The City on the Edge of Forever
Widely hailed as the greatest Star Trek episode ever made. Watched it yesterday for the first time in years, and was actually pretty disappointed.
Not a patch on Balance of Terror, The Enemy Within to name but two.
I think my disappointment centres on the Edith Keeler character and my pathological hatred for Joan Collins. The story was essentially good but to me it just seemed like an excuse to use those old Depression type wornout clothes they had lying around on the studio lot.
Probably the best outing that DeForrest Kelley had as McCoy, but that apart it was a bit of a let down to me.
Re: The City on the Edge of Forever
I don't see why they couldn't take Edith to the future with them. Same result, so peace movement. Kirk and her live happily ever after in the 23rd century.
Re: The City on the Edge of Forever
Re: The City on the Edge of Forever
I'm moving this to TOS.
Re: The City on the Edge of Forever
But think about this. Without witnesses to her death and a body, how do you know that one of the bums at the mission wouldn't be blamed for her disappearance, whereas in Kirk's timeline that bum was actually reformed and went on to make a substantive contribution to history? You can't pluck Edith out of the timeline without risking other consequences.
The episode already gave us a standard by which someone could disappear from the timeline without consequence: the bum who mugged McCoy and then accidentally phasered himself away. Edith doesn't fall into that category of someone at a dead end of history, so she can't just be plucked out without consequence.
@OP: Too bad you were disappointed.
Re: The City on the Edge of Forever
Well, what caused Edith to cross the street without looking both ways before Kirk got there? In the episode, she was compelled to get to the bottom of the mystery of these weird guys and find out how Kirk and McCoy knew each other. She was supposed to die in some sort of traffic accident, so what originally caused it?
One possibility: in the reality before McCoy arrived, the bum who got fritzed by the phaser was originally the catalyst. He was in that sport, possibly drunk and stumbling in the street in the path of the truck. Nobody else made a move to save him except Edith. She failed, sadly and they were both killed by the truck with bad breaks. This would then remove the bum from the timeline.
Re: The City on the Edge of Forever
And if the Guardian wouldn't move Edith into the future, Kirk could actually take Edith away somewhere out of the way in 1930 (because he loves her) and just quietly live out their lives in a small town.
Screw Spock and McCoy by the way, he's in love.
Re: The City on the Edge of Forever
This story is a test of the main characters and particularly Kirk: will he be selfish or act for the greater good?
Re: The City on the Edge of Forever
I did enjoy 'City', and if you get the opportunity, I recommend reading Harlan Ellison's book - if nothing else but to get to read the original teleplay.
Re: The City on the Edge of Forever
Re: The City on the Edge of Forever
Spock's tricorder recorded only two histories. The one in which she dies in a traffic accident is the history that leads to the Federation. The one in which she lives is the one to be avoided.
The parameters of the story didn't allow any other option. The unpalatability of the necessity of her death is the point of the tragedy.
Re: The City on the Edge of Forever
The ending in the Trek episode is so obviously better than Ellison's version, I'm surprised a professional like him could hold a different opinion. Of course the hero needs to resolve the problem himself: that's what it means to be a hero.
Re: The City on the Edge of Forever
I enjoyed this episode.
I wrote a 12 page review of it, which is available on my website (which can be found in my sig). I could link you to the exact review, but that feels too spammy, so I'll just copy and paste the review here.
Warning, I have a sick, and unique sense of humor. Also, all my star trek reviews began as just me and a friend emailing each other about movies we seen, and analyzing them scene by scene. Then I decided to build a web site, and stick all my star trek reviews on it. Only two reviews have been added to the site after I built the site. And I wanted to toss that out there in case you notice I have a very unique and unprofessional way of reviewing a movie/show.
Star Trek, Season1, Episode21 – The City On The Edge Of Forever
So after doing a review of Star Trek Voyager, Time And Again, I decided to review an episode of the original Star Trek called City On The Edge Of Forever. This is a similar episode. Well, OK, it's similar in that it involves time travel. Whereas Time And Again sucked, this episode has been hailed as one of the greatest original Star Trek episodes.
I am used to tearing apart Star Trek Voyager, it's so easy, you have lines like “get the cheese to sickbay!”, that show is easy to review, the scenes in early voyager were comically bad, and the technobabble was off the charts. But I've never reviewed a Star Trek TOS episode until now.
Let me open by saying that The Original Series was my favorite Star Trek, and Captain Kirk is certainly my favorite captain.
While The Next Generation had a more modernized version of what the future would look like, and had it's fair share of technobabble, it lacked a really strong imagination, and a charismatic handsome captain like Kirk, a sort of intellectual John Wayne in outer space. Alright, Maybe Kirk isn't John Wayne, but he's more John Wayne than stuffy old Picard, and the psycho prime directive fundamentalist Janeway. Though Benjamin Sisko comes very close to Kirk, there's just no out doing the great William Shatner, who took this character and owned it. Sisko might have been a little more John Wayne than Kirk, but Kirk had that special something that sets him apart from other fictional heroes.
