What is an "ion pod?"

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Jeri, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. Jeri

    Jeri Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ...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.
     
  2. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

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  3. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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?
     
  4. UssGlenn

    UssGlenn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I would assume they are reconfigurable and for this mission one was designated for the ion pod.
     
  5. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's a minor MacGuffin.
     
  6. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    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.
     
  7. Alpha_Geek

    Alpha_Geek Commodore Commodore

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    I thought it was a major plot device. :)
     
  8. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    I thought it was a floor wax.

    Well, I thought it was a dessert topping! :lol:

    Sincerely,

    Bill
     
  9. Jeri

    Jeri Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2010
  10. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    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
     
  11. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The fine line between continuity and fanwank.
    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.
     
  12. Mysterion

    Mysterion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^^^
    Works for me, as well. I sort of picure something like the ball-turrett on a B-17.
     
  13. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    [​IMG]

    I suppose it makes as much sense as putting it near the aft end of the engineering hull.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2010
  14. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...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...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Green Shirt

    Green Shirt Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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. :wtf:
     
  16. Jeri

    Jeri Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Interesting discussion; thanks. I also wondered how Finney set up some little nest somewhere in engineering with food and water and ahem facilities without being noticed.
     
  17. Green Shirt

    Green Shirt Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Simple.

    He recycled.

    Everything. :drool:
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Engineering has consistently been described as a gigantic maze where people may get lost for weeks at an end if they forget their compass or breadcrumbs. Curiously STXI was the first piece of Trek to actually show this reality... But TOS did its valiant best, showing a different corner of Engineering in basically every episode. Sure, they tried to claim it was the same set only minimally modified, but we aren't that easily fooled!

    On the general issue of Finney preparing... Now that's an odd one, too. Supposedly, Finney's plan could only see action if his name came up in the ion pod duty roster. The list may not have been particularly long, if only high-ranking officers or computer experts were included. But it can't have been too short, either, as it was plausibly argued that Finney's turn during the fateful mission was a completely random one. So, Finney kept his little plan on hot standby through a dozen ion storms? I hope he managed to get fresh water and bisquits to his hideout every now and then...

    Perhaps Finney had several plans where he could plausibly blame Kirk for his "death"? Not too many of those, of course, or he'd have risked having his preparations on one or two of them getting uncovered. No wonder he kept his hatred going for years upon years!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Clever rap, but it's actually Mayor McCheese.

    (Yeah, I know, it doesn't rhyme.)
     
  20. Jeri

    Jeri Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I was under the impression that, as records officer and the only other person besides the captain and Spock to have that capability with the ship's computer, Finney could put his name at the top of the list when it suited him.
     

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