Archive for the ‘Television’ Category
A murder mystery with MILFs and Cougars. It takes place in Monterey California, a small coastal city south of Silicon Valley where rich people live. Unfortunately, I have not personally had the opportunity to visit the northern California coast.
Plus Shailene Woodley who plays a poor single mom and who is young and pretty even though her character is made to look plain with her low maintenance clothing and hairstyle and lack of obvious makeup. And her character is even named Jane. Plain Jane. Not very subtle.
Not only is it a whodunit, it’s also a mystery who is actually murdered!
Plus there’s lots of soap opera type drama. This show is unusually lowbrow for an HBO series. I think I’m going to enjoy it more than The Young Pope. Thankfully, no gay sex, at least not yet.
The character played by Laura Dern is a real bitch. She has to be either the killer, the victim, or at least a suspect.
Also starring Reese Witherspoon, who seems to be the main character, and Nicole Kidman who still looks MILFy even though she has aged into a Cougar.
This episode has some interesting sociological observations, and the display of Hannah’s body is limited to her wearing a top that’s just a tad too short which allows the occasional glimpse of her pasty floppy stomach hanging over her large-waisted jeans.
THE MAIN STORYLINE
The episode opens with Marnie having sex with her crazy ex-husband Desi. (And I mean crazy in the sense that he has manic-depressive mental health issues.) Apparently, Marnie is pissed at Ray for staying at Shoshanna’s after she kicked him out of her apartment. Ray is not seen in this episode at all.
Hannah accompanies Marnie and Desi to Poughkeepsie (which for those not familiar with the New York City metropolitan area is a small city up the Hudson River about 80 miles north of Manhattan). It’s not clear, based on only watching once, whose car they are driving or whose well-decorated house in Poughkeepsie they are staying at.
There is a little bit of a theme we’ve seen before on Girls, why do people spend exorbitant amounts of money to live in crappy tiny apartments in New York City when they can live elsewhere for so much less money and have open space and fresh air?
The soap opera part of the Poughkeepsie jaunt is that Marnie discovers that Desi has been abusing Oxycontin for the last year, and this is consistent with Marnie’s character being so self-centered that she notices nothing about anyone else, not even that Desi was abusing drugs while they were married.
Marnie, who is unable to just let things go, throws a big temper tantrum and smashes his bottle of pills on the floor and steps on them, and this triggers Desi into having a crazy episode in response, because after all, not only is he crazy with mental health issues, he’s also a druggie.
I think that Desi’s craziness is part of his appeal to Marnie because it’s confused for alpha-ness.
THE SECONDARY STORYLINE
Shoshanna wants to go to meeting of WEMUN (Women Entrepreneurs Meet-Up Now) which happens to have been founded by two girls, who are the successful founders of a company called Jamba Jeans, and who Shoshanna used to know in college but they fell out of friendship after Shoshanna stood them up for a spring break vacation in Aruba in order to hang with Jessa.
Too socially anxious to go by herself, she convinces Elijah (Hannah’s gay ex-boyfriend) to accompany her. And then Jessa, even though clearly not welcome by Shoshanna, tags along.
We see that Shoshanna is insanely jealous of the success of her ex-friends from college, and when she tries to insert herself back into their lives, she gets a rebuke because they still haven’t forgiven her for the Aruba trip, which is where they invented the idea for Jamba Jeans. The incident is emotionally devastating for Shoshanna.
Jessa has the best observation of the entire episode. She says “Here’s what I don’t understand. Why aren’t more of these women going into more practical trades. Like being a cobbler, or a locksmith [unintelligible] lady road pavers, lady electricians, lady plumbers.”
Then some soap opera drama in which Elijah and Shoshanna yell at Jessa for hooking up with Adam, which she wasn’t supposed to do because he was Hannah’s ex-boyfriend.
SEASONS 4 AND 5
I haven’t written about this show in a long time.
In the previous two seasons, I think that the show got substantially worse. It seems like the point of every episode was for Lena Dunham to disgust us with her putridly fat naked body.
Hannah’s gay ex-boyfriend, Elijah, got a bigger role during the previous two seasons and became more of a regular character with his own independent arc. And gay sex. How shocking to see gay sex on an HBO series.
The only likable characters on the show are Ray and Shoshanna.
