May 28 2009 5:26pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Galileo Seven”

“The Galileo Seven”
Written by Oliver Crawford and S. Bar-David
(story by Oliver Crawford)
Directed by Robert Gist

Season 1, Episode 16
Production episode: 1x13
Original air date: January 5, 1967
Star date: 2821.5


Mission summary

The Enterprise is enroute to the New Paris colony on Makus III to deliver medical supplies to victims of an ongoing plague, when Captain Kirk gets distracted by a shiny quasar, Murasaki 321. Galactic High Commissioner Ferris, a grumpy officer in fancy duds, objects to stopping to investigate, but Kirk insists his mission includes scientific study of cosmic phenomenon. They dispatch shuttlecraft 7, the Galileo, to take a closer look with seven crew members on board: Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Mr. Scott, Lieutenant Boma, Mr. Gaetano, Mr. Latimer, and Yeoman Mears. It shouldn’t take long to get some readings and return to the ship and resume their journey to Makus III.

No one expects radiation from an ion storm to interfere with the shuttle’s instruments and pull it into the quasar. The so-called Murasaki effect also renders the Enterprise’s sensors useless and they lose contact with the shuttle, unable to locate it through conventional scans. Kirk knows that blindly finding one 24-foot-long shuttle in the vastness of space will be almost impossible; in comparison, “(f)inding a needle in a haystack would be child’s play.” They’re at least able to narrow the search down to an M-class planet near Murasaki, Taurus II, which is habitable for humans.

Indeed, the downed shuttle has landed safely on the planet’s surface and everyone seems relatively unharmed, though a bit bruised since Starfleet doesn’t believe in seatbelts. Lt. Boma rattles off some technobabble to explain why they crashed, and Mr. Spock takes charge, though he seems a bit snippier than usual, even given their dire situation. They can’t contact the Enterprise through the ion interference, and Scotty has more bad news: they don’t have enough fuel to reach escape velocity from the planet’s gravity, and they only have enough power to reach and maintain orbit for a short while if they can ditch 500 pounds—the equivalent of three men. Since there are no red shirts on board, aside from Yeoman Mears who is wearing a red nightshirt aka minidress, Spock will choose the sacrificial lambs purely by logic. This doesn’t make any of the men particularly happy with him in command.

McCoy points out that this is Spock’s chance at command, to demonstrate that logic is superior to Kirk’s more emotional methods of leading. Spock claims:

I realize command does have its fascinations, even under circumstances such as these. But I neither enjoy the idea of command, nor am I frightened of it. It simply exists. And I will do whatever logically needs to be done.

But he doesn’t deny that this is an opportunity to prove his quality. He sends Latimer and Gaetano to check the area while he helps Scotty fix the shuttle.

On the Enterprise, Grand Poobah Commissioner Ferris pressures Kirk to leave his men behind and complete his delivery to New Paris, but Kirk refuses. He has two days to search before they have to leave, and Ferris is determined to linger on the Bridge and count down every second. The transporters are unreliable due to the radiation interference, so the captain sends out another shuttle, the Columbus, to painstakingly check the surface for survivors by sight. This could take a while.

Gaetano and Latimer have blundered into a foggy and rocky landscape where they hear strange noises, a kind of scraping sound. Suddenly a giant spear lodges into Latimer’s back and he goes down screaming. Gaetano freaks and begins firing his phaser seemingly at random. Spock and Boma hear Lattimer’s death cry and run to assist. Gaetano insists that he shot a giant ape (perhaps a gorilla in the mist?) while Spock is strangely fascinated with the weapon that killed Latimer, which makes him seem like a bit of a jerk to the others:

There’s a remarkable resemblance to the Folsom Point discovered in 1925, old world calendar, New Mexico, North America. A bit more crude about the shaft, I believe. Not very efficient.