Also, this is probably going to be my longest review, not only because I make a lot of comparisons to my last review of Star Trek Voyager Time And Again, but because this episode of Star Trek just has a lot going on. Normally when reviewing an episode I take it scene by scene, and just summarize an unimportant scene, such as “back in sick bay the doctor talks to the patient, and sends him out with a neck thingy to monitor him” Skipping over the 3 to 5 minutes of filler that took place in that scene.
But in this episode, every scene is so packed with events, it really feels like a 2 part episode that was condensed into 1 hour, but the story doesn't feel too rushed either.
So, with my love of Kirk, and my love of the original Star Trek, and with this being hailed as one of the best original Star Trek episodes, there is no way I am going to pick on this episode right? Wrong.
In spite of this being a good episode, there are a few things that can be picked on, and certainly enough content in the scenes to crack a few jokes.
The episode begins with everyone on the bridge, and the ship has a bit of turbulence. Scotty is sitting on one of the control panels, he says the control circuits are about to overload. All I can think about is “why is he just sitting there on the control panel?” It's an odd place to position a character.
Apparently the ship's turbulence is caused by ripples in time. Who knew temporal ripples actually caused physical friction?
Suddenly Sulu is hurt! You'll never guess how he is hurt. No, you'll never guess... his control panel explodes. Like no one seen that coming?
Anyhow, Kirk has Uhura dictate a message to Star Fleet, basically saying that some one or something has the ability to manipulate time on the planet they are approaching.
Bones makes his way on to the bridge, takes a look at Sulu and... I'm sorry, but is Sulu wearing eye shadow? Ordinarily I'd say this was just lighting and my personal copy of the episode, but with George Takei, I think he really might be wearing eye shadow.
Luckily Bones has medicine to reverse the effects of spontaneous exploding console syndrome. The catch is, the slightest drop can save a man's life, but a little too much could drive him insane or kill him.
Sulu comes out of it with a smile on his face, like he just got to see Liberace naked (oh I tease, but I love George Takei).
Scotty is just happy he now has a place to sit “you snooze you lose Takei!”
As Bones stands back up and fiddles with the hypo-spray the camera shakes (I mean the ship experiences turbulence) and it forces Bones to accidentally inject himself with a whole ton of that dangerous serum. Although, it is hard to believe it's just an accident, it almost looks like he's a junky using this as an excuse to inject himself “oops, captain I loaded the hypo-spray and bumped into the console and simultaneously pressed the activation button while it was pressed against my stomach. And I was so shocked by the experience that I just held it there for a few seconds. Damn turbulence. Hey you all seen it, it was a complete accident! I'm not getting high... this early in the morning. There's nothing to report to Star Fleet I tell ya! It's like that time I was accused of stabbing that guy. Everyone knows I was just whittling a stick with my knife when that guy accidentally walked into the knife, 5 times, backwards... I tell ya I am an innocent man!”
Anyhow, he injects himself with the drug And goes crazy.
Then the opening credits. Afterward we hear Kirk giving a log entry, explaining the situation. Even he says the word “accidentally” a little too emphasized, I don't think Kirk completely buys into this accidental injection. At least not with a man like Bones who typically has either brandy, rum, or whiskey for breakfast.
There is a guy working at the transporters, he has his back turned to the door. Bones walks in nice and quiet, walks up behind him and gives him an impressive karate chop to the kidney and then to the back of the neck, which knocks the guy out. Take that Vulcan neck pinch!
Kirk finds out that Bones has knocked out the transporter chief and teleported himself to the surface of the planet.
Kirk beams down with an away party consisting of himself, Spock, Uhura, Scotty (just when he was enjoying having a seat), and two random Red Shirts... who look around nervously. I mean, by this time they know they are the sacrificial lambs of the away party. But god is smiling on them because they don't actually die in this episode.
On the planet they find an arch. Spock says it is the source of all the time displacement.
Suddenly the arch talks to them. I could have sworn it was Orson from Mork and Mindy, but no, the voice isn't by Ralph James.
The arch defines himself as the Guardian of Forever.
Kirk asks “are you machine, or man?”
The Guardian answers “I am both and I am neither”
Spock mentions there's no need to answer in riddles. The guardian says “my answer is simply at the level your understanding makes possible”
Really? He just dissed Spock? For realz?
The Guardian says he is his own beginning and end. That, is a reference to being self created.
Spock speculates it is a time portal. The Guardian then again gets a little smart mouthed with Spock and refers to his limited understanding. If I were Spock, I'd be like “Look you concrete megalomaniac, does the word 'jackhammer' have any meaning to you?”
But all Spock says is “really?”
Kirk asks “annoyed Spock?”
Spock lifts an eyebrow. Although I think it's safe to say his human side, is internally thinking “I am about to bitch slap the sass right out of this concrete ho”
The Guardian says “behold” and begins showing scenes from history.
Suddenly Bones comes out from behind the rocks yelling and raving like a mad man. Spock puts him down with a Vulcan nerve pinch.