I enjoyed all of the episodes where Shoshanna is in Japan.
It should be pointed out that Shoshanna is the only character on the show who has a career in corporate America. She sees work as a place to show off her outfits and attend meetings rather than to do real work, but that’s a pretty accurate portrayal women in the workforce, I think.
So about the first episode of the final season.
This is primarily a Hannah episode. Hannah shows us more of her disgusting naked body, and her unshaved pubic region.
After her success at getting a column published in the New York Times (about how she lost her best friend to her ex-boyfriend—that’s right, Adam and Jessa are now a couple), she gets a writing assignment to go to a surf class in Montauk, where he’s like a great white whale out of water. She feigns an injury to her arm so she can get out of the class and go back to her hotel room.
For inexplicable reasons, the super-cool Pakistani-looking surfing instructor takes a liking to her. Now that doesn’t make sense. Surely the super-cool Pakistani-looking surfing instructor has been laid by many girls, every single one of them better looking than Hannah. I don’t see what Hannah possibly has to offer him. Not only does she look horrible, her personality is even worse than her looks. She’s just a cesspool of toxic negativity and sarcasm.
Everything seems to be going well, with the Pakistani guy imparting his positive easy-going athletic non-intellectual vibe onto Hannah, but then in the morning (after a night of passionate love-making) he mentions that his girlfriend is coming to visit later in the week.
The secondary story focuses on Ray and Marnie. They are now sort of living together, but Marnie kicks him out, and when he says he will go over to Shosh’s, Marnie gets jealous and tells him that he shared an apartment with Adam. (To be honest, I don’t remember the details of how that came to be.) Anyway, Adam and Jessa’s apartment is dirty, they have moved all of Ray’s stuff into a corner, Jessa is sitting on the couch totally naked, and Ray feels very unwelcome.
The final scene shows Ray very happily sharing morning coffee with Shoshanna in her extremely neat apartment, as they discuss current events while reading the newspaper. Marnie comes in with Starbucks coffee for Ray, which Ray doesn’t drink because Ray doesn’t believe in big corporate coffee chains, and she is jealous that that Shoshanna and Ray have so much more to talk about with each other than Ray and Marnie talk about. Marnie doesn’t even know that Ray won’t drink Starbucks, but that’s an example of Marnie’s extreme self-centeredness which has been her consistent personality trait since the first season.
Before giving up on Star Trek, I watched this episode from season 5 of The Next Generation, “The Inner Light,” because it’s regarded as the best episode of the entire series.
And I agree, best episode of the series. But there were some nitpicks. At first I felt guilty for nitpicking at such a great episode, but then it hit me that the reason it was such a great episode is because for about 25 to 30 minutes, it left Star Trek and became a self-contained story about a guy who has amnesia/delusion who comes to accept his situation and has a rich and fulfilling life as husband, then father, then grandfather, while all the time, in the background, the planet they live on is doomed because the sun is going to go supernova.
Because Picard’s life is portrayed as so fulfilling, it makes you wonder whether his career as starship captain bachelor makes any sense. Why doesn’t he find a nice wife and settle down on an agrarian planet and have a more fulfilling life? Oh, the answer is because they tell us that self-actualization comes from having a successful career, and not from stuff people did in the 1950s “Leave it to Beaver” era before they knew about what we were really supposed to do with our lives.
The bad parts of the episode were the usual Star Trek crap.
Captain Picard’s mind is taken over, against his will, by an alien probe, which almost kills him. And at the end of the episode, no one seems angry about that? This reminds me of the space rape episode which I’ve previously blogged about. Captain Picard is mind raped.
It then occurred to me that the morality driving Star Trek tends to put Starfleet and humans in the place of privileged whites, while most alien species, especially Klingons, are seen as victimized minorities whose actions are always excused. Thus Picard routinely puts up with Klingon crap that would get a stern and condescending moral lecture if it came from any white human male from the Federation of Planets.
While spending decades (perhaps 40 years) living another life and suddenly finding yourself back where you were 40 years ago would be beyond overwhelming for any normal person, Picard is back to normal Picard the next episode as if this episode didn’t happen at all.
