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Fridge Brilliance

  • Yeoman Rand is attacked by Kirk's alter ego in "The Enemy Within", and again by Charlie Evans in "Charlie X". Obviously, these experiences left Rand so traumatized that she was uncomfortable serving on the Enterprise even after these situations were resolved, so she requested a transfer to another ship or starbase. Rand disappears after the first season. Given how far Enterprise was from Federation outposts most of the time, that's probably how long it took to get her to her next posting (presumably the paperwork was complete before then—as the XO, Spock is handling day-to-day administrative and personnel issues, so Kirk can't be accused of holding her back in the meantime).
    • There were other yeomen besides Rand; she wasn't extremely important. Also, she disappears from the series just before "Court Martial" or "The Menagerie" depending on whether you're going by production order or airdate; both episodes feature the Enterprise visiting Starbase 11, which would be the first opportunity for one of the crew to leave for a new post.
    • The book "The Autobiography of James Kirk" confirms that it was the events of "Enemy Within" that pushed Rand to leave the ship. Kirk was sorry but understood why she had to go after what his alter ego did.
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  • Two ways to get action out of Spock are to insult his heritage/parents or to threaten Kirk, with the latter turning up much more frequently. This is probably because Spock, trying to be Vulcan, can't justify getting angry on the subject of his parents. With Kirk, though, he can say he's just doing his duty as a First Officer and maintain Plausible Deniability.
  • After the transporter accident in "The Enemy Within", Starfleet Command reviews the reports of the incident. They note the potential failure mode of the transporter and order the previously-retired shuttles to be returned to the fleet. Enterprise has subsequently regained its shuttlecraft seven episodes later ("The Galileo Seven") but the Galileo experiences malfunctions due to a long period in storage, resulting in the landing party becoming stranded.
    • The Galileo was damaged by the electromagnetic storm it had been sent out to investigate. Dialog made it pretty clear. You might still be right about why they didn't have shuttles to save the Enemy Within landing party, but I doubt Kirk or Scotty would have permitted a substandard shuttle to sit unfixed in their hangar, let alone send friends out in it.
    • Could be both. The shuttle would have been checked out before the mission, but some small part might have been compromised in an undetected way from being in storage and failed due to the storm.
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    • Exactly. This is a franchise that has failed to note that seat belts save lives and an early 20th century technology known as a 'circuit breaker' could keep their control panels from exploding. A minor defect in an obscure part is all it would take to disable the shuttlecraft. Starfleet's FMEA process is obviously lacking.
  • In "Amok Time", Kirk interprets Spock's comment that "it has to do with Vulcan biology" as "reproduction" rather quickly. This seems odd, but Spock was clearly embarrassed, and what part of biology is half so embarrassing to discuss as reproduction?
  • In the episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before," Kirk's best friend Gary Mitchell is zapped by an energy barrier which amplifies his ESP abilities. Gary starts the episode with jet black hair and ends with distinct grey streaks. Remember, he is already stated to possess heightened ESP abilities which technically make it part of his biology—his ESP is powered by his own lifeforce! On repeated viewing, this actually increases Kirk's dilemma; if he chooses to keep Mitchell alive instead of kill or abandon him, Kirk would almost certainly recover his friend's sanity due to losing his powers through the passage of time—as long as he runs the risk of Mitchell destroying the ship first...
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  • In "I, Mudd", Uhura is fascinated with the idea that she could have immortality and eternal youth and beauty by having her mind transferred to an android body. Later, in "And the Children Shall Lead", we find out that her worst fear is "[her] death. A long death. Disease and pain"...something that wouldn't be an issue for an android.
  • Also from "I, Mudd": Many people have commented on the character of Harry's wife Stella. However, the androids have only Harry's word as to what his wife was really like. The resulting simalcrum may say more about Harry than Stella.
    • Also, Harry Mudd is no less an unfair stereotype against men than is Stella, so it makes sense that the galaxy's most unpleasant man would marry the galaxy's most unpleasant woman.
