tried to eat the safe banana (thefourthvine) wrote,
tried to eat the safe banana

[Star Trek] Journey to Babel: All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Captain Kirk

Lesson One: Sharing Is Caring, Except for Vulcans

We open with McCoy and Kirk donning what I think are dress uniforms. Together. In the same room, which looks like a bedroom, albeit not one where you'd want to sleep on account of it is decorated like you are already in a nightmare. Did men do this in the sixties, get dressed together? Or were Kirk and McCoy just hanging around and they decided oh, hey, let's slip into something less comfortable?

The dress uniforms, by the way, are the same color as their regular tunics, but they have gold stripes down the front - McCoy's is tiny, but Spock (who joins them in the corridor) and Kirk have big ones. I am making no comments at all. None. This is my not commenting face, people, and I am wearing it.

McCoy complains about things - the uniforms, the people they have on board, the mission. Was Star Trek the show that invented the Exposition Through Whining device? Anyway, we learn that they are transporting ambassadors and dignitaries to a neutral location to argue about something.

Chekov announces, over the intercom, that the shuttlecraft is approaching with Ambassador Sarek's party. Spock's daddy is coming! Except apparently they don't know that and Spock does not feel like now is the time to share. Sometimes you have to share, Spock! Do they not cover this in Vulcan kindergarten? Actually, I don't so much want to picture Vulcan kindergarten. Moving on.

There's a sequence with the shuttlecraft landing.

Me: Wow. They must have used the big bucks on this. It's - it's decent special effects! Kind of! I mean, you wouldn't be at all surprised to see this in a videogame from 1999!
Best Beloved, who is wiser in the ways of TV, suspiciously: No way did they have the money for this. And in the sixties? This isn't possible. No.

And then we notice that it looks different than the rest of the ep somehow, and conclude that this is the "enhanced effects" thing the set is talking about. (We also have the original version on these discs, but we decided to watch the enhanced because we thought it would give the show some much-needed dignity. It doesn't; it just looks like they accidentally mixed in footage from another show.)

Off to one side, waiting for Sarek and company, McCoy asks Spock how the Vulcan salute goes. Spock shows him, but McCoy can't do it.

Me: *makes the Vulcan hand salute, which is easy, seriously*

BB is just jealous. And I am pretty sure everyone in the world except BB and McCoy can do it.

Kirk introduces Sarek to Spock, who says, "Vulcan honors us with your presence. We come to serve," which, I am not sure what that means, but I am sure it is deep. And he makes the sign, of course. Sarek ignores him completely. In the background, there's a woman who has to be Amanda, wearing the most ridiculous collar ever to defy gravity. It's like one of those collars the vet puts on your dog so that she can have some fun taking it off before she licks her stitches.

Kirk looks like he knows something is wrong here and he's just waiting until he has Spock alone to find out. In the meantime, he introduces McCoy and pretends nothing is wrong. Sarek exchanges nods and signs with McCoy.

Sarek says, "My aides, and she who is my wife." First: the aides come FIRST? And "she who is my wife"? What about a NAME? What about an actual introduction? OH MY GOD I ALREADY HATE HIM, which sucks, because I really liked Sarek in the Reboot. Amanda arrives and does some finger-touching with Sarek, which, if that is truly how Vulcans make out: DIRRRRRTY.

Kirk says Spock will give them a tour. Sarek says he prefers another guide. Kirk pauses for a long, long time, looking at Spock for a hint, and then visibly grits his teeth and says, basically, "As you wish." "You insulted my first officer. Prepare to die" does not cross his lips, but you can see he's thinking it.

Kirk offers Spock two hours of leave to visit his parents, clearly thinking, well, these Vulcans are dicks, but at least his parents must like him, right? And Spock says, no, these guys are my parents. Kirk visibly goes HOLY SHIT. Spock, see, this is why we share.

Lesson Two: Never Trust Your In-Laws

Kirk is showing the ship off to Sarek and Amanda. Spock is in the background, and Amanda goes to talk to him. She says, "After all these years among humans, you still haven't learned to smile." MAYBE HE DOESN'T HAVE MUCH TO SMILE ABOUT RIGHT NOW, AMANDA.

Spock says, "Humans smile with so little provocation." Unsaid but clearly implied: Whereas for me it takes something like learning my boyfriend isn't dead.

