The Man Trap...why not provide salt for the creature?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by MarsWeeps, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. MarsWeeps

    MarsWeeps Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    When the salt vampire was loose on the Enterprise, they talked about leaving salt out to bait it. Why not provide it with all the salt it needs? Fill a room with some salt and let it pig out? Find a planet with a lot of salt and drop it off.
     
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  2. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    Because when his crew is in danger Kirk becomes a murderous mama bear.

    To be fair, at first they don't know what they're dealing with, so, yeah, shoot to kill. But once Crater explains what it is they really ought to have considered trying to communicate with it, even if it won't cooperate.

    One thing that's always bugged me is that Kirk screams when the creature starts to munch on him... did everyone else die silently? Someone should have heard the screams.
     
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  3. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Re, Kirk's screaming:

    I suppose one could imagine that McCoy's presence interfered with the creature's ability to hypnotize its prey, perhaps because of the simple distraction of a third party, and moreover one armed with a deadly weapon, or because of some added distraction of McCoy being so significant to the person, Nancy, who the creature had been imitating for so long. :shrug:
     
  4. GNDN18

    GNDN18 Turbulent! Turgid! Tempestuous! Premium Member

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    This Kirk is very much in the mold of Forbidden Planet's J. J. Adams (A commanding officer doesn't need brains. Just a good loud voice, huh?) And Spock is hardly the dispassionately logical scientist who "reaches" peaceniks that we've come to know, either:

    [M-113 creature as] MCCOY: Oh. Well, we could offer it salt without tricks. There's no reason for it to attack us.
    SPOCK: Your attitude is laudable, Doctor, but your reasoning is reckless.
    CRATER: (eyeing McCoy carefully) The creature is not dangerous when fed.
    [M-113 creature as] MCCOY: No, it's simply trying to survive by using its natural ability to take other forms.
    ... And like us, it's an intelligent animal. There's no need to hunt it down.​

    Granted, Crater created this problem by failing to disclose the death of Nancy and the existence of the creature, but he did try to warn Enterprise off and failed. Now that all is revealed and the crew can make first contact, Kirk will have none of it:

    CRATER: ...It needs love as much as it needs salt. When it killed Nancy, I almost destroyed it but, it isn't just a beast. It is intelligent and the last of its kind.
    KIRK: You bleed too much, Crater. You're too pure and noble. Are you saving the last of its kind or has this become Crater's private heaven, here on this planet? This thing becomes wife, lover, best friend, wise man, fool, idol, slave. It isn't a bad life to have everyone in the universe at your beck and call, and you win all the arguments.
    CRATER: You don't understand.
    This script could have taken several different paths and seemingly attempted all of them. Here, Kirk is drawn as a reactionary bullet-head who has no time for quaint theories. At the end, he is mourns the destruction of the M-113 buffalo.
    Is the creature capable of love, or is it a manipulative psychopath? And exactly how did these creatures die--disease, war, lack of salt on a planetary scale? Or were they a race of psychopaths that killed themselves?

    "The Man Trap" ultimately fails because the characters' motivations change from scene to scene. At turns a mystery, a BEM tale, and a polemic about science versus brute force, it never tells a convincing story.
     
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  5. Noname Given

    Noname Given Vice Admiral Admiral

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    For the same reason even though it's clearly intelligent; and able to reason and communicate with humans (it sat in as McCoy and effectively asked what Kirk's plan for dealing with it was in a Briefing); neither Kirk or Spock attempt to directly communicate or negotiate with it. <--- yep folks there's Roddenberry's Vision on full display on the first Star Trek episode publicly broadcast (and the 5th regular episode filmed) ;)
     
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  6. MarsWeeps

    MarsWeeps Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    I suppose we could say that both Kirk and Spock "grew" from this incident considering their actions in saving the Horta. They probably thought to themselves "We really screwed up with the Salt Vampire....never again!!"
     
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  7. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Just drop it in the middle of the Great Salt Flats and let it live there for the rest of its life...
     
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  8. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

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    Its easy to be wise after the event. KIrk has just lost a couple of crewman. He's got a creature on board that can disguise himself as anyone. Could kill anyone at any time. Craters mucking around. Why would Kirk believe him? Spock is suspicious of McCoy.
    No wonder Kirk's not feeling generous with it.

    And then to confirm his suspicions, the creature eventually turns on Crater. It tries to kill Spock. The ship is in danger.
    And this episode shows the difference between TOS and TNG. Picard allowed the Crystalline creature and the Borg to survive because they had a 'right to live'. TNG was set in more civilised times while TOS was set in the wild west in comparison.
    I agree that in retrospect maybe Kirk would regret not trying to save the Salt creature. As in the case with the Horta the Federation was trespassing on its planet.
     
  9. dodge

    dodge Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I guess it's the same reason nobody thinks of just donating blood to vampires in vampire movies...
     
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  10. MarsWeeps

    MarsWeeps Fleet Captain Premium Member

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  11. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ...and Kirk was correct in his actions during the entire situation. This is not the Horta protecting her offspring. This is a creature that made a conscious choice to ignore any of Crater's concerns by luring Darnell away so she could feed on him (always fatal), killing Green, taking his identity, then beaming up to the 1701 to continue its killing spree. It did not wait (or want to) for Crater to receive a new salt shipment. There's no negotiating with a purely predatory creature of that kind, much like the Deneva parasites would not be talked out of their galaxy-wide campaign of infestation/control. Any attempt to "Picard" their way out of those situations would have guaranteed more death than they could imagine.
     
  12. MarsWeeps

    MarsWeeps Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    Been hungry much? It's not like the creature had a "tough" choice to make..."Should I eat Italian tonight or go grab a burger instead? Decisions....decisions..."

