Episode number: 11th episode aired, 16th episode produced
Written by: Oliver Crawford – who was once blacklisted for refusing to name Commies in Hollywood! And who wrote some third season episode – and S. Bar-David, the pen name of a writer who fled the Nazis in Europe and who who wrote Dagger of the Mind
Directed by: Robert Gist, a TV director who also did some acting. He was in Miracle on 34th Street.
Captain’s Log: The Enterprise is en route with medical supplies to the New Paris
colony, where a plague is raging out of control. But what’s a plague
that’s ravaging a population when you have the chance to check out a
big green cloud? That’s what Kirk opts to do instead, much to the
chagrin of High Commissioner Ferris (hereafter instead called High
Commissioner Ed Rooney, since Ferris would be much less uptight about
something as lame as saving lives).
Kirk tells the High Commissioner that while he’d be happy to help the
sick people, he has a standing order to investigate all ‘totally cool
shit’ that he comes across in his journies. And anyway, they’re going
to meet another ship at a rendezvous point in five days, and it’ll only
take them three days to get there.
Spock, McCoy, Scotty and
four other random and disposable crewmen are on the shuttle Galileo,
and they’re off to explore this green cloud, which is called Murasaki
312. I’m not quite sure why the shuttle needs so full a complement,
except that perhaps Kirk foresaw he would need some randoms to get
offed by giant cavemen. Yes, there will shortly be giant cavemen in
this episode. How much better does it get?
that the Murakami gas cloud fucks up their sensors and everything and
they crash land on a planet right at the heart of the nebulathingy
(Kirk calls it a ‘quasar-like formation,’ but it doesn’t reflect
anything that I know about quasars. It’s a nebula of some sort). The
cloud also fucks up the Enterprise’s sensors, and to make matters worse
Kirk assigns Uhura to be the new science officer while Spock is away
and puts her in charge of trying to find the missing shuttle. Is
science officer such a generic job that you can just give it to the
ship’s operator? Anyway, the Enterprise is trying to find the missing
shuttle – they even tempt fate by sending out another shuttle – and
Kirk keeps fighting with Commissioner Ed Rooney. Instead of coming back
to summarize shipboard events keep all that in mind. It’s not
particularly interesting anyway.
What’s more interesting is giant cavemen! On the planet’s surface the
shaken shuttlecrew get their bearings and Scotty has some bad news –
they don’t have enough fuel left to take off and reach orbit. They
would need to lose about 500 pounds of stuff, and they don’t have 500
pounds of stuff to lose, so it’s got to be people getting left behind.
Of course everybody jumps at the chance to sacrifice themselves for the
good of the others – just kidding! Everybody starts getting really
grouchy when Mr. Spock makes it clear that as senior officer he’s going
to decide who gets left behind. Lt. Bolus, an angry young man, thinks
they should be drawing lots. But Spock is like, ‘Drawing straws?
Drawing straws doesn’t take into account what a dick you are.’
But the decision is about to get a little easier. Spock has sent two
crewmen out to patrol the area, and as they walk around some papier
mache rocks and dry ice fog one of them takes a comically large spear
to the back. In case you think he survived becoming the world’s biggest
shishkebob, he falls off a cliff. His last words: ‘I was wearing a gold
The other dude shooes Captain Caveman away with his phaser and Spock
and Bolus find him all bummed out over the dead guy’s body. ‘He just
got out of engineering and was given a gold shirt this morning!’ he
weeps. Spock takes a look at the big ass spear and muses about the
archeological significance of the design. Bolus says, ‘This is why we
don’t invite you to parties. This dude is dead right here and you’re
going on about spearmaking?’ Spock does that eyebrow arching thing and
says, ‘No amount of shit giving will bring this guy back to life,’ and
everybody gets so mad because Spock is right but he’s not even gracious
about it. Fuck you, dude.
With the knowledge that giant cavemen are wildin’ out all around them,
the crewmen decide to bring the corpse back to the shuttle even though
they know that there are still too many LIVING PEOPLE for the fucking
thing to take off. Back at the shuttle Bones tells Spock that he and
the cute yeoman were able to lose 150 more pounds of junk, but they
still need to get rid of 150 more pounds. That means one person will
have to stay behind, and Bones is looking pretty smug because if this
skinny bitch is over 120 I’ll suck off a Denebian slime devil. He knows
his julep-sipping self will be getting off that planet.
As Bones and Spock are discussing the morality of leaving one person
behind to save six others (well, five now) – you know, adult business –
Bolus busts in and is like ‘It’s time for the funeral!’ Because it
isn’t like the Enterprise is on a deadline or anything and won’t be
leaving your sorry asses behind in a couple of hours. Yeah, you can
take time out of silly shit like FIXING THE SHUTTLE to bury some day
player. Spock is just beyond annoyed with this nonsense, but he agrees
to officiate the dumb ceremony anyway – after the repairs are finished.
