Kirk takes a small landing party to Earth colony Beta 12A because of a distress signal which said that the colony is under attack. Once there, Chekov scans with a tricorder, and reports that there are no traces of the 100 men, women, and children who supposedly inhabited the alleged colony.
Captain Kirk squats and takes a handful of soil (who knows why?). He gets visibly emotional over the mysterious disappearance of the small settlement... as a mysterious floating ball of light hovers nearby, out of sight.
Spock calls Kirk to warn him of the approach of a Klingon battlecruiser. Kirk declares "condition red", and orders the people aboard the Enterprise to protect themselves.
"Total reply if attacked!" Kirk emphasizes.
Sulu reports to Spock that there seems to be trouble aboard the Klingon ship. He detects evidence of onboard explosions.
Spock tells Kirk that the Klingon ship is damaged, disabled, but that they never fired upon her.
Klingon Commander Kang and his landing party of four then beam down, mad as hornets. Kang marches briskly up to Kirk, knocks him on his ass with one brutal backhand, and he declaims:
"You attacked my ship! Four hundred of my crew... dead. Kirk, my ship is disabled. I claim yours. You are now prisoners of the Klingon empire."
[NOTE: Bold words from a guy with no ship and only a few people left.]
Well, Kang's guys manage to subdue and disarm Kirk's guys. Kang begins to explain that he was called to the spot by a distress call, and Kirk interrupts to tell him that the Enterprise was there to respond to a distress call.
Kang wants Kirk to beam all the Klingons up, but Kirk of course refuses. Chekov is tortured, and Kirk caves immediately.
[NOTE: I guess the word is out about Kirk. It does no good to torture him, as we have seen more than once, because Kirk has an uncommonly high tolerance for torture. BUT torture somebody else and make him watch, and he breaks just like a little girl.]
Chekov: "Keptin! Don't let these animals take the ship!"
Kang: "Animals? Your Captain crawls like one."
[NOTE: Kirk doesn't dispute the point.]
Kirk ~seems~ to capitulate, but actually warns Spock by pressing a special button on his communicator.
[NOTE: Why couldn't he simply have done that in the first place and spared Chekov the pain? Now, this is just a guess, but my guess is that Kirk was expecting that he would be the one to be tortured, and he didn't want to miss that part.]
Scott then holds the Klingons in the transporter buffer until security guards can cover the transporter room. Kang and his landing party are then beamed aboard and taken prisoner along with the rest of the Klingon crew (including Kang's wife Mara).
Mara stands next to Kang. Kang introduces her:
"My wife Mara, _and_ my science officer."
Quick flash to Kirk, standing next to his, uh, "best friend" _and_ science officer. Nobody says anything for one full second.
[NOTE: symbolically speaking, that's a nice juxtaposition, eh, what? that's what you might call a serendipitous synchronicity, eh, what? Interesting revelation, that Klingons don't have a problem with people who are sexually intimate serving side-by-side as officers aboard the same vessel, just like Starfleet obviously has no problem with it. Gee, we really have more in common with them than we knew. But why not? Hey! It's the twenty-three HUNDREDS, for cryin' out loud. People don't have silly hangups in ~the future~.]
Kirk at first is cordial to his Klingon captives. For example, he seals them into the lounge, not the brig, and he orders that the "food synthesizers" be reprogrammed to accommodate the Klingon "guests".
[NOTE: I suppose this might all be to ingratiate himself with Mara, who is apparently the lovely female-du-jour whom Kirk will no doubt kiss on the lips and she'll just melt and be putty in his hands n stuff. Right? Yeah, yeah... keep smokin' that good stuff.]
We the audience now see that the swirling, roughly spherical energy being who is the real culprit in this episode has stowed away aboard the Enterprise. It now floats around, prowling the halls, and is obviously up to no good.