The technology makes no sense. Only technology more sophisticated than what Starfleet has could manufacture a space probe that can find an alien spaceship, and then take over the mind of the captain and make him believe he has lived a life for 40 years. But the planet of Kataan is shown to have technology that’s more like the 19th century; there doesn’t seem to be any sort of mass communication, or computers, or even cars, although they do have electricity and doors that automatically slide open: it should be pointed out that doors which automatically slide open seems futuristic because it reminds you of the Enterprise, but the technology to make a door slide open when you push a button existed in the 20th century. (There was a door like that in an office of a company I used to work for, and I thought of it as the Star Trek door, and I’m pretty sure that’s how everyone else perceived it.)
I’m not even going to bother to go into the issue of why everyone speaks English, because without universal English (except for Klingons, the only alien species that has its own language), there wouldn’t be much exploration of “strange new worlds” and “new civilizations.” And don’t try to tell me about the mysterious “universal translator” which doesn’t seem to work for Klingons who get to speak their own language.
I watched the first five episodes. This awful. Every single episode is about the female Captain Janeway doing something incredibly stupid for a moral reason that doesn’t make any sense.
I think they were trying to atone for Captain Kirk being an alpha male who got stuff done.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the best of the Star Trek sequels. The only one I could watch in its entirety.
I just watched the first two episodes. Mildly humorous. Some of my readers really liked this series which makes fun of a liberal family.
This is the new pretentious style of TV. No plot, because plot is for the proles. Instead there are weird characters, surreal dreams, gay sex—how can any show claim to be highbrow these days without gay sex?—and admittedly great acting, great costumes, and great sets with great lighting and great camera angles. Occasionally, the inventiveness of some of the scenes are even humorous and brought a forth mild chuckle (although nothing here is as hilariously funny as that Ferengi commando-team episode I mentioned in my review of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).
There’s also lots of psychoanalysis type of stuff. The people who come up with pretentious TV series obviously believe that psychoanalysis stuff is really really deep. All of the issues that Lenny aka Pope Pius XIII has are attributed to the psychological trauma from being abandoned by his parents when he was a young child and left with the nuns.
It’s the very opposite of Star Trek: The Original Series. The acting was terrible, the sets are the cheapest sets ever, most “outdoor” scenes look like either bad paintings or the California desert. But every Star Trek episode had a story to it.
Another case of opposites is that everyone in Star Trek is an atheist, while everyone in The Young Pope publicly claims to believe in God, and I’d say that most of the characters in The Young Pope privately believe in God as well. But they don’t believe in a Catholic god. They believe in a Universalist god. The only time Jesus is ever discussed, that I can recall, is when Lenny, on multiple occasions, proclaims that he is more handsome than Jesus.
The people who wrote the scripts must believe that, although it’s possible for smart people like cardinals to believe in the existence of God, they couldn’t possibly take that Gospel stuff or that Trinity stuff or that Catholic doctrine stuff seriously.
I admit that I watched all 10 episodes, even though HBO is currently only on episode 8. Without giving away the ending, I will say that the payoff at the end does not satisfactorily justify the previous nine episodes.
This is the second episode in which Klingons appeared. Unlike Errand of Mercy, “Friday’s Child” is mostly mediocre and forgettable. There isn’t much of a deeper philosophy underlying the episode as there is in the better TOS episodes.
In this episode, the Enterprise is ordered to “Capella,” a planet occupied by primitive tribesmen, where Kirk is to obtain a mining treaty with the natives for the rare mineral “topaline.”
(Once again, this brings up the question of how a primitive tribe can be authorized to sign a treaty for an entire huge planet. Surely there must be thousands of small tribes of the kind that Kirk deals with in this episode. Any “treaty” obtained under these circumstances is reminiscent of the Dutch buying Manhattan for a bunch of worthless trinkets. It has never been certain that the Dutch gave the trinkets to the correct Indian tribes—in other words the tribes with the best claim to “own” Manhattan despite the natives being too primitive to have deeds and land ownership.)
* * *
In a pre-mission briefing, it is revealed that Doctor McCoy previously spent time on this planet. We assume this was in the Federation version of the Peace Corps. McCoy explains:
They’re quite large. Seven feet tall is not unusual. They’re extremely fast and strong. Lieutenant?
(Uhura turns on a monitor) Make no mistake. They can be highly dangerous. The Capellans’ basic weapon, the kligat. At any distance up to a hundred yards, they can make it almost as effective against a man as a phaser.
