Series and Season: Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 2
Episode #,and Episode Name: 24 – “The Ultimate Computer”, and 25 – “Bread and Circuses”
Setting the Stage: I started at 7:00 pm on January 22, 2020, still watching Netflix and using their viewing order. Professor Zoom was in his pen, eating his frozen, pumpkin-filled Kong, and my husband watched with me while we ate dinner. The only difference from yesterday is that we had pasta, wait we had that yesterday too. IS MY LIFE JUST ON REPEAT AND COPY/PASTE? Tempura and Jazz slept while we ate and watched TV. While writing tonight, I am listing to a mix of: Hanz Zimmer (Man of Steel soundtrack) again, more Minus the Bear (again), and some individual pieces by the Foo Fighters, Carlos Santana, and Billy Joel.
My goal this evening was to watch two episodes with dinner and a third while working out… again, my life is on repeat because I was only able to watch two episodes. I am traveling tomorrow and still need to pack and do a whole mess of other things before bed, and it’s already 9 pm, yikes. Looks like I’ll finish Season 2 tomorrow.
Quick Summary with my Impressions: “The Ultimate Computer” has Commodore Wesley beam aboard, we’re going to have some war games against a computer. This means the crew of over 400 is going down to only 20! Scotty is clearly weary of being replaced by a computer. McCoy’s fear that if the computer doesn’t work, there isn’t enough crew on board to run the ship, is totally valid. I see the M5 has the same problem as Babylon 5 had, where the first four didn’t work, oops. Kirk has a bit of a crisis of faith over losing control over the ship, but he allows the M5 to make some recommendations. During the first war game, Kirk is not impressed and although Spock is, he makes a surprisingly sweet speech about loyalty to man and not a machine. During “not a drill”, the crew cannot get control of the ship back, and it destroys an unmanned ore freighter. Unfortunately the M5 does not want to be turned off and murders a red shirt “unintentionally”, sure. Spock butchers the phrase “wild goose chase” and I’m in fits of laughter because I was just talking about the phrase “silly goose” with a friend. Anyway, back to the episode, Spock discovers that the M5 is not behaving logically and that’s due to having some human features programmed in from Dr. Daystrom. Four ships approach for another war game, but the crew doesn’t have control of the ship or a way to contact the other ships, and the Enterprise (controlled by M5) fires for real, yikes. The other ships cannot interact with the Enterprise and there’s a plan to destroy it. Daystrom has a nervous breakdown and Kirk has a plan, surprise surprise. Oh no, Kirk is logicing a computer to death, again. The M5 decides to commit “suicide” and Kirk powers down the ship, and crisis is avoided.
I pushed aside all of the things I know about what happens when you let the A.I. loose on any system, because I was sure the same tropes would be used here… even if this came first or at the beginning. Obviously there’s some repetition of plot devices used by Star Trek; Kirk talking the computer down, the computer trying to destroy everything, Spock liking the computer better but choosing man, etc. What this episode brings that is new is the notion that the Enterprise crew, especially Kirk, would sacrifice their lives for the benefit of a mass of their fellow Federation comrades. There was also the psychological effect of feeling “replaced” by the computer and how the humans felt about it, which hadn’t really been dealt with before. Of course, we’re always okay as long as we can unplug the machine… right? I liked the differences so much, 7 house points are awarded to Gryffindor.
“Bread and Circuses” begins with me yelling at the screen “HOW MANY CLASS “M” PLANETS ARE THERE?” My husband informs me that someone did the math, I bet it was Spock. Also, how many other Earth copies are we going to see? This one is like Ancient Rome, but with guns, some technology, and sassy Spock. Kirk has such a way with words as he explains their situation to the leader of the escaped slaves without giving away that they are from outer space or the Federation. Awww, someone knitted Spock a hat… but they are caught and imprisoned. Merik is the obvious bad guy and sacrificed his crew to have a top spot in the empire, that bastard! Kirk is being blackmailed into beaming down his crew, but Kirk refuses to submit in true Kirk fashion. He really is stubborn. Thankfully they’ve been in this situation enough they’ve created a code to let Scotty know they’re in trouble. Kirk is helped to escape, and our three heroes are beamed up by of Scotty. The Prime Directive was not violated, so Scotty receives a special shout out in the Captain’s log. Uhura schools the men about their understanding of the “Sun” religion, because it’s the “Son” religion, as in Jesus. They muse about being there for Christ as it happens again on this planet and warp away.
I’m so torn on this. On one hand, you have Ancient Rome… but with a twist! This is what they should have done to “The Omega Glory” episode, but that’s a whole other thing. On the other hand, I’m kind of over the whole “oh this is sort of like something from Earth past” thing. I immediately hated Merik, the mark of a good bad guy, and was touched with McCoy was trying to make nice with Spock. McCoy needs a lot more patience, I mean the man is a doctor (pun intended, purposely), but Spock also refuses to acknowledge his human half. I understand he believes Vulcan to be the superior species, but he is half human and that has to count for something. He tries so hard and it’s infuriating at times that he won’t play both sides of his heritage. I give this episode 5 bagel bites, but ones that are full of all the toppings and are heated just right in the oven.
I’m trying a new thing. It’s like “Kirk out” but with my name instead. Wait, why am I explaining this to you? For the four people who read this, I know you’re all avid Trek fans and would get it without an explanation. Oh well, maybe there’s someone out there reading this who needed this paragraph.