Kirk wonders if it's possible to jump in to the gateway provided by the arch and go back before Bones drugged himself (accidentally of course). Spock mentions that the time frames are moving very quickly, it would be hard to time just right. Kirk asks the Guardian if he can change the speed of the time periods being displayed. The Guardian mentions that he was made to offer the past in this manner, and he cannot change. I think that's interesting since he confesses he was designed, and to do a task, yet said he was his own beginning and end (I can only interpret as meaning self created and self determined). But whatever, it's not really important.
Kirk mentions how tempting it is to jump in. Spock says to himself that he is a fool for not realizing that his tricorder can record the events even at this super fast speed and they can slow it down and study it later.
Just then Bones awakens from his Vulcan nerve pinch and runs through the gate. It happens so fast Kirk and crew can't stop him.
Though I think what is amazing is that the Guardian couldn't stop him, and can't pull him out of that time period, and can't even isolate the time he jumped in and allow the others to rescue him.
Hmm, for a creature named Guardian, he sure doesn't live up to his name.
Imagine being designed to do one thing... and failing. Spock should be raising an eyebrow right about now. Though if I were Spock, I'd do more than raise an eyebrow, I'd look at the guardian and say “Nice job, you know guarding that gate of forever. I mean, you let a crazy psychotic man just jump in to muck about with time. I applaud you sir. In fact, come on everybody, let's applaud the guardian's excellent ability to guard."
Hell, if I were Spock I'd insist that we drink a toast to the guardian and sing “for he's a Jolly Good Fellow”. I'd rub it in his concrete face. Dissin' Spock like that, the nerve.
I mean, that Guardian was designed to guard, he didn't even yell “no” as an effort to stop him. He's about as effective as a safe... that is missing the door. He's about as effective at guarding something as a banker who stores all the money and valuables out on the steps in front of the bank.
Uhura tells Kirk that the communications to the ship went dead. They quickly realize that Bones going back in time must have done something to make the ship no longer exist.
Scotty says “you mean, we're stranded down here?” poor Scotty, the man is never getting a chair.
I should point out if this is true than Kirk and the others shouldn't be standing here because the ship would never have brought them here if it didn't exist.
See, I will pick on bad time paradoxes even when it comes to TOS. I just insist that this is a better story, and less stupid than Time And Again.
I am willing to overlook this logical flaw, because... the episode is actually good, and the issue is something that you may or may not notice. It's not a paradox that is rubbed in your face like “our own rescue caused the explosion which made us decide to come here and get trapped in the past thus needing to be rescued thus causing the explosion ad nauseum.
In this episode it's one minor glitch that many viewers might not even notice. Again, a writer's job is to mask the paradox, lead the viewer away from realizing it, the way a magician can direct your eyes away from the hand reaching into his pocket to pull out a prop. It's a virtue of talent. If you cannot cover up and mask the paradox, than the next thing to do is write a story showing a theoretical outcome to a paradox.
*See Voyager Time And Again episode foot notes for more on time paradoxes.
And I guess it could be argued that the reason Earth has changed, and no Enterprise, yet they still remain, is that they couldn't be altered from time because they are caught in a time displacement field, one of those ripples in time they encountered heading toward the planet. Since they are only standing a few feet away from the source.
And I don't mind making up little things like that to try to justify the time paradox, or assuming these possibilities were inferred in the writing. Again, it's a good episode, and I am more forgiving.
Anyhow, Kirk decided that he and Spock will record the time display on his Tricorder, and they will time the jump to show up slightly before Bones entered.
They jump through the "time portal" (because I am not calling that thing a guardian after what I just witnessed). It appears they are in the 1930's. They stand there in an alley. Some passers look at them like they're from outer space... oh wait, I guess they are.
Spock turns his head away and attempts to cover his pointy Vulcan ears. They realize they're going to have to get disguises to survive here. Walking down the street Kirk spots some clothes on a clothesline. Spock looks at Kirk and says “theft, captain?”
Kirk says “well.. we'll steel from the rich, and... give back to the poor later”.
OK, so obviously this means “yes, we're stealing peoples clothes”.
If you've read my Voyager review of the episode Time and Again, you'll see I go into great detail about “How did Tom and Janeway get those clothes?”
At least in this episode the answer is revealed; they stole them.
Perhaps the writers felt that Janeway wouldn't do anything as dastardly as steal clothes from innocent people (that she was going to let die in a day), and the writers got cornered and just wrote “so they walk out of a clothing store with their new clothes” and was done with it.
Sure, it's not heroic, it's not noble and admirable to steal clothes from people (who are obviously not rich, Kirk) but in a desperate situation, sometimes petty theft is a necessary evil.
I can't help but think of the Star Wars remake/re-edit where Han Solo is in the bar, the bounty hunter wants to collect on him, in the original Han Solo fired the first shot killing the bounty hunter, in the remake they edited it to make it look as if the bounty hunter fired first. Because hero's don't steal, throw the first punch, make mistakes, or fire the first shot. That was George Lucas' take on things. However, heroes actually do steal, fire the first shot, etc, in situations where it is understandable, in situations where it is necessary to survive. If a man comes at you with a chain saw over his head, sure you could run away, or you could pull out your gun and shoot. If you shot him, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who thinks he pulled the trigger because he was cowardly or because he was heartless and cruel.
