Monday, December 9, 2019

There Are Always Alternatives: Star Trek, episode 13, ''The Galileo Seven''



En route to Marcus Makus III with a cargo of medical supplies.  Our course leads us past Murasaki 312, a quasar-like formation; vague, undefined ... priceless opportunity for scientific investigation.  Onboard is Galactic High Commissioner Farris Ferris, overseeing the delivery of the medicines to Makus III.
  

Kirk's opening log entry establishes the stakes against which the remainder of the episode is set.  I like stating the obvious, and I also like restating the obvious, so let me give that to you again: what's going on aboard the Enterprise this week is that they have been tasked with transporting an important dignitary to a planet named Makus III, where he must be in five days in order to administer the delivery of medical supplies to the New Paris colony, where a plague is underway.  While en route, the Enterprise encounters the quasar-like phenomenon Murasaki 312, a very shiny object which catches Kirk's eye.  He decides to invoke a standing order the ship has to investigate all quasar-like phenomena, which is fine because they are only three days away from Makus III.  They've got two whole days to spare.  What could possibly go wrong?


 
   
Spoiler alert for this blog post: I don't think this is a bad episode, but I do think it is in many ways a badly-conceived episode.  This begins right at the outset; nothing about this conflict-of-missions setup makes a lick of sense to me.  I'll admit that if I'm willing to turn a blind eye to that aspect, the episode works relatively well; and indeed, I've been viewing it that way for most of my life.  Ask me before today, I'd have told you, "Yeah, that's a very good episode!"  Ask me after today, I'm pulling out my bucket of asterisks and going to work.

Such is the life of a blogger, I guess.  But I can't deny it: the deeper-investigation aspect of this process has caused "The Galileo Seven" to more or less fall apart for me.  Because let's face it: if there's a deadly plague ravaging the New Paris colony on Makus III, why oh why would anyone think it was a good idea to schedule the delivery of much-needed medical supplies for five days from now given that the ship making the supply run is a mere three days away?  I'll confess that if one were determined to do so, one could invent a reason: the people on Makus III are deeply superstitious and will only do things in increments of fives, and death to all those who refuse to comply.  That's dumb; but you get me -- something like that, if not necessarily that.  Yes, one could invent such a reason; but at that point, you're just making shit up.  And if you're going to just make shit up, feel free; I've been known to do that very thing myself from time to time.  However, I insist that you not give the episode credit for your made-up bullshit; you grant me that, and I won't blame the episode for it, either.

Beyond that, I feel obliged to point out that quasars -- so Google informs me, at least -- have a lifespan of 100-1000 million years.  But James Kirk has absolutely got to check that fucker out right this very second.  He can't go drop off the medical supplies and then hotfoot it back to Murasaki 312, oh no sir, uh-uh; he's got to "follow orders" and investigate right then and there, putting who knows how many lives in jeopardy at New Paris.  Every now and then evidence bubbles to the surface that Kirk is rather a shite Captain; and here's a prime exhibit for the prosecution.  He ought to have been drummed out of (the still-unnamed-as-of-this-episode [soon, though!]) Starfleet for his actions in this episode.

What comes next is that he decides to park the Enterprise near Murasaki 312 for a couple of days, and to send a shuttlecraft full of perishable crewmen to investigate it in actual person.  Granted, it's still early days of Star Trek; many things have not been fully established as yet.  But regardless of that, the Enterprise is a big and powerful vessel; there is simply no way a shuttle containing one person for every day of the week is more qualified to conduct a short-term examination of a quasar-like phenomenon than is the Enterprise itself.  Note that it is a "quasar-like phenomenon," by the way, not an actual quasar.  So it's extra unpredictable.  But sure, send a clown car to check it out.  Smooth move, Jim.




Naturally, things go awry almost immediately when an ion disturbance shorts out sensors aboard the Enterprise and, more catastrophically, causes the Galileo to have to make an emergency landing on the closest M-type planet.  What happens then is we are treated to the unfortunate sight of this show's writers deciding that Spock has gotten to the level of First Officer without possessing much in the way of leadership ability.

(Sidebar: That problem is compounded by Spock's current involvement on Star Trek: Discovery, as well as the inevitable Pike-terprise series which CBS has still somehow managed not to greenlight.  The fuck are y'all waiting on?!?  Anyways, adhering to established Trek canon isn't their thing at CBS All Access, so we dare not think they will do anything like refrain from putting Spock in positions of command decision-making during the course of however long Ethan Peck plays him simply so that their show won't contradict "The Galileo Seven."  I kind of resent that.  But at the same time, this aspect of Spock's character makes zero sense in "The Galileo Seven," so that's arguably canon that ought to be de-canonized anyways.  It's a real pickle.  This is why you reboot rather than prequelize, CBS; this right here.)

This might be acceptable in some scenarios, but here, it's wrapped in the guise of a logic-versus-emotion debate.  Would this be a good time to mention that virtually the entirety of Star Trek (not just The Original Series, but all of it) bungles the notion of what logic is?  Frequently, it is presented as being the repression of emotion.  And that's not what logic is.  Look it up.  It isn't.

That being the case, what do we do with that information?  Fling our hands in the air and give up on Star Trek altogether?  I kind of get that impulse, but it's not a viable option for me, and even if it were, I wouldn't take it.  Fuck no!  I'd rather redefine "logic" than do that.

One option available to us is to simply not worry about it.  "Okay," we can say, "so the writers of Star Trek didn't have a firm grasp on what logic is."  We can shrug and move on.  Shall we?  I kind of think we have to.  I'll natter about it a bit more, but yeah, that's the direction we're heading, and I certainly won't promise to never bring it up again.  I'll bring it up again; count on it.  But we're accepting it the way you accept that your sister farts a lot; you just have to.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goGPJyrkSfw


I'll bend the concept.  Sure, why not?  I won't break it altogether, though.  This episode breaks it, repeatedly.  Spock behaves with shocking illogic throughout this episode; there's just enough logic mixed in there that I think it presents an illusion of logic, but what's happening here isn't logic.  This is something other than that.  He pays only lip-service to the concept.  His approach might be valid if it existed in a vacuum, such as what one supposes the Vulcan society must be like (i.e., one in which emotion might exist but in which it is always suppressed/repressed by logic and rationality, and in which all members of the society share the same approach).

However, as soon as a Vulcan (even a half-Vulcan like Spock) steps beyond their society, then surely they must realize that in order for logic to continue to function once they are among an emotional people, the emotions of those people must be taken into account.  In other words, if Spock was actually operating from a logical standpoint, then as soon as he took command of the Galileo and its human crew, he -- logically -- must realize that that crew would not respond well to a purely logical command.  Therefore, to command via pure logic would potentially become illogical if a highly emotional situation were to develop.  It is illogical for Spock not to recognize that Latimer's mates would be upset by his death, and illogical not to make allowances for their grief.