The Galileo seven six manage to strip enough equipment from the shuttle so they will only have to leave one man behind, since Latimer is conveniently out of the running. Odds are Spock will logically select Boma, given how antagonistic he’s becoming to Spock’s command. In fact, none of them respond well to the Vulcan’s cold leadership; Spock won’t even take a moment to say a few words at Latimer’s burial, preferring to work to fix the shuttle. Unfortunately, his and Scotty’s efforts inadvertently drain the rest of the fuel, leaving them truly grounded. Spock says “There are always alternatives,” and leaves it to the engineer to think one up.

More scraping sounds draw them outside the shuttle; Spock suggests it’s the unmistakable sound of “wood rubbing on some kind of leather.” Boma, Gaetano, and McCoy recommend a preemptive strike against what he thinks is a tribal culture. Mears, of course, has no opinion. It doesn’t matter anyway, because Spock isn’t interested in the majority’s rule. He’s loath to kill indiscriminately and orders Gaetano and Boma to scare them off with some phaser fire. Confident his tactic will keep the ape creatures away, he leaves Gaetano behind to stand watch alone and returns with Boma to the shuttle, where Scotty has come up with a brilliant plan to power the shuttle using energy from their hand phasers. This will leave them defenseless against the planet’s natives and will only buy them enough power for a brief orbit. Spock says they won’t need to orbit for long, since the Enterprise will be leaving in twenty-four hours anyway. He collects everyone’s phasers and Scotty begins the slow process of draining them.

Kirk finally gets a break on the Enterprise: the transporters begin working again and he prepares to send some landing parties down to scout the surface. The transporter chief points out that it’ll be a stroke of luck to find anything on the planet that way, but Kirk says, “I’m depending on luck, Lieutenant. It’s almost the only tool we have that’ll work.”

Down below, Gaetano’s luck runs out, or is at least no match for sticks and stones. The creatures attack him with a rock and he drops his phaser. One of them follows up with a spear then approaches him one-on-one. And then there were five...

Spock, McCoy, and Boma arrive on the scene later and discover Gaetano has gone missing. Spock tells them to take his phaser back to the shuttle, then goes off alone with a “scientific curiosity” to find out what happened to him. McCoy’s confused: “I don’t know. He’ll risk his neck locating Gaetano and if he finds him, he’s just as liable to order him to stay behind. You tell me.”

Spock discovers Gaetano’s dead body spread out on a rock in the open, which doesn’t look anything like a baited trap, and hauls him to his shoulders. He takes him back to the shuttle at a leisurely pace, with clumsily-thrown spears following him the whole way. Spock tries to puzzle out the creatures behavior:

SPOCK: Most illogical reaction. We demonstrated our superior weapons. They should have fled.
MCCOY: You mean they should have respected us?
SPOCK: Of course.
MCCOY: Mr. Spock, respect is a rational process. Did it ever occur to you they might react emotionally, with anger?
SPOCK: Doctor, I am not responsible for their unpredictability.
MCCOY: They were perfectly predictable to anyone with feeling. You might as well admit it, Mister Spock, your precious logic brought them down on us.

The creatures then start bringing rocks down on their hull, shaking the shuttlecraft with each blow. Spock seems caught in a loop, grasping for the comforts of logic and analysis. He admits, “I do seem to have miscalculated regarding them, and inculcated resentment on your parts. The sum of the parts cannot be greater than the whole.” Yeoman Mears helpfully suggests, “We could use a little inspiration!”

Spock has Scotty use the shuttle’s battery power to electrify the hull, which fends the creatures off and buys them more time for Scotty to drain the phasers for fuel. Spock tells them they’ll have to leave Gaetano’s body behind and grudgingly agrees to a burial, though it puts them at risk of attack.

On the Enterprise, a landing party returns with casualties, attacked by the same huge “anthropoid” creatures that Spock’s making friends with. Grand High Exalted Commissioner Ferris tells Kirk his time is up and he must abandon the search. Once the landing parties and Columbus are back aboard, the captain orders that they head for Makus III at “space normal speed” (aka impulse power), with their sensor beams directed back toward Taurus II, still hoping for last minute contact with his lost crew.

