Problem I had with "By Any Other Name"

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by t_smitts, Sep 30, 2012.

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  1. t_smitts

    t_smitts Captain Captain

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    For the most part, it's an interesting show, with an impressive adversary in the Kelvin. We get some fun moments, like Scotty getting the one Kelvin drunk with his "green" booze. My problem was the this:

    After they've been defeated, we go to a peaceful, Roddenberry-ish solution, with Kirk talking about them becoming friends.

    Problem is they murdered a pretty young yeoman at the start of the episode, so I didn't particularly want a peaceful solution. Yes, the Horta and the Gorn killed people too, but they were acting in some form of self-preservation. The Kelvin leader reduced people to cubes and crushed them just to make a point. As it actually played out, It's hard to want anything to do with them after that.

    If they'd ommitted that part, the episode would've been a lot lighter, (something along the lines of "I, Mudd") even if they Kelvins had threatened or even attempted to kill people, but didn't. Instead, it's hard to not want Kirk to respond in kind.

    That was just my point.
     
  2. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Agreed. The change in tone doesn't quite work. I guess they needed to kill off poor Yeoman Paperweight at the beginning to establish the Kelvans as a credible threat, but the happy, smiling finale is at odds with the callousness of her execution at the beginning of the show.

    Kirk could have still made peace with the Kelvans at the end, in the best STAR TREK tradition, but they didn't have to be so chummy. It would have better if the peace had been a bit more of a strained, wary affair--like with Khan at the end of "Space Seed."
     
  3. t_smitts

    t_smitts Captain Captain

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    True. They had a similar strained, wary peace on Voyager in "The Killing Game". They suffered some losses (at least one off-screen fatality), but they gave at least as good as they got. (And just like "Space Seed", their settlement would come back to bite them in the @$$).

    Glad I'm not the only one who thinks that way about "By Any Other Name".
     
  4. Foxhot

    Foxhot Commodore Commodore

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    I've seen this point made a few times in the past, and made it myself once or twice, but it's a good one. Thompson's death proves that ''the black guy always dies first'' is slightly exaggerated. In fact, Ensign Watkins, Scotty's assistant in THAT WHICH SURVIVES, is the only black crewman of either sex to die in classic TREK's TV episodes. He's also the last crewmember to die on the show if we go by stardates or episode production order.

    There's a slight possibility had Lt. Shea been white, he might have been killed in typical security-guard fashion. But this way is less predictable storytelling and works better. At least Thompson wasn't sentient at the time. I hope.

    Part of the problem is, she's never mentioned after the beginning of Act Two, which contributes to the disposable nature of so many redshirt characters. All the other crewwomen who died were blueshirts, unless you count Marla McGivers after the series ended....

    Theoretically Rojan could stand trial for the execution, but since Kirk and company needed to make peace with the Kelvans, it was apparently swept under the rug. Putting him on trial might not sit well with now-friendly Kelvans.

    The episode for those reasons begs for a sequel. As it turns out two or three writers have made stories on the web involving Yeoman Thompson's death. The shortest and probably best of them is ''No Apologies'', which can be accessed by googling ''Death of Yeoman Thompson, Star Trek.'' To summarize:

    Rojan and the Kelvans are applying to colonize their last planet and make peace with the Federation. Two things stand in their way: Yeoman Thompson's parents. Both are scientists and doctors, and have seen their share of the deceased. They tell Kirk and Rojan that they won't stand in the Kelvans' way, providing their daughter is restored to human form. Rojan explains that wouldn't be pleasant, but the father insists. Rojan reluctantly complies, what's left of Thompson is restored, and the now-humanized Kelvans freak out at what Rojan did. Kelinda gets sick, and Hanar decks Rojan, shouting at her ''She was beautiful!'' Kirk phasers the Yeoman's remains at her father's request. Then the father tosses Rojan out of his house, but won't deny him Federation membership.

    Now THAT's a suitable ending in my opinion. It smells like..... victory.
     
  5. t_smitts

    t_smitts Captain Captain

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    That's pretty dark. No way would they do something like that, Reminds me of a fanfic I once read that took place after "In Theory" that included a scene of Enterprise-D crewmen cutting through a deck to free the body of Lt. Van Mayter.

    I'd prefer no one died in that episode. As Greg said, it was totally inconsistent with what should've been a lighter episode. Imagine if the Iotians machine gunned a couple of crewmen at the start of "A Piece of the Action", or Norman the android started the episode by breaking someone's neck.
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, "The Apple" featured cartloads of quite comical deaths (redshirt replaced by a stain on the ground) at the start, and lots of sex education -themed giggling later on, plus the destruction of a way of life via the destruction of a papier-mache monster. It's not as if the writers or the directors really felt the need to steer away from "mixed bag" type stories... To the contrary, it seemed that there was often a drive to insert some comedy to overtly somber episodes.

