World’s Worst Trekkie: Spock’s Brain, The Enterprise Incident, and The Paradise Syndrome

Well, hello. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? It’s definitely been a while since I finished watching Season 2, but now that I’m back, I’m making a pledge: I’m finally, finally going to finish TOS by the end of 2022.

First, a quick reminder about my ratings system, which I changed last year. These are the new grades:

God-Tier – Chocolate Salted Caramel
Really Enjoyed This – Chocolate
Enjoyed This Okay – Vanilla
Technically Proficient, But Not My Thing – Strawberry
Well, I Liked SOME of It – Rocky Road
I Actively Disliked This Movie – Pistachio
I Could Not Finish This Movie – Mint Chocolate Chip

Obviously, this wasn’t initially intended for TV episodes, but to hell with it, right? Right. With that settled, let’s begin with the first three episodes of Season 3!

“Spock’s Brain”

Oh, yes. Yes, I’ve been waiting for this moment. “Spock’s Brain,” one of the most infamously awful episodes in all of Star Trek. (It’s also, FYI, been on my list of Silly Dream Cosplays for a while now. Maybe someday, DragonCon!) While I’ve seen a good chunk of this episode before, I’ve never actually watched it the whole way through, and . . . wow, it’s really bad, maybe even worse than I remembered.

The premise is gloriously, ridiculously bonkers: aliens steal Spock’s brain. Not his memories, not his sanity, not his considerable intellect. Aliens literally steal Spock’s brain right out of his skull. Thankfully, this procedure is so scientifically advanced that Spock can remain alive for 24 hours before all hope is lost. All Kirk has to do is track down the missing brain-thieves and get Spock’s grey matter back so that Bones can somehow figure out how to reinsert said grey matter without killing the patient. Easy-peasy. Also, lest you be under the false impression that perhaps Vulcans just aren’t as reliant on their brains as humans are, let me assure you the opposite is true: Vulcans somehow need their brains more. Let me also assure you that I am still laughing about this whole scene, not to mention any moment where our heroes make Spock’s brainless body walk around via remote, like he’s an actual goddamn toy.

Everything that follows is equally absurd but, unfortunately, not quite as fun. It turns out that our alien thief lives in a subterranean facility on a Stone Age planet with a bunch of other “childlike” women who aren’t intellectually capable of stealing anyone’s brain. Kara, the thief, was only able to do so with the help of this Magic Smart Helmet (AKA, The Teacher), which temporarily gives her all the ancient knowledge of the Builders. NGL, I can’t remember if the show ever explains who the Builders are. I’m just gonna assume they were some all-powerful alien species who, for reasons unknown, provided these ladies with both this facility and the Controller, which has been running this place for 10,000 years. Spock’s brain is supposed to be their replacement Controller; as you can imagine, Kirk has some Feelings about that.

Bones ends up wearing the Magic Smart Helmet so he can re-insert Spock’s brain—with a big assist from Spock himself, since the MSH’s powers unfortunately wear off mid-surgery. Spock supposedly goes back to normal (TBH, he actually seems uncharacteristically enthusiastic to me), Bones gripes that he should’ve kept Spock mute, and Kirk assures Kara that her people definitely won’t die without the Controller. No, they’ll just have to go live on the surface with all the cavemen dudes, and their society will evolve naturally as it should, rather than staying stagnant down here where they’ve been so pampered that their minds have literally atrophied or some shit. And like, far be it for me to demand that Kirk put the lives of these brain thieves over his boyfriend’s, but also, “Let’s take a bunch of women completely incapable of taking care of themselves and force them to live with a bunch of cavemen who’ve never seen a woman before” seems like . . . well, like the kind of lack of responsibility and foresight I’ve come to expect from Kirk’s command, honestly.

Chief Asshat: I mean. Kara does just hop aboard the Enterprise and steal Spock’s brain. That’s pretty rude.

MVP: Hm. I think I’ll give this one to Bones, although I do love how bitchy Spock can be even as a disembodied brain.

Grade: Rocky Road

Line of the Episode: “BRAIN AND BRAIN, what is BRAIN?!”

“The Enterprise Incident”

This trailer is a thing of beauty.

You know, I enjoyed this one. We begin with Kirk acting like an unreasonable dick—not entirely unprecedented—snapping at his crew, ordering the Enterprise to cross the Neutral Zone into Romulan territory, etc. Of course, they’re captured pretty much immediately, and Kirk and Spock beam over to the Romulan ship. The Romulan Commander (we never hear her name) interrogates them, and Spock quickly and accurately throws Kirk under the bus, admitting the captain’s been acting irrational lately and is alone responsible for the Enterprise’s actions. (Kirk responds by overacting, shouting, “I’LL KILL YOU, I’LL KILL YOU!” LOL.)

