Captain’s log: stardate 3614.9
Wolf in the Fold first graced screens on 22 December, 1967. The episode was penned by Psycho’s Robert Bloch, and it’s obvious.
This was one of the first episodes of television to scare me. I remember watching this story, and being completely freaked out by one scene but I was totally unwilling to get off the couch to cross the room to turn the television down. It was Redjack’s laughing that did it. The swirling imagery on the screen (which conjured thoughts of hell in my young mind), the insane laughter and the spooky voice… it gets me even now.
Kirk (William Shatner), McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and Scotty (James Doohan) are sharing a shore leave together on the planet Argellius II. What should have been a pleasurable getaway in a hedonistic society (despite their streets looking like they were lifted from Victorian London) goes sideways when Scotty becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a dancer.
Kirk starts sleuthing, determined to prove his Chief Engineer’s innocence. There is a long list of suspects, and while all of them may be innocent, they are not necessarily empty of guilt.
There is an investigator, Hengist (John Fiedler), Prefect Jaris (Charles Macaulay) and his wife, Sybo (Pilar Seurat), all of whom may have committed the crime (well, maybe not the wife, considering what happens after the first murder).
Despite being a hedonistic society, the episode feels very steeped in Victorian thriller tropes, including that of a seance (though it isn’t referred to as such) and lots of fog.
When the investigation is relocated to the Enterprise, things return easily to the realm of science fiction, as it seems an alien life-form, composed of malignancy and energy has been travelling from world to world, for countless decades (its even hinted that this was the being behind the actions of Jack the Ripper) killing women, slaughtering them.
The episode seems divided into three parts, the Victorian set-up on Argellius II, the scientific investigation on the Enterprise, which for the most part seems to not include Spock (Leonard Nimoy) as much as it should, and the third part when it becomes a bit of a story of possession.
All of these have been proven to work on their own in countless tales. and Bloch finds a nice balance for the Trek universe. I mean, this is a story of demonic possession, but told from a science fiction perspective, causing the demon to become an alien life form.
It remains a dark story none the less, and I think the whole Redjack laughter and possession angle of the story may have fired my imagination for the occult at a young age. I was always trying to scare myself a little bit, though wasn’t willing to let anyone else do it (It took a long time for me to learn to enjoy horror movies).
When Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the ship’s computer finally resolve everything, Scotty’s name is cleared, and happily, the Enterprise continues on its way, leaving the darkness behind, as it ventures towards a more humorous encounter…
Captain’s log: stardate 4523.3
The beloved classic episode, The Trouble with Tribbles was written by David Gerrold and originally aired on 29 December, 1967.
An intentionally funny story, the episode still remains faithful to the characters and the universe in which they exist. A brilliant Trek episode, this is the episode that got me interested in what goes on behind the scenes of television and movie-making and a t a very young age I came across an edition of Gerrold’s book about the making of the episode. It talked about the making of the episode, the drafts the script went through, and the final revised script itself.
Kirk and company are called to Space Station K7 on an ’emergency’ because of a nearby Klingon threat, led by Koloth (William Campbell). At stake is a new breed of grain. There is a spy somewhere on the station. Scotty gets into a fight with the Klingons, and Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and Chekov (Walter Koenig) bring a small, seemingly harmless creature, a Tribble, onto the ship.
Unfortunately the Tribbles do nothing besides eat and replicate, except maybe provide a measure of comfort to humans, and hiss at Klingons. Soon, the Enterprise is overrun, and K7 is having a time of it as well.
There is nothing that doesn’t work in this episode. There isn’t a missed beat, or a badly written character moment, it fires on all cylinders and shows that Trek can be intentionally funny while still being faithful to its core.
Such a brilliant episode, and I love the dialogue so much! There is such a sense of fun about this one, and all of it is played just right. Hilarious, and classic Trek.
Next week, the U.S.S. Enterprise journeys onward, as the Human Adventure continues…