In the lift, Spock reasonably and logically points out to Kirk, Chekov, and McCoy that the Klingons which they have in custody couldn't possibly have been the people who attacked the colony. They were too far away at the time, n stuff. Chekov and McCoy both blurt out negative prejudicial remarks against the Klingons, in effect expressing doubt that the Klingons could possibly be innocent. Kirk just listens, seems dumbfounded at Chekov and McCoy.
McCoy exits for sickbay, Kirk, Spock, and Chekov return to the bridge. Uhura reports that it is impossible to make contact with Starfleet Command. Kirk orders Sulu to destroy the empty, crippled Klingon ship.
Cut to the room where the frustrated surviving Klingons are contained:
Kang: "When I take this ship, I'll have Kirk's head stuffed, and hung on his cabin wall."
Mara (worried): "They will kill us before we can act."
Kang (reassuringly): "No, they wish to question us! Learn our strength, our plans. They never will."
Mara (still worried): "We are 40 against 400."
[NOTE: As science officer, obviously it's her task to do the math and calculate odds, just like Spock does for Kirk.]
Klingon dude (sagely): "Four thousand throats my be cut in one night, by a running man."
Kang: "Patience. Vigilance. They will make a mistake... (etc.)"
[NOTE: It really is kind of admirable that the Klingons are so determined to think positive and make the best of their slender chances. We would expect no less from Kirk in a similar situation. We are given every excuse to see the Klingons both as bloodthirsty (befitting their reputation), AND as sympathetic, even noble adversaries.]
Kang: "Capture of the Enterprise will give us knowledge to end this war quickly."
[NOTE: Hey lookit! Kang is looking for a way to ~end~ the war already! Who'd a thunk it!?]
Just as Uhura is complaining to Kirk that the lack of communications makes no sense, the Enterprise "spontaneously" veers off course, accelerates to Warp 9, and traps all but 38 crew members below decks. Helm doesn't respond, and they can't override it. Kirk orders Scotty to stop all engines, but Scotty says that the controls have gone crazy and that he's helpless.
While Kirk is confronting Kang - accusing him of being somehow responsible for the latest developments - games, room ornaments, and even phasers magically turn into swords. Everybody immediately grabs a sword, of course, and (insanely) start fighting, of course!
Thus armed, the Klingons escape, of course!
Kirk makes his way to the bridge, where he finds a bemused Spock studying his own sudden sword.
Spock (reasonably): "Captain, neither the Klingon technology nor ours is capable of this - the instantaneous transmutation of matter. I doubt that the Klingons are responsible."
[NOTE: Starfleet technology is NOT at this time capable of the instantaneous transmutation of matter, so... what is up with the "food synthesizers" that Kirk has reprogrammed to accommodate the Klingons?]
Kirk: "Any OTHER logical candidate?"
Spock (logically): "None. However, if they had such power, would they not have used it to create more effective weapons, and only for themselves?"
The Klingons rush to take control of engineering. Their attempt to cut off life support to the bridge is foiled, however, when normal function mysteriously is magically restored.
[NOTE: Good thing too, because Kirk has yet to seduce a chick in this episode.]
Scotty rushes onto the bridge and starts brandishing his sword at Kirk. He's freaking out that the Klingons have control of his precious ship, and he blames Kirk for bringing them aboard. Spock moves quickly to intervene on Jim's behalf. Harsh words are exchanged, and Spock grabs Scott's sword and raises a fist against him.
[NOTE: Once again, Spock demonstrates that the surest way to bring out the brute in him is to threaten Jim.]
Kirk jumps between the two men, pushes Mr. Scott away, then grabs ahold of Spock's fist and with his whole strength and bodily weight attempts to restrain Spock's Vulcan-fist-of-severe-rebuking...which doesn't work. Kirk tries the puppy-dog-eyes, and ~that works~.
[NOTE: Spock never can stay mad when Kirk gives him the puppy-dog-eyes.]
A stunned Spock can't seem to understand why the puppy-dog-eyes worked when brute force didn't.
