This episode adds more fuel to the K/S fire, but it does add some very spicy M/F action to challenge it.
We are also given some reason to believe that Kirk is Gay, and a masochist as well, as I shall explain.
A landing party consisting of Jackson, Sulu, and Scotty disappear on Pyrus 7. Kirk is frantic. Uhura does all she can to establish contact, while Spock hovers comfortingly near. Then Jackson asks to be beamed up - alone. Kirk runs to meet him in the transporter room, and who can blame him? Jackson is a HUNK! Unfortunately, he is a dead hunk. He keels over the second he stops sparkling.
[NOTE: I hope that actor got extra pay for that spectacular and painful-looking fall.]
Everybody gathers around as Kirk worriedly hurls himself across Jackson's prone but manly body and embraces him, and flips him over, and holds him in his strong, loving arms to facilitate Dr. McCoy's impromptu examination.
[NOTE: such a fuss over the taking of a pulse. God knows what Jim wouldn't do for a more interesting reason.]
A spooky voice emanates from Jackson's mouth to tell Kirk that there is a curse on the Enterprise, and that they should either leave at once, or all prepare to die.
Well, that's the wrong thing to say to a group of people who are already all prepared to die if need be. They know they are in a dangerous business, and that they are all expendable. They eat the fear of death with their Wheaties every morning. If that alone was enough to stop them, then they would have all stayed home.
Naturally, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down at once to face death again :::yawn::: and BTW to investigate, since they are still burning with curiosity about what happened to cute lil Sulu and dear, dependable Scotty.
[What I'm wondering is how those three got first pick for the landing party in this circumstance. Normally Kirk always goes first, especially when there is any hope that somebody is sure to get hurt.]
Well, it takes more than one dead boy and some creepy smacktalk to deter our brave men, as we have seen plenty of times. Telling Kirk to stay-away-or-suffer is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Might as well throw feathers at the guy and tell him he's not allowed to feel tickled.
[NOTE: We find out very soon that the aliens have the ability to read the human's minds, but only at the subconscious level. This is a unique and not altogether useful ability. It does explain, however, why they invite Captain Kirk to come and play in the manner that they do.
COME AND PLAY? Why, yes. The aliens do not want the humans to really stay away, they want them to come and play. They are interested in the humans, and want to learn about them. They probed their subconscious, tried to figure out from the cacophony there what symbols and signs humans think are irresistibly appealing, and dressed themselves in those icons to make themselves APPEALING, as I shall explain.]
Kirk leaves steely Mr. DeSalle in charge of babysitting Chekov, and beams down with Spock (OF COURSE), and McCoy.
They arrive at a forbidding, spooky, rocky, foggy place where they begin following the lifesigns that Spock's tricorder reveals. Suddenly their progress is blocked by three ugly witches - two old dames and one gender-dysphoric old queen - who quote some bad poetry at them and then try to blow them away with an ill wind.
Obviously this is not enough to deter our heroes. Heck no! This just inflames their curiosity even more, naturally!
They soon find a medieval-style castle. Naturally there are guards all around the castle who now riddle our guys with arrows NO THERE AREN'T. To the contrary, there are no guards at all. There's not even a moat full of alligators. Even more odd, the front door gapes invitingly ajar, and the warm glow of interior light can be seen.
[NOTE: See? The aliens actually want them to come.]
This is a mixed message. Are they unwelcome, or aren't they? It looks like an open invitation at this point. Kirk and his guys are very puzzled. Of course their curiosity is absolutely killing them.
They enter the castle, and are impressed with the decor. There are many things that seem too weirdly Earthlike, in a Gothy sort of way. They are startled by the sudden appearance of a black cat. Imagine, a CAT, this far from home! While exploring the cobweb-adorned corridors, the floor gives way beneath them, and they all tumble down through the new hole, into the basement.
They come to consciousness in a dungeon, where they find themselves in irons. Bones, Spock and Jim are all shackled to the stone walls. Well! This is a fine how-do-you-do!
