3/13/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "Court Martial"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S01E20
Air Date: February 2, 1967
Written by: Don M. Mankiewicz and Stephen W. Carabatsos
Directed by: Marc Daniels

Premise
Foreshadowing his ground-breaking work in The Practice, Kirk stands trial for the death of a friend who hated him.

Review
We start on Starbase 11, a place with which we are by now familiar. This time, we're investigating the death of Lt. Com. Ben Finney who apparently died while taking readings in an ion storm because somebody jettisoned the pod he was in. The contention, however, was whether or not Finney was properly warned of the situation. And when Spock beams down with the visual logs from the ship, it looks like Kirk never gave him a red alert.

I'm not gonna lie, this is probably one of my least favorite episodes. It seems kind of promising at first, but then they spend their whole time in a courtroom and it goes downhill from there. They try to add some interesting elements, such as Kirk's lawyer who loves physical books, and Finney's daughter who's pretty much teetering on the crazy side, but mostly it's just Kirk and Spock standing in a court room trying to convince people that the visual record is wrong.
A face only a dead father could love
When Kirk is confronted with the fact that he'll need legal representation, he randomly meets an old lover who just happens to be a lawyer. Spoiler alert: she's defending the prosecution. When Kirk finally meets his real lawyer, Samuel T. Cogley, he finds him to be a crazy old man who's really into books. And we're not talkin' e-readers or PADDs. I'm talking about physical, hard-cover books. And they're stacked all around Kirk's quarters.

Meanwhile, everyone who was there knows what really happened. That includes Kirk, Spock and Bones. Spock obviously concludes that since the visual records do not show what happened, they must have been altered somehow. And if the visual records were altered, that would definitely have an adverse effect on the chess program that he created. So, logically, if the visual records were altered, he should be able to win at chess over and over and over again instead of stalemate.
Also, if the replicator gets his order wrong,
he should be able to stand on the cargo hold ceiling.
When the court reconvenes on the Enterprise, Spock explains all this and then Cogley makes the grand accusation that Finney is not dead. Cogley explains that Finney faked his death and implicated Kirk because he has always been angry at Kirk for getting command of the Enterprise, and not him.

Ok, two things: 1) If you have a big enough vendetta against a man that you're willing to fake your own death and implicate him in the murder, wouldn't that be obvious enough that people would know about it beforehand and not think you're friends?? 2) How long was he planning on keeping this up?? Was he going to hide in engineering his entire life? Sneak back down to Earth and let his daughter think he was dead?

Anyway, Bones makes everyone's heartbeats play on the loudspeakers and then cancels out everyone who's accounted for because apparently they don't have internal sensors. Once they discover an extra heart on board, it has to be Finney, so they track it down to engineering and Kirk goes to fight him.
OBLIGATORY WARDROBE MALFUNCTION
Finney pretty much confesses everything during the fight and probably gets sent off to the loony bin. Afterwards, Kirk fixes some stuff that Finney messed up which was actually making their orbit decay, and then everybody's saved! Yay! Afterward, Kirk discovers that Cogley is taking on a new client for whom he is sure to win: Finney.

Overall Thoughts
It just doesn't make any sense. Nothing about this episode does. Maybe I'm jaded in my modern mindset knowing how computers actually work, but there's nothing about this premise that ever had me suspending my disbelief. I think I'm just going to pretend this episode didn't happen.