While Spock gets the wine and dine treatment, Kirk gets thrown into the brig, where he promptly launches himself into a forcefield. Bones beams over to treat him and helps the Commander confirm that Kirk isn’t fit for command. Kirk then attacks Spock, and Spock, surprised, unleashes the VULCAN DEATH GRIP, killing Kirk instantly. Whoops! Guess that’s over then! J/K, Spock and Kirk are on a secret mission to steal the Romulan’s cloaking device. (The Vulcan Death Grip is not a real thing, unfortunately, but I sincerely hope that someone has named a cocktail after it, anyway. Also, a yoga pose. Also, a geek metal band.)

I won’t deny that Kirk and Spock’s plan here has, like, a BUNCH of holes. (I’m not even getting into the whole Disguise Kirk as a Romulan nonsense, although I will say that Deanna Troi wore it better.) Still, as far as TOS insta-seduction stories go, I think Spock/Commander is honestly one of the better ones. I do wish there was more time for their quasi-romance to breathe, like, it would make for a hell of a three-episode arc, if that was something TOS actually did. But I also think they have better chemistry than Kirk and literally any of the women he’s ever seduced; also, Leonard Nimoy just doesn’t come off as weird and creepy like William Shatner usually does in these stories. And I like that the Commander is trying to manipulate Spock, too. I mean, it’s obvious that her feelings are real, but they’re also both definitely trying to use one another to their advantage, which works for me. I genuinely like Joanna Linville’s performance, and her last scene with Spock is pretty great.

Chief Asshat: Kirk, although admittedly, that is part of the plan. (But it’s a pretty bad plan, so. We’ll still go with him.)

MVP: Joanna Linville. I particularly love when she immediately tells the Romulans to destroy the Enterprise, even though she’s currently onboard, quickly foiling Kirk’s backup plan.

Grade: Chocolate

Line of the Episode: “It is not a lie to keep the truth to oneself.”

“The Paradise Syndrome”

Well. That was quite possibly the worst episode of all time. Definitely in the Top 3 for sure. Margaret Armen wrote the screenplay, and Margaret, Margaret. We gotta talk.

This is just . . . stupid, and racist, and stupidly racist. While investigating a strangely advanced obelisk on yet another planet that looks just like Earth, Kirk accidentally manages to fall through a trap door and get zapped by a “memory beam,” giving him amnesia. Spock and Bones can’t find him and are forced to abandon the search because an asteroid, two months away, is hurtling towards the planet, and they only have a 30 minute window to arrive at the correct coordinates to deflect it—which definitely begs the question of what the fuck they were doing dicking around here in the first place, like, Christ, I give myself more time to catch the fucking bus. The Enterprise basically breaks their engines trying to make the deadline, and their initial deflection attempt fails, so Spock decides to try and split the asteroid in half for . . . Reasons? Like, IDK, my dude. Even if that worked, I’m not sure how helpful it would be, considering this asteroid is nearly as big as the fucking MOON. Anyway, the Enterprise is now (very slowly) racing the big space rock back to the planet, and the only hope of saving everyone is if Spock can translate these mysterious symbols he saw on the obelisk and hope they have a miraculous solution.

Meanwhile, what is Amnesiac Kirk doing on this planet for two months? Well. The people who live there are apparently American Indians. Yes, literally. Specifically, they’re people from the Navajo, Mohican, and Delaware tribes, something Spock can apparently tell at a far-off glance, not that anyone makes any attempt to discuss these tribal differences ever again. A few of the American Indians see Kirk emerge from the obelisk as Has Been Foretold, and they immediately assume this random white guy is a god, and—yeah. Yeah. It’s awful, just all of it. The white savior narrative, the brownface. William Shatner’s VO and general overacting, which seems to hit new unprecedented heights in this episode. (Seriously, the pauses have never been this egregious, have they?) It feels icky and gross to watch Kirk almost fetishize this “simple” way of life, especially when the American Indian characters are written to be so incredibly stupid. Also, seeing Kirk in basically all of these costumes, just . . . whew, this is atrocious.

Anyway, Kirk takes the role of medicine chief and marries Miramanee, according to tradition. (Miramanee’s now-ex-fiancee is pissed, which is understandable, but he’s also The Worst, so.) Miramanee gets preggers, which means she has to die. Specifically, she gets stoned to death. See, according to that prophecy, Kirk is supposed to open the obelisk and escort everyone inside during the big storm, but he doesn’t actually know how to do that. Miramanee’s Ex gleefully decides this is the proof he’s been looking for and gathers a mob to stone Kirk for being a false god. Miramanee stands by her man and dies for it. But never fear! Spock, who has since translated most of the alien symbols, returns in time to save Kirk and perform the “Vulcan mind fusion,” restoring his memories. Kirk manages to open the obelisk (the trick to doing so is about as nonsensical as everything else here) and activate it. See, the obelisk is actually a broken asteroid deflector. It was left here forever ago by a super advanced alien species known as the Preservers, who brought the American Indians to this planet in order to save them. ( Hopefully, they agreed to this?) I can only assume the Preservers and the Builders from “Spock’s Brain” are like first cousins. Anyway, everyone lives happily ever after. Except Miramanee, of course, and anyone else who suffered through watching this episode.