    • Harry's sexism is overtly depicted as one of his major flaws, something that disgusts Kirk and McCoy to the point they call him out on it a number of times in all his appearances: "Harry, haven't you ever heard of male androids?" They also criticize Harry for dehumanizing his female passengers as "cargo" and for using the equivalent of illegal and dangerous cosmetic surgery with the so-called Venus Pills. Notice that his three appearances with the original crew involve efforts to manipulate heterosexual men and heterosexual women by their sex drives, the first time with the Venus Pills, the second time with assigning the androids to seduce the various crew on Planet Mudd, and the third time in the animated series with the illegal love potion that follows its hour of love with two hours of hate. Whatever Kirk's reputation as a Casanova, he always held the women he dated with the era's idea of respect and was genuinely offended that Mudd did not do so.
    • Seemingly made explicitly canon by virtue of Stella appearing briefly in Star Trek: Discovery, and being portrayed as a young heiress who legitimately loves Harry. Even assuming he breaks her heart later on, pushing her to more resemble the attitude of her android counterpart, it's not like she wouldn't have extremely good reason by that point.
  • In "The Menagerie", we learn that visiting Talos IV carries the "only capital offense on the books" under General Order 7, which seems both unusually draconian and bizarrely specific. At the end of the episode, we find that the Talosians' powers of illusion extend far beyond their own planet, and that the "Commodore Mendez" who left the Starbase with the Enterprise was a fabrication... General Order 7 was created by the Talosians themselves.
    • Also, Starfleet's decision to drop the charges against Spock was in response to "images from Talos IV". The quarantine was entirely dependent on the Talosians, who could break it any time they wanted — hence, there was no point in punishing Spock for the violation.
  • Dr. M'Benga first appears in "A Private Little War," and it makes perfect sense in a way. Namely, Dr. McCoy had to perform a difficult surgery on Ambassador Sarek in "The Journey to Babel" considering he had little practical surgical experience with Vulcans and he obviously thought requesting a new doctor on staff who interned on Vulcan would be good idea.
  • In "The Ultimate Computer", why didn't Bones recognize the term "dunsel" even though everyone else did? Because, unlike everyone else, Bones didn't go to Starfleet Academy, where the term was used (the reboot notwithstanding). He got his medical degree from the University of Mississippi (aka Ole Miss).
  • In "The Trouble With Tribbles," Kirk orders Scotty to his quarters after the big brawl. However, we see Scotty on duty not long afterward. Kirk probably realized that having Scotty stay in his quarters to read journals wasn't much of a punishment. Given that Scotty is seen carrying a horde of Tribbles, it makes sense that Kirk punished the brawlers with Tribble clean-up.
    • Alternatively, once it became apparent they were "into the machinery", Kirk may have needed his Chief Engineer on duty to analyze the situation and respond in case the tribbles managed to break something.
  • In "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", assuming Bele and Lokai have been actively running around the galaxy for 50,000 years, this implies that their species is incredibly long lived. Given that both Bele and Lokai are highly familiar with warp technology, this made me wonder why their race didn't spread out and colonize other worlds. Then it hit me! Their race is so insular and long-lived that they would have long ago reached a major point of overpopulation and started fighting over the pettiest of differences: white on the left side versus white on the right side. The fact that they couldn't (or wouldn't) colonize other worlds let the situation reach the point we see: they destroyed themselves in a cataclysmic war.
  • In "The Day of the Dove", it seems a bit odd at first that a fierce Klingon woman like Mara would act so meek when Chekov tries to rape her. Then, it's later revealed that Klingon men are turned on by biting, clawing and screaming. Mara may have thought acting passive would turn Chekov off, rather than make him think she's only playing hard to get. In Chekov's defense, he wasn't quite in his right mind and normally would've taken even a tacit no for an answer. (Though, Irina, Sylvia, Martha and Tamoon are all proof that he doesn't hear it often.)