That said, it is logical for Spock to expect a base level of rationality from his crew; these are professionals, and Spock ought to safely be able to logically expect professionalism from them, even in a crisis.  So lest you think I'm blaming the problems of this episode entirely on Kirk and Spock, let me disabuse you of that notion.  Nope; there's plenty of blame to go around.  Boma, a (presumably) seasoned and well-trained scientist and Starfleet officer, apparently expect Spock to stop his active search for a solution to their dilemma.  And why?  In order to say a few words at Latimer's funeral.  Boma knows he's a Vulcan, right?  But he expects Spock to speak emotionally to people who need solace...?  This is not merely irrational, it's just plain stupid.




The interpersonal conflicts that "The Galileo Seven" presents are not of a sort that people in these positions would be likely to actually encounter; these are bogus situations that do not speak to an elevated form of humanity.  They do, however, arguably speak to a contemporary mindset, and perhaps give food for thought to modern-day humans.  I'm referring to the 1967 audience which made up the episode's initial viewership, and also to future generations of Trek consumers, perhaps even leading up to 2019's final month.  It's worth remembering that a show like Star Trek works at least partially as an allegory for the current day ("current" being relative).  I'm not unaware of that, and I suppose I can admit that the episode does work a little better with that in mind.

And anyways, it's by no means a complete washout of an episode.  I find the two premises at its core -- the mission which brought about the crashed shuttle, as well as the logic/emotion debate -- to be fundamentally flawed, and therefore I find the episode to be fundamentally flawed.  But does that mean it's worthless?  Laws, no!  Here are some of its virtues:

  • Spock kind of sucks in this episode.  Leonard Nimoy does not.  His skill is the only thing which holds Spock's storyline together, to whatever extent you feel it holds together at all.
  • McCoy kind of sucks in this episode.  DeForest Kelley does not.  He brings such conviction to his anti-rationality outbursts that he manages to be persuasive on occasion.
  • Scotty ... well, Scotty never sucks in this episode, actually.  Scotty is as professional as it gets, and James Doohan plays him well throughout.  The closest Scotty gets to joining the anti-Spock brigade is when the Vulcan tells him to consider the alternatives (this right after Scott has given Spock some bad news about being out of fuel).  "We have no fuel!" Scotty hollers.  "What alternatives?"  "Mr. Scott," Spock replies, "there are always alternatives."  (This is both untrue and, therefore, illogical; but whatever.)
  • Kirk sucks in this episode.  William Shatner does not.  He plays Kirk's resolve for all it is worth, and also does a good job sketching Kirk's despair, which he keeps muted in what I read as an effort to not bum out his subordinates.
  • Boma sucks.  Don Marshall does not; I like him.  I like the fact that he, a black man in the mid-sixties, is given an opportunity to play a guy who isn't a villain of any sort but is a wee bit of a dick.  Too often men like Marshall could at this time be expected to only be cast as devils or as saints; Boma is merely a man, and that kind of stood out to me.

There are occasional good bits of dialogue to go along with the good acting, too.  McCoy tells Spock that it's going to take more than logic to get them out of this jam; Spock, without missing a beat, replies, "Perhaps, Doctor, but I know of no better way to begin."  Later, the doctor insists that life and death aren't always logical; "but attaining a desired goal always is, Doctor," Spock retorts.  Sick burns both.  Sickest burn of all: "I'm frequently appalled by the low regard you Earthmen have for life."  A little racist, but understandable.

Spock himself has a somewhat callous attitude toward life, of course, provided that life is under his command.  After Boma proposes attacking the natives, Spock grows visibly and verbally angry after McCoy argues that the idea is logical; Spock agrees, and it is this which seems to anger him -- the potential necessity of taking life to save lives.  He heaves a sigh and decides upon a third alternative: to present a show of force which will frighten the natives away.  This decision will cost Gaetano his life; Spock's decision to leave Gaetano on sentry position is utterly illogical.  Gaetano has been charged with guarding against a physically superior enemy which has already demonstrated the ability to kill a human quickly and from a hidden position.  Gaetano has no ability to evade these natives, and is therefore a sitting duck.  There's no logic in that; nor is there the slightest regard for Gaetano's life, except insofar as Spock's train of thought did not permit for the possibility that Gaetano was ever in any danger.  Illogical indeed, but I guess that must be Spock's explanation; it simply didn't occur to him.
 
"A most illogical reaction," Spock muses regarding the natives' attack against Gaetano.  Now, look; you can't convince me that it would be a logical assumption to expect a logical reaction from a pre-industrial race of savages.  This is like being genuinely upset that your cat can't remember not to jump on your fresh laundry.  If you expect cats to behave like anything other than cats, then it is YOU who have failed to act logically.  So if you're expecting logical behavior from twelve-foot-tall pre-industrial ape-men who carry spears the size of basketball goals, you, sir, have ceased thinking logically.

It all culminates in Spock having an "emotional outburst" and deciding to use the shuttle's remaining fuel as a sort of flare.  His reasoning, as expressed in the final scene: that all logical options had been expended, therefore rendering an illogical option as the only logical alternative.  He can make that kind of alchemical illogic-into-logic mental leap, but he couldn't expect savage behavior from savages?  Well, I guess we all learned something today, didn't we?

Still, Spock's roll-the-dice maneuver kind of works for me.  I know it shouldn't; I don't feel good about it working for me, and I suspect it is nostalgia rearing its illogical head.  I'm okay with that.

