“I had to see for myself that the future was worth fighting for” – Battle of the Atom focuses on the war of identity and fate

xmba1iIn 50 years, the X-Men have become the ultimate example of creating an all encompassing universe within a universe. There’s history, pathos and a real sense of connection between readers and the characters. From the soft relaunch of the title in Giant Size X-Men #1 back in 1975, the franchise has capitalized on the idea of a world filled with heroes defined by their emotional and physical distance from the world. Being defined by separation, a feeling many comics readers may have felt at one point, brings the idea of social isolation into the world of myth, where each decision has earth shattering consequences.

Since House of M in 2005, the X-Franchise has been defined by consequences. With the mutant race pushed to the brink of extinction, every action had to be weighed by every possible reaction. Every battle, every retreat, every search for a new home had a real sense of danger and unpredictability. Characters could die, heroes would have to make the tough decisions and live with the consequences and real change would have to be made in order to stand in a world which hated and despised the race like never before.

x-men-battle-of-the-atom-exerpt-2I don’t know that I love Brian Michael Bendis’ approach to the X-Men. I like it and I appreciate the way he’s been clearly building to something with every issue but it makes for noticeably low stakes arcs and it’s not until now that the consequences of All New X-Men’s premise begins to really shine. There were always going to be a sort of cosmic punishment for Beast’s actions in All New X-Men #1 and it’s only now that it seems like something is really coming. After Scott takes a Sentinel blast in Battle of the Atom #1 and Current Cyclops fading from existence, the characters really begin to consider the consequences of their meddling in time. It’s something which feels like it should have happened much sooner and something the genius Hank McCoy should have probably foreseen and, strangely, it’s the same problem Bendis had with another universe shaking event this summer.

The story doesn’t really start moving until the arrival of the X-Men of the future in the issue’s final pages and their introduction in All New X-Men #16. There’s a real shift of tone there and some interesting character development, playing off of Jean Grey’s shifting world view. A young woman now aware of the massive power and potential she has and will gain, Jean has become a reckless force in a team which demands caution. Her terror at being unable to read Xavier’s mind is palpable and the way the issue re-shows the events leading up to her realization is the rare time this sort of page-filling gimmick plays off.

ANXMEN2012016004scol-2c4ceWhat’s important about Jean’s escape from Westchester is the way it focuses on the nature of fate and identity. There’s a real sense of attention to who the X-Men of the future are and how they came to have evolved to this point. The Xorn reveal to be a new Jean gives the book a sense of cycles repeating, one Grant Morrison played with in the first time Xorn revealed his true nature, but there are also complications. Is this a new Jean, another resurrection of a character who’s never stayed dead long or have the return of these characters shown a world where Jean survives only because she doesn’t belong. Magick’s vision of a twisted and shattered future world give credence to both interpretations but what’s important is what’s left. The first two chapters of Battle of the Atom set up the idea that consequences are what we make of them and how we define ourselves and our actions are the only things that have an impact one the world we create.

Stray Observationstwoface1658-642x362I think I’m going to be saying that DC is having a rough week for the next four weeks or so, but holy god, I just, I don’t, I can’t, oh, let’s just get into it.

  • Let’s get this out of the way. The hologram covers look great but are as empty and lightweight as the stories they hold. The bland, dark origin stories in the Joker, Creeper, Poison Ivy and Desaad stories are shiny and little else.
  • Peter J. Tomasi’s Two Face in Batman and Robin 23.1, however is exceptional. It’s great peak at my favorite Batman villain and the twisted brand of justice he imposes on a city without a hero and makes the prospect of his upcoming story in the title even more exciting.
  • Robert Venditti and Rags Morales also give a suitably epic scale to Green Lantern 23.1: Relic. There’s a real sense of myth making to the villain’s origin and the full page splashes give the story a real sense of history, like a legend passed down from generation to generation.
  • Superior Foes of Spider-Man #3 is the first issue of the series which doesn’t entirely click, namely because it spends so much time in Boomerang’s head but a panel of Abner holding a sign reading “LOL” more than makes up for the rest.
  • Batman Black and White #1 is the sort of miniseries DC needs to be doing more often. Artist and creator driven with an eye on the medium’s past as well as it’s up and coming writers and artists is the sort of book which demands an audience. Plus, it’s great to see Chris Samnee absolutely deliver on the Caped Crusader.

