Fifty years ago, Gene Roddenberry’s first “wagon train to the stars” began airing on NBC. Star Trek featured a cast of many nationalities, had people of color in important roles, it commented on the social problems of the day disguised in science fiction, and it was the first time we’d seen humanity out in the stars in a ship meant to not only get us to them, but to explore. It was a show about hope for the future, a future that we continue to ape from today with our cellphones, video conferencing communications, and even equipment you can carry around that will tell you the current and future weather conditions.
Was Star Trek perfect? No. Between all the series that they put out from the ’60s, to the reintroduction of the show again with Next Generation in the ’80s, and up through Star Trek Enterprise, there were some episodes that didn’t work, weren’t necessarily poignant, and some that were just not good sci-fi. I’ve seen a number of articles out there listing the great episodes. There are several guides on how to get through the shows as quickly as possible so you get the most for your streaming buck. These guides don’t necessarily go into much detail, though. They list them, but they don’t rate them or give you much info on them. Star Trek Essentials aims to be a little different. I’m going to go over two episodes twice a week, review them, and talk about what makes them special.
Season 3 continues on with this set of essentials. First up is Kirk getting trapped in an alternate dimension while a race of aliens spins a web around the crippled Enterprise. Then we get a war onboard the ship as Klingons try to seize control.
As a note, I’m not going with broadcast order on these, but rather production order, although for simplicity’s sake I’ve got the episode number as they appear on Netflix for those that want to watch these.
The Tholian Web (Season 3, Episode 09)
The USS Defiant has disappeared in unsurveyed space weeks ago and the the Enterprise is sent to look for the lost sister ship. Aboard they find the crew has killed each other with no idea why, but before they can really investigate, the ship starts to dissolve. Only able to beam out three of the landing party, Kirk stays behind and vanishes with the Defiant. While investigating the disappearing ship, the Enterprise crew starts to go mad, and a new threat in the form of the Tholians appear who want the Enterprise out of their space. Spock won’t leave without their Captain, though, and that’s when things go sideways.
We get some neat moments here between McCoy and Spock in this without Kirk in the picture. Scotty has some good moments, but they gave Uhura some important moments here too that I loved. The tone of the episode is pretty good, and while it has a few lighthearted moments that break it up a bit, it very much flows along at a good pace and does some neat things with alternate dimensions, and the Tholians are very much unlike any of the races seen on the show before this. This is also one of the few episodes to include what would be known as the main cast of the show beyond Kirk, Spock and McCoy with Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov.
Day of the Dove (Season 3, Episode 07)
Responding to a distress call, the Enterprise beams an away team down to find no evidence of a colony at all on Beta XII-A, and no indication that one was attacked. A Klingon battle cruiser is found in orbit but has been disabled. Kang, the least of the Klingons, finds Kirk on the surface, blaming the Enterprise for the damage, but they never fired a shot. After a double cross, Kirk gets the upper hand and the Klingons are brought on board. A strange entity begins riling up the crew and Klingons and it doesn’t take long before each of the groups are at each others throats with disaster looming for the ship if they don’t come to a solution soon.
So we get another Klingon episode. I really like Kang in this, and his wife Mara, but a lot of this episode is just weird and a bit off to me. The pacing doesn’t work all that well and the entity thing is one that either works or it doesn’t. This is pretty decent, but not necessarily one of my favorites of the series run. Kang and his wife, though, deserve a look alone, just for more extrapolation on the Klingons.