Amanda complains that he never calls, never writes, and Spock says the whole Sarek thing is bumming him out. And then Sarek ORDERS AMANDA OVER: "My wife, attend." I want to hit him so very much right now. And she goes! She goes! Oh my god why is she putting UP with that?

Kirk calls Spock over - and note, he doesn't order; he says "if you please" - which, seriously, I realize you were not adequately briefed, but maybe you should just NOT TRY TO HELP here, Kirk. Although I love you for caring. Kirk asks Spock to explain the computer to his parents, clearly trying to say, "Hey, your son is AWESOME, see? SEE? Oh my god how can you be a dick to him? He knows stuff! And he's very pretty!" Sarek says there's nothing Spock can teach him. Spock leaves, and Kirk apologizes. Sarek stalks off to his quarters, ordering Amanda to continue. Ordering.

Amanda introduces herself AT LAST, and says they should continue, since Sarek asked them to. Kirk says, "It sounded more like a command." Why yes, Kirk! It DID. I am so glad you noticed that. Please tell me you'll be arranging for a sudden loss of oxygen in Sarek's quarters pronto.

Amanda says, "Of course. He's a Vulcan. I'm his wife." I'm sorry, but if Vulcans are notorious domineering assholes who expect total obedience from their wives, why would you MARRY one? Kirk points out that Spock is his son, and Amanda says, "You don't understand the Vulcan way, Captain. It's logical. It's a better way than ours. But it's not easy. It has kept Spock and Sarek from speaking as father and son for eighteen years."

Lady, look. Anything that has you not talking to your son for two decades? Not logical, and also not better. Anything that makes you act like such a dick that everyone around you fantasizes about putting a giant condom on you, ideally so that it obstructs your nose and mouth? Not logical, and also not better.

Kirk says, "Spock is my best officer, and my friend." In other words: start appreciating him and kick your asshole husband to the curb, or I will end you. I cannot applaud loudly enough.

Amanda comes back with the weak-ass, "I'm glad he has such a friend." Indeed that is good! Since his mother couldn't find a way to be there for him. She continues, "It hasn't been easy on Spock, neither human nor Vulcan." She forgot about the part where his parents are assholes - that probably wasn't so easy, either. They continue in this vein, with Kirk trying to make peace:

Kirk: I'm so glad he's with me! And he's doing really excellent science! And he's not being violent! WHY CAN'T YOU SEE HOW AWESOME HE IS? WHY CAN'T YOU LOVE HIM LIKE I DO?
Amanda: Well, you know, Sarek is awesome, too. Just in that way where sometimes you mistake him for a raving three-storey asshole.
Kirk: They're both stubborn.

We pause to discuss our amazement at this line, and it turns out we are amazed by different things. I'm amazed because I thought Jim Kirk was supposed to be bad at diplomacy, but that was a perfect example of finding common ground between two warring factions. BB is amazed because Kirk is talking to Amanda like they're gossiping about their spouses in the kitchen at a family Thanksgiving.

Wooble noise - Uhura calling! And there's this truly bizarre bit where Kirk turns the monitor so that it partly faces Amanda and mostly faces away from him, but really what it faces is the camera. I am mystified, until we get a closeup and I realize that they had to do that so that the angle they shot Uhura's footage from would match the angle of the monitor, because there it is: a tiny Uhura, in the middle of a giant monitor, as though the very concept of video was new-fangled then. Hey, at least it's in color.

Tiny Uhura reports strange signals.

Now we're in a room with blue carpet and some people in assorted seriously unfortunate makeup - I guess these are the ambassadors and so on. They're debating about Coridon's admission to the Federation. Kirk says he's trying to keep the delegates from killing each other; if so, apparently he's taking a subconscious revenge with the food, which looks like styrofoam balls spray-painted in bright colors. (I am guessing, this being TOS and all, that that's exactly what it is.)

Over near the food, McCoy is asking Sarek why he retired. Kirk and Amanda, both spouses of Vulcans, look on with polite deference (seriously, their body language is identical). Spock stands away from the party, watching but not involved, and I want to SCOOP HIM UP and tell him he DOES NOT NEED HIS ASSHOLE PARENTS. Presumably Kirk is resisting a similar impulse.

Sarek corrects McCoy's math. Hee!

