“Wink of an Eye”
Written by Lee Cronin and Arthur Heinemann
Directed by Jud Taylor
Season 3, Episode 13
Production episode 60043-68
Original air date: November 29, 1968
Captain’s log. The Enterprise responds to a distress call on Scalos. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and two security guards beam down to the location from which Uhura is receiving the distress call. But while the locations match, Kirk sees nobody at the beam-down site, and Uhura still only sees the Scalosians in the broadcast of the distress call. McCoy isn’t picking up any animal life at all, though Kirk hears what sounds like an insect buzzing.
There is an abundance of art and literature and architecture, and some of the latter was obviously occupied recently, though other parts were abandoned.
Suddenly, Compton, one of the security guards, disappears, right after he took a sip from a fountain.
The remainder of the landing party beams back and is checked by McCoy in sickbay. Uhura plays a recording of the distress call again, in which the five remaining survivors of Scalosian society plead for help. Since there was no sign of them, it’s possible that that was a recording all along. (In addition, Uhura detects a malfunction in communications, though it corrects itself, and Sulu reports an issue in the hangar bay and the deflector controls frozen. This will probably be important later.)
Kirk reports to sickbay for his post-landing-party checkup. Chapel mentions that all the cabinets in sickbay had been opened and closed, and everything inside them disturbed. But nothing was taken or tampered with.
Once again, Kirk hears the insect-like buzzing. He calls the bridge, but there’s nasty interference on the intercoms. Spock detects an issue in life-support, and he, Spock, and two security guards investigate, only to hit a force field. However, while the force field keeps the guards out, it lets Kirk and Spock in. They find that a device of alien origin hooked into life-support, though the system is still functioning. But they can’t touch it—another force field—and when they try to fire on it, their phasers disappear and they are physically shoved backward.
They return to the bridge, where the computer’s analysis is less than helpful. Kirk hears the buzzing again, and doesn’t notice something being put in his coffee. After he drinks it, the entire bridge seems to slow to a crawl around him—but there’s someone else on the bridge. It’s one of the Scalosian women from the distress call, who kisses him and introduced herself as “Deela—the enemy.”
Deela explains that nothing has happened to the crew—it’s Kirk who’s changed. She and he are now accelerated, moving so fast that the rest of the crew can’t even detect them except as occasional insect-like sounds. Deela’s intent is for Kirk to be king to her queen, ruling the Scalosians. She kisses him again for good measure. It’s obvious that this is far from the first time she’s done this.
Kirk leaves the bridge, heading for life support, only to find Compton who has been suborned by the Scalosians. (Subjectively, he’s been with them for days…) However, Kirk refuses to go quietly, and while Compton is unwilling to follow Kirk’s orders anymore, he’s not willing to stand by while the other Scalosians hurt him. He’s killed defending Kirk (he’s only cut a bit, but any cellular damage results in death by rapid aging).
Back on the bridge, Uhura and Sulu see Kirk disappear. Spock examines the coffees that Sulu, Scotty, and Kirk drank, and detects something odd with Kirk’s. He takes all three to the lab.
Kirk wakes up from being stunned and asks what the thing attached to life support is. They don’t actually tell him, and Rael, one of the other Scalosians, tells Kirk that Compton died from Kirk’s struggle with him.
Kirk heads to the medical lab and records everything he knows in the hopes that Spock will find the recording and slow it down enough so that he can listen to it. Deela joins him and even helps him explain the situation for historical research. The Scalosians suffered a cataclysm that not only accelerated them, but left them infertile. They have had to kidnap people from passing spaceships in order to procreate. (How that works when they’re a different species and infertile is left unclear.) They’ve tried to slow themselves down, but every attempt resulted in death. The device hooked to the Enterprise will put the ship into suspended animation, so that when Kirk inevitably burns out they’ll have four hundred replacements.
Rael tells Deela to bring Kirk to the transporter room. Kirk moves the recording he made to the reader in front of Spock, and then runs ahead to the transporter room, barely sabotaging it before Deela can arrive. He insists when Deela fails to beam Kirk down that it’s some kind of malfunction. Rael is tasked with trying to fix the problem, while Deela takes Kirk to his cabin. This time, Kirk doesn’t resist kissing her.
On the bridge, Spock watches the distress call again, this time playing it at high speeds, which sounds exactly like the buzzing they’ve been hearing since arriving at Scalos. McCoy then finds the tape Kirk left behind, and Spock now knows to slow it down, and they learn everything Kirk knows. Spock knows they can’t fight them at their own speeds, so they must find a way to do so at the Scalosians’.
Rael cannot determine what’s wrong with the transporter, and when he tries to contact Deela, she doesn’t answer. Cut to Kirk putting his boots on while sitting on the side of his bed, so now we know why she wasn’t answering the phone. Rael shows up in a jealous rage. Kirk has to avoid even being injured a little bit, as that could kill him the way Compton was killed. Deela stops Rael, barely, and sends him back to work on the transporter some more.
After he leaves, Deela explains that Rael loves her. She loved him once, as a child, but no longer. Kirk, though, appears to have finally drunk the Scalosian Kool-Aid, wanting Deela’s approval, completely adjusted to the Scalosian side of things.
McCoy is able to come up with a method of reversing the acceleration, but the only way to apply it to the captain is to be accelerated also, so Spock drinks the Scalosian water and is now also accelerated.
