Saturday, May 2, 2009

Star Trek--"Where No Man Has Gone Before"


As I said last night, while I am happy the show turned out the way it did, I thought this second pilot was far inferior to “The Cage.” How the show was sold on its merits versus the first pilot is beyond me. The only reason I can come up with is the action was ratcheted up considerably from the more cerebral story in “The Cage.” James t. Kirk was a much more brazen, hands on captain. He gets into the first of many fistfights here. He is battling his now godlike friend, Gary Mitchell. That is a heck of a first opponent to select for fisticuffs, no?

When the Enterprise crosses the Galactic Barrier, an event that should give the legions of Star Trek V detractors shivers, Gary Mitchell and Elizabeth Dehner begin developing ESP powers. The story flows much like “The Sixth Finger” from the original The Outer Limits. As their powers grow, they begin losing touch with their humanity. But rather than drawing the conclusion barbarous manning must be destroyed like in “The Sixth Finger,” the pair seek revenge for kirk’s plan to maroon them on a deserted planet.

The problem here is that action came at the expense of intelligence. The story reads like a bad comic book. You have Mitchell and Dehner who do not like each other hooking up once their powers grow. Neither of them demonstrate powers as impressive as we are supposed to believe they possess. Indeed, while Mitchell comes off as sinisterly insane in the final act, he uses his powers for little more than sadistic pranks up unto he kills Dehner over her wavering loyalty. Kirk is able to bury him under a pile of rubble with one shot from a phaser rifle. Mitchell is not very godlike if he cannot handle falling rocks. There was definitely a certain lack of imagination in writing this script.

I find it interesting both Mitchell and Dehner have much larger roles than does Spock. The character has not come into his own yet. Infact, wesee nothing much alien about him passed his pointy ears. We do experience the casual manner in which significant numbers of crew members die without much reaction from the rest of thecrew. The exact number is not given, but at least a dozen died here without anyone blinking. It does not pay to enlist in Starfleet.

I cannot talk this episode without mentioning the glaring continuity error. Everyone knows Kirk’s full name is james Tiberiius Kirk. But when Mitchell creates a tombstone for him, it is engraved ’James R. Kirk.” Kirk’s middle name had not yet been established and Roddenberry, who had a habit of naming a character ’Rice” in all his projects, meant for that to be his middle name. It was not to ultimately be, but no explanation was ever given in canon. A trilogy of novels detailing the past relationship between Kirk and Mitchell attempted to reconcile the discrepancy, but iam unaware of how it did so. The novels are not considered canon regardless.

In another nod to the novels, Mitchell was said to have been inadvertently given the power of Q in Peter David’s Q-Squared . Mitchell had a more sadistic streak than the often impish Q, but it is clear to see that Q was an amalgamation of Mitchell and the petulant child, Trelaine, whom we shall meet in a few episodes.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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