Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “Wolf in the Fold”

Sorry for the deadline-induced delays. We’re back on track, I promise!

“Wolf in the Fold”
Written by Robert Bloch
Directed by Joseph Pevney
Season 2, Episode 7
Production episode 60336
Original air date: December 22, 1967
Stardate: 3614.9

Captain’s log. We open in a bar on Argelius where a woman named Kara is bellydancing to the exact same music that Vina was dancing to when the Talosians created the illusion of her as an Orion woman. Among those in the audience: Kirk, McCoy, and Scotty. As Kara dances in front of Scotty a man looks on in annoyance—and he and another man are peeved when, after her dance, she joins the three of them at Kirk’s invite. (Scotty’s comment is that he’s a fine captain because he’s always looking out for his men. Scotty is also gauche and applauds by banging on the table, because that’s how they do things in Aberdeen pubs, even though Argelian tradition is to flicker lights on the table.) He invites Kara for a walk in the fog—apparently the fog on Argelius is very much like the fog in Aberdeen and Kara is eager to hear about it.

McCoy and Kirk brought him here because an explosion in engineering that threw him against a bulkhead was caused by a woman. McCoy manages to tear his eyes away from the other scantily clad women in the room to assure Kirk that Scotty’s resentment toward women is gone now (wow, I just don’t even…), but he may transfer it to Kirk when he makes Scotty leave Argelius.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

Having pimped out Scotty, Kirk and McCoy head out for their own debauchery. But as they walk down the street, they hear a scream. They find Kara’s body dead of multiple stab wounds—and Scotty nearby holding a bloody knife.

Scotty is interviewed by Hengist, the planet’s administrator. He’s from Rigel IV—Argelius’s people don’t have a head for this sort of thing, as they’re a hedonistic people, focused mainly on pleasure—and he isn’t getting far with Scotty, who remembers nothing. He was walking with Kara and then nothing until Kirk and McCoy found him. Scotty’s fingerprints are the only ones on the knife.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

Prefect Jaris arrives with his wife, Sybo, who is descended from the priestesses who performed the Argelian Empathic Contact, before the Great Awakening two centuries ago. Jaris invites them all to his home to use Sybo’s gifts to learn the truth. Hengist objects, thinking it should be handled through his office, but Jaris overrules him.

Since Sybo needs to meditate for a bit, Jaris agrees to let a medical technician examine Scotty with a psychotricorder—again, over Hengist’s objections. Jaris also says that there is talk among the Argelians of closing the planet to space vehicles and closing the port.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

Lieutenant Karen Tracy beams down, and Kirk asks for a twenty-four-hour memory check on Scotty. As she goes to a private room to follow those orders, McCoy warns Kirk that Scotty could be behaving differently because of his concussion, and it could be hysterical amnesia from the trauma of committing murder.

Sybo’s gifts also include psychometry, and she can read the knife’s history mentally. But the knife has gone missing—and then a scream from the private chamber. They run in to see Tracy dead on the floor, stabbed multiple times, and Scotty unconscious. He awakens and is surprised by Tracy’s death, but he remembers nothing. One moment Tracy was examining him, and then next he was waking up in the prefect’s sitting room.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

Hengist brings the two men who were annoyed at Kara’s behavior. One is Kara’s father, the other is Morla, who was engaged to marry Kara, and displayed jealousy, an emotion that is frowned upon on Argelius.

Spock calls Kirk and recommends they beam Scotty to the Enterprise to use their computers to determine the truth. But Kirk is subject to Argelian law.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

Sybo starts the empathic contact. She senses fear, anger, and hatred—an ancient hatred that goes by many names: Beratis, Kesla, and Redjac. Then the lights go out, Sybo screams, and when the lights come up, she has a knife protruding from her belly and Scotty holding her.

Kirk argues for going to the Enterprise to examine Scotty’s mind to learn what happened to him recently. Jaris agrees, but if Scotty is found guilty, he must be punished under Argelian law, and the sentence for murder is death by slow torture, a very old law that has never been changed.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

They convene in the briefing room. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Jaris, Morla, Kara’s father, Hengist, Yeoman Tankris, and of course Scotty are all present. Scotty takes the stand first, and the computer verifies that he has no memory of the first two murders, but also states that his concussion is not sufficient to explain the amnesia.