Chief Asshat: Oh, Margaret.

MVP: Bones and Spock, mostly because their interactions are the only good things about “The Paradise Syndrome.” I kinda adore Spock’s little rock demonstration of the asteroid problem, and I obviously like when Bones yells at Spock to get some damn sleep. There are a few lovely emotional H/C moments here, and I’m so bummed they’re in this dumpster fire of an episode.

Grade: Technically Pistachio, but if anything deserves Mint Chocolate Chip, it’s this bullshit.

Line of the Episode: “My bairns. My poor bairns.”

“A Half-Finished Book, After All, is a Half-Finished Love Affair.”

I never had much interest in watching Cloud Atlas. I didn’t read the book, and while the trailer looked somewhat intriguing, everything I heard about the story itself kind of made the movie sound like a convoluted nightmare. And if it had been a convoluted nightmare starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tatiana Maslany, I’m sure I wouldn’t have hesitated, but Tom Hanks and Halle Berry aren’t particularly big draws for me, and what little interest I did have quickly dwindled after the film left theaters.

But recently my sister struggled through Cloud Atlas (the book) and wanted to watch the movie to compare. And I had just finished struggling through Rebecca (the book) and wanted to watch that movie to compare.

somni 2

A compromise was arranged and a review was born. (A review for Rebecca may come next week.)

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Coming Soon-Ish: Moses, Amnesiacs, and Dracula Origin Stories

Exodus: Gods and Kings

Well, this looks pretty bad all around. Like, okay, there are a couple of good visuals in here, and sure, the cast is pretty solid. Of course, the cast also appears to be rather overwhelmingly white, which seems like a rather spectacularly bad call on Scott’s part. (Joel Edgerton and his terrible makeup also seem like a particularly egregious choice.) Then there’s the whole subtitle issue — because while ‘Gods and Kings’ certainly isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever heard, the ‘title-colon-subtitle’ format is almost always reserved for sequels, which I really don’t believe this is. And finally there’s the music, which, well. I don’t dislike the song so much as it sounds like something a shipper might use to set their Elena/Damon fan video to.

If Exodus: Gods and Kings doesn’t turn out to be a cheesefest parading around as a Serious Picture, I will honestly be surprised.

The Skeleton Twins

Despite the fact that there is nary a beauty pageant in sight, my immediate reaction to the first thirty seconds of this trailer was, “So . . . it’s Little Miss Sunshine? With Kristen Wig and Bill Hader instead of Toni Collette and Steve Carrell?” But, you know. I LIKE Little Miss Sunshine. In general, I’m a sucker for dysfunctional family stories, and I’m especially a sucker for anything about siblings that seems to move a little deeper than ‘we’re opposites and we hate each other.’ And this actually looks pretty funny, so I might give it a try sometime. (Probably by myself, unfortunately, since my own sister is not as enthusiastic as I am about fictional dysfunctional families. I’m sure that says something relevant about our relationship, but it’s currently one in the morning — at least as I type this — and I can’t be bothered to analyze too deeply.)

Foxcatcher

There are the movies you watch, even though you’re iffy on the genre or plot, just because you like the main cast so well. And then there are the movies that you just can’t make yourself see, no matter how much you like the three principle guys in it. After this sixty second teaser, I’m pretty sure Foxcatcher is going to fall in the latter category for me. Sorry, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, and Steve Carrell — there is no amount of hilariously ridiculous wigs or obvious makeup in the world to make Disturbing Wrestler Movie my kind of thing.

Before I Go to Sleep

Look, it’s another one! Another Good Cast vs Meh Plot dilemma. Well, okay. I guess I’m more likely to see this than Foxcatcher, if only because Twisty Mystery is more my thing than Creepy True Sports Story. But even considering my adoration for both Colin Firth and Mark Strong, I’m not feeling real jazzed about this one. Mostly because, well. I’ve already seen Memento, which is kind of the King of Retrograde Amnesia Mysteries. This would have to be really special to top that, and I’ve got to tell you, I don’t think this is going to be nearly that special.

Also, I’m waiting to see an amnesia storyline that isn’t a twisty mystery. About the only thing I can think of is 50 First Dates, which was actually a lot better than I thought it was going to be, although it’s also pretty highly — and unintentionally — disturbing. (Can you even imagine? You wake up, and holy God, you’re suddenly going into labor with babies you don’t even remember conceiving? I mean, Jesus.)

And finally . . . Dracula Untold

First, let it be said that Lorde’s cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is one of my favorite covers of all time, and it is so much better than this trailer. It’s not even funny, how unworthy this movie is of that song. Second, let it be said that this looks hilariously bad, and I might have to watch it purely to mock the holy hell out of it. Oh. My. God. And here I thought Judas-as-Dracula was the funniest vampire origin story I was ever going to get. I can’t believe they made a whole movie about the sympathetic origins of Warrior Dracula.

Oh, Charles Dance. I totally get why Luke Evans is starring in this, but seriously, man. What are you doing here?