Feb 1, 2021
Star Trek (TAS) “The Terratin Incident” (part 1 of 3)
Back by popular demand, it’s a Star Trek: The Animated Series recap! It’s been too long since I’ve done one of these; I forgot how much fun they were until I planted my butt down and started writing it. I’m trying to remember what made me shy away from doing them in the first place…
Oh. Right. Nowwwww I remember.
Our story begins with a captain’s log. Now that I think of it, every episode of TAS begins with a captain’s log. No wonder it’s so hard coming up with creative ways to start these recaps. Kirk is telling us that the Enterprise is on a scientific survey to the burned-out supernova Arachna.
While there, Uhura picks up a weird transmission from the lone planet orbiting the star Cepheus. Spock, obviously bored out of his mind by the mission, totally makes Uhura look irrelevant and determines that the signal is in an antiquated code that hasn’t been used for centuries, and he can make out only one word: “terratin”. Uhura reports the transmission has ended, and while her voice is professional, you can see how the animators have conveyed her rage at being marginalized, yet again.
Spock uses the 23rd Century equivalent of Google to look up “terratin”, but gets nothing. He does report, however, that it popped up twice in the message, so it’s not just gobbledygook. That’s enough for Kirk; he decides to abandon the super mega boring surveying job to chase down the source of the transmission.
McCoy is shocked that Kirk would drop his assigned duties on the off chance they’ll find alien life. Come on, Bones, how long have you known Jim? On that planet, there’s like a million percent greater chance of him meeting chicks. Maybe this time he’ll get a chance to bang a purple one. Besides, the nova is called Arachna—chances are there are a billion space spiders in orbit.
That’s not an expanding ball of gas out there, Bones; that’s a giant web! You can stick around and have your bodily fluids sucked out through your eyeballs. Tiberius Kirk’s grandson is going to get some space booty!
They head for the planet, and I imagine Kirk makes his landing party preparations as he normally does. Spock reports that information on the planet is sparse. It’s a class M planet (which means it conveniently has an oxygen atmosphere) with a molten core and a crystalline surface. So, it’s sort of like a geological Hot Pocket.
Kirk conjectures that the massive eruptions throwing lava into space [!] interacted with the crystalline surface, and that’s what created the signal. See, Spock? That’s what it feels like when someone else tries to do your job. However, things are not as they seem, as unknown to Kirk and Company, a satellite dish pops up out of the surface and fires off some sort of beam.
Kirk orders Sulu to make a single orbit around the planet; that should be plenty of time to find some lucky lady and give her ten minutes of heaven. Spock picks up a weird disturbance in the form of an impulse that passes through the ship, and he suggests they hold off on that orbit until he can figure out what just happened. Kirk calls around the ship and Scotty says the engines are fine, and McCoy says the gossamer mice show no sign of shock…
…and Chapel reports the halo fish is glowing just as bright, and would have flickered if there was something wrong.
So based on the assessment of a borderline alcoholic engineer and the apparent health of mice and fish, Kirk is going to ignore Spock’s decades of experience and judgment and take them into orbit anyway. What is it with Jim? Did he hear a rumor that the galaxy’s greatest singles’ bar is on this planet? And so, the Enterprise slides into orbit and of course something goes wrong. The ship is struck by a beam of energy…
…and everyone on board is bathed in light. At least, I think that’s what the animators were going for.
On the bright side (ba-dum-bum!) everyone reports they’re okay. But then Scotty reports the warp engines are offline, and the dilithium crystals have mutated or something.
Kirk asks for Spock’s analysis, because now that it’s hit the fan, it’s time to start listening to the smartest guy on the ship again. While Spock is examining the crystals, one of Scotty’s men reports that their tools have suddenly become too big to handle. Before Kirk can respond with “That’s what she said,” Scotty heads off to see what the hell the guy’s talking about. As it turns out, their tools really are growing!
While Scotty’s gone, Kirk asks Spock if he’s slouching. Spock claims he’s never slouched in his life. I guess that thing he does when he’s watching Orions Gone Wild in his Viewmaster is called “hunching”. But before this scintillating conversation can go any further, there’s a desperate call from a woman in the main dining room. It appears everything is growing, and women are losing their rings and hairpins! It’s a major crisis! And no, I’m not making that up; the woman on the intercom actually said that. Star Trek: The Animated Series, ladies and gentlemen: proud trailblazer in women’s lib.
I also love the look on one guy’s face, like he’s debating whether or not he’s man enough to finish off what’s in the mug. With that mustache? Yes, sir, you most certainly are.
Back on the bridge, Uhura says, “Captain, the most incredible thing is happening!” Looking at the scene from above, I would guess it took all of Kirk’s self-control not to say, “Duh!”
Kirk orders Sulu to use all remaining power to get the Enterprise out of orbit, but it’s no use; the Enterprise is stuck and the strange rays continue to bombard the ship. Uhura reports they don’t have enough power to transmit an emergency signal to Starfleet. And I’m guessing Starfleet probably figures that the Enterprise is still at Cepheus, where they were supposed to be doing that survey, so when someone actually goes to look for the Enterprise…