Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “The Survivor”

“The Survivor”
Written by James Schmerer
Directed by Hal Sutherland
Animated Season 1, Episode 6
Production episode 22005
Original air date: October 13, 1973
Stardate: 5143.3 

Captain’s log. While patrolling near the Romulan Neutral Zone, the Enterprise detects a one-person craft drifting. It belongs to Carter Winston, the famous space trader and philanthropist, who’s been missing for five years. His fiancée, Lieutenant Anne Nored, is an Enterprise security guard. Once Kirk and Spock verify his identity and McCoy gives him a physical, Nored gets to see him.

As soon as he sees her, he breaks off the engagement. He crashed on Vendor and was nursed back to health, and his experiences, he says, means he no longer loves Nored.

Star Trek episode The Survivor

After a teary-eyed Nored leaves sickbay, Winston does likewise, and visits Kirk in his cabin—at which point we see his true form. The Vendorian who has been posing as Winston renders Kirk unconscious and takes his place.

Star Trek episode The Survivor

The Vendorian orders Sulu to set course to Rator III, which will take them through the Romulan Neutral Zone. Despite Sulu and Spock’s apprehension, the Vendorian insists, saying that Winston brought him the mission, and it’s urgent enough that it’s worth risking violating the treaty with the Romulans.

Kirk wakes up, goes to the bridge, and is confused by the lost time and by the ship being in the Zone. Spock replays the bridge recorder, and Kirk immediately puts Scotty in charge of the bridge and goes to sickbay with Spock—he needs to be examined, since he seems to be subject to blackouts and is endangering the ship.

However, the Vendorian has pulled his act on McCoy, just as Nored comes to talk to him. The Vendorian uses McCoy’s voice to convince Nored to forget Winston. She isn’t thrilled about it and leaves just as Kirk and Spock arrive. Kirk asks McCoy for a complete physical, but the Vendorian puts him off. Spock and Kirk discuss McCoy’s behavior in the corridor and decide that something is wrong with the good doctor, but when they return, there’s no sign of him—at first. They find him waking up on the laboratory floor.

Kirk then notices a third biobed in a room with only two and threatens the bed with acid before it changes into the Vendorian—who then throws all three of them around sickbay and escapes.

Star Trek episode The Survivor

Spock calls an intruder alert, and it’s Nored who finds the Vendorian—now back in Winston’s shape—and she finds she can’t shoot the image of her wooby.

Then to add insult to injury, they encounter two Romulan battle cruisers. Kirk believes that the Vendorian is being used by the Romulans to lure the Enterprise into violating the treaty. As if to prove it, the Vendorian sabotages the deflectors and tries to escape. However, Sulu closes the hangar bay doors, and the first security guard on the scene is Nored. The Vendorian reveals that he really did care for Winston after he crashed on Vendor, but eventually he died from injuries sustained in the crash.

The Romulans fire on the unshielded Enterprise, the distraction of which allows the Vendorian to escape from Nored. One of the deflectors comes back online and the ships exchange fire. The Romulans retreat, and it turns out that the Vendorian became the deflector long enough to save the ship. Turns out he took on more of Winston’s personality than he realized, and he found he couldn’t let the Romulans destroy the Enterprise in general and Nored in particular.

Kirk puts him under arrest, with Nored assigned to guard him.

Fascinating. Spock doesn’t notice that there’s a third biobed in sickbay until after Kirk points it out. Spock then lamely says, “I was just going to point that out myself.” Yeah, suuuuuure, we believe you, Mr. Observant Pants.

Star Trek episode The Survivor

I’m a doctor not an escalator. McCoy’s daughter was living on Cerberus when there was a famine. Winston used his personal fortune to obtain food for the colony, thus saving everyone’s life. McCoy is therefore quite grateful to meet him (and is seriously disappointed that it’s just a shapeshifter…). 

Ahead warp one, aye. Sulu gets a perfect shot on one of the Romulan ships, disabling it without harming any of its crew. 

