Worst command decisions by Captain James T. Kirk

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Gary7, Jun 20, 2017.

  1. JRTStarlight

    JRTStarlight Captain Captain

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    Stellar flares rarely go directly toward a particular planet even when they occur, which isn't that often, and the normal nasty effect takes days to get there (unlike the light which only takes minutes). In 3.5 hours, it won't make a difference, so flares are the least of their worries.

    3.5 hours is a narrow window - not as bad as checking out the natives in The Paradise Syndrome when they had to deflect that moon-sized asteroid - but even there he may have needed to confirm the natives were too primitive to notice their space shenanigans lest they violate the prime directive. In All Our Yesterdays, it might be highly useful to know what could make a whole population disappear. It could happen to you, too, if it's another unknown danger sneaking around the galaxy, so best to find out if you can. You have 3+ hours. For a quick look, that's not so bad. And he wasn't risking the ship - just 3 guys. Risk IS their business.

    I'm more amazed that Kirk and the Enterprise is always showing up in these incredibly tight situations in the nick of time, right at that moment of crisis, and after crossing light years of space, it's always so improbable.

    At least there, they went to see the nova, probably, and when they noticed the population was gone - well - that's a hell of a thing. We got 3+ hours and a safety margin. Let's go see.

    YMMV, of course, but of all the things Kirk has done, this one didn't rank too high on my WTF was he thinking moments.
     
  2. Maurice

    Maurice Admiral Premium Member

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    A planet gets hit by the electromagnetic portion in the same amount of time the light takes to reach the planet. The Enterprise clearly has FTL sensors, so they'd have some warning, even if not much. But that's just the radiation, and supermova shockwaves have been clocked at only a bit over 4% of light speed (about 8K miles per second), so at a distance from the Sun to the Earth, from the moment you got zapped by the radiation to the point where your planet gets blown apart is on the order of a little over 3 hours. Still, a foolishly small safety margin, especially given how often Kirk gets bonked on the head or something fucks with the transporters.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
  3. JRTStarlight

    JRTStarlight Captain Captain

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    Ya gotta remember, 99.99% of the time, Kirk doesn't get bonked on the head and the transporters work just fine.

    Yeah, their FTL communications and information exchange is a bit of a mystery. But the dangerous stuff from a nova (I don't think this one was a super nova but just a nova) is much slower than the light signals or other EM waves, so warp 1 ought to do it. Of course, there is probably subspace stuff coming off most everything that they use to detect stuff light years away and see it, etc., but in this case, I don't think anything too dangerous will be coming out at FTL speeds, so I think 3 hours to look around a place sensors say has no sapient life to threaten you, and the fact the ship and its systems are working just fine, doesn't seem too big a stretch.
     
  4. Gary7

    Gary7 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In the episode "Dagger of the Mind," Kirk decides to stay "overnight" at the Tantalus facility with Dr. Noel.

    I really could not see any good cause for him to do so. What tangible, plausible reason could there be? Adams showed himself to be perfectly normal and gracious. From all that transpired up to that point, he didn't give Kirk any cause for suspicion. The issues with Dr. Van Gelder checked out with McCoy.

    On top of that, he decides to undertake first hand exposure to the Neural Neutralizer device, at the hands of Dr. Noel, who never had any experience with this device. Stupid. Why? Well, if Dr. Van Gelder was abused with this device, one would have to intentionally do it. So was he going to take a chance at risking his own sanity to see how far the device could be pushed?

    Just a critical note on the episode... Dr. Adams must've been a functional lunatic. Did he really think he could kidnap Captain Kirk? Or perhaps brainwash him to do his bidding at remote distances? What's weird is that it was all predicated on Kirk a) deciding to stay overnight, and b) voluntarily (and without permission) taking the risk of experimenting with the Neural Neutralizer. What if Kirk and Noel decided to stay for just one day? Or... what if Kirk didn't bother to take any chance on experimenting with the device?

    Lastly, the sort of "icing on the cake" for how weird this episode was... Kirk gives the "take us out of here, warp factor 1" command to Mr. Spock, not the helmsman. I don't think he ever does this again in other episodes. At least this episode did give us some decent entertainment with Morgan Woodward and Marianna Hill.
     
