This week’s episode is another in a long line of Almost A Very Good Episode. It opens on the Enterprise discovering yet another destroyed solar system that they swear was there only a year ago, and the missing U.S.S. Constellation, whose crew seems to have vanished into thin air.
Sounds great, right? Really, this story’s got all the makings of something we should love. There’s an unfeeling, impossible foe from beyond the edge of the galaxy; death and destruction on an almost incomprehensible scale; and a moving monologue on what it means to be Captain of a starship – both from Kirk and from the Captain of the drifting Constellation, whose crew was tragically destroyed along with the now-devoured third planet. The faceless foe from beyond the galaxy also looks just like a delicious cream horn.
Mary Berry would approve.
We enjoy the classic feel of the monster of the week: a wandering, automated planet-killer from so far away and so long ago we’ll likely never know what set it on its path. We like the thinkiness of the ultimate solution, and how while definitely gibberish it at least mostly makes sense: we do love when our crew manages to Science their way out of a problem. We’re fascinated by the period-brave (albeit brief) discussion of suicide (trigger warning, btw) and the way Decker slowly falls apart in the aftermath of his crew’s death.
There’s almost some very good strategy that goes into the eventual defeat of the Cream Horn, a mostly-neat bit of to-ing and fro-ing between the two damaged ships and a shuttlecraft (which ultimately succumbs to Countdown Fatigue when the last fateful beam-out is interrupted by cheerful little flashbangs and Scotty cursing in a Jefferies Tube leading to us all shaking our fists and yelling “oh, come on at the screen).
It’s just that we hate Decker, so, so much.
More like Dick-er.
We’re supposed to feel sorry for this guy, and at first, we do. He’s lost his crew because he did the right thing: he got them off a failing ship and stayed behind. “That’s what the Captain’s supposed to do, isn’t it?” he asks Kirk, in the episode’s most genuinely gutting moment. There’s a brief throwaway line before and after that Decker and Kirk were once friends, but it seems everyone forgets about that immediately, because from that moment on, Decker is in a revenge-driven down-spiral that starts with him taking control of the Enterprise when Kirk ends up stranded aboard the damaged Constellation, is followed by his risking Kirk’s ship and crew in a series of idiotic, abortive suicide runs, and culminates in a space-homage to Captain Ahab, with Decker taking a shuttlecraft right into the mouth of the monster and blowing himself to kingdom come.
We can’t speak for the Enterprise crew, but at least by the NSMTNZ crew, he will not be missed.
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[From The Not So Much The Neutral Zone Podcast]
It’s been, like, three weeks, and I’m still mad at this guy.
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