Then some - um - well. They're guys with immobile plastic pig masks, wearing garbage bags and duct tape; they give me flashbacks to Bargain Halloween Costumes I Have Known. They show up to interrogate Sarek about his vote on the Coridon issue. A sort of antennae-y powder blue guy steps forward to join the debate. Kirk intervenes very effectively - again with the excellence at diplomacy! - and the pig-guys stomp off, presumably to complain about how they can't see through their pig masks. Antennae Dude steps forward.

Meanwhile, Amanda and McCoy and Spock are talking. McCoy tries to interrogate Amanda about Spock's childhood, and Amanda looks at Spock, who looks down, which is visibly and obviously the Vulcan version of, "MOM, OH MY GOD PLEASE." Amanda, with an evil little smile, says that Spock had a pet sehlat that he was very fond of, and defines a sehlat as a fat teddy bear. Clearly she's choosing to embarrass Spock, but all I can hear is, "Oh, Spock didn't have friends, are you kidding? His only friend was his pet dog."

For the first time, I consider the possibility that Vulcan is filled with people who are warmly receptive of individual differences and would have loved the chance to get to know Spock, but they just couldn't face dealing with his jerkface parents. I imagine kids asking if they can invite Spock to their logic party, or whatever wee Vulcans have, and their parents saying, "Honey, he's a wonderful kid, but if I have to spend one single second with his mother or father, I'm going to disavow the teachings of Surak, so no." Later, I imagine the Vulcan Science Academy offering him a place with a special commendation for being such a decent person despite being raised by flaming assholes, and Spock declining with thanks, all, "I'd love to, but I need to get a lot further away from my parents." I enjoy this mental image so much that we have to rewind a bit because I've completely lost track of what's happening on the screen.

So, since I'm already lost, now is probably a good time to say this: I expected an Amanda who was awesome. Talented and smart, accomplished in her own right, in a balanced relationship with a Vulcan, managing well in an alien society, loving her son. Instead, she is a terrible person and a terrible mother, and appears to function primarily as Sarek's appendage - not his right hand, certainly. Maybe his left pinky toe. I HATE HER. ALSO, I HATE SAREK. And I expected to like them both. TOS is consistently surprising me - people I went into episodes expecting to hate (T'Pring!) turn out to be fine, whereas people I just knew I would love I actually want to set on fire.

Back in the actual story, Sarek comes over to tow Amanda off to her room, apparently because he doesn't like it when she's conversing with others and enjoying herself.

Chekov tells Kirk that sensors are registering an unidentified vessel pacing them. Kirk heads to the bridge. Once there, Spock can't identify the vessel, and Uhura can't get a response from it. Kirk asks Spock to make a guess, smiling in a way that clearly indicates that he's just waiting for the Vulcan zinger, and he gets it and returns to his chair, all right in his world. On the list of All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Captain Kirk, this is entry #7: There's always time for flirting! (I will die of shock if there isn't already an All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Captain Kirk poster somewhere. Link me, people!)

Meanwhile, Amanda and Sarek are talking. Sarek calls her out for embarrassing Spock, which, seriously, even the total dickhead you married thinks it's not cool, Amanda, so it is probably not cool. Amanda kneels down to Sarek and tries to get him to admit that he really is proud of Spock. Oh my god, ew. Possibly I am supposed to think Amanda was all clever, creating a situation in which Sarek would have to admit that he's proud of Spock, but I really don't. And then they have this conversation, paraphrased by the ever-so-slightly biased me:

Sarek: I'm just saying, respect the uniform, even though the man inside is a total waste of space who happens to be our son. Understand, pinhead?
Amanda, blinking and looking empty-headed: Not really, but it doesn't matter. I love you anyway.
Sarek: My god, I have tried and tried and TRIED to beat some simple logic into your fluffy little head, but no. It just totally escapes you, doesn't it?
Amanda: Why gosh! It does!

Sarek does smile, though, effortfully and humoringly, and we understand immediately why Spock doesn't smile at all: because Vulcans who force smiles look like they are standing in front of a wall of crazy.

Lesson Three: Be Wary of Secret Vulcan Arts; They Are Never the Fun, Dirty Kind

Back on the bridge, Spock says the vessel is heading toward them, and Kirk orders the phasers to arm. We are impressed by the quick cutting between the reaction shots - normally they spend enough on each reaction shot for you to count the actor's pores, long enough that Kirk visibly ages in some shots, but these are quick ones, which of course means I can't even find the face before the cut, but I admire the sequence anyway. And then they get close to the ship and it goes zinging past. Spock says they were traveling at approximately warp 10. The soundtrack says OH SHIT. I might, too, if I had some idea why that was bad.

