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Episode 42 – TOS 2×13: “Obsession”

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This week we reach the midway point in season 2 of TOS (and arguably the halfway point in the series), potentially subtitled “Old Man Kirk Yells at Cloud” (there was some debate about this, given he never actually yells at the cloud).

It’s also probably the first installment in Trek’s long-running love affair with the Moby Dick metaphor. We can’t decide whether this is because of the hubris or the arrogance or just the inescapable naval associations, but Trek does love its sketchy vendettas against impossible monstrous foes. This time, it’s James T. Kirk vs. The Vampiric Sparklecloud Monster, which at some point in his early Starfleet career killed 200 people on board the U.S.S. Farragut, including his mentor, Captain Garrovick. When now-Captain Kirk recognizes the Sparklecloud’s funky smell during an away mission, he embarks on a renewed crazy vendetta which we felt would have been dealt with a lot more efficiently if he’d seen fit to, you know, explain himself to his crew rather than just, like, yelling at everyone.

Kirk licks a phaser pistol, apparently?
Also like… rubbing his lips all over a phaser? Which seems unwise at the best of times??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probably the most frustrating thing about this story is that for most of it, the narrative seems committed to questioning Kirk’s motives in pursuing the Sparklecloud to the exclusion of all the Enterprise‘s other duties (aka: delivering perishable, time-sensitive vaccines to a Federation colony???): Kirk blames himself for the deaths on the Farragut (though no one else does; the record holds him blameless) and is being dangerously irresponsible in the interest of expiating that guilt. There’s even the added bonus that the son of his former captain is now on board the Enterprise as a security officer/constant reminder of Jim Kirk’s failures. Kirk’s yelling at his subordinates, being evasive, passive-aggressive and confrontational and basically behaving like a jackass. But then, a majority of the way through the episode, the narrative decides to change its mind, pulling a 180-degree turn to show that Kirk was, as it turns out, right all along.

Kirk reclines, smugly.
Isn’t it annoying how I always turn out to be right, even when acting like a bag of dicks? (Spoiler: VERY.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since this episode falls at what was probably the height of the Shatner Interference Era of TOS, where said actor was engaged in a campaign of note-writing terror to make sure that his character was persistently portrayed as heroic and flawless, we’re willing to put this episode in the rearview and never think about it again. One day, this franchise will learn about Institutional Memory and Character development. We know, because we’ve seen it.

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