Episode 27- “The City on the Edge of Forever” and defining perfection

Greatness is incalculable. In a medium like television that depends so heavily on context, prejudices and taste, it is difficult to qualify any one moment as legitimately great. Mediums such as music, film and theater are more capable of being classified as great because they occupy a moment in time, a brief pass through an artistic endeavor. Television doesn’t have that luxury. Viewers become connected to different characters or situations, and as such, what one viewer may love another may claim is near blasphemous. Even some of the most critically lauded shows of all time, such as The Sopranos, Mad Men, The Wire, Deadwood, Battlestar Galactica, Seinfeld and M*A*S*H*, are heavily debated on what the greatest moments are due to the way viewers manufacture relationships with the characters.

It seems strange then that “The City on the Edge of Forever” is generally regarded as the greatest episode of Star Trek. Entertainment Weekly, IGN.com and IMDB all rank it as the best episode of the series. TV Guide ranks it as the #68 TV Moment of All Time. All time. Of all the episodes the series has done, of all the planets we have explored and aliens we have met, the critical consensus is that nothing compares to “The City on the Edge of Forever.” I’m not trying to say that its a bad episode. Far from it, there is a genuine sense of brilliance throughout the episode but this is a nearly singularly uncommon incident for any show, especially for a series that maintains as intense of a fan base as Star Trek does.

It’s strange to actually review “The City on the Edge of Forever,” and I choose not to quite do that. Rather, I intend to both attempt to explain why the episode has developed the reputation it has, and also try to critique the notion of vaunting an episode to such a level of prestige.

Its hard to discuss the episode itself without getting into the history of the piece. The original version of the episode was written by vaunted sci-fi author Harlan Ellison. His first script was a story about drug dealers on the Enterprise overdosing themselves back in time, with Kirk and Spock going back to chase them down and fix the effects of their influence on the timeline. Roddenberry wouldn’t have that, saying that there were no drug dealers on his Enterprise, and that the script would need to be rewritten. A couple or rewrites later and a little manipulation from the contracted writers table, and we finally have the version of “The City on the Edge of Forever” that made it to the screen. Naturally, Ellison was furious, believing that he had been screwed by everyone except Leonard Nimoy and he shuffled off.

The early writing problems pretty much set up why the cold open to this episode is so fucking terrible. That may be a bit harsh, but its just really weird. While coming in contact with some sort of time related anomaly, the Enterprise gets knocked around a bit, causing Sulu to fall unconscious. McCoy shows up with a shot of cordrazine, a sort of unexplained wonder drug, and gets Sulu back on his feet, but when the Enterprise takes another hit, Bones ends up injecting himself with the rest of the meds, sending him on a violent bender and insane bender. It looks really awkward and it seems like this was a last minute rewrite that was doing little more than trying to keep Roddenberry’s utopian dreams alive for another day. It works and it still takes the action to the same place that we were headed to but it needlessly complicates itself in an accident that could have been something that had a much deeper context.

McCoy makes his way to the transporter room and beams down to the planet that is causing the anomaly with the landing party (strangely including Scotty and Uhura) close behind. There, they come across a strange doorway and after a rhetorical “what is it,” the Guardian of Forever springs to life, demonstrating its power in riddles and putting Spock’s “primitive” scientific knowledge to shame. There’s some neat humor with Spock being put to shame, and Kirk has fun with it, but everything gets serious when the Guardian shows its ability, projecting a black and white video reel of human history. Seeing a chance to escape, drugged out McCoy leaps through the portal and back into time. Suddenly, everything changes. The Enterprise is gone, the communicators aren’t working and there is a sense that McCoy has really Butterfly-Effected everything. Kirk and Spock decide they are going to jump backwards two weeks before McCoy’s arrival in the time stream and stop him from doing whatever he does that alters the time flow.

