Well, we got that whole episode without Kirk, so we know he has to be back for this one. I mean, this isn’t a bad episode, but it just seems a little weird and maybe a little special to limit Kirk’s appearance for any given episode to his standard opening credits narration.
In this episode, Kirk is locked up in an alien zoo.
Yes, Kirk is part of a zoo. He’s not alone in there. Spock and McCoy get to join him. But for the time being, the Enterprise is on a standard rescue mission. A Starfleet science vessel investigating a new planet seems to be adrift in orbit, and the last known communication suggests the crew, including the commanding officer, beamed down to the planet’s surface after things went sideways. A deep scan suggests the planet may or may not be inhabited, but that just means sending the three most valuable officers on the ship down to look around. That would be Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.
Seriously, why are the three most valuable people on the ship always the ones going on the most dangerous missions?
Oh yeah, these are the characters we know and recognize.
Anyway, it isn’t long before the three are attacked by large animals. Phasers set to stun usually do the job, though one big beastie had to be hit in a special spot and when it collapsed, it pinned McCoy to the ground under its massive tail and somehow did not crush Bones to powder.
I didn’t know I wanted to make that (awful) joke until I started to type it out.
But there’s something weird about this place. Deserts lead into rain forests, and some flying critters seem to hit a forcefield. What could all that mean? It means they’re in a friggin’ zoo and just haven’t figured it out yet. They do when three of the natives, giant pink slugs with tentacles coming out of their snouts, swoop in, grab the three, and put them into an enclosure. The survivors of the deserted ship are already there. And here’s where we learn some things.
See, the natives are all telepathic, but they think so quickly, their thoughts are difficult to discern. Even Spock can’t get much through to them. Think hard enough, and the natives start shaking. That, apparently, means laughter. Thinking as a group does get McCoy’s medical kit back for an injured woman off-camera, so maybe they can trick the things into giving a communicator back so Scotty can beam everyone back to the Enterprise.
That plan almost works.
And still Scotty saves the day.
See, Kirk does get the communicator back, but then a juvenile member of that species gets involved, and Scotty accidentally beams the kid up instead of Kirk. Captain Kid for Captain Kirk?
I am full of terrible jokes today.
Anyway, the thing grabs Scotty and goes on a tour of the ship. And then, just as the parents are about to melt Kirk’s brain, the kid beams down to where it left with Scotty. Apparently, it made friends with Scotty. Why not? Everyone loves Scotty.
Scotty’s not getting the kid blasted to atoms also means the child learned all about the Federation, and since these aliens are much more advanced than any Federation race (even, to McCoy’s surprise, the Vulcans), that means the aliens see the value of these strange beings and let them out of the zoo with an invitation to come back when they’ve evolved a bit more in twenty or thirty centuries. Ours or theirs, as McCoy ponders out loud, is never specified.
So, there you have it. Someone put Captain Kirk in a zoo, but he got out again. This is the sort of silliness I’ve come to expect from the Animated Series.
I’ll be finishing up season one next time.