Kirk bides his time before unleashing the fists of fury (and some half-cocked theories about quantum physics).
Episode: Tomorrow is Yesterday – Season 1, Episode 19 (1966)
Director: Michael O’Herlihy
Writer: D.C. Fontana
This episode starts awesome: the Enterprise being chased by an F-104 Interceptor through the skies of late-sixties Earth! But how? And WHY? Attend the tale, true believers:
I’ll see your sharp teeth, superhuman strength and six-inch talons and raise you a Shuffle Off to Buffalo.
Episode: Arena – Season 1, Episode 18 (1966)
Director: Joseph Pevney
Teleplay: Gene L. Coon
Story: Frederic Brown
The Enterprise drops by the remote Cestus III outpost for a dinner engagement, but upon beaming down with his tactical team, Captain Kirk finds that the base has been destroyed by an unknown enemy. Soon the landing party itself is attacked, and I hope you didn’t get too attached to the redshirt, ’cause he gets it first.
Simultaneously, the Enterprise is under attack in orbit. Sulu manages to drive off the alien ship and beam back the still-living members of the landing party, and then Kirk gives chase at warp 5. You know how your stick shift knob has a little pattern on it, and fifth gear is the one on the far right – the fastest gear? Well just imagine that using your car’s fifth gear made it so fast that at any second your car might EXPLODE, killing you and everyone you care about! That’s how bad Kirk wants the invading alien ship. He justifies this lunacy to his first officer with:
Nope. Not Liberace.
Episode: The Squire of Gothos – Season 1, Episode 17 (1966)
Director: Don McDougall
Story: Paul Schneider
The Enterprise is on an 8 day supply mission to Colony Beta VI, moving through a particularly vacant area of space, when they come across a solitary, uncharted planet. After Sulu and Kirk are “disappeared” from the bridge, it’s up to Spock to find them on the planet below.
Of course it’s just Trelane. Trelane! For years, and I mean up until watching this episode just now, I thought he was played by none other than Liberace in all of his effete bombast. Look at him rocking the harpsichord! But no, we owe our appreciation to William Campbell for this stellar performance.
“Ready to explore some new galaxies?”
Episode: The Galileo Seven – Season 1, Episode 16 (1966)
Director: Robert Gist
Teleplay: Oliver Crawford and S. Bar-David
Story: Oliver Crawford
On the way to Makus II with “badly-needed medical supplies,” the Enterprise diverts to the Murasaki 312 quasar system for an exploratory interlude. From the beginning, the set-up feels a little forced. On the one hand, the ship is due for the medical rendezvous in something like five days; on the other, Kirk has standing orders to explore quasars whenever he finds them.
Actually, Kirk’s central mission is to piss-off Galactic Commissioner Farris (John Crawford) who is on his ass the whole episode re: being late with the medicine. Kirk could come back later, but with Commissioner Douche haunting his bridge, our captain does the only logical thing: pack his three most important officers (Spock, Scott, McCoy) into a flying short bus and drop it into a cloud of ionizing radiation. Too bad he didn’t include Sulu and Uhura for the royal flush of command incompetence. Predictably, the Galileo is in open space five minuets before crash landing on local planet Taurus II.
“You ladies like to learn why they call me ‘Bones’?”
Episode: Shore Leave – Season 1, Episode 15 (1966)
Director: Robert Sparr
Writer: Theodore Sturgeon
The Enterprise happens by a class M planet in the Omicron Delta system, and Captain Kirk authorizes some shore leave. I guess it must happen – everyone’s tired after a long mission and here’s a planet with a breathable atmosphere. It’s the horror movie where Dad pulls up to a dodgy hotel in the middle of nowhere and says “This place looks cozy, let’s stop here.” What could possibly go wrong?
This episode displays a surprising amount of craft. Weird stuff starts to happen as soon as the landing party beams down, and events transpire in such a way to keep the crew separated and out of contact with each other. When McCoy first spots the giant Alice-in-Wonderland bunny, there’s no one around to verify that he didn’t imagine it. Is it the space heebie-jeebies? Even the audience isn’t sure. Kirk encounters people from his past; Sulu gets chased by (wait for it) a Samurai; Yeoman Barrows (Emily Banks) discovers a Renaissance Festival dress in her size. The crew seems particularly disabled by the tangible manifestation of their own thoughts, and it takes awhile for anyone (read: Spock) to catch on. By then it’s too late: McCoy is skewered with a lance by a knight on horseback.
“Fine, you’re not Spock. But can you talk to Sulu about all those Facebook memes anyhow? I mean, Jesus.”
Episode: Balance of Terror – Season 1, Episode 14 (1966)
Director: Vincent McEveety
Writer: Paul Schneider
The Enterprise is patrolling the edge of the Neutral Zone, the demilitarized border between Federation and Romulan space, when a string of Federation outpost is attacked and destroyed. What follows is a game between hunter and hunted that mirrors the best submarine epics to come out of World War II.
The evocation of battle is tense and tightly scripted. After investigating the wrecked stations and encountering the cloaked Romulan Warbird, it soon becomes clear that the Enterprise is evenly matched with its opponent. But while advanced special effects and rapid, challenging plotting make this a worthy episode, the real strength of “Balance of Terror” lies in its attention to character. In only a few minutes of dialogue, the Romulan world is fully illustrated, and the broad outlines of an aggressive, militant culture and politics come to life in the performance of Mark Lenard as the Romulan Commander. His bristling, terse evocation of nihilism and duty is a wonderful counterweight to the cool professionalism of Captain Kirk. In the Romulan Commander’s relationship with his subordinate Centurion (John Warburton) we see a mirror of Kirk and Spock, such that his wrangling with the commander and final death are immediately intelligible and emotionally powerful.
I am so obviously not paid enough for this shit.
Episode: The Conscience of the King – Season 1, Episode 13 (1966)
Director: Gerd Oswald
Writer: Barry Trivers
The Enterprise is diverted to Planet Q after receiving a message that Dr. Thomas Leighton (William Sargent) has discovered a new synthetic food source. Upon arriving, Kirk learns that the message was a ploy to bring him to the planet to determine if the leader of a troupe of Shakespearean actors, Anton Karidian (Arnold Moss), is actually the nefarious Kodos “The Executioner.” Like a Glee episode with more fabulous clothes — it’s time to throw your hands in the air and get meta!
Leighton and Kirk share a past: they are both survivors of the inhuman excesses of Kodos on Tarsus IV, and are two of the only three people left alive who can identify him. Soon enough, Dr. Leighton is murdered. Then an imperfect attempt is made on the third witness, none other than Lt. Kevin Thomas Riley. Riley! You remember him: he nearly destroyed the ship via Irish stereotype in “The Naked Time.” Watch him spill his poisoned milk into the engineering console and induce another uncontrolled matter/anti-matter intermix explosion.