There’s a general sense of near operatic grandness to tragedy in “The City on the Edge of Forever.” Even before Kirk and Spock jump back to the nostalgic grandeur of Mayberry, the stakes are huge and slightly tragic. Everything could change, and the remains of the crew could be left on the planet with no way to escape other than projecting themselves back in time. Before we’ve even made it to the doomed pacifists, there is already a sense of dread and tragedy.

This is all reinforced when we make it into the city with Spock and Kirk. Everything they do, up to and including meeting Edith at the mission has a sense of golden age working-man grandeur. They need to steal clothes, and they get some working man flannel and coats. Spock wears a dark stocking cap. They break into a basement and immediately start working at the mission, being fed for the sweat from their brow. I don’t want to romanticize this, but its a mood that we haven’t really seen from the show, and I personally am not a huge fan of it. Generally this sort of mood is reserved for shows that do little but say “oh man, those were the days, without your cell phones and internet pornography.” Its generally used as an intellectual short hand, and I’m always a little put off by it, but it works for the episode.

What doesn’t work is Edith. The manager of a mission in this unnamed city, she’s an optimist and a pacifist that sees the most in everyone and has eerily correct hopes for a future of paunchy middle aged men fighting the Gorn. She’s a pure Harlan Ellison character, right down to her dreamy ideas of the future, but she’s awfully out of place, particularly being cast as an almost too fashion forward beauty. Seriously, she looks like a mod. I half expected we were on Brighton Beach.

So, being an impossibly beautiful woman with lofty hopes for humanity, she and Kirk fall for one another. They go out, and once again she has some wonderfully overstated moments with Kirk when he talks about future novels written on planets orbiting around Orion’s Belt, but it seems sort of romantic if you have a thing for people who babble nonsensically. Meanwhile, Spock works on a makeshift computer and comes to a startling discovery. One newspaper states that Edith will die in the near future, but after a fluctuation, it reads that she will meet with President Roosevelt about the peace movement. After concurring with Kirk, the effects of McCoy’s future meddling becomes clear: McCoy will save Edith from a car accident and her beliefs on pacifism will continue to gain traction until Roosevelt invites her to the White House. Meanwhile, Nazi Germany will have been able to continue researching the atomic bomb without the interference of the invading Americans and will develop nuclear power first, as well as the V2 rockets required to wield it efficiently. This leads the Nazis to winning World War II, preventing the development of Starfleet or the exploration of the galaxy as planned.

Its a well thought out rewrite of history, although I suppose that the peace movement would have had to have some serious clout to prevent the United States from entering the war after Pearl Harbor, but it mostly works and has a grand sense of doom to it. Kirk and Spock must prevent McCoy from interfering, but that means one thing. The woman that Kirk loves must die for history as we know it to survive.

I wrote about the struggles Kirk has to go through when making big decisions in “The Alternative Factor,” and the same vastly applies here. He knows what he has to do to preserve history, but there is a sense that he could have the other way. He could let McCoy save Edith and live the rest of his life in the newly created history. When he meets Edith on the stairwell and catches her as she almost falls, we see the pain even more accutely. Kirk is used to always being the hero, being able to save every maiden and protect his ship at every turn. This is a decision that is even more difficult than what he had to do to Lazarus. In order to pull the trigger on this one, he has to unlearn everything he ever had to learn about being a hero, he has to let someone die when he has the chance to save her. He must look the other way and for Kirk, inaction is even worse than the wrong action.

