(airdate: January 12, 1974)
Writer: Stephen Kandel
Director: Hal Sutherland
Tchar: James Doohan
Lara: Jane Webb
Em/3/Green: David Gerrold
Sord: James Doohan
The Vedala: Jane Webb
Captain's Log: Kirk and Spock are summoned to an urgent meeting: the Soul of the Skorr, an avian race, has been stolen, and if it isn't recovered the Skorr could wage a holy war against the rest of the galaxy; thus, it's up to a small team, including Kirk and Spock, to recover it from its location on an unstable planet. The team undergo several obstacles but eventually arrive at their goal. There, they discover that the Soul was in fact stolen by Tchar, the Skorr member of their team; the Skorr used to be a great warrior race, and Tchar hopes to make them that way again. However, the others foil his plan and recover the Soul.
Whoops!: The animation gives no sense of the scale of the Soul for quite some time when we see it: we can't tell if it's massive, or if the temple is just really large. It also looks like it's just across the room from the expedition, rather than out of reach in some way. And, nitpicking, but the second and third acts both open with a shot of the Enterprise, which is nowhere near the events of the actual episode.
Why does Kirk ask Spock how long since he's had null-gravity combat exercise, since Kirk was right there with him when it happened last week? [To let the audience know, yes, but they could have scripted that line a lot more elegantly.] And the temperature is described as ranging from 20 Kelvin to "204 above". Setting aside how insanely cold 20 K would be, Kelvin doesn't have an "above"; if we were to assume they meant 204 K, that's equivalent to -33 °C (or about -27 °F), which is still really cold - far colder than the expedition party appears to be dressed for. So "204 above" must be in either degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit to make any sense at all, and the Vedala are just being sloppy with their temperature scales.
So how was Tchar's plan actually meant to work? We're told that this is the fourth expedition to go looking for this stolen Soul. Was he on the other three expeditions, to make sure those went wrong too? How would that not have been suspicious, that he keeps being the sole survivor? Was he maybe just trusting to luck that the first three missions would fail? Or did he have accomplices who were willing to die to keep the Soul missing? If so, why did he choose to go on this one himself? (And if that's the case, are there other accomplices-in-waiting that don't get "healed" by the Vedala?) Or was it just rotten luck that the Vedala picked him for their fourth go-around?
Classic Lines: Kirk: "Fascinating. But we're not here on a pleasure trip, Lara." Lara: "All the more reason to take what pleasure there might be in it."
Lara: "You ever quote anything besides statistics, Vulcan?" Spock: "Yes. But philosophy and poetry are not appropriate here."
Technobabble: When rewiring the vehicle, Spock tells Em/3/Green: "Terminal M3 red, lead to diode shunt A37. Cross connect to A14."
Alien Love: Lara is strongly attracted to Kirk, and says so, although Kirk is all business on this particular mission.
Library Computer: The Vedala are the oldest space-faring race known to the Federation. The Vedala we see is a feline humanoid, with white fur with black highlights, wearing a pink leotard-like uniform; she is fairly severely hunched over. They live on an asteroid that resembles an Earth-like planet, and the part we see has fairly lush vegetation and large mushrooms. [Given the spherical shape, we'll assume they're being somewhat loose with their terminology and that this is actually a dwarf planet.] The Vedala had holographic technology and the ability to beam people over long distances, as well as limited time travel capabilities. [They can return the expedition members back to their ships mere minutes after they left - unless you want to believe that the adventure on the mad planet takes place in some sort of "slow time".] They also had a large white vehicle, marked with a red symbol (a small circle, a large circle cut in half vertically, another small circle, and then a dash), with four seats and a back bench, two large wheels in the back (one on each side), six smaller wheels in the middle (three on each side), and a long single wheel with a large tread in front. The vehicle had a detector that could home in on indurite, although it quickly exploded on the "mad planet".
The Skorr are an avian race, bipedal and very tall. They were once a warrior race, with advanced military technology and the ability to quickly breed large armies - according to Spock, the current Skorr population could breed an army of two hundred billion in two standard years. About two hundred years ago, a religious leader named Alar brought peace to the Skorr and made them great. Before he died, his brain patterns were recorded in a piece of indurite sculpture, resembling a glowing blue-green ribbon shaped into a flower with six petals. This Soul of Alar was recently stolen, sending the Skorr who knew of it into a racial fury; the knowledge of the theft had thus been suppressed: were the general Skorr population to learn of the theft, it would lead to the Skorr declaring a holy war upon the rest of the galaxy.
