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AS ALWAYS, SPOILERS.
This episode wasn't perfect. But I think if we waited for something "perfect" to put it on the So Cool Its Awesome page we'd have an empty page. This episode was one that made me remember just why I like Star Trek. I've gotta say, for an episode where humans are pitted against computers, it's a surprising aversion of Straw Vulcan. Spock freely admits that the computer is acting illogically. (Turns out to be justified. The doctor who built it, Doctor Daystrom, effectively built it as his brain, but faster and smarter.) I was also pleasantly surprised when Spock mentioned the fact that metal circuts can process information faster than human synapses. For a show that usually Fails Science and Logic Forever, in this episode, they sure...don't. Sure, the first half of the episode is a bit slow, I'll admit that fault freely, it Grows The Beard (If a single episode can Grow The Beard) in the second half. Not to say that the first half of the episode was bad at all. Slow, maybe, but there were those three rapid-fire Crowning Moments Of Heartwarming. The second half, however, is gripping. Emotional Torque (Even the audience is thinking Oh Crap when Kirk looks like he's going to cry after the computer destroys a Starfleet ship), suspense, action, and even an explosion. It even gave Dr. Daystrom, the scientist who built the computer, an intriguing (if Tear Jerker) character arc. And after hearing that the computer was acting illogically, I assumed that shutting off the computer with a Logic Bomb was going to be a Wall Banger. Not so! It was actually more like Talking The Monster To Death, and Character Derailment-free for all involved.
Okay, so I just talked ranted about an episode that really disappointed me. Now, to be fair, I'm going to gush about an episode I loved. This was the episode that really had me sold, that really made me say "Okay, now I'm a Trekkie." It beautifully meshes heartwarming and fascinating character drama with good suspense. The barely-repressed emotional tension between Spock and his father is intriguing, understated, and beautiful to begin with, but when Sarek becomes the prime suspect in the murder of the Tellarite ambassador's murder (Alas Poor Alien Scrappy. You were hilarious!) you're on the edge of your seat. Amanda Grayson is pure, walking heartwarming. (And surprisingly Moe Moe for an old lady). Uhura is competent in the episode. Even though she only has a few lines, as usual she traces an alien signal as coming from aboard the Enterprise, which later reveals that the spy among them is secretly not from the alien race he appears, and still has contact with the enemy ship through a transmitter in his body. Chekov, despite being a minor character, is also very endearing and competent when manning Spock's usual station. But the Crowning Moment Of Awesome would have to go to Kirk for commanding the Enterprise right after being near-fatally stabbed, despite the fact that he should have been in sickbay, and the Enterprise is being pursued and fired at. That was badass. Oh, and it directly leads to another Crowning Moment Of Awesome in which the pursuing ship self-destructs in the biggest explosion the budget will allow. (Ooooooh, fireworks!)
Okay, so before I begin, let me explain: I am definitely a fan of Star Trek. I am just not a fan of this episode. In case you don't remember, this is the one in which Kirk investigates Nurse Chapel's long lost fiance, presumed to be dead, but is actually living in an elaborate mad science lab, creating androids. This is also the one in which two thirds of our beloved Power Trio do absolutely nothing, and Mc Coy is not even seen. The episode has a lot of legitimate suspense, but the "Robotic double" plot point is a complete Missed Moment Of Awesome. When Kirk has his robotic double made and sent onto the Enterprise, it seems like the episode may be speeding up, but in the end, but then what? The robotic double doesn't wreak havoc on the Enterprise, doesn't try to harm the crew. Nothing. All the drama that could have been milked out of it is gone. Another reason to call this episode Discontinuity is that Kirk is a real Jerk Ass to Andrea. He uses her as a Human Shield at one point, and forces a kiss on her at another. Now, granted, she's not human, but this doesn't reflect well on a man who's supposed to be a Chivalrous Pervert Officer And A Gentleman. Besides, lack of respect for non-human but clearly sentient, sapient and conscious beings (the robots all get killed) is another problem. And the strawmanning of the logical, emotionless robots made me glad Spock was just sitting aboard the enterprise being useless. Couple that with a whole lot of Easy Evangelism from Kirk, and an Anvilicious Science Is Bad Aesop when the Enterprise wouldn't have even existed if not for science, and you has an episode that boldly goes where no episode has gone before...down the tubes.
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