Thursday, January 27, 2005

Star Trek: The Corbamite Maneuver 

Day two of the Star Trek exercise marathon: The Corbamite Maneuver. This episode originally aired one week before my second birthday. In case you were wondering.

We've now been joined by Uhura and McCoy, slightly better crew adherence to discipline, and some changes in uniform. Spock makes a comment indicating that his father is a rather stern man, and that his mother is human. In the last episode he speculated that perhaps some ancester of his had married a human, but by this episode he's regained the obscure piece of information that the long-lost ancester was his father. He also tells Kirk, "I regret not having any better alternatives." One of the early "AHA- EMOTION!!!" moments for Trekkies everywhere. Yes, "regret" would indicate an emotion, which Spock claims not to have. And he still sounds like a drill sergeant.

The uniform shirts now come in the well-known but often ill-fated red variety, appear to be of a better quality fabric (but I'm sure they'll still conveniently tear to expose muscular flesh), and have smart little black collars on them. McCoy is sporting a much better quality medical scrub type top over his uniform shirt than the papery looking thing his elderly predecessor had.

Early in the episode, McCoy has Kirk in sick bay for his physical. Apparently this is or at least is to become a long-standing tradition of starship captains avoiding their physicals at all costs, as McCoy deliberately withheld from Kirk that the red alert signal was flashing, in order to get him to stay. Picard, Sisko, Janeway and even Archer all drove their respective medical staff crazy on these exam schedules as well. Anyway, once Kirk finishes his upside down running type exercise in which his feet alternate pressing these blocky things into the wall (is it really a good plan to have your head lower than your heart during a strenuous lower body workout like this? I'm just asking.), he gets off the table and sees the signal. He then exits sick bay with his uniform shirt draped over his shoulders like a towel, and walks around the ship's corridors with his sweaty, manly torso exposed for all the crew to see. Very subtle.

Since the navigator from the last episode got himself killed in the line of god-hood, we have a new unstable navigator this week, the apparently too-soon promoted Lt. Bailey, who slouches, smart-mouths and freaks out for way too long before being relieved of duty. Then after being in his quarters for a full 5 minutes, he returns to the bridge and is allowed to return to his post. Yeah, that makes sense. The guy should have been sedated and tossed into sick bay, if not the brig.

"The Corbamite Maneuver" is named after a poker-style bluff that Kirk pulls on their apparent captor, Balok, who has declared his intention to destroy the ship and all life inside it in 10 minutes. He gives them 10 minutes to make peace with their "deity, deities or other such icon as gives them comfort." How multiculturally inclusive. He'd have been quite a hit in the US last month. Kirk's plan eventually succeeds, starting with convincing Balok that all Earth ships are lined with "corbamite," which deflects all attacks and returns an equally strong force in exchange. In other words, "I'm rubber, you're glue. It bounces off me and sticks on you." Balok then fakes a distress call to lure Kirk, McCoy and Bailey to his ship, then discloses that it was all a fun little test, they have a tea party and Bailey stays on board to share cultural exchanges. Who will be the navigator next episode? Will we finally get to meet Chekov, before Walter Koenig moves on to become the creepy and slightly vampiric looking Bester on Babylon 5? We also discover that Balok is really a tiny little man played by then 7-year-old Clint Howard, who next appeared as Grady, the unstable but harmless homeless man on the ST: DS9 episode "Past Tense, Part II" in 1995. Poor Clint. He was doomed to be a freaky little man from childhood, and the Balok makeup very accurately foretold his adult visage.

This episode also introduces the banishment of women from slacks and into short, short dresses. We also meet Kirk's subservient yeoman, about whom he curses Starfleet for assigning him "a female yeoman." Yikes. Weren't the 60's fun? I think even I, at the age of two, was about to enter into my refusal to wear dresses except under extreme duress.

Next episode: Mudd's Women.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:30 AM