Sulu and Scott enter, and at first Kirk is happy to see them. Then he realizes that they aren't behaving normally. McCoy opines that they seem to be drugged.
[NOTE: Shut up Bones, you ignoramus, they are zombies, you twit - don't you know anything?]
Our zombified guys have the keys. They release the prisoners from their bondage, and begin leading them away. Kirk tries to begin fighting with them (huh?), but they are all instantly teleported to a palatial grand chamber, which surprises them. Everything stops for a few seconds, as they reorient themselves.
[NOTE: What does Kirk think he's going to do, slap some sense into Sulu and Scott like he tried to do to Spock in Naked Time? Jeez Louise, Jim, is that your answer to everything?
Kirk obviously thinks that the proper thing to do with a guy who is acting like a ninny is to slap him around, so that's the thing to do to him whenever he acts likes a ninny. As we have seen in episodes like Naked Time and This Side Of Paradise, it's a lesson Spock already has mastered.]
They are greeted by their host. Their host is a pleasant-looking and polite middle-aged bald dude who has a cute lil goatee. He is seated on a platform in a thronelike chair. He is clad in long robes and he holds what looks like a magic wand. This guy doesn't seem too scary.
[NOTE: That's right, he's their host. This guy is most emphatically not unfriendly to them. In fact, he turns out to be the friendly one, as we later learn.]
Our guys relax a little. This fellow seems like someone they can relate to. Kirk collects his thoughts, and then immediately lapses into his usual "Hi, I come in peace, where can a guy get a rub-and-tug around here?" procedure.
Kirk, realizing quite rightly that this personage deserves some respect, begins by ingratiating himself: he compliments the guy.
"You've proven your skill at creating illusion", he grants. "Now I want to know *why*, and, what you've done with my men."
[NOTE: Kirk's just doing his job. He's under orders to seek out new life, and new civilizations, NOT to stay away just because a voice from a dead body tells him to. Kirk doesn't take orders from dead bodies, he gets his orders from Starfleet.
Well, he's in good company. Just like Kirk, this alien represents his civilization as a point man, so Kirk is now talking with the right guy.]
Their host knows how to play this game. He can ask questions, too. He proves his skill in this area by nicely asking Kirk where he got his ridiculous predilection for resistance.
[NOTE: Predilection? What an INTERESTING choice of word! A predilection is a strong predisposition, a strong preference or liking. He's saying he can't understand why they love to resist so much, as if it's like loving chocolate ice cream, or fast cars. Hey, how does he know what Kirk's ~predilections~ are?]
Not to be outdone in the question-asking category, Kirk doesn't even wait for his first questions to be answered, he lofts a couple more.
"Who are you, and why did you bring us here?"
Heck, Kirk could do this all day. Asking questions is one of the things he does best.
Korob decides to answer a couple of Kirk's questions, just to mollify him, and BTW to show Kirk how it's done.
"My Name is Korob, and I did not bring you here. It was you who decided to come."
[NOTE: He's right, you know. Point one for Korob.]
Spock has some questions too. He asks Korob why previous surveys have not detected life on the planet, and Korob admits that he is not native to the planet.
[NOTE: There's no shame in this. Nobody present at this gathering is native to the planet.]
Korob (after consulting with his pushy black cat familiar) offers our guys a sumptuous meal - which magically just appears on a big dining table, with a wave of his wand. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy sit, but say they are not hungry.
Korob waves his wand again, and the food becomes plates full of huge gemstones. Rubies, sapphires, etc. Korob says they can keep the gems if they just leave at once. Kirk explains that they can manufacture their own aboard the Enterprise in bulk, and that they therefore are not impressed.
Korob is totally confused by this. He was under the impression that a fortune in gems was something that was highly desirable to these humans. He's only trying to make them happy. They don't like food, they don't like precious gems.... now he doesn't know what to do.