A few more notes:
  
  • Yeoman Mears was probably intended to be Yeoman Rand, wouldn't you say?  If that is so, then is it possible Rand might have also been intended to have a larger role at some point?  Might she have been put in the Boma role to some extent?  (In that version of this story, Janice might even have been working out ill feelings toward Spock which had been simmering since that monstrous jape Spock has at her expense at the end of "The Enemy Within."  See?  I can make shit up.  You bet I can!)  Perhaps our behind-the-scenes reading -- or even Blishful Thinking -- will clarify some of these questions.
  • Should any significance be assigned to the names of the shuttlecraft (Galileo and Columbus)?  Probably, but I'm too lazy to investigate that line of thinking.
  • "Mr. Spock, you're a stubborn man," Kirk says at the end, mockingly vexed that Spock won't admit to having been emotional.  "Yes, sir," Spock admits.  Roll on snare drum.  The entire bridge crew busts up laughing as if this is the most hilarious thing they've ever encountered.  Which, for all I know, it might be.
  • Not only is Don Marshall credited before Kelley and Doohan, he gets a solo credit, whereas theirs appear onscreen at the same time.  What's up with that?
  • I don't like the way Ferris is played at all.  John Crawford doesn't appear to be a poor actor; I think this was probably poor direction moreso than poor acting.  But whomever gets the blame, Ferris is just a real pill in this episode.  The way he is staged, it seems as if he cares WAY less about the New Paris colony than he does about simply proving to Kirk that Kirk is wrong and the he, Ferris, is right.  It never gets quite so petty as to seem like a dick-measuring contest or anything like that; but it gets close.
  • What do they need a Yeoman for on this mission, exactly?  (Please don't answer that.)  For that matter, why is McCoy there?  I'll just assume there are valid reasons and move along.  I don't have too much trouble doing that.
  • This was the debut of the shuttlecraft, and naturally, one of them is lost right off the bat.  (I say it was the debut, but that might not technically be correct; here's your reminder that we are covering the series in production order, not broadcast order.  So it's possible some other episode with a shuttle in it aired first.  I don't care quite enough to research the issue.)
  • Given that James Blish's adaptations always (so far) focus on a single point of view, I'm curious to find out whether he went with Spock's or Kirk's.  I'd bet it was the former, but telling the story from Kirk's point of view would be valid, as well.  We'll find out in a little while!

And with that, we'll begin the process of moving into a different section of this post.  Up first, a gallery of images from the Remastered version.  The effects are relatively effective for this episode, actually; I'd consider watching this in place of the original going forward.  Probably won't, though; I'd consider it, sure, but ultimately, why bother?  When the natives still look as shitty as they do, what's the point?  Did the Remastered project fake how bunk-ass those spears look?  Did they fix the wild size disparity between the shield we see thrown and the shield we see lying on the ground.  Nope.  So long as those production problems are still present, why should I care if the optical effects look like they came from 1967 television?

I shouldn't, and neither should you.  But nevertheless, here's a gallery of fairly nice-looking effects (accompanied in most cases by the shots they replaced):


Remastered

original

Remastered

original

original

original

Remastered

Remastered

Remastered

original

Remastered

Remastered

Remastered

original

Remastered

original

Remastered

original

Remastered

Remastered (that's the Columbus launching)

Remastered

Remastered

Remastered

Remastered

original (the Galileo taking off from the planet)

Remastered

Remastered

original

Remastered

original -- in which the Galileo moves from right to left across the viewscreen

Remastered -- in which it moves from left to right (I'm sure there was a reason for the change, but I don't know what it might have been; some scientific reason'd be my guess)


Let's get into some behind-the-scenes stuff now, eh?

I should note that we are going to be scaling back the amount of bts material we take in for these posts.  I've still got a roster of books I'm reading from each time -- Inside Star Trek, Shatner's Star Trek Memories, Nimoy's I Am Not Spock, etc. -- and plan to continue doing so, but I see less and less reason to report on it.  If there's something germane to the episode at hand, or something so interesting that it seems too tempting not to, then I'll definitely toss it in.  Otherwise, I'm content for that reading to merely be reading.

That's never going to be the case with this first book, however:
  



Essential, as always.  Here is a sampling of the info found within the chapter on "The Galileo Seven":

  • The first-draft story outline had Kirk (not Spock) commanding the shuttle.  Think about that!  No reason that couldn't be a good episode, but it would have been a fundamentally different episode than this one, so much so that it strikes me as almost unbelievable that "The Galileo Seven" could have begun its march toward existence in that manner
  • That same outline included Dr. Piper (from "Where No Man Has Gone Before") rather than Dr. McCoy.  And he stayed on the Enterprise the whole episode.
  • It was Gene Roddenberry who suggested that Spock command the Galileo rather than Kirk.
  • This is fairly well-known, but interesting nonetheless: the price tag for building a full-size shuttlecraft which would sit on the planet was, to say the least, prohibitive.  The model-making company AMT ended up not only constructing it, but paying for 100% of its construction.  In exchange, they received the rights to make and sell models based on the ships of Star Trek.  One presumes that that deal worked out quite nicely for them in the long run.
  • Co-writer S. Bar-David, rewriting Oliver Crawford, added Janice Rand into the crew of the Galileo; Gene Coon would later turn her into Yeoman Mears.  I could find no evidence of Rand's role ever being significantly larger or different; I wondered if perhaps she might not at one point have had some of Boma's material, but nope, seems not.
  • Speaking of Boma, his actor, Don Marshall, had been in a "controversial" episode of The Lieutenant (Roddenberry's previous series) in which he co-starred with Nichelle Nichols.  One assumes the controversy was something stupid; I'm afraid to look it up, frankly.  (I'd like to see The Lieutenant one of these days.  There's a two-part DVD set out there, but I'm currently not quiiiiiiite interested enough to spend the $50ish dollars it would cost to get both parts.  Someday!)  Marshall says that Boma was kind of intended to be a recurring character, but it never happened, probably because this episode helped him land a series-regular job on Land of the Giants for the next couple of years.
  • Yeoman Mears was played by Phyllis Douglas, who does not look like a Phyllis but evidently was.  HER biggest role may well have been playing Bonnie Blue Butler in Gone With the Wind at age two.  Either that or the role of Hippie Girl #2 in "The Way to Eden."  If I can remember to do it, I'm going to just pretend that's Yeoman Mears, who became disgruntled with poor Starfleet middle-management practices during the course of this episode and fucked off to become a devotee of another weirdly-eared fellow.
  • There were some issues with the direction.  John Crawford (who played Ferris) said that Shatner directed him quite a bit, including giving him very precise directions on where to stand, how to move, etc.  And Shatner wasn't even directing the episode!  Robert Gist was!  One of his big notes for Don Marshall was that he wanted him to play Boma in a petulant manner reminiscent of James Dean.  Marshall felt that this was not appropriate to a scientist (he's not wrong, although given the rest of the screenplay I can see how Gist wanted to go in that direction), and was complaining about it to Nimoy, who said he'd handle it.  Apparently he did, and Marshall was impressed by that.

We're only going to dip our toes into one more book this time:



  
  
There's nothing in this about "The Galileo Seven," obviously, but a couple of things stood out to me nonetheless.  
  
The first pertains to Star Trek: Phase II, the would-be series relaunch.  I'm going to transcribe this entire section (with a few editorial excisions designed to remove references to things mentioned earlier in the chapter that might not make sense out of context) so that we can discuss it further.
  
