Well, here we are. The penultimate episode of Star Trek. We only have one more left after this one, and, well, the post for that one will go up next week. For now, we have this one about escaping doomsday through time travel, and before I go too much further, I’ll just point out that this is another one of those episodes with the updated special effects. When the sun at the end of this episodes goes supernova, it looks pretty good how the explosion comes out, vaporizes the planet Kirk, Spock, and McCoy just left, and so forth.
But beyond that, we see Spock in love.
It’s not like we haven’t seen Spock in love before, but this is the first time it doesn’t happen because of some kind of weird pollen attack. We’ve seen him become the object of other women’s affections, the occasional bit of weird Vulcan flirting, and the Vulcan mating ritual, but this time we falls in love just as we’ve seen Kirk, McCoy, and Scotty all do before. Mostly Kirk.
And all it took was a little unexpected time travel.
See, there’s this sun about to go nova, and the Enterprise is looking into helping with the evacuation of the only planet in the solar system, your typical advanced humanoid civilization. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy all beam down, and the whole planet seems deserted save for one guy, Mr. Atoz, and his many duplicates working out of the planet’s library. He’s pretty much already saved the rest of the population, and there’s a part of me that is a little pleased to see a librarian saved the world. Granted, he doesn’t say how he did it. Maybe if he did, we could have avoided the problems that quickly come up.
That may be one of the episode’s biggest flaws. Mr. Atoz doesn’t notice these three don’t seem to be locals? Spock, at least, looks different enough to be someone else.
As it is, Kirk and McCoy each get to looking over various history disks when Kirk hears a woman shouting for help. He does the dashing thing and heads off, only to disappear in a doorway. Concerned, Spock and McCoy follow only for the same thing to happen while Atoz tells them they aren’t ready yet. Kirk soon finds himself in something that looks like Medieval or a little later times while Spock and McCoy are in an Ice Age. Kirk is soon after arrested for being a witch, but fortunately, the chief prosecutor is also displaced from time, and he can escort Kirk back. He also knows Kirk won’t last more than a few hours without the necessary treatment to reverse his molecular and biological condition to the proper time period. Likewise, the prosecutor would die instantly if he attempted to return to Kirk’s time. That sounds like a lot of crazy sci-fi crap to justify Spock’s eventual heartbreak, but I’ll allow for it.
As for Spock and McCoy, though McCoy quickly succumbs to the elements, a woman exile named Zarabeth shows up and takes the pair back to her cave for food and warmth. She’s physically attractive, so McCoy will obviously compliment her beauty. But he doesn’t interest her. Spock does, and the feelings seem to be mutual.
We’ve seen Spock show emotions before. Usually its because he’s possessed or infected with something. But this time is different, as are the feelings he shows. McCoy’s usual ribbing over Spock’s Vulcan heritage actually ends when Spock gets in McCoy’s face and growls back at him. I didn’t know Spock was a vegetarian, but he eats and claims to enjoy some “animal flesh” later. He’s, well, becoming more emotional, but not in a friendly way, and McCoy quickly realizes what it is: Spock is becoming like other Vulcans in this time period, and his people were barbarians back then.
You know, I’m not sure how much of that would actually work, but it’s an interesting concept. Particularly since, well, Spock is the only one to change like that. We don’t see similar transformations from Kirk or McCoy. They both basically stay themselves. Plus, since Zarabeth told Spock they couldn’t go back, Spock is more or less accepting of the situation.
McCoy later claims Zarabeth is a liar trying to get Spock to stay and help her avoid her loneliness, but I’m actually inclined to not think so. Like the prosecutor Kirk met, she doesn’t know McCoy and Spock didn’t get the molecular treatment before they went back in time.
All things being equal, that is a rather clever way to avoid the apocalypse. Just sending everyone back to a preferred time period to live out the rest of their days seems like a novel way to ensure the planet’s population doesn’t die in the resulting supernova. Granted, if I were forced to make the same decision, I’m not sure I’d actually want to live in any past time because I tend to think the best time is always the present, but that’s just me. The two time periods we see here have people accused of witchcraft and an ice age. Neither sounds all that much fun to me.
As it is, Kirk has to fend off multiple Atozes to get McCoy and Spock back, and when that’s done, Atoz runs to his personal time period of choice and the Enterprise personnel beam back to the ship with seconds to spare. We never actually see the inside of the ship for this episodes as it stands, with only Scotty’s voice coming in to remind us other members of the crew exist. But Spock, after wanting to get one last goodbye with Zarabeth, more or less reverts back to his usual self by episode’s end. Even Kirk doesn’t recover that quickly. Then again, Kirk never left a woman 50,000 years in the past. That’s bound to have a different reaction.