Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by dodge, Aug 29, 2016.
"Obsession", Episode 42, December 15th
Tonight's Episode: Star Trek's second take on Space Moby Dick
Originally aired December 15, 1967
What was going on the week the episode aired.
You make it sound better than it actually is. I always had issues with this one. It feels very padded with lots of false drama fueled by the characters being behind the audience in figuring out what's going on.
For starters, the episode would move faster and feel less padded if Kirk just came clean instead of being enigmatic about his past encounter for so long.
The false drama, which the story centers around, is based on everyone assuming that Kirk and Garrovick just missed the cloud creature. When dealing with a gaseous creature in a borderline state between matter and energy that can change its molecular structure, they should at least consider that it might not be affected by phasers. And even after Spock makes the case to Kirk that his reaction time 11 years ago didn't make a difference, he perpetuates the false drama by going into Garrovick's quarters and having a discussion about the ensign's reaction time, instead of telling Garrovick what he just told Kirk...a dramatic beat that artificially has to wait for Kirk himself to deliver it.
And that's another issue with the episode...the Kirk / Ensign Garrovick parallels just draw the story out by devoting time to both of them going through the same faux crisis...sometimes rehashing the same dramatic beats with each character. The episode really could have used a retooling to focus it more on one character or the other, and let the character who wasn't the central focus play more of a supporting role.
And it's a helluva coincidence that Garrovick just happens to be newly on board at exactly the time that they come across the creature. Kirk has to ask if Garrovick is his old CO's son, so it's a surprise to him. And why does a new ensign in security have to report directly to the bridge anyway?
Another weakness is how the characters beat around the bush in figuring out that the cloud creature is not just intelligent, but even alive. Well, duh, it's attacking people and such. Yet nobody seems particularly surprised that it can travel at such high warp speeds.
Finally, if the antimatter can destroy half the planet, why do they need to lure the creature a few yards closer?
This episode is infamous for giving us the premature death of Mr. Leslie.
Is this the first that we hear of Spock's blood being copper-based?
Shatner seems to have a cold in at least some of the scenes...I noticed it on the bridge and in the transporter room.
Next week: Nothing says Yuletide like Jack the Ripper...
I agree that it's silly not to even entertain the thought that shooting a beam at a cloud might not do anything at all, but I don't actually mind that particular bit of plot convenience. The bit that really screams false drama to me is the mercy medical mission ticking clock that was wholly unnecessary.
It's unnecessary because Kirk here risks the lives of his crew, and gets them killed, for rather vague and suspect reasons, and that's really all the drama you need to raise the question if his obsession is going to far. (Not to mention, if the Yorktown can afford to wait days to meet up with the Enterprise, why don't they just deliver the damn medicine themselves?)
Airdate order has some weird timing sometimes, last week we had Spock and McCoy reluctant to remove Kirk from command even when they both were well aware and admitted he was nowhere near fit for it, this week they dutifully and by the book raise the question of his fitness to command themselves.
And then in a space of a second, based on a vague impression of the word "home", they somehow deduce it's going to the planet Kirk first met it, because it needs to reproduce into thousands of clouds (which it couldn't have done over the past 11 years?)
Yep, that's a rather big "seriously?" moment, it overshadows some other smaller errors in judgement throughout the episode... at one point Kirk suggest that they flood the ventilation system with radioactive waste and see what happens. I'm pretty sure what happens then is death for everyone.
Also, Spock logically uses his hands to cover the vent which is conveniently located right next to a bed with a nice pillow...
In their defense on that point, I think they'd established that they'd closed the ventilation system in order to trap the creature (and had a limited air supply because of it). Apparently Garrovick tripping that switch with his food tray put the kibosh on that...so maybe only Garrovick would get radiation poisoning?
I think "Obsession' is a great episode.
I don't think there's false drama.Not everyone wants to discuss their own biggest failure (perceived). I can see why Kirk doesn't want to tell Spock and McCoy - "Yeh I met the cloud creature while on the Faragut when it killed half the crew because of my incompetence - good times". He only told Spock because he had to for the mission. Of course he didn't want to appear bad in front of his friends - on-one would. And some first officers/CMOs would just let their captain off with no explanation. He's the captain after all. But thats not how Kirk runs his ship. He usually values Spock and McCoys' input so he has to put up with it when he doesn't want it all that much.
I think the manual ventilation switch in Garrovick's cabin was stupid. What if you were on duty when an emergency happened. Did they have half the crew going back to their quarters to see if the switch were on or off? Still I did like the way the scene played out.
And I too don't understand why the cloud creature was such a danger after all this time. I don't know perhaps it lay low until it found someone to eat. Maybe 11 years or whatever it was was nothing to this creature.
No, once Kirk was directing McCoy to the files, and directing Spock to the files that he directed McCoy to, he could just as easily have come out and clarified the situation in his own words...except, DRAMA! And running time.
He sent them to the files so he didn't have to admit to them he was a failure. So he didn't have to talk to them.
That tactic didn't work because Spock wasn't going to let him suffer.
And for the audience - we had to see the Faragut incident from its XO perspective. If we had just seen it from Kirk's perspective we might have thought badly of him.
The fact is Kirk never expected to see the cloud ever again and so was in a sort of shock! The one enemy that he hadn't defeated and which had devoured most of the crew on his former ship wasn't something that he was proud of! They damn well should have included the scene with Mr.Leslie in just for us nutcases!
If we were to assume that Leslie did die during this show, which shows following it did have and didn't have Leslie in them?
Yeah, that's also an issue. We're just told things that supposedly make this thing a major threat that justifies blowing up half a planet and extinguishing all life on it (that planet had a breathable atmosphere and plant life, if there weren't already space bunnies in that shrubbery, Kirk certainly killed any potential for them ).