Fridge Horror

  • Star Trek: The Original Series: this is referenced on the Mind Rape page, but it's still worth including here. There's a scene in the episode "Mirror, Mirror" where Evil!Spock (you can tell because he has a goatee) forcibly mind-melds with Dr. McCoy. Creepy. But then you become more of a fan, and learn that mated Vulcan couples form permanent mental bonds. Literal. Mind. Rape. Kinda takes away from the silliness of that episode, doesn't it?
    • Sure, there's a marriage bond; Spock had one with T'Pring. But over the course of the series, he mind-melded with various people and aliens, and even a machine, solely to get information. (The mind meld was invented for "Dagger of the Mind" because the network wouldn't let them show hypnosis.) Clearly there's a difference between marital mind-bonding and the mind meld we see in these situations.
    • At least that was Evil Spock doing the mind raping, so it's only horror for the viewer because of what it does to Bones. It doesn't affect the normal character. However, in Star Trek VI, regular Spock forcibly mind-melds with the junior Vulcan officer on the Enterprise who's been working with the bad guys. She makes faint mewing sounds at first, and then she SCREAMS. During all this, everyone on the bridge is watching and looking really uncomfortable about it. So, basically, Spock mind-raped a women to get information that would prevent a war. The needs of the many etc. etc.
      • The novelization has Spock letting Valeris choose whether to yield the information freely, and she does, even though both know he could easily force it out of her if he wanted. Her scream could in this light be interpreted as one of despair and/or joy when she realizes that despite her utter betrayal of his trust, he still trusts her to do what is right.
      • Something I don't think anyone has ever considered about that scene is that the moment Spock breaches Valeris' mental defenses, their minds become one. The look of having just swallowed razor blades on Spock's face seems to indicate that at that instant, any and all suffering he had just inflicted on Valeris was instantaneously transferred to him, as well. For this reason, the scene just doesn't play like the human idea of rape at all, in my opinion. They both come away feeling like they've been raped.
      • That must have been very psychologically interesting when Spock's katra in Bones mind got to meld with the thoughts of Evil Spock left in Bone's mind from the above mentioned mind rape.
  • While the scene of Kirk being pelted by the tribbles that were in the tainted grain silo is quite funny, you need to remember they were dying. Imagine if Kirk was pelted by cute, fluffy bunnies that were poisoned to death and were dying painfully, and now you've got what Kirk was pelted with.
    • Deep Space Nine reveals that those cute, fluffy, poisoned bunnies were being thrown at Kirk by other Starfleet Officers who he would have seniority over. Fridge Insubordination!
    • And at the end of the episode, isn't transporting the tribbles onto the Klingon ship a death sentence for them (the tribbles, not the Klingons)? There was no reason to think that the Klingons wouldn't have shot every one of the little guys, and in Deep Space Nine Worf recounts how Klingons eventually exterminated the entire species. Worf does however justify the decision by explaining that the tribbles were an ecological disaster for the Klingons, cleaning out food supplies and causing famines. It's no different than killing the fluffy bunnies that are eating your crops.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: S 1 E 11 "Miri"—The adults are all dead. Once a child hits puberty, s/he dies. Where are the babies coming from?
    • Having just seen the episode, I can tell you that all the children were born before the disaster, 300 years ago. They have only aged 3 months in those three centuries, though.
      • The drug that caused all the adults to die also drastically slowed aging in children. They are effectively immune to the disease until they hit puberty (which takes a LONG time)...when they do hit puberty they contract the disease and die. The ones contracting the disease were very close to puberty when the disease first hit.
    • Dr. McCoy asks the same question you did, about fifteen or twenty minutes into the episode. The reason you didn't hear it is that he uses an arcane expression in order to get around the censors.
      Spock: It's illogical. It does not follow. All the adults on this planet died three hundred years ago, but there are children in the streets.
      Kirk: Who die when they enter adolescence.
      McCoy: But—how do they keep their line going?
      • The novelization of the episode explores this in more detail, but also brings up the more urgent problem of the children running out of the canned food they'd been scavenging from the ruins in a matter of weeks unless the Enterprise intervenes.