The Galileo is finally ready to lift off. Spock, McCoy, and Boma bury Gaetano outside of the shuttle and the creatures attack them with large rocks. Spock’s leg is pinned and he orders them to return to the shuttle and lift off, but they risk their lives to save him. He berates them for ignoring his orders while the shuttle tries to take off, but the creatures are holding them down. They have no choice but to burn a lot of fuel and use their boosters to escape, which means they’ll only have enough power for one complete orbit. Moreover, they won’t be able to land safely back on the planet. Spock continues to rub it in: “Gentlemen, by coming after me, you may well have destroyed what slim chance you had for survival. The logical thing for you to have done was to have left me behind.”

The situation seems fairly hopeless. Unable to make contact with the Enterprise and certain that it’s well on its way to Makus III, Spock abruptly jettisons their remaining fuel and ignites it. They think he’s lost his Vulcan mind, because he’s only shortened their time before orbital decay and burn-up in the planet’s atmosphere. Scotty realizes it was a distress signal, “like sending up a flare.” And in fact, unknown to them, the Enterprise’s sensors picked it up and are on their way. But will they get there in time?

MCCOY: It may be the last action you’ll ever take, Mr. Spock, but it was all human.
SPOCK: Totally illogical. There was no chance.
MCCOY: That’s exactly what I mean.

Unfortunately, it seems the gamble didn’t pay off because they’re beginning to burn up. Mears wails, “It’s getting hot.” At the last moment, transporter beams lock onto the five crew members. Phew! With them safely on board, the Enterprise zips off to Makus III at a brisk warp factor one. Plague victims are awaiting!

Back on duty, a bemused Kirk questions Spock about his last minute command decision:

KIRK: There’s really something I don’t understand about all of this. Maybe you can explain it to me. Logically, of course. When you jettisoned the fuel and ignited it, you knew there was virtually no chance of it being seen, yet you did it anyhow. That would seem to me to be an act of desperation.
SPOCK: Quite correct, Captain.
KIRK: Now we all know, and I’m sure the doctor will agree with me, that desperation is a highly emotional state of mind. How does your well-known logic explain that?
SPOCK: Quite simply, Captain. I examined the problem from all angles, and it was plainly hopeless. Logic informed me that under the circumstances, the only possible action would have to be one of desperation. Logical decision, logically arrived at.
KIRK: I see. You mean you reasoned that it was time for an emotional outburst.
SPOCK: Well, I wouldn’t put it in exactly those terms, Captain, but those are essentially the facts.
KIRK: You’re not going to admit that for the first time in your life, you committed a purely human emotional act?
SPOCK: No, sir.
KIRK: Mr. Spock, you’re a stubborn man.
SPOCK: Yes, sir.

Once again, the Bridge crew has a hearty laugh at the first officer’s expense, but this time he’s earned it.


This is very much an exploration of Spock’s character, once again pitting logic vs. emotion, but it pushes further than before by raising the stakes and placing Spock in a unique position to handle a desperate situation with pure intellect. The dire results of his cool analysis of their predicament leaves no doubt as to what the writers think is more valuable in a commander; human emotion wins every time. As usual, Spock’s calculating approach is too alien for those under his command to fathom and he faces an extraordinary amount of ill will and disgust, particularly from Boma and Gaetano. Even McCoy, who understands the Vulcan and calls him a friend, is pretty much at a loss when the science office seemingly behaves callously to the crew, all in the name of efficiency.

