Star Trek “Spock's Brain” (part 4 of 4)
Spock somehow knows about the arbitrary 24 hour limit set down at the beginning of this episode, and Kirk confirms they now have 5 hours and 48 minutes left. Spock says, “It does seem all too brief a time to develop such skills, does it not?” Kirk says that’s why it’s urgent that they get to him as soon as possible, and tells him to “beam a signal” so they can locate him.
Spock complies, and Scott immediately homes in on the signal. McCoy picks up the remote control for Spock’s body and hits the “stand up” button. This is followed by a push of the “step forward” button, then the “swivel 90 degrees to your left on the balls of your feet” and “walk forward” buttons. They head out, and Kirk asks Spock’s brain how to remove their wacky belts. Spock agrees to research it. Instantly, he knows the red button on the women’s Wrist Splints will release them.
They finally find the room holding the Controller. Kara is already in there, looking befuddled. When she sees the Guys, she hits the Pain-O-Matic switch and they all crumple to the floor. McCoy drops the remote control, but fights through his anguish enough to say, “Jim… Spock… no pain…” I’m… jealous!
Kirk struggles to grab the remote control as Kara just blandly watches. Kirk then presses the “walk forward” button, followed by the “turn 15 degrees to your right as you walk” button so that Spock wheel-of-fortunes right after Kara.
Kirk then hits the “grab her arm tightly and do not let go” button, followed by the “grab her other arm and do not let go” button. Then Kirk presses the “while still holding her arm tightly, extend your index finger slightly to the left and then press down” button to make Spock press the red button. As promised, all the dominatrix Rolo belts fly off. Curiously, the three men then grab at their stomachs and backsides, making me wonder if what the belts really caused was a bad case of the runs.
Kara begs them not to take her Controller away, because “the old one is finished”, and “there will not be another for 10,000 years!” Okay, why 10,000 years? We’ll never find out. Hilariously, Stupid Kara talks directly to Brainless Spock [!] while she makes this plea.
Kirk gets on the communicator to tell Spock’s brain that he’s connected to a “complex control panel”. Kirk guesses that Spock’s sensation of “breathing” is actually him “recirculating air”, his feeling of “pumping blood” is in fact him “purifying water”, and his “maintaining temperature” is really Spock’s brain “running heating plants”. Spock agrees.
Kirk presses the “release grip” button on Spock’s remote control, but grabs Kara as she tries to run away. He demands to know how she removed Spock’s brain, but McCoy again says it’s no use. “Mental faculties down here seem to be almost atrophied because of non-use!” Or, as I like to call it, a typical day inside the Big Brother house.
At last, Kara reveals she used the “Old Knowledge”, which she received when she “put upon my head the Teacher!” Kirk demands to know what the Teacher is, so she helpfully looks right at it. It turns out to be a big glass helmet with huge metal spikes sticking out of it. (I swear Liz Taylor wore this in Boom.) Spock explains that all one has to do is wear this helmet to receive the complete “tape storehouse of knowledge of the builders of this place”. Kirk asks for a demonstration, but Kara claims that “Only by command of the Ancients may I understand!” Who are the Ancients? And how do they command? We never find out.
Instead, Kirk forces her under the Salad Bowl of Knowledge and lowers it onto her head. We then immediately get stock “computer” shots of the Teacher doing its thing. Amusingly, one of the shots is clearly of the M5 from the episode “The Ultimate Computer” (The One With The Ultimate Computer).
Finally, the helmet rises. Kara says, “Gentlemen. The Controller’s explanation of the functioning of the Teacher is essentially correct.” Keanu Reeves says, “Whoa.” Everyone gives each other stunned looks. Actually, Kara is suddenly seeming much more intelligent and refined than Kirk and the boys. The men make feeble, transparent attempts to seem smarter, tossing out phrases like “delicate miracle” and “from the very first”, but unfortunately, now that she’s Smart Chick, Kara’s got the upper hand on them.
It turns out she’s hidden one of their phasers in her clothes. She pulls it out from under her skirt and points it at Kirk. Okay, first of all? Really odd place to keep it. Second of all? She would’ve had to hide it under her skirt before she got the Old Knowledge. How would she have even known what a phaser was when she couldn’t even grasp the meaning of the word “brain”?
Scotty notes that the phaser is set to kill. Whoops. If you’ll recall, as they took the Cave Elevator down, Kirk ordered all phasers set to stun. Again, this means Kara would have had to change the setting to kill before gaining the Old Knowledge.
Kirk yells that Spock will die without his brain. Kara says, “The Controller die? The Controller will live for 10,000 years! And we shall give him all our devotion!” But Kirk says this means that Spock, the man, will die. Which brings up an interesting dilemma. Wouldn’t Spock want to, I don’t know, actually live for 10,000 years with a bevy of hot babes attending to his every whim? Sure, he wouldn’t have a physical body, but we are talking about 10,000 years here. And hot babes.
As the two argue, Scott suddenly groans and faints like a woman. Kirk takes advantage of this distraction to grab Kara’s phaser. I guess the Teacher didn’t explain to her that when you’ve got your adversary at gunpoint, you shouldn’t let him get within arm’s reach of you. Not too many B-movies in the Old Knowledge library, I’m thinking. Anyway, Kara’s now on the business end of the phaser, and Scott quickly recovers from his ingenious, yet slightly gay, ruse and grabs Kara.