Rael fixes the transporter and beams the other three Scalosians down, then heads to life support to activate the unit so the Enterprise will be frozen. But Kirk was faking it; he takes Deela’s weapon, heads to life support—where Spock already is present—and the pair of them destroy the unit, then beam Rael and Deela down. Only then does Spock reveal that he has a cure for the acceleration. Kirk takes it and is back to normal, while Spock effects repairs at ludicrous speed. When he’s done, he drinks the antidote, and everything is back to normal.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Somehow, volcanic eruptions turned the Scalosians into people who lived at super-fast speeds. And are apparently immortal, since the impression is that they’ve been doing this for a while, and they haven’t died yet, even though they’re subjectively several centuries old at this point.
Fascinating. It’s unclear how Spock figured out that the Scalosians were accelerated. He just wandered from the medical bay, went to the bridge, hit fast forward, and that was that.
I’m a doctor not an escalator. McCoy figures out how to reverse the acceleration. Because he’s just that awesome.
Ahead warp one, aye. Sulu gets to report on a lot of malfunctions. Oh, and he somehow reports to Spock exactly what happened to Kirk despite having his back to Kirk at the time.
Hailing frequencies open. At the end, Uhura accidentally plays the tape of the Scalosians’ distress call. She apologizes and intends to take it off, but Kirk tells her to keep it up so he can say goodbye to Deela.
I cannot change the laws of physics! After they play Kirk’s tape, Spock sends Scotty to the transporter room, but he never makes it through the door—yet in that same amount of time, Spock and McCoy are able to synthesize a cure for the acceleration. Obviously, the engineer walks really slowly…
Go put on a red shirt. Poor Compton. He gets accelerated, suborned, and then dies defending his captain, whose only way to eulogize him is, “He was so young!”
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Deela and Kirk very obviously have sex, as we see Kirk pulling his boot on while Deela’s combing her hair. Broadcast Standards and Practices were obviously asleep at the wheel that week.
Channel open. “You’re married to your career, and you never look at another woman.”
“Well, if she’s pretty enough, I’ll look.”
Deela being only half right about Kirk and Kirk being overly modest.
Welcome aboard. Kathie Browne plays Deela, Jason Evers (who was the lead in The Brain that Wouldn’t Die, one of the great B-movies) plays Rael, and Erik Holland plays Ekor. Geoffrey Binney as Compton gets to be a prototypical redshirt, and we’ve got recurring regulars George Takei, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, and Majel Barrett.
Trivial matters: The Voyager episode “Blink of an Eye” was originally titled “Wink of an Eye” and was also about a people who lived time at an accelerated rate, though in that case it was the entire world. Once somebody remembered this episode, they changed the title to the homonym.
This is the first of three scripts by Arthur Heinemann, who will return to script “The Way to Eden” and “The Savage Curtain.”
When we saw characters in accelerated mode, director Jud Taylor tilted the camera, a technique also used on the contemporary Batman series for scenes in bad-guy lairs.
To boldly go. “I found it an accelerating experience.” The story for this episode is by Gene Coon, under his third-season pseudonym of Lee Cronin, and the story has all the hallmarks of a solid Trek episode. The Scalosians start out as bad guys—I do love Deela introducing herself as the enemy right before she kisses Kirk—but turn out to be victims of a disaster who are trying to make the best of it. And Kirk does his usual attempt to get Deela to simply ask for the Federation’s help.
Unfortunately, while that story would’ve made a good Star Trek episode, Arthur Heinemann’s script isn’t it. For one thing, everything is so perfunctory. There’s no sense of urgency or danger at any point, making it hard to appreciate the stakes.
Worse, McCoy comes up with a cure for the acceleration, and at no point does anyone think to mention this to Deela. Spock doesn’t even say he has it until after Deela and Rael beam down. Which makes you wonder what, exactly, Kirk intended to do with himself and Spock for the rest of their lives while functioning at high speeds. But more fundamental than that, why didn’t anyone mention this possible cure to the Scalosians, which might have solved at least some of their problems? The best way for this episode to end would be for our heroes to respond to the Scalosians’ attack on them with compassion and help. Instead, they just send them home with a finger-wagging.
The timing doesn’t work out hardly at all (see comment above regarding how long it takes Scotty to get to the transporter room). If the Scalosians are moving that fast, then there’s a lot of down time we didn’t see, and only some of it can be attributed to what had to have been a marathon sex session between Kirk and Deela.
And speaking of that, really? Kirk just gives in and has sex with her? He’s supposedly still trying to rebel and fight back, but not so much that he won’t get himself a nice piece of tail. (I’ve seen people—including more than one Trek novelist—argue that Kirk’s reputation as a womanizer is overstated, and while you can make the case if you only pay attention to the first season, episodes like this and “Bread and Circuses” make it abundantly clear that Kirk will gladly put his libido over the mission if the woman’s hot enough.)
Kathie Browne does a really good job as Deela, playing someone who’s very obviously disconnected from reality to some extent, having given herself completely over to the role of queen that her passion feels constructed, something she even kind of admits to. It’s more nuance than anyone else gives their role, as Jason Evers is bog-standard in the jealous-lover role that was already done better in “By Any Other Name” and “Is There In Truth No Beauty?” For that matter, the regulars all seem to be sleepwalking through their roles. Leonard Nimoy in particular seems to be uncharacteristically phoning it in, especially in the teaser where he sounds like he’s reading off a cue card badly.
Warp factor rating: 2
Next week: “That Which Survives”
Note: Apologies to all and sundry for the absence of rewatches the past couple of weeks, caused by a brutal combination of enforced apartment-hunting, moving, and tight deadlines. While the crisis has not passed (we’re still in the process of moving to our new place and not all the deadlines have been beaten into submission yet), things are calm enough that I can finally get back to this and the Bat-rewatch. Thanks, everyone, for your patience.
Keith R.A. DeCandido is glad to be back to rewatching. Sheesh.