(On the monitor, we see McCoy being given a demonstration in which a small sapling is cut in half by one of these hand-thrown objects.)
By the way, whatever happened to the Prime Directive? I thought the Federation is only allowed to secretly observe alien cultures, and never to interfere with them by revealing themselves as aliens from outer space?
* * *
Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and a security guard in a red uniform beam down to the planet. Shortly after meeting up with the Capellans, we see a Klingon hanging out with them! The security guard in the red uniform shouts “A Klingon!” and he draws his phaser. Then, to protect their Klingon guest, a Capellan throws his kligat at the security guard, and he dies.
This death is unintentionally funny. The original intent was to demonstrate the dangerous nature of the situation that Kirk is in and make the episode feel more suspenseful. Unfortunately, the writers of the original series used this plot device over and over and over again, always killing off a security guard in a red uniform. Star Trek fans caught onto the pattern, and it became a running joke among trekkies. As reported in the Star Trek wiki, “The icon of the doomed redshirted crewman has to an extent nestled itself in the awareness of the general public and has been translated into a number of other pop culture and literary media and parodies.”
* * *
Kirk and the Klingon are both explaining their positions to the Capellans.
The Klingon says: “What do Earth men offer you? What have you obtained from them in the past? Powders and liquids for the sick? We Klingons believe as you do. The sick should die. Only the strong should live. Earthmen have promised to teach the youth of your tribes many things. What? What things? Cleverness against enemies? The use of weapons?”
Kirk responds: “The Earth Federation offers one other thing, Akaar. Our laws. And the highest of all our laws states that your world is yours and will always remain yours. This differs us from the Klingons. Their empire is made up of conquered worlds. They take what they want by arms and force.”
This exchange demonstrates an advantage that Klingons have in dealing with alien species compared to the Federation. The Klingons accept the aliens the way they are. If the aliens think the sick should die and they only care about warfare and not science or medicine, the Klingons are happy to oblige them. The Federation, on the other hand, wants to impose their values onto the aliens (the very opposite of the supposed Prime Directive which preaches non-interference with pre-warp-technology alien cultures).
Kirk gives the Capellans the same spiel he gave to the Organians in “Errand of Mercy.” The Klingons are the bad guys! Don’t you understand?
It didn’t work on the Organians, and it doesn’t work on the Capellans either. If not for a series of unlikely circumstances and lucky breaks as the plot of this episode unwinds, the Klingon would have secured the mining treaty and Kirk would have left empty-handed. Why does Starfleet keep sending Kirk on these diplomatic missions when he’s such a bad diplomat?
This exchange has a lesson for the current-day world situation. The Chinese are going to eventually have more influence among the Third World nations than the United States, because the Chinese are less preachy and don’t care about imposing Western values onto Third World governments which don’t want them.
* * *
Up in space, Scotty is in charge of the Enterprise. When I was a kid, I always thought it was cool when Scotty was left in charge. I liked his no-nonsense attitude towards command, bolstered by actor James Doohan’s overdone fake Scottish accent. And you know what? It’s still cool to see Scotty in charge of the Enterprise.
The Enterprise is lured away from the planet because the Klingons broadcast a fake distress call from a Federation freighter. Apparently, the Enterprise lacks the technology to tell the difference between a genuine Federation distress call and one faked by the Klingons. Even though the distress signal was made to sound fake to the people viewing at home.
It’s a standard plot device in Star Trek episodes to concoct some reason for why the Enterprise has to leave the landing party stranded down on the planet.
When the Klingons then try to trick Scotty with a second fake distress signal, Scott explains his decision to ignore it to the bridge crew:
There’s an old, old saying on Earth, Mister Sulu. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
That’s the one line from this episode which I’ve always remembered. And it’s a great life lesson.
* * *
The previous “teer” (leader of the tribe) is killed in an insurrection led by Maab, the Capellan who is friends with the Klingon.
Eleen, the tall blonde wife of the previous teer, who is pregnant with the baby of the previous teer, is to be killed according to Capellan custom.
The Klingon, of course, is fine with this. But Kirk, who despite being alpha, is a pathological white knight, gets into a fight with the Capellans to prevent her death. After Kirk, Spock and McCoy lose the fight, Eleen, instead of feeling any gratitude towards Kirk, demands that Kirk be killed for touching her in the process of saving her life and thus violating their customs. No good deed by a white knight goes unpunished!