He takes this opportunity to praise them for passing the tests.
[NOTE: See? It was all just a series of tests. They didn't really want Kirk and co. to stay away. AND they don't really want them to go away now!]
He wants to test them some more, but is fresh out of ideas. What ELSE can Korob possibly offer that his interesting visitors might possibly like? The cat makes a suggestion, in its own feline way, and Korob seems to think it's a good idea. The cat exits in a big hurry. Soon thereafter a witchy young *woman* appears. She wears the same gemstone pendant that had been worn by the cat.
Oh boy, a GIRL! This at least should win the visitor's approval! They are all humanoid males, aren't they? She's definitely a humanoid-looking female, isn't she? This should certainly be an interesting test!
[NOTE: When the aliens perceived that the human men like pussy, they completely misunderstood before. Now that they have had a better chance to probe their nasty little minds, they are hitting a little nearer to the mark.]
Korob introduces her as his colleague, Sylvia.
Kirk, the horndog, is so overwhelmed by this irresistible dame that he falls instantly, madly in love with her NO HE DOESN'T. Kirk is in such a rush to get away from this creepy broad that he decides he can't even pretend to be polite to her for ten seconds! He doesn't care who the hell she is. She could be the queen of the world, or Miss Universe Herself, and he doesn't care. He just plain has reached the end of his patience and wants out of there, right now.
The Captain overpowers the zombified Scotty, takes his phaser, and hands it to Spock. Spock points it at Sylvia, while Kirk starts making demands.
[NOTE: Interesting choice of target, Spock. Everything was fine until this BITCH shows up. Now Kirk and Spock are all upset.]
Kirk has a list of things he wants. He wants his guys back to normal. He wants the weapons and communicators back, for example.
"Put that weapon down!" Sylvia shouts.
Kirk suddenly seems to be re-evaluating the situation. He kind of likes Sylvia's no-nonsense style. Fortunately, Spock is the one who's holding the weapon, and Spock doesn't take orders from the likes of Sylvia.
Sylvia shrugs and gives Kirk a communicator. Then she waves a tiny model of the Enterprise on a chain over a candle flame.
Kirk calls home and is told that the real Enterprise is burning up.
OK, OK, Kirk admits that he doesn't really want to piss Sylvia off any further, and tells Sylvia that he'll cooperate if she will stop torturing his people.
[NOTE: Here we go again. This is Kirk once again offering his submission in exchange for his people's safety. See? The aliens learn fast. They already realize that attacking Kirk directly does no damn good: he has a predilection for it - meaning he'd enjoy that too much. The way to convince Kirk to do anything is to attack his people. Kirk cares way more about protecting his people than he does about protecting himself.]
To prevent the Enterprise from sending a search party, Sylvia now magically encases the model in a plastic block. We learn that the real Enterprise finds herself to be enclosed in a mysterious force field.
Kirk and Spock are now chained in the dungeon again, while McCoy is made into another zombie.
[NOTE: Is this another test, or another example of Korob - in his own inexpert way - trying to make them happy? We are left to wonder.]
[NOTE: My theory is that the aliens keep trying to narrow it down. They are trying to figure out whose subconscious is responsible for providing them with this crazy, mixed up language of symbols that they are forced to try to communicate with. Dungeons, torture, whips and chains...all of this nonsense makes sense to SOMEBODY, and they are still trying to find out who it is.
They know it can't be Spock. Spock pretty obviously thinks completely differently from everybody else, as Korob acknowledges early on. Maybe the way Spock pointed the gun at Sylvia instead of simply appreciating her beauty was a tip-off.]
The zombies now come together and release Kirk. They leave Spock in chains, and bring Kirk to Sylvia.
While on their way, we see Sylvia and Korob argue. He takes issue with the idea of torturing their specimens, but Sylvia likes the idea and can't wait to get started.
[NOTE: There was no talk of torture before. Looks like this talk of torture juxtaposed with Kirk's appearance are more than just a coincidence...especially knowing Kirk as well as we do.]