In 1977, I was in a bookstore and happened to notice a book by Gene Roddenberry's executive assistant, Susan Sackett.  The book was called Letters to Star Trek.  I flipped the book over and saw that the back cover listed the 10 questions most frequently asked by Star Trek fans.  Question number three read, "Whatever happened to Grace Lee Whitney?"  As soon as I saw that, I rushed home and called Susan at Paramount and said, "You want to know what happened to Grace Lee Whitney?"
     "I sure do," said Susan.  "Do you know where she is?"
     "Of course I do," I said.  "I'm Grace Lee Whitney!"
     Susan screamed into the phone, "Ohmigosh, where have you been?!"
     "Susan," I said, "let's have lunch.  I've got a lot to tell you."
     We met over lunch at the Paramount commissary, then Susan took me to Gene Roddenberry's office.  Gene wasn't back from lunch yet, so Susan let me wait in his inner office.  I was sitting on the corner of Gene's desk when he walked in, took one astonished look at me—then picked me up in the air and whirled me around.  He was so glad to see me, he was jubilant.  He said, "I wanted to see you and make it up to you!  Grace, we're bringing Star Trek back as a weekly series—Star Trek: Phase II.  Everyone's going to be in it.  Bill Shatner, George, Nichelle, everyone!  Leonard, too, if we can iron out the contractual details.  And Janice Rand is going to pick up right where she left off!  Hey, we might even give her a promotion!"
     I was so thrilled to hear it.  Just as he had said he would, Gene got the entire cast together, except Leonard Nimoy.  Spock was going to be replaced by a young Vulcan officer named Xon.  We all had contracts, we were going to get paid up-front, the scripts were written, the sets were built, and there was even a new version of the Enterprise.  It was even more exciting than the first time around.  Gene guaranteed that Janice Rand was going to be a major part of the ensemble.
     Gene and I talked about my removal from the original series, and he told me it was the biggest mistake he ever made.  He blamed the decision on the network, claiming that the edict to remove me came from NBC.  Supposedly, the network had wanted Captain Kirk to be unencumbered by a girlfriend back on the ship as he went from world to world, leaving a trail of broken hearts in his wake.  I believed him then, though I've since learned that it was typically Gene's pattern to use the "evil network" as a scapegoat.  That fact is that Gene could have put his foot down and kept me aboard, but he didn't do so—and he later apologized to me for it.  That's all that counts.
     "I should have kept you aboard the Enterprise," Gene told me, "so that when Captain Kirk came back from having affairs with all these other women on all these other planets—he'd have to deal with you.  What a great plot-thickener that would have been!  And I never even thought of it.  Losing you was the dumbest mistake I ever made."  Although I was happy that he finally saw my ejection from the series as a bad move, it made me sick to know that I had gone through all that hell, all that humiliation, all that drinking, because of gene's so-called "dumb mistake."
     For months, everything went sailing along smoothly for Star Trek: Phase II.  Then, just two weeks before we were to begin shooting the first episode of the new series, word came down from the Paramount studio heads, Michael Eisner and Jeff Katzenbaum, that Star Trek: Phase II was being scrapped.  There would be no new TV series.  Paramount had decided to revive Star Trek as a theatrical film instead.  (130-31)
  
Hoo boy, a lot to unpack there.  None of it is directly relevant to "The Galileo Seven," true, but I think it is worth reiterating that this was actively intended to be an episode featuring Janice Rand.  Only Whitney's sacking prevented that, and so I think it makes a certain amount of sense to discuss additional information about that sacking here.  I previously discussed Whitney's rape and subsequent firing within the context of the episode "Miri" and that process included a bit in the comments section about who the actress's attacker may have been.  The consensus is that whereas it is very tempting to conclude that it must have been Gene Roddenberry himself, the evidence doesn't particularly seem to support it.  Bear that in mind; we're coming back to it very soon.
  
Let me now march through this excerpt about Whitney being brought back for Phase II, point by point.  I've got a lot to say.
  
