The Great Star Trek Rewatch: Wolf in the Fold

When Kirk and McCoy take Scotty down to a peaceful, hedonistic planet for some therapeutic shore leave, the last thing they expected was that he would be implicated in a series of brutal murders. Is it all an unhappy coincidence, or has a recent blow to the head actually turned Scotty into a killer?

When I first watched this episode way back in the mid 90s, I seem to recall quite enjoying it, so I was surprised to find that, on rewatching, it really hasn’t stood the test of time. What starts out as a sci-fi take on “sailors go ashore for pleasure, get implicated in the murders of women” gets, by turns, ever more silly, ridiculous, and even somewhat distasteful – did you know that Jack the Ripper was actually an energy life form who feeds on fear?

Things that irked me about this episode

  • Apparently, Scotty’s blow to the head was caused by a woman, so the net effect could have been that he would subsequently hate all women, because, you know, bitches. The cure for this is apparently to get him shacked up with some dancing girls.
  • The previously unmentioned (and never to be seen again, if I recall correctly) psychotricorder is unveiled in this episode – a convenient device for recording someone’s brainwaves and figuring out their guilt or innocence during questioning. When the psychotricorder operator is killed, presumably knowledge of how to use it is lost forever.
  • As if that wasn’t enough, the Enterprise also has its own infallible lie detector aboard ship. Since we already know in this day and age that such things are far from infallible, maybe Kirk was just lying to the planetary authorities about their effiicacy in the hopes of exonerating Scott.
  • Spock theorises that the energy being targeted women during its many killing sprees because they are more prone to feeling terror. Thanks a bunch, Spock – I don’t think the line is quite that clear cut.
  • The energy being is somehow able to take control of the Enterprise computer, but is thwarted when Spock commands the computer to compute every single digit of pi. It’s not out of place for Star Trek to use a plot device like this, but on top of all the silliness and the computer shouting “I’ll kill you all!”, it was a bit much.
  • Once the energy being takes over the Enterprise, almost everyone on board is given a shot of some kind of happy pill to stop them feeling the terror that the being feeds on. So basically pretty much the entire crew is high for the last part of the episode.
  • Kirk destroys the creature by putting it through a transporter beam on wide dispersal, thus spreading out the molecules of its host across a wide area of space. What’s to stop the energy part of it coalescing again? Why is this wide dispersal technique not used more often to get rid of all the awkward things that come aboard?

Summary – Wolf in the Fold: Surprisingly poor. “I’ll kill you all!”

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