Hailing frequencies open. We’re introduced to M’Ress, the relief communications officer, who will continue to recur throughout the animated series. Uhura is seen in the background in some of the shots, which are reuses of footage from other episodes.

Star Trek episode The Survivor

I cannot change the laws of physics! Scotty needs two hours to repair the deflectors. So he’s rather surprised when Kirk compliments him on fixing the deflector…

Star Trek episode The Survivor

Go put on a red shirt. Nored is good enough at her job to figure out that Winston is the intruder, but bad enough at her job to not shoot him because he looks like her fiancé. 

Channel open. “I’m glad to see him under guard, Jim. If he’d turned into a second Spock, it would’ve been too much to take.”

“Perhaps. But then two Dr. McCoys just might bring the level of medical efficiency on this ship up to acceptable levels.”

McCoy and Spock ending the episode with the usual banter.

Star Trek episode The Survivor 

Welcome aboard. Filmation veteran Ted Knight provides the voice of the Vendorian posing as Winston. Nichelle Nichols does the voice of Nored, and to avoid confusion, the character of M’Ress is established as being the relief communications officer, voiced by Majel Barrett, who also does her usual roles of Chapel and the ship’s computer. James Doohan is Scotty. It’s not clear who’s doing the voice of the Romulan commander or the engineer, though they also sound a bit like Knight.

Trivial matters: While M’Ress will only be seen onscreen in the animated series, she also appears in several works of tie-in fiction, including a run in the DC monthly comic book and then later becoming time-displaced to the 24th century and becoming a regular (alongside Arex) in the New Frontier series by Peter David, where she’s given the first name of Shiboline.

Winston also appears in the John M. Ford novel The Final Reflection, while an alternate timeline version appeared in A Less Perfect Union by William Leisner in Myriad Universes: Infinity’s Prism.

Nored appears in Christopher L. Bennett’s just-released novel The Face of the Unknown

McCoy makes a mention of his daughter, the only onscreen reference to the character who was part of the character’s background, and intended to be seen in the third season in D.C. Fontana’s “Joanna,” which was rewritten with a different character into “The Way to Eden.”

This is the only Trek script by James Schmerer, who is the first person to write for the series who had no previous Trek connection.

This is the fifth time that the Enterprise has violated the Neutral Zone, the other times being in “Balance of Terror,” “The Deadly Years,” “The Enterprise Incident,” and “The Way to Eden.”

To boldly go. “You appear to have a propensity for trespassing in the Neutral Zone, Captain Kirk.” This is one case where the half-hour format worked against the storyline, as the Vendorian’s transition from bad guy to good guy is too abrupt and unconvincing. We only find out that they tend to take on the characteristics of the people they shape-change into because the Vendorian mentions it in an awkward infodump to Nored late in the episode. It would’ve been better if the Vendorian’s change of heart had had time to develop and play out.

In addition, the battle against the Romulans is clunky and ends abruptly.

The story is actually fairly well constructed, and Winston is an interesting character—we so rarely see civilians in Trek who aren’t rogues, criminals, or politicians—and it’s only too bad that he’s not really him, as it might have been fun to get to know him.

As with far too many animated episodes, this feels derivative of a live-action story, in this case “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” with a bit of “The Man Trap” thrown in, but as with “One of Our Planets is Missing,” the animated version takes a more compassionate view, as the Vendorian is actually redeemed in a way that the Korby robot and the salt vampire aren’t.

So all in all, a decent if not great outing that could’ve been much better.

 

Warp factor rating: 6

 

Next week:The Infinite Vulcan

Keith R.A. DeCandido‘s latest release is the Super City Cops novella Undercover Blues, the second of three novellas about police in a city filled with costumed heroes and villains published this very day by Bastei Entertainment. The first, Avenging Amethyst, is also available. Full information, including the cover, promo copy, ordering links, and an excerpt can be found on Keith’s blog. The next novella, Secret Identities, will be released in February.

 

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