In the end, Kirk both abandons Edith to her fate, and prevents McCoy from saving her. As the three of them leap back through the Guardian of Forever, their mission complete, there is a moment of silence. Kirk looks up and whispers “lets get the hell out of here.” Its a line that’s been played for laughs, primarily by Mustordayonaise Abe Lincoln, or in testosterone fueled action movies, like every movie that Arnold Schwarzenegger has been in, but Kirk sells it with nothing but remorse. The Guardian is a sign of the life that Kirk could have had, a life that he had to abandon. Its a moment where we have to wonder how comfortable Kirk really is with this. Is the Enterprise really worth the love of a woman who truly cared for him? Is the lonely life he’s chosen really worth what he has to give up? 

The answer is mostly arbitrary mainly because Star Trek is stoically episodic in nature. We’re never going to hear about Edith again and although we’ll see Kirk have to make hard decisions, there won’t be a moment when he considers what happened here and work from his actions. This is a benefit and a detriment to shows from the period, but particularly grander television, like Star Trek. It stunts our ability to associate with Kirk as a constantly growing character and it stops us from being able to see the consequences of actions from the past. However, an episodic nature allows us to have wild shifts in style and tone from episode to episode. If Star Trek played out more like Breaking Bad or The Sopranos, we never would have had off kilter episodes like “Shore Leave,” “The Conscience of the King” or “The City on the Edge of Forever.” They simply don’t fit the themes and ideas of the show.

This really brings me to the primary question I have on the relative greatness of “The City on the Edge of Forever.” The episode, particularly as Ellison originally intended it, really isn’t Star Trek. Roddenberry was right in that regard, but for the entirely wrong reasons. In all regards, this episode could have been made for just about any show. This could be an episode of The Twilight Zone, or The Outer Limits or even a supernatural episode of just about any show you could think of. There’s no discovery, no final frontiers, no exploration; its a grand operatic play with high ambitions, but not necessarily one fitting with the established universe.

Is that a bad thing? No, but its a very strange thing. My favorite episodes of Star Trek so far could vastly be used on just about any television series with a science fiction bent, but it seems unique that the most popular and most critically beloved episode of Trek doesn’t feature phaser fire, Klingons, Vulcans, naked green women, Kirk karate chopping things, gods/godlike beings, personality shifts, new species or people not prepared for the power they hold. All the hallmarks of Star Trek are barely there. If I had to show a person an episode of Star Trek and say “this is what the show is. This is the clearest product of the mission statement of the show,” there’s no way I’d pick “The City on the Edge of Forever.” I’d probably pick “Devil in the Dark” or “Errand of Mercy,” but that’s just me. These are episodes that could only be Star Trek. They fit comfortably in the mythology and offer stories that work well within the created boundaries.

Once again, I’m not disputing that “The City on the Edge of Forever,” isn’t great. It is. But what does “The Greatest Episode” mean when it just barely fits into the shows oeurve? Is the success of “The City on the Edge of Forever” a fluke, little more than an episode that was lucky enough to be sold to Roddenberry rather than Rod Sterling?  Does it even really belong to us?

Random Thoughts

“I’m a surgeon, not a psychiatrist!”

“My friend is obviously Chinese. I see you’ve noticed the ears. They’re actually easy to explain.”

Next Up: “Operation–Annihilate!” and holy shit, its the finale.

Episode 26- “The Alternative Factor” and finally going for the junkys

One of my favorite things about the remake of Battlestar Galactica is the sense that these are people that live on a battleship. These are people stuck in the middle of space without a chance of escape or rescue. No one’s coming. No one’s going to save them.

But you still have to get drunk.

Despite the overall grimness of the series as a whole, there’s still a ton of scenes of Starbuck, Lieutenant Gaeda, Gaius Balthar, Lee Adama and a couple of random pilots sitting, playing cards, drinking and smoking. It helps set up a sense that these are people who have lives that aren’t entirely made up of jumping through the galaxy, shooting up Cylons and generally being at each other’s throats and it makes the moments where they do come into conflict even more powerful.

