My take on The Galileo Seven

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Neopeius, Jan 6, 2022.

  1. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    We're going to have the usual round table review next week, of course, but since I got my own bit done, I thought it'd be fun to discuss one particular aspect here:


    In a crisis situation, the most valuable asset is a leader who keeps a level head. While everyone else is flailing about, the boss makes calm, rational decisions. With the exception of the laughable babbling scene two thirds through the episode (which single-handedly dropped the Young Traveler's appraisal of the episode from four to three stars), Mr. Spock was completely unflappable, and his decisions, for the most part, excellent. In an episode not filled with straw men composed of irrationality, Spock's demeanor would have shored up flagging morale, not stoked anger and resentment.

    "But two men died!" some might cry, girding an argument against Spock's ability to command. I submit that, in fact, Spock's actions preserved the most people overall—you just have to see the beings on the planet as people. While Mssrs. Boma and Gaetano were urging for a demonstration of murder, Spock argued restraint, insisting on terrorizing the aborigines rather than killing them. He knew that a demonstration of power was likely to be useless, having deduced that their culture was too primitive to sustain the tribal social structure that would respect such a display. But knowing his men were keen on violence, he channeled it into a less destructive option.

    When the indigenous sophont began whacking on the shuttlecraft with a rock, Spock didn't suggest blasting it with a phaser (fuel concerns may have been tight, but they probably could have afforded that shot based on prior consumption). He gave it a painful shock instead. Effective and non-lethal.

    Instead of constantly carping on Spock, mourning the dead, McCoy should have been praising Spock for upholding the Hippocratic Oath better than the doctor.
     
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  2. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This is very much a trope in US dramas. I was watching a movie about FBI agents trapped in a training facility with a serial killer. Almost immediately, they forgot all their investigative training, evidence gathering, and common sense and started in-fighting, handcuffing people with flimsy circumstantial evidence, threatening to shoot their colleagues, and, at one point, defaulting to torturing prisoners.

    There is something quite worrying underlying human behaviour that makes these kinds of characters normal, perhaps even considered heroic in some cultures, and TOS often self-consciously challenged those assumptions. It's one of the reasons Star Trek 2009 irritates me - it lacked any sense of this and actually implied that it was a weakness and that knee-jerk reactions or leaping before you look was actually a strength (despite, in its own narrative, showing that Kirk's burning desire to pursue Nero would have led to failure if he had not been stopped and exiled to the same planet as Spock Prime).

    Efforts to challenge these tropes today are sometimes labelled as 'woke'. I've always viewed Spock and Scotty as being correct in their approach, hampered by the unprofessional behaviour of the others. Mears keeps her cool but is only required to switch on a tricorder and offers no ideas or assistance whatsoever. Grace Lee Whitney joked that every single one of the yeomen was 'cute and not very bright'.
     
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  3. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    In the end, it was kind of a Kobayashi Maru for Spock. And beautifully handled. Was there any way out of the situation that minimized loss of life any further? Would Spock have been a hero had he managed to bring everyone of the shuttle team back, but had to kill a half dozen aboriginals to do it?
     
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  4. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

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    The big problem with this episode, which I think was the general consensus in the 50th anniversary rewatch thread, is that it's played up as if--and outright stated that--this is the first test of Spock's command abilities. And Spock does act generally clueless about needing to factor in that the people he's commanding experience emotions. This all seems highly unlikely given that he's managed to attain the position of first officer of a ship otherwise crewed by humans. It's a scenario that would have worked better for the more junior Spock we see in "The Cage" / "The Menagerie".
     
  5. STEPhon IT

    STEPhon IT Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I loved the episode because it presented to me that even Mr. Spock can have a very bad day.
     
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  6. MAGolding

    MAGolding Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    As I remember, the description of the characters in "The Cage" quoted in The Making of Star Trek described Spock as third in command and the captain's right hand man running the day to day operations of hte ship.

    In "The Cage" Spock is clearly in command after # 1 is captured by the Talosians.

    That scene is cut from "The Menagerie", but a scene in the transporter room is retained:

    And that scene implies that Spock is in command at the moment.

    So it seems likely that Spock would be in command of the Enterprise while Pike was captain about as often or Scott or Sulu was in TOS.

    So Spock's first time in command of a larger or smaller group of humans was probably befoe "The Cage".
     
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  7. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    I guess the point I'm trying to hit beyond the general discussion of the episode is that I appreciated Spock's desire to keep casualties as light as possible, and that included among the aborigines. That's an unusually enlightened attitude for 1966 in a sea of "kill the Indian" Westerns and Columbus Day parades. It's that aspect which really puts Spock in the right and Boma/Gaetano/McCoy in the wrong.
     
  8. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Nothing I know of in the Hippocratic Oath says you should let people be killed, because you're worried about harming an attacker.
    Setting some of the phasers to a reasonable heat setting and passing around some burns likely would had more results than Spock's ineffectual light show.
     
