Series: Star Trek: The Original Series
Season, Episode #,and Episode Name: Season 1, Episodes 12 and 13, “The Menagerie: Parts 1 and 2”, Episode 14, “The Conscience of the King”, and Episode 15, “Balance of Terror”
Setting the Stage: I started at 4:30 pm on January 5, 2020, still watching via Netflix, so I’m using their viewing order. Professor Zoom kept me company today while the husband was in and out running some errands we had forgotten to complete.
Quick Summary with my reactions: “The Menagerie” opens with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beaming down – but why? We find out Pike is in bad shape, Spock is planning something, and it’s even more clear to me that Kirk’s been wearing eye makeup probably the whole time. McCoy is adamant that Spock couldn’t be disloyal and Kirk is all atwitter with who the hell is interfering with his ship. Spock steals the Enterprise AND Pike and then submits himself for arrest? What’s going on with Talos 4 – wait are we rewatching the pilot? You can find my reactions to that here, since it was just a few days ago. Part 1 ends with Spock being ordered into lockup. I’m reminded at how much I love Number One. I also get to relive “THE WOMEN!!!” line by Spock. It is heartbreaking when the screen is blank and all three vote guilty. But then, it was all a deception! The Commodore was never there and there’s no court martial. Another plot twist I didn’t see coming. A mostly happy ending for Pike, but no consequestions for Spock.
“The Conscience of the King” made me think “Oh good, they still have theater in space.” The guy Kirk is with thinks there’s a war criminal on the loose, and then the guy winds up dead. Spock gives some great eyebrow, I mean have you seen them? His eyebrows have better acting skills than some of the red shirts. Clearly Kirk chats up the daughter in the acting troupe to try and get to the father, who turns out to be the bad guy everyone thought he was, the infamous Kodos. Riley’s parents died at the hand of Kodos, so he wants to shoot the father, but then you find out the daughter is the one who’s been killing the witnesses that could identify him. It’s another plot twist, and another heartbreaking ending as the daughter accidentally kills the father and then goes mad, or maybe she was always mad?
“Balance of Terror” opens with Kirk about to perform a marriage ceremony and I’m instantly questioning the name of this episode, but first war with the Romulans! There might be spies on the ship, and the Romulans absolutely have a Vulcan in their midst… escandalo! Apparently, my husband explains that the other ship is actually all just Romulans and that the Vulcans and Romulans are related. Looks like the Enterprise is about to be hit by… red smoke, a red beam? The Enterprise starts shooting at… open space? Oh, the Romulan ship can disappear… nifty. After the Romulan ship blows itself up, Spock is sassy about saving the life of the navigator, and then we receive the news that homeboy who was going to get married was our only casualty. That’s just cold!
My Impressions: I was most excited, when I found out the Commodore’s name, to see if I would find out if Jose ever got his peppers. Unfortunately, that’s still a mystery. As this two-part episode brings back the pilot in a different light, I am reminded at how much I liked Number One, how much of a fantastic bad ass she was and how I truly wish they had found a way to keep her. Having recently seen the pilot (11 episodes ago), I was much more interested in seeing where the story went, which I had an idea once I saw what happened to Pike. I was a little thrown off by how feverently McCoy dismisses that Spock could ever deliberately disobey an order, given their past interactions and McCoy’s general snarkiness. Even though I just watched the pilot a mere four days ago, I noticed some things this time around that I didn’t before. Now I understand why folks do a rewatch. I enjoyed the parts they kept of “The Cage”, but if I choose to ever do a rewatch I don’t know that I’ll watch the Pilot as most of the elements are in here. I do think I would try the production order, however, to see if the story makes more sense when watched in a different way. Let’s make it through this first run through, though.
I don’t have a lot to say about “TCOTK”. I find it all too convenient that the last two survivors who could be witnesses at identifying this Kodos guy are both on the Enterprise, but that’s TV. I was, however, truly shocked that the daughter was the one killing the witnesses all along. It was some instant karma that she goes to kill Kirk and kills her father instead, but still sad.
In “Balance of Terror” I am very happy that Kirk takes a big stand against bigotry, so very progressive during the 60s. It’s also another moment that aged well and still resonates in the “now” because people are scared of things that are different. The guy who is all leery of Spock was just fine with him before we knew what the Romulans looked like. Shows us that looks can absolutely be deceiving. I am a big fan of the game Munchkin, and there’s a card called “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cheat” (it’s part of the Star Munchkin universe). I tell you that story to explain why I am absolutely confused by how the Romulans can hear things in space. That scene also reminds me of the change scene from “Down Periscope”, provided here for your viewing pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cveFKerkadA. Anyway, I’m a little pissed they made the groom the ONLY casualty. I mean, at least kill another few red shirts or something.