Friday, July 3, 2009

Star Trek--"The Tholian Web"

The spacesuits had much improved from the not exactly Scarlet O’Hara worthy red shower curtains used in the first season, but our heroes look more like they are bee keepers than final frontier explorers.

“The Tholian Web” is another highlight of the relatively dreary third season. There is a lot going on here and the addition of a ticking clock makes it all the more exciting. The episode marks the only time there are three separate stories rolling at once. One, Kirk is stranded, most likely dead, on the Defiant, a ship which keeps phasing in and out of our universe. Two, the nervous system attack which caused the Defiant crew to kill each other is spreading to the Enterprise crew. Finally, the ship is becoming entangled in a literal energy web created by the Tholians.

In spite of all that conflict, it is the emotional impact of the apparent loss of Kirk affecting the crew which raises “The Tholian Web” above the average TOS installment. Of particularly note is the sparring between Spock and McCoy. They have a natural animosity regardless, but here it is noticeably enhanced by grief over Kirk. Their pained interactions set this sparring apart from say, ’The Gamesters of Triskelion,” where Spock’s seemingly irrational decisions in searching for missing crew members infuriate McCoy and Scotty. I likedhow Spock and McCoy eased off each other after viewing kirk’s recorded message to be heard by both only in the event of his death. They renewed their dedication solely because Kirk expressed faith in them to come together tosave the ship.

There was no cop out in any of the resolutions, either. The nervous system attack is alleviated by alcohol rather than some miracle cure found by McCoy just in the nick of time. Kirk is rescued at the same time the ship is blown free of the Tholian web. None of the solutions were predictable or resorted to violence. It was good to see that.

It was also good to seean episode in which all the main cast play a part. Oddly enough, that did not happen very often. Uhura even got a chance to be more than an interstellar telephone operator. Poor Chekov goes violently mad for the second time in three episodes. Add in his ‘death” because of a lack of faith in “Spectre of the Gun” and it just is not his season. It would have been neat to see the Tholians again at some point, too. Alas, they never became the villains they had the potential to be.

"The Tholian web' was revisited in two of the few ENT episodes one can sit through without the sound of brain cells mercifully jumping to the death drives you mad. the Defiant wound up in the Mirror Universe of the 22nd century. it was used by Hoshi to take over the Terran Empire. as a continuity buff, i appreciated the effort complete the Defiant's story.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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