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July 17 2024


An archive of Star Trek News

Wink of an Eye

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at October 20, 2006 - 3:58 PM GMT

See Also: 'Wink of an Eye' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: When the Enterprise responds to a distress call from Scalos, they find the main city deserted and no sign of life but the persistent whine of insects. Then an ensign disappears while testing the local water and Kirk orders the landing party back to the ship, which promptly begins to suffer from unexplained malfunctions. Kirk drinks a cup of coffee and abruptly disappears from the bridge. From his perspective, the Enterprise crewmembers have come to a standstill, and now Kirk can see the Scalosians, who move so quickly that the human eye cannot perceive them. He learns from Deela that the people of Scalos have been rendered unable to reproduce with one another because of radiation poisoning, so they require aliens to propagate their species. But accelerating humans makes them susceptible to cell damage, and the missing ensign ages and dies very quickly after a minor wound. Wary of provoking the Scalosians, Kirk records a message for Spock and pretends to go along with Deela's wish that he become her consort. Spock drinks the Scalosian water and joins Kirk in his accelerated state, and the two of them are able to force the aliens from the ship. McCoy has developed an antidote to the acceleration, so after repairing the ship, Spock is able to revert to the normal state to which the captain has already returned.

Analysis: "Wink of an Eye" is by no means the worst of the silly Evil Alien episodes of Star Trek's third season, but to enjoy it requires the repression of all scientific thought and logic. There are only five Scalosians left, yet they continue to adhere to one-man, one-woman mating (and presumably human-scale pregnancies) rather than working on cloning technology, artificial wombs or other techniques that would enable them to utilize all the Enterprise crewmembers' DNA combined with their own to repopulate Scalos. Their infertility issues stem from radiation from volcanoes, which somehow rendered nearly the entire population infertile except a handful of men and women who can reproduce but not with each other. Instead of raising children to accept the idea that sex and love are entirely separate - Deela tells Kirk that their way of reproducing has been going on for generations - there is still enough jealousy and anger that the vitally needed breeding stock gets damaged when a Scalosian has a temper tantrum. And let's not even get started on the absurdity of the accelerated time scale, where people do not appear to move at all, yet Spock and McCoy have time to hear Kirk's tape and develop an antidote to Scalosian water before Deela's people can take control of the ship.

This episode is legendary for one scene: Kirk tugging his boots on after having sex with Deela. There is a persistent group of fans who insist that Kirk isn't nearly the intergalactic stud he thinks he is, that he didn't really seduce Lenore and Drusilla and Shahna and Kelinda and...well, if you've been reading these reviews you can keep your own count. In "Wink of an Eye," however, the evidence is incontrovertible: they did it. (Meaning that Kirk might have provided Deela with the child she wanted before dumping her back on Scalos without bothering to check...given that Ann Crispin wrote a series of novels in which Spock's illegitimate son from one of his interstellar flings shows up, one can only imagine the miniseries if all of David Marcus' potential half-siblings turned up.) The sexual politics are notable in comparison to last week's "Plato's Stepchildren," when Kirk had to be forced to kiss Uhura - a woman he respects and likes. With Deela, who introduces herself to him as "the enemy" and tells him that she plans to use his entire crew as breeding stock until they die, he is only too happy to make sweet distracting love. At the end of the episode, regarding an image of Deela, he appears to feel not violated but nostalgic. If you don't mind my saying so...ick.

What redeems the incident for me is that I rather do like Deela, even if I find her adherence to what she believes the only solution to her dilemma to be extremely short-sighted and unimaginative. She doesn't particularly relish the idea of having to be unfaithful to the man she really wants, though she does it in the name of duty and begs him to allow her the dignity of liking the man she chooses to serve as a sperm donor. She's the queen bee in the Scalosian hive, destined to bear children with the most promising drones; being seductive is a job for her, like perpetually brushing her hair. On the one hand, she can be entirely cold-hearted and ruthless, calmly explaining how a young officer came to be a burned-out human shell, but on the other hand, she doesn't have much more freedom than those she traps in her accelerated state.

It's frustrating that Kirk doesn't offer her any solution that might benefit the Scalosians as well as his crew, either while they control his ship or after he takes it back. Would McCoy's antidote allow them to live in Kirk's time frame, which would give them the option of interacting with Starfleet, possibly finding volunteers to help them rebuild their society both genetically and socially? Couldn't he at least mention some of the birth technologies that might assist the Scalosians, who don't seem to have been any more venal or imperialistic than humans until they became desperate to survive as a race?

My favorite moment in this episode is a very small one, but it says a great deal about the command crew of the Enterprise. When Kirk, seeking a way to stop the Scalosians from putting his crew in suspended animation, spots Spock moving in the accelerated timeline, his first reaction is not concern or alarm that Spock might have been accelerated to be used as breeding stock like himself, but relief and happiness; he grins. It is taken for granted that Spock is there to help, likely by his own choosing, and surely that means he and McCoy got Kirk's message and are working on a way to restore things to normal.

"Wink of an Eye" chooses the superficial ending, in which the crew goes on its merry way while Kirk fondly remembers a sexual encounter. It's about the titillation of the crew being used as breeding stock rather than the crisis being suffered by the Scalosians and the desperation of their response. Deep thought is not called for - in fact, it must be discouraged, or we'd have to wonder why Deela didn't notice McCoy starting to work on his antidote and stopping him before he managed a single test on the Scalosian water. Ultimately we're left with a superficial Evil Alien of the Week story in which Kirk decides he can't trust people so unlike himself, even though he's forgiven numerous other aliens for threatening his ship and crew, offering them assistance from Starfleet with less dire problems. I can't help but call the episode a disappointment.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Michelle Erica Green is a news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.

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