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  5. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

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    There were heaps of episodes when Kirk couldn't beam up when he wanted and when he was captured or had some other reason he was trapped on the surface of some planet he did not want to be - Mirror Mirror, Bread and Circuses, The Omega Glory, Doomsday Machine, Mark of Gideon, Miri, Shore Leave, Squire of Gothos, etc - in fact probably every second episode.


    Kirk stayed overnight because for once he was paying attention to McCoys gut feel. Unlike ManTrap or Enemy Within.

    But I don't understand Dr Adam's motivations either. He'd already covered up Van Gelder's "accident".
    He just need to be cool. Kirk didn't have anything on him.
    Say goodbye to Kirk and keep on with his wacky experiments.
    Adams didn't seem to be motivated by galaxy domination. Maybe he panicked.
     
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  6. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    How could Tris justify the mind machine to Kirk and the federation after having said it was not entirely successful? Of course he had to adapt Kirk and Helen to his way of thinking unless he wanted to spend the next thirty years in another penal colony!
    JB
     
  7. Gary7

    Gary7 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    He was lying to Kirk about the machine. They were still actively using it. The only way I can kind of rationalize what Dr. Adams did is that the man had a partial "screw loose." Meaning a functional neurotic, where his behavior would be mostly normal but then the neurotic reasoning would kick in under the right circumstances. Dr. Adams didn't intend to do anything to Captain Kirk. But once he was in that chair... he just couldn't resist. I don't think he had any "end game" in mind, with no consideration to how the suspicious entrapment of Captain Kirk would look to his XO and bridge crew. Maybe he just worked off of free-association problem solving, and trusting that he'd figure out some kind of explanation. The neutral neutralizer would do things to you leaving you unaware. Remember how Kirk was completely oblivious to everything Dr. Noel suggested to him while under the influence of the machine. I expect Dr. Adams would introduce excuses to Captain Kirk's subconscious to keep him there. Who knows, maybe even have Spock continue on to the next assignment and come back to pick him up later.
     
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  8. Spock's Barber

    Spock's Barber Commodore Commodore

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    I wish that the script/episode would have given some reason for Dr. Adam's shenanigans. Power mad or just plain koo-koo?
     
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  9. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Maybe he too had fallen under the influence of the neural neutralizer himself at some point? That or in another life he thought that he was a militaristic Gorilla on a future earth? :guffaw:
    JB
     
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  10. Spock's Barber

    Spock's Barber Commodore Commodore

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    "Invade! Invade! Invade!"
     
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  11. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It was actually Adams' assistant who was behind the shenanigans all along...

    Good thing Kirk and everyone else never found the warehouse full of neural neutralizers.

    Why do you think Picard et al. are so enlightened 80 years hence?
     
  12. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Are you blaming old Eli? :crazy:
    JB
     
  13. Spock's Barber

    Spock's Barber Commodore Commodore

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    That was one of my favorite lines from Beneath the Planet of the Apes, when General Ursus tries to justify the gorilla excursion into the Forbidden Zone. I also like it when he says, "I'm just a simple military man, and as a military man I see things simply."
     
  14. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Or Dr.Zaius's comments about how someone or something has outwitted the intelligence of the Gorillas?
    JB
     
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  15. Spock's Barber

    Spock's Barber Commodore Commodore

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  16. JRTStarlight

    JRTStarlight Captain Captain

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    I didn't say 99.99% of the episodes; I said 99.99% of the time. The transporter turns out to be quicker, safer, cheaper, and more reliable than a shuttlecraft, it would seem.

    I think he couldn't be sure what Kirk would do. Maybe another "accident" would be easier to explain away than allowing the dogged investigation of Kirk to go on. But I'm pretty sure he was mad (perhaps from having experimented on himself) and only short term goals were important to him then.
     
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  17. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I said out, dammit!
    That always bugs me too. Although, isn't it naval tradition for the captain to give an order to his XO and have the XO pass the order on to the pertinent crewperson? But even so, it IS weird, 'cause We've always seen Kirk speak directly to the helmsperson without going thru Spock.
     
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  18. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Unlike on Star Trek, real navy COs and XOs don't hang around on the bridge all the time, and even less frequently both at the same time. So usually the conn is with another officer, the officer of the deck, which is a duty that rotates for different watches. If the captain is on the bridge, he/she doesn't actually have the conn, though he/she could take it at any time by announcing "I have the conn," but that's usually reserved for action, emergencies or special maneuvering situations. Normally the CO will tell the OOD what they want, and then the OOD will give the necessary orders.