  • Bryant: "Why don't I have a copy of Letters to Star Trek?!?  That don't make no sense."  eBay: "It sure doesn't!  Why don't you have a copy?  Why don't you have THIS copy...?"  Bryant: "Don't mind if I do!"  eBay: *gives thumb-up and charges credit card*
  • Isn't it wild to think about a time in which even a rabid a Trekkie would quite probably have zero idea why Grace Lee Whitney had done only a handful of episodes?  In the internet era, a fan typically hears about things like that well in advance; but in 1976, it was enough of a question a decade after the fact that it made a top-ten list on a book cover.  I remember those days.  They weren't so long ago, y'all.  And yet, they seem impossibly remote.  I find myself with a rich stew of conflicting emotions about this.  I'm glad such information is more readily available; I'm nostalgic for the age when it wasn't; I lament the loss of romantic mystery which accompanied such scarcity of information; I'm (somewhat) optimistic for the opportunities the elimination of that scarcity creates.  Mostly, though, it sings the song of the siren to me; distant, sweet, and undiminishing.
  • I sometimes find myself questioning Whitney's narrative.  This is not because I disbelieve her, but simply because I know how unreliable the human memory is.  I find myself struggling to accurately recollect things I did half an hour previously; I have a poor memory, granted, whereas maybe others do not.  Maybe Grace Lee Whitney perfectly recalled things; but I tend to think maybe not, and then the process of writing a book likely brings the temptation to tidy things up in small ways which begin to add up.  Now, don't misunderstand me; I'm not saying I think her entire book ought to be viewed skeptically (or if I am saying that, I'm not saying that hers is different in that regard than any other person's book), I'm just saying that it's worth keeping in the back of one's mind.  
  • Nevertheless, I do believe that the things she reports Roddenberry as having said to her during this meeting in his office are probably more or less accurate.  And doesn't it sound awfully convenient that he was planning to bring Rand back?  I do have doubts about this.  But I don't doubt Whitney; I doubt Roddenberry himself.  Hiring an actor was, in 1977 as in 2019, a big deal; you have to get agents and lawyers involved in decisions like that.  So if there had been a firm plan to bring Rand/Whitney back to Star Trek, Whitney would already have known about it.  That she didn't know about it means that if Gene was thinking about doing it, he wasn't doing so in a manner which required negotiations of any legal sort.  In other words, if he was, he also kind of wasn't.  This seems not to have occurred to Whitney, even in the writing of The Longest Trek.  That said, let's not assume the worst of Roddenberry; maybe he simply hadn't thought about it until Whitney was there in front of him, at which point in time he made a spur-of-the-moment decision that getting the band back together ought to involve Rand, too.
  • [W]"e were to get paid up-front" -- Whitney isn't specific as to whether that actually happened, but the implication is that it must have.  A brief consultation of the book about Phase II I've got -- and yes, we'll cover that EXTENSIVELY one of these days, after we've finished with the animated series and before we get to The Motion Picture (so in approximately 2047) -- reveals that Rand definitely was involved.  How extensively, I can't recall; but she's in there, for sure.  So if nothing else, it seems that Whitney did get a second payday for Trek.  How crushing it must have been for Phase II not to happen for her, though.  Fuck.
  • I mean ... look, let's just ask the question: if Gene Roddenberry had raped Grace Lee Whitney, would (A) Grace Lee Whitney ever walk into his office again?  Or (B) would Gene Roddenberry allow her to?  If he did, would he pick her up in the air and whirl her around?  It seems awfully unlikely to me.  Now, that said, I could write a scenario in which he WAS The Executive and yet their reunion still played out exactly like this.  I'm not sure I would believe that scenario myself; but one could be concocted, is what I'm saying.  Keeping that in mind, I have to say that for me, this bittersweet little scene more or less does away with my suspicion of Gene Roddenberry as being Whitney's unnamed assailant.  
  • Which brings us back to the question of who he was.  I said in my "Miri" post that I wouldn't ask, and I won't, because I've got nobody TO ask but also because it would be a dangerous and fruitless line of questioning.  I do have associated questions which I feel okay asking rhetorically, however, such as: if it wasn't Gene, did Gene know about it?  My knee-jerk reaction is to think that he must have, but a moment's thought makes me think that that is actually a bit unlikely.  Whitney likely would not have gone around running her mouth about it, because she'd (sadly) be afraid of it hurting her career even farther.  We know she told Leonard Nimoy, but it's entirely possible she told very, very few others; and it's very possible that Nimoy told nobody.  The Executive himself told nobody, I'd imagine.  So is it plausible that Gene Roddenberry had no idea?  Absolutely.
  • But I'd like to think that he did know, and that enough of Trek's heavy-hitting personalities knew so as to make it possible for The Executive's name to more or less be cut out of the myth and legend of Star Trek.  Fuck that guy.  Fuck that guy right in the gums.
  • Gene Roddenberry's idea about having Rand be on the ship, shrewishly castigating Kirk for taking his fuck to alien planets all the time, is pretty goddamn awful.  I'm sure it wouldn't have actually played out quite that way, but ... that kind of says something about Roddenberry, that that would be the way he envisioned the Kirk/Rand relationship developing over time.  I don't know that it says much of anything good, either.  And yet, I can't help but feel that some of that ended up informing the Decker/Ilia relationship of Phase II, which morphed eventually into the Riker/Troi relationship of The Next Generation, which is one of my favorites of the franchise thanks to how uncomplicated and unmelodramatic it is.  Now, that would have been a fertile direction for Kirk and Rand's relationship to go.
  • Whitney's feelings about Gene's "dumb mistake" bring up a contemplation for me about the nature of art that involves a writer writing a role for an actor.  As soon as there is a dependency of one upon the other, the art loses a certain amount of purity and gains the potential for something cruel and twisted.  (Or, alternatively, something kind and charitable.)  It must be difficult for writer/producers like Roddenberry to contend with the notion that following their artistic muse can and does have very demonstrable real-world effects on people like Grace Lee Whitney.  What an odd responsibility that must be.  How could one ignore it?  How could one remain true to oneself and not ignore it?  Filmmaking is a strange art form, and it's also a strange way of living.

Let's also discuss, briefly, what happened to Whitney while making Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Her role as Rand carried over to the feature production, and one day Gene Roddenberry decided to play a practical joke of director Robert Wise.  He had Whitney dress up "like a two-dollar hooker" in "lots of makeup and a short skirt" (132).  She set up camp in Wise's office, posing as his secretary, and informed him she wouldn't be able to work long that day because she had to have a bunion removed from her foot.  Wise blew up a little bit, and Whitney went to tell Roddenberry, who ended up going to Wise and explaining that it was a practical joke, and that Star Trek had a history of such jokes.  Wise was unimpressed.  According to Whitney, his response was to order the makeup department to use very little makeup on her during the filming of her scenes.  Whitney says, "my impression at the time was that he was deliberately sabotaging me," and "that he wanted me to look plain and old."  (133)

Which, I have to say, she kind of does in that movie.  In fact, it was years and years before I realized who she even was; Kirk calls her by name ("Rand") once, but Shatner kind of mumbles it so that you only know what he's said if you already know what he's saying.  What a shame!  I guess having her in the movie in any capacity is a nice gesture, but it doesn't exactly redress any old wounds, now does it?  Especially if the director of the movie did indeed sabotage Whitney in that way.

Whitney gained a different perspective on it via her sponsor later on: her sponsor told her that she needed to make amends with Wise for having played a practical joke on him that clearly hurt and/or made him uncomfortable.  A nice philosophy, I suppose.

We come now to:




Blish's version of "The Galileo Seven" appears in the 1974 collection Star Trek 10, which also includes "The Alternative Factor" and "The Omega Glory."  So hey, looks like I'm not the only disappointing thing to come out in 1974!

It kind of seems to me as if Blish's heart wasn't in this story.  Rather than do what he normally did and focus on a single character's point of view, this time he just marches his way through the entirety of the story, going back and forth (just as did the episode) between events on Tarsus II and events on the Enterprise.  In that sense, this is an accurate representation of the episode; but it makes for a less interesting read than is often the case with Blish's adaptations.  Apart from that, though, his prose is more workmanlike here than usual.  Which is not to say this is a bad version of "The Galileo Seven"; it isn't -- if anything, it's maybe a wee bit better than the episode itself.  Still, it's a bit less ambitious than some of Blish's other efforts.

Consequently, I really don't have a heck of a lot to say in the way of analysis.  Let me see I can muster up enough engagement of my own to say a bit.

