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Old 03-07-2019, 10:08 PM
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March 7th, 1969, "The Savage Curtain"

Fiver (by IJD GAF)
Transcript
Memory Alpha

The Episode

MCCOY: What's all this poppycock about life forms on this planet, Spock? The surface is molten lava. The atmosphere is poisonous.

You've seen Horta, Bones! Lifeforms exist that don't need Class M conditions.

LINCOLN [on viewscreen]: No need to check your voice telegraph device.

This kind of thing irks me. Supposedly this guy is an exact reproduction of Abraham Lincoln, and he knows about aliens and space travel and so forth, yet remains shackled to 19th-century language on a sporadic basis.

Incidentally, Western Union stopped offering telegrams in 2006, but you can still send them in many countries.

SPOCK: Fascinating.
LINCOLN [on viewscreen]: I have been described in many ways, Mister Spock, but never with that word.

Good use of characterization on both sides. Sometimes I think Spock defaults to that word and uses it via reflex. A sign that he's not quite 100% Vulcan in his thinking.

LINCOLN [on viewscreen]: Do you still measure time in minutes?
KIRK: We can convert to it, sir.

This is odd. At 1000 stardate units per year, a minute would be 0.0019 stardate units. That's why they still use minutes and hours. I wonder what this exchange was supposed to accomplish besides making the writing staff look like idiots.

KIRK: Security, send a detachment to the transporter room immediately, phaser side arms, and be prepared to give presidential honours.
MCCOY: Jim, do you really believe he's Abraham Lincoln?
KIRK: It's obvious he believes it. Doctor McCoy, Mister Spock, full dress uniforms.

One, "phaser side arms"? As opposed to what, slingshot side arms? Two, they can change into dress uniforms and set up presidential honors in ten minutes? I find this dubious.

SCOTT: Full dress? Presidential honours? What is this nonsense, Mister Dickerson?
DICKERSON: I understand President Lincoln's coming aboard, sir.
SCOTT: Ha! You're daft, man.
DICKERSON: All I know is what the captain tells me, and he says he'll have the hide of the first man that so much as smiles.

Did Kirk squeeze in a briefing with the security team, too? So many questions could be avoided if the time had been extended to half an hour or whatever.

Pointless aside, I sent several minutes trying to Do The Math regarding orbit elevations, orbital speed, transporter ranges, etc. I eventually concluded that this is ridiculous. The idea that a ship in orbit has to maintain the same speed or elevation all the time is beyond silly. Sure, when there's no urgency the ship will assume geostationary orbit around whatever location the landing party beamed down to, but in a case like this the ship is fully capable of moving to whatever point in orbit is necessary to access the necessary point on the surface. Furthermore, while it's useful to indicate a point on the surface in relation to the current speed of the ship, they should've have indicated that Kirk has to beam down the instant they're above the given point. Simply indicating a point on the planet's surface in terms of longitude and latitude relative to the ship's current position (the "Prime Meridian") would've been much more reasonable.

SCOTT: President Lincoln, indeed. No doubt to be followed by Louis of France and Robert the Bruce.
(Kirk and Spock enter)
KIRK: If so, we'll execute appropriate honours to each, Mister Scott.
SCOTT: Aye, sir.

I also wonder if this is simply a joke, or if Starfleet regulations include honors for these specific positions, or if they imported the regulations from older organizations like the U.S. Navy, or if Kirk was referring to generic "head of a country on a planet" honors.

SCOTT: Locked on to something. Does that appear human to you, Mister Spock?
SPOCK: Fascinating. For a moment, it appeared almost mineral. Like living rock with heavy fore claws. It's settling down now to completely human readings.

So one of Yarnek's people has shapeshifted to resemble Lincoln. I'm not sure if I prefer this to a simple illusion.

LINCOLN: Strange. Where are the musicians?
KIRK: That's taped music, sir. A starship on active duty never carries an honour detachment.

Odd, I'd think the flagship of the fleet could have a handful of people trained to perform military music with live instruments. Playing recorded music in a situation like this seems...insulting, somehow.

LINCOLN: A most interesting way to come aboard, Captain. What was the device used?
KIRK: An energy-matter scrambler, sir. The molecules in your body are converted into energy, then beamed into this chamber and reconverted back into their original pattern.

While Kirk describes the transporter fairly well, the "scrambler" part confuses me. Is "converter" beyond Lincoln's vocabulary?

SCOTT: You heard Mister Spock yourself. Mineral he called it, like living rock.
MCCOY: And that became Lincoln?
SCOTT: I couldn't tell. It may have been another figure down there standing by. What do you make of it?
MCCOY: I'm not quite sure.

What's the point of this scene? I jolly well expect Scotty to know how to scan whatever he's about to transport. Not only does this make Scotty look like an idiot, it's setting up a Chekov's gun that never pays off!

LINCOLN: What a charming negress. Oh, forgive me, my dear. I know in my time some used that term as a description of property.
UHURA: But why should I object to that term, sir? You see, in our century we've learned not to fear words.

The problem here is that while it sounds well and progressive, it doesn't work given what else we know about the Trek universe. Heck, the hippies were tossing around "Herbert" just a few weeks ago! And then you've got the Cardies and spoonheads of the future.

KIRK: We've each learned to be delighted with what we are. The Vulcans learned that centuries before we did.

So is Kirk exaggerating with the use of "delighted" in reference to Vulcans, or did the Vulcans learn the lesson in the pre-Surak era?

SPOCK: It is basic to the Vulcan philosophy, sir. The combination of a number of things to make existence worthwhile.

I wonder why they wouldn't take the chance to bring up IDIC again. Actually, it would've been nice if Surak was wearing the prop (I wonder what happened to it...).

KIRK: Yes, of course he's an alien.
MCCOY And he's potentially dangerous.
SCOTT: Mad. Loony as an Arcturian dogbird.

How do you get from "dangerous" to "insane"? Lincoln has already demonstrated that he or an ally has phenomenal powers, I'd be more willing to go with "programmed puppet" than "human slave who can gone insane, altered his appearance to Lincoln's, and hijacked his master's equipment to perform these feats".

MCCOY: Yes, a big one. Suddenly, miraculously, we see a small spot of Earth-type environment down there. Now is it really there, or do we just think we see it down there?
SCOTT: You might beam down into a sea of molten lava.

So beam a probe down to confirm the environment. I don't think the Excalbians would object to that.

KIRK: The very reason for the existence of our starships is contact with other life. Although the method is beyond our comprehension, we have been offered contact. Therefore, I shall beam down.

Exactly. Although I'd still beam a probe down first...
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