It’s time for Star Trek Saturdays #13!
This week’s episode is “The Galileo Seven” and it switches up the roles of Kirk and Spock, making for a fascinating character study.
The episode opens with the Enterprise, en route to the planet Makus III with medical supplies, stopping to investigate the quasar Murasaki 312. Ferris (John Crawford), a Starfleet High Commissioner in charge of Makus III, is angry that they’re doing this, given that their medical supplies are going to be transferred from Makus III to the New Paris colonies that are dealing with rampant plague and are desperately needed, but Kirk reminds him that he has standing orders to investigate “all quasars and quasar-like phenomena” and the rendezvous is not scheduled for five more days. The shuttle Galileo, crewed by Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Lts. Latimer, Gaetano and Boma, and Yeoman Mears, takes off to investigate the quasar.
(The Galileo heading towards Murasaki 312.)
But once inside the quasar, the shuttle experiences turbulence and also, due to electrical interference caused by the quasar, has its sensors and communications rendered useless. It crash lands on the one M class (Earth-like) planet, Taurus II.
As the superior officer, Spock is forced to take command, but his cold, rational logic begins rubbing other crew members, particularly Lt. Boma (Don Marshall), the wrong way. Meanwhile, Kirk has to deal with Ferris, his superior officer, who tells him that he has two days to find the shuttle then they must leave. And, on Taurus II, the officers discover that they’re not exactly alone…
After the faulty “The Conscience of The King,” this is a fantastic return to form. It succeeds because it takes the two central leads out of their elements: Spock is thrust from a supporting role into a commanding one and Kirk is forced to abide by an authority greater than his. It’s an interesting change of pace and the script by Oliver Crawford and S. Bar-David, combined with some deft acting by Shatner and Nimoy, does a great job of showing how the two react to their new roles.
Although Crawford conceived this story as a sci-fi reimagining of the ’30s film Five Came Back (which starred Lucille Ball, whose Desilu Productions produced Trek), I like to think of this as being the first of the show’s many “Vietnam War parallel” episodes. Think about it: a disparate group, dropped on their own into a shadowy jungle-like wasteland, surrounded by an enemy they can’t really see (indeed, we never see more than glimpses of the creatures on Taurus II) while their concerned commanding officer is sidelined by bureaucrats concerned with other matters. It’s a bit of a stretch, but I think this bears out, particularly with the moody, tense direction of Robert Gist. Regardless, this one is worth it.
Thanks to Memory Alpha, the official Star Trek wiki for the pics and episode information, as well as Amazon Instant for hosting the show. We’ll see you next Saturday and until then, live long and prosper.