So yes, Kirk stole clothing, it's understandable. And I only bring all this up because I can't help feeling that in the Voyager episode Time and Again, the clothes weren't stolen, for the same reason that Lucas thinks Han Solo shouldn't have fired first.
Anyhow, Kirk steals the clothes and... gets caught by a police officer. Which is funny because in most cases this sort of behavior goes unnoticed by cops in most shows that put people in this situation.
The best part of the episode comes up. Kirk tries to explain himself and his odd Vulcan friend to the police officer. Kirk turns on his charm, relying on his superior intellect to talk his way out of this situation... OK, he stands there and makes an ass out of himself stumbling over his words to explain this.
He begins by explaining his Vulcan friend is “obviously Chinese” and continues, “I see you've noticed the ears. They're actually easy to explain...”
Spock says “perhaps the unfortunate accident I had as a child”
Kirk says “the unfortunate accident as a child, he caught his head in a mechanical... rice picker... but fortunately there was an American Missionary there living close by, and was a uh... plastic surgeon in civilian life...”
The cop cuts him off.
I swear, I don't think you can get away with “my friend is Chinese of course, and he got his head stuck in a mechanical rice picker” to explain someone's odd looks in today's sensitive culture.
Or maybe this scene is so good because the smooth talking Kirk was out of luck and had no way of talking his way out of this one.
The cop tells them to get their hands against the wall. Kirk distracts him, Spock comes in with the Vulcan nerve pinch.
I have to confess, Kirk and Spock get out of tight jams with the nerve pinch as much as Janeway gets out of a tight Jam with magic particles. The reason I go easy on Kirk and Spock is, I can relate to a nerve pinch, it's like a karate chop or a strong punch to the face. It's a physical attack that knocks the opponent out. I can't relate to a reverse modulated inverted harmonic resonance of negative proton particles being created by the modified warp nacelle’s plasma relays and amplified by the modified deflector dish and blasted through a negatively polarized ionic tachyon field through subspace in a temporal rift. Or quickly pressing buttons on a control panel to make happen something that was impossible last season, become perfectly easy today, and then to have the problem return in a later episode; that one time pressing buttons and spouting technobabble made something happen, that never happens again in a similar situation in a later episode. The Nerve pinch is simple.
They make a run for it and hide in a basement. They change clothes and Spock mentions that they have arrived about a week before Bones.
Spock mentions that the tricorder has captured the events in time including Bones' leap into time, but unfortunately he can't plug the tricorder into the ships computer to watch the events it recorded. Kirk mentions the possibility of building a device he could plug the tricorder into. Spock mentions that due to the limited technology of this time period, such a task would be difficult. Kirk encourages him to try, by insisting that it would be an extreme challenge in logic, and perhaps he just expects too much from Spock.
When Spock hears that last line his face actually shows emotion. It's like “first that Guardian, now you? What is this pick on the nearest Vulcan day? Maybe you and that Guardian can go fuck yourselves, with all due respect of course captain.”
Well he doesn't say that, but you can tell he was thinking it.
Just then the door opens and a woman's voice says “who's there?”
Spock runs and grabs a cap to put on his head to cover his ears. Kirk says “excuse us Miss, we didn't mean to trespass. It's cold outside."
And then the camera zooms in on the woman, and my god I'm in love. The actress is Joan Collins who plays Edith Keeler.
Here is a picture of Joan Collins as Edith Keeler
Here are two pictures of a younger Joan Collins in a bikini (my personal favorites)
and I only feel it necessary to show you those pictures so that when some philosopher type asks “what, exactly is happiness?” you can show him those pictures and say “happiness is having your dick in her mouth”.
And this answer will certainly satisfy the person asking that question. Unless of course the person asking the question is your wife, than your screwed.
To be Continued...
Re: The City on the Edge of Forever
Anyhow, Edith doesn't believe Kirk. And come to think of it, that's twice Spock has had his intellect insulted, and twice Kirk hasn't been able to talk his way out of a situation.
She catches them in the lie that it's not cold outside. And tells Kirk that lies are no way to start a friendship, and Kirk agrees and tells her they came in because they were being chased by a cop, because they stole the clothes.
Edith offers them a job, Spock questions how much is the pay. Kirk gives him a look, Spock says he wants money for radio tubes and stuff, his hobby.
There is just something about saying the money is for your hobby that sounds like “for my habit”.
She agrees to pay them 15 cents an hour.
She also introduces herself as the owner of this place, the twenty first street mission.
Later Spock and Kirk are sitting at a table in the dining hall with a bunch of hobos. One of the hobos says that it's time to pay for the food, referring to the fact you have to sit there and listen to Edith, the owner of this mission, give a speech about the future. She says things like “one day man will be able to harness incredible energies, maybe even the atom.” she talks about how in the future they will be able to fly around the galaxy, maybe in some kind of space ship. And man will be able to cure hunger and disease and so on, and that's why it is important that they break away from whatever drug addiction or habits they have, and to live, and to have hope.