  • What really happens when a person is beamed to or from the spaceship using the transporter? Does he/she die, with a new copy of him/her created at its destination? The new person would not remember anything that happened after the old person's atomic structure was saved, so the death could be quite painful and torturous.
    • One wonders if McCoy knows something we don't.
    • The plot of Spock Must Die! kicks off after this question is discussed in-universe.
    • The transporter accident and malfunction concepts were brought up in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek: The Next Generation's episode with Scotty, and Star Trek (2009).
    • In real life, the particular atoms & molecules that make up a person’s body are constantly turning over. Not 100% of them, but definitely the majority. C. S. Lewis once remarked that in that respect, a human being is more like a bend in a waterfall than like the rock in the riverbed that causes the bend. A Christian writer, he was discussing a question of theology (would a person miraculously raised from the dead still be the same person if different atoms were used in creating the new body) but the same principle applies should a material technology such as telportation exist. People in the Federation might well be comfortable with the idea that the transporter merely does rapidly what happens more slowly all the time.
      • This used to be a great way to explain the Ship of Theseus paradox to college students!
    • This was discussed in the Expanded Universe novel "Federation"—transporters work on the quantum level rather than just the molecular level. Rather than simply producing a copy that thinks it's the original (molecular level) at the destination, it converts your specific atoms to energy, beams them to a target location, and then reassembles them.
      • Which still doesn't address the issue, you could still be dead and your replacement is just constructed from your old raw materials.
    • Enteprise Episode 86, "Daedalus", Emory Erickson, inventor of the transporter handwaves the issue away, treating like it was a crack pot point.
      • Humans have become increasingly prone to Atheism in the Trek future. As a consequence, many people may not believe in souls. Note that there was even skepticism that Spock could use telepathy for Brain Uploading. In this climate, people who raise the soul issue could be dismissed as superstitious and silly. On the whole Federation society is a lot less tolerant of divergent beliefs than they pretend to be. For example, Bones's fears regarding the transporter are treated as unreasonably paranoid, even in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, where they force him to use the transporter immediately after a Teleporter Accident killed two other crewmen in an utterly horrific manner!
      • Keep in mind that the highly respected Vulcans are able to confirm that transporter use does not harm or interfere with the katra, which would have been good enough for the Federation.
      • The Mirror Universe, and TNG's crossover with the X-men (in which Nightcrawler's teleportation is found to be similar to the transporter's) suggest that there is actually some dimensiony-wensiony bullshit with the transporters, and the person doesn't actually die, just moves through time and space so fast they don't realize it, which is my Headcannon. As for why everyone says it disperses your molecules; could be just what it looks like, or maybe the inventors are worried that people would be even more afraid of transporters if they knew that a malfunction is more likely to send them to the Xenomorph's homeworld or a purely 2D universe rather than just kill them horribly.
    • It's a philosophical question, not a theological one, strictly speaking. And it's huge.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation had an episode that actually showed a character retaining consciousness during a particularly long trip through the transporter, with crewmen from a disabled ship trapped in the transporter buffer. That would seem to have Jossed the idea that people are killed by the transporter process (at least, when it's working correctly).
  • In The Changeling, Uhura is effectively entirely MindWiped by Nomad. When they realize it's a wipe, not just damage, they 'reeducate' her... No one seems to think or even care about what she's lost in terms of personal memories.
    • Well, it's true that we never saw Uhura sing again after this episode... not even in the hippie episode.
    • In the episode, the mindwipe is shown to affect only her more recent knowledge memories. In a scene often deleted from reruns, Uhura demonstrates that she is still fluent in her native Swahili: it's only English she has to relearn. Furthermore, she behaves as an adult learner, not as a child learner, which would only be possible if she still had an adult's complement of personal memories.
    • Her personality doesn't change, she speaks the language of her childhood within days, and returns to full job competence so fast that it never becomes an issue. Clearly, Nomad only caused amnesia rather than a brainwipe, and she was already rediscovering early memories at the episode's end. Another proof that Nomad was imperfect! IMPERFECT! STER-I-LIZE!
