Friday, June 19, 2009

Star Trek--"By Any Other Name"

With little variation in execution, "By Any Other Name’ is essentially “Return to Tomorrow.” normally, that would irritate me, particularly since the previous episode aired a scant two weeks prior. But the ultimate resolution of both episodes featured unique, creative resolutions, so they both have their virtues. I am partial to “By Any other Name.”

One of the episode’s main virtues is how it features the lament of a red shirt’s death. Too often, minor characters are brushed off as cannon fodder. I have heard some fans snark over the years Kirk only cared because an attractive woman was killed. Come on, guys. It is Hollywood. Every woman he gets killed is stunning. Give some credit for TOS appreciating the gravity of a life lost.

I will admit it is awkward for the mood of the episode to shift to a more light hearted tone after the death. While the rest of the crew has been turned into their base minerals, the senior officers are held captive by alien unused to humanoid bodies. They quickly form a plot to exploit those unfamiliarities which detracts from the direness of the situation in some respects, but is still entertaining. At the very least, it is not as over the top as in “The Trouble with Tribbles.”

Most of the manipulation is reasonable. McCoy uses stimulants to confuse, Spock toys with their emotions, and Kirk, of courses, seduces the pretty girl. Scotty’s turn as a lush drinking one of his captors under the table was unnecessarily silly and degrading to the character, but I will let it slide. I am not that prudish.

There is a peaceful resolution in which kirk offers to find his captors a new home rather than heading all the way to the Andromeda galaxy. Some consider it a trite solution which was agreed upon too quickly to be credible, but I am all right with it. Beings that far in advance would likely be reasonable sorts when it comes to compromise. They paid no consequences for their actions, but considering how much our heroes have gotten away with in destroying entire planetary societies, I cannot reasonably complain about it.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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