Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Star Trek 3x16 "The Mark of Gideon"

rating: *
Memory Alpha summary

"Mark of Gideon" is a Federation episode, explaining what goes wrong horribly after a planet petitions for membership and Kirk visits to check out what it's like.  That's all well and good.  In some ways, that's all you need to know about Deep Space Nine as a series (the Bajor problem is easy to forget after the long Dominion War years).

Aside from that relevance, "Gideon" is also a lot like a lot of other episodes, in that it's basically Kirk running up against a planet with a particular problem, this one being overpopulation.  As usually happens in these cases, the planet has elected for an extreme solution.  Happened before, would happen again, across multiple series, usually in one-off episodes.

via Star Trek
When you're a Simpsons episode you can change the story you're telling whenever you want.  When you're not, vacillating isn't always such a good thing.  The idea of overpopulation is introduced but isn't really important until the end of the episode, when an explanation for why Kirk goes missing and the planet proves so uncooperative must be made.  But by that point it could have been anything.  It's arbitrary, and is a clear example of the limits of the kind of storytelling the series favored.  

Better to remember that it was an effort at exploring not just strange new worlds but those who attempting to join the existing framework.  The fact that it's a story template later revisited, and with equally spotty results, is an indication that it's a tough idea that was never truly solved.  Even DS9 walked away from it.  A challenge to be tackled more directly next time?  Although it might be argued that Enterprise did exactly that, as it explored the founding of the Federation.  And so perhaps another reason to reconsider that series...

four quarter analysis
franchise * series * essential * character

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