But don’t worry. Instead of being killed right away, Kirk and crew and Eleen are put into a poorly guarded hut from which they are easily able to escape.
* * *
Eleen refuses to let McCoy treat her pregnancy because no man is allowed to touch the wife of a former teer. Every time McCoy touches her, Eleen slaps him in the face. McCoy finally responds by giving her a good hard slap to the face in return. After that, Eleen’s whole attitude towards McCoy changes. She now sees McCoy as her protector, and even offers to give her baby to him. As Roissy would put it, McCoy passed her shit test and asserted his male dominance over her.
There’s a lesson that you would never see on modern TV, that sometimes you need to strike a woman in order to get her to behave.
Later in the episode, Kirk asks McCoy how he got her to allow him to touch her. McCoy explains that he gave her a “right cross.” Instead of court-martialing him for assaulting a pregnant woman, Kirk good naturedly comments, “Never seen that in a medical book.”
* * *
The reason I chose this episode to re-watch is because I wanted to explore how Klingons were depicted in the original series.
Unlike Kor in “Errand of Mercy,” who was an interesting enemy played by John Colicos, a character actor who excelled at playing sci-fi villains, the Klingon in this episode is nothing but a one-dimensional foil for Kirk. As the episode progresses, the Klingon is shown to be a beta-male bitch whom we disdain in comparison to the more noble and alpha Kirk. When Kirk challenges him to a fight, Maab, the new Capellan teer, “sees the fear in the Klingon’s eyes.” After a long march, the Klingon is shown to be out of breath while the Capellans are physically unfazed (this was done subtly, a nice touch). Eventually, the Klingon fears for his safety as he realizes that he has lost all esteem in the eyes of the Capellans, and in a cowardly manner he steals his phaser from them and uses it against them.
This episode is another example of the discontinuity between the Klingons of the original series and the Klingons of DS9. The latter Klingons are courageous to the point of foolishness, desiring death in battle rather than being afraid of it. It would also be out of character for the DS9 Klingons to “dishonor” themselves by bringing a phaser to a knife fight. They were also very physically fit.
Also, using fake distress signals seems like a deception that the DS9 Klingons would frown upon.
The Klingons of the original series are more believable as a technologically advanced military dictatorship. I am sure that in the army of the Soviet Union, there were a few officers who were afraid to die and weren’t in good enough shape to handle a long march without getting out of breath.
* * *
Using the Dungeons and Dragons alignment system, I would say that the Capellans are Lawful Neutral (they adhere to a strict code of behavior), the Klingon is Neutral Evil, and Kirk is Chaotic Good (without wisdom or restraint, he immediately acts to save the life of the pregnant woman).
As I wrote in the previous Star Trek DS9 post, the Klingons of DS9 are “a bunch of buffoons who, in a real universe, could never organize into an economy capable of producing space ships.”
To get a better perspective, I decided to go back in time and watch the original Star Trek episode that introduced the Klingons, “Errand of Mercy,” which is the 26th episode of the first season. This episode first aired in March, 1967. Wow, has it really been fifty years?
This turned out to be a much deeper episode than I had realized. That’s what’s so great about the original series. Underneath the surface of the bad acting (especially by William Shatner), the laughable special effects and background music, and sometimes really awful plots, there is often a thought-provoking philosophical element to be found.
The show begins with the Enterprise being fired upon by “Klingons.” Kirk orders the Enterprise crew to return fire, and the enemy ship is destroyed. Uhura then receives a communication from Starfleet that they are now at war with the Klingon Empire. Kirk is to proceed to Organia, the only life-supporting planet in a strategic sector that both sides want as a base for military operations. (Plot hole: if the planet is so strategic, why have both sides completely ignored it until now?)
Kirk and Spock beam down to the planet, leaving Sulu in command with orders to flee if a Klingon fleet arrives. Down on the planet, Kirk and Spock encounter what looks like a pre-industrial-revolution village. The natives look exactly like humans. At the end of the episode, we learn that the Organians are actually energy beings who have evolved beyond the need for bodies, so the reason they look like humans is that they have taken a form that humans would be comfortable interacting with.
Kirk goes to speak with the council of elders, while Spock leaves him take some “tricorder” readings.