When that’s all said and done he and Scotty get back to fixing the
shuttle and – DING! – Scotty severs the fuel line and they lose ALL
their fuel. Remember when they had to decide to leave one person behind
to die? Those were the good old days. Now they’re just fucked. But
Spock says that there’s always a way, and they’ll figure it out, which
is a lot nicer than I would have been to this highlander prick who just
cost everybody their last shot at not being killed by huge cavemen.
Outside the shuttle the cavemen start getting aggressive, including
making some weird noise by rubbing their spears on leather shields.
Everybody is like ‘We should toast these mufuckas, Starfleet style,’
but Spock, in a particularly irritating peek at the way all Next
Generation stories would be told, says ‘We can’t kill these giant
monsters that would happily murder every single one of us! We’ll just
shoot our phasers in their general direction and scare them away.’
This is a manifestly bad idea, but everybody has to go with it because
Spock remains in charge (although you know Bolus is fomenting the shit
out of some mutiny in the back of his mind), and it seems to work. The
crewmen shoot their phasers offscreen, directly at the crew in the old
Desilu Studios in Culver City, and manage to scare off the monsters…
for now. Spock leaves the surviving member of the previous patrol to
keep an eye on things and the rest of them go back to the shuttle. Back
at the shuttle, Scotty has come up with a plan – they can use their
phasers to power the shuttle. But that will mean they have no more
phasers and can’t defend themselves from the cavemen. Spock decides
it’s worth the risk.
Meanwhile, that guy they left behind totally bites it. First a rock –
which looks like a gussied up soccer ball – knocks the phaser from his
hand. He tries to get away, but a caveman – really revealed as a dude
on stilts in fur – comes at him, hands held ridiculously over his head,
and then appears to slap the poor dude to death. Despite the guy
wearing another gold shirt! What is this red shirt business all about,
anyway? We’re 16 episodes in and I’ve seen barely a handful of red
shirts buy it.
Spock, Bones and Bolus go to get the dead dude (not knowing he’s dead,
of course) and find he’s gone but his phaser is still there. Spock
gives Bolus the phaser and then his own for good measure, and says he’s
going to look for the dude “out of scientific curiosity.” Without his
phaser! Spock, you so crazy.
Spock finds the corpse and heaves it over his shoulder (is that…
humanity I see in you, Mr. Spock?) and as he heads back to the shuttle,
the cavemen show up again. I’m not sure if this was a trap, but I like
to imagine it was. Spock was out thunk by giant cavemen! So here’s
Spock racing for his life with a guy slung over his shoulder as
stagehands throw huge plastic spears at him, and he makes it just in
time. Once he’s in the shuttle the cavemen actually come out – until
now we’ve just seen spears flying out from behind conveniently placed
rocks and stuff – and when we can’t actually see them they started
pounding on the shuttle. I assume they are giving those same salaam
slaps to the Galilleo that they gave to that poor gold shirt. Spock
gets the bright idea to electrify the hull of the shuttle (“Make sure
you’re insulated!” he screams, which just seems like a funny command to
give) and that drives the monsters away.
Now that they’re in the clear (and now that Spock is baffled that his
wussy approach to managing monsters didn’t work), Bolus really wants to
get to some buryin’. Scotty drains the rest of the phasers into the
shuttle’s engines and says that they have enough power to acheive
orbit, fly around for a while and even get a decent, non-deadly
re-entry should things really go sour. They start funeralizing but
those cavemen have no respect for the people they’ve killed, and spears
and boulders again start flying. And again, they’re coming from right
behind conveniently placed rocks – I so want to see the stagehands
standing on ladders, waiting to throw a plastic spear at Leonard Nimoy.
Everybody runs into the shuttle but Spock gets nailed by a boulder that
pins him to an outcropping of rock despite the fact that it patently
weights about three pounds. You can see Nimoy pretty much holding it in
place. He tells the others to get the fuck out of dodge, but Bolus
insists on coming back to save him. Hey, that’s a character arc! And
you’re a wrap, Bolus.
So they get on the shuttle, take off and everything is great!
Oh wait, there’s still five minutes left in the show! Just as the
shuttle is taking off, the giants grab it (we know this because we see
the inside of the shuttle and everybody tells us this is happening. Can
you imagine a TV show doing that today? It would be Battlestar
Galactica). There’s no choice – they’ll never be able to take off
because I guess these 12 foot giants are stronger than booster rockets
capable of LIFTING A SHUTTLE OFF THE FACE OF A PLANET – so they hit the
boosters. The shuttle is able to get into orbit, but without the
boosters they can’t make a soft landing. Which means either the
Galilleo is rescued within the 45 minutes they can maintain orbit, or
they’re all dead.
Okay, back to the Enterprise. Kirk has been trying all sorts of shit
this whole time, including sending another shuttle to the planet and
getting two people killed for his troubles. But finally time is up, and
Ed Rooney demands that the Enterprise make the rendezvous to save all
that lame ass sick people. Kirk orders the ship to head out – at ‘space
normal’ speed – but to keep all sensors facing the planet. Just in case.