  • There's a quality addition -- quite probably from the screenplay itself but cut from the episode -- after Kirk orders Sulu to set course for Taurus II.  Ferris asks Kirk if he isn't shooting in the dark, and reminds him of what he said about the needle in the haystack.  "Useless," he says in summation.  "Not," replies Kirk, "if you want your needle back."
  • Scotty is a bit more antagonistic toward Spock here than it is played in the episode.  Not by a lot; but it's not in James Doohan's performance much at all, so that Blish plays it up even a bit strikes me as a shift in tone.  Not, for my money, a good one; I like how workmanlike and no-nonsense Scotty is in the episode.
  • Blish plays up the notion that Ferris is merely a bureaucrat, a paper-pusher, a man beneath contempt.  "A man of paper," he is referred to at one point.  I think the episode presents Ferris in the worse light, given how awkward the staging and some moments of the performance are; but Blish tries -- and fails -- to present him as being little more than a horsefly.  And good lord...!  This man is trying to prevent the deaths of millions of people!  But somehow, this is presented as being an annoyance...?  There's a determined anti-authoritarian streak that runs through Star Trek, and there are times when it is a little bit contemptible.  This is one of them, and Blish only amplifies it.
  • We get a brief scene in which McCoy actually does go out and say some words over Latimer's makeshift grave.  "Dust thou art and to dust shalt thou return," he says.  "Amen."  The "amen" is echoed by those in attendance.  One wonders if this was filmed but then cut for possibly being a bit too religious.
  • When Spock orders Gaetano to stay behind and guard the pass, we find out that the reason Boma is not ordered to stay with him is that Spock positions Boma nearer the ship, with the idea (I think; it isn't entirely clear) being that Gaetano will signal Boma, who will then signal the rest of the crew if a threat is approaching.  I guess that makes sense; that probably ought to have made it into the episode.
  • Mears sees one the face of one of the aliens outside the shuttle.  She describes it as a horrible monster (after covering her face with her hands in a gesture I'm very glad Janice Rand was not subjected to).  Boma counters this by wryly observing, "We probably don't look so good to them, either."
  • There's a nice bit where Blish reports that after he asks Uhura for the most current report, "Kirk slammed his fist into his palm."  The nice bit is when we cut back to the planet a few paragraphs later, the shift is signaled by this: "Spock slammed no fist into his palm."  That's a nice linking of the different plights of the two men; the episode could have used some of that, I think.
  • This isn't an addition by Blish, per se, but reading it made me think of something: the fact that the aliens on this planet are mentioned to be anthropoids similar to life forms discovered on "Hansen's planet" kind of speaks to the notion that in these early days of Star Trek, the galaxy seems to be a lot emptier than later iterations of it would show to be the case.  It seems to me that a classification system of that would be used if space exploration was treated more like an anthropological practice than a sociological one, which -- and I'm not sure this makes sense (except in my own head) -- in turns implies to me a scarcity of sentient life.  You're not going to just stumble across one species after another every dadgum planetary system you visit; this version of the fictional universe is mostly barren, but with occasional surprising exclamations of life like these basketball-goal-sized ape-men.  I kind of wish that idea was more prevalent in Trek; I totally get why it isn't, but if I were to ever write my own version (again [don't ask]) -- and let's not rule that out -- then I'd kind of like to set that as the norm.
  • Spock is delayed from getting to the escaping Galileo because he wants to examine a large axe -- "reminiscent of those used by the Lake People of Athos IV" -- which has been flung at them.  McCoy points out that it must have weighed a hundred and fifty pounds and that Spock could never have brought it back with him.  "You know, Doctor," says Spock in a rare moment of humility, "until this moment, that never occurred to me."

We'll draw this sucker to a close in customary fashion, by blasting leftover screencaps into the post and seeing what juicy Blish quotes we can match them to.  Here goes!


"The USS Enterprise operated under a standing order to investigate all quasar and quasarlike phenomena wherever and whenever it encountered them.  To Kirk, it seemed to have met up with one.

A sinister formation had appeared on the bridge's main viewing screen—a bluish mass, threaded with red streaks of radiant energy.

It dominated the sky ahead"









"Coiling, hungry, the bluish mass on the screen glared back at him, a blight on the face of space.

But the controls of the shuttlecraft weren't the only victims of Murasaki 312.  It had rendered useless the normal searching systems of the Enterprise.  Without them, the Starship was drifting, blind, almost as helpless as the Galileo."

"Strangely enough, the needle had fallen upon soft hay.  However, soft was the best you could say about the spongily ugly surface of Taurus II.  It had cushioned the impact of the Galileo's crash landing in a roughly circular crater.  Rock walls reared up toward a sky of a repellently bilious shade of green.  It was not a prepossessing planet.  The craft, canted over, had banged people and things around inside.  Spock was bleeding green from a cut on his head.  McCoy attended to it and then made his way to Yeoman Mears."

"McCoy exploded.  'I've never been able to stand your confoundedly eternal cheerfulness, Spock!'

'Better make an effort to, Doctor.'  The suggestion was mildly made.  'We may be here for a long time.' "


"A bureaucrat is a bureaucrat is a bureaucrat, Kirk thought.

They could function with paper.

But remove them from paper into the sphere of decisive action and they turned into moralizing futilities.

Scorn restored his composure."

"Outside the Galileo, Spock was examining the nearest section if the wall encircling the crater.  Rescue was indeed a remote possibility.  Even if the Enterprise's searching equipment had remained unaffected by Murasaki 312, Taurus II was just one planet among many in the quadrant's solar systems.  Hidden like this in the hollow made by the crater's rocky walls, the Galileo would be virtually invisible."


"If Spock's facial muscles had been capable of expressing annoyance, they would have twisted with it."

"The facial muscles of the non-Vulcans had no trouble in showing annoyance.

Spock's cool detachment exceedingly irritated them."

"Tension was rising in everybody.  Over at the farther crater wall Latimer and Gaetano were making a nervous survey of the area.  Suddenly Gaetano stopped, listening.  Latimer, too, halted.  They listened to the sound—a rhythmic scraping noise such as might be made by rubbing wood against some corrugated surface.

Latimer became conscious of an uneasy impression that the crater wall was breathing, the mist of its breath the fog that drifted over it, reducing visibility.  The mist had come suddenly, like the sound.  The scraping noise was repeated."


"They all stood still for a minute, each with his private thoughts—and the rhythmic grating sound came from what seemed to be distance."

"Kirk was trying to fight off a sense of complete futility."

"His voice was so broken as he dictated the last three words into his Captain's Log that he wondered if he should delete them.  Spock . . . McCoy . . . Scott . . . all three of them gone, most to the hideous blueness of what still showed on the screen."

"Kirk didn't answer.  He stared ahead at the viewing screen.  Somewhere in the midst of that mysterious blueness, Taurus II existed, its substance solid, its air breathable—an oasis in the center of hell.  Had Spock found it?"






"It was the first time Spock had raised his voice.  Now its unexpected sharpness came as a shock to all of them."

"The slope ahead of them loomed vague and indistinct through mist swirls.  Suddenly, among the rocks immediately above them, there was movement.  Spock heard it first.  He tensed with alertness, readying his phaser.  Something rose from behind the rocks, something impossibly huge.