Kirk demands to know how long the Old Knowledge lasts. Kara says three hours, and McCoy notes that just enough time to restore Spock’s brain. Kara flatly refuses to help. Quite the pickle, eh, Captain? McCoy says that maybe he can learn from the Teacher, too. Spock’s voice warns that because of his human physiology, the Teacher could actually damage McCoy’s brain, but McCoy says there’s no other choice if they want to save Spock.
Spock says he’s not worth the risk, but McCoy declares, “I might be able to retain and bring these techniques to the world!” Huh? The world? What? Which world? Which planet will be so fortunate? (Obviously, the word he was looking for is “galaxy”.) Anyway, Kirk allows McCoy to take the risk.
McCoy stands beneath the Hair Dryer of Knowledge and Kirk lowers it down. McCoy winces for a good long while, then falls to his knees. “Of course,” he stage-whispers. “A child could do it!” A child could write this script!
Cut to McCoy furiously working. Okay, so here’s the setup for implanting somebody’s brain. No, really, you’ll like this. Basically, Spock is lying on a table in his khaki jumpsuit, and the top half of his head is poked through a hole cut in a plaster partition. Oh, and he still has all his hair [!!].
Meanwhile, Kara is just casually standing there and watching. Hey, guys, is this a good idea? Couldn’t she easily sabotage the surgery? With one good sharp poke, she could ruin the whole damn thing. Or she could smear mustard all over Spock’s brain. (You’ll get that joke when I eventually recap Overdrawn at the Memory Bank.)
Scotty watches McCoy and cries, “He’s operatin’ at warp speed!” Hah hah, I get it! Scott says, “I’d like a try at that Teacher myself!” Which would make a lot of sense, actually. I mean, if one guy with the Old Knowledge can work this fast, think of how quickly two guys could get the surgery done. Sure, Scotty’s not a doctor, but if the Teacher can turn Miss October over there into a world-class brain surgeon, surely there’s nothing holding Scotty back.
While all this is going on, Kara sulks because her society will be “destroyed”. Kirk consoles her. “You’ll be without your Controller for the first time, but you’ll be much better off, I think!” Don’t you just love how Kirk makes these sweeping, world-changing decisions all by himself? You’d think, at the very least, he could make some facile effort to contact somebody back at Starfleet to discuss how he’s about to completely wreck an alien civilization. But, no. This is Kirk we’re talking about here, after all.
Kirk says that together with the Morg men, the Eymorg women will develop this world. Kara says the men won’t help without the pain from the Rolo belts, but Kirk smarmily notes, “There are other ways. You’ll discover them.” And I’m sure that Kirk will be more than happy to help you discover those ways. Dirty bastard.
An alarmed Scotty calls out to Kirk. “He’s forgetting!” A distraught Bones cries out that there are millions of nerves and ganglia before him. In a sweaty panic, he shouts, “What am I supposed to do?” He says, “No one can restore a brain!”
Fade to a sweaty montage of all the men looking left, right, up, down… Uh, what are they all looking at? We learn from a Captain’s Log that McCoy is now using “his own skills and surgical techniques” to restore Spock’s brain. Sure, that sounds like a wiser course than just putting Scotty under the Teacher. So that Spock can help out, Kirk ordered McCoy to give high priority to reconnecting Spock’s vocal chords.
McCoy is about ready to throw in the towel, when suddenly Spock himself chimes in. He hoarsely tells McCoy to “finish reconnecting my speech center” so that he can help out. Given he can already make perfectly coherent complete sentences, what’s left to connect? At any rate, McCoy proceeds to do so. “Hmm,” Spock says. “That’s better!” Yes, lying around with your skull open must be a very comfortable experience. Spock tells McCoy to grab a “sonic separator” and “stimulate the nerve endings and observe the physical reactions”. Spock will let him know when the “probe” is correct, so that McCoy can seal things up with a “tri-laser connector”. And it’s just that easy!
First McCoy stimulates Spock’s right finger, then his wrist, then his elbow. If something moves in Spock’s pants, I’m turning this off. McCoy smiles and says he’ll never live down how “this Vulcan is telling me how to operate!”
We fade to a little later and Spock’s all closed up. McCoy doesn’t know if it worked, but he does note that “the fluid balance is correct”. Well, there you go. However, all the worrying is for naught as Spock instantly sits up, with all his hair still on his head, naturally. He stretches out and is quite chipper. He then begins babbling rapid-fire about what he’s learned about the planet’s civilization. McCoy breaks in to snark, “I should have never reconnected his mouth!”
Cue the Clarinet of Humor as Spock raises an eyebrow. He just blows everybody off and continues babbling, and Scott lets out a huge guffaw so we can get our typical “everybody laughs at Spock” ending. In a genuinely funny moment, Kirk grabs Spock’s now-useless remote control and tries to turn some dials to shut him up. Hahahah! That was classic.
Well, as I said, this episode is much better than its reputation would have you believe. It’s pretty dumb, but there are far more painful ways to spend fifty minutes. And I’ll soon be exploring some of those ways, because this is the last original series episode I’ll be taking on for a while. That’s right—I figure the time has come to finally give The Next Generation some of its due here in the Worst of Trek. And if you think what I’ve looked at so far has been painful, just wait until we get into some of the unbearably boring adventures of Picard and the gang. Plot and plot, what is plot?