to McCoy: "Doctor, you are a man of curious habits, but I have never known you to nap on the laboratory floor." And McCoy hitting back with: "You say I'm a man of curious habits? Jim's talking to a table."

And was there a cat crewwoman on the bridge for the first time?

Mikey: Winston's wardrobe particularly amused me, in that the poofy ascot with inset pin and extravagant mustache led me to read the scene where he tells his fiancée Anne that he can never marry her like this:

Winston: I can never marry you after our protracted five year engagement, I hope you understand.
Literally everyone at home watching: Oh honey. I think we all understand perfectly well why this marriage was never going to work out.

Billie: It's a bit sad that I didn't even realize it was Ted Baxter. Even after you told me last time he was going to guest star.

Ratings, anyone? I think I'll go with my not-a-great-one-but-not-a-complete-loss rating, two out of four tentacles.

Mikey: I'll give this one five dapper ascots out of ten. It's somehow more charming than it deserves to be on paper.


  1. Funny how I didn't think of Richard Branson or Elon Musk while we were discussing this one.

  2. I was actively trying not to think of either of them. The real Winston seems to have been a genuinely good guy.

    I actually googled 'benevolent billionaire philanthropists' in order to come up with Warren Buffet (Yes, I know he's not entirely without issues either, but at least he's not 'look at my dick'-ing himself into space at the moment.)

  3. "I believe that episode was originally titled, 'The Unreal McCoy.' (Or did I just make that up?)"

    My mother had all the paperback novelizations of the original series episodes by James Blish, and novelization of "The Man-Trap" was indeed titled "The Unreal McCoy" (presumably based on an early script - there were a lot of weird differences between the Blish novelizations and the aired episodes).


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