That’s something that Star Trek has always struggled with. I’ve made jokes before about how all the Enterprise does is jet around the galaxy solving problems because it’s mostly true. All we see is Kirk go into ass-kicking mode and Spock solve intergalactic quandaries. We don’t have much of a sense of what normal life is like there.

There’s a moment in today’s episode, “The Alternative Factor” when a few people banter over coffee and it does manage to provide this sense. Its short, but it does help reinforce the idea that not everyone on the ship is in this for the heroics. There’s guys who mess with dilithium crystals all day and there’s gals who are just there for Kirk to schlup. They didn’t sign up to get harassed by Balok or get blown up by Klingons. It really adds something to a series that mostly just boils down to cowboys pulling up to the newest mysterious town week after week.

And what a mysterious ghost town this week’s is. After a mysterious occurrence destroys gravity throughout the universe, Kirk and a landing party head down to a deserted planet to figure out what happened. There they come across Lazarus, a super-healing crazy person who babbles incoherently about a beast he must kill. They bring him up to the Enterprise where he is treated for his wounds, and Kirk and Spock try to figure out what to do.

The first thing to note is that this episode moves slow. I mean, really painfully slow. I’ve been noting recently that a lot of episodes seem to drag and could have been condensed to pretty tight half-hours, but “The Alternative Factor” isn’t one of them. The speed sets a really interesting pace, with Lazarus mentally struggling with his opponent and Kirk and Spock arguing about alternate dimensions like they’re stuck on an island with a bunch of fucking polar bears or something.

This is a good time to note the special effects that are at work on this episode. They’re a little cheesy to say the least. A pair of guys wrestle in a psychedelic smoky room while a barrage of colors reflect all over the screen. It can be a little hard to take serious, but once you understand the context of what is taking place in the interdimensional space, it makes a fair amount of sense and it is a pretty creative way to deal with the idea within the constraints of the time and technology that was present.

Kirk and Spock conclude that there are two Lazarus-es (Lazarusi?) that exist in a pair of parallel dimensions. When the two come in contact due to their travels in the time stream, it unleashes devastation on the universe. Luckily, their few conflicts have occurred in this interdimensional hallway, and the damage has been minimized, but if Lazarus 1 has his insane way, they may come in contact in the Prime Material Plane (yes, I do know that Prime Material Plane is all capitalized). The way that this scene is handled is artful. We’ve had hints that there are two different versions of Lazarus, but we’re learning this as the characters learn it, rather than our knowledge of something that occurred while the characters were not in the frame tipping us off. It makes this episode considerably more satisfying to see the characters figure it out as we do. To add to that, they do a really great job explaining something that they could have done a really horrible job at explaining, leaving it as another “I don’t know, he can just do crazy shit with space and time” moment.

Lazarus 1 claims that to defeat the beast that is causing the chaos throughout the galaxy, he’s going to need the dilithium crystals from the Enterprise. Kirk refuses and eventually, after staging a few near catastrophic accidents, Lazarus gets a hold of them and beams back down to the planet. Kirk gives chase and ends up getting transported into a transitory plane of existence, the level where Lazarus has been facing his interdimensional doppelganger and the source of the chaos. He comes out the other side and meets Lazarus 2, who proposes a rather complex way to trap Lazarus 1 in the corridor, preventing devastation from being wrecked on the universe. However, he is damning himself to an eternity of constant struggle. It’s a moving moment, and it may be the first time in the series where Kirk is faced with a moral dilemma. Ultimately, he helps trap Lazarus 1 in the corridor and re-boards the Enterprise, prepared to destroy the door that links the two dimensions.

The episode concludes on the bridge. Kirk knows that in order to protect the universe, he has to destroy Lazarus 1’s ship, permanently sealing the two beings in the intradimensional space. There’s a moment of hesitation. We can see the pain he’s going through. He seems more than just unwilling to trap two humans in a never ending hellscape, but ultimately, he pulls the trigger.

