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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old February 5 2010, 09:47 PM   #1
Jeri
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What is an "ion pod?"

...and why would Kirk need to jettison it in (the excellent episode) "Court Martial?"

As many times as I've seen this, while I was watching the blu ray today at lunch, it occurred to me that I don't really know what one does or why Finney would get caught in it.
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Old February 5 2010, 09:58 PM   #2
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

It was a scientific instrument attached to the sensors that took detailed readings during Ion Storms.

http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Ion_pod
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Old February 5 2010, 11:38 PM   #3
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

With the range, sophistication and accuracy of the Enterprise's onboard sensors, I'm sure they could investigated and taken readings of the ion storm without a crew member having to climb into a "pod" (presumably a bathysphere- or gondola-like device affixed to the ship's hull). It was just a cheap, poorly conceived writer's device to propel the story.

And Kirk's command chair has only what, a dozen buttons on it? Why would one of them control a relatively minor operation like jettisoning a pod?
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Old February 5 2010, 11:44 PM   #4
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

scotpens wrote: View Post
And Kirk's command chair has only what, a dozen buttons on it? Why would one of them control a relatively minor operation like jettisoning a pod?
I would assume they are reconfigurable and for this mission one was designated for the ion pod.
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Old February 5 2010, 11:45 PM   #5
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

It's a minor MacGuffin.
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Old February 6 2010, 12:34 AM   #6
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

Jeri wrote: View Post
...and why would Kirk need to jettison it in (the excellent episode) "Court Martial?"

As many times as I've seen this, while I was watching the blu ray today at lunch, it occurred to me that I don't really know what one does or why Finney would get caught in it.
The September 26, 1966 Final Draft script for "Court Martial" has a brief comment that explains this a bit--a comment which never made it into the final cut of the episode:

KIRK
Weatherscan indicated an ion
storm, dead ahead. I sent
Finney into the pod.

STONE
That's outside the ship.

KIRK
It's attached to the skin. One
of our missions is to get
electron readings in abnormal
conditions, such as ion storms.
This can only be done by direct
exposure on ion-sensitive plates.
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Old February 6 2010, 01:28 AM   #7
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

DS9Sega wrote: View Post
It's a minor MacGuffin.
I thought it was a major plot device.
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Old February 6 2010, 02:45 AM   #8
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

Alpha_Geek wrote: View Post
DS9Sega wrote: View Post
It's a minor MacGuffin.
I thought it was a major plot device.
I thought it was a floor wax.

Well, I thought it was a dessert topping!

Sincerely,

Bill
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Old February 6 2010, 02:57 AM   #9
Jeri
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

GSchnitzer, thanks; that would have been a nice inclusion.

nx1701g, thanks; I notice Memory Alpha has the same location for the pod as the remastered effects (which showed the gaping port from which the pod was jettisoned). Would be curious where they got that info.
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Old February 6 2010, 03:42 AM   #10
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

Minor McGuffin
Mayor McMuffin.
It's Finney I'm luvin
Or should I say leavin'
Reivin' thievin' Jamie don't be grievin'
Yo, his heart's still beatin'
Cuz Bennie - he be cheatin'
Hidin' in engineering
(Tho' white noise hurts your hearing)
Coolin' his jets
Cuz you know Areel never forgets
But Shaw nuff, 'nuf of Shaw
It's Samuel T 'n his books of law
So James T. will go Scott free
Cuz he did nothin to Ben Finney
Saw it on my TV
Yo
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Old February 6 2010, 04:36 AM   #11
Praetor
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

IIRC, in a discussion previously on this very BBS, it was posited that during an ion storm the ship might have to 'shut' all its ordinarily transparent sensor windows... and that the ion pod would essentially be the one 'crow's nest' that would still be allowed exposure to the storm, perhaps because the pod was independent from ship's systems and therefore could not allow an ionized charge in to fry the ship.

Works for me, anyway.
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Old February 6 2010, 04:42 AM   #12
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

^^^
Works for me, as well. I sort of picure something like the ball-turrett on a B-17.
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Old February 6 2010, 09:31 AM   #13
scotpens
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

Jeri wrote: View Post
. . . I notice Memory Alpha has the same location for the pod as the remastered effects (which showed the gaping port from which the pod was jettisoned). Would be curious where they got that info.
According to Geoffrey Mandel's U.S.S. Enterprise Officer's Manual from 1980, the ion pod is the little “nipple” in the middle of the lower sensor dome.



I suppose it makes as much sense as putting it near the aft end of the engineering hull.

Last edited by scotpens; February 6 2010 at 09:54 AM.
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Old February 7 2010, 01:01 PM   #14
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

...Although best plot sense would be made if the pod were located close to Engineering, so that Finney could slip from the pod to his hideout unnoticed.

The location next to the shuttlebay in TOS-R is perfect in this respect. Nobody ever loiters near the shuttlebay, be it action stations or leisure. The lower sensor dome location in turn would be quite unideal.

As for the exact nature of the ion pod, and the mysterious reasons behind it requiring not just a person operating the thing in situ, but a high-ranking officer... Debate rages. In modern thinking, automation should be capable of handling all measuring tasks that a human can handle, and of doing them better, too. But one might argue that the ion pod was a device intended to measure the effects of an ion storm on humans. And Starfleet doesn't send low-ranking sailors to act as guinea pigs in dangerous experiments: it expects its officers to lead by example.

Or something.

Another mystery is why the pod had to be jettisoned. Was it always intended to be jettisoned once Finney had prepared it? That would make perfect sense: a probe to be launched into the storm, with delicate experiments aboard that only a computer expert like Finney can prepare. And notice how Kirk deliberately steers into the storm. His ship could easily avoid it, but Kirk calmly commands the vessel to plunge ahead, perhaps with the purpose of launching the ion pod at a suitable point within the storm. But going too deep into the storm would endanger the ship, so there's a time limit on when the pod must be launched. Not too early, and not too late; and the exact moment cannot be divined until one is inside the storm and can tell exactly how severe it is and where the optimal "launch depth" lies. Hence, the launch is directly rigged to the Captain's command chair console...

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Old February 7 2010, 03:01 PM   #15
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

That was probably the most unexplained, therefore confusing plot points in all of TOS. But of course, nowhere near rivals the entire Alternative Factor episode.
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