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

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Old August 1 2010, 10:33 AM   #1
Gorn Captain
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City on the Edge of...uh oh

From a discussion about Edith Keeler in another thread, I think I just accidentally demolished one of Star Trek's best episodes, at least in my own mind.

I love the tragic ending of this episode, and we all know that for the sake of the future, Edith Keeler had to die, so that she would not have been present to have such a detrimental effect on history.

But wouldn't her absence from the 1930's have served as well as her death?

In other words, once Spock had determined Edith's effect on history, and once Edith had displayed an optimistic and intuitive sense of how man would go to the stars, why not sit her down and tell her everything, find McCoy and go home with Edith in tow? "Excuse me, Guardian, transportation for four people, please. "

I know, it would have destroyed a beautiful and bitter ending and given Kirk a permanent love interest from week to week. But now it's always going to bother me that Kirk didn't figure this out. Dammit.
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Old August 1 2010, 10:45 AM   #2
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Re: City on the Edge of...uh oh

You're not the first person to think of this. But the Guardian's abilities are not made clear in the episode, and we don't know if it can pull items from other times or merely retrieve ones it has sent back.

It should be noted that in Ellison's original script the exact manner of her death and its repercussions weren't made plain. Spock merely hypothesized on how she might change history, but he didn't actually know. She had to die because there was no way to know how her living would affect history. That Spock could effectively read the newspaper (via tricorder) is just one instance of how the aired episode was dumbed down.
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Old August 1 2010, 11:56 AM   #3
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Re: City on the Edge of...uh oh

Yeah, Spock used 1930's technology to tie somehow into the ship's computer, right? Except there was no ship! That's an impressive bit of technological savvy!

I didn't think I had broken some new ground, by the way. The episode was broadcast before I was even born, and is part of an endlessly pored over cultural phenomenon. I was only referring to my own contemplation of the episode.
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Old August 1 2010, 12:06 PM   #4
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Re: City on the Edge of...uh oh

Gorn Captain wrote: View Post
Yeah, Spock used 1930's technology to tie somehow into the ship's computer, right? Except there was no ship! That's an impressive bit of technological savvy!
Other way around. What he needed was to analyze his tricorder scans of the Guardian's historical playbacks, in order to extract the relevant information he needed from the mass of data he'd recorded.

Frustrating. Locked in here is the place and moment of his arrival, even the images of what he did. If only I could tie this tricorder in with the ship's computers for just a few moments.
So without the ship's computers to "unlock" that buried information, he needed to construct a primitive equivalent that would allow him to access and interpret the tricorder data in the same way that the ship's computers would, though with cruder results.
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Old August 1 2010, 12:07 PM   #5
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Re: City on the Edge of...uh oh

You have a very good point but I guess at the end of the day it comes down to effective story-telling in the sense that having them just take Edith would've cheapened the story.
Kind of like the idea of terminators just killing Sarah Connor when she was a baby. It makes more sense but wouldn't be as satisfying.
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Old August 1 2010, 12:10 PM   #6
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Re: City on the Edge of...uh oh

Spock seemed to be using 1930s tech to read the contents of his own tricorder. Probably a trivially easy task in the 23rd century - but in the 20th, the blasted thing might have gotten stuck in some annoying "Wireless Network Not Found" loop that could only be solved by replacing the left cursor key with a roomful of vacuum tubes...

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Old August 1 2010, 12:43 PM   #7
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Re: City on the Edge of...uh oh

Part of Kirk's fascination with Edith could well have been the result of the unusual circumstances. We can often love something deep inside we know we can never have. And finding someone like her in the midst of the dire situation they were in could also fuel the fascination.

Often we can't help the way we feel, but ideally Kirk should have kept her at arms length for her and his own good. But he is human and humans often don't do the ideal thing.

But even if he had brought her forward in time who is to say it would have worked out? She would have been totally out of her element with little to no familiar frame of reference. And what of her friends and family even though we never saw them? She'd lose them all. And then Edith would likely run smack into Kirk's first real love: the Enterprise and his career. He certainly couldn't drag her all over the galaxy with him.
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Old August 1 2010, 01:51 PM   #8
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Re: City on the Edge of...uh oh

Agree that it wouldn't have had a tenth of the resonance it has if she were not killed (and killed by Kirk's own omission at that).