Ironically, it compares perfectly to Battlestar Galactica again. Captain (and later, Admiral) Adama is often faced with a similar question. In fact, much of the show rests on that very question. Is one life worth the lives of thousands of others? Can we fire on civilians? Should a women be allowed to have an abortion, despite the fact that humanity is going extinct? Is a cylon woman the same as a human woman? We see the effects that these questions have on Adama and we feel for him. This is the first time I’ve actually felt for Kirk. He has had to make tough decisions before, but we have never seen the pain. Usually, his actions are in the heat of the moment; a phaser blast here, an ethically difficult decision there, yelling at a computer elsewhere, etc. Now, he has to ponder his actions. He can make the other choice.

But he doesn’t. Kirk is a hero, and he knows Lazarus 2 has accepted his fate. He makes the sacrifice, and although he has made the right decision, the pain lies heavy on his face. It’s probably one of Shatner’s best acting moments on the show and it really adds to the episode.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about performances, but there I’ve really failed to mention the tone of the whole episode. I talked briefly about how the sense of pace was very deliberate in this episode and it applies here. This is an episode for established fans of the series and it may be the first one to do that yet. Previous episodes have mostly been very Twilight Zone-y romps through a space-opera-morality play. We see a character or a society act fundamentally wrong and Kirk eventually corrects them and we all learn a valuable lesson. “A Taste of Armageddon” is a prime example of this. We all learn about the price of war by seeing a society that has eliminated the price of war.

“The Alternative Factor” doesn’t do that. It’s a story that could only work in the context of Star Trek and whose value can’t be applied aptly to the real world. Some people may say that this makes the episode nothing more than pulpy sci-fi trash, but the episode is done so well and with so much dignity that it escapes that classification.

“The Alternative Factor” is one of my favorite episodes. It explores the unknown in a perfect fashion and establishes itself in a very firm and confident way in the Star Trek universe. This isn’t a show that is searching for new viewers or scrounging up ratings. It’s an episode that knows what it wants and fucking goes for it.

Random Thoughts

Spock gets a ton of really badass lines in this episode.

“I fail to comprehend your indignation, sir. I’ve simply made the logical assumption that you are a liar.”

“Sometimes pain can drive a man harder than pleasure.”

They might oversell the ending a little bit when Kirk says “But what of Lazarus? What of Lazarus?” but I blame the writing room more than Shatner for that one.

Sulu is replaced by some white dude in this one. Sucks.

Next Up: “The City on the Edge of Forever” and its going to be awesome.

Episode 18- “Tomorrow is Yesterday” and a white hot, slingshotting reset button

Time travel episodes are some of the hardest for just about any series to pull off effectively. They generally involve planning, consideration for the future, and making sure not to endanger any basic rules of the series that the show works around. While some shows have always excelled at the time travel story line, namely “The Twilight Zone” and the British version of “Life on Mars,” many others fail, unable to create a conflict and solve it, without resorting to just pressing the magic reset button.

Star Trek sort of fails to create a solid time travel story, but it tries pretty goddamn hard in “Tomorrow is Yesterday,” one of the odder episodes that the series has ever done. The episode starts off with a fighter pilot chasing down a strange signal in 1960s America, as he approaches, he says that he sees a UFO, and as the camera peers out the windshield, we make out the distinct shape of the Enterprise. We then find out, via Kirk’s captain’s log that the ship has flown through a star and ended up back in time. Thinking fast, Kirk beams up the fighter pilot and now has to deal with having someone from another time learning about Star Fleet as well as knowing that his report and pictures of the Enterprise now are housed in a military installation. If the ship is going to escape back to its own time and guarantee their survival, they will have to return the captured Captain Christopher and will need to steal the solid evidence of the Enterprise’s presence.

Welcome to the FUTURE!