We see Spock’s point, of course. It’s of utmost importance for them to repair the shuttle and do what is necessary to save as many lives as possible. Yes, the needs of the many may outweigh the needs of the few, but the cost need not include basic humanity and compassion. Whether it’s important to pay respect to the dead with funeral services and decent burials is a matter of personal, cultural, and spiritual preference, but even if Spock doesn’t have the same hang-ups, he needs to be aware that it matters very much to his crew. Captains aren’t out to make friends, they have to make the hard decisions that no one else is willing or capable of; I found myself wondering: What would Jim Kirk do? In the same situation, under the same stresses, he would have understood that his people needed reassurance. Keeping up their morale is at least as important as repairing the shuttle. Mears—surprisingly—says it best when she begs Spock for some inspiration. People need to feel like they matter, not like they’re another piece of equipment, just part of a machine, or merely 170 pounds of mass to be left behind.

I found it interesting that even before Spock’s uncharacteristic surrender to an act of illogical desperation, which ultimately saves their lives, he relies on the emotional response of Captain Kirk. He knows that his captain is going to hold out for as long as possible before abandoning the crew of the Galileo, which gives them a finite amount of time to reach orbit and establish contact. But this is another interesting matter for debate: should Kirk have stopped off in the first place? On the one hand, people are dying, or at least extremely sick in a freaking plague on a remote colony, in need of the medical supplies onboard Enterprise. Scientific curiosity or not, even with a mission objective to study quasars, is this really the time to go sightseeing? Granted, he had two days to get to Makus III, but wouldn’t sooner be better? And it isn’t like Murasaki 312 was going anywhere; it’s apparently still around in the TNG era  (“Data’s Day”), so why not come back after saving some lives and easing some pain?

Overall this is a strong episode, presenting some interesting moral questions and creating a tense situation both on Enterprise and down on the planet. It’s extremely effective to avoid fully showing the ape creatures, since the unknown can be far more terrifying, though the flying spears (which chip off some Styrofoam from a “rock” in one scene) are as inefficient as Spock says they are. The Murasaki quasar is rendered with a beautiful visual effect, though I wish it had been purple, since murasaki is the Japanese word for purple. This is also the first episode to feature a shuttlecraft and the shuttlebay in the series. The Galileo and Columbus are appropriately named after Earth explorers, a trend that continues in the later shows (runabouts on Deep Space Nine, however, were named after Earth rivers). The titular “Galileo Seven” clearly refers to both the number of that shuttlecraft and the number of the crew onboard.

I found the sound effect of the transporter whine used around the shuttle to be a bit distracting; I kept expecting someone to beam in. Speaking of transporters, I guess they just blindly locked onto the crew at the end? Sulu didn’t even know it was the Galileo at the time. And why didn’t they jettison at least two of the chairs onboard the shuttle if every ounce was precious?

Not to nitpick the crazy science too much, but if Mr. Scott drains the phasers to replace the shuttle’s fuel, which seems to be separate from the batteries, what does Spock jettison and ignite at the end?

Other ruminations: Yeoman Mears was pretty much a waste. I don’t know what she was doing in the crew, since there wasn’t a Mr. Coffee station. Maybe she just bumped her head harder than she thought in the crash and couldn’t contribute much to the serious discussions at hand.

Commissioner Ferris’ uniform reminded me a little of the Starfleet uniforms from the series Enterprise, only with little flap-things on the sleeves, befitting of his preeminence.

Eugene’s Rating: Warp 4 (on a scale of 1-6)

Torie Atkinson: This is a great Spock piece, but it also has quite a few little touches that I really enjoyed. They’re the Galileo Seven, perhaps a nod to the Mercury Seven (and maybe also seven for luck, which Kirk says he’s depending on?). The Shuttlecraft of Diversity was a nice feeling, too; seeing this group of people work together, divide up tasks, and come up with solutions and alternatives despite their differences (and even with internal tension) is the kind of uplifting vision of the future that makes me wish I could run out and join Starfleet right now.

