Lion of the Blogosphere

Star Trek TOS: Where No Man Has Gone Before, part 2

Read part 1 of the review.

Sorry, but this is just a poorly organized mish-mosh of thoughts.

* * *

Gary Mitchell is the ladies’ man of the Enterprise. When Dr. Dehner first shows up, Mitchell tries to flirt, but she rebuffs him with a disparaging remark. Mitchell then tells his shipmate that she’s a “walking freezer unit” loud enough so she can hear him! Feminist-leaning modern viewers have called this “sexual harassment” aboard the Enterprise. The best thing about old TV shows is the political incorrectness.

But then, as Mitchell becomes more powerful and even godlike as a result of gaining super “ESP” powers, Dehner’s attitude completely changes. First she champions him at the ship meeting about what to do about Gary, and then she wants to stay on the planet with him. This is a case of Mitchell becoming more alpha, and even the feminist professional woman who disdains his hound-dog behavior changes her attitude towards him as he becomes a super-alpha.

* * *

The blonde Yeoman Smith who’s on the bridge is the cutest Yeoman ever seen on Star Trek, way cuter than Yeoman Rand. Too bad she never made it past the pilot. But it’s not Captain Kirk who she’s into, nope, it’s our friend Gary Mitchell, who she holds hands with as the ship crosses the galactic barrier. That type of behavior was removed from the series after the pilot. Uhura (absent in the pilot) was sexy, but she kept it professional (except in the evil “Mirror” universe).

* * *

The “ESP” stuff is a very 60s thing. Today nobody takes ESP seriously anymore. Sure, there are lots of movies and TV shows about people with paranormal abilities (like the X-Men), but everyone understands that it’s fantasy and not something to be taken as a serious prediction of what the future will be like. But back in the 60s, ESP was more prominent in hard science fiction. It appeared in various Heinlein novels.

In this episode, Spock is able to look at everyone’s personnel records on his computer screen (which was actually pretty forward thinking), and each record includes an ESP rating. In the future as envisioned here, ESP is taken so seriously that everyone in Starfleet is tested and rated and it’s seen as a scientific fact that some humans have a certain amount of ESP.

Of course, as the series progresses, we encounter many aliens with paranormal abilities, including Spock who is able to read minds by doing a Vulcan mind meld.

* * *

The core assumption of this episode is that if one man obtains super powers, he inherently becomes dangerous to the entire human race, and must be cast out or killed. Thus as soon as Spock determines that Mitchell’s ESP powers are increasing “geometrically,” his immediate “logical” recommendation is that he must be killed as soon as possible, or left behind on a deserted planet, put preferably killed.

However, the setup here is that Mitchell is Kirk’s best friend, and Kirk doesn’t initially have it in him to kill him in cold blood, so he decides on the less lethal option to abandon him on a nearby planet that also, quite conveniently, has an automated mining station with everything they need to fix the warp engines.

And later on, after Mitchell has escaped from his prison cell down on the planet (why does an unpopulated automated mining station have a prison cell?), and the ship has been repaired, it would appear that Kirk has gotten what he wanted, Mitchell is alive on the planet (along with Dehner who now also has super ESP powers) and Kirk can leave him there. But now Kirk has changed his mind and decides that Mitchell must be killed, and that the way to kill him is not by using the ships phasers safely from orbit, but by Kirk going man-to-man against Mitchell who has godlike powers.

This is an example, that will be repeated in many future episodes, where Kirk goes irrational alpha-male, and needs personal and physical revenge against someone who wronged him. By all logic, Kirk should have been killed in the encounter, because Mitchell is now too godlike to be harmed by the cool-looking phaser rifle (which never appeared in any future Star Trek episode), but because of an unlikely and fortuitous turn of events, and a speech, Kirk is able to bury Mitchell alive, and Dehner conveniently dies on her own without Kirk having to do the dastardly deed of killing a woman.

* * *

It seems to me that Kirk isn’t the only one behaving irrational alpha-male in this episode. Mitchell supposedly has super-intelligence in addition to super ESP powers, he is able to read, and remember with perfect recall, a large portion of the ship’s library, but somehow he’s not smart enough to realize that he could much more effectively get what he wants (perhaps transport to a human-inhabited planet so he can take over the human race, or something like that) by pretending to be harmless and benevolent, but instead he shows off his super powers and says stuff like “SOON I’LL SQUASH YOU LIKE INSECTS.”

In episode after episode, Kirk is never able to humor hostile aliens when it appears, at least to me, to be the most prudent course of action. The message is that a true alpha-male, like Kirk, or Mitchell in this episode, is unable to even pretend to be a beta male, not even for a short time, not even when it would be highly advantageous to do so.

* * *

In the briefing room aboard the Enterpise, Dehner says “a mutated superior man could also be a wonderful thing. The forerunner of a new and better kind of human being,” and down on the planet she says “before long, we’ll be where it would have taken mankind millions of years of learning to reach.”

This reflects two themes that run throughout Star Trek.

The first, is that the inevitable future is for mankind to evolve into something superior to what we are today. But that is totally false. It’s not how evolution works. There is no force that causes humans to get better with each passing century. Humans got to where we are because the environment was such that what we consider to be better humans had more descendants and passed on more genes. That type of evolution is no longer happening. Today, it’s the worst of humanity who have the most descendants and pass on the most genes. The human race is devolving and not evolving.

The only way that mankind is going to become better in the future, or even stop its decline, is through artificial means like eugenics or genetic engineering. And that brings us to the second recurring theme of Star Trek, that shortcuts like that are evil and lead to monsters like Gary Mitchell, Charlie X, or Khan Noonien Singh.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 31, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Nerdy stuff, Television

7 Responses

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  1. There’s a great episode of stargate atlantis where rodney gains superpowers including ESP.

    toomanymice

    July 31, 2018 at EDT pm

  2. Good analysis of a rather forgettable episode. I’m sure I’ve seen it several times, but can barely remember it. Anyway, yeoman Colt: http://www.startrek.com/database_article/colt

    Steverino@steverino.com

    July 31, 2018 at EDT pm

    • She’s actually pretty cute but I think she was played as not being hot. Must not be Roddenberry’s type.

      Mike Street Station

      July 31, 2018 at EDT pm

  3. Here’s some interesting deleted footage from the episode:

    In the corridor scene, Gary Lockwood silently sells his character as a ladies’ man – he playfully “claws” at the oblivious blonde and briefly turns to ogle a passing brunette.

    Stan Adams

    July 31, 2018 at EDT pm

  4. Yogis believed humans have been devolving for at least ten thousand years. Interestingly they would have believed that the earlier, more advanced people would have had siddhis, or ESP, and that we lost such abilities through the relentless process of devolution.

    Artifact

    August 1, 2018 at EDT am

  5. […] previously reviewed the second pilot (Part 1, Part 2). This is the first pilot that the network […]

  6. Incidentally, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was not the first but the third Star Trek episode broadcast by NBC.

    Right now (8:29 p.m. Eastern time on August 1, 2018), the H&I television network is showing the Star Trek episode “The Man Trap.” It was this episode, first broadcast by NBC on Thursday, September 8, 1966, that introduced the world to Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.

    Stan Adams

    August 1, 2018 at EDT pm


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