Meanwhile, Sarek returns alone to the room containing the aftermath of the explosion at the makeup factory, having sent Amanda to time out. A pig dude shows up.

Pig Dude: Vulcan, I would speak with you.
Sarek: It does seem unavoidable.

I actually like Sarek as long as he's not around his wife or son. Devil at home, sarcastic bastard abroad appears to be Sarek's motto.

The pig dude is still all obsessed with Sarek's vote, so Sarek says Vulcan favors admission, and then it's pig dude v. Vulcan (hint: the Vulcan wins). Kirk comes in just in time to, well, grab the dude Sarek has already shoved off. Kirk yells at both of them and says there will be order.

Pig Dude: There will be payment for your slander, Sarek.
Sarek: Threats are illogical, and payment is usually expensive.

SAREK COULD TOTALLY BE AWESOME IF HE WAS NOT SUCH AN ASSHOLE TO HIS FAMILY. Unfortunately, being an asshole to your family immediately deducts all your awesome points. Double if your son is Spock.

Kirk has a look on his face that says, "I have married into a COMPLICATED family."

Next scene, we have a redshirt examining what appears to be a pig dude (maybe even the previous scene's pig dude; all these aliens look the same, you know, although I suspect that's more a makeup issue than a xenophobia one), stuffed into a random convenient tube. The redshirt calls Kirk, who is standing around shirtless, just, you know, relaxing naked. As one does after a hard day of diplomacy. The redshirt says he found a pig dude murdered, and the camera zooms in on Kirk while the soundtrack goes crazy. Kirk is thinking, "God damn it. Now I have to put my shirt back on."

McCoy says the pig dude's neck was broken by an expert. In neck-breaking. How do you get that degree? And who would? And what are the practicals like? Kirk wonders that, too, and Spock says: Vulcans. But - wait. I thought Vulcans were non-violent.

Anyway, Spock is volunteering that a Vulcan could totally do this. Apparently there's a whole art of neck-breaking on Vulcan. I am not going to any of their galleries, I tell you what. There is an uncomfortable conversation:

Kirk: You know, I love your family and all, but, um, dude. DUDE. I just saw Sarek arguing with this guy, and now he's dead and you're telling me this is a Vulcan art. DUDE.
McCoy: Holy crap, Spock, your father totally did it.
Spock: Well, he wouldn't have without a good reason. (Apparently Spock thinks this is the definition of non-violent. No, Spock, not choosing violence even when you do have a good reason: that is non-violence.) But if he had a good reason, yeah, he totally would.
Kirk, unhappily: DUDE.

Then they're off to see Amanda, whose hobby is apparently killing muppets and wearing their skins, and who seems to think bright pink and red go together. Sarek comes in.

Sarek: Is there a reason you are infesting my rooms, Captain?
Kirk: Look. Um. The pig dude? That I saw you fighting with? He's dead.
McCoy, helpfully: And Spock thinks you did it!

Sarek says he finds this interesting, but you can see he's thinking in terms of corporal punishment for Spock. Kirk soldiers on with the investigation, asking where Sarek was. Amanda protests, and Spock points out to her that, hey, dad totally could have done it, and Sarek helpfully agrees. Then he lurches forward and collapses, which I believe earth detectives would find a liiiiiiittle suspicious.

McCoy, sounding doubtful: I think it's something to do with the cardiovascular system. Or it could be the valvodynomaster. Or his knee.
Kirk: Can you help him?
McCoy, irritably: I don't know that yet, either.

We pause to discuss how the original doctor in the pilot was a laid-back lush, and they seem to have decided, after extensive audience testing, that what people really wanted from a doctor was a grouchy lush. For the record, that's not what I look for in medical care. Maybe people in the '60s were different.

On the bridge, Kirk is obviously thinking, "Spock's ass is still the finest in all the galaxy, and it is totally worth this bullshit." Or I think he is. BB thinks he's thinking, "He's upset, and I have to fix it or I won't be getting in that fine, fine ass later." Whichever, we agree that a) he is honestly worried about Spock and b) he is totally checking out Spock's ass. Spock tries to avoid a feelings talk by discussing the hull of the weird ship (remember the weird ship? OH YEAH THERE'S A WEIRD SHIP), but Kirk soldiers on:

Kirk: I'm sorry about your father.
Spock: Yes. It could adversely affect our mission.
Kirk: Aren't you worried about him?
Spock: Worry is a human emotion, Captain. I accept what has happened.
Kirk: Why do my attempts at good boyfriend talks always end this way?
Spock: If you would prefer to write me a script, I would be happy to read from it. In our off hours, of course.

