Mark Watches ‘Star Trek’: S01E16 – The Galileo Seven

In the sixteenth episode of the first season of Star Trek, Spock takes command for the first time, and the crew clashes with his leadership style. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 


The Galileo

I am fairly certain I never heard anyone mention the shuttlecraft before, but I don’t really care. It’s a great idea and a wonderful alternative to the transporter, though I must admit that this episode demonstrates why this shuttlecraft ended up being a disaster and far less dependable than using the transporter. Still! I understood why the craft was used this time. Given that the point of the Enterprise is to seek out new worlds and understand the universe better, it makes sense that the Federation would have requirements for travel. Here, all quasar or quasar-like formations are required to be explored, so Kirk asks Spock to lead an exploratory trip down into the formation for recon. With a crew of seven on the Galileo, Spock mans his first mission as commander, where everything that can go wrong does go wrong. A lot of this centers around the technical limitations of the Galileo itself, most of which exist in the story to provide suspense. Sometimes, that works well, and others, it was a little too gimmicky for my tastes. Still, this episode wouldn’t have been as memorable without the Galileo.

Commissioner Farris

I initially thought that “The Galileo Seven” would focus more on Commissioner Farris being completely unbearable, but he ended up being more of a framing device than anything else. Still, he’s insufferable, a rude and jerkish figure who would be a lot less of an asshole if it weren’t for his behavior. I mean, he is helping bring medicine to a plague colony! That’s genuinely an important thing, but the goodness of that is hard to remember when he’s so apathetic. All he cares about is getting to Makus III on time, regardless of Captain Kirk’s mission imperatives or the survival of the Galileo crew. He also had arm capes. Also he didn’t get punted into a volcano. Also they should have offered him as bait to those horrible creatures.

Spock’s Logic

But the main story told here is of survival on Taurus II. After an emergency crash landing, the crew – which included Bones, Scotty, Yeoman Mears, Lt. Boma, Lt. Gaetano, and Lt. Latimer – there’s one disaster after another. There’s a fuel leak, then a complete fuel loss, and then they find out the entire planet is inhabited by these weird creatures that are never shown in full detail, which makes them a lot creepier than if we’d seen them up close??? Also, they throw spears generally terribly, but one of them manages to impale Lt. Latimer, and then Lt. Gaetano is hugged to death by another one. SCARY. (I refuse to be ashamed of how much I enjoyed all those spears being thrown haphazardly towards the end. What a great image.)

The idea of escaping a hostile creature isn’t new to Star Trek, but the intense (and at times entirely negative) character study of Spock is THE BEST THING. Like, holy shit! I think it was actually quite bold of the show to feature an episode that could have turned people against this character. His rigorous dedication to logic is portrayed unsympathetically. He views everything as an equation or a line of reasoning. And as the situation on Taurus II only gets worse, his fellow crewmates becoming increasingly frustrated with his behavior.

This could have easily gone in a direction where Spock was totally validated and the concerns of Lt. Boma and Bones were dismissed, but this episode smartly doesn’t do that. After Lt. Gaetano is killed by one of the creatures, Spock is forced to admit – out loud! – that his logic didn’t work. It’s a stunning scene, especially since Bones and Boma both point out that Spock’s fatal problem was that he assumed that other creatures operate under logic and reason.

Which is why the resolution of this episode is so fantastic. Spock’s decision to burn the remaining fuel on the Galileo in order to create a flare is logical in one sense, sure, but it is mostly an emotional last-ditch effort. Knowing that this was an impossible chance, Spock still did it. IT’S SUCH AN EXCITING SEQUENCE. The acting in the scene by everyone was so haunting and upsetting because… shit, those characters all thought they were about to die. LOOK AT THEIR FACES.

I like that this followed “Shore Leave” because the final scene is a complete reversal: now, the crew laughs at Spock. NOT SO AMUSED ANYMORE, ARE YOU SPOCK??? Holy shit, y’all, I loved this episode. This show is so much fun to watch!

The video for “The Galileo Seven” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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