Episode #,and Episode Name: 16 – “The Mark of Gideon” and 17 “That Which Survives”
Setting the Stage: This morning started out with a 7:00 am dentist appointment, but I can officially state I have gone 33 years and almost 2 months with no cavities! After work a nap was needed, but it allowed me to focus on the two episodes I watched tonight. I started around 6:00 pm, still watching Netflix and using their viewing order. Professor Zoom and Tempura were around, playing musical chairs with my lap for most of the evening. Puppy and kitty nurses are the best. Tonight’s writing music is The Dark Knight soundtrack by Hans Zimmer.
Quick Summary with my Impressions: “The Mark of Gideon” begins with the planet Gideon (I’m shocked I tell you, shocked), who has finally agreed to meet a Federation representative. However, it has to be Kirk and during the beam down process he’s stranded on the Enterprise that now appears to have been abandoned… dun dun dun. You can tell he’s quite concerned and confused and totally out of his element. Oh, voice over Kirk is back, great (rolls eyes). Gideon and the Enterprise are both now aware Kirk did not beam down, but no one knows why. Oh look, a brunette – or maybe a blonde, and Kirk believes someone has done this to them deliberately. There’s a lot of verbal sparring between Spock and the Gideon delegation, but at least the transporter works now… interesting. Spock is doing a lot of demanding this episode, I kind of like it. Why are there people watching Kirk make out with the mystery woman, and why does he not notice? Also, what’s up with his arm? Ah, now he sees the people and hears their heartbeats. Okay, now the Gideon delegation is watching Kirk like a damn TV show, kind of reminding me of The Truman Show. Spock decides to beam down to the original coordinates given, and realizes they had built an identical Enterprise. Apparently the people of Gideon are very pro-life, but also don’t really die or get sick, so they have kidnapped Kirk to infect the people and do some sort of weird population control? However, Spock and Kirk save the day, McCoy saves the girl, and away we go.
I don’t understand how a non-Federation planet was able to make an identical replica of the Enterprise, or why the planet didn’t just ask the Federation for help by taking on some of their inhabitants? I mean, especially if you’re so pro-life you won’t even consider contraception or natural family planning, the least you can do is send your people out into the world. I’m also confused by how people sleep, eat, and ya know – do the “not family planning thing” if there are SO MANY PEOPLE they are all horded together. I find that when I start looking critically at these episodes to write about them, I begin to have way more questions than answers. Maybe, however, that’s the point. I do want to know more about how Gideon came to be like that and if whatever they were doing worked, did they eventually turn to the Federation? Well I’m not that intrigued, but enough that I give this episode three and a half nicely ripe mangoes.
“That Which Survives” begins with intrigue. There’s a young planet that is confusing even to Spock, so Kirk, McCoy, Sulu, and the geologist D’Amato beam down – but a woman interrupts the beam down process and kills the operator. The Enterprise warps away and the landing party is now stuck on the planet. The Enterprise is apparently 990.7 light-years away from where it was. Scotty and Spock have this funny exchange and Sulu’s replacement is a sharp wit, I like her.
SPOCK: “In that case, Mister Scott, I suggest we start at once. Can you give me warp eight?”
SCOTT: “Aye, sir. And maybe a wee bit more. I’ll sit on the warp engines myself and nurse them.”
SPOCK: “That position, Mister Scott, would not only be unavailing but also undignified.”from http://www.chakoteya.net/StarTrek/69.htm
Now there is a long period on the planet where the landing party divides up and finds nothing, except D’Amato runs into the same woman, who then kills him the same way she killed the red shirt. Scotty thinks the ship feels wrong, despite the instrumentation showing all is well, so he sends one of the engineers to check something out and the woman shows up again, kills him, and then DEMATERIALIZES INTO THE WALL?! Sulu does not give into the wiles of this purple-clad woman, but when she touches Kirk nothing happens. Apparently, the Enterprise is going to blow up and Scotty says there’s nothing that can be done. Spock is slightly infuriating when he feels he needs to be exact and precise, especially because it doesn’t matter, although I understand why.
Scotty goes crawling around to try to fix what is going on, Spock is running a computer simulation, and Kirk, Sulu, and McCoy almost get blown up – what is going on? Usually by now we know what is happening, but I’m still super confused. The woman gives her name and that she is a commander, but feels conflicted about her orders to kill Kirk, and then she flips out and folds in on herself. She feels very computerized but also very human, and McCoy gets zero helpful readings, so the mystery persists. Back on the Enterprise, Scotty is dramatic and Spock has faith(?), or maybe has run the statistics, that Scotty can reverse the polarity, which he does. Oh snap, there are now three of the same woman, one for each of the landing party, when Spock beams down – just in the nick of time – with a red shirt who destroys the computer and doesn’t even get thanked for it. Apparently the planet was an outpost and the commander was waiting for others of her kind to come back – but they never did, and before she died she programmed the computer to secure the planet for anyone that was not of her race. While Spock was praising a woman for once, McCoy and Kirk speak only of her beauty and they all beam back to the ship, and this is why we can’t have nice things.
I liked the plot of this episode, I really liked Lieutenant Radha, and I genuinely enjoyed that Scotty was the one who offered to put his life on the line for the benefit of the crew. I also liked that I wanted to know what the hell was happening and there was a satisfactory, albeit sad, ending to the story. After what has felt like ALL THE BAD episodes this season, this was a good one. That being said, I’m not sure if it’s because everything else has been so bad that this just seems super spectacular, or if it really was just a good science fiction story. There are obviously a few problems with this episode, including the ending few lines and how Spock manages to show up just as needed. There’s also the rampant sexism, even when they are clearly going out of their way to try and be more inclusive, so it kind of washes out in some ways. For me, this episode earns a completely accuracy 7-day weather forecast.