Spock returns to the hull discussion and Kirk decides it would be better just to run with it. Uhura has picked up more of the message, coming from the weird ship, and says the reception point is somewhere in the Enterprise.

Lesson Four: Don't Allow Doctors Unsupervised Access to the Ones You Love

In sickbay, Kirk and Spock show up to see how Sarek is. McCoy says he has a heart thing that would require exploratory surgery, and asks if he had any previous attacks. Amanda says no. Sarek says yes. Apparently that's just one more thing that doesn't require discussion between spouses on Vulcan! (And, um, if the bond is all that it's supposed to be in fan fiction, wouldn't Amanda know anyway?)

Spock asks if McCoy plans to do the surgery. McCoy says it's difficult, and then the Vulcan Medical Show takes over. Sarek says it's because of the way the Vulcan heart is constructed. Spock advises a "cryogenic open-heart procedure," which he for some reason pronounces as "searogenic". Kirk asks Bones what he thinks, and he replies, "I'm glad somebody's asking me something around here." Seriously: snippiest doctor ever. You're a human doctor, Bones! It is entirely possible that Vulcans might know more about their own physiology than you do! Especially given that you admitted you were totally guessing before.

Bones says the procedure in question would require a lot of blood, and Chapel says there's just not enough Vulcan blood and plasma on board to begin a procedure like that. Which means McCoy hasn't been terribly worried about Spock being hurt, because otherwise he'd be HAVING HIM DO AUTOLOGOUS DONATIONS, which is what any sane person would do when there is only one person of a given species on board a ship and surgery on that species requires a lot of blood. Anyway. Kirk points out that luckily there are other Vulcans on board and Sarek, looking sort of pleased at all the complications he can bring into SAVING HIS DAMN LIFE, says his blood type is T-negative, "rare even for a Vulcan." (...So Vulcans are just famous for having weird blood? I guess I can believe that.)

Spock's blood is T-negative, too, but it isn't true Vulcan blood, Chapel points out. It has human elements. Spock says it should be possible to filter out the human elements, and McCoy says it doesn't matter, because even he couldn't give that much blood. (Because Spock is just - extra-bloody? What is he saying there, exactly? And what is with the excessive use of "even" in this scene?)

So Spock and Bones are working together to find a way to make blood out of thin air, which would not be a problem if you had just thought to have Spock donate regularly to the blood banks, McCoy. Spock comes up with an idea, but McCoy doesn't want to use it. He's never operated on a Vulcan before. (Although he's studied the body and knows where all the organs are, which - wow, that must make Spock feel AWESOME, knowing that the doctor who will care for him in an emergency has memorized an anatomical chart.) McCoy is worried that he might kill Sarek. Spock looks like that is a risk he's willing to take. Me too, Spock!

Amanda demands to know what drug they're talking about. McCoy explains that it's a magical blood-making drug that puts a geat deal of stress on the spleen and the liver (OMG WTF alien physiology and medicine rant redacted), so Sarek can't have it. It would kill him.

Spock asks Chapel to pull up the results of his physical examination from last week. Chapel says she has already pulled them, in a tone of voice that suggests she keeps them with her always and fondles them before she goes to sleep and sometimes wakes up licking them. EW. Anyway. Spock wants to use the drug on himself. McCoy doesn't want to do that, either. Amanda says she won't let it happen because she won't risk both of them. Spock logics them into it, pointing out that Sarek is going to die anyway, so there's no point in worrying about killing him (IF THIS CONDITION COULD KILL HIM WHY DID HE LEAVE VULCAN?), and Spock is a competent adult capable of making his own medical decisions, so McCoy really has no choice. (Not actually true, but we will let that go.)

BB pauses and points out that this scene only works because Kirk isn't here. If he was, he would say, "Spock, denied." And that would be that. We wish Kirk was there, and wonder where he is.

Lesson Five: If You Get Stabbed, Phone Home

Annnnd like magic the show answers us, because suddenly we're in the middle of a fight, Kirk vs. Antennae Dude! Antennae Dude has a knife, and stabs Kirk with it, but he prevails anyway, and manages to call to Spock before passing out. We pause to point out that the logical course would have been to call medical or security. Apparently he just wanted to hear Spock's voice, in case he died.