I also really liked the parallel between the hierarchical conflicts aboard the Enterprise (what part of “Galactic High Commissioner” doesn’t say “douchebag”?) and the conflicts on the planet under Spock’s leadership. Though they seem cruel and heartless, both leaders are making what they feel are the logical choices. Every decision Spock made makes perfect sense: why waste time on a dead guy when the living people need to get off the planet? Why let everyone die when some have a chance to live? Why leave a guy alone with the wookies after someone’s already died when you can—okay, that made absolutely no sense. But for the most part I thought Nimoy did a truly spectacular job showing us that the logical choice, the most reasonable choice, isn’t always the right one. I loved this exchange in particular:

COTT: Mister Spock, you said a while ago that there were always alternatives.
SPOCK: Did l? I may have been mistaken.
MCCOY: Well, at least I lived long enough to hear that.

Spock isn’t heartless—he’s as reverent of life as any of the humans, perhaps even moreso. (It’s a chilling moment when you realize it’s the empathetic human crewmembers who want to blindly execute the creatures they don’t understand.) I think Spock received too much criticism for his command. He gets reamed by Boma and the others for being wrong about scaring off the giants with phasers, but their suggestion was to kill them outright—if we’ve established they’re emotional creatures, how would that not have angered them even more? At the very least, he exudes command and authority much more than, say, Boma or Gaetano. All the makings of a good leader are there—Spock’s comfortable with being in charge, fully committed to his duties, and absolutely no-nonsense about doing what needs to be done even if it means risking his own life—but he lacks the emotional core from which to evaluate otherwise logically equal options. He begins as someone with just the trappings of a good leader, and then emerges into someone who is a good leader. It’s lovely.

And the ending...hilarious and sincere and wonderful. Baby steps, Spock. It’ll be a while before this is the same man who refuses to complete the Kolinahr, but you can see the embers of that fire within him even now.

Torie’s Rating: Warp 4 (on a scale of 1-6)

Best Line: Spock: “I, for one, do not believe in angels.”

Syndication Edits: A shot of the shuttlecraft in the hangar bay, turning towards the doors; Spock doing a pre-flight check and Kirk ordering them to launch; a small part of one of the Spock/Boma face-offs when they discuss Latimer’s death; the discussion about bringing Latimer’s body back to the shuttle; Spock’s technobabble suggestion to “channel the second auxiliary tank through the primary intake valve” and Scotty’s rebuff; McCoy hesitating before turning over his phaser to Spock; some of the discussion between McCoy and Boma after Spock goes to find Gaetano, and part of Spock’s search; some of the giants bashing the ship.

Trivia: The role of Yeoman Mears was created to replace Janice Rand, who appeared in the first draft of the script. There were both miniature and full-sized models made of the hangar deck and shuttlecraft; the full-size Galileo exterior mockup was designed by Gene Winfield, a custom car designer who later built the police Spinners for Blade Runner.

Other notes: Don Marshall, who portrayed Lt. Boma, later continued to be dwarfed by huge beings as Dan Erickson in Land of the Giants. Phyllis Douglas, aka Yeoman Mears, appears again later as one of the space hippies “The Way to Eden.”

Next episode: Season 1, Episode 17 - “The Squire of Gothos.” US residents can watch it for free at the CBS website.

Check the Star Trek Re-Watch Index for a complete list of posts in this series.

1. Lsana
The thing about this episode that drives me nuts is the implication that Spock's actions at the end are "illogical." They aren't. Essentially what he did what he did was trade expectation for variance--or, if you are of a less nerdy turn of mind than I am, it was the equivalent of pulling the goalie in the last minute or so of a hockey game. It only slightly increases your chance of scoring while greatly increasing your opponents, but at the end of the game, it's your best chance to pull off a win or tie. Spock's gamble will either shorten their lives by an hour or so or allow the crew to survive. You can argue that he should have valued the hour more than the slim chance of rescue, but either way, his actions were perfectly logical.

If anything, Spock's earlier actions were closer to being illogical. His assumptions that the natives of the planet would be perfectly rational flies in the face of 1000s of years of both human and Vulcan history. However, this wasn't so much bad logic as it was bad premises.
2. Mercurio2
"Gaetano insists that he shot a giant ape (perhaps a gorilla in the mist?)..."