    On Star Trek shows they make it look like the captain's main job is being in charge of bridge watches, which is far from how it is in real life. Also they make it seem like standing watch is everyone's only job, but in a real navy standing watch is extra duty besides ones regular job.
     
  19. Gary7

    Gary7 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just re-watched "Space Seed" and coming back to it with fresh criticism. ;)

    Khan Noonien Singh. As soon as Kirk encountered Khan for the first time, he should have realized there was something to be suspicious of. Wouldn't McCoy have reported to him Khan's holding a knife to his throat straight off? McGivers was not believable. It's one thing to be enamored with a legendary alpha-male from the past, but to betray Starfleet and let him take over the ship? In any case, her plotting to help Khan out should've been detected. Her unauthorized use of the transporter going undetected is a major hole in the story line... As the bridge crew would know right away if the transporter was being used when not scheduled. They could have included a scheduled technician visit for examining the ship and Khan would have usurped that trip. Plus, with the ship in sensor range, Spock should have detected the change in life signs as Khan revived his people.

    @BillJ also makes a good point about the technical manuals. I think it would've been very prudent for Spock to lock out access to any manuals that would've given Khan any operational knowledge of the ship. He could just learn theoretical concepts, but nothing he could apply to learning the operation of the ship or any devices like a phaser.

    Towards the end of the episode, if Khan was so brilliant, he wouldn't have destroyed the phaser he swiped from Kirk. He'd have held Kirk hostage and gotten back in control. Instead he behaved like a brawny barbarian and decided to try beating Kirk senseless.

    As for the ending... I guess it was OK for Kirk to maroon Khan and his people on an uninhabited planet. But I'd bet anything that since Khan had committed a severe crime, he would have to be brought to trial by the Starfleet legal system on a starbase. For Kirk to hold his own little court and render his own judgement, without authorization from Starfleet... seems out of character for Kirk. Even McCoy tried to correct him. Spock remained silent. If anything, they definitely shouldn't have let McGivers go with Khan, and applied proper justice to her.

    Sadly, Kirk really screwed up on this one. I think they could have written the screenplay differently so that Khan's deviousness would have come from a more clever planning outside of normal ship policies and precautions.
     
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  20. JRTStarlight

    JRTStarlight Captain Captain

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    It might be Khan's access to the tech manuals and his cleverness allowed him to find a way to bypass any alerts for transporter use. Or McGivers knew a work around for that, having thoroughly succumbed to his animal magnetism, something she found sadly lacking in modern men.

    I doubt they were monitoring the life pods 24/7. What for?

    I suspect most information it takes to run the ship or use its devices would be low security stuff. You don't really want several layers of encryption or passwords on devices that you need to use in a split second to save the ship. People on board are supposed to know how to act, so the best security is keeping them away from high security areas. With McGivers's help, an officer with clearance, she could probably help him bypass a lot of that stuff - absolutely convinced he wasn't really going to hurt any one. Yeah, she was an idiot.

    Khan was brilliant, but he was also arrogant and felt he could beat an inferior human with his bare hands and his sheer intellect. To resort to the phaser when he already had 5 times his strength and greater intelligence might suggest otherwise, but he wanted to prove to Kirk he was superior. After all, that's what justifies him taking the ship and ruling a planet or whatever in the first place.

    And what would that liberal court do to him? Lock him up for life? Being stranded on a planet essentially does the same thing, and without resources and enough tech to leave the planet, Kirk takes care of 70+ potential super human problems at the same time, as well as his badly behaving crewman. Locking her up for life in a cushy cell would have been nice compared to scratching out a living on a raw planet with few resources. That was the harsher judgment, so what more do you expect from justice? Did you want to see the death penalty imposed? It's not like she went to Talso IV.

    It all made a great deal of sense to me in that context. It was only when some freak accident on a planetary scale changed that verdict that it looks like a bad decision, IMO, and Kirk could hardly be blamed for that. My guess is, considering what the augments did in ENT, locking 70+ of them up would have resulted in them quickly escaping, killing lots of people to do that, and killing more after to stay free, and maybe even worse than Khan did since a penal colony might be a better starting point than deep space. And they could have gone in 70+ different directions from there. Putting all those bad eggs in one tech-free basket, as well as forcing them to start up a hard to build and start colony that could be taken over/adopted later for Federation use in a generation or two, was actually quite brilliant, IMO, as well as merciful.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017
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