When Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to Capella IV to secure mining rights for the rare mineral topaline, they are disconcerted to find that a Klingon operative is there to do the same. When the Klingon incites his Capellan contact to overthrow the Teer, the leader of the Capellan tribes, Kirk, Spock and McCoy must flee into the hills, taking the murdered Teer’s wife, who is heavily pregnant with his unborn heir.
So, on the face of it, this isn’t a bad episode. Kirk, Spock and McCoy go down to a planet and have to stay alive against overwhelming odds, but thanks to their Starfleet smarts, they manage to do so magnificently. On the other hand, for the eagle-eyed, there’s plenty to nitpick. We’ll look at both sides of the equation below.
Starfleet Training 101: How to Survive a Potentially Fatal Away Mission
- Don’t wear a red shirt. You already know this, of course, but this episode spells out the danger by having the away team’s sole red shirt killed before the opening credits have even rolled.
- You might think your smartphone is pretty awesome and a lot better than a 23rd century Starfleet communicator, but can your phone emit sonic waves and generate a landslide? Didn’t think so.
- Be prepared to do many diverse things out in the wilds, from fashioning a decent bow and arrow to delivering a baby. Although the latter seemed amazingly quick and easy, and the mother Eleen had even lost all the baby weight by the next scene. I guess, as a warrior race, Capellans have had to evolve such that their vulnerable time of pregnancy is as minimal as possible.
Notes and Nitpicks
- Although the Capellans are highly skilled in throwing bladed weapons, they have never invented the bow and arrow, so Spock claims they will caught by surprise. In fact, the Capellans seem relatively unfazed by this turn of events, especially as the bows and arrows seem to be used at much the same range as their own throwing weapons.
- And before we go any further about what the Capellans have and haven’t invented – whither Prime Directive? This is clearly a pre-warp culture, and yet Starfleet has waltzed right in and explained about the Federation, all to secure mining rights. Does the Prime Directive go out the window when material resources are in the picture? Now, of course we have gone down to pre-warp civilisations previously in this series, but usually there was a thinly-veiled excuse such as “well, they turned out to be advanced after all” (Organia) or “we didn’t really expect to run into anyone here because we’re not good at preparing and observing from orbit”.
- Which leads nicely to my next point. In this episode, the Enterprise is negotiating for topaline, apparently a mineral vital for life support systems. Some episodes ago, we were desperate for pergium, a mineral vital for life support systems. Damn these difficult to construct life support systems!
- Having said we wouldn’t see Sulu for a while, he’s in this episode, but that’s just because this DVD set has switched the episode order around in places.
- In this episode, when Uhura can’t get a signal, Scotty suggests using a booster. In the last episode, Kirk was basically standing over Uhura telling her how to do her job. I’m sure she knows how to work a communications console far better than either of you, guys!
- Scotty and the bridge crew were incredibly slow not to realise the distress call was a trap, especially when it was deduced so obviously from “they called for us by name”. Now, I would have understood if they’d acknowledged that it was probably a trap at the start, but still been obligated to check it out – the way the emergency services are obligated to respond to all calls, even ones they pretty much know are bogus.
- Klingons are still portrayed here as cowardly and deceitful rather than open and honourable, as they would later become. A modern Klingon would be far more at home on Capella IV than one of these proto-Klingons.
- Why was McCoy sent as a cultural representative to the Capellans before? He’s a doctor, not an ambassador!
Summary – Friday’s Child: “I think you’re both going to be insufferably pleased with yourselves for at least a month.”