    Also, the coda to an episode was rather seldom in the mood of the episode itself anyway. But it always served the higher purpose of making it clear that our heroes would face no consequences of any sort, and there would never be a sequel. The ability to alter history discovered? "Let's get the hell out of here." Kirk is under such a strain that he breaks into a sobbing fit over a fembot (or perhaps her master and creator?)? "Forget."

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. ToddPence

    ToddPence Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  8. Bubbles McGee

    Bubbles McGee Lieutenant Commander

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    Bloody Brilliant! :rofl:
     
  9. JimZipCode

    JimZipCode Commander Red Shirt

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    There's a drastic change of tone about halfway thru the episode. It's very tense up thru the passage thru the galactic barrier, and the self-destruct scenario. From that point on, it's a very light episode. Each half works, but the halves don't work together.

    Another drawback to this episode is, Kirk's decision not to use the self-destruct option, seems weird when contrasted with his use of it in Last Battlefield. The stakes were much lower in Battlefield, yet Kirk seems more determined in that story. For the sequence in that episode to make sense, Kirk should have tried to blow up the ship in this episode. (Tried and failed, I guess, maybe the Kelvins anticipated.)

    This episode has that epic groaning musical theme, when Scotty gets the Kelvin guy drunk. I don't believe we hear that in any other episode – looking forward to learning about it when the TOS CD's come out next month!

    Anyway, I agree with you. Not a wholly successful episode, though it has some nice parts.
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    But in "Battlefield", Kirk bluffs. In "Name", there would be no chance of bluffing: Kirk would have to commit suicide without letting the Kelvans know that they were going to blow up.

    And Kirk has never been suicidal. He has never seriously considered self-destruct as an option, unless one counts the extended edition of ST:TMP; every time he has inserted the suicide code, he has made damn sure that he himself will come out alive and well and able to gloat.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Didn't the folks on that mining colony became very chummy at the end of the episode with the Horta and her kids even though they lost of people (and a couple of red shirts) in the process?
     
  12. JimZipCode

    JimZipCode Commander Red Shirt

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    What makes you say that?
     
  13. Foxhot

    Foxhot Commodore Commodore

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    JimZipCode wrote:

    ''This episode has that epic groaning musical theme, when Scotty gets the Kelvin guy drunk. I don't believe we hear that in any other episode – looking forward to learning about it when the TOS CD's come out next month!''



    BY ANY OTHER NAME lifted ''Scotty's Theme'' from TRIBBLES.
    Groaning?(:
    It may have used a third time, but I'm not sure.
     
  14. Knight Templar

    Knight Templar Commodore

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    I agree at the change in tone halfway through the episode.

    When they notice the Kelvin (Tomar I think) loving the human style food and Scotty taking him to his quarters to get him drunk, the whole thing becomes a farce in my opinion.

    I think that the writer realized that he had written the Kelvans as being so powerful that he was going to have to write a "humorous victory" over them as it was fairly obvious that there was no way Kirk, Spock, Scotty, and McCoy had any chance of overcoming them any other way.

    Much like lots of the other "victories" over very powerful aliens (such as Q) involved humorous situations.
     
  15. Knight Templar

    Knight Templar Commodore

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    True. But two huge factors probably changed their minds.

    1) They had no idea whatsoever the Horta was more than an animal. The revelation that it was the mother of an ancient race probably changed their thinking a great deal. As for the fact that they had been destroying the eggs unthinkingly.

    2) With the Horta offspring doing all the digging, the miners could sit back and simply get rich, without having to do much work or risk their lives in the mines (mining is always dangerous).

    Lots of money changes feelings fast.
     
  16. izarian

    izarian Ensign Red Shirt

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    I've always felt the crushing of Yeoman Thompson to be one of the most callous murders in all of TOS. Also, after the kelvins reduce the whole crew to foam cubes and since the trip to Andromeda would take 300 years it stands to reason that the kelvins never intended to restore the crew...ever. So after the crew is reduced to foam cubes what did the kelvins do with the cubes??? Just throw them someplace out of the way? Could the crew keep in cube form for 300 years?
     
  17. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    Maybe I'm alone in this thread, but "By Any Other Name" works for me.

    It actually comes across as a very Roddenberryan-style TOS story. Kirk and company are overwhelemed by powerful extragalactic aliens, who demonstrate their technological superiority (the ability to instantly paralyze or transmute people) and their ruthlessness (by killing Thompson). The Roddenberryan solution comes in finding the Kelvan vulnerability: their newfound humanity, and exploiting it to bring them to reason. The Kelvans are the ones to learn the lesson of the episode: becoming human on the outside means they become human on the inside.

    Is the Kelvan Empire in the Andromeda Galaxy a serious threat to the Federation? Maybe. Kirk may also have recognized that Rojan was simply full of himself and his self-ascribed "mission" to "conquer" and "rule". Once Rojan's crew took control of the Enterprise and set course for Kelva, Kirk had much more than one dead crewman on his mind. Kirk had no idea his ship would survive the Barrier, with or without Scott's suicidal plan. Then when Rojan began transmuting the rest of the crew, Kirk found he had a new mission: he had to restore his crew and stop the Kelvans. Faced with this challenge, and with only a handful of Enterprise crew left in normal form, Kirk wasn't mourning the death of one person.