"Now what?" Kirk asks, still full of questions. "Do you wave your magic wand and destroy my mind too?"
[Kirk evidently feels contempt for such a painless process.]
Sylvia assures Kirk that his men are undamaged: they have simply been drained of knowledge and will.
"I come from a world without sensation." Sylvia tells Kirk. She explains that she is fascinated by the idea of sensation. "It excites me!" she admits, thinking no doubt that she's definitely talking to a guy who should understand that.
[NOTE: This totally explains why she might want to torture him. She wants to test him, and learn more about this fascinating sensation business.]
Oh, Kirk understands all right. He's the sensation master. He understands it waaaaaay better than Sylvia does, and he knows that means that he's got a huge advantage in this situation, which is good, because generally he's otherwise in a totally disadvantaged position.
[NOTE: No matter what happens next, don't give me that "Kirk is a horndog" garbage. Kirk is a decent fellow who normally does not believe in toying with women, nor in taking advantage of a person's weaknesses, but this is not a normal situation. The odds are completely uneven, stacked in Sylvia's favor, so fair play is impossible. Of course Kirk is going to use this information against her. It's the only weapon, the only hope he has.]
Sylvia slowly comes very close to Jim, and plucks another keyword from the well of Kirk's subconscious. "Tell me about power, Captain." Sylvia coos.
Boy, she really caught Kirk by the nuts with that remark. Torture, Sensation, Power... we're getting close to the bone now!
Korob discreetly watches from a nearby hiding place. So much for thinking that what she does with her specimens is disgusting! Dirty old man.
Kirk decides that now is a good time to take some liberties to see if she'll use it as an excuse to knock him on his ass. He reaches out a hand and pets Sylvia a little...and she lets him.
[NOTE: So, you want to play with sensation and power, doll? Here's your chance! Kirk is totally down with it. He's, metaphorically speaking, throwing down the gauntlet...daring her to do something.]
[NOTE: Hey, Kirk figures since people are testing people around here, in the name of knowledge etc., that he might as well try a little testing himself.]
Sylvia is stunned with amazement when Kirk caresses her. She's never been a woman being caressed by a handsome man before. Kirk now has her full attention.
[NOTE: OK, the caress is a hit. May I suggest you skip the kissing and cut straight to the cunnilingus? Sylvia would *really* love that, Jim! Give it some thought.]
"What about Korob?" Jim asks, thinking that maybe Korob would go for this caressing stuff too.
[NOTE: Good thinkin' Jim. After all you do have TWO HANDS, and you are only using one of them right now.]
"He's a fool." Sylvia sniffs, betraying her complete lack of love for Korob and his silly, wimpy, torture-shunning ways.
Sylvia is very encouraged that Kirk at least seems to understand her enthusiasm about sensation. Sensing no doubt that she has found a kindred spirit, she tells Kirk that she wants something different from him than she wanted from the others. She tells him she doesn't simply want to drain him, she wants "a joining" with him.
"My mind to yours, willingly..."
[NOTE: She's speaking specifically of a _consensual_ joining, here, not a forced one. She wants his consent, not to simply take what she wants from him.]
She tries to sell him on the idea, saying that, for her part, she could give him anything in return that he could imagine.
Kirk is tempted, and says so. He wants to know more. He walks around behind her, embraces her from behind, caresses her some more, and seductively asks,
"What happens if I go along?"
[NOTE: Here he goes again, playing ~Let's make a deal~. We have no way of knowing at this point if he's sincere. He might be. It's not like Kirk doesn't dream big... he does! Sylvia KNOWS that Kirk is attracted to power in its many forms, because she sensed it. We know she's right, because we know Kirk.]
Sylvia promises that they would share everything. The idea of togetherness is a totally new idea to her. She mentions it because she knows Kirk values it. It's another idea that she got from Kirk, just now, and BTW, it excites her terribly.