On the shuttle things look pretty grim. They only have 45 minutes, and
the Enterprise is headed away and they can’t make contact. Looks like
our heroes are about to discover what burning alive is like, something
that Spock bizarrely thinks is preferable to being smashed to death by
a boulder. I mean, I would assume being smashed to death by a boulder
would be really quick, and even taking a giant spear to the back seems
fairly fast. Watching the planet slowly get closer on the viewfinder as
everything gets hotter and hotter, and you don’t even have a phaser to
take the easy way out? To start sweating and then begin feeling a heat
unlike any you ever even imagined, as the metal walls of the shuttle
itself begin to glow red hot, as the seat upon which you sit slowly
bends and melts under your weight, as you notice smoke rising from your
clothes and realize that smell is the pungent odor of your own hair
cooking? And those clothes – the polyester will probably begin to just
melt to your skin, and that agony will last a few moments until the
interior of the shuttle gets so hot that you can’t even get air in your
lungs, and everything goes red but you realize it’s just that your
fucking eyeballs are melting and then you’re kind of thankful because
you can’t see what it is that’s making Bones scream like that, scream
like the very flesh on his body has turned into pools of magma…
except that you know the reason why he’s screaming like that is because
the very flesh on YOUR body has turned into pools of magma and you
suddenly know what it’s like to burn like a candle, all that body fat
just going up and it takes so much longer for your nerve endings to die
than you ever imagined, and you grab at your arms in a reflex move and
Jesus Christ you’re touching our own bones.
But that’s better than getting smashed over the head.
Spock decides that desperate times call for desperate measures, and he
jettisons all the ship’s fuel (what? Didn’t they just drain energy from
the phasers to replace the missing fuel?) and ignites it, sending the
shuttle into overdrive and creating a bright, energetic streak across
the planet’s surface. But this attempt at making an emergency flare
also means that they can’t stay in orbit, and things are once again
looking bad. The shuttle begins entering the atmosphere and… then
they all get beamed up to the Enterprise!
The flare caught the ship’s attention and everybody is saved. Except
the four people who died this episode. Everybody gathers on the bridge
and has a big laugh about how Spock acted out of desperation but won’t
admit that desperation is an emotion. I’m not really sold that it is an
emotion, either, but rather a logical point of view when all other
options are exhausted. Everybody laughs at how stubborn Spock is. Bolus
is never seen again.
Review: This show was always great at getting a lot out of a little. They had terrible looking giants and almost no FX budget, but The Galileo Seven remains one of the better first season episodes. Writer Oliver Crawford said it was essentially a rip off of the movie Five Came Back (which starred Lucille Ball, who owned Desilu, the production company that made Star Trek until Paramount bought them out), and it speaks to how Trek is best when the science fiction is just a backdrop for storytelling. While I think everybody’s problems with Spock are a little overblown, and while most of the shuttle crew acts like babies instead of military people, the conflicts in the episode are interesting enough that they override the ‘Go into the fog, go back into the ship, go into the fog, go back to the ship’ structure of the story.
When I was a kid I didn’t realize just how cheesy this was, and the fantastical element of the giant cavemen (along with a giant cyclops in Lost in Space) helped formed my interest in being huge. I never quite got as huge as I hoped (lengthwise), but I did get as hairy as these guys.
Kirkin’ Out: James T Kirk will follow the letter of your stupid law, Commander Ferris, but fuck the spirit!
Spockmarks: This is like Spock Showcase. How do you pick his best moment in an episode where he muses on the manufacture of spears while one of his crew lays dead at his feet? I like that scene in particular because it seems like Spock doesn’t even get that there may be danger in just chilling out talking archeology in an area where giant cavemen throw spears at you.
Redshirt: Four dead crewmen, but the two who die on screen are gold shirts.
Dilithium Bullshit: The Murakami Cloud isn’t a quasar, or even quasar-like. I don’t know what fuels a shuttle, or what fuels a phaser, but I guess it’s the same stuff?
Support Staff of the Week: Boma! (aka Bolus) What a dick. The chips are down, everybody is in mortal danger, and what does he do? Argue with his commanding officer about burying some guys.
Continerdity: This episode marks the first appearance of the shuttle craft, sort of. If you were watching at home the shuttle appeared in The Menagerie, but this was shot before that episode. Despite the fact that the Galileo is destroyed in this episode, it reappears in the future. They eventually repaint the ship to say Galileo II. Every special effects shot of the shuttle (pre-CGI redo) in the rest of the series comes from this episode. The yeoman on the shuttle was supposed to be Rand, but she had already been fired when this was shot. Ferris is ‘Galactic High Commissioner,’ mainly because the Federation hadn’t been invented yet.
And for those of you wondering what ever became of Bolus: in the novel Dreadnought! Scotty brings him up on courtmartial for dissing Spock and he gets kicked out of Starfleet. D’oh!.
Set Phasers to Quote: “You see, Mr. Spock, I’d insist on a burial, even if it were your body out there.” – Boma
Three Positive Baby Clint Howards Out of Five