There’s some major conflicts at work here, but the episode rarely seems that interested in addressing them. Instead, we see several jokes about Kirk dealing with a computer that talks to him in a female voice and people from the ‘60s getting ridiculous reaction shots in front of girls, half-Vulcans and computers. Sure, I can accept that there is going to be some comedy in here, but I’d prefer it if the writers really picked one direction and went with it.

Instead, there’s surprisingly little actually going on in this episode. Spock researches the effect that Christopher disappearing from the timeline could have on the futures, McCoy is cautious, and Sulu gets to talk about things and eventually break into a building. From the time that Christopher is abducted to the Kirk and Sulu’s break in, virtually nothing happens. What makes this problem even more noticeable is just how bad the show is at beating us over the head with how the characters feel and think. I understand that Christopher wants to see his wife and wants to go home. I understand that Spock wants to do what is best to preserve the timeline. These are things I know because they are vastly surface emotions. I understand the characters, so I understand the drama.

So, it ultimately comes down to Sulu and Kirk having to steal the records from the wreckage of Christopher’s plane. It’s fun and exciting enough to watch them sneak around and start stealing evidence, and the way the deal with the MP by accidentally beaming him onto the ship is some goofy fun. Of course, it’s nothing without a Kirk brawl scene and while Sulu is rewriting the tapes, the captain goes all Gorn on a couple of officers at the base, giving Sulu enough time to rewrite the tapes and then beam out, leaving Kirk in the hand of his capturers and giving the Enterprise another complication.

Or COMPLICATION.

And that’s when the sort-of, not-really, but-I-guess-kinda hilarity really starts. You see, the pilots ask Kirk some questions, and then he tells them the truth about the future, and they totally think he’s lying. They think he’s crazy. Are you laughing yet? Yeah, neither am I, but that’s because I took out my humor flaps. I know that that kind of humor is a bit of a product of a different time, and it does work in the context of the episode, but it isn’t really a substitute for writing a good episode.

In a surprise that no one possibly could see coming, Spock, Sulu and Christopher return to the base to rescue Kirk, defeat the guards and attempt to leave, but Christopher pulls a gun and is stopped by a well placed Vulcan Neck Pinch. They haul everyone back up to the ship and prepare to embark on THE BIGGEST EPISODE RUINER SINCE “MUDD’S WOMEN.”

He miscounted the men, Liz. He miscounted the men.

Spock believes that if the Enterprise can accelerate around the sun at a certain speed and use the slingshot effect, shooting off the body’s gravity, they should be able to move backwards in time, and as they are doing that, they can time everything right so they can beam Christopher back into his fighter jet and beam the MP back into the base at the correct time so that they will believe that nothing involving the Enterprise transpired. They believe that Christopher and the MP will remember their actions, but they will have nothing to report, but if you’re moving backwards in time to a point when they wouldn’t have been able to report on seeing the Enterprise or dealing with Sulu and Kirk in the base, then why did they have to steal the film? Couldn’t they have just turned on their reflectors, waited for the warp-drive to start working again and then attempted this fucking ridiculous maneuver? They could have then avoided exposing themselves to even more people from a different time, and everything could have worked out a little better.

So unsurprisingly, it all works out. Christopher gets ready to spawn a kid that will go to Saturn, the Enterprise makes contact with Star Fleet, and the bumbling MP continues to bumble. It’s an episode with huge mistakes, but it turns them into little stories that ultimately end up doing little to help the episode.

Really, if it weren’t for the ridiculous shit with slingshotting through the sun into a time warp, I would probably like this episode a lot more. Instead, it feels like a pre-“Primer” relic, when time travel was handled poorly and giant gaps in story lines are mostly ignored.

Random Notes

Apparently, this was originally going to be part two of the story started in “The Naked Time.” Thanks, Wikipedia.

“Now you’re sounding like Spock.” “If you’re going to get nasty, I’m going to leave.”

Next Up: “Court Martial” which I’ll probably like solely on the basis of how talky it will be.