"You're half-human!" Kirk reminds him.
[NOTE: ..."and you're ALL MINE" he doesn't need to add. I mean, why belabor the obvious?]
Spock and Scott normally are very respectful and positive toward one another, so for those two to come to blows over uncharacteristic bigoted and violent words shows that it's not just matter that is being transmuted by the alien: their minds are being manipulated.
Spock and Kirk finally realize that the conflict has been staged by a third party and they agree that it's urgent to confront the responsible alien, and try to understand its motives. Spock uses the sensors, and once he pinpoints the alien's location, Kirk and him rush off together to confront it head-on.
Meanwhile, a renegade Ensign Chekov stabs Mara's bodyguard, then he throws her up against the wall, tears her dress, and makes like he's planning to rape her. Kirk happens upon this scene, and his reaction is prompt and fierce. Kirk attacks Chekov: pulls him off of Mara, throws his ass up against the wall, and smacks him across the face a couple of times, HARD, knocking the kid out. Kirk would have hit him again, but Spock stays his hand.
[NOTE: Kirk is maybe jealous, maybe cos he wants the tempting Klingon lady all for himself. Yeah...suuuuuuurrrre.]
OK, now here it is...the big "romantic" moment. Kirk steps up to the Klingon warrior lady and asks her to lead him to Kang. She disdainfully stonewalls, refusing to answer or cooperate. Kirk puts out a hand, grasps her arm and... HANDS HER OFF TO SPOCK. Spock escorts her away, while Kirk returns to the unconscious Chekov, picks him up in his manly arms, and bears the battered boy away as if he's a slumbering child.
[NOTE: Meanwhile, I suppose (if you are so inclined) you may assume that Spock is busy coring out the Klingon lady. Ha!]
In any case, Kirk soon realizes that the creature that's creating the situation is deriving sustenance from the violent emotions they produce.
[NOTE: similar to the energy creature in Wolf In The Fold.]
There's a telling scene where Kirk uses Mara as a bargaining chip. He tells Kang via intercom that he'll kill her if Kang refuses to "talk truce". Kang stoically refuses to be swayed. Mara stoically prepares herself mentally for death.
Kirk OF COURSE doesn't kill Mara. He was bluffing. Mara is surprised and favorably impressed by this. She expected the humans to be cruel and merciless, but she now sees that this is not the case. Seeing that Kirk is sincere about wanting a truce, she now begins to agree with Kirk's plan.
Kirk (now with Mara's support) finally manages to confront Kang, who sees Mara's torn dress and changed attitude and immediately assumes that Kirk and her must have done the nasty.
[NOTE: I guess that sort of makes sense if you are an enraged, mind-altered, jealous Klingon husband... but those of us who saw everything, and who know Kirk, know that he's TOTALLY INNOCENT. He is not responsible for Mara's torn dress! The only people he really got physical with in this episode were MEN! The only person that Kirk unleashed the puppy-dog-eyes on was a MAN! The only person Kirk held in his arms in this episode was a MAN! And as usual, the two people who gave each other the most attention was Kirk and Spock, who BTW, happen to be a couple of MEN.]
Kang tries to kill Kirk, and everybody fights. There is lots of swordfighting and stuff all over the ship. Ultimately, Mara convinces Kang to stop and listen, and Kirk then convinces him to join with him in calling a halt to hostilities. This proves partially effective.
Spock: "The cessation of hostilities appear to have weakened it, Captain. I suggest that good spirits might make an effective weapon."
Kirk steps up and orders the alien to "ship out". McCoy joins in, then they both laugh at the creature. Kang steps up and joins in on the fun. They all unite in laughing the meddling miscreant off of the ship. It works, and the crisis is over, hoorah, hoorah.
[NOTE: And then Kirk throws Kang and all the male Klingons into the brig, and cuddles up with that irresistible Klingon lady. Yeah, suuuuurrrre he does.]
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