8/5/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "Yesteryear"

Vital Information
Series: The Animated Series
Episode: S01E02
Air Date: September 15, 1973
Written by: D. C. Fontana
Directed by: Hal Sutherland

Premise
Spock goes back in time to save his younger self from a grizzly death at the hands of a Vulcan tradition.

Review
So, the Prime Directive exists to protect primitive civilizations from being contaminated with technology they can't handle. A long time after that, the Temporal Prime Directive came along to protect the timeline from being violated. But before the Temporal Prime Directive came along, Starfleet apparently sent regular scientific expeditions to the past through the Guardian of Forever. As part of these expeditions, Kirk and Spock jumped back through from a jaunt through early Orion history. The only problem: when they get back, no one recognizes Spock and the first officer of the Enterprise is an Andorian.

Turns out, Spock's mother and father split up after the death of their son. And Spock is pretty sure he knows exactly when that death was. There is an ancient Vulcan tradition that has young boys go out in the wilderness to survive. It was determined that, although they relied heavily on logic, Vulcans should establish customs that keep them from becoming weak. So, Spock remembers that a cousin of his once saved him from being attacked by an animal during this particular custom. And then he and Kirk put two and two together: Old Spock was that cousin. Back to the Guardian!
Now, where's the on switch on this thing...
Jumping through the portal, Spock finds himself back on Vulcan in his hometown of ShiKahr. He walks into town and finds his younger self being beaten and scoffed at by the pure-blood Vulcans just like we saw in Star Trek (2009). He can't catch a break in any timeline. He introduces himself to his own family as a cousin who is just passing through, and Sarek invites him to stay a while. When they get back to the Sarek household, we find that young Spock is ready to go on his kahs-wan a month early. Yeah, this is the custom we were talking about earlier. And Spock is clearly not ready for it.

When he ducks out in the middle of the night, his pet I-Chaya, a huge bear-dog type thing, tries to come with. Young Spock tries to make him stay home, but I-Chaya is insistent. And it's a good thing, too, because halfway out, young Spock gets attacked by a le-matya, a giant lizard-type thing. I-Chaya saves young Spock, but suffers a fatal wound. Old Spock catches up to them and instructs young Spock to find a healer and come back. This gives old Spock some time with the dying pet.
"You have been, and always shall be... my friend."
Young Spock comes back with the healer, but I-Chaya is dying from the venom in the le-matya's claws. Young Spock finds himself becoming sad. And as a Vulcan, he can't allow that. But old Spock comforts him saying that "emotions run deeply in our race. In some ways, more deeply than humans." Having survived the ordeal, both Spocks go back home to Sarek and young Spock expresses his desire to follow a Vulcan path. When old Spock returns to his own time, he reports that only a small thing in the timeline had changed this time: his dear pet had died. And while that might not mean much in the grand scheme of things, it meant a lot to him.

Overall Thoughts
This is a pretty dear story that I, again, wish could have been a live-action feature. Of course, The Original Series didn't have the budget to make a convincing I-Chaya, but if they did, it would have been fantastic. So we are stuck with some mediocre animation, but the story and the message remain one of my favorites to this day.