Back in sickbay, now with two big-name patients, McCoy explains that Kirk has a serious wound. Spock says he'll be questioning the prisoner. You get the feeling he will really enjoy it, too, and is only regretting that it would be against regulations to torture him. Then Chapel says Sarek's "K-2" is dropping (I tell BB I won't really worry until his Everest starts to go), and McCoy says there's no choice anymore: they have to do the surgery he didn't want to do.

Spock, of course, says he can't now - he can't leave the ship without a captain in these circumstances. McCoy suggests he turn command over to Scotty, which, uh, Scotty is a fine engineer, but he's not exactly the guy you want in the hot seat during a diplomatic mission with random stabbings and a spaceship stalker. Spock goes off to interrogate the prisoner.

In the brig, Antennae Dude is looking grouchy. His boss says he doesn't know the dude, but he's done a decent job. Spock says he's revealed nothing, even under scan and truth serum. (Apparently Starfleet is not so much with the rights of prisoners.)

Spock goes back to his room, where he stands looking kind of wilty. He's had a hard day! But apparently not hard enough, because here comes Amanda to badger Spock into risking his life to save his father. Amanda argues that Spock's duty is to his father. Spock says he has to put the safety of all the passengers aboard this vessel first. Amanda, who apparently thinks that Vulcans have a better way only when it comes to cutting off Spock, not when it comes to him choosing the safety of the many over the one, gets shirty.

And I have a Sudden Realization. I've read this story! I've read it a thousand times. I'm sure there is some formal name for this trope, but I don't know it, so I think of it as the Going to the Garden to Eat Worms story. In the ultimate example of this trope, everyone is thoughtlessly, ludicrously cruel to the author's favorite character, and then eventually, often after the unfairly beleaguered character has resorted to cutting, they realize the Error of Their Ways. This is (again, in the most extreme version of the trope) followed by everyone apologizing and/or begging to make it up to the character. I am not entirely pleased by the realization that this is a Worms story; I know lots of people love them, but they do not hit my particular buttons.

I am amused to note, though, that even in a Spock Is Going to the Garden to Eat Worms story, the author couldn't find a way to have Kirk be mean to Spock. The best she could do was render him unconscious.

Okay. Back to the action.

Spock: Dad would understand.
Amanda: Well, I don't. It's like you're not even human!
Spock: ...I'm not.
Amanda: I totally lied when I said Vulcans had a better way. Vulcans suck.

EVEN HIS MOMMY HATES HIM. Spock is definitely going to the garden to eat worms. But, seriously, Amanda - I totally agree with Spock. Also, if Sarek understands and Spock understands, and they're competent adults, maybe you should let them make their own choices instead of badgering your son to betray his duty to the one place you yourself said he could call home and risk his life to do something for his dad that his dad would rather he not do. (See? WORMS.)

Amanda says that nothing is as important as his father's life. Spock says, "Can you imagine what my father would say if I were to agree?" He points out that, you know, the risk of hundreds of lives, interplanetary war: these things are a little more important than one guy, no matter how pointy his ears or his logic.

Amanda goes all "when you were five" on him, saying she was SO SAD for him when he was little and the other Vulcans were mean to him. (Then perhaps you should have DONE SOMETHING instead of just, you know, being sad. Just a thought, Amanda!) She says if being Vulcan is more important than she is, she'll hate him for the rest of her life. Niiiiiiice. (WORMS.)

He says he can't do it. She hits him (SO MANY WORMS) and stalks out. Awesome mothering skills there, Amanda.

Spock stands, hand pressed against the door, alone, misunderstood, rejected by everyone he loves (except Kirk who is really sick and maybe dying). HE IS SO EATING WORMS RIGHT NOW.

Kirk wakes up and says he has a headache and is in pain. MCCoy, ever the ethical medical professional, advises him to let this be a lesson to him. No analgesics for you, bucko! You just lie there and be happy I saved your worthless ass. Kirk asks how Sarek is, and McCoy explains the whole Sarek-Spock-regulations-logic problem.

