Sunday, July 5, 2009

Star Trek--"Wink of an Eye"

I am going to give “Wink of an Eye” an “A” for effort. The story features one of the most intelligent examples of pure science fiction in TOS. It is also well written and exciting, even spooky in some elements. All of that makes for an enjoyable episode. But there are some flaws in the science which bug the pedant in me. I will discuss those in a moment.

The idea of accelerated humans is not new in science fiction. It dates back at least to H. G. Wells’ short story “The New Accelerator.” One assumes TOS producer Gene L. Coon was a fan of Wells. Not only did he come up with the story idea for “Wink of an Eye,” but was also the producer for The Wild Wild West, the high concept Age if Innovation western I mentioned last night as an old favorite. Three years previous to ’Wink of an Eye,’ the show featured an episode entitled “Night of the Burning Diamond” in which a scientist accelerated himself in order to steal valuable jewels without getting caught.

It has been years since I have seen that episode, but as I recall, the jewel thief was eventually done in by the friction of his accelerated movements. It is an issue that is not addressed in “Wink of an Eye,’ though it should have been. I would also postulate the high pitched whine of the accelerated voices would have been impossible to hear by humans operating on normal time. Kirk and Spock spent an undisclosed, but relatively small amount of time accelerated. They should have aged as much as decades when they returned to normal speed. If a more scientific mind than mine cares to offer up a rebuttal, please do so. Until then, Until then, I would say James West has James Kirrk beat in the science department, at least in this case.

If you can overlook the science, the rest of the episode is quite good. The people of scallos have a real problem. Their water has become irradiated. Drinking it has caused the acceleration and sterilization. They lure starships in and kidnap the men, accelerating them for breeding. They take a red shirt named Compton and kirk while plotting to turn the Enterprise into a refrigeration unit.

Compton likes the idea of serving as a sex slave even though his body will burn out under the strain of accelerated living. I guess that explains why there are still black widow spiders in the world. Kirk refuses to be a breeder, although he does sleep with Deela in the most overt evidence of sex in TOS. It never becomes a cautionary tale about radiation or a commie plot to steal our precious bodily fluids only apparent during the physical act of love. I would call that a good thing. The story remained a small story of Kirk outwitting his captors in order to save his ship.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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