It might have been man-shaped—but he couldn't tell, for the creature held an enormous leather shield before its body.  Then a great spear whistled past his head.  Spock, aiming his phaser, fired it."


"So it had to be put into words of one syllable.  But Spock was a master of primitives' languages."


"Something else had seen Gaetano among the rocks.  It aimed a large rock at his phaser, knocking it out of his hand.  Terrified, he scrambled after it—and a spear hurled past him, striking the air between him and the weapon.  He ran toward a rock crevice.  It ended in a blank black wall.  Trapped, he turned.  The crevice entrance was blocked by a massive bulk, hairy, featureless.  The creature moved toward him.  He screamed."

"The footprint in the rubble was human in form.  Its enormity was its horror."


"Sharp-eyed, agile as a cat, Spock was creeping upward over rocks.  Then he saw the ledge.  Gaetano lay sprawled on it, unmoving.

Spock bent over the body.  As he realized what had been done to it, his impassive face went stony with revulsion."

"All eyes were on Spock.  He met them directly, his own calm, as composed as though theirs contained no accusation.





Kirk lacked Spock's stoic capacity to tolerate helplessness.  Though the ion storm was dispersing, the Starship's slow recovery of its operational power had tightened his nerves to the breaking point."

"The second electrode, attached, completed the circuit.

Sparks flew up in a shower, followed by a wild shrieking of pain, shock and fury from outside the craft."



"There was nothing more to do, nothing more to say.  Spock, McCoy, Scott—all dead, mercifully dead on that savage planet.  Had their deaths been easy?

Hardly."

"Yeoman Mears, no longer fresh-faced, but tired and worn, had failed again to contact the Enterprise.  She snapped closed her communicator."



"Nodding slightly, he stared at the console.  Then he slowly turned his head to look at the others.  They were all back there in their seats . . . McCoy, the girl, Boma—and Scott, standing by.  And all of them, each in his own way, alone with the thought of the final extinction.

But their eyes were on him as though he could magically avert it for them.  If he'd been a sweating creature, Spock would have been wet with it.  Instead, he was a Vulcan by training as well as inheritance, a being required to remain impervious to emotion.

Now, in his half-human agony, he took refuge behind a mask of stone.

His first and last command.

His hand went out toward a switch."


"A streak of flame was moving against the blackness of space.


Kirk exploded into action."

"On the screen the flame flickered—and died.

And on the Galileo Spock sat unmoving.  The heat had begun.

He could sense the unbelieving eyes fixed on him—on his Satanic, alien ears.  He had destroyed them.

He was hardly aware of the hand, the human hand, that suddenly fell on his shoulder."

"A whining sound came.  A wisp of smoke drifted from the control panel.  Spock, reaching up, slid up the metal shutter on the forward window.  The Galileo was on fire, glowing red to orange to pure white flame.  Its prisoners tore at their throats, coughing as the aisle filled with hot smoke."

"Kirk, fingers crossed in the old Earth's plea to Lady Luck, said, 'Activate Transporter beams!'  Then he waited.  A sweating creature, he could feel it breaking from every pore of his body."




"So the beams had caught them.  In the searing heat of the Galileo, they had faded, breaking to the dazzle that had brought them home.  Kirk covered his face with his hands.  Then he lifted his head."

"McCoy was whispering to Kirk.  Then they both looked over to the computer station where Spock sat, composed, his eyes intent on his dials."




"Kirk got up, started toward him, thought better of it.  Grinning, he shook his head, himself accepting the logic of facts as they were.  Spock caught the grin.

His left eyebrow lifted."



  
  
 High-larious.



 

And on that distasteful note, we bring an end to our examination of "The Galileo Seven."

Next up: "Court Martial," coming to an internet page near you sometime in winter 2020.  See you then!

8 comments:

  1. (1) "Spoiler alert for this blog post: I don't think this is a bad episode, but I do think it is in many ways a badly-conceived episode... I can't deny it: the deeper-investigation aspect of this process has caused "The Galileo Seven" to more or less fall apart for me." Yes, exactly. This is how and why it was left off my Desert Island Trek episodes but topped the list of my The Rest of Trek episodes. Because I love it, but I love it in spite of everything I learned about both the franchise and storytelling conceits after first seeing it. (Well, aftter first seeing it maybe 20-30 times.) But yeah this is one of the first TOS episodes I ever got to know really well, and it's one I always uphold as being, essentially, somewhat anti-Trek in its premises. (I also hold "The Doomsday Machine" to be in this category. Why I'm telling you all this when you commented on each and every one of my TOS posts and we've had this conversation many times elsewhere, sheesh, I dunno.) But yes: his episode makes no sense. It's propped up entirely to get to the ending for Spock. And hey, who cares, just yeah: we do.

    (2) And speaking of (as you get into quite comprehensively) what follows is not a credible story for Spock. These are things he has to learn? Okay, maybe he has to learn some nuances of command, some incompatibilities of his Vulcan regard or logic, or whatever. But, it's all just too contrived. Also, hate to break it to you, Spock, but your actions are anything but logical in this episode; they're the kind of "logical" someone who only knows logic as a test-exam would think of as logical; someone who has lived and breathed an entire civilization's ethos-as-logic as well as being the Vulcan who prides himself on aspects of Earth history, would probably not act this way. His "And inspired resentment on your parts" bit seems particularly tone-deaf. It's fine to make Spock's confusion re: human reactions part of the story, but not when I myself am confused by whatever's going on.

    (3) And neither would anyone under his command. And that's the last I'll say of that particular dynamic for "The Galileo Seven."

    (4) "there's just enough logic mixed in there that I think it presents an illusion of logic, but what's happening here isn't logic. " Goddamnit - YES. exactly.

    (5) "Scotty is as professional as it gets, and James Doohan plays him well throughout. " Agreed. I love Scotty's "That they will, Mr. Spock!" moment. Although it seems odd he wouldn't have considered it, I greatly enjoy Scott's genuine enthusiasm for the idea. His engineering mind is excited by ideas that will logically WORK, not ideas he himself has come up with.

    (6) "A little racist, but understandable." Very true. One of the things I love about TOS: the way it subverted the actual racism of the times into teachable moments. Nowadays these sorts of moments just don't land with me.

    (7) I am with you on your whole breakdown of Spock's dodgy logic with everything he does here, but especially leaving Gaetano and his "this will be sufficient" ideas. None of that really makes sense. Still, as you say, that roll-the-dice moment is important, and however unearned some of the road getting to it is, this really spoke to me as a kid watching this episode: sometimes (and Gene was really all abut this) you have to cut loose in an illogical way to get the logical conclusion.