    • The original script, and the James Blish novelization, specify that Uhura's personal memories were not erased. Nomad, rather, erased her ability to communicate or express her thoughts.
  • In "Plato's Stepchildren", the Power Trio encounter a race of aliens who can—and will—force others to do anything for their amusement. One of their victims was Spock, a telepath. It's lucky they didn't think of forcing him to use his powers on anyone.
    • Though that might be beyond the Platonians' power, since they're telekinetics, not mind controllers. They can force people to say and do physical things, but not something like a mind meld.
  • In "The Doomsday Machine", it's implied that Kirk and Decker are Not So Different. So what would have happened if Kirk had at some point lost his crew?
    • "Obsession" reveals that Kirk did suffer such a tragedy early in his career. The episode is about him initially reacting like Decker in "Doomsday Machine," but then coming to his senses and realizing he must deal with the threat maturely and rationally.
    • Kirk also had his friends to snap him back to reality. Decker lost everyone on his ship, and there was nobody on the Enterprise he was willing to listen to. Kirk had also had years to come to grip with his tragedy, whereas Decker had only hours. By the time Kirk tried to talk some sense into him, it was too late.
  • In "Patterns of Force," the leader of the Zeon underground noted that the people willing to assassinate the Fuehrer are sympathetic Ekosians and younger Zeons. Given that the Zeons are presented as a peaceful people, that statements gives a chilling suggestion that historian John Gill's stupidity reordering Ekos into a society modeled after Nazi Germany, and thus enabling Mekalon to take over and impose its inherent genocidal racial supremacist practices, will have long term negative social impacts that might never be undone.
  • Chicago Mobs of the Twenties screwed up Iotian culture something fierce. But at least Paul Mayweather wasn't into the works of the Marquis de Sade. That would have been catastrophic for the Iotians.
  • If you know a thing or two about ecology, the tribbles become this. There's the obvious: A creature that devours all kinds of food (but especially grain and produce) at a horror-inducing rate and reproduces fast enough to cover an entire city within days. Well, but at least they don't have defenses against predators - they're slow, they don't produce any toxins, they don't have claws or fangs or hooves, so their natural predators will feast on them the same way the tribbles themselves feast on any hapless farmer's fields who unfortunately happens to have settled on a planet with a tribble infestation? WRONG! This is actually an occasion where the often ridiculous biology of Trek makes sense. You know how they induce Cuteness Overload on anyone who gets one in their hands? Well - this is a survival advantage. It's very likely this trait has evolved because the tribble's natural enemies are also susceptible to Cuteness Overload. Maybe tribbles secrete pheromones that have an effect on a broad spectrum of animals. Which means the tribble has no natural predators. Which again means it is the ultimate pest. Guess the galaxy should thank the Klingons for exterminating them, huh?
    • That can't be true of all of their natural predators because the tribbles would have spread across the surface of their planet and died of starvation long before anyone came from off-world and removed them.
    • There are a couple ways the tribbles could have natural predators. Many animals that would be subject to maternal or paternal instincts are the type that rely on raising small numbers of young and caring for them until they can fend for themselves, and exploiting those instincts is like how a tribble's defense works. But there are also plenty of animals that instead produce large numbers of young and leave them to fend for themselves, which might not be vulnerable to those pheromones. The other possibility is that otherwise-maternal animals on the tribble's native planet might develop adaptations to work around that. They might have a much more selective parental response, they might develop so that their parental behaviors only develop during certain time periods, etc. How universal the biological response to tribbles is isn't detailed much if I recall, so these could be rather unwieldy possible explanations.
    • Could also be that some of the predators on the tribble homeworld have the same response to them as Klingons do.
    • Not pheromones: it is specifically stated in the episode that their purring is what has this effect, a far more intense version of the effect that cat purring has been proven to have in real life. It is also stated in the episode that tribbles were kept in check by natural predators on their native planet. This occurs in real life with kittens, for example, which often evoke an "awwwww" response from humans (and other primates such as Koko the Gorilla) but are considered perfectly tasty by many other creatures.
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