    If I were Kirk at this stage, only three thoughts would be going through my head:

    (1: What if these Kelvans actually take my ship to this other Galaxy, turn around, and invade our Galaxy?
    (2: How do I stop them and get control of my ship back?
    (3: How do I get my crew back to normal form?

    I do not see the ending as pure farce, or dismissive of what has happened. Nor do I see Rojan as a mindless cut-throat. Rojan was acting on behalf of his people because his people believe they are in jeopardy. Naturally, when people believe they are in jeopardy, they are willing to kill anyone who gets in the way. Rojan believed the Enterprise crew stood in the way of his ultimate mission: to save his people in another galaxy. Thompson became the first casualty in this galaxy at the hands of Kelvan self-preservation.

    Kirk is probably still pissed at Rojan, and for good reason. But Kirk would much rather make peace with the Kelvans, get his ship back, get his crew back, and have Scott figure out how they get the Enterprise to sustain Warp 11 indefinitely. Those are very valuable accomplishments.

    As for how Kirk would write the "Dear Mr. & Mrs. Thompson" letter, he would describe her as a heroic casualty of a dangerous "first contact" with powerful alien intergalactic explorers who may prove to be useful allies to the Federation someday. It's obviously outrageous, but given the many times in STAR TREK that aliens have destroyed whole colonies (Cestus III, M-133, Triacus, Delta Rana IV) or space vessels (the Archon, the second Valiant) and yet the Federation starship at hand still pursued a diplomatic solution over revenge, it should not be a surprise. Captain Picard did describe the dangers of "first contact" encounters to Chancellor Durken of Malcor III, and the glacial slog of diplomacy almost cost an injured Commander Riker his life. Picard made it clear that "first contact" is always filled with hazards, even the threat of war.

    Given that Kirk managed to avert a larger catastrophe, discovered and made peace with a new neighbor, survived another encounter with the negative energy barrier (a major development), and has seen his ship refit with technology that can sustain Warp 11, he can look upon this mission as a major success... even if the Kelvans tear out all of their goodies and refuse to share them.

    Would Kirk try to throw Rojan in the brig? No. But I'll bet he'd persuade Rojan to write an apology letter to Thompson's family. (And I doubt Rojan would object.)
     
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  18. izarian

    izarian Ensign Red Shirt

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    Yeah, I guess I can agree with that.
     
  19. Foxhot

    Foxhot Commodore Commodore

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    Dear Parents of the Non-Essential Yeoman Humanoid:

    Captain Kirk made me write this. Sorry about your daughter. I forgot her name. As you humans say, ''whaddaya gonna do?'' At least tetrahondral solids make nice sugar substitutes, so if you wish to sprinkle her powder in your coffee, you might find it highly stimulating. At least we left you tricorder and communicator. Now you can sell them on this EBay I keep hearing about.

    In all serious, though, now that I am human, I now realize that I am crushed by my earlier behavior. And so is she, fortunately. I mean, we see eye to eye now. (Another human expression.) It's all Hanar's fault for reducing her. Then I told him to put the black guy on the right so he could die first as is the cliche, but that sneaky SOB switched them wrong. I am as innocent as the driven white powder.

    I was, ah, kidding, about the sugar part. It's not possible now. Tomar, ahem, after immediately regaining consciousness and stepping over Mr. Scott's prone form, went to sickbay for dessert, raided the doctor's lab, then, lacking any available liquor, ahem......snorted what he thought was Starfleet cocaine. I'm really, really sorry. I apologize unreservedly. Now I'm going to cut this short so I can boink Kelinda senseless.
    Take care, sincerely yours, yadda yadda bing....

    Rojan

    To answer izarian's questions, I figure the dissolved crew would ''keep'' in crew form for ANY length of time, no matter what. And since they weren't eliminated outright, I'm guessing Rojan may have had future slave labor in mind......never nind that Kirk, Spock, Scotty and McCoy, the ''essential'' four, would be long-dead.
     
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  20. M

    M Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just a theory, but since the great Jerome Bixby shares the teleplay credit for this episode with D.C. Fontana, wouldn't it be possible that she's somewhat responsible for the shift in tone at the end of the episode?

    Not to belittle Fontana's work (I've always been a huge admirer of her's), but the tone definitely doesn't befit Bixby's other efforts for the series, which were always more earnest in tone. The light tone actually seems more in line with Fontana's work.

    So my theory is that there was a moment during the writing of this episode, where Fontana rewrote Bixby's script or "took over" from where he left. If true, I wonder what the original ending looked like. Is there someone here who knows more about what happened during the writing?

    Anyways, "By Any Other Name" is one of my favorite episodes not only from the second season but the series as a whole. The Kelvans are good villains (especially Warren Stevens as Rojan), the pacing of the episode and the blocking of the scenes is wonderful. This is just one of these episodes I never get tired of watching.
     
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