Friday, August 4, 2017

Good Trek/Bad Trek #31: Amok Time (and Also Some Other Stuff)

Intro: I’ve loved Star Trek since I was a kid. I started by watching TNG in 6th grade. I’ve been a fan since then and though I’ve spent a lot of time watching Star Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one who’s never seen any of them. So I’m watching all the TOS episodes for the first time and saying whether or not they suck. At the end, I give examples of better Star Trek to watch that remind me of this episode. That’s it.

It’s kind of silly to talk about politics like I have any kind of authority as an intro to an episode of Star Trek. Particularly since this week’s episode of Trek is about Spock going in heat. But Trump has been president for a while now. I think most of us can agree that it’s not going all that well. Still, about a third of folks are pretty pumped. Not just a little, but ecstatic. They can’t get enough of this shit. It’s weird. I remember in 2012 I was living in Washington Heights. On election night I was riding my bike home and a good portion of that ride was through Harlem. I can’t even imagine what it was like in 2008 because it was bonkers in 2012. Even though this was the second time was the second time people were really pumped. Makes sense. Obama was a long time coming. I’m not saying black Americans were the only people who should've been excited about Obama. I voted for him I liked him. But to them, it was something bigger. I was reminded of the way my grandma talks about JFK. It was the first time she got to see a Catholic president. She was very excited to see a woman president, but you know what happened there. She told me before the election that she didn’t understand these young women who weren’t voting for Hillary. “Some of us can’t wait around for a woman we like better.” Identity politics gets a bad rap. Sometimes for good reason. But I’m sure seeing yourself in the highest echelons of power means a lot. It has to do something to see someone you associate with achieve the highest office in the land. Someone you see yourself in is the person in the White House. 

That’s how dumb people seem to view Trump. I’m not saying only dumb dumbs voted for the guy. There are conservatives I have profound disagreements with that I can very much see their side. People are going to have ideological differences no matter who the president is. That’s fine. I’ve met some articulate conservatives that I’ve respected. But the only people I’ve spoken to who are really excited about how this is going are profoundly dumb people. Dumb dumbs woke up to a new America in November. One where they were finally in charge. For too long a bunch of poindexters had been pushing them around. Telling them that a coal mine probably wasn’t the basket for all their eggs. Telling them that global trade might be here to stay. Telling them that climate change was real. Telling them that Sean Hannity was an impotent chinless fuck. Telling them all kinds of facts that didn’t jive with their worldview. They’re here to tell you that they’re back and they’re letting you know in ALL CAPS. After election day they didn’t have to listen anymore. Because it’s morning in America. And this morning is really fucking dumb. 



This week’s episode of Trek was also pretty dumb. But unlike the current administration, I think it largely worked. 

Recap:

Spock is acting like a real jerk. Throwing food and temper tantrums. He’s being very unpleasant. Turns out he needs to go to Vulcan to mate. I’m simplifying because it takes them a long time to get to that point. They need to go on a mission. But they change course between their mission and Vulcan about a dozen times. Even Chekov and Sulu are making fun of the constant course changes. 

Spock is promised to a lady. But I guess if the lady chooses then she can not marry that person if her fiancé fights someone else? It doesn’t really make a whole hell of a lot of sense really. But that’s what happens. And instead of having Spock fight her paramour she has him fight Kirk. I don’t know why, but that’s what happens. You’d think that if Kirk wins she’d have to marry him. And Kirk doesn’t win. Spock strangles him to death. So then you’d think that Spock would get to marry her. But he doesn’t. he just leaves. And also Kirk is alive again because he was never really dead. He was just drugged. McCoy drugged him because he knew he was gonna lose anyhow. And now Kirk isn’t in trouble with Starfleet anymore because the lady performing the pon farr ceremony was a high up muckety muck.  

Good Trek?

I thought it was solid. Not amazing, but I’d put this in the good Trek camp. Mostly due to Leonard Nimoy’s performance which I thought was super solid. I get what they were trying to do with the whole pon farr. Yeah, it’s silly but I see what they’re trying to do and I’m giving them points for that. I know this seems like I’m grading on a curve a little bit, but whatever. I knew this was coming at some point. The issue of pon farr had been done in other episodes. I think they’ve built on the mythos a little better in the subsequent episodes. This one I think is the best at pointing out the inner turmoil someone going through it would be feeling. Spock is a dude who doesn’t really want to surrounder to his emotions. 
Also, Spock is emotionally abusive towards Nurse Chapel
I love to think that the whole thing is like stand in for the Navy. I guess I always just assumed that he was a Navy guy. I looked it up. He wasn’t. He was a pilot, which doesn’t really make sense. The whole of Starfleet has such a Navy feel to it. Anyhow, I couldn't help but giggling the whole time about Gene Roddenberry thinking of this idea while on a submarine full of dudes and just being really horny and this is how this whole piece of mythos became to be.