The Vedala located the Soul on a "mad planet", which was geologically unstable, with constant earthquakes, gravitic shifts, and tidal waves; however, the planet was inherently flexible, which stopped the planet from being torn apart. Temperatures ranged from 20 Kelvin to "204 above". It was devoid of organic life. The surface was generally a rocky, dark blue-grey, with a number of mountains. There were snowstorms and volcanic eruptions both in evidence, scant hours apart from each other. The conditions on the planet were such that the Vedala could not survive on it; thus, they had sent a series of expeditions to the planet to retrieve the Soul, of which the previous three had failed to come back. The current (ultimately successful) expedition consisted of: Kirk, who chosen for his leadership abilities and his adaptability; Spock, who was chosen for his analytical mind and scientific expertise; Tchar, a hereditary prince of the Skorr and "master of the aerie", with gold plumage, who could fly and [allegedly] sense the presence of the Soul; Sord, a male bipedal reptile with grey skin, a large tail, and a fin on his head, wearing a short orange jacket, who was likely chosen for his strength and fighting prowess [it's never explicitly stated why Sord was chosen]; Em/3/Green, a member of a naturally cautious, short insectoid species with green skin, six arms, two legs, and a tail, who was an expert lockpick and thief (which included the ability to rewire electronics), and who had been sentenced to participate in this expedition; and Lara, a human female with brown hair and pronounced eyebrows, wearing furs, who was a hunter with a "flawless" directional sense. Lara was generally mistrustful of Vulcans, finding them cold-blooded, although she was strongly attracted to Kirk. Lara's homeworld had different customs from that of Earth's, with women comfortable telling men that they found them attractive, and the women outnumbered the men there.
The Soul was indeed located on the mad planet, in a building shaped like an octagonal pyramid which was like one of the Skorr's primitive temples. The inside of the temple was a wide-open space with high ledges along the walls. This temple was built with a door with an electronic lock, and had a flexible structure, in order to allow it to survive the earthquakes on the planet. The temple was constructed by Tchar, who was in fact behind the theft of the Soul; he had done so in order to provoke the Skorr into becoming a warrior race once again. He had also guarded the temple with mechanical flying creatures, which were purple flying creatures with fearsome beaks, large bat-like wings, and no legs, and fitted the temple with a gravity neutralizer. However, the others were able to stop Tchar and recover the Soul. The Vedala were able to cure Tchar of his madness. [Well, probably; they say they will, but we don't actually see it.]
The four ships in orbit around the Vedala asteroid, in addition to the Enterprise, include: a two-level spaceship, with a lower box with two Federation-like nacelles and an upper set of small box arranged horizontally next to each other; a white ship with three long cylinders in the same plane, connected to each other at the front by a thin bar, with four yellow spheres on each of the exterior cylinders, with the middle cylinder towing a larger yellow sphere; a green bulbous ship, with a large flat curved disc attached to the front by a thin strut; and a grey ship with a curved hull in the rear, with what appear to be wings coming out the sides, and two thin struts emerging from the front, connected to a small flattened cylinder. [These ships are reused from "The Time Trap", which means these races all lost ships to the Delta Triangle. We hereby suggest (though with no actual evidence) that the first ship belongs to Lara's people (since she's human, and it looks sort of Federation-like); the second ship to the Skorr (since spheres could be the sort of habitat for a flying species); the third ship to Em/3/Green (because it's weird and green - we don't really have a better reason than that); and the final ship to (by process of elimination) Sord's race.]
Kirk and Spock have training in null-gravity combat, which they both participated in last week.
Final Analysis: "It is a very real threat. In two standard years, the existing Skorr could breed an army of two hundred billion warriors." The use of multiple non-human species casually interacting with Kirk and Spock is really nice, and the zero-g fight at the end once again demonstrates the advantages of animation. The script isn't terribly exciting, however; it's a quest storyline with some moderately entertaining incidents along the way, but little in the way of surprises or twists.
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Page originally created: July 26, 2018
Page last updated: July 26, 2018