Star Trek #1596: All the World's a Stage

CAPTAIN'S LOG: The Protostar visits a pidgin Starfleet culture.

WHY WE LIKE IT: The TOS references.

WHY WE DON'T: But does any of it make sense?

REVIEW: Murf's sickness is part of his life cycle and he becomes a cocoon?! This is not the episode's story, just an intriguing bit of business. The story is that of aliens who have based their entire culture on TOS-era Starfleet. They're not Iotians (in the comics, they went from gangsters to mock Starfleet like these people do here, and DS9 considered this idea for the 30th Anniversary episode, but went with Trials and Tribble-ations instead), that would have been another story entirely. They're not the theatrical aliens from Voyager's "Muse" either, wrong part of the Delta Quadrant, I suppose. But then, the idea of a shuttle from Kirk's Enterprise crashing on this planet of mimics in the DQ begs certain questions. When was the ship in this corner of the galaxy (and it has to be between The Immunity Syndrome and The Way to Eden too)? It's one of many unanswerables.

The problem - if you want to consider it one - is that this is really a Lower Decks premise. The Endaprizians ape the crew of the Enterprise, but get everything slightly wrong (most obvious with the subtitles on, but classics include Live Logs and Proper), with Robot Chicken alumni doing parody voices of Kirk and Sulu and characters demonstrating Kirk Fu. It's very amusing, but given the back story that's eventually revealed, one wonders how they got these impressions down and passed on through the generations. Ensign Garrovik (from "Obsession") crashes on this world and does his best to respect the Prime Directive, but ends up telling all these stories to explain his presence, changing his host society forever before he dies. So was he doing the voices? They had no technology to speak of (and still don't, except for Garrovik's equipment), they couldn't record him. So over 100 years, there were a lot of distortions, and perhaps their initial language didn't have all the terms required. Starfleet becomes Star Flight perhaps because they don't have a navy (no big water around), and so on. That's fine, but then we find they can recreate the bridge of the Enterprise on a stage and are later able to crew the Protostar if it holographically simulates TOS-era consoles! Just what was Garrovik teaching then, and how?!

So no, it doesn't make a lot of sense. Everything is in service of the Big Joke. That doesn't make the episode any less fun, however. Looking large in their mythology is the Gallows, a monster that lives in the nearby mountain and makes people sick. Dal falls prey to the sickness and the crew must make an expedition to the interior to find the actual source so Zero can synthesize an antidote. In reality, it's the shuttle leaving warp plasma in a cave filled with dilithium crystals - a rather unfortunate place to crash - turning the mountain into a radioactive volcano. Some exciting action is involved as once again, the Protostar can't use transporters to beam the trapped crew out (it's becoming a drinking game) and it's up to Dal and some makeshift crew to fly in manually in the nick of time. It'S very weird that the ship can holographically change all its interfaces, but it completes the homage.

At least the alien doctor isn't a comedy character like the others, and knows full well none of his people are really in Star Flight; he and they just believe in the ideas behind it. The more dramatic thread running through the episode is that the kids have been fooling themselves into thinking they are/could be Starfleet just as much as these people have, but they've come to the same conclusion. The values are worth clinging to. If you want to see how Trekkies behave as an analog to all this, feel free. It's all theater, cosplay and catch phrases, but where it comes right down to it, the true Trek fan also espouses the show's philosophy. At first, it's shocking for Dal to see himself in a mirror like that, but it eventually reinforces his values.

LESSON: We can all be Starfleet if we only believe in what it stands for.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: It's a fun comedy, but don't think about the details too hard.