Boo! Hiss! :)

I agree with Torie that it's terrific seeing Spock develop into an "inspirational" leader by the end of the episode. I loved the Spock-McCoy interaction here, perhaps more than in any other TOS episode.
Richard Fife
3. R.Fife
I agree with Lsana that Spock's last decision was the most logical of them all (followed by his refusal to "waste time" on the funeral). Same concept behind how to attain escape velocity anyway. A short, bright burst is more effective than a long, dim one, even if they use the exact same power in the end. I would hardly call it an act of desperation.

I think Yeoman Mears job was to keep her finger down on the record button, since spring-toggle buttons are a lost technology in the future. It was asked of her if she was recording everything they were saying.
Richard Fife
4. R.Fife
Oh, also, while I agree this is the first ep that we actually "see" the shuttle bay, they did have a shuttle in the Menagarie, and in Conscience of the King, Kirk and (the radient maiden the angels named) Lenore are walking in the access hall to the shuttle bay, and Kirk points it out and comments on it (even if we didn't get to see it). So nice to see them actually using the shuttles, would have been useful earlier....
j p
5. sps49
This (and similar episodes like Court Martial, Naked Time, etc.) annoyed me because even at age 10 I knew that orbit does not require power; it is an infinite coast, free fall. If you have enough power for one orbit, you have enough for many.

Spock was making correct decisions, but his people skills essential to their implementation were sorely lacking. Plus the plot was railroading him into bad consequences.

Maybe it was growing up on a naval base (the US armed forces have been diverse long before the buzzword) but I thought nothing of the shuttlecrew makeup. That was normal in my life in the mid 1970s.

Didn't someone recycle Dr. Boma as a villain in a Star Trek novel?
6. Matte Lozenge
It's pretty cool how the shuttle engine nacelles double as landing skids. Definitely the mark of an engineering-minded designer.
7. cbyler
I agree with the comment about rational desperation, and also about how it's logical to anticipate that others will behave illogically if you have reason to believe that they will behave illogically (and that includes both the ape-creatures reacting with anger, and the crew resenting the lack of funeral - really, Starfleet should have a separate course for Vulcans in how to command illogical subordinates, because if they don't pay attention to the emotions of their crew it's going to be a problem *all the time*). And if you know Kirk, it's not illogical at all to expect him to have stayed in the area - without Ferris breathing down his neck (or the writers trying to create more dramatic tension) he probably would have stayed until he found them dead or alive.

I think it's the classic trap of trying to write a character smarter (or in this case, more logical) than the writer - sometimes the writer just doesn't think of something that the character, by nature, should have thought of, and some of the audience will pick up on that.

That, and they're a little too wedded to the idea of reason and emotion being opposites - they are genuinely different, but sometimes they reach the same conclusion.
8. alreadymadwithjunkedfuel
Incidentally, does anybody realize that the trick of jettisoning fuel and igniting it is essentially the same thing that got Wesley Crusher kicked out Starfleet Academy several decades later?
Torie Atkinson
9. Torie
Woo first science fail! I was hoping someone would bring up the orbit thing. You guys make me so happy. :)

You're all correct, of course--Spock is behaving perfectly logically. I'm willing to forgive the silliness of it being "illogical" in favor of it representing him taking a risk. Risks can be perfectly logical, but I think the point is that he took a huge risk rather than do the safe thing, and that's what you need to be a good leader.

Well, that and compassion. He shows more compassion to the apes than his own crew!