(Reality check: Planets are huge. What’s the chance that Kirk, randomly beaming down somewhere on a huge planet would be within a short walk of the council of elders representing the entire planet? Furthermore, a pre-industrial-revolution planet wouldn’t have a central planet-wide government. The lack of advanced communications and travel technology makes such a thing impossible. Even in the 21st century, planet Earth still doesn’t have a central planet-wide government representing all of humanity that could negotiate with aliens. This is something that is ignored in just about every Star Trek episode. But we can assume that Gene Roddenberry was very much in favor of one government for all of Earth, a situation that would put an end to wars between nations. It should be noted that, in the future, the humans didn’t have to deal with crazy religions like Islam. All of the humans in Starfleet seem to be agnostic or atheist. The absence of crazy religions makes it a lot easier for everyone to get along.)
Kirk tries to explain to the council the dangers the Klingons pose to Organia. The Klingons are a “military dictatorship” and “war is their way of life.” They would put all of the Organians into “slave labor camps” and the Organians would have “no freedoms whatsoever.” The Organians just smile and have absolutely no concern for any of the things that Kirk says about the Klingons. Kirk gets extremely frustrated with the Organians, whom to Kirk just seem too stupid to understand their situation.
Spock comes back from doing his tricorder reading and informs Kirk that the Organian culture is completely stagnant and they have made no technological or cultural progress in thousands of years. This causes Spock, who is a man of science, to have a negative opinion of the Organians. How dare they have a lack of any scientific curiosity! (Spock’s tricorder is, apparently, not sophisticated enough to pick up on the fact that the Organians are pure energy beings and that the buildings, artifacts and people are creations designed to trick lesser species.)
One of the men from the council of elders informs the room that “eight space vehicles have assumed orbit around our planet. They are activating their material transmission units.” The Klingons have arrived. But how does an old guy from a technologically backwards civilization possibly know such a thing? This is the first hint that the Organians are not what they seem, but Kirk and Spock ignore it (as well as other hints dropped later in the episode).
The Organians give Kirk and Spock native clothing so that the Klingons won’t know they’re from Starfleet. Because Spock doesn’t look like a human or an Organian, they give him a cover story that he’s a Vulcan trader dealing in “kevas and trillium” (meaningless names never explained).
And then finally, the Klingons enter! The first time in the history of Star Trek that we see Klingons. And they look just like humans! In fact, they look just like white American humans wearing makeup to make their skin darker. The leader of the Klingons, Kor, is played by John Colicos who later played Baltar in the Battlestar Galactica series.
The most obvious difference between Klingons in the newer series and in the original series is their changed appearance. I always assumed that the thinking behind the change was that in the 1960s they were too cheap or too unsophisticated in the use of makeup to make the Klingons look the way they were always intended to look. However, after re-watching “Errand of Mercy,” I realize now that is not the case. The Klingons were intentionally made to look like humans in order to demonstrate the important point that humans and Klingons are very much alike.
The similarity of humans and Klingons is first demonstrated in this scene as Kor takes a liking to Kirk who is doing a bad job of pretending to be Baroner, a “leading citizen.” While all the other Organians smile placidly at the Klingons without the slightest trace of anger at the sudden incursion of aliens, Kirk is unable to hide his disdain of the situation, and Kor likes that about Kirk because he’s the only person on the planet that Kor can relate to. “Good honest hatred,” says Kor. “Very refreshing.” Kor appoints Kirk as liaison between the Klingons and the Organians because Kor doesn’t trust people who smile too much. Kor also lets everyone know that if one Klingon soldier is killed, then a thousand Organians will die in retaliation.
Kor however, doesn’t trust Spock, so he orders his men to take Spock and subject him to the Klingon “mind scanner.” Kor explains the mind scanner to Kirk. “We can record every thought, every bit of knowledge in a man’s mind. Of course, when that much force is used, the mind is emptied. Permanently, I’m afraid. What’s left is more vegetable than human.” The mind scanner sounds like something that would be banned by the Geneva Convention if it existed on Earth, only to be used by evil dictators like Hitler. It’s interesting how easily we are led to see the Klingons as evil based only on Kirk’s say-so plus Kor’s description of the mind scanner and his threat of disproportionate response if a Klingon soldier is killed.
