It’s time for Star Trek Saturdays #38!
This week’s episode is “Wolf in the Fold” and it’s an intriguing murder mystery that sweeps these characters up in its grand sense of intrigue.
We open with Kirk, McCoy and Scotty in a cafe on the planet Argelius II, watching a belly dancer perform. We learn through dialogue that they’re there because Scotty is on medically mandated shore leave after a female crew member’s error caused a bulkhead explosion that dealt Scotty a severe blow to the head. McCoy believes that Argelius II, with its hedonistic and extremely sexually permissive culture, will help cure Scotty of his “total resentment towards women.”
The belly dancer, Kara (Tania Lemani), finishes her performance and comes over to their table, per Kirk’s invitation and to Scotty’s enthusiastic delight. Waxing poetic about the rolling fog over the moors of Scotland, Scotty invites Kara for a walk and she accepts.
Kirk and McCoy, feeling like the world’s best wingmen, head over to another club with similarly attractive women, but out in the street, they hear Kara scream. They rush towards the noise, finding her murdered and, a little farther away, Scotty, standing back against a wall in a haze, holding a bloody knife.
Scotty is interrogated by the city’s chief administrator, Mr. Hengist (John Fiedler). Scotty confesses that he can’t remember anything beyond him and Kara in the fog, with him up ahead trying to lead the way, when suddenly he heard her screaming. Kirk angrily badgers Scott to remember, and McCoy tells him to back off, considering the emotional trauma Scotty’s going through.
However, Kirk testily informs McCoy that he’s facing a diplomatic crisis. The crime, he points out, happened under Argelian jurisdiction. If the Argelians want to place him under arrest, try, and convict him of murder, Kirk, by diplomatic laws, has to go along with it.
Notably, Hengist is not an Argelian. Rather, he’s from Rigel IV. He works here because, as he says to the others, the Argelians are so peaceful and pleasure-focused that they’re not up to the task of bureaucratic administration, hence their hiring of outsiders for these purposes.
Hengist points out that Scotty’s fingerprints are all over the murder weapon. Kirk counters that there were many other people in the cafe; Hengist replies that they’re looking for these people to try and question them. Kirk asks what the law in this case is, and the Argelian prefect Jaris (Charles Macauley) and his wife Sybo (Pilar Seurat) enter and tell Kirk that the law is love.
What that means, Jaris tells them, is that they can ascertain the truth through conducting an Argelian empathic contact that Sybo can intiate, a sort of seance. Despite Hengist’s objections, as Jaris is the ultimate authority, they defer to him. While Sybo gets things ready for the contact, Kirk orders Spock (who is in command on the ship) to send down a medical technician to conduct a psychotricorder examination on Scotty, which will enable them to see the last 24 hours of Scotty’s memory.
Lieutenant Karen Tracy (Virginia Alridge) beams down, and takes Scotty to a room downstairs to begin the examination. Sybo, having prepared for the ceremony, comes back to ask for the murder weapon, as she can get psychic impressions from inanimate objects. They look around and notice the knife is missing, just as a scream emerges from downstairs. They rush down and find Lt. Tracy dead, having been repeatedly stabbed to death, and Scotty unconscious, holding the bloody knife in his hands.
Once Scotty comes around, he says that all he remembers is Lt. Tracy taking the readings and then nothing else after that. Hengist returns with two men who were in the cafe: Tark (), Kara’s father and the musician who she’d performed with since she was a child, and Morla (), her fiance. Tark accuses Morla of jealous, angry behavior and Morla admits to it, saying he went home out of anger. Kirk points out that jealousy has often been a motive for murder, but Hengist points out that it was Scotty found holding the murder weapon.
Sybo ushers the others in and prepares to begin the empathic contact ceremony, with Kirk ordering the room sealed so no one can get out or in. Scotty is upset about risking his neck over some “spooky mumbo jumbo,” while Spock contacts Kirk and insists that Scott be brought back to the Enterprise so their computers can cross-examine him. Kirk shoots them both down, saying that they have to abide by Argelian law because while they’re on the planet, they are subject to the law.
The ceremony begins and Sybo closes her eyes. Immediately, she begins sensing a sinister presence, stating it is a monstrous terrible evil, hater of all things, hater of women, and repeatedly chants the word Redjac. Suddenly, the room plunges into darkness and Sybo screams in agony. Light is restored and the group sees Scotty and Sybo standing up, with a knife in Sybo’s back and blood on Scotty’s hand.
Is Scotty really guilty of murder? If so, then why? If not, who is framing him? And who, or what, is Redjac?
This is a fantastic little mystery of an episode, and it all comes down to Robert Bloch’s script. It’s a lean thing, which deftly blends penny-dreadful horror with alien intrigue. On top of that, you have some interesting characters who get shaded out as the story progresses, with some serving as red herrings as to the identity of the true murderer.
Joseph Pevney once again returns to direct, and like every other time, he’s stellar. Using the confined sets to his advantage, he manages to make things seem shadowy and sinister. He also uses suspenseful camera angles to get the most paranoia out of his cast and setting. Stellar stuff.
The cast is great as usual and James Doohan gets some wonderful notes to play Scotty; the fear and desperation is present in him throughout. Of the guest stars, it’s Fiedler that surprises the most. Best known for being the original voice of Piglet in Disney’s Winnie-the-Pooh cartoons as well as the meek 2nd juror in the 1957 Sidney Lumet version of 12 Angry Men, he’s usually a milquetoast, but here, he’s remarkably assertive and straightforward as Hergist, and gets some cool notes to play as the story progresses.
This is a really fun, tense episode that stands right up there with any other crime drama of its era or since. Check it out.
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 time and until then, live long and prosper.