Star Trek (TAS) “One of Our Planets is Missing” (part 2 of 3)
The Enterprise reaches the next stage, and they get shaken up. It appears their environment has changed.
Uhura asks what those things are, and McCoy theorizes they might act like the villi of the small intestine, absorbing nutrients. Man, when did this episode turn into The Magic School Bus?
Anyway, for once, having McCoy on the bridge comes in handy. Nice going, Uhura: you’re never getting rid of him now. He’ll always use the excuse that they might get attacked by space sperm or something and you’ll need him on hand for exposition.
Spock points out the “villi” are antimatter, and hitting one would be Bad. Kirk has Arex keep the shields up and Scotty reports they’re rapidly losing power. They have 21 minutes, and if the indicator goes below “two anti-kilos”, the engines won’t regenerate. As Sulu navigates the anti-villi, Scotty points out that if they’re made of anti-matter, then they could use a piece of one to power the engines. Kirk says they would need the matter engines powered as well.
Huh? What? The ship has an entirely different engine, a “matter engine”? This is not so much funny as it just sounds really, really weird to me. Scotty points out there’s plenty of raw matter floating out there: the chunks of the planet that already got eaten. Honestly, though, if you need matter, couldn’t you just chuck all the dirty laundry into the “matter engine”? Scotty points out they can cut a section of villi off with the tractor beam (I didn’t know tractor beams could cut, but dammit, Scotty is on a roll, so I’m going with it) and beam it aboard, and then wheel the stuff into the engine room. Kirk thinks it’s a crazy plan, but it just… might… work!
Joking aside, it’s utterly awesome seeing Scotty written so smart and technically competent. There are so many episodes of both this series and the original where it seems Doohan’s only job is to report engine failure or loss of power, or show him getting shitfaced. Props to the writer for giving Scotty a chance to really shine.
Scotty uses the tractor beam to slice off a piece of villi, and Mister Kyle beams it over.
Kirk and Scotty wheel the villi into the engine room.
Soon, the anti-matter engines are recharged and Kirk says, “Scotty, you’ve given us and Mantilles a chance to live!” And you can just see the relief on their faces.
Back on the bridge, Kirk asks Spock for an update. He says the cloud is “Forty two minutes, fourteen seconds” from Mantilles. Being so exact is Spock’s way of acting out from feeling irrelevant in the face of McCoy and Scotty’s awesomeness. Spock goes on to state that the cloud does, in fact, have a brain. Kirk asks if it’s intelligent, and Spock can’t say, only that the brain is likely the source of the large electrical discharges at the top of the structure.
…Where the exit is. So its brains are literally in its ass.
Kirk says if they can get to the brain, they can use photon torpedoes to destroy it. Dramatic music ensues and everyone looks at Kirk in shock.
They’re shocked. Just trust me on this.
Spock points out Starfleet regulations forbid the killing of intelligent life, but Kirk says they don’t know if the thing is intelligent, and the people of Mantilles are doomed if they don’t do something. This is keeping in line with the Kirk Doctrine: if it can’t be seduced into submission or talked into self-destruction, blow it up.
Enterprise enters the thing’s brain…
…and while Spock is looking for targets to blow up for Kirk, Jim asks McCoy if he’s doing the right thing. He says he once said that “Man had rose above primitiveness by vowing ‘I will not kill today’.” This is a thoroughly awesome shout-out to the Original Series episode “A Taste of Armageddon”, that classic episode where two planetary governments have their computers play war games and the “casualties” willingly walk into disintegrators.
…You know, when described like that, the episode sounds a little silly.
McCoy points out Jim can’t let this thing destroy 80 million lives. Before they can get into a philosophical debate, Spock informs Kirk that the brain is too huge to destroy conventionally, but if they park next to the central cortex and expend all their energy, they could wipe it out in “one mortal blow”. McCoy says that sounds like Spock is telling them to blow up the ship.
It takes all of Spock’s Vulcan discipline not to say “duh”.