@ 8

Actually, he didn't get expelled for that--he got all of his grades for the year expunged. He quit the Academy on his own.
Eugene Myers
10. ecmyers
@ 8
Well, that was a bit different. The Kolvoord Starburst was just for show, and it's harder to pull off coordinating five ships all igniting their fuel. And somebody died because of it.
Church Tucker
11. Church
A friend of mine in the movie biz (you have to spell it that way, apparently) told me that they financed the Galileo prop as part of the deal with AMT to make the Trek model kits. Essentially, AMT paid for it, and then sold models of it. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find another source for that story.
Bill Siegel
12. ubxs113
Maybe it's just me but I found the behavior of the other crew members really infuriating. It was straight up mutiny when they insisted on the ridiculous funeral which needlessly put everyone's life in jeopardy. Kirk never would have put up with that BS.
Greg Morrow
13. gpmorrow
Low-altitude orbits require power to maintain, because of drag from the dregs of the atmosphere. It's not much power typically, but it's non-zero.

Inside a nebula, the drag could be conceivably much greater and extend indefinitely further out.

Achieving orbit also involves additional power above from that needed to boost to altitude; you must then boost to make your orbital path more circular (i.e., to change your orbit's shape so that it doesn't intersect the planet).

So the TV shorthand they used isn't necessarily impossible. It would be interesting to read James Blish's adaptation and see what he made of it.
14. alreadymadwithcovertstarburst
Torie @9
I guess he kicked himself out. ;)
Well, it's all hazy by now, but that is the same maneuver he got his grades expunged for, isn't it? A slightly flashier version but one based on the same principle.
j p
15. sps49
@13 gpmorrow-

Still BS. Here and in the other episodes I listed the immediate result of a power loss is the commencement of de-orbit.

Blish's adaptations were no different. The major difference was in his non-adapted novel (Spock Must Die) where subspace is weird.
16. Kodos
I'm with ubxs113 here. Except for Scotty, the crew is simply unprofessional. And Spock could never have served as First Officer with the lack of command skill he shows here.
17. trekgeezer
I liked the brief bit of character development for Scotty. During one of Boma's rants at Spock, Scotty breaks in with "That's enough Mister!"

I would have to say that he was upset with Boma's lack of respect for a superior officer.

I've always wished that there had been some deeper exploration of the relationship between Spock and Scotty. You often see the two of them working on problems together, but on personal level they rarely have any exchange.
18. *** Dave
I'll confess that I never thought of "The Galileo Seven" as referring to the ship's crew (initially), just the ship itself. That makes it a lot more interesting of a title, as the episode is really more about the interpersonal conflict than the boogie-monsters.

Eugene: "should Kirk have stopped off in the first place? On the one hand, people are dying, or at least extremely sick in a freaking plague on a remote colony, in need of the medical supplies onboard Enterprise."

An example of the not-very-rare binary plague, which doesn't actually kill anyone until the zero hour passes and then it kills everyone. It shows up in TOS (and other fiction) all too commonly. Kind of related to binary radiation, which either leaves you alone or kills you, but doesn't ever just make you really sick.

@13, @15: For purposes of this episode, my assumption is that they weren't achieving true orbit (due to lack of power), but a high ballistic arc that would have to be maintained or boosted by the by the shuttle's engines. However that works.

@17: I do see Spock and Scotty having a deep, mutually appreciative professional relationship, upset only by Scotty's animism about ships and engines. But Scotty's too outgoing and hard-partying for him to have any sort of personal relationship with Spock. No games of 3-D Chess for him.

@7: Given the rigidity (and general snobbishness) of Vulcans regarding logic and unemotionality, I don't think "Foolishly Emotional Earthers 101" at the Academy would be very successful or helpful. I mean, they actually have (had) a full-blown starship full of Vulcans; the cross-cultural mix seems to be more the exception than the rule.

The problem here is, I think, not that Spock is expecting the humans to be logical (which would be illogical to so expect), but that he's trying to prove (to the others, and quite likely to himself) that the logical and rational and unemotional course is superior -- and discovering to his frustration that it is not.
Jamison Dupree
19. JDspeeder1
Honestly, this whole episode struck me as...illogical.

Why didn't they just come back to the quasar after helping the plague victims?

or, barring that...