  9. Henoch

    Henoch Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Side note: The Galileo Seven was one of the most beautifully filmed episodes. :techman:

    Any thoughts about chain of command and the roles the officers should have done...for example, technically, Scott was second in command or Spock's de facto first officer. As much as I love the Scotty character, he should have lowered the boom on those others that were being disobedient and present a unified front with Spock. I guess he was too preoccupied with the shuttlecraft repairs which was his primary job per Spock's orders. :( At least the two command gold shirts followed commands and dutifully died in time to reduce the takeoff weight. :techman::techman:

    Also, McCoy and Boma should have been reprimanded...then we may have avoided the same problem later in The Tholian Web. :rommie: Since both are blue shirts, perhaps there is a less stringent code of behavior for those in the Sciences branch due to the combined services structure, after all, you wouldn't want Starfleet scientists saying "scientists have always been the pawns of the military". ;)
     
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  10. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Counterpoint is that many people feel justified repelling home invasions with force, often lethal force. It shows an egocentric mindset to criticise the natives for feeling the same.

    More importantly, if the landing party had fired off more high powered shots at the natives, would they have had to leave someone else behind because there would have been less power for the shuttle engines?

    You can just see McCoy playing both ends against the middle. "Dammit Spock for a pacifist you were sure quick to employ force against natives defending their territory. And look where that has left us - we have to leave two of our own here to die!"
     
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  11. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    There's a lot of technical/scientific weirdness in that episode. For instance, they seem to have forgotten about the stun setting.

    So we just have to assume, for the episode, that phasers could only do one thing -- brrzzzaap. And based on that, head-on shooting would kill. And based on that, Spock wanted to avoid killing anyone.
     
  12. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly. The Galileo team were the invaders, not the anthropoids.

    I'm getting a little sick of McCoy being written to simply take the opposite of whatever Spock endorses.
     
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  13. PCz911

    PCz911 Captain Captain

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    I love this episode.
    Some great points made above:
    1-sophont: not going to lie, I had to look it up. Great word
    2- phaser settings: burns or stun would have sufficed. Never thought of that but you are absolutely right.

    To be honest, I guess my insecurity is such I would have gone with the “blue shirts” in this episode and done a John Wick and fried up the locals were I in charge. Spock (and the writer) are better people than I.
     
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  14. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Agreed. At this point in the series, though, the organization and command arrangements might have been a little different than what we assume all these years later. According to behind-scenes info that @Harvey has posted, there is evidence that early-on there was an idea that whoever the science officer was, that's who was second-in-command. We might speculate that someone envisioned a kind of arrangement where the scientific mission was given a high priority, and scientific personnel high authority to carry out that mission, even though they did not have a traditional ship-command, military-trained background. I've also wondered* if the blue-shirt component were semi-civilian, or at least a class of personnel who were now part of Starfleet but had evolved from civilian mission specialists and were expected to have a different set of training and career experiences than the other divisions. I stress I've never seen any documentation to support these theories, though.

    I am skeptical that such an arrangement would work well, and I have posted elsewhere about the historical difficulties that were encountered when medical personnel were placed in command of US Navy hospital ships. But at any rate, the command arrangement was firmed up over the course of the series. Scott always seemed a better "natural" commander than Spock to me, though to be fair he was given more opportunities to shine in plots where Kirk and Spock were both off the ship.

    *Considering TOS in isolation, I have next to no knowledge of the pre-OS productions.

    Indeed, and in a similar vein the Geneva Convention specifically allows for military medical personnel to be armed and to use weapons in defense of themselves and those in their care.
     
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  15. Kor

    Kor Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In any case, the Hippocratic Oath is an archaic formality that has lost much of its relevance to the world of modern medicine, not to speak of whatever the field of medicine will be like three hundred years from now. But it's one of those notions that persists in popular thought.

    Many medical schools today use something completely different such as the Declaration of Geneva, or a particular oath that they came up with themselves, if they even administer an oath at all. Such oaths are not legally binding, and there is ongoing debate among medical professionals about how appropriate and relevant they are, as many are just vague formal platitudes that are arguably inadequate in addressing the complex realities of contemporary medical practice, and don't really even hold physicians accountable for acting contrary to the oath.

    ... but I digress. :shrug:

    Kor
     
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  16. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Off to the Mirror Universe with you! And your little dog too!

    I thought they shrugged off the stun setting but if it isn't even mentioned I agree that this is odd. Their nervous systems may just work differently. What is stun setting anyway? Presumably something that disrupts the electrical pathways in the brain that inform the nervous system?
     
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  17. Henoch

    Henoch Rear Admiral Premium Member

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  18. XCV330

    XCV330 Premium Member

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    As Spock was not a medical doctor, it would not be logical for him to uphold an oath he would never have taken. The Hippocratic Oath is specific to a profession, and is not intended as a universal ideal. Hippocrates was setting some professional standards for his somewhat then dubious line of work.
     
  19. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    It's not mentioned at all. Also, the phasers were limited by what the optical department could do with them (i.e. the actors had to stand stock still as they shot them, so no swinging hip shots).

    Right. I don't think it's something most viewers think of. "Hey, we were attacked, so we get to shoot back!"

    Except the Galileo crew were the intruders. For all we know the shuttle landed on a holy site. Or even on an alien (with little pointed shoes sticking out the side where we couldn't see them...)
     
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  20. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    How about: "In the end, Spock's actions were far more respectful of intelligent life, regardless of the form, than the path advocated by Doctor McCoy, a man whose profession is centered on the preservation of life."

    Right. We really don't know what the phaser was set to, only what phasers were capable of doing that episode. Which appear to be inconsistent with what we've seen thus far.

    We know from "Dagger of the Mind" that phasers can completely disintegrate someone. They can also blow holes in things. In "Enemy Within" and "Naked Time", we know phasers can warm things up. They're very versatile... except in this episode, where they seem about as powerful (and lethal) as normal handguns.
     
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