Kirk says, "I can't damn him for his loyalty, for doing his duty, but I'm not going to let him commit patricide." Aside from the fact that it wouldn't be patricide, I give Kirk a total high five for actually understanding the problem and deciding to work WITH Spock's Vulcanness instead of trying emotional appeals, demands, blackmail, and random physical violence. Kirk loves his Spock. Obviously. (And apparently has no issues with risking the lives of the many to save the one if the one happens to be a Vulcan.)

Kirk says he'll go pretend he's all right for long enough for Spock to be able to do what he wants instead of what logic and duty demand. The music goes all goopy. EVEN THE COMPOSER, WHO WAS CLEARLY CERTIFIABLE, THOUGHT THEY WERE IN LOVE.

Lesson Six: Fake It Until You Make It

On the bridge, Kirk walks in, moving carefully and followed by McCoy in case he collapses. McCoy says he's certified Kirk physically fit (um) and tells Spock to get his ass to sickbay. I would just like to remind everyone: donating body parts to save someone's life is a choice.

Kirk makes a vague shake-your-tail gesture at Spock, visibly thinking Just go so I can turn this over to Scotty and lie the fuck down.

Spock and McCoy head off, and as soon as they're in the elevator, Kirk sits in the captain's chair all wonky and calls Scotty to the bridge. And then the alien vessel moves closer! And Kirk can't turn over command after all.

In sickbay, Sarek and Spock are hooked up to a device like they used to use in the really ancient days of blood donation, when they had no anticoagulant. And Amanda is there watching. Of course! Because you always want the relatives in the room while you do a difficult and touchy surgery! One you don't know how to do, I might add. Chapel gives Bones the readings - blood pressure, heart rate - and Bones says, "I wish I knew whether that was good or bad." Uh, maybe you should have looked that up or asked Sarek or Spock before you started this surgery? Also, maybe you should not say that where Amanda (and Spock!) can hear you?

Spock tries to get up. He's just realized that if the alien vessel's power configuration is not the norm, they could identify the vessel this way! It's very important! Chapel hypos him into unconsciousness, and McCoy doesn't order her to pass that on or anything. Sometimes I wonder about McCoy.

In the brig, Antennae Dude attacks a redshirt, so they have to phaser him. An antenna breaks off. There's a transmitter inside! It's not a real antenna! Maybe he is not a real Antennae Dude!

The alien ship changes course, and Kirk orders the prisoner to the bridge, which, um, okay. I trust you, Kirk.

The weird ship swoops past and makes the Enterprise rock, I'm not sure how, and they fire on it but miss. Uhura says the boards are jammed - all the ambassadors want to know what's happening. Kirk, still looking pained, tells her to tell them to go fuck themselves, and she looks extremely pleased to carry out that order.

The ship makes another pass, again making the Enterprise rock. In sickbay, McCoy says, "One more like that and I'm going to lose both these men." AWESOME, McCoy! Amanda can still hear you! Spock looks semi-conscious back there, so he can hear you, too! At this point I'm not even able to trust that you've got Sarek completely under. Apparently they did not cover bedside manner in your training. At all.

Amanda looks pensive, like she's wondering what kind of hat she should get for the double funeral.

On the bridge, Kirk is all shiny. There's another ship-shaking thing, but presumably Spock and Sarek aren't dead. (That's not how Going to the Garden to Eat Worms stories end, after all. Plus, you know, there's no show without Spock.) And then more ship-shaking things. Chapel tells McCoy that Sarek's heart has stopped (seems to me a decent surgical setup would not require a third party for the doctor to know that, but FINE), and Bones says, "Cardiostimulate." I - the best image I get for that is heart massage. It's almost appropriate, too. We will leave all the other images out of this write up, shall we?

In the closeup, we can see smoke rising from either Sarek or the surgical unit. Um. That's reassuring. And the thing is, with TOS, you can't be entirely sure that they meant to do that. It could just be that something on the set caught on fire and they kept filming.

Another hit, and the power goes down, including in the surgical unit on Sarek's chest, which seems like something that should really, really have an independent power supply. McCoy orders Chapel to get him the old portable cardiostimulator unit, which is about the size of an ear thermometer and does not look at all like a sex toy, are you kidding? Some more hits, and the power comes back, thanks both to Scotty and Chapel's skilled handling of him. What? She can't be all unrequited crushes on pointy ears.

