We continue to hunt for Spock – Captain Pike’s former Number One (who is gratuitously beautiful and flirtatious) giving us enough info to set us off in pursuit of Spock’s fleeing craft. En route to intercept Spock, however, the Enterprise is caught in a multiphasic stasis field by an ominous planetoid. Yay! It’s just like the scenario of an episode of the classic series.
The Enterprise’s systems are infected by some sort of virus, with hilarious universal-translator consequences… At the same time, the cold-virus that an alien member of Pike’s crew displayed two episodes ago infects other crew members, with some scary implications… And the bio-organism extracted from Tilly in the previous episode breaks free to take possession of people…
As you can see, this episode is layered. The themes of infection, possession, mutation and evolution are played out in various ways, all becoming metaphorically symbolic of a ‘bigger’ idea, a philosophical idea concerning birth, life, death and rebirth. It’s an intelligent way of presenting such themes without becoming dogmatic or expository. It makes episode 4 a very GOOD episode.
It was a pleasure watching this episode. It’s nuanced, tender and poignant. It offers some proper problem-solving that doesn’t rely on mummery and meaningless explanation: rather, the ‘problems’ are as emotional and moral as they are practical; so the problems are representative of personal challenges and the opportunity for genuine character growth. Heavens above! Genuine character development? Of characters we already care about? Whatever next? In all respects (technical, creative and metaphorical) then, this episode is a tour de force and a must-watch. Miss this one and there’ll be a real gap in your understanding in later episodes. Hurrah!