***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***
SERIES: Star Trek
EPISODE: S1.E16. “The Galileo Seven”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan
GUEST-STARRING: Don Marshall, John Crawford
WRITERS: Oliver Crawford (Story & Teleplay), S. Bar-David (Teleplay)
DIRECTOR: Robert Gist
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: January 5, 1967
SYNOPSIS: Spock, Bones, and Scotty are among seven crew members who crash land on a planet populated by giants. Spock must decide if they all are able to make a return trip.
By Rob Siebert
I get the sense I’d have enjoyed “The Galileo Seven” more if I hadn’t backtracked and seen it after the season three episode, “The Tholian Web.” The latter is, to me, the definite episode about the dynamic between Spock and Bones. But if “The Tholian Web” didn’t exist, that distinction would likely belong to this episode.
This is, however, a pretty good character episode for Spock. It essentially shows us what he would be like as a captain, and he does a fine job at it. Is he more abrasive than Kirk? Absolutely. But by no means is he a bad leader.
The most important thing we learn about Spock in this episode is that living a life spearheaded by logic doesn’t mean living without compassion.
“The Galileo Seven” sees our heroes hopelessly marooned on a planet populated by giants. It’s nearly impossible for them to be found unless they can get their ship back in the air. What’s more, they’re working against the clock, as the Enterprise is scheduled to deliver crucial supplies to a space colony. Spock quickly surmises that having three men stay behind would lighten the load on the ship, thus increasing its chances of taking off. He, as the leader, would choose the individuals to stay behind. Naturally, this course of action is met with much resistance.
A short time later, one of the crewmen is killed by the natives. When Lieutenant Boma, a clearly emotional man and an obvious rival of Spock’s, wants to have a funeral for his lost comrade, Spock refuses to participate, nothing the time limit they’re under.
So Spock is pragmatic. Not a bad quality in a leader, per se. He’s willing to make hard choices, including ones that are vehemently unpopular. This initially makes it seem like his logical M.O. has left him numb to any potential cost of life. But when two of the remaining crewman are adamant that they strike back with deadly force, Spock responds with…
“I’m frequently appalled by the low regard you Earth men have for life. … To take life indiscriminately. … I’m not interested in the opinion of the majority, Mr. Gaetano. Components must be weighed – Our dangers to ourselves, as well as our duties to other life forms, friendly or not.”
So Spock does care about life. He doesn’t lack empathy. He lacks attachments that might cloud his logical judgment or create a conflict of interest. As we’ve indicated previously, Spock isn’t a robot. He’s a man devoted to his principles, which happen to fly in the face of how most humans life their lives.
While “The Galileo Seven” is clearly a Spock-focused episode, oddly enough, it was Kirk who stole the episode for me. As Spock and the others are lost, Kirk is under pressure from a Federation official to leave the system soon as possible. Kirk, however, insists on continuing to search for the others, saying they are “my friends and my shipmates.”
I love that. Kirk doesn’t simply categorize these people as crew members on his ship. Bones, Scotty, and even the ever-stoic Spock, are his friends. Seeing how invested Kirk is in them allows me to be invested as well.
And there you have it. Two very compassionate men. But that compassion is expressed in two very different ways.
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