Those reasons are:
1. it's pure evil, all it wants to do is kill
2. it's a threat to all life in the galaxy
3. it's gonna multiply into thousands of equally evil killing creatures
The problem is we're just told, and not shown any of these, in fact what we are shown actually disputes some of that stuff:
1. Kirk bases "pure evil" on a feeling. But for a creature that supposedly wants to kill everything it's been laying low on uninhabited planets with no recorded incidents in the 11 years since the Farragut. When it sees humans on the planet it runs away. It only attacks when Kirk sends the men after it with shoot to kill orders. It then even tries to escape the planet, but is relentlessly pursued by the Enterprise... most of what it does looks more like self-defense rather than some sinister evil ploy.
The ending conclusion that it's an intelligent killer is also undermined by the fact it falls for the bucket of blood trick, proving that it's just after blood and not indiscriminately killing people.
2. it's not a threat to Vulcans, and presumably any other non iron-blood based creature. Surely there's other, better sources of iron in the galaxy than human blood, and we're never told the circumstances of the creatures first encounter with humans, only that it killed half the crew, we don't know it wasn't trying to defend itself back then either...
3. this comes from literally nowhere, during the whole episode they make a point how they can't scan it, they don't know what it is or how it works, it's impossible, shouldn't exist, etc. and then they've suddenly figured out it's reproductive cycle down to the number of progeny, again based on nothing but a hunch.
The main point of "Obsession" is Kirk's redemption. That's what the whole episode is about.
The cloud creature story, the late medical supplies are just a wrapper.
Well yeah, but it wouldn't hurt if the wrapper made slightly more sense
Kirk's redemption...for a nonsensical burden that he's been carrying around for 11 years...or 49 minutes, take your pick.
Shades of Kirk and Riley both having been on Tarsus IV and now the Enterprise when Kodos visits ...at least if Garrovick's new crisis paralleled Kirk's old past one but involved a different creature or foe, that would have been more interesting.
The courtroom story would have been more interesting if they intercut the now scenes with the earlier that same day scenes. So you get thrown into the trial with no explanation as to what's going on, then see a scene that took place 10 hours ago, then back to someone else being questioned, then maybe characters interacting during a court recess...this one could have been extended to a two-parter if the Romulan POV had been shown.
And less contrived. And that's a way that they could have done it while focusing mainly on one character (Garrovick) while putting Kirk in more of a supporting role. This reminds me of a type of story that 12 O'Clock High often does with guest characters serving in the 918th, but usually strongly focusing on the guest star in semi-anthology fashion. In Trek, it seems, Kirk is too firmly established as the central hero character to cede the spotlight in that fashion.
I loved "Obsession" despite it's inherent and obvious flaws. It was very creepy and had a great sense of danger / desperation throughout. It was also yet another example of something TOS did better than any other series that followed: the portrayal of bizarre, non-humanoid life forms that exist in the galaxy.
I like Obsession. I like that we get more of Kirk's back story. I like how Spock and McCoy rationally discuss with Kirk about his obsession. I have thought that if good writers could find a way to bring back Captain Kirk that Kirk should be given command of a new ship with a new crew and one of those crew members would be called Ensign Garrovick, the son or daughter of this Garrovick and the grandson or granddaughter of Captain Garrovick. It would be a nice way to come full circle.
Between last weeks 'Deadly Years' and this episode, Kirk's command ability really takes a hit. Both episodes also show a lot of padding with redundant scenes, and questionable logic. Tracking the music from season twos 'other' Moby Dick show, "The Doomsday Machine", made for some excitement, but the recycling of story elements is showing.
Too bad Ensign Garrovick wasn't made into a recurring character. TOS could have used someone other than Red Shirt cannon fodder for such an important position.
I like how the remastered version shows a massive crater on the planet after the anti-matter explodes. Then it's off for good times in the Captain's quarters despite the highest body count of the series, and that pesky medical emergency millions were dying from. Over all a 5/10.
"Wolf in the Fold", Episode 43, December 22nd
Tonight's Episode: A ripping holiday special!
"Wolf in the Fold"
Originally aired December 22, 1967
What was going on the week the episode aired.
This one...I'm just kind of meh about. It's a watchable episode, but...Jack the Ripper? Really?
McCoy's clumsy double delivery of "total resentment toward women" always bugged me...like he was hitting us over the head with a bit of exposition to make sure we remembered it.
I have to wonder how the death by slow torture in a society that finds violence so distasteful would work. Are there practicing torturers who pass down the old art for the sake of tradition? Or would Scotty face the additional agony of being tortured by somebody who was squeamish and inept at it?
I think our takeaway was supposed to be that Hengist committed all of the murders...but if Redjac could possess people, then they missed the opportunity to have Scotty actually be the killer in at least one of the incidents, but not responsible for his actions.
Tying up the computer by making it compute the value of pi...ay yi yi...!
Next week: It's not too late to put a furry bundle of joy in somebody's stocking...
I have a similar feeling of meh when it comes to "Wolf in the Fold" but not enough to make me dislike the episode.
I don't think they should have had the Scotty resents women now theme. Just that he was brain damaged and they thought it was OK. If McCoy thought he hated women irrationally then why let Scotty go alone to a planet of prostitutes?
Scotty never looked like he hated women in the entire episode. I think they should have said maybe Scotty had gone cra cra from the explosion.
And why would Kirk let his men beam down to a planet where crime penalties are slow torture. I don't believe the hoo-haa there is never any crime on any planet where they allow alien visitors. The prostitutes boyfriend looked like he might have been willing to commit of passion.
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