Yeah, because “one day, man will harness great energies, and even the atom, and fly around space, and feed everyone, long after all of you are dead, and I know this because.. well I just do” sounds real nice to people who are sick, homeless, and battling drug and alcohol problems. So obviously she is seen as a kook by the homeless people she takes in.
Kirk seems impressed by this. But here's what I never understood, how does she know these things? Is she from the future? Is she psychic? Is she the next Marie Curie, did she date either Einstein or Tesla? How could anyone from the 1930's predict such things unless they were either crazy, and just spouting nonsense, or had a very over active imagination?
Well, it never actually gets explained. Well, it sort of does, Kirk asks how she knows the future will look like how she described, and she says “I just know”. But that's not really an explanation. It's really akin to saying “Well, that's just kinda how I picture it”.
Later Edith is very impressed with the hard work of Spock and Kirk, and decides to let them stay in a room.
In the next scene Kirk comes into the room they're living in, carrying groceries. Spock is working on his “hobby” of making a computer that can interact with his tricorder so they can look at the time line and figure out what Bones did to mess up the future.
Spock tells Kirk he needs some platinum, a small block will do, about 5 or 6 lbs.
Kirk explains that after buying a few groceries and a few vacuum tubes, there's no money left over for platinum, gold, or silver.
The scene is funny because Spock has no understanding of how outrageously expensive these simple metals are.
Edith comes in through the door and mentions that she is able to find them work for a nice salary (though obviously not enough to be buying 6 lbs of platinum within their lifetime). Then she sees the electronic contraption that Spock built, she inquires about it, and Spock says he is building a mnemonic circuit. She shrugs and leaves.
Later Kirk and Spock are sweeping the mission when Spock notices some clock makers repairing a clock with fine tools. Spock points it out. And later that day they break into the tool box and steel the tools. Edith comes into their room, she knows Spock took the tools (though it's never mentioned how she found out) and Spock explains he needed them for his hobby, and they would have been returned in the morning. Edith is about to kick him out when Kirk defends Spock by saying “if Spock says he will have them returned in the morning, you can bet your reputation on it.” for whatever reason, this works, and she lets them stay, on the condition that Kirk walks her home. Yup, Kirk strikes again.
And it's here I want to mention that for all the reputation Kirk has for being a ladies man, he's no womanizer. He seldom makes an effort to pursue women, they normally pursue him, as in this case.
They go on a walk and talk for a bit.
Next, Spock has finally gotten this tricorder interface thing to work. It's a TV that can communicate with the tricorder. Thank god it wasn't made by Microsoft or Spock would face prison for having to re-write a proprietary code to build a driver for this thing. On the TV/interface, it shows a recording of the time line that he had recorded earlier, only he's able to slow it down this time and look at things like newspapers and presumably other historical images of the year. Kirk comes in and catches a glimpse just before the contraption overloads. You can tell this contraption is primitive and not built to Star Fleet standards, because when it over loads it doesn't kill anyone.
Anyway Spock tells Kirk that in one instance of time Edith is married to the President, in another she is dead, from a traffic accident. Kirk mentions both can't be true. Kirk says it in a way that lets the audience know that secretly, he knows what this means. He knows it means that the historical event that Bones changed was Edith's death. Spock explains she is the focal point they have been looking for.
Kirk wants Spock to fix the contraption and find out more. They're unsure of whether Bones kills her or saves her. Is she meant to live, or is she meant to die?
One might think “well obviously you just look back through your memories as to whether or not a US president marries a woman named Edith Keeler. However, tracing the years back over 300 years, who can remember the name of every president's wife? It would be like me asking you the name of the wife of the governor who reigned over California in 1972. sure the history books have it, but who really remembers things like that?
After Kirk mentions that Spock must fix this machine, so that they know whether to save Edith or not, Spock mentions the very real possibility that she is destined to die. Kirk is clearly not happy with that statement.
Next scene we have Bones appearing out of thin air across the street from a hobo who has just stolen some milk from the milkman. Milkmen, remember those? What the hell ever happened to milkmen? And while I'm in a nostalgic mood, what ever happened to doctors making house calls and coming to your house? Well, if there was ever one doctor you never wanted to come to your house, it would be Dr. McCoy at the moment. The moment he appears, he yells “Murderers! Assassins!”
He spots the hobo, points and shouts “You! What planet is this!?”
The hobo drops the bottle of milk. Which would probably be my reaction as well. I mean, not much is scarier than a hyper, nervous shaky man screaming about murder and assassination and then, the comment “what planet is this?” because you know there's not gonna be any reasoning with that man. Of all the things to imply that you're totally nuts and gone forever, I think “what planet is this” is the best implication out there.
When the hobo drops the milk, Bones starts walking towards him with his finger out in an accusatory manor, the hobo runs and Bones says “No! Don't run!” yeeeeah, cause I'm just gonna stand there while a maniac approaches.
Meanwhile Edith and Kirk are walking up the stairs, to her place, and Kirk asks about how she knows that the future will have star ships and peace and all that. She claims that she “just knows”. They look at each other all lovey dovey. And we cut back to Bones and the hobo.