Meanwhile, on the bridge, the security team is bringing up Antennae Dude, who I guess I should call Not Really an Antennae Dude from now on. He stalks around, posturing and looking grouchy. Kirk says they're going to destroy the mysterious ship. Not Really Dude says it was planned that way. Uhura says damage reports are coming in from all decks. Kirk orders damage control, all decks, which - is that why they need a captain? Seems like there should just be a standing order: "If there's damage, control it. Control the fuck out of it. Hell, if you can, put a collar on it and lock it in a cage." If I am ever a starship captain, that will be one of my standing orders, right after "The blood bank will be fully stocked at all times or we will bleed you white until it damn well is" and right before "If your parents are coming on board, you have to tell me. If you can't talk about it, there is email and messaging and shiptwitter (the people who call it shitter get TEN DEMERITS EACH) and notes under my door. Pick one and tell me."

Kirk looks seriously unwell. He asks who Not Really Dude is, and Not Really Dude invites him to go fuck himself. Kirk says he's a spy, surgically altered to look like an Andorian - which, again, I am STUNNED at the progress plastic surgery has made in the future! Trans-species operations must be very popular - to use murder and terror to soften them up for the attack. Kirk was apparently asking Not Really Dude just in case he wanted a chance to talk for a bit, since he already knew all the answers. Kirk orders the power cut. Not Really Dude does not like this, and asks why, but Kirk invites him to go fuck himself.

Except Kirk can't resist explaining, just like a Bond baddie; maybe he went to Evil Villain High and then couldn't pass the exam to get into Evil Villain University and had to go to Starfleet instead. So we learn that they are playing dead, and from the reaction of Not Really Dude, I have to think that this is the first time this has ever been tried in all of known space. Certainly the mysterious ship people have never heard of it; they come in to check to make sure they're really dead and get all blown up. Whoops!

Not Really Dude explains that he also had orders to self-destruct. Slow poison, which - WHY? The whole point of slow poison is to kill the agent before he can be tortured or reveal anything. Equipping your agents with slow poison is just a chemical way of saying, "We'd like you to suffer for a while before you die!" Not Really Dude predicts he has ten minutes left, so either it isn't that slow or he took it a while ago. I predict he's going to die faster than that - there isn't that much time left in the episode.

And I'm right, because he dies! "I seem to have miscalculated." Great last words, there. Kirk orders Chekov to take over, apparently in enough pain that he no longer gives a shit who sits in his chair as long as he doesn't have to anymore.

Lesson Seven: Keep Your Enemies Close, but Keep Your Injured Loved Ones Closer

Kirk goes to sickbay, but not for, you know, actual treatment, because he has more important things on his mind:

Kirk: Spock! And Sarek, also! How are they?
Bones: I have told you before about letting the ship get attacked while I am doing important doctor things. And what have I told you? Don't do it!
Bones: Let me read to you from my prepared remarks on the topic of Shaking the Ship Against Doctor's Orders.
Bones: But. My speech!
Amanda, arriving from a different room to prevent Kirk from strangling McCoy: Come on in, Captain. Everyone is fine.

And, seriously, I am not kidding: Kirk almost collapses with relief when he sees that Spock is okay. I realize he's not in such good shape either, but still: wow.

Spock, who if he were a classic murder mystery detective would totally pwn Hercule Poirot, says he expects they'll find Thelev is an Orion. He also, of course, explains how he figured it out, and says he doesn't understand why he didn't think of it earlier. Kirk says he might have had something else on his mind, and there is a reaction shot I don't really understand, and then Spock says, "It hardly seems likely."

AND KIRK SAYS, "NO, BUT THANK YOU ANYWAY." There is no way to read that but, "I know you were worried about me, honey, and I know that I'm a big distraction, but you love me anyway." Seriously. He wasn't thinking that Spock might have been distracted by his parents or his father's impending death. No. He knew Spock was worried ABOUT HIM.

And then we learn that this episode is going to adhere to the We Have Just Two Minutes Left to Ruin Everything Rule.

Amanda: Really, you should thank Spock, Sarek.
Sarek: Why? He did what was logical.
Spock: Emotional, isn't she?
Sarek: She has always been that way.
Spock: Indeed? Why did you marry her?
Sarek, with a look that suggests that he has never stopped regretting it: At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do.

Kirk collapses, probably to distract us, and McCoy puts him on a bed. He won't let Spock get up, either, and he makes them both shut up.

McCoy, breaking the fourth wall into a billion billion pieces: Well, what do you know? I finally got the last word.
Tags: [recaps and reviews], star trek
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