The Great Star Trek Rewatch: By Any Other Name

When the Enterprise responds to a distress signal from a crashed ship, Kirk and his landing party swiftly discover that they have fallen into a trap set by the Kelvans, a race of alien conquerors from the Andromeda Galaxy. With their advanced powers, the Kelvans are swiftly able to take over the Enterprise and set it on course for the Andromeda Galaxy, a journey that will take generations. As the only four people left on board, can Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty figure out a way to outwit these aliens before it’s too late to turn back?

For some reason, I’ve always felt quite nostalgic about this episode, even though there isn’t actually that much to differentiate it in quality from many other Star Trek episodes. Once again, powerful aliens show up and act like arseholes to the Enterprise crew, turning most of them into small polyhedra with the texture and robustness of oasis floral foam and then setting course for their home galaxy. In order to operate the ship, however, the Kelvans have had to abandon their original many-tentacled forms (phwoar) and adopt human bodies, which of course come with all those pesky human sensations and emotions.

Human emotions – most illogical, Captain

  • Kirk’s contribution to using the Kelvans’ newfound emotion against them is of course to start making out with the blonde female of the group, not only introducing her to the ways of romance, but making the Kelvan leader Rojan jealous in the process.
  • Scotty, as a stereotypical Scotsman, drinks another of the Kelvans under the table, even breaking out a bottle of Scotch he was saving for a special occasion. Given how much they drink, I hope McCoy was on hand with a stomach pump before they both died of alcohol poisoning.
  • McCoy uses his medical knowledge to convince a Kelvan that he needs regular vitamin shots, and starts administering a drug that makes the Kelvan agitated and jumpy.
  • When not playing 3D chess with the Kelvans, Spock uses his deadpan delivery to fan Rojan’s jealousy. And he pretends not to understand human emotion.
  • A fifth Kelvan gets to stay on the bridge and not do very much.

Magical alien powers!

  • Spock’s amazing telepathic abilities are tested out once again, as he tries to mentally influence one of the Kelvans from afar – an ability that conveniently shows up in several episodes, despite the fact that Vulcans usually need physical contact to connect with someone’s mind. He fails, but does manage to glean information about the Kelvans’ original form, and how they sacrificed emotion and sensation in favour of advanced intellect.
  • Another Vulcan skill seen here is the ability to go into a deep, meditative trance (similar but not identical to the healing trance of a few episodes ago). Apparently this is how the Vulcans like to chill out, and they prefer it to vacation time – although Spock of course didn’t mention this in Shore Leave.
  • As for the Kelvans, they have even more amazing powers at their disposal. As well as being able to take on human form at will, they also have special devices that can be used to either paralyse a humanoid, or turn them into a small polyhedron that apparently contains all the information required to reconstitute that person later (provided the polyhedron is not damaged). Maybe it’s their equivalent of a tar file, used for humans instead of binary data.
  • It’s worth noting that, whilst everyone else is able to pull off staying perfectly still under the effects of the paralysis field, Shatner’s eyes are blatantly moving when he is first paralysed. Way to go, Bill.
  • The Kelvans have voyaged all the way to our galaxy from Andromeda because apparently rising levels of radiation will make the Andromeda Galaxy uninhabitable within the next few thousands year. Really? Radiation pervading that entire galaxy? Where is it coming from? What is it?

Summary – By Any Other Name: Fondly remembered, but in actuality just a run-of-the-mill second season episode.

One thought on “The Great Star Trek Rewatch: By Any Other Name

  1. Actually one of my favorites as an ep where Kirk is repeatedly on his heels. Love that he chooses not to blow up the ship – and glad that works out for the galaxy. Am enjoying all these episodic walks down memory lane!

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