Bones grabs the hobo and says... a lot of crazy disturbing shit, then mumbles and passes out. So the hobo robs him, taking a phaser.
The hobo walks away, around the corner, and then plays with the phaser, and blasts himself out of existence. Oddly, he just turns blue and fades, it is an unusual phaser effect. I hear in the modern remake, the digitally remastered, they changed that scene to make the phaser effect more believable because it was such an eye sore in the film.
Later Kirk comes into the flop, Spock is still working on the tricorder interface. Kirk wants him to hurry up. Spock reminds him of what an impossibly difficult and time consuming task this is. Kirk says he has to know whether Edith is meant to live or die. You can tell that the prospect of her dying is eating away at him.
Next scene Bones is walking the street in daylight looking like a zombie. He staggers in to the mission and mentions how lovely the coffee smells. Edith sees him and realizes immediately that he is horribly ill. He nearly passes out, but Edith grabs him, and holds him upright, and insists that he stay in a cot she has upstairs. He had mentioned that “they” might find him. She says they won't find him there. So Edith is aware that he is either on the run from the law, or some very rough and dangerous people, though possibly just delusional. I think it goes to show that she'll rescue anyone. She sees people in need, and turns no one down. All she asks is that while you stay there, you part with the booze or whatever else it is, that has made you broken, and desperate.
You have to admit, she has a heart of gold, and genuinely wants to help people. Her comment earlier when giving her speech to the crowd about you must part with your vice as long as you intend on staying there, show's that she's not just a weak minded little girl who wants to nurse every puppy in the world back to health; but that she actually wants to help people and that they must be willing to try to help themselves. It is this that gives Edith some depth as a character. It shows she's smart about her charitable actions. She won't feed and clothe and house you, just so you can save more money on booze and drugs, you have to be willing to pull yourself up by your boot straps and put the first foot forward, then she'll help you the best she can. Sometimes it's the smallest things like “I'll help you, but you got to meet me half way” that can turn a one dimensional character into a two dimensional character. Add some flaws and a consistent background and you have a three dimensional character (very rare among guest stars). But it's nice to see she is two dimensional.
After she escorts Bones out of there, Spock turns around to hand someone their food. If only he had turned around a moment ago, he would have seen Bones.
Later, Spock and Kirk are in their flop, and they're looking at the tricorder images, and realize that Edith must die. You see, she became an anti-war protester, and she encouraged peace, and it kept America out of the war with Germany a little too long. This allowed Germany to complete their heavy water experiments leading to the development of the atomic bomb first. Thus Germany won the war, fascism prevailed, and therefore there never was a USS Enterprise. Perhaps there was a space agency that built star ships and went on peaceful missions to explore the galaxy, after all, Hitler was a progressive person who encouraged technological break through and a higher standard of living (whether we agree with his interpretation of improvement or not), and even if Hitler somehow held back space exploration, I doubt that would have been more than a half century delay. So for all we know, in their newly changed time line, there still is space exploration, but there is no USS Enterprise, and that's all that matters to Kirk and Spock. I could accuse Kirk and Spock of being greedy. After all, they haven't cared to look into their formally present day to see if things turn out better, worse, or the same but different, they only care about restoring their time line and getting back the world they knew. But of course, even so, it's understandable. They enjoy their time, and their life. And there is the rest of the crew who is stranded on that planet with no Enterprise to contact. It's only human nature to want to hold on to the world you know, when the world you know is something beautiful.
So while it could be argued that making sure the future changes back the way it was, the way they like it, is an act of greed, I am willing to say it is a justified greed. It's the sort of greed that we have evolved with to survive. That greed that says “I will take the life of this animal and eat it's flesh, because I am hungry, and I want to live, and I will continue to slaughter animals so that my family will live. It is better this family of fish or deer die, than for my family to die.”
So again, it might be greed that makes them take a human life to make the future go back to the way they like it, but it is an understandable, justifiable greed that does not lessen their noble intentions or heroic status.
It's also interesting that Edith's life would cause America to lose a war, resulting in disaster, but her intentions were proper. Wanting to put an end to war and fighting, is not evil, but as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
And it is an example of the famous Hitler argument I mentioned in Time And Again. In fact, it's not just metaphor, this really is the Hitler argument. Edith doesn't go on to be the next Hitler, but her good intentions allow him to win a war. It is a classic sci fi example of how doing the right thing when you've time traveled, could turn out to be the worst mistake you ever made. This Star Trek episode exemplifies that perfectly. For Kirk, there is the greed of wanting to restore the future, and the greed of wanting to save this woman.
Anyhow, Spock says that she is destined to die in a street accident, and somehow Bones saves her, and they must stop Bones from succeeding, Edith Keeler must die.
Kirk Stands up, with his back turned to Spock, he tells him he believes he may be in love with Edith.