For reasons known only to the voices in his head, Scotty doesn’t actually reveal until now that he didn’t black out during Sybo’s murder. (He had a couple opportunities to do so on Argelius and didn’t say anything, the dumbass.) He says that when the lights went out, he heard the scream and moved toward it, but there was some kind of presence in his way—something yucky and horrible, but not substantial. The computer also verifies that he didn’t kill Sybo, and that he has no memories of killing Kara or Tracy.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

Morla takes the stand next, and it comes out that he was jealous of Kara and that she was going to call off the wedding, but the computer verifies that he didn’t kill her or the other two.

Kirk asks Spock to run the three names Sybo mentioned. He starts with “Redjac,” or, rather, “Red Jack,” which was another nickname for the serial killer “Jack the Ripper.” The killer of women on Argelius has the same MO as Jack the Ripper, but he’s been dead for centuries. However, Sybo said that the ancient entity she sensed fed on fear, and such beings do exist.

Hengist thinks the whole thing is absurd—they have a suspect, why are they chasing ghosts? But the computer hypothesizes that such an entity could exist, most likely as a mass of energy, one that can coalesce into a solid form. They find several more examples of unsolved murders of women—several on Earth, then one on Mars and one on Alpha Eridani II, which are both on a direct line between Earth and Argelius.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

Kirk finally gets around to asking the computer about Kesla and Beratis. These are the names given to murderers of women on both Deneb II and Rigel IV. Hengist is from Rigel IV, and Spock points out that Argelius is the perfect hunting ground, as the people are so peaceful, and Kirk and McCoy point out that his whereabouts are unaccounted for during the murders.

Spock calls for the analysis of the murder weapon, and it comes from Rigel IV.

Hengist then goes on a rampage, though Kirk socks him in the jaw. He falls to the deck, and McCoy declares him dead (that was some punch). The computer starts giggling and crying, “Redjac, Redjac, Redjac!” The entity now controls the computer, which controls the ship. Which kinda sucks for everyone.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

Kirk immediately orders McCoy to administer a sedative to the entire crew, which will tamp down their fear response, giving Redjac less to work with. Kirk and Spock head to the bridge, where Sulu is trying to get the ship’s life support under control. Spock orders the computer to calculate pi to the last digit, which is a mathematical impossibility. Redjac continues to threaten the lives of the crew, even as a nurse administers the powerful sedative. Between the lack of fear and the computer calculating pi, they’ve got some breathing room.

Kirk and Spock return to the briefing room to make sure the Argelians are okay. McCoy says he’s tranquilized everyone except for himself and Jaris. Redjac leaves the computer, which is being given completely over to Spock’s nonsense math problem and takes over Jaris. Spock takes care of him with a neck pinch. So Redjac goes back into Hengist, reanimating him—or maybe he was always dead. Spock injects him with the tranquilizer, and then they take him to the transporter room and beam him to open space, wide dispersion.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

Redjac is taken care of, and the crew—aside from Kirk and Spock—are all nice and goofy for another five to six hours.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently asking the computer to calculate pi to the final digit uses up all its memory. Ah, 1967…

Fascinating. More sexist Spock! He assumes Redjac targets women because “women are more easily and more deeply terrified, generating more sheer horror than the male of the species.” Yeah. (There’s a shot of Tankris just giving him a look when he says this…)

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

I’m a doctor not an escalator. Because it’s 1967, McCoy is written as believing that Scotty’s injury being caused by a woman will make Scotty resent all women forever unless something is done about it. I want to more incredulous about this, but just looking at the way too many people in this country today react toward Muslims, I can’t be. More’s the pity. It’s still crap psychology, though, and Robert Bloch would never have written his script with the genders reversed, or with the person causing Scotty’s accident being, say, Jewish, thus turning Scotty into an anti-Semite.

Ahead warp one, aye. Sulu is very happy on the tranquilizers (“whoever he is, he sure talks gloomy!”), assuring Kirk that he wouldn’t be afraid of a supernova, much less Redjac.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

I cannot change the laws of physics! Scotty acts like an ass in the pub, invites a woman he’s just met out for a walk in the fog, and then is the bog-obvious suspect in three murders. Somehow, he’s acquitted. 