Why didn't the crew, as much as repairs permitted, just stay in the shuttle?

or, barring that...

Why would military officers, of any kind, insist on loading dead people onto a weight-limited craft? or holding a funeral in a combat zone?

I'm a hippie, pinko weeny, and even I know soldiers don't operate like that.

Fun fact: According to the Star Trek wiki Memory Alpha (, Scotty had Lt. Boma court martialed, and subsequently discharged from Starfleet, for his insubordination against Spock. It's referenced in a TOS novel called Dreadnaught!.
Church Tucker
20. Church
New comment thingy is broken. Try copying and posting something that has been formatted. (Bad webmonkeys!)
Gristle McNerd
21. GristleMcNerd
I agree with Mr Speeder(#19). Apparently all the officers on the Enterprise are competent, capable people while the rest of the crew consists of idiots and coffee wenches.
22. Farawayben
"The Galileo and Columbus are appropriately named after Earth explorers, a trend that continues in the later shows (runabouts on Deep Space Nine, however, were named after Earth rivers)."

Galileo was only like Columbus due to his radical beliefs about the nature of the world (Galileo promoted the sun at the center, rather than the earth).. He may have been an explorer with his telescope (which he revolutionized), but he was a scientist, and not an adventurer in the sense that Columbus was.

I believe the idea of the name behind the shuttlecraft was not part of a "theme" tying it to Columbus, but rather the fact that the craft was on a mission of astronomical scientific nature. That also makes the name more appropriate given who was in command of the mission, the science officer. I don't think naming it after a scientific revolutionary was part of a general theme, but rather, specific to the intentions of this one episode, a plot device.

This is possibly my favorite episode so far, as I continue to dig into season 1. I give it a 7, based on the general character development of Mr. Spock which is a special treat. The establishment of an unexpected ambiguity regarding his Vulcan nature (and therefore, an acknowledgement of his human side) seems to foreshadow much to come, far and deep into the long story, as recently as the 2009 prequel. I see this episode as pivotal to the overall Star Trek (Kirk's crew) story.
23. Desmond
I am still reading this thread, farawayben, you are not alone in writing on this thread in 2012!

Star Trek is being shown on the CBS Action channel over here in England at the moment, and I am loving it! This episode was great, in my view, not only was Spock put under enormous pressure, so was Kirk in the Enterprise. I would give this a 6 out of 6, personally.

May the Star Trek franchise Live Long And Prosper!
24. MarcN
Like Dave above, I too thought that Galileo 7 was the name of the ship. It's only because I realized that the second shuttle was not Galileo N but instead Columbus that I finally figured it out.

You have a serious error in your understanding of the situation that allows Kirk to take time to explore. The plague is on New Paris, which is not at Makus. Makus is simply a rendez-vous point with another ship that is to take the medicine back to New Paris. As the rendez-vous is in 5 days and they only need 3 to get there, they have 2 days to explore.

In real life this is of course crazy. If there is a medical emergency, Enterprise should head straight for New Paris. But the rendez-vous at Makus is a conceit that allows the dramatic structure to work.
25. FanFromWayBack
I remember having liked this episode more than I did on rewatch. I found the characterization -- Spock as all heartless logic vs. everyone else as all soft-hearted humanity (except when it came to killing aliens) far too pat.

And didn't anyone else note the irony of Spock's decision (having to choose to sacrifice about half the crew to save the rest) as reminiscent of the actions of Kodos the Executioner a few stories back? If Spock had indeed had to make such a sacrifice, I can't imagine him being labeled "Spock the Executioner" forever more.

And yeah, what was that about rushing off with vital medical supplies at Warp Factor 1?
26. tribble
One of my favorite episodes despite the rediculous spear lobbing behind the plastic rock. My qualms are that Boma and Gaetano were outright insubordinate, and Spock leaving Gaetano exposed made no sense. Yet Spock also risks himself by recovering Gaetano and Boma keeps attacking Spock. Boma should have been court-martialed.

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