Friday, August 11, 2017

Episode Review - The Tholian Web (Original Series, Season 3)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here.

Overview – The Enterprise discovers the missing USS Defiant in unknown space, its crew dead from apparent madness. As Kirk and the away team continue to search the ship, they discover that the ship is phasing out of time and space. With limited power, Scotty can only beam aboard all but one of the away team at once. Kirk chooses to stay behind, and after the others return to the Enterprise, the Defiant disappears. Spock, believing that he can still rescue the captain, chooses to remain. Symptoms of the madness that killed the crew of the Defiant begin to manifest in the Enterprise crew. While McCoy and Spock clash over command, a new threat in the form of the mysterious and dangerous Tholians arrives. As they begin to weave a deadly web around the Enterprise,Spock must make the decision to risk the ship for her captain or abandon his friend for the safety of all.

Score: 9/10 – This is a favourite among fans, and for good reason. In a third season that had a fair number of duds, this one shines brightly. We see a new and different alien threat in the Tholians, and the web weapon they employ is refreshing and original. There is mystery and suspense as we wonder if and how the crew can rescue Kirk. We get conflict not just from the Tholians, but between Spock and McCoy. The two to clash like they have never before, showing how much of a balance Kirk was to his two friends. Indeed, it is a touching final message in a recording Kirk made in the event of his death that brings the two together. We get to see all the main characters in this episode, which includes what is affectionately referred to as the token Chekov scream scene. The acting is good,and the special effects are good for the era (although check out the remastered version). I also enjoyed the ending where Spock and McCoy play a joke on Kirk. It ended the episode with just the right amount of levity, especially after the two had come into conflict during this episode. A very solid and entertaining episode.

Relevance – 2 points. One point is scored for these events being referenced by Kirk (in Janice Lester’s body) in “Turnabout Intruder” as he tries to convince Spock that he is truly Kirk. A second point, and a big one at that, for the Enterprise two-part adventure “In a Mirror Darkly”, which also acts as a prequel to “Mirror, Mirror”.

Continuity – 3 points. The character continuity is good here, as McCoy and Spock both come to words as Spock takes command in Kirk’s absence and possible demise. Spock uses logic, McCoy runs on emotion, and together find a way to make it work. Story continuity is maintained, as is universe continuity. Full points in this category.

Character Development – 3 points. This is definitely a Spock-McCoy episode. The two having to come to terms with Kirk’s death, and it leads to contention between the two reaching higher levels. I like how Kirk, via a recorded message, is able to bring balance to the two yet again. Spock has difficult choices to make, as this is possibly the first time that he believes he may actually have to replace his friend. McCoy, meanwhile, becomes very belligerent towards Spock, and seriously oversteps his bounds. He has to adjust to having the only person on the ship that was arguably equal in authority now be in command. It was easy at the beginning of this to berate Spock over his actions as he was accustomed to it, but as Spock continued to exercise his authority, McCoy had to learn to lay off a bit. It was a great learning experience for the two officers.

Social Commentary – 2 points. When someone important in your life is suddenly gone, it is often difficult to come together and move on. This is the big take home message from this episode for me. Spock does so with calmness and cool logic. McCoy has a more emotional reaction and needs to be brought down to Earth a bit. Still, as Kirk reminds his friends, it is imperative that we do our best to unite instead of pulling apart.

Cool Stuff – 2 points. A point is definitely scored for the Tholians. Their look, their ship, their web weapon, everything. I liked how the writers and producers gave the Tholians a distinct look. Yes, the Tholian was simply a mask, but it gave us a memorable visual. I also score a point for the effects used with the ship and Kirk phasing in and out.

Rank – Admiral (21 points). Hey, they call these episodes “classics” for good reason. Seriously, if this episode is not in your Top 10 of Original Series, then it better have just missed the cut.

If you would like to read other reviews from the Original Series, click on the link here.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

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