In the nineteenth episode of the third season of Star Trek, Spock, Bones, and Kirk search for an ingredient for an antidote that’ll save the Enterprise on a planet that’s home to someone who has a few secrets they’d like to keep hidden. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For consent.
I really wish the final act of this episode was as good as everything that came before it.
It was unnerving watching this unfold. As you’ll see if you download the video for this episode, I knew there was something wrong. That’s why I felt like this episode held such promise; without a central conflict beyond the search for Ryetalyn, we’re left to wonder when the other shoe would drop. On top of that, there was an intriguing mystery to Flint’s backstory. Why did he speak of the Bubonic plague as if he were there? Given the episode’s title, I figured he was really old, but then all of the undiscovered “new” works from great masters made no sense within that reality. Neither did Flint’s contradictory behavior. He was clearly attracted to Rayna, but then repeatedly set her up to be courted by Kirk.
And then, he delays McCoy constantly. I COULDN’T FIGURE IT OUT AT ALL. Even accepting that Flint was extremely old, the pieces didn’t fit together for me. Why let Kirk and Rayna dance? Why promise the Ryetalyn, only to constantly withhold it? Why lie about being the sole inhabitant of Holberg 917-G, only to reveal that SURPRISE, there’s someone else here? Why tell Rayna that her intellectual curiosity will always be satisfied and then refuse her entry into ONE DOOR?
It’s a hell of a mystery, and James Daly is great as the uber-creepy Flint. You never feel comfortable with him around, and it doesn’t help that he’s constantly surveilling Kirk and Spock. When M4 attacks Kirk in an alleged attempt to “protect” Rayna, it’s clear that this isn’t the truth. Oh god, I just realized that Flint’s replacement of M4 in just a few minutes was a clue. IT WAS ALWAYS A CLUE OH MY GOD. I don’t even necessarily have a problem with the general idea behind the conclusion. I was certainly shocked when the Enterprise crew made it into the secret room and found various versions of Rayna. It’s not the first time the show has used androids as a plot point, but I wasn’t bored by the reveal, nor did I think it was a bad idea.
But the execution of the romance… lord, y’all. It is – if I may be bold here – utterly boring. I know that I’ve expressed exhaustion with Captain Kirk’s romantic exploits, and I don’t regret that. The third season of this show heavily relies on this device, and I can’t believe it anymore. I cannot accept that this man falls for every woman he comes across. Even more ludicrous is the way in which “Requiem for Methuselah” asks us to accept that both Rayna and Kirk fell in love with one another in like an hour. Infatuation? Lust? I could believe that (sort of). But this comes across as if they’re star-crossed lovers destined for the world’s greatest romance, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that this episode gave us a four hour timeline. This all happens in less than four hours. It’s not love! It can’t be!
What’s even more galling is that this episode tries to explore Captain Kirk’s loneliness in a parallel with Flint. I don’t doubt that the job of Captain of a starship is a lonely affair. Flings or hook-ups don’t provide the kind of companionship that some people require, so I can totally accept this premise. Just not in this episode. It makes no sense here because, again, Captain Kirk has known Rayna for two and a half hours. What was he going to do? Move to Holberg 917-G? Abandon his crew? How many times has Captain Kirk fallen deeply in love this season??? It’s a mess, y’all, and then Spock’s behavior at the end (which is perhaps one of the most emotional things we’ve ever seen him do) is tainted by the fact that he erases Rayna from Kirk’s mind WITHOUT GETTING CONSENT FROM HIM. No, nope, not at all great. NOPE.
But my god, I could probably look past most of this if Rayna’s end is not one of the worst things this show has ever done. Rayna is overloaded and “dies” because she loves too much. She’s fridged to make Kirk and Flint feel bad about loving her, and it’s just embarrassing to even think about this. What is the scientific basis for a machine overloading itself on human emotion? How exactly does that happen? Let me just remind y’all that Rayna (and many variations of her) have interacted with a humanoid being for THOUSANDS OF YEARS and not once have any of them ever developed an emotional reaction. I’m supposed to believe that after just ten minutes with Captain Kirk, Rayna is suddenly awoken? Well, first of all, that implies that Flint is one of the most boring people in the history of the universe. POOR HIM. But this idea that the universe’s women revolve around Captain Kirk is nothing more than a poorly executed male power fantasy. There’s no basis for it in reality, in science, or in the very fictional world these characters operate in. Again, if you force a storyline to exist in a four-hour window of time, I’m going to analyze the story within that period. Even in an entirely fictional universe, no one falls deeply in love with someone in ten minutes. It doesn’t happen.
Kirk can make out with half the universe, but he can’t make out with Bones and Spock? yawn.
The video for “Requiem for Methuselah” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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