Why does it excite her?, she wonders aloud.
[NOTE: Why _does_ the idea excite her if it's a totally new idea? She has no way of knowing if togetherness is a good thing or not. She got the idea from Kirk, and she simultaneously picked up Kirk's positive feelings about it, too.
Well, she sensed, quite rightly, that Kirk loves togetherness. She's got that right: he totally ~loves~ togetherness. As we saw in And The Children Shall Lead, and in This Side Of Paradise, the one thing Kirk fears the most is being left alone. And we know that he doesn't just like to have power, he likes to share power. We've seen him do it, lots of times. For example, in this episode we saw how he grabbed the phaser (and the power it represents) from Scotty, only to hand it over *to Spock*. Kirk enjoys sharing ~everything~, including his power, _with Spock_. Heck, he enjoys putting Spock totally in charge, once in a while... but I digress...]
"You're a very beautiful woman." Kirk says, and plants a long, deep, wet kiss on her.
(Korob is still watching...)
Sylvia is thrilled. She totally wants to encourage this kind of behavior.
"I can be *many* women!" she exclaims, and transforms herself into three different women while Jim watches.
[NOTE: No, no, no! Wrong, wrong, wrong! Apparently Sylvia misinterpreted the impression that she got from Kirk. She's right that he's not 100% happy with her the way she is, and she's right that Kirk needed to see her in a completely different form to really get his dick up, but she's still wrong. Try becoming a man, Sylvia. Then you might get somewhere.]
"You have a knack for giving me difficult choices." Kirk says.
[NOTE: Understand that if he did see one thing that he liked, that the choice would be easy.]
Kirk grabs Sylvia and kisses her again, but she finally gets it through her thick skull that he's just toying with her. She becomes angry.
[NOTE: Finally! Maybe now Kirk will get some of that torture that we were promised.]
"You hold me in your arms, and there is NO FIRE IN YOUR MIND." she exclaims, outraged.
[NOTE: There is also no hard-on in his pants. Dead giveaway.]
Sylvia discovers by probing Kirk's mind perhaps a teeny bit nonconsensually that Kirk is manipulating her, and she is not a good sport about it.
[NOTE: Let's observe a moment of silence for all the women who learn at last that a guy can hold and kiss you, but it doesn't mean that he likes you.]
OK, Kirk and Spock are chained to the wall (together again!) in the basement, when Korob suddenly comes in, and amazingly, frees them. Sylvia scares him. It is totally her time of the month and he is out of there, but he's too chicken to try to leave alone, so he has come to fetch Kirk and Spock for company.
As they start to exit, Sylvia pursues them in the form of a giant cat. Korob tries to defend against her, but fails. Kirk grabs Korob's magic wand and runs with it.
After fending off attacks from zombies McCoy, Scott, and Sulu, Kirk tells Sylvia that he has the transmuter, which is what they call the wand.
Sylvia appears before Kirk again as a woman, and tries to convince Kirk to give it to her. Kirk, in a manner that serves as gesture of undisguised contempt, smashes the thing and breaks it, right in front of her.
The castle vanishes. All our guys come to their senses.
Sylvia and Korob appear as bizarre blue and yellow muppets. Unable to survive without the transmuter, they shrivel up and die.
[NOTE: BTW, how about that title? what the heck *is* a CATSPAW?
Cat's-paw also cats·paw (ktspô) noun: A person used by another as a dupe or tool.
This is a perfect example, in this episode. Like many other female characters, Sylvia was used as a catspaw to make Kirk seem heterosexual, when in fact, he's not.]
What is the moral of the story? The moral of the story is that appearances can be deceiving. This explains why so many people persist in believing that Captain Kirk is a heterosexual: like Sylvia, they have been skillfully deceived.
Well, they had to get the whole Kirk/Spock thing around the censors, somehow.
Like Sylvia ultimately did, people should by now totally catch a clue already.
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