Rob Watches Star Trek: Captain Spock

***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
Trekkie-in-Training

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.

For more “Rob Watches Star Trek,” check out the archive.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches Star Trek: The Racism Episode

***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
EPISODES:
S3:E15 “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols
GUEST-STARRING: Frank Gorshin, Lou Antonio
WRITER: Oliver Crawford, based on a story by Lee Cronin
DIRECTOR: Jud Taylor
ORIGINAL AIR DATES: January 10, 1969
SYNOPSIS: Captain Kirk and the Enterprise are caught in the middle of a racially charged conflict between a planet’s government and a race subservient beings.

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

We weren’t supposed to get to this episode for several more months. But in light of recent events it seems rather apropos.

My understanding is this is generally regarded as the “racism episode” of the original Star Trek series. Obviously it’s a little heavy-handed, as you might guess from the half-black and half-white look of the aliens. Nonetheless its message is noble. In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the subsequent racially charged protests, it’s one we need now more than we have in a long time.

“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” introduces is to Lokai of the planet Cheron, the leader of a planetary rebellion seeking to liberate his race of over 100,000 beings. Soon, the Enterprise is joined by Commissioner Bele (pronounced like “real”), who refers to Lokai as a political prisoner.

Instead of summarizing the events of the episode, I’ll refer you to dialogue in a specific scene that perfectly encapsulates the conflict.

The following takes place while Captain Kirk and Bele are all in sick bay checking on the condition of Lokai. Bele wants to take Lokai back to Cheron, as he’s considered a political prisoner. Naturally, Lokai wants nothing to do with him…

Lokai: “He raided our homes, tore us from our families, herded us together like cattle,  and then sold us as slaves!
Bele: “They were savages, Captain. We took them into our hearts,  our homes, we educated them.”
L: “Yes. Just education enough to serve the master race!”
B: “You were the product of our love. And you repaid us with murder.”
L:
“Why should a slave show mercy to the enslaver?”
B:
“Slaves? That was changed thousands of years ago. You were freed.”
L:
“Freed? Were we free to be men? Free to be husbands and fathers? Free to live our lives in equality and dignity?”
B: “Yes you were free. If you knew how to use your freedom. You were free enough to slaughter and to burn all the things that had been built!”
L: [To Kirk] “I tried to break the chains of a hundred million people. My only crime is that I failed. …”
B: There is an order in things. He asks for utopia in a day. It can’t be done.
L: “… To you we are a loathsome breed who will never be ready. Genocide for my people is the plan for your utopia!”
B: “You insane, filthy little plotter of ruin! You vicious subverter of every decent thought. …”

Later, Spock asks Bele about the nature of the conflict. He responds with, “It is obvious to the most simple-minded that Lokai is of an inferior breed. … Are you blind, Commander Spock? … I am black on the right side. Lokai is white on the right side. All of his people are white on the right side.”

In a truly wonderful moment of television, Kirk and Spock tell Bele they see no significant difference between the two “breeds.”

MEANWHILE, IN JANUARY 1969: Richard Nixon is sworn in as the 37th President of the United States on January 20.

Near the end of the episode, the Enterprise discovers the entire population of Cheron has been wiped out from war. Lokai and Bele, now the last of their kind, beam themselves back down to the planet to continue waging war on one another. Their hate is all they have left.

While admittedly hokey-looking and filled with expository dialogue, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” is a picture-perfect example of how you can still make great television on a slim budget. They didn’t need fancy alien costumes or elaborate special effects to make this work. All they needed was some simple face paint and two gray bodysuits.

In hindsight, I wonder what happened when Lokai and his people started to rise up. How much did it look like what we’re seeing on the news right now? Were there riots? Looting? Were there any who looked like Bele that stood by the rebels?

To think, until a week or so ago I only knew this episode as “the one with Frank Gorshin.” Gorshin, of course, played the Riddler on the 1960s Batman show.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.