Luckily for Spock, his Vulcan mind is able to evade the mind scanner and the Klingons believe his cover story, that he’s just a dealer in kivas and trillium.
In the next scene, Kirk and Spock are walking outside and an arrogant Klingon soldier bumps into Kirk and tells him to get out of the way. Kirk, who is too much of an alpha male to deal with this sort of slight, turns around to beat the crap out of the Klingon, but Spock stops him from doing so. Kirk was unable to hold back his temper and turn the other cheek, even though if Spock hadn’t stopped him, Kirk would surely have been arrested and executed as an example to other Organians. And by doing so, he wouldn’t only have sacrificed his own life for the brief pleasure of retaliation, he would have also compromised his mission to secure the planet as a base for the Federation. The purpose of this scene is to show us that, underneath the Starfleet uniform, Kirk still has savage chimpanzee emotions, and that Kirk is more like the Klingons than the Organians.
In the next scene, Kirk and Spock commit an act of terrorism by blowing up some crates that contain chemical explosives. This was before “terrorism” was a commonly used word, so it was never called “terrorism” in the episode. It should be noted that Spock, who is supposed to be more logical than humans, approved of the plan. Conveniently, no Klingons are killed, so Kirk can still maintain the moral high ground. But what’s the value of terrorism that doesn’t kill anyone, that just destroys a few crates? Where’s the terror in that? (Plot hole: Why did the Klingons need crates of chemical explosives? Didn’t they have phasers? And why leave crates like that in the village?)
In the next scene, Kirk is trying to explain his action to the council of elders, who are aghast that Kirk committed violence. Kirk is pissed at the Organians because they “don’t have the backbone to fight and protect their loved ones.”
Unbeknownst to Kirk, the Klingons installed a security camera in the council chamber, so they come and arrest him and Spock. The council of elders tell the Klingons that “Baroner” is actually Captain James T. Kirk. Kor, while delighted to have captured a Starfleet captain and his first officer, expresses his contempt for the Organian council of elders for betraying their friend who was trying to help them. Kirk and Kor have their first bonding moment because they both feel the same way about the Organians.
Then Kor has a talk with Kirk in his office. This is the most important scene in the episode. Kor offers Kirk a drink (we assume it’s alcohol) but Kirk refuses because of his hatred of Kor. The difference between Kirk and Kor is the Kirk needs to believe that his enemies are evil and that he must hate them. Kor, on the other hand, is motivated by his nationalistic feelings for the Klingon Empire. His duty is to do whatever it takes to make the Klingon Empire more powerful. Kirk is just someone who stands in the way of the Empire’s expansion, but not someone whom Kor needs to hate.
KOR: You of the Federation, you are much like us.
KIRK [with anger in his voice]: We’re nothing like you. We’re a democratic body.
KOR: Come now. I’m not referring to minor ideological differences. I mean that we are similar as a species. Here we are on a planet of sheep. Two tigers, predators, hunters, killers, and it is precisely that which makes us great. And there is a universe to be taken.
Kor has more wisdom than Kirk. Indeed, the Klingons aren’t that much more different from humans than the United States was different from Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. We were all humans with the same genes, we were just raised with different ideologies. I genuinely believe Kor when he says that he wishes that Kirk would tell him what he needs to know so that he doesn’t have to use the mind scanner on him and turn him into a vegetable.
Kor has Kirk and Spock put into a medieval cell and gives Kirk twelve hours before he uses the mind scanner on him. Kirk and Spock talk about other terrorist options they could use if they escape. Then the leader of the Organian council opens the door of the cell to rescue them. (But what happened to the Klingon guards? Another hint that the Organians are not what they seem.) Back in the council chamber, Kirk threatens violence against the Organians unless they return their phasers. (Kirk behaves much like the Klingons.) The Organians return the phasers. Then Kirk gives a short speech in which he says how much he despises the Organians, but nevertheless he’s going to go out with his phasers and go down fighting in order to show the Organians that “there are things worth dying for.”
Kirk and Spock break into the Klingon headquarters. Their phasers are set to “stun” so that they can continue to maintain the moral high ground that the two guards they shot on the way in weren’t killed. A third guard is rendered unconscious using the Vulcan nerve pinch. Then they reach Kor’s office. The two sides once again express their different philosophies towards war. Kor sees war as a game, and not as a struggle of good against evil the way that Kirk does. Kor predicts victory for the Klingons because the Federation has soft emotions like mercy. (Indeed, Kirk couldn’t even bring himself to kill any of the Klingon guards on the way in).