I do like how different the Vulcan mating rituals have evolved and how even Spock finds it ridiculous. I can go either way on that. Generally when a character finds a plot point silly then it’s the show’s way of trying to have their cake and eating it too. But I thought it worked here. 
She waits until Kirk agrees to bring this up. Not cool, T'Pau.

I know it’s a show. I know it’s a silly show. And I know it’s a silly episode of a silly show. But how funny is the whole concept of pon farr to begin with? I like how in the summer there’s probably a lot more pon farrs on a count of the weather. Maybe there are more ponn farrs after sports championships and whatnot. After Vulcans kill it in the interplanetary parisses squares finals. It's just a particularly silly concept when you think that this isn't just applying to Spock, but a whole planet of people. 
How a highly logical species approach marriage. 

Okay. Without getting too graphic here. Spock goes back to Vulcan because of the pon farr. He needs to mate. Needs to have sex sooooo bad that it could kill him. He goes. fights for a little bit. Wins. His fiancé chooses someone else and that’s it. Wouldn’t he still be sacked up to no end? It’s been eleven years. He's just supposed to wait another eleven years and hopefully find a mate? He still has to have some crazy urges. 

In an episode about Spock needing to mate
he's seen at his computer looking at a picture of a child. Yo, what the fuck, Trek
Why is Vulcan so baron? This is supposed to be a highly advanced people. They had faster than light travel well before the humans, yet from what I can see there are literally zero buildings. It’s a goddamn wasteland. It’s worse than every incarnation of krypton in the stupid Superman movies. The whole planet 
The Vulcan of having to have your shotgun pon farr at the VFW
Bad Trek?

Holy shit I didn't realize until half way through that this is very close to a god awful TNG episode. I love Denise Crosby. I think she’s a great actor. I love all the Treks where she did guest appearances. I really loved Trekkies. I haven’t seen Trekkies 2. Myavbbe I’ll get on that. Anyhow, Denise Crosby leaves TNG early in its run. I don't’ feel like looking it up now, but I had heard that she decided to leave because all her character’s episodes were garbage. After watching TNG's Code of Honor you can see why. This episode sucks. 
I liked this

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m not the wokest guy on earth. One of the dumbest things I’ve ever read was either Slate or Salon doing a twenty plus-year-old take down of the original Zelda for NES. I mean, come the fuck on. But Code of Honor is one of those things from your childhood that you look at now and just go "whoa, they used to let this on TV?" If someone were to ask me what the word problematic meant, I'd point to this episode of TNG because it’s a fucking disaster. I don’t know who, what, or why anyone would think this was a good idea. Tasha Yar is involved in a weird mating/fighting ritual. It’s bizarre and I don’t like it. This is one of those episodes where it’s so bad you’re like maybe I don’t like Star Trek after all. It’s very bad. All the aliens are black and are supposed to look like they’re part of an African tribe. They don't seem to have advanced technology communicate with people from other planets. It’s bizarre. There's absolutely no reason to watch this one unless you want to marvel at just how bad Trek can get. Because this is one of the worst ones out there. 
Yikes: The Next Generation


Bounty ENT. This is the first Enterprise episode I've offered and with good reason. It’s not a great show and really this isn't a great episode. It might as well be called ENT wants to appeal to younger male viewers. T’Pol is going through pon farr and is also almost naked and also needs to be slathered with gel. She tries to seduce Phlax because she's in the throes of pon farr. He won't take advantage of her in her state. There might be a lesson about consent culture in there. don't know. Don’t care. Listen. Jolene Blalock is an attractive woman. You want to watch her half naked, oiled up, and begging to be pon farred? then this is the episode for you. 

Blood Fever VOY I don’t think Tuvok gets enough credit for the fine work he did. This isn't necessarily a Tuvok episode, but it needs to be said. Tim Russ is great as Tuvok. But one of the other Vulcans starts going through his first pon farr. Tuvok tries to help him but to no avail. He chooses Torres as his mate, but she very much does not choose him back. Torres then ends up in heat. Even though she's not a Vulcan. The Vulcan wants Tom Paris to fight him for her, but Torres says fuck that shit. I'm a big Torres fan and this is one her better episodes. Kinda feel like Enterprise stole the whole woman in heat attacking male crew member who doesn't take advantage of her in her state " plot point. But what are you gonna do? It’s a good episode. Huge Roxann Dawson fan. She’s also an attractive lady. It's just that this episode has a lot more going for it than just that. It’s a real solid piece of Trek. So there you go.

That's it. We're into season two. Starting to enjoy doing this again. If you're not a dumb dumb and want to tell me why you love Trump drop me a line. If you want to prove my point by sending me an all caps message about how I'm a cuck do that too. 

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