I always accepted the Guardian's own word that if they were successful, all would be as it was, and assumed that as soon as the deed was done, they all were summarily ejected back onto the planet where their friends were waiting. In other words, for them to succeed at all, Edith must remain dead in the 1930s and the three of them must be back on the Guardian planet; no other options.

In this episode, it wasn't really like other time travels in TOS where they were technologically in charge of the event. They were at the mercy of the Guardian.

Thinking about it this way, I just realized maybe the dead bum was put back the way he was also before McCoy's phaser killed him. Never thought of that before, but I like it. I'm going to believe that from now on. I like having that loose thread tied off.
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Old August 1 2010, 02:33 PM   #9
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Re: City on the Edge of...uh oh

Warped9 wrote: View Post
But even if he had brought her forward in time who is to say it would have worked out?
It wouldn't have.
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Old August 1 2010, 05:17 PM   #10
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Re: City on the Edge of...uh oh

Well she had to die so she could ascend to the Q continuum and appear on Dynasty


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Old August 1 2010, 08:32 PM   #11
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Re: City on the Edge of...uh oh

Christopher wrote: View Post
Frustrating. Locked in here is the place and moment of his arrival, even the images of what he did. If only I could tie this tricorder in with the ship's computers for just a few moments.
So without the ship's computers to “unlock” that buried information, he needed to construct a primitive equivalent that would allow him to access and interpret the tricorder data in the same way that the ship's computers would, though with cruder results.
Spock's construction of a primitive computer using “stone knives and bearskins” provides some humor and delays Kirk's finding out about Edith's impending death and what it means to future history, giving him time to fall in love with her. The inconsistency is that, in every other episode in which a tricorder was used, it was established as a stand-alone device, capable of analyzing, recording, and displaying data without having to be connected to the ship's computers or anything else.

This minor plot hole could have been fixed with a single line of dialogue. All Spock had to say was, “Unfortunately, my tricorder's playback circuits were fried by the mumbo-jumbo energy field when we passed through the giant time bagel.”
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Old August 1 2010, 09:03 PM   #12
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Re: City on the Edge of...uh oh

Gorn Captain wrote: View Post
now it's always going to bother me that Kirk didn't figure this out. Dammit.
I'm sure the thought eventually occurred to Jim, which is partly why he didn't object to Gillian accompanying them back in ST IV. Only to have her give him the brush-off!
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Old August 1 2010, 09:18 PM   #13
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Re: City on the Edge of...uh oh

I wonder that if Edith was brought forward if that would satisfy the historical part of the timeline since there were newspaper reports of her death. If she went missing, it would've spawned a different timeline outcome, IMHO.
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Old August 1 2010, 09:19 PM   #14
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Re: City on the Edge of...uh oh

Watch this episode today with my freind wot a great episode I told him it's one of the best of the TOS series he agrees and he could not beleave that Joan Collins was in it.

You can't knock this episode it got some great scenes and moments for all the crew especially kirk Spock and McCoy. My mate and I still find it funny when McCoy is goin crazy love wot he shouts ASSASSINS COSSACKS MURDERS !!!!! lol lol
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Old August 1 2010, 10:15 PM   #15
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Re: City on the Edge of...uh oh

scotpens wrote: View Post
Spock's construction of a primitive computer using “stone knives and bearskins” provides some humor and delays Kirk's finding out about Edith's impending death and what it means to future history, giving him time to fall in love with her. The inconsistency is that, in every other episode in which a tricorder was used, it was established as a stand-alone device, capable of analyzing, recording, and displaying data without having to be connected to the ship's computers or anything else.

This minor plot hole could have been fixed with a single line of dialogue. All Spock had to say was, “Unfortunately, my tricorder's playback circuits were fried by the mumbo-jumbo energy field when we passed through the giant time bagel.”
It's not really a plot hole. You have to keep in mind that Spock's tricorder was recording the entire history of the planet Earth at greatly accelerated speed. That would be an incredibly dense flood of information. Extracting specific bits of data from that noise would be like trying to reconstruct a single conversation from an audio recording of Grand Central Station at rush hour, although about a gajillion times more difficult. You'd need tons of computing power to perform that kind of analysis, so it's perfectly reasonable that a tricorder couldn't do it by itself. The part that's hard to believe, considering, is that a makeshift computer built with 1930s electronic parts could have anywhere near the number-crunching power to pull it off.
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