Sunday, June 7, 2009

Star Trek--"Metamorphosis"

My TNG/DS9 era favoritism is going to shine through prominently in my review of “Metamorphosis.” The episode marks the first time the legendary Zefram Cochrane appears in Trek. I had seen the episode numerous times over the years before watching Star Trek: First Contact in 1996. As far as I am concerned, “Metamorphosis” was always a mediocre episode while First Contact is my favorite trek movie. The result is I like the original continuity of Cochrane’s story less in TOS than in the movie. As one who dislikes retconning in comic books, it is unusual for me, but that is the way it is.

The big reason I do not care much for this episode is not the mental gymnastics one has to manage in order to reconcile Cochrane’s life story, but the ethical issues involved. An shuttlecraft carrying Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and an ill Federation official named Nancy Hedford crashes on a remote planetoid. In a coincidence that boggles the mind, a rejuvenated Cochrane has been living there for 150 years with an energy being called only the Companion. The Companion is maintaining an energy dampening field preventing the shuttle from leaving the asteroid because she sensed Cochrane’s loneliness.

The conflict is simple: Kirk and company have to convince the Companion to let them go before Hedford dies of her illness. Along the way, Cochran discovers for the first time the Companion is female, adding an element to their relationship that repulses him. She does not understand how one can reject love of any kind. I assume she also does not grasop the concept of psychotic stalking, but I digress.

Kirk has to find another way to convince the companion to let them go. First, he explains that men need challenges or they will grow soft and die. In other words, do not stand in the way of social Darwinism. This argument thankfully (for the sake of us who like morality mixed in liberally with our philosophy) fails. After all, Cochrane has been doing pretty well for himself sitting on his keister for the last 150 years. Next, Kirk explains that there can be no love between things so different from each other. Apparently that is a better argument, but one should not dwell on it too much considering the lack of boundaries presented.

Here is where the episode completely blows it for me. The Companion previously stated she could not help Hedford. In the resolution of the episode, the Companion inhabits Hedford’s body, forsaking her powrs and immortality for love. Some fans say that was the ultimate sacrifice. I say it is evidence of metal disorder. The ethical problems of a being inhabiting the body of another person, especially when we do not know if she was actually dead yet, is not only ignored--by Doctor McCoy, no less--and Cochrane suddenly decides he has the hots for her. So he was lonely before, unhappy, then repulsed to learn the Companion was in love with him, but now that shehas a vagina, everything has changed. Kirk and company need to leave--oh, and keep this all a secret, okay? Thanks.

Sweet story, no?

Rating: * (out of 5)

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