Star Trek (TAS) “Albatross” (part 4 of 4)
The plague quickly spreads through the ship. Soon Uhura is blue.
Arex and Sulu are blue.
Scotty is blue, and I’m assuming also sad that he’s been demoted again.
After Deimos turns blue as well, Kirk puts Spock in command, since he’s the only one not puking his guts out. Spock manages to get the Enterprise to Dramia, and once there, he enacts General Order Six. Sulu exposits that General Order Six goes into effect once everyone on board is dead from disease, at which time the ship will self-destruct. Wait. How is the computer going to know this? Is it that sophisticated that it can sense no one on board and blow up the ship using its own judgment? The computer has that sort of power?
Well, it is voiced by Majel Barrett Roddenberry, so I guess yeah, it probably does.
Kirk staggers onto the bridge and tells Spock they need McCoy to find an antidote. Uhura collapses, so Spock makes the call to the planet. The Supreme Prefect hears Spock’s report and his plea that they need McCoy. His reply? “No.” I’ll say this for Dramians; they’re to the point. When he’s told Deimos and the witness both can’t speak, the Prefect says Spock’s treachery is transparent. And I have to admit, from the Prefect’s point of view, Kirk and Co. do seem to be trying something tricky. He signs off and Spock tells Kirk, who is now green…
…that he can get McCoy without infecting him. Really? Are you sure about that, Spock? This plague makes no sense. On the one hand, they have a list of races the plague can’t infect, then on the other, they don’t have a cure, and yet Kirk is making this Hail Mary pass that McCoy can somehow find a cure based on… what?
…Oh, right. Three seasons of McCoy consistently saving lives within an episode’s fifty-minute running time. Yeah, I can see Kirk by now probably thinks Bones can cure anything.
Spock beams down to Dramia and strolls into the Hall of Justice, where apparently there’s only one guard on duty. Spock uses the universe’s most effective martial arts technique…
…and frees McCoy. The two argue… Well, McCoy rants and Spock lets him, and finally explains there’s a plague on board. Spock warns McCoy that if they do head up and McCoy can’t find a cure, the doctor will die along with everybody else. McCoy doesn’t hesitate, because that’s how he rolls, and then Kirk beams the two aboard.
…And what was Spock’s plan if Kirk had passed out at the controls?
Spock and McCoy work to figure out the disease, but the computer can’t find a match. It’s Kirk, semi-conscious on the examination table, who comes up with the idea that the aurora is messing with things. Because I guess Shatner was upset that Kirk wasn’t being heroic enough in this episode or something.
McCoy has Spock run the symptoms through again, minus the color changes, and they figure out which disease it is. Only, they knew which disease it was, because they had a list of aliens the disease didn’t affect! You know, I think this plot would have maybe worked if this had been an hour episode. Or maybe not. TOS had an hour to convince me there was such a thing as space hippies, and that didn’t work.
They figure out that Coltai survived the first plague due to the Saurian antibodies in his blood. McCoy just happens to have a stash of antibodies in his lab and uses them, shooting up everyone in Sickbay. Soon Kirk, Collllltai, and the others are cured!
In the end, McCoy is cleared of all charges, and is even awarded for finding a cure for the “Auroral plague”, but McCoy mans up and points out Kirk and Spock played a part. In the end, the Dramians forget about the jail break, Kirk forgets about Deimos stowing away, and everyone grins.
Oh, buy hey, it doesn’t end there, because you know what this episode needs? More padding! The trio along with Scotty are loitering in the transporter room, and the canned comedy music starts up, meaning they’re about to try to be intentionally funny.
Spock points out (after surely congratulating Scotty on his re-promotion… and McCoy’s transfer to Command? Bless you, sloppy animation directors. Your inability to screen the most basic mistakes is always appreciated) that McCoy has been derelict in his duties, while McCoy points out he’s been, you know, in jail. And Spock’s response is that Hippocrates would hardly appreciate excuses.
Well, that was a real stinker of an episode. I appreciate that there were some technically decent moments in regards to the Dramian designs, and I don’t object to the idea of McCoy being put on trial for an incident from his past. In fact, I think any time a Trek character’s past is brought up, you have the potential for a good plot.
Well, almost any Trek character. Sorry, brought up Voyager again.
What I object to is the terrible direction. We have entirely too many shots of the Enterprise flying through space, a lame comedic ending, and a gaping plot hole regarding the plague that allows a means for Spock to get McCoy out of the clink.
I think if someone had been left behind with McCoy, with that person busting him out of jail, then the story could have been salvaged, rather than using that lame Vulcans-are-immune gimmick. Imagine Sulu or Uhura freeing McCoy, then stealing a ship? It would have certainly made the episode more exciting. I just think it could have been salvaged with another rewrite, that’s all.
This episode was written by Dario Finelli, who apparently only wrote two things in his life: This, and Scorpio ’70, some sort of exploitation flick involving lots of sex and drugs.
How a guy goes from writing that to writing for a kid’s animated series, I have no idea. But I want to see the movie just from the poster alone.
The episode was directed by Bill Reed, the same guy who gave us the good “How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth”. I guess the success of that episode rested more on writers Russell Bates and David Wise, huh?
The episode name “Albatross” is in reference to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, one of the most referenced works in film, TV, and literature. In it, a sailor shoots an albatross, a sailor’s symbol of good luck, which results in a curse on the ship and the crew. And so, the guilty party is forced to wear the dead bird around his neck as penance.
How the poem applies to this episode, I have no clue. It’s like the writer figured he could use a classic poem to make his lame script sound better. Perhaps some better names for the episode could have been: “Color Me Sick”, “Fit To be Coltai-ed”, or “Dramia II: The Sickening”.