Monday, 9 September 2013

TOS - 2.11 - Friday's Child

Star Trek - Friday's Child
I think it says "gaga" or is it "papa"?
I dunno. Hell! I'm a doctor, not a Vulcan.
I don't do mindmeld with a pillow that's
pretending to be a pregnancy
This episode continues the tradition that started in TOS Season 2 of portraying an alien race - typically humanoid - who resembles the human in our past. Of course, the humanoid's physical appearance make them resemble our ancestors they portrayed even more, right down to the costumes and make up. The only difference is they're given alien names and titles. For example, the king is called the Teer in this episode.

In fact, with the exception of episodes 2.3 and 2.9, all TOS episodes in Season 2 up until and including this one are built on that theme. These 2 episodes form the exceptions because the alien beings in it aren't humanoid. One is an intelligent probe, and the other is something like a cloud of electrolytes. Both aren't flesh and blood.

Because the alien races are based on our past societies, their behaviour are rather baffling to us modern people. But these are the very behaviour that plagued many of our medieval societies. They're quite universal.

Let me give you an example from this episode. Anyone who touches the Teer's wife would receive a death sentence, even if it's in the act of saving her life, or healing her. This rule, which seems rather ludicrous to modern people, is quite universal to monarchy systems from China in the East, across the Middle East, and to Europe in the West in the Medieval times. Yep, we earthlings are a lot more alike than our appearances.

Another example, the hereditary system means that a baby would be crowned as king after the king's death even if he has no ability to rule. Of course, the kingdom will be ruled by a regent on his behalf until he comes of age. This is another universal rule that we find laughable today.

In other words, the customs and traditions of our ancestors seems alien to us. They're as alien to us as humanoid alien living on another planet - the setting for majority of Star Trek episodes.

This episode obviously criticises another human past failing.

It's true that the Trek writers still put the human race on trial as they did in Season 1. But they did so with 2 significant differences.
1. The human society being judged are disguised as aliens. You could say the old human histories are told in allegory form (like Animal Farm but in space instead of farm setting).
2.  It's the old human societies that being explored/exploited/reflected/introspected/judged, rather than the contemporary world that Season 1 tends to concentrate on.

Gone were the days, or TOS Season 1, where the superior aliens wag their collective fingers at human race, and says, "Earthling, isn't it time for you lots to grow up", and they shake their collective heads in despair.

Well, Trek writers realised they didn't want to alienate (no pun intended) the audience by lecturing them as a primitive and barbaric race all the times, even if it's true. There's only so much truth we earthling can handle. Besides, it can become rather tedious and tiresome. Bear in mind that most of the audience of Star Trek were earthling.

I said most because some of Star Trek fans might be alien as radio signal leaking out from the Blue Planet, radiating outwards in all direction. It's like a "We're here. Invade us" signal, or a cross-hair on a rifle scope. Why search for ET? They already knew where we are as we broadcast the signal into space for more than a century.

Some people suggested that it's a bad idea for us to try to communicate with alien because some of them could be hostile. Well, it's already too late at the very moment we used radio waves. The movie Contact (1997) entertains such an idea. This movie depicts the enteraining side of alien contact. The negative side is that they will invade and destroy us because they don't like how they were portrayed in the Star Trek series. Oh...that ideas already been toyed with in Galaxy Quest (1999)? This film says that some of the Star Trek fans are from outer space. I thought I stumbled on some brilliant idea for a movie. Drat! I'll get a totally original idea one day.

When told in allegory form, it softens the blow. It doesn't sound like a put down. It always more effective in roundabout persuasion than blunt lecturing. And you can certainly watch an allegory without being aware that you're being preached to because the silly characters aren't human, they're aliens. Ok then...

Another note-worthy thing to point out in this episode is the appearance of the Klingon.

As I pointed out that some aliens, whom were originally conceived that based on the Asian people have changed into Caucasian without any explanation.

The previous example include Khan Noonien Singh in TOS episode 1.22 "Space Seed" where he was clearly depicted as Indian Sikh being changed into a Caucasian. Similarly, the 1st appearance of Klingon in episode 1.26 "Errand of Mercy" where they were clearly portrayed as Mongols, who bears a striking resemblance to the unflattering portrayals of Chinese in Genghis Khan (1965) only produced a year earlier.

But in this episode, the Klingon looks more like the Middle Eastern, who portrayed the Mongols in Genghis Khan (1965). Omar Sharif - an Egyptian Arab - was of course played Genghis Khan himself.

The point is, in the early days of Star Trek, things can change rather suddenly and without any explanation. As the audience were as sophisticated today, and so they would be left rather confused and bewildered by all these unexplained mysterious changes.

While the exterior physical features may have changed, but their character remains the same - treacherous, belligerent, and brutal. In short, a race without honour or much redeeming qualities, quite different from the Klingon in subsequent Star Trek spin-off. They weren't so respectable as they do today. This is all part of the evolution of the Trek lore.

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