    The creature was simply trying to survive using its natural abilities. Yes, Crater should have been up front with Kirk from the beginning but there wouldn't have been much of an episode if he did that.
     
  13. GNDN18

    GNDN18 Turbulent! Turgid! Tempestuous! Premium Member

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    Kirk and Spock refused to negotiate, dismissed the possibility out of hand. This despite McCoy (or who they thought was McCoy), arguing for the creature and Crater explaining his understanding of the Last of Its Kind.

    Clearly the creature is not completely predatory: it cohabited with Crater for more than a year. Can we infer that the creature is malevolent, greedy, and psychopathic? Of course, but none of the characters connect any of those dots.

    That's why I say Kirk's motivation was undercooked. I'm loath to re-write an episode, but this Kirk is hell-bent for blood without any stated justification. That briefing room scene was the classic military response to bleeding-heart scientists typical of 1950s BEM movies.

    Or, as The Firm has it, "We come in peace—shoot to kill! Shoot to kill!"
     
  14. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ...only as long as it was supplied salt. This creature was not benevolent.

    Sure they do--the second they realized it was constantly shapeshifting to seek new victims. It was not trying to be friendly, but had some bad habit. It was hunting, and would do anything to continue feeding on the innocent, or even Crater--a person it (supposedly) "loved".
     
  15. GNDN18

    GNDN18 Turbulent! Turgid! Tempestuous! Premium Member

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    Crater's murder makes no sense. None of this episode makes any sense. If the creature's character has been developed, or if the confrontation over the truth serum has been shown, maybe. If only… if only.

    This was George Clayton Johnson's only contribution to Star Trek. Ultimately, it's a miserable rehash of his superior Twilight Zone ep "The Four of Us Are Dying" and the crew was shoehorned into it.
    [​IMG]
    It was a trite monster show that wasted an intriguing first act by following it with two acts that did nothing to advance the plot, and ending it with a pointless, extrajudicial lynching. (Phasers have a stun setting, right?)

    McCoy's lost love could have been interesting but it was never developed; the serial-killer salt vampire angle might have worked, too, if we ever heard what it was thinking; Kirk's regret in the denouement suggested a real moral conflict that came out of nowhere.

    Any resemblance between the characters in this episode and the characters in Star Trek was purely coincidental.
     
  16. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    The creature killed Crater because he admitted he could identify it no matter what form it appeared in, and Kirk called for truth serum. Crater became a danger to it.

    The script is a mess regarding the creature's abilities, the creature itself inMcCoy guise says, "...it's simply trying to survive by using its natural ability to take other forms." But that isn't what happens at the start of the show where it appears in 3 different guises simultaneously.
     
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  17. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, that implies a psychic ability.
     
  18. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    After years of subsisting on Crater's salt tablets, maybe the creature was sick of those and couldn't resist all the biological salts that were suddenly available from the Enterprise crew.

    Imagine having an endless supply of protein pills that you live off of, but then coming across a shipment of steak.

    Kor
     
  19. KirkusOveractus

    KirkusOveractus Commodore Commodore

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    This. Add to the fact (as mentioned above) that it assumed several forms at the beginning of the episode meant that it was trying to attract one or all of them to prey on them. It wasn't trying to be understood or have a dialogue with; it was preying on the landing party to drain them of their salt.
     
  20. UnknownSample

    UnknownSample Commodore Commodore

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    For decades, this one troubled me somewhat, and I guess up to a point, I agreed with criticism here. Now, though, my appreciation of ALL the TOS episodes I once had trouble with is growing fast. I now realize it's usually the safest thing to err on the side of assuming the makers of Trek knew what the hell they were doing.
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    Even if we might have problems with Kirk's harsh speech to Crater in the briefing room, that definitely indicates NO lapse in Trek's point of view and principles, for one thing, because Kirk's side is not the only one we see. A thinking viewer is presented with countless interesting points of view to consider from different characters, not just Kirk. Crater gets to make his argument. How many makers of SF on film before this got us thinking about this kind of situation in so many different ways?
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    TREK GOD 1 made my case for me about how and why the crew had to take action. The being was a predator. That old scorpion fable or story, used on many TV shows in the 90s but we all know it from Voyager, applies: Yes, it reasons, communicates, it has a right to try to survive... its NATURE showed through almost immediately. You can make deals with it, you can forgive it, but sooner or later, its nature as a predator will come out. It started hunting as soon as there were expendable humans on the planet, even with salt tablets available.
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    One can and should consider bending over backwards to accept the creature, and I think they did, even though they didn't deliver onscreen soliloquys to that effect. They consider it, and quickly and wisely reject it, under the circumstances. Crater's defence of it is suspicious, considering it killed his wife. There's something off here. Something more than mercy for a sentient being. Kirk delves a bit into what was "off" about the whole thing, why Crater's defence of it means so little, and is really about a rather twisted situation.
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    In TOS, much of the ideas presented are not explained simply and clearly onscreen. This is not like current TV entertainment, it's more like novels which bring in ideas to think about, but subtly so you find yourself doing the thinking, rather than having all the ideas spelled out in dialogue. A very big part of the mystery that hangs over this episode is, what happened to this civilization? Why are they all dead? Why is the plant and animal life gone, too?
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    Outer Limits had an episode, called "Wolf 359" actually, I believe, about what was brought back from that solar system, a form of life kept in a glass case, the only form of life found there. It turned out that it could not co-exist with and within that alien ecosystem... it was the ultimate predator, in that it needed to prey on every form of life, and had to turn on each other when all other life had been consumed. The salt vampire is the same idea. The planet itself is the best argument against mercy.
     
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