68 "Wink of an Eye"

(airdate: November 29, 1968)

Story: Lee Cronin [pseudonym for Gene L. Coon] Teleplay: Arthur Heinemann
Director: Jud Taylor

Deela: Kathie Brown

Rael: Jason Evers

Compton: Geoffrey Binney

Stardate: 5710.5

Captain's Log: The Enterprise responds to a distress call from the planet Scalos, but when they arrive they find that the planet has been abandoned. After beaming back to the ship, they find that a number of strange faults are occurring on board. Kirk drinks some coffee and finds himself accelerated in a way that makes everyone else seem to be frozen, while he's moving so fast that he essentially disappears from view. He's been accelerated by the Scalosians, who also move incredibly quickly; they've arrived aboard in order to freeze the crew. The Scalosians require other species to breed with in order to perpetuate their species, and so they lure passing starships with a distress call and then use the crews to ensure their survival. Kirk manages to tell Spock what the Scalosians are planning, and Spock is able to accelerate himself to the same speed as the Scalosians; Kirk and Spock are therefore able to defeat the Scalosians' plan and send them back to their planet. Spock then decelerates Kirk and himself, allowing them to leave Scalos behind.

Whoops!: The visual of the opening scene, of Scotty narrating the ship's log, doesn't remotely sync up with the audio. (This is because this is actually a lift of a scene from "The Empath".)
     Why doesn't Spock mention the counteragent to Deela as a way to save her people?
     The time scale of this episode doesn't bear close scrutiny: even if we assume something like only half an hour has passed, that should still be an incredibly long time for the Scalosians. In other words, they should have been able to have finished their modifications and put the crew in suspended animation long before Spock would have been able to accelerate himself and aid the captain, even with all the delaying tactics Kirk is using.
     The implication is that the Scalosians have been accelerated for generations, and that they've been using these "lure a starship over and freeze their ship" tactics for a while now. Yet there's no indication that any of the Scalosians we see are anything other than 100% Scalosian, and if Rael's distress signal is to be trusted, there's only five of them left. So this isn't a very effective strategy that they've landed upon, is it? [This assumes Rael is telling the truth, which he may not be; even so, Spock's tricorder readings (based on habitation patterns) suggest that if there are more Scalosians about, there aren't a lot of them, so it still doesn't seem like that great a plan. Or perhaps no ship has come by in a long time and this is all who are left, in which case their numbers are still too low to sustain their population.]

Cringe Lines: "I found it an accelerating experience."

Don't Wear a Red Shirt: Ensign Compton dies from old age brought on by cell damage when he gets in a struggle with one of the Scalosians while defending Captain Kirk.

Alien Love: Deela is enamored with Kirk, promising to make him the king to her queen. And there's a very clear suggestion that the two of them had sex in Kirk's quarters. And since Rael is clearly also in love with Deela, there's a love triangle going on. Meanwhile, the other Scalosian woman has taken Compton as her mate, although she doesn't seem terribly broken up when he dies.

Library Computer: Scalos is a blue planet with a breathable atmosphere. Once home to an advanced civilization (level 7 on the industrial scale) with beautiful architecture, paintings, and an abundance of literature, Scalos underwent a catastrophe brought on by volcanic eruptions. This left the planet with hardly any vegetation and no animal life, barring a highly unusual, intermittent reading picked up by the tricorder. This intermittent reading was in fact produced by the last of the Scalosians, a humanoid lifeform. Once numbering over 900,000, with several "culturally enlightened indigenous populations", there were now only five left [at least, according to Rael's distress signal, which may be a lie]. The volcanic eruptions polluted the water and released radiation that altered the Scalosians, accelerating them so that they moved incredibly fast; they couldn't be seen by the naked eye, and they sounded like an insect buzzing. (The dialogue is a bit muddled, but it's definitely a substance in the water that caused the Scalosians to be hyper-accelerated; this is why they were able to do the same thing to Kirk, by dosing his coffee with the same thing that was in the water - and note how Compton is accelerated after drinking the water.) However, this also had the effect of killing the children, making the men sterile and most of the women barren.
     Some of the Scalosians attempted to slow themselves back down, but they all died in the attempt; thus, in order to survive, the Scalosians needed to lure other people to their planet with a distress signal. This allowed the Scalosians to survive [just barely, apparently, given their numbers], but accelerating other species had the side-effect of quickly burning them out; thus, the Scalosians needed a steady supply of mates to perpetuate the species. [If you haven't already, you might want to take a look at Whoops!] Accelerating others had the side-effect of making them docile and willing to work with the Scalosians, albeit after a period of adjustment. One major downside of the adjustment period was that the slightest tissue abrasion could be fatal, as people were sensitive to cell damage during this period, causing them to age rapidly and die. Ensign Compton was the victim of this cell damage, when he attempted to defend Kirk from one of the Scalosians. It turns out that the hyper-acceleration was reversible, with Spock and Dr. McCoy able to develop a counter to it.
     The Scalosians were physically humanoid, all with fair hair (the darkest being a very light brown), with the two women dressed in long flowing sleeveless gowns, with one leg completely exposed from the hip down, and the men dressed in iridescent tunics with a wide square neckline and a separate collar, plus trousers and boots of the same material. They wore small devices on their collars, shaped like an eight-pointed compass cross, which were used to communicate with each other, and to monitor the locations of others. Their queen was named Deela, and their chief scientist was Rael. They were [allegedly] the last five Scalosians on Scalos, and they lived in a city that was filled with futuristic skyscrapers, including one shaped like a cross-like upside-down pyramid [even in the remastered version, despite the fact that in the original they just reused the Eminiar VII matte painting from "A Taste of Armageddon" -- it's less prominent than in the original though]. The population of the city once numbered 113,477 citizens.
     The Scalosians beamed aboard the Enterprise (a process they described as "a ridiculously long process") in order to place the crew into suspended animation for future use as mates. In order to facilitate their plans they made a number of modifications to the ship, including speeding up the transporter and attaching a device to the life support system which was designed to aid with their suspended animation plans. [They also appear to have jammed all the doors open, which makes sense (as those are probably infuriatingly slow as well) but is never remarked upon.] This suspended animation device emitted intense cold, in addition to a protective shield designed to prevent tampering. Kirk and Spock were able to destroy the device, however, using the Scalosians' weapons. Deela suggested that the Federation would condemn the Scalosians to die by quarantining the area, and, curiously, neither Kirk nor Spock disagree with this. [Perhaps Spock didn't want to give the Scalosians false hope before confirming that the acceleration counteragent actually worked. But it's a little weird that there's no indication of making an effort to aid the Scalosians, not even in the subsequent captain's log.]

Final Analysis: "Your crew cannot see you or any of us because of the acceleration. We move in the wink of an eye." It's a very workman-like script, and the "bottle" nature of the show means there aren't even any exciting new sets to distract us. The direction is interesting, and the acting is fine, but "Wink of an Eye" simply doesn't have enough there to sustain itself over its 50 minutes. Competent but unmemorable.

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