SCORE: (2/5 stars)
In what I might call the most misogynistic episode of the series (at least, up to this point), the Enterprise faces off against the disembodied form of Jack the Ripper, but more importantly, the writers show off quite a few ways of backwards thinking themselves. Kirk, Scotty and McCoy visit Argelius 2, a planet known for its hedonistic predilections. Scotty’s down there on doctor’s orders. An explosion in engineering caused by the mistake of a female officer injured Scotty’s head and caused him to (I swear I am not making this up) resent all women. Yup. In the supposedly evolved 23rd century where we’re all equal, all it takes is a bump on the head to return to blaming all members of a gender for the mistakes of one of them.
Anyway, Scotty takes a liking to a belly dancer in a tavern and offers to take her on a walk in the night fog. Nothing at all stabby or murderous will happen, he promises. Unfortunately, something entirely stabby and murderous happens. Kirk and McCoy find Scotty with a bloody knife standing over the dead girl. “I just don’t know what happened!” says everyone in the show. Despite being the obvious suspect in the case, Scotty is not detained or even really watched closely. The inept local administration scratch their heads going “how could a murder happen on a planet with no police force” as two more women get the stabby treatment from I-Assure-You-It-Couldn’t-Be-Scotty. The last victim is the wife of the planet’s administrator, performing some ancient empathic divination ritual to find the true culprit. Before she’s stabbed in the back by Not-Scotty, she screams the name “Redjac”.
Once the incompetence of the local government has been firmly established, Kirk decides to take the murder investigation up to the Enterprise, where in this episode, and this episode only, the ship’s computer proves so valuable that I don’t understand why they have a need for anyone else on the ship. It’s able to diagnose Scotty’s mental state to a superior degree than McCoy, it knows more than Spock, and its results are never ever called into question. Indeed, Kirk goes so far as to say that the computer’s conclusions are absolutely indisputable. Boy, that’s some pretty strong praise for something that’s not human, Kirk.
From the interview/interrogation/mind probings of the ship’s computer, it’s determined that Redjac is an energy being that feeds on terror, and is attributed to several serial killers throughout history, almost all of whom target women because, and I shit you not this is what Spock actually says, “women are more easily and more deeply terrified, generating more sheer horror than the male of the species.” Ladies and gentlemen, Spock said it, and according to show logic, the only time Spock is wrong is when Kirk’s opinion differs. So you might think that this is an outdated sexist view, but Kirk doesn’t dispute it and Spock says it, so there it is. Ladies, be terrified, because you’re ladies or something.
Anyway, it turns out that Redjac is possessing the body of the incompetent investigator Hergist, who quickly transforms into a stunt double and attempts to kill Kirk’s stunt double, before a quick closeup allows the real Kirk to punch the real Hergist, knocking him out. Since Redjac feeds on terror and is loose aboard the ship, they need to find a way to starve him out. McCoy starts doling out tranquilizers to the whole crew, leaving them completely terror-free and transforming Sulu into the flamboyant George Takei. Redjac takes up residence in the ship’s computer, which we’ve already established can do anything so this is a serious threat. Spock forces him out by ordering the ship to focus on calculating pi to the last digit. (Apparently there’s no multi-threading in the future.)
After attempting to possess anyone he can, Redjac returns to Hergist’s body (who they left untranqulized because of the KO punch), and becomes trapped in there when he gets his own dose of the happy hypospray. Spock and Kirk quickly get him to the transporter room and beam his component atoms deep into space on the widest possible dispersion. Redjac may still live after that, but he’s so torn apart that it’s unlikely he’ll ever pose a threat again. The day is saved, and the four hundred and forty crew of the Enterprise can enjoy the next few hours hopped up on McCoy’s special blend.
- If the ship’s computer can give a full analysis of Mr Scott’s health with less dispute than a doctor’s diagnosis, why is McCoy still on staff, and why don’t they use the computer more?
- I’d like to point out that Hergist was not the killer, he was merely possessed by Redjac. Beaming his body out into space on wide dispersal is therefore murder. It’s not to say that Redjac could be stopped another way, but still, Kirk didn’t waste any time looking for alternate solutions.
- Kirk: Scotty, on Argelia, they use the lights.
Scotty: Now, no one has to tell an old Aberdeen pub crawler how to applaud, Captain.
- Kirk: Above all, don’t be afraid.
Sulu: With an armful of this stuff, I wouldn’t be afraid of a supernova!
- Kirk: Well Mister Spock, for the next five or six hours, we’re going to have the happiest crew in space. Of course, we won’t get much work done.