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Star Trek The Animated Series: The Time Trap

Mikey Heinrich and Billie Doux discuss The Animated Series episode, "The Time Trap."

Mikey Heinrich: There was so much potential in this premise, and then it seemed like they just couldn't be bothered to follow up on any of it. That's disappointing.

Okay, first off, let's just say it. The plan to combine the Federation and Klingon ships into one big Voltron ship in order to break out of the titular time trap has two problems.

1. It's kind of an easy solution to the problem of being stuck in this pocket dimension to the extent that it seems odd that no one else had ever thought to try it.

2. It looked exactly like the Enterprise was manfully taking the Klothos from behind. With force. And the Klothos was into it.

I'm not judging.

I really like what appears to have been the core concept here – that there's a pocket dimension in this area of space where time just isn't a thing, so when you get stuck there, you're just there forever. And it appears that the original idea was that that was what led to peace among all 120-odd races that were stuck there. They had no choice but to live at peace, because they had no other options.

At least that seems to have been the original idea, and it would have been a really interesting tack to take. All it would have required is one little tweak – that violence is possible in this pocket dimension, but that its effects don't last. After relative millennia of pointless violence they achieve peace through sheer boredom.

That would have been an interesting tack, and would have fitted far better in with the (I think) Vulcan leader of the council's basic attitude of "Whatever, dude. You guys do you. Try to escape if you want. Nothing matters. I'll be over here listening to whatever the Vulcan version of The Cure is."

Instead, they make it clear that violence is forbidden because... well, it just is. The council decided everybody should be at peace and will give you a serious time out to think about your actions if you break the rule. And that's just not as interesting. Nor is it realistic.

This episode has almost the same starting premise as that Voyager episode whose name now escapes me in which they're trapped in a pocket dimension with no resources and have to spend the episode convincing the others trapped there to please stop methodically kicking the shit out of each other because maybe working together might be a thing. And call me a cynic, but I tend to believe that that's far more likely to be people's response to the situation.

Other possible points of interest that they bring up and then just shrug at:

"Sir, it appears that the humans and Klingons are working together to escape!"
"That's fine, there's no rule against it. Where are my clove cigarettes..."

"You naughty Klingons have engaged in violence and will be suspended on the naughty step for 1000 years! What? You need them for hot starship on starship action tomorrow morning? Okay, never mind. You know, I was into Death Cab for Cutie way before they became popular."

"Um, why is Spock hanging around those Klingons like somebody's creepy middle-aged chicken hawk uncle at a high school graduation party?"
"No worries, totes just needed physical contact to read their minds and I thought it would be fun to make it uncomfortably homoerotic. Seriously, did you see the look on Bones' face? Priceless."

That said, I did really enjoy the blatant re-use of character stills from earlier episodes to pad out the council, and I kind of love whoever made the choice to say, "Screw it. One of them is just Spock, but Day-Glo yellow with white hair." I do, however, wish that when they discussed the possibility of going home with the Enterprise that the Orion woman had gotten a line along the lines of, "Um, back there I'm totally a sex slave, whereas here I'm one of the lead members of the ruling council who's also immortal, so... hard pass."

Oh, and the line "A pocket in the garment of the universe" is objectively beautiful and I love whoever scripted it.

So, what did you all think?

Billie Doux: I thought this was an exceptionally bad episode. And as you said, Mikey, the basic idea of the time pocket in a Bermuda Triangle section of space was actually pretty cool. I feel cheated.

Because the writing was appalling. Kirk was spouting all sorts of knowledgeable conclusions out of nowhere. Spock acting as a "pal" to the Klingons and touching them so he could pick up on their thoughts was unethical and out of character. At one point, a scene seemed to end in the middle and jump to a completely different scene with no segue or explanation. I never understood why combining the Enterprise and the Klothos would break them free; wouldn't the beings on all the trapped ships have tried that before? It made no sense, except it gave us the totally ridiculous imagery of the two ships, um, as a couple.

And my biggest question. Yes, it was actually pretty cool that the leader of Elysium was a woman, and a green Orion "slave" woman at that (hat tip to Star Trek: Discovery season three) but couldn't she have been wearing something more substantial than a bikini?

All that said, I liked the ship graveyard. And the multi-species council. Such a good premise. This could have been such an interesting episode.

Mikey: Regarding the Orion woman, yeah, I totally wondered the same thing. It's like she said, "Awesome, I'm freed from being a sex slave! But you know what? I'm totally keeping the outfit." I really want to read it as a conscious choice on her part to take ownership of her own sexuality, even though we all know it was just so they didn't have to draw a new outfit.

And the fact that I'm spending this much energy head-canoning things while watching sort of says it all about the quality of what I'm being shown, doesn't it?

I checked Memory Alpha – apparently the other leader guy is a Romulan and not a Vulcan. Should I have recognized his outfit?

The ship graveyard did look pretty cool. Did I see the hippie necklace ship from 'One of Our Planets...' in there? Dare I hope for the return of the ridiculous giant urn at some point?

Billie: I don't think even an adorable giant urn could save this one.

Mikey: So, all in all not a hugely successful start to the back half of the animated series. But take heart, I remember really liking the next one.

Billie: So maybe one out of four ships in a ship graveyard?

Mikey: I'll give it two out of ten reused character cels.


  1. Replies
    1. Rushy, they're in progress. We just posted this one last week!

    2. Rushy, that means a lot to me to hear. I'd kind of suspected that these were only amusing to Billie and me. :)


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