Many people may think this is no big deal, but I do believe this is the first and only time he claimed to love a woman (except in that episode where he was under some pseudo scientific love spell, and thus doesn't count). Edith Keeler may actually be the only woman Kirk was ever actually in love with. Not just romancing, flirting, but actually loving. And why wouldn't he love this woman? She is as beautiful as women get. She has a heart of gold and takes pity on the weak and helpless. She is trusting, even to a fault. She is intelligent. Hard working. She looks to the future with optimism of a better world, a better race of humans. She believes that technology will save us, and we must look to the stars, for the stars are our destiny. She is a completely selfless individual. I believe that goes beyond the description for the perfect wife; I believe those are traits you ascribe to the perfect person. Kirks love for her is no surprise. And the thought that he might have to let such a perfect, well intentioned person, die, is tearing at his heart.
Also, I would like to reference the greed factor again. While it's true that wanting the future to turn out the way you remember it, the way you like it, is on some level greedy, having to kill the woman you love to make it so, is an act of sacrifice. Thus Kirk must believe that the future “must” go back to the way it was, out of some sort of principal. And of course, as I mentioned earlier, he still has crewmen on that planet that want to get back to the Enterprise, and Scotty is probably still standing there wanting a chair.
When Spock reminds him “Edith Keeler must die” the shock, and pain, can be seen on his face. Can he really go threw with it? You can see him wrestling with that. To me, a great actor can spout a great line of dialogue, with a single facial expression at just the right time. Shatner nailed this one.
And I think it's interesting to see how this man, Kirk, is wrestling with his emotions, not completely sure of his decision. It let's us know he is real. Compare that to captain Janeway's insistence that Tom Paris is not to warn the people of that planet that they're all going to die tomorrow. Not a drop of doubt or hesitation. She is like some religious fundamentalist that could blow up an abortion clinic without batting an eye, because they're so sure it's what god commands. That argument between Janeway and Paris, that argument is happening inside of Kirk right now. The debate that took 2 characters in Time And Again is taking place internally with just one character here. And all that dialogue about right or wrong that took place in Time And Again, has just been summed up with a brief expression on Kirks face. A testament to good writing, good directing, and good acting.
To be Continued...
Re: The City on the Edge of Forever
Next scene, Edith is going through her drawers, when Bones, laying in bed with a wet rag on his head, comes to and sits up. Edith soothes him and encourages him to just lay there and relax.
Bones takes a look at Edith and isn't even sure he wants to know where he is. I believe this is him alluding to her beauty as so fantastic he must be hallucinating or dreaming. Of course if I were Bones and woke up to see Edith, I would assume I was dead and in heaven. He looks around and says he assumes this is Earth, some time like 1920 or 1925. Edith says “would you care to try 1930”.
She also mentions having a friend that talks about Earth the same way. Bones doesn't know about Spock and Kirk being in that time period so he doesn't put it together. She asks if he would like to meat him. Bones says “I'm a surgeon, not a psychiatrist.” I love those classic lines LOL
He tells her he is Lenard McCoy, of the USS Enterprise. She says she doesn't see a navy uniform. He says it's alright, he doesn't believe in her either. She smiles and assumes he is delirious, and leaves the room telling him to get some rest.
Later Edith is walking to McCoy's room, she walks upstairs, Kirk calls out to her, and follows her up the stairs, she turns around and then stumbles, Kirk catches her. She mentions she could have just broken her neck. They end up kissing, and Kirk walks back down the stairs like he's on cloud nine.
Spock tells him he didn't mean to eaves drop, but that fall may have killed her, he may have just kept her alive unnecessarily. Kirk argues that Bones isn't here yet, it's not time. Spock reminds him they are not completely clear of the circumstances and facts. Kirk reminds him that it's not time yet. Spock warns him that if he thinks with his heart to save the woman he loves, millions of people will die.
You can tell that Kirk isn't looking forward to the moment Edith has to die. And Spock is concerned that his irrational human emotion might cause him to make the wrong move.
Edith knocks on McCoy's door, and they talk. Bones is up and on his feet, drinking a cup of coffee, and is no longer crazy.
He thanks her for saving him, taking him in, and he offers to do some work around there to pay her back for the kindness. She says they can talk about it later, her young man is waiting to take her to a Clark Gable movie. Bones has no idea who Clark Gable is. She seems very surprised over the fact he never heard of the most famous actor of their time period. Come to think of it so am I. I mean, I know he's from the future, but it just seems to me that certain actors, whether they were good, or just of great fame, don't just disappear from common knowledge. I'd like to think that names like Clark Gable, Rudolph Valentino, Cary Grant, James Dean, Orson Welles, Marlon Brando, and Humphrey Bogart, would be timeless and survive the 300 years into McCoy's world.
Maybe it was the writers assumption that 300 years from now, things like actors and musicians wouldn't be remembered. Or maybe it was a subtle hint that no one is immortal and all greatness will vanish over time. Or who knows, maybe their names still carry weight and it's a matter of “damn it Jim! I'm a doctor, not a film critic”.
Edith leaves and goes outside to meet Kirk. They walk across a street and Edith says “Maybe will have time to catch the Clark Gable movie”
Kirk says “what?”
OK, so he hasn't heard of Clark Gable either. I guess it rules out that last theory.
She replies “that's just what McCoy said”
The moment she says McCoy, Kirk freaks out and asks “Lenard McCoy?”
