Monday, May 11, 2009

Star Trek Initiation: The Corbomite Maneuver

Hello fellow Star Trek followers. Unfortunately, I do not have a review of the new Star Trek movie yet. This weekend was crazy busy, and I've got finals next week, but if all goes well I'll have a chance to see it Memorial Day weekend (or possibly before). I have to say, all of my Trek-fan friends have seen it and raved about it, so I'm very excited. This week, I'm reviewing Episode 10 of the original series, "The Corbomite Maneuver."

The episode begins in the middle of an uncharted territory, as the Enterprise is mapping a new star system. I believe this is the first time they've literally gone "where no man has gone before." They are about ready to wrap things up when they encounter the Spinning Cube of Doom. Well, they don't actually call it that. But it blocks their path, and it follows them, and nobody knows what it is or what it's for. It also spins, and it's cube-shaped. Hence, Spinning Cube of Doom (or SCoD). Kirk tells the crew to start approaching the cube. The SCoD, it turns out, is also radioactive. It continues to chase the Enterprise even when they try backing away. It continues to emit higher and higher levels of radiation until Kirk orders the crew to blow it up.

Now in my mind, the last thing you want to do with something emitting radiation is make it explode, but apparently it's not a problem for the Enterprise. After the SCoD is defeated, Kirk orders the crew to practice emergency procedures. I noticed he was extremely short-tempered with everyone, especially Dr. McCoy. I assumed at first that the SCoD had some sort of mind-control power, but I think it was just the stress of escaping a potentially dangerous situation. Unfortunately, as it turns out, the danger is far from over.

Shortly after blowing up the SCoD, they are contacted by an alien ship who informs them that the Enterprise has blown up their warning beacon. The alien, who calls himself Baalok (isn't that an antacid?), is incredibly pissed at the Enterprise for destroying the SCoD. At one point, he tells the crew, "I assume you have a deity...or deities..."

That right there is number one on my list of Signs that Really Bad News is Coming.

Anyway, Baalok gives the Enterprise "ten of your Earth units known as minutes" to prepare for their annihilation. Kirk makes several attempts to reason with Baalok's ship, all of which are ignored. Spock's advice at this point is to surrender. He likens their situation to a game of chess and suggests that Kirk has been checkmated. Kirk's idea is that, rather than a chess game, they should look at the situation as though it is a poker game and raise the stakes.

From what I've gathered about the Vulcans, I would assume that (A) they would be very good at poker and (B) they would have very little interest in playing it. But I don't know. The poker idea is, after all, a metaphor. Kirk's idea of raising the stakes is to inform Baalok that his ship is armed with "corbomite," a mysterious substance that will destroy any ship that attempts to harm the Enterprise (hence the name of the episode). Baalok buys it enough to delay the destruction of the ship, but he insists on seeing proof of the corbomite. When Kirk refuses, Baalok captures their ship and starts towing it to another planet. His plan is to remove all of the crew and then destroy the ship.

If you've never seen The Corbomite Maneuver, go watch it now, and stop reading this review, because Here There Be Spoilers.

Kirk manages to escape from Baalok's power, but not without nearly burning out the engines. Unfortunately, it appears that Baalok's ship is in even worse shape: Uhura picks up a very faint distress signal. Kirk decides to go and help, so they beam over to the ship to meet the Great And Terrible Baalok. It was obvious that they found some five-year-old kid to play the real Baalok and then dubbed in an adult's voice. At one point Baalok says that nobody would have found him frightening in his real form, but I thought he was pretty creepy. Anyway, once again Star Trek managed to surprise me with the ending. Everything made sense once I realized that Baalok had been bluffing as well. I do wonder if he'd ever been intending to actually blow up the Enterprise, or if his ship even had the capacity to do so. Overall, I loved this episode. One of the best I've seen so far. I'd love to watch the remastered version sometime.

Episode notes:
-Why is Uhura's uniform yellow instead of red? That bugged me through the whole episode. Mustard yellow really isn't her color.
-The doctor puts Kirk on a diet because his weight is up a couple of pounds. I found that hilarious, considering how William Shatner looks today.
-When Baalok's ship appeared, I thought, "Oh shit, the Spinning Cube of Doom has a mommy." I also dubbed his ship the Spinning Disco Ball of Doom.
-If an alien threatened to blow me up and then offered me a drink, I wouldn't take it. Sorry.

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