Weekend Trek “By Any Other Name”

There’s an interesting concept in this episode of Star Trek.  Apparently, there’s an energy barrier around the Milky Way galaxy.  It is, as a result, impossible to leave the galaxy and visit another one.  Or, you know, so the Federation thinks.  Sure, there’s an obvious need for the Enterprise to pass through it for this episode only.  But the fact that the series has apparently just been confined to the Milky Way is an interesting idea.

Granted, I don’t know how much of that holds in future series.  Where is the Delta Quadrant anyway?

As for this episode, we open with the Enterprise responding to a distress call on a distant planet.  Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and two redshirts beam down to find two people there who don’t really need help.  They are Rojan and Kelinda, but I got a bit distracted.  For some reason, I kept thinking Rojan looked like Bob Odenkirk.  As it is, despite looking human, Rojan and Kelinda are Kelvans.  Furthermore, they are the forerunners of an invasion from the Kelvan homeworld in the Andromeda Galaxy.  They managed to destroy their ship flying through the Milky Way’s protective energy barrier, so all they really want is to force the Enterprise to take them home.  Oh, and from there, start the invasion.

Now, quite frankly, there’s a lot to admire to this episode.  Rojan is the kind of bad guy you just want to pop in the nose.  Kind of like how Jimmy feels about the Clock King.  He’s smug and arrogant, and simply believes the Federation has already lost the invasion, so why won’t Kirk stop trying to resist.  Rojan’s people have strict codes of honor, and they expect subdued races to honor such codes without actually explaining what such codes are.

Furthermore, the Kelvans basically have two weapons on their belts.  One freezes people in place.  The other reduces them to small cube-like things.  Those things can be crushed, killing the sometime human.  After a failed escape attempt, Rojan makes an example of one of the two redshirts.  He has both reduced to cubes then randomly crushes one.  Now, redshirts die all the time on Star Trek.  It’s one reason why they have that shorthand nickname.  What I find surprising is the choice of which redshirt dies.  There’s a man and a woman, and Rojan, it turns out, killed the woman.  Has a female redshirt ever died ahead of a male redshirt before?  It makes dramatic sense in that the script gave her some character development before her death.  That makes her death more sympathetic.  But really, the guy in the red shirt lived.  I don’t think that happens very often.

But, one thing Star Trek always is is a celebration of what makes us human.  Spock attempts to mind meld Kelinda into letting the away team loose.  Considering he is doing that through a stone wall, that is rather impressive.  But hey, he’s done that one before.  It doesn’t quite work; Kelinda’s mind is too strong.  Kirk does manage to subdue her a second later, but he and the others don’t get very far.  Spock learns something:  the Kelvans are, in their natural forms, basically giant alien squids.  They assumed a human form to travel in the Enterprise.

And that, basically, is how to beat them.  Rojan is ten steps ahead of Kirk at every turn.  While Kirk’s away team is meeting Rojan for the first time, his people have already captured the Enterprise.  Kirk’s escape attempts fail.  Rojan even knows about Kirk’s bomb in Engineering that Kirk opts not to use.  This comes after Kirk has made multiple offers to let the Kelvans simply settle an uninhabited planet.  If the Kelvans are in danger of dying out, why not take that?  But Rojan insists his people could never live beside a race they considered inferior.  Really, why wouldn’t I want to pop this guy one?  Then he’s need a good lawyer so he better call Saul.

He really reminded me of Bob Odenkirk.

But the thing the Kelvans don’t get about humans is they don’t give up.  So, even after the Enterprise successfully left the Milky Way and most of the crew was reduced to cubes (watch where you step), all that’s left are the four “essential” crewmen of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty.  Spock has finally pieced together what he got from Kelinda’s mind, and the four come to a quick conclusion.  Since the Kelvans weren’t originally human, they aren’t used to being human.  Being human has a lot of interesting sensations.  All the rest of the crew has to do is let the Kelvans feel some new experiences.

Spock, mostly, sits this one out.  He just makes a key comment here and there.  But the others?  Scotty takes one off to get drunk, in a nice comedic moment where we see Scotty and the Kelvan go through the Chief Engineer’s entire liquor supply.  Both end up unconscious.

McCoy uses drugs.  Sure, they’re simple stimulants, but that still makes them drugs.

And Kirk, unsurprising, puts the moves on Kelinda.  She gets to experience the joys of physical love.  And Rojan?  He gets to feel murderous jealousy.

And that’s all it takes.  The Kelvans are human now.  Even other Kelvans will see them as inferior.  They might as well restore the crew and take up Kirk’s offer to settle on an uninhabited planet with the Federation’s blessing.  That this solution is reached after Kirk has popped Rojan in the nose multiple times satisfies me.  And heck, they even agree to send some robot probes to offer more asylum for the rest of the Kelvans before their civilization goes boom.

Maybe next time, try taking the peaceful offer first.

And if you’re an alien invasion assuming a familiar shape, don’t take one where the natives know all their own weaknesses.

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