Sunday, June 27, 2010


The superior-being-encounter scenario is dealt with in a most unique fashion in this episode. Much like the previous (and many before) the Enterprise crew encounters a non-corporeal alien who helps to dramatically define aspects of humanity by juxtaposition.

This episode deals with the experiential necessity of humanity in a much more concise and legitimate fashion than "Catspaw" had brushed the subject. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are transporting a disease-stricken female space-commissioner when they are intercepted by a small panetiod emanating a strange energy.

It is revealed that this energy is a being called "The Companion" that has preserved 150 year lost space traveler Zefram Cochrane and captured our crew to keep him company. While Kirk initially attempts to brutally overload this being's energy in order to escape -- a catastrophic failure -- McCoy suggests a more diplomatic approach using a modified universal translator to communicate with the being.

Kirk attempts to reason with the being, telling it that the commissioner will die if it does not let them go. The companion's dedication to Cochrane (and it's female voice) make apparent a love connection between the now century-plus companions.

The thematic interest emerges when Kirk's negotiations with the being continue to fail. Here is a creature that has no body, and has established a relationship with a living man. Knowing only this form of singular existence, "she" does whatever is necessary to preserve the Cochrane's life and happiness.

Our species can only survive if we have obstacles to overcome. You take away all obstacles. Without them to strengthen us, we will weaken and die.

Kirk drops this doozy on her to little avail. It is not until she assumes the body of the dying commissioner (saving her life in the process) that she is able to comprehend the need of the crew. I found this materialization or merging to be the most compelling aspect of the episode, and find myself wishing it had appeared earlier than the third act, so as to be explored with more depth than it was afforded. She allows them to leave, and in a touching moment, Cochrane elects to stay with her.

While this is a fairly compelling piece of character drama, I'm curious as to why this being based on isolated intellect was never dramatically juxtaposed with Spock. It seems like a natural enough connection, considering what Spock has represented in previous Trek outings. Here Spock is rather pushed into the shadows, with Kirk and McCoy in the fore. Perhaps the writer felt that the most beneficial connection to be made was with the most passionate Human characters, and that inclusion of Spock might require further narrative-crippling definition of the Companion creature.

As it stands, the story is quaint and moderately thought provoking, handling the human themes with tremendously more ease than the campier Trek installments like last week's "Catspaw." It expounds on it's own thematic content in the episode's dialog, leaving little implication to extrapolate on the viewer's part. Not to say that is a necessary quality in a Trek episode, but as this is a critical analysis blog, I find it leaves me with little to add beyond a hearty recommendation.

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