    (8) "Yeoman Mears was probably intended to be Yeoman Rand, wouldn't you say?" Would've been interesting for sure! She's not a very good part of this episode is she? Her big line is that "We could use a little inspiration!" bit. Which is kinda hack.

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    1. (1) "This is how and why it was left off my Desert Island Trek episodes but topped the list of my The Rest of Trek episodes." -- I think that's a good place for this one.

      "Why I'm telling you all this when you commented on each and every one of my TOS posts and we've had this conversation many times elsewhere, sheesh, I dunno." -- Bears repeating, lad; bears repeating.

      (2) It's really just convention-of-television stuff. I mean, the series begins -- as did most shows of the era -- in media res, so we have to be introduced to the characters. To some extent, each episode has to introduce the characters; you couldn't assume in those days that viewers would get such things if you didn't feed to them intravenously. I can live with it. I wonder if modern viewers coming to the show can? If not, I wouldn't be surprised.

      (4) Part of me is tempted to believe that it's a universal-translator problem. You know, like, Vulcans believe in *something*, but it isn't properly called logic; but that's how the idiotic universal translator makes it come out. Vulcans try correcting humans on the subject every so often, but never to any avail.

      (5) The line delivery you point out is indeed terrific.

      (7) The problem with a logical approach to life is that it presumed existence is primarily logical. I'm just not sure there's any data to back that notion up, in which case logic will indeed only get you so far.

      (8) Nope, Mears is definitely not a highlight. It would have been a squandering of Rand, for sure. But the show routinely squanders Sulu, Scotty, Uhura, etc. And even so, I'm always glad to see them. No reason that couldn't have been true of Rand, too!

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    2. (4) I really like that idea. They should adopt that as canon.

      Although whatever canon means to the Trekverse now, who knows. (Or truly, not just now: canon's always been slippery with Trek.)

      Anyway, in my head-canon, this is the scoop with Vulcans/ logic.

      Why couldn't they have filmed Sarek debating Aristotle or something in the holodeck, just once?

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    3. One suspects that television executives suspect viewers in Peoria have a limited interest in content of that nature.

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  2. (9) "Should any significance be assigned to the names of the shuttlecraft (Galileo and Columbus)? Probably, but I'm too lazy to investigate that line of thinking." You know, maybe you're onto something here. I'm likewise too lazy. but I'm intrigued to read that essay, so long as it's not written by someone determined to get to a wokescold conclusion.

    (10) Re: Paris: I think everyone involved is working out some long-simmering resentment about superior officers/ regulations, rather than thinking out the story/ character. Unfortunate.

    (11) "Why is McCoy here?" Amen. Maybe he had some kind of quasar-curious asterisk on his CV. Wouldn't have Kirk quashed it? Of course he would. This is one of those "But DeForest needs to be in this" moments you just have to overlook. Like you say, I don't have too much trouble doing that.

    (12) These remastered bits look pretty good. You did a good job choosing which ones to showcase for the difference.

    (13) "I remember those days. They weren't so long ago, y'all. And yet, they seem impossibly remote. I find myself with a rich stew of conflicting emotions about this. I'm glad such information is more readily available; I'm nostalgic for the age when it wasn't; I lament the loss of romantic mystery which accompanied such scarcity of information; I'm (somewhat) optimistic for the opportunities the elimination of that scarcity creates. Mostly, though, it sings the song of the siren to me; distant, sweet, and undiminishing." Landru hears.

    (14) Whenever I think about rape - which thanks to 2019 is like everyday - I think of that wonderfully conflicted scene in WATCHMEN #12 where Sally Jupiter cries in conflicted nostalgia looking at the picture of the Comedian. Would GLW walk into Gene's office again if he was the executive who sexually assaulted her? Who knows? Who can answer that question? Not even Gene or Grace could. This is not some kind of rape-apology comment, goodGodno. But I'm with yu: I like any anecdote which backs up my fundamental belief that it wasn't Gene R> that raped GLW.

    (15) " I'd like to think that he did know, and that enough of Trek's heavy-hitting personalities knew so as to make it possible for The Executive's name to more or less be cut out of the myth and legend of Star Trek. Fuck that guy. Fuck that guy right in the gums." Doesn't it feel like we should all know who he is just from triangulationor process of elimination? And yet: I've never figured it out. I share 100% your assessment though.

    (16) I've too many comments on the Blishful Thinking section to fit in here, but as always, this section is a great deal of fun for the unabashed TOS Fan. Apologies for the lack of specific comments, but good job on this whole section.

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    1. (9) Something to do with colonialism, probably, and maybe that explains Kirk's indifference to the plague victims, who are definitely colonists, and might be colonialists as well. So it's all a secret parable for how Kirk is righteously woke and thumbing Ferris in the eye over how he isn't.

      Yuck. That came out way too easily.

      (11) Nope, I'm basically for whatever storytelling contortions it took to get Kelley in the episodes with meaty roles.

      (13) One of these days I'll get to write about ol' Landru! Looking forward to it.

      (14) Man, that issue of "Watchmen." By which I mean #12, but also #1-#11. I'm way overdue for a reread.

      (15) That it hasn't been figured out does kind of boggle the mind. Except ... I suspect very people actually want to figure it out, and the few who do are likely content to think it was Gene. I can't say TOO too much about that; I assumed it was him for a while, myself. But it simply doesn't add up, and the only direction that leads in when combined with the lack of other obvious candidates is toward doubting Whitney's story. Which I don't, particularly; and Nimoy's apparent backing of her narrative makes that difficult even if I suddenly become inclined to doubt her.

      (16) Thanks! This one was fun to put together, which they all have been. My post-TOS coverage (assuming I live long enough for such to take place) is going to be shabbier for not having Blish to examine. Granted, the TAS episodes have Alan Dean Foster adaptations, and the movies have novelizations; but somehow, it just won't be the same.

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    2. (9) "Yuck. That came out way too easily." It (wokescolding) is designed to be easy! You too can play along at home and do your part in the unmaking of civilization.

      (13) You and me both.

      (15) I'm with you here. It is a little surprising in the #metoo era that nothing ever came of it, but I guess it is a pretty cold case.

      (16) You'll have to come up with some "Blishful Thinking" variation for Alan Dean Foster. I'm drawing a complete blank, alas. But if I think of any, I'll send em your way.

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    3. (9) Satisfying for all ages!

      (16) The zippiest thing I've come up with so far is "Alandaptation Dean Foster," which is appalling. I'll probably just keep calling it Blishful Thinking, to be honest.

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