She confirms this, and Kirk tells her to stay right there. He runs across the street and hollers for Spock. Spock comes outside. Kirk tries to tell him they found Bones. At that moment Bones walks out the door and they grab him and hug him. Edith sees this and walks across the street to meet up with them. Kirk sees her walking across the street, and a car approaches her. He staggers towards her, Spock yells “No Jim!” to remind him, he has to let her die. Bones tries to run after her, but Kirk stops him.
The car's tires screech, and you hear a brief scream from Edith, and the sound of the car hitting her.
Bones says “you deliberately stopped me Jim, I could have saved her, do you know what you just did?”
Spock says “He knows Doctor, he knows.”
Yes, what he did was get Edith killed, and now know one can ever put their cock in her mouth, and therefore happiness can never again exist for anyone.
In the next scene, they jump through the time gateway and back onto the planet. It isn't explained how they got through the gateway. I mean, did it appear in front of them the moment Edith died? We don't really know.
Scotty asked what happened, they were only gone for a moment.
Spock says they were successful.
Scotty gave them a look, as if to say “And none of you could bring me a bloody chair?”
The "Guardian" (and I use that term lightly), says “time has resumed it's shape, everything is as it was before”.
Uhura says that the Enterprise is contacting them and asking if they want to beam up. Kirk says, in a voice as if he were about to cry “Let's get the hell out of here”.
This is certainly one of Star Trek's best.
And in spite of the fact I joked about Edith's death means the the world's hottest woman can't give blow jobs to humanity, her death was actually very emotional. You felt the tension building, you heard the tires screech, the blood curdling scream Edith lets out, and the sickening thud of her beautiful body being pulverized by the car. It was an intense scene. There was no talking to her after she got hit, no final words, just “screeeeech thud!” and that was it. Kirk couldn't even look back at her, he was afraid to look back.
The fact that it was a car that hit her makes her death so realistic. It wasn't being vaporized by a phaser, or exploding in a giant star ship, or some other sci fi death. It was being struck by a car.
Kirk has never shown this much emotion over the loss of a woman before, whether it's a woman dying, or just walking away, he never before or again shows how upset the loss of a woman makes him. It's also the only time he claims to be in love with a woman.
Earlier when Kirk was wrestling with his conscience, and even when he started to cross the street to save her, we see the fragile and vulnerable side of our hero. Without an entire ship to command, he can drop the act of “The captain is tough, and he knows what to do”. He wasn't that tough, and he wasn't sure what to do. He needed guidance from Spock to do the right thing.
This was Star Trek's first time travel episode, and yet time travel wasn't the focus. Time paradoxes weren't the focus; whether to kill the woman you love to restore the world you know, or to do what your heart tells you and save the woman you love. That was the focus. And it's a story every one can relate to, an inner struggle to make the right decision, wrestling with what we know we have to do, and what we want to do.
There was a lot going on in this story and it's amazing that it doesn't feel rushed. I attribute that to good directing.
If you ask me, the whole “Bones injects himself with a drug by accident and goes crazy” as an excuse to have the time travel, is just weird and unneeded. But it doesn't ruin the movie.
It's my understanding that the writer for this episode, Harlan Ellison, nearly took his name off of it because he was so displeased with the final release of it.
He is one of those writers who hates to see any of his work played with by others, and wants to see it on the screen the same as he originally wrote it. And while all TV writers have to deal with their work being altered, Ellison was unhappy with certain alterations. The drama between him and Gene Roddenberry over this episode is still something of a hot topic.
Roddenberry has claimed the original script had Scotty dealing drugs in public. However, that's not true, and Scotty wasn't even in the original script. Which might actually explain why he didn't have a chair? I doubt it, but it could.
Ellison decided to re-write the script a few times until it was to everyone's liking. He wasn't the first to re-write it, other writers did, but Ellison was furious at these scripts, so he began doing re-writes himself.
I won't go into the whole drama of the making of this episode, but there was actually a lot of drama, and references to it in some of Shatner's books.
In the original script there was a crippled world war one vet, and he got killed. Kirk and Spock argued over his death. Would his death matter to the future. The conclusion was that it didn't matter.
In the broadcast version it was a hobo that got killed by turning a phaser on himself by accident.
That's something really sad to think about, that some people, or more accurately, most people, don't really matter. They don't define their culture, they make no technological advancement or any worthwhile and meaningful contribution to society. How very accurate, and yet in time travel episodes of any given sci fi show, the importance of every individual is greatly emphasized. But in reality, it is a society as a whole that has an impact on the future. It is the kings, presidents, chancellors and emperors that drive society, the individual slave workers called citizens, in most cases is not important and is very disposable.
But at the same time this episode did show the potential that one person might have. Yes an individual could go on to have a major impact on the world, it's just that most people never will.
In spite of the drama it took to make this episode, it was probably the best Star Trek episode, and is legendary in Star Trek fandom.
My reason for doing this review was to compare it to the Voyager episode Time And Again. I wanted to give you a look at a time travel star trek episode done wrong, and compare it to one done right.
This episode scores a perfect 9 out of 9 stars
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