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Monday, June 28, 2010
Retro TV Round-Up: Star Trek
"Wink of an Eye"
In high school, I had a good friend whose last name was Compton. He and I share an interest in both Star Trek and Doctor Who and he always told me this was one of his favorite episodes since he shared the last name with a red-shirt.

He and I both agreed that it was a shame that his red-shirt name-sake wasn't featured in a better episode.

It's not that "Wink of an Eye" is necessarily a bad episode, but coming off "Plato's Stepchildren" and "The Tholian Web" doesn't necessarily help things for it. The story not really having a solid resolution and internal continuity errors doesn't help things either.

Answer a distress call to the planet Scalos, Kirk and company beam down to find the planet devoid of life. There's a strange buzzing sound but Spock and McCoy can find no evidence of insect life. While examining the water from a fountain, red-shirt Compton tastes some on his fingers and vanishes. The landing party heads back to the ship to analyze things and suddenly the ship seems to be under attack. There's a strange new device in the life support engineering section that they can see but not touch. They also hear the strange buzzing sounds on the ship.

Back on the bridge, Kirk decides to let the invisible aggressors make the next move and drinks a cup of coffee. He doesn't know the coffee has been spiked with Scaolsian water and he's quickly hyper-accelerated. There he meets the queen of Scalos Deela and the five other Scolians from the distress call. They were all accelerated when a volcano erupted on the planet and there's no way back to normal speed. The Scalosians instead will lure a ship into orbit, speed up a few individuals and use them for breeding stock since said acceleration has rendered the men sterile. Of course, Deela has chosen Captain Kirk for this because, well, he's Captain Kirk. They've also decided that they'll deep freeze the crew of the Enterprise for future breeding purposes.

Kirk tries to fight them, but discovers that if you're just hyper-accelerated and suffer cell damage, you age quickly and die. This happens to Compton. Kirk sabotages the transporter to delay the plan and then seduces Deela in his quarters. He also leaves a message for Spock on a computer chip, telling him what's happen.

Spock and McCoy find a cure for the hyper-acceleration and Spock speeds himself up, helps Kirk destroy the cryogenic freezing device and repairs the ship. The Scolsians all leave the ship and Kirk says he'll make sure the Federation warns future ships not to come by and fall into the same trap. Kirk and Spock use the cure and all is well, once again.

Elsewhere on-line, I've read an interesting and valid criticism that one of the big problems with season three of classic Trek is that many of the episodes lack a third act or a resolution. That's the biggest problem here. Follow me here....Kirk and Spock have a cure that works for them, but at no point do they offer to try it on the Scolasians. Surely the Federation wouldn't just quarantine the world and leave them to their fate of dying off (though Kirk could have a son or daughter there for all we know). Couldn't we use the antidote to help them and then find a way to purify the water or move the five survivors to another world or part of a colony? Why do we have to leave them on their world like that? If it's the Prime Directive coming in, there's no mention of it.

Kirk just seems kind of miffed that he's been accelerated to be the king to Deela's queen. It's interesting to watch Kirk resist her advances at first, before eventually seducing her in his quarters. (And he does in one of those scenes that you can't believe they snuck past the censors of the day. Kirk is seen pulling on his boots while Deela brushes her hair....this comes after a scene that ended with she and Kirk in heavy liplock.) Of course, it all appears to be a ruse by Kirk to make Deela think he's come around to her way of thinking and, possibly to arose the jealousy of Rael, an engineer who loves Deela, but obviously can't help her with the ultimate goal of producing children.

That doesn't even get into the issue of the script has no clue how time is passing in each section of the story. Kirk and Deela are hyper-accelerated so while they run about doing things, only a few moments should pass for the crew in normal speed. But the script keeps forgetting this and it makes the whole internal continuity of the storyline a bit suspect.

And the story seems to dwell on certain aspects of the story while underdeveloping others. The feelings of Rael and Deela for each other are spelled out, but not much else is made of it. At least until Rael comes to Kirk's quarters for a bit of a jealous fight and an act out. It feels more like this is inserted to give a suspenseful act out than because it was actually necessary for the story. There's also the idea that Compton seems to be going along with things because he's been given the other female member of the Scalosian delegation. Interesting given that it's a happy coincidence that he is accelerated. Kirk, at least, was chosen for it.

Also, why put the ship into deep freeze but leave no one on board to run it. How do they plan to beam back up for more breeding stock once Kirk has outlived his usefulness or got a scratch of some kind?

The idea here is an intriguing one, but it's execution that lets the story down. And that's odd since the concept comes from Gene Coon, the great producer who helped oversee many of the best installments of Trek in seasons one and two. Again, I think the culprit is that the script clearly doesn't follow-through on any of the implications of things that occur here and doesn't have a satisfying resolution--or really much of one for that matter.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/28/2010 01:22:00 PM | |
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