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. The Argelians are focused almost entirely on pleasure, and jealousy is an emotion they dislike intensely. Because of that, it’s perfectly okay for a woman who just performed a sexy dance to take a walk in the fog with a total stranger…

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

Channel open. “The entity would be as a hungry wolf in that fold.”

Spock providing the episode title and also coming damn close to quoting Duran Duran lyrics

Welcome aboard. John Fiedler, probably best known as the voice of Piglet on the various animated versions of Winnie the Pooh, plays Hengist. Pilar Seurat—the mother of TV and movie producer Dean Devlin—plays Sybo. Charles Macauley, previously seen as the image of Landru in “The Return of the Archons,” plays Jaris. Professional bellydancer Tania Lemani plays Kara. Charles Dierkop and Joseph Bernard play Argelians, and Virginia Aldridge, Judy McConnell, Judi Sherven, and recurring regulars James Doohan, George Takei, and John Winston play various Enterprise crew.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

Trivial matters: Redjac is a science fictional explanation for one of the greatest unsolved murders in history, the Whitechapel murders, attributed to a person given the nickname of “Jack the Ripper,” based on a contemporary newspaper letter writer.

Both DC Comics, in their first monthly Trek comic, and WildStorm published sequels to this episode, the former with Kirk and the gang in the movie era in issues #22-23 by Tony Isabella, Tom Sutton, & Ricardo Villagran, the latter in the TNG timeframe in the one-shot Embrace the Wolf by Christopher Golden, Tom Sniegoski, & David Hoover.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

Scotty talks about his time on Argelius in TNG‘s “Relics.” The planet is also seen in the novels The Children of Kings by David Stern, New Frontier: The Two-Front War by Peter David, and The Klingon Gambit by Robert Vardemann, as well as the short story “An Easy Fast” by John J. Ordover in Tales from the Captain’s Table (which was edited by your humble rewatcher).

Robert Bloch’s script is something of an adaptation of his 1943 short story “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper,” which appeared in Weird Tales. The story was adapted for radio several times, and the TV anthology Thriller adapted it for television in 1961.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

To boldly go. “Fairy tales! Ghosts and goblins!” I never much liked this episode in the first place, and it was utterly ruined by Steve Lyons and Chris Howarth’s The Completely Useless Unauthorised Star Trek Encyclopedia, specifically the entry for “Jack the Ripper,” which points out that this entire episode feels like a ruse created by Kirk, Spock, and McCoy to get Scotty off the murder charge. And certainly their leap to do everything they can to defend Scotty despite the overwhelming evidence against him, not to mention the blow to the head, not to mention the animus toward women established right there in the teaser, is kind of annoying, especially given that one of Kirk’s own crew is a victim.

And of course it isn’t a con job by Kirk and the others to shift blame to Hengist because he’s being annoying, though the leap from the last set of murders being on Rigel IV, not to mention the murder weapon being from that world, to Hengist being the suspect is absurd given that Argelius is supposed to be a major port of call that gets visitors from other planets all the time. And it covers the fact that everything Hengist actually says is completely reasonable and only comes across as not so because he’s disagreeing with our heroes.

Star Trek, original series, season 2, Wolf in the Fold

Plus the whole thing is predicated on the most tiresome sexist nonsense, even by 1967 standards, from Scotty resenting all women based on the actions of one to the drooling done by Kirk, McCoy, and Scotty on Argelius to Spock’s stentorian declaration that women are more subject to terror than men. Yes, even in the latter part of the 20th century, we have a smart, logical person insisting that women suffer from hysteria. Sigh.

The episode has its moments. All the guest stars do excellent work, with John Fiedler in particular standing out as the obdurate bureaucrat. Tania Lemani’s dance at the episode’s opening is also magnificent. But ultimately, this episode is sexist twaddle and dopey besides.

 

Warp factor rating: 2

Next week:The Changeling

Keith R.A. DeCandido has a whole bunch of cool things coming out in 2016, and he can’t talk about any of them yet. Sigh.

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