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Old May 27 2014, 03:16 AM   #82
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Court Martial Review

Court Martial

The Enterprise stops by Starbase 11 for repairs, due to previously encountering an ion storm. It is found out that Kirk lost a crewman – records officer Ben Finney – during said ion storm. Because of this loss, Kirk may possibly lose command due to records showing he jettisoned Finney's section before the red alert sounded prior to the ion storm.

Computers aren't infallible, and computers are just as smart as the users. It's an idea that holds true today - in the 'real world' - as many people debate the eBook versus the traditional print book, or online dating and social media taking over the traditional way of interaction. In the episode, we notice how many of Kirk's acquaintances turn against him at a drop of a hat based on the computer's information before anything was even investigated...yet Samuel Cogley puts his trust in books and keeps records the traditional pen/paper way.

Interestingly, Spock claims he doesn't make an error, which is basically saying that he's better than a computer. However, he does use a computer to test his theories out in his own investigation to help out his captain. Technology is also used to cancel out the heartbeats on the Enterprise, so Finney's heartbeat and eventual location, could be pinpointed.

I couldn't find any plot holes. This was a pretty straightforward episode that fills in the story gaps to get us from A to Z.

However, one possible plot issue would have been: What if Sam Cogley was a man who loved computers? How would they have pushed the ideology that computers will never completely take over traditional records, literature, etc.?

I gather that Spock would still investigate on his own, but I wonder if it would have also been Spock that happens upon a book or 'something' non-computerized that helps him figure out Finney's plans?

The episode definitely would have turned out differently. It would have been a different outcome, and would have either succeeded or failed based on the execution.

One other plot issue is the ideology that the episode pushes. It isn't exactly sustained. It seems to be a 'quirk' given to Cogley since it's challenged, as aforementioned, later on in the episode when technology is used to save the day. Now, to a casual viewer, this might not even be a big deal...but the writer/director in me has those things lingering.

*The black characters are portrayed pretty good in this episode. For example, Percy Rodriguez as Commodore Stone wears red with pride, and he is the commander of Starbase 11. (Interestingly, for my many observations on how black people are represented in the Star Trek universe, 'we' do okay in red – the aforementioned Commodore Stone, Uhura, that security officer from 'By Any Other Name,' Sisko - with the exception of that one TNG episode, 'Where Silence Has Lease'). Uhura mans the navigation station in this episode, showing that she is not only attractive, but is technologically saavy and a 'jill-of-all-trades.' She previously manned the navigation station in 'Balance of Terror,' and will be seen in a jumpsuit effecting repairs to a console.

*There is also an Asian presence despite Sulu's absence. A records officer portrayed by an Asian female. While it was a small part, it wasn't the typical role Asian females have in Star Trek (i.e. primarily the love interest for a white male character). There is a bit that shows the records officer mouthing 'Sorry, Captain' when she walks by where Kirk is sitting in the court room after giving her testimony. We also see a high-ranking officer of South Asian decent during the proceedings.

*Scotty is also absent from this. I do actually applaud not shoehorning either Sulu or Scotty into the story, which probably would have came off as obvious if it had happened.

*Mr. Hanson makes his first appearance on the show at the helm. He would return in yet another court martial episode – it would be Spock's – 'The Menagerie.'

*Kirk is allowed to walk freely after Finney is found out. While it is a desparate time since the planetary orbit is decaying, it's almost a 'command decision' on Kirk's part to go it alone even though his command rights haven't been given back to him. I realize that Commodore could have easily said “Take Mr. Spock with you” or “Take a security guard” which would have cut the Kirk/Finney brawl scene down. Of course, Kirk had to beat Finney in said brawl to find out how to repair the ship. And, I got the sense that it was a personal matter that had to be put to rest, since it was Finney who held a grudge against Kirk for so long.

*Shatner's Kirk somewhat breaks stereotypes in regards to his character. While Shatner's Kirk is low-key in this episode, it is Finney who is over-the-top. However, it is interesting how Kirlk's shirt gets ripped – character stereotype – and Finney's does not. Too, there are obvious stunt doubles which comes off a bit funny.

*Bartenders at starbases or space stations wear the same outfits. The bartender at Starbase 11 wears the same leather jacket that the bartender in 'Trouble with Tribbles' wears on Space Station K-7. Apparently, it is the outfit for civilian bartenders.

*Jamie Kirk is an ugly person when we meet her, literally and figuratively. She wears a dress that looks to be for a far younger girl and she is shown to be a 'plain jane,' with a shrew-ish attitude. Hence, we immediately hate her. We also understand that she is named after Kirk, so we assume there was some sort of hate from her father towards her...because she – in a way – reminded Finney of what Kirk did.

*On the other hand, Areel Shaw is a beautiful and professional woman. She is also a previous love-interest of Kirk. However, she doesn't let that stop her from carrying out her duty as prosecutor...and she lets him know that. When the trial is over, she goes right back being 'friends' and kisses him goodbye.

*Shaw's initial attitude about Kirk's innocence is a good juxtaposition with the attitude of other Starfleet officers at Starbase 11 who know of Kirk and immediately see him as guilty. As aforementioned with the ideology, evidence hasn't shown Kirk to be neither innocent or guilty. Shaw is prosecution, so she is going to have to support evidence of Kirk's guilt, but the others are basically going off what the computers said before the trial has begun.

*A term that is rarely used in the series shows up in this episode: 'Vulcanian.' Spock refers to himself as such while giving testimony. Since we rarely hear this word, it could be attributed to Spock – in-universe - 'slipping' when he meant to refer to himself as 'Vulcan' since he was 'on the stand'
and wanted to answer questions as quickly and succinctly as possible. (People tend to actually do that in 'real life' when they are in interviews or speaking to large groups of people - grasp for words, and use the first word that comes to mind).

*McCoy, who has kinda pissed me off ever since I revisited 'Galileo 7,' is his usual cantankerous self in this episode. He is still seeing things at face-value before using any type of critical thinking. As usual, he is getting all up in Spock's business when the 'Vulcan' is trying to figure things out. In this regards, it is when Spock is testing out the computer through a chess match where we get an interesting bit of dialogue:

Mr. Spock, you're the most cold-blooded man I've ever known.

Why thank you, Doctor.

*Lastly, the remastered version adds a nifty little addition in the early part of the episode. We see the area of the Enterprise that was jettisoned as the ship glides past the screen – our screen! - and into orbit around the planet where Starbase 11 is located.

3.6 out of 5. Stunt doubles, and Finney's over-the-top portrayal adds a certain amount of camp to the episode that lingers and dates the episode. Also, the ideology of computers never really replacing either the traditional forms of record-keeping or interaction isn't sustained throughout the episode.

Although, the episode does get us from A to Z and hits all plot points. It's a straightforward episode and enjoyable for what it is, but not a 'must see' or stand out episode.

Next Up
Spock has his turn to go on court martial in the two-part episode, 'The Menagerie.'
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