The Great Star Trek Rewatch: That Which Survives

When the Enterprise encounters an implausibly young Earthlike planet, Kirk is quick to lead a landing party down to the surface. But as soon as they materialise on the surface, the Enterprise is flung almost a hundred light years away. Whilst the Enterprise attempts to effect repairs and return to the planet, on the surface, Kirk and the others must contend with a mysterious woman who appears able to kill with a touch.

This was another episode I barely remembered before the rewatch, and, even when I started watching it, I couldn’t recall how it ended – probably because everything is wrapped up in the last few minutes when a redshirt phasers a computer. The idea of having to defend against something that can kill with a mere touch has the potential to make for a tense, creepy, story, but as with the last few episodes, it’s just a bit too slow-paced to really ramp up the atmosphere. Even Scotty having to perform a dangerous procedure on the engines isn’t enough – after all, we know that the Enterprise isn’t going to blow up, and Scotty’s never going to end up seriously injured.

That Which Entertains

  • It’s good that Sulu gets to go on an away mission for the first time in ages, even though he doesn’t get to do much or be very competent – in fact, Kirk spends most of his time being the know-it-all and slapping Sulu down.
  • The planet in question turns out to be an outpost built by the Kalandans, an alien race who sent an advance party to go to the outpost, with the main populace arriving later. Unfortunately, the advance party all died of a disease, and reinforcements never arrived, leaving only an automated defence system designed to warn others away.
  • The main feature of the defence system is the ability to create replicas of deceased Commander Losira, each keyed to the genetic code of one victim, and able to disrupt all their cells with a single touch. Somehow, Sulu gets through having his shoulder disrupted with no long-term effects – that’s just how good a doctor McCoy is. As defence systems go, however, it seems a little slow, cryptic and less effective than just broadcasting a message explaining exactly what happened.
  • For the first time since Number One, we get a woman at the helm of the Enterprise.
  • The Enterprise is able to travel at Warp 11.5 without immediately ripping apart.
  • Spock spends most of the episode being a complete jerk towards Scotty and the crew – he continually criticises them for their human reactions to events, and even refuses to calculate their odds of success, something he was perfectly content to do before. Perhaps his worry over Kirk’s welfare was affecting him more than he would ever admit.
  • Kirk says that the Kalandans must all have contracted the disease and died out before the main party reached the outpost, but what if they’re still en route?

Summary – That Which Survives: Commander Losira clearly sourced her wardrobe from the set of I Dream of Jeannie.

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