Let's start with the faces in this episode. First, early in the episode, we have a classic example of Trek's legendary female filter shot on the impeccably airbrushed Yeoman Mears. Then, there's a sweetly staged shot of Kirk looking into the bluefinder on the bridge, his chin anchored in the epicenter of the twirling tripometer. Ah, but in the money shot, Bones treats us to a textbook McCoy goofy grin as only the down-home country doctor can.
Speaking of Bones, lighten up buddy! McCoy's relentless riding of Spock and vicious, biting statements like, "and so ends your first command" as smoke is filling the shuttlecraft upon re-entry into Taurus II's atmosphere reveal some of Bonesies' subconscious feelings of inadequacy and definitely push into the comically uncool.
Also tiresome is the indefatigably contrary Mr. Gaetano. Complaining nonstop from the beginning of the mission, questioning every Spock order, and lugging around a chip on his shoulder as large as a Gorn's gack, Gaetano gets his in a most satisfying manner. After being abandoned to watch the left flank, a move equivalent to certain death (as Mr. Boma's apologetic expression confirms), Gaetano is herded into a box canyon by the Class 480-G anthropoids (similar to those on Hansen's Planet but much, much larger) and knocked senseless by a beautifully sculptured styrofoam boulder which caroms off his phaser hand and into his head with a a perfectly timed "thud." Now that's one magic folsom point! Gaetano is then finished off by a 480-G doing his best imitation of Dracula in a lower-body cast.
Gaetano's death, as well as Latimer's, while entertaining and somewhat karmically fulfilling, mark a clear deviation from Trek's policy of Redshirt Death. In this episode, not only are goldshirts the only casualties, but Scotty is the only redshirt on the entire landing party. Feeling lucky today, eh Scotty? Lest this departure from Trek directive rock your world too hard, it should be noted that 83% of all goldshirt croaks occurred during the first 14 episodes before the ultimate redshirt fate was decided.
Head ups--return of the European Renaissance shuttlecraft in this episode, as we get our first look at the Galileo 7 craft mentioned earlier in "Conscience of the King." We also hear mention of a second craft, the Columbus, but the big Gal alone is worth watching this episode. While stressing about the need to shed excess baggage in order to obtain orbit, Spock notes that the shuttlecraft carry little extra weight on their missions. This certainly explains the plastic, circa 1969, Price of Right, Levitz dinette chairs they're sitting on instead of heavier, bolted-to-the-floor, seatbelted, don't-go-flying-across-the-room, seats that all spaceships in the 21st century were fitted with. Where's the personal injury attorneys when you need them? The shuttlecraft are equipped with a full range of bitchin' panels, gauges, flashing lights, and beeping indicators though.
The need for a shuttlecraft is necessitated by Kirk's passion for the unknown as well as standing UFP orders "to investigate all quasars and quasar-like phenomenon wherever they might be encountered." Tell that to Sulu--he thought it said "qualude and qualude-like phenomenon," and his ongoing barbituate problem is well documented during the first season in Sulu Intoxication Postulate episodes like "The Naked Time" and "This Side of Paradise." Anyway, while Kirk detours half a solar system out of his way during the important delivery of vital medical supplies to New Paris, and blowhard High Commissioner Ferris is spouting off about Book 19, Section 433, Paragraph 12 of Star Fleet regulations governing a Galactic High Commissioner's authority, Murasaki 312 is ruining the Enterprise's scanning censors. This is actually a fortuitous turn of events though, because it gives the script writers the obligatory time-limit deadline.
And talk about your silver linings, sure Galileo is sucked into the monstrous Murasaki 312, but consider how lucky it is that they "crash land" on the only Class-M planet (oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere) for millions of leagues. It ain't all oxygen bars and puppydogs for the landing party though, because while the Taurus II atmosphere is breathable, "if you're not running in competition," Bones "wouldn't recommend it as a summer resort," what with the presence of considerable trace elements lingering in the air and monolithic neandertalai with a score to settle running around gang butchering anything in polyester. Even with all that going on, Taurus II does have its endearing and familiar qualities. There is the phantasmagoric milky green atmosphere, the tacky plaster-of-paris rock formations not unlike those found on nearly every other planet in the Federation's empire, and an ample supply of low-lying dry-ice vapor, for that sinister, yet mystical Spinal Tap touch.
Devices and Instruments
Tripometer: lit and moving Phaser II: blue Pearce's Miracle Ear Navigation Circle Podleski's Tool Bluefinder Van Hoveter
Scotty 'do #1: Classic Silver box Shuttlecraft rocked Goldshirts killed: 2 Coffee drinking McCoy goofy grin Auxiliary power/bypass Class 480G: Anthropoid Shuttlecraft: Galileo (NCC-1710), Columbus (NCC-1707) Murasaki 312 quasar Planets: Makus III, Taurus II, Hansen's Planet, New Paris Speeds: Space normal, Warp 1 Star dates: 2821.5, 2821.7, 2822.3, 2823.1, 2823.8, supplemental Elements: native stone (folsom point spear tips)