December 7, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Weekend Trek “Friday’s Child”

Mining negotiations on a less technologically advanced planet take a bad turn when the Klingons and a pregnant widow make things worse.

So, how often does Dr. McCoy get to save the day?  And I don’t mean just because he found a cure for some weird disease.  I mean, like, an entire episode where he is easily the MVP.  I know I go on about how Spock is my favorite character, but McCoy is no slouch as characters go.  His generally grumpy demeanor belies a solid core of knowledge and experience.  He may be the most emotional member of the crew since he mostly acts as a counter for Spock, but the guy knows what he’s doing.

Episodes like “Friday’s Child” remind us that his general excellence as a doctor and character shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Enterprise is on a mission to secure mining rights from the planet Capella IV.  Capella IV is a less advanced world, still relying on a tribal system of government and basic iron age weapons and tools.  The people there don’t see much importance in the minerals the Federation needs, but it’s not like Starfleet is just going to run in there and take it.  There’s two good reasons for that.  One is the Klingons are in the neighborhood and want the same thing.  The other is the Capellans are a rather large and strong people.  Seven feet tall isn’t unusual for these people, and their signature weapon, some kind of razor-lined Frisbee, is as deadly as a phaser gun.

Fortunately, Dr. McCoy spent some time there on a medical exchange.  Yeah, he didn’t get much out of it medically-speaking, and the Capellans have an “only the strong will survive” attitude that doesn’t ask for much in the way of medicine, but he does know their culture.  That should help.  McCoy is already proving his worth for this episode, and not because he used to date someone there.

So, a group of large people with a tendency and gift for violence may want something, and there are Klingons around.    How quickly does this go wrong?  Very, since there’s a Klingon already there, and when Kirk’s security guy pulls a phaser to defend Kirk, he dies instantly from razor-disc.  Fortunately, that isn’t a deal-breaker, but Kirk’s landing party (himself, Spock, and McCoy) need to surrender their communicators and phasers.  Kirk can’t even call Scotty on the Enterprise to give them a head’s up.

Then again, Scotty has his own thing going on up there.  The Klingons fake a distress call, and the Enterprise goes to investigate.  That subplot doesn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things.  Mostly it shows Scotty is a highly competent officer who recognizes a trick when he sees one.  Yes, they’ll check on that distress call, but they won’t fall for it a second time.

Really, this episode is here for McCoy to shine.  He knows local customs enough to throw shade at the Klingon and keeps Kirk from inadvertently going into a trial by combat.  Heck, the planet’s leader seems more inclined to like the humans than the Klingons.  There’s just a few small problems.  First, the leader’s wife Eleen is very pregnant.  And…hokey smokes!  It’s Julie Newmar!  One of my favorite Catwomen!  Is Adam West hanging around nearby?  No?  Dang.  He might have had some Bat-Klingon Repellent.

The other problem is a massive brawl breaks out that night, killing the old leader.  The new leader likes the Klingon better, and Kirk soon gets himself in trouble for touching the old leader’s widow.  That means death.  McCoy, seeing she’s injured, figures they can only kill him once and gives her treatment.  Spock…I don’t think he ever lays a finger on Eleen, but it looks like all of them are set for execution, so we’ll have to wait and see.  Spock assists Kirk in the escape from the camp, setting up booby traps, and that’s about it.  Again, I’m fine with that.  McCoy is the hero here.

By the by, this is the second episode in a row where a fight breaks out with no real build-up.  The show just cuts from one scene to another, and the second scene shows a brawl.

As for McCoy’s heroism, he doesn’t even do anything truly out of the ordinary.  He checks a woman’s arm and assists her in giving birth.  Granted, his way of doing so accidentally gave him some sort of parental rights, but I don’t think anything will come of that.  Mostly he does well by being himself.  When Eleen slaps him repeatedly for daring to try and examine a patient, he slaps her right back.  Given the rather militant society she comes from, that works.  Her respect for him is so great, she will allow McCoy–and only McCoy–to touch her.  That sucks for McCoy when he needs help getting her up a ledge and Spock and Kirk are told to back off.  He’s a doctor, not an escalator.  I guess they still have those in the future.

So, a baby is born, the Klingon proves untrustworthy, Spock and Kirk show a gift for archery, and the guy who took over sacrifices himself to stop the Klingon.  Maybe he wasn’t all bad.  The Federation gets the mining rights, and it comes from McCoy being McCoy.  Eleen is ruling in her infant son’s stead, and she not only grants the Federation the mining rights, she also names the baby after McCoy.

She also, for some reason, names the baby after Kirk.  Leonard James Akaar?  Spock thinks the two men will be insufferably pleased with themselves for at least a month.  He doesn’t seem wrong.  Yeah, Kirk was being his usual heroic self here, but I don’t see what he did that impressed Eleen enough to partially name her son after him.  It seems more like something done for a quick punchline.

Now will we get an episode that delves into Scotty or one of the other regular members of the crew?  I somehow don’t think so.