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Recap / Star Trek S2 E7 "Catspaw"

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Here's Sylvia rocking the divorced aunt in the clown pajamas look.

Original air date: October 27, 1967

Scotty, Sulu and Ensign Jackson have been beamed down to explore Pyris VII. Only Jackson beams aboard to die and then (yes, in this order) give a prophesy of doom and destruction in an eerie, echoing voice. Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to investigate. The place has an eerie, spooky atmosphere and there's a creepy looking castle nearby. The crew goes there in search of their lost crewmates. The interior looks like something out of a Haunted House, complete with dust and cobwebs. And a hissing and spitting black cat. Kirk and company fall through a trap in the floor and land in a dungeon where they're chained to the walls. A zombified Scotty and Sulu release them and they are transported to the sumptuous throne room of Korob the Wizard, who seems very interested in humanity, but doesn't seem very educated on modern (as of Stardate 3018.2) human culture. And there's something about that black cat that keeps hanging around him....



  • Aerith and Bob: Or rather, Korob and Sylvia.
  • Affably Evil: Korob comes off as this.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Korob turned out to be a pretty decent guy in the end. Too bad the Starfleet landing party stood there and watched him die helplessly along with Sylvia.
  • All Witches Have Cats: An inversion! It seems that it's the cat who has the wizard.
  • Bald of Evil: Korob has this along with a Beard of Evil
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Both Scotty and Sulu, with McCoy eventually joining them.
  • Brutal Honesty: When confronted with an illusion that threatens the landing party with death using a weak imitation of Shakespearean dialogue:
    Kirk: Analysis, Spock.
    Spock: Very bad poetry, Captain.
  • Cats Are Magic: Justified. Sylvia is actually a shape shifting alien.
  • Cats Are Mean: Sylvia is the meanest of mean cats, no matter her form. Spock discusses the trope, reflecting on a cat's natural savageness dating back to the sabre-tooth tiger.
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  • Cat Scare: The first thing our heroes get when they enter the castle.
  • Chained to a Rock: Kirk, Spock and Bo...uh...McCoy all experience this.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Korob and Sylvia are aliens that use a device called a "transmuter" that allows them to perform various effects such as telepathy, brainwashing, shapeshifting, matter transformation and even Sympathetic Magic. It resembles a crystal sphere mounted on a wand and necklace respectively and they themselves dress like mystics. Unfortunately for the affect they were going for, the Enterprise crew are advanced enough to examine everything as technology instead of magic.
  • Cobweb of Disuse: It's not a Haunted Castle without a few.
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: When Kirk, Spock and McCoy are let out of the dungeon the first time.
  • Dodgy Toupee: This was the first Season 2 episode filmed; since it wasn't to be the first one aired and Walter Koenig hadn't yet had time to grow his hair out into the "Monkee" style planned for Chekov, he was given a wig. The result was... well...
  • Empathic Shapeshifter: Via the transmuter, Sylvia and Korob make themselves and the surrounding area look like something explicitly out of a human nightmare. Or the set of a Universal Horror film.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Korob and Sylvia are clearly a bit out of date as to what humans are like, leaving Kirk et al thoroughly nonplussed when they're offered valueless (with the invention of replicators) gems or presented with ghostly hovering faces (which just makes them wonder what tech is in play).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Part of what makes Korob so Affably Evil is that he's clearly not as malicious as Sylvia. As Kirk is being brought in for his second "interrogation", Korob complains to Sylvia about her being "cruel" and "torturing the specimens", implying he would much rather barter or persuade Kirk and co to go along with what he wants than brutalise them into compliance like she has.
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: Sparkly, yes. Valuable, not when you can replicate jewels as easily as making a cup of coffee. And then there's that diamond collar that Sylvia wears in both cat and human forms.
  • Face–Monster Turn: Some of the crew are made into zombie-slaves by the witch-alien.
  • Foreshadowing / Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Sylvia tells Korob "I'm not a puppet like you!" At the end of the episode their true forms are played by puppets...complete with strings in the original version.