Klingon guards burst into the room. It’s game over for Kirk and Spock! But wait, it’s not! Everyone’s phasers become too hot to hold and they have to drop them. Then they try to have a fist fight, but when fists contact the body of the enemy, they feel the same intense heat. Then two guys from the Organian council enter and explain that they made things so that all instruments of war are 350 degrees (presumably Fahrenheit), and that even includes their fleets. Kirk and Kor are encouraged to call up to their ships, and Sulu confirms that all of the bridge controls are too hot to touch. The Organians explain that they are putting a stop to the war.
Both Kirk and Kor are angry at the Organians. “What gives you the right” demands Kirk. “You can’t interfere. What happens in space is not your business” says Kor. One of the Organians says, “We find interference in other people’s affairs, most disgusting, but you gentlemen have given us no choice. ”
KIRK: Even if you have some power that we don’t understand, you have no right to dictate to our Federation
KOR: Or our Empire!
KIRK: How to handle their interstellar relations! We have the right
You see, war with the Klingons makes Kirk feel nationalistic, and that causes Kirk to feel the same way about things as Kor.
AYELBORNE [one of the Organians]: To wage war, Captain? To kill millions of innocent people? To destroy life on a planetary scale? Is that what you’re defending?
After Ayelborne says that, there is dramatic music played (in the Star Trek fashion) and the focus is on Kirk’s face. Kirk realizes finally that he has been acting like a savage Klingon and not like the supposedly more enlightened Federation.
The Organian predicts that eventually the humans and Klingons will become friends. And that prediction is based not on any foreknowledge of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but rather an observation by Gene Roddenberry or whomever wrote the script of how the United States became friends with Japan and Germany after World War II.
The Organians then explain how they have evolved beyond the needs of physical bodies, and are now disgusted by violent lower life forms such as humans and Klingons. This is ironic, because throughout the episode, both Kor and Kirk were disgusted by the Organians whom they viewed as less technologically advanced and unable to understand the noble values of fighting against an enemy.
After the Organians turn into pure energy and disappear, Spock observes that the Organians are “not life as we know it at all” and then that “the Organians are as far above us on the evolutionary scale as we are above the amoeba.” (Dramatic music plays in the background.)
KIRK: Well, Commander, I guess that takes care of the war. Obviously, the Organians aren’t going to let us fight.
KOR: A shame, Captain. It would have been glorious.
Unlike Kirk, Kor is not embarrassed about anything because he never pretended to be an anti-war do-gooder. He is only disappointed that he was unable to fight a “glorious” war.
* * *
Using the Dungeons and Dragons alignment system, one could say that the original series Klingons are Lawful Evil, while the Deep Space Nine Klingons are chaotic neutral.
* * *
So, is there some message here that’s pro-Trump or pro-Black Lives Matter or pro-something else that’s relevant to current political controversies?
I really prefer not to think of it that way. Gene Roddenberry had an honest utopian vision of a future in which mankind, instead of killing each other in war, would instead focus on self-actualizing pursuits.
At least, unlike a modern TV show, there were no women involved in the manly pursuits of war or diplomacy.
It came to my attention yesterday that there’s a new TV series based on the movie Frequency. That got me momentarily excited until I learned that the main character was turned into a woman, and that made me extremely angry.
What’s special about Frequency, the movie, is how it focuses on the feelings of the two men, the father and son, who get to talk to each other as adults as a result of some weird-sci-fi stuff that allows the son to talk to his father in the past. It’s so rare that you have a movie focused on male relationships in a way like. The creators of the TV series threw that away in favor of the standard trope of having a hot babe as the main character. Shame on them.
* * *
A young female writer for the Hollywood Reporter wrote:
The CW series is putting a fresh spin on the old movie by gender-bending the lead role. Peyton List (Mad Men) is taking on Caviezel’s part, turning NYPD Detective John Sullivan into NYPD Detective Raimy Sullivan.
Wrong! What was fresh about the original movie was the fact that you had two men who experience strong emotional bonding in a particularly male way. That is so rare to see on screen because Hollywood has the world divided into action-for-men and drama-emotional-stuff for women.