  • Gallows Humor: Kirk and Spock are shackled with their arms raised against a wall next to a skeleton in the same position. At one point while discussing the situation with Spock, Kirk pauses as he looks at the skeleton, momentarily cocks his head in the same position as the skeleton's, then turns back to continue talking to Spock. Earlier, when Dr. McCoy was also in the dungeon, Kirk turned his head to ask if 'Bones' was all right, saw the skeleton, and called McCoy 'Doc' for the rest of the episode.
  • Ghost Butler: When the landing party enters the castle, the door closes itself behind them.
  • Halloween Episode: Originally aired October 27, 1967. Nearly all Haunted Castle tropes are present and occasionally discussed. Spock is familiar with a few Terran superstitions, but not with the custom of "Trick or Treat". Interestingly enough, neither is Karob.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Korob
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Lt. DeSalle says "I bet you credits to navy beans!" where most would say "I bet you dollars to donuts!" They don't have donuts in the future? What sort of Dystopia is this?!
  • Humans Are Special: Korob and Sylvia admire the human ability to feel.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Sylvia tries to pull this on Kirk in a rare genderflip of this trope. Kirk, being Kirk, quickly flips it into his favor.
  • Magic Wand: Korob has one with a crystal on the end. It is a transmuter that allows him to perform his illusions.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Someone explain, again, why it was a good idea for the captain, first officer, second officer, and chief medical officer all to be on a strange and possibly sinister planet at the same time. Which leads to...
  • Mauve Shirt: Lt. LaSalle, who made a few appearances in the first season, had to take command of the Enterprise due to all the Senior Staff being down on the planet. He does pretty well, particularly given that he was without the benefit of the Science Officer or the Chief Engineer.
  • Mind Manipulation: How the aliens get Sulu and Scotty to do what they want. They claim it to be harmless. Kirk disagrees.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Korob offers Kirk and company a banquet. When they seem unimpressed, he offers them plates of jewels.
  • Oh, Crap!: Scotty and Sulu AREN'T here to save them after all!
  • Ominous Fog: It's all over the place. Spock comments that due to the low level of water vapor in the air, it shouldn't exist. It's there purely to look scary.
  • Power Echoes: The doom and gloom prophecy about terrible curses that Jackson gives posthumously is delivered in an ominous echo.
  • Prophecies Rhyme All the Time: The three witches when they prophesy doom for the landing party if they don't turn back. As with the other Halloween tropes, the landing party is not impressed, either by the warning or by the quality of the verse.
  • Redshirt: In a surprise inversion, Ensign Jackson wears a gold shirt, while the most prominent Red Shirt character in the episode has command of the bridge while Kirk is offship and survives the whole episode.
  • Reset Button: Destroying Korob's transmuter undoes everything except the death of Jackson.
  • Sense Freak: A mild case, but Sylvia blatantly admits she's enjoying the ability to experience the world through human senses when Korob questions her as having forgotten their mission.
  • Shout-Out: Korob mentions to Sylvia of their duty to the Old Ones. Appropriate, considering the episode's writer was Robert Bloch.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: The three witches' appearance and manner of speech are reminiscent of (though not necessarily directly referential to) characters in Macbeth.
  • Stock Footage: A brief shot of crewmembers (wearing the turtleneck shirts from the pilots) passing a red alert signal on a corridor is recycled from "Where No Man Has Gone Before".
  • Stripped to the Bone: There is a whole, bleached human skeleton in an iron maiden in the dungeon for no purpose other than to be scary.
  • Sympathetic Magic: Korob and Sylvia are capable of this through their transmuters. The latter dangerously heats up the Enterprise by putting an effigy through a candle flame. The former traps it in Some Kind of Force Field by encasing the effigy in crystal, but they manage to work out a way to begin disrupting the field.
  • This Was His True Form: The true forms of Sylvia and Korob looked like something a kindergartner made out of blue pipe cleaners (of which they actually were).
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Sylvia can change into a black cat and back and change her size. (We don't actually see this happen. We must infer that it does.)
  • Voodoo Doll: Sylvia calls it "sympathetic magic." It's how she killed Jackson. She makes a model of the starship Enterprise that she uses as a voodoo doll. Incidentally, the prop used is now in the Smithsonian.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: While the writers sure seemed to treat Redshirts like cannon fodder, Kirk makes it clear he doesn't feel that way about them.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Sylvia and Korob can't get enough of human sensation.