(airdate: December 22, 1967)
Writer: Robert Bloch
Director: Joseph Pevney
Hengist: John Fiedler
Sybo: Pilar Seurat
Tark: Joseph Bernard
Jaris: Charles Macauley
Morla: Charles Dierkop
Kara: Tania Lemani
Lt. Karen Tracy: Virginia Aldridge
Captain's Log: Kirk, McCoy, and Scott are enjoying shore leave on the planet Argelius II, but things take a turn for the worse when Scott is discovered above a dead woman, a bloody knife in his hand. He can't remember anything about the murder. Things get even more grim when another woman is murdered in Scott's presence, and then another. The investigation aboard the Enterprise reveals, however, that Scott is not actually responsible; instead, an energy creature named Redjac - who once committed murders in 19th-century London as Jack the Ripper - had possessed the body of the investigator Hengist and performed the killings. Redjac fed on fear and terror, hence the killings. McCoy drugs the entire crew so that they feel no fear, thus isolating Redjac, and then they're able to beam Redjac into space on the widest possible dispersion, where he'll hopefully be unable to reconstitute himself and harm anyone else.
Whoops!: Hengist handles the murder weapon carelessly without gloves. [Granted, he is the murderer, but still. You'd think he'd want to keep up the pretense at least.]
Why, if Redjac creates a hypnotic screen that "blinds" people to its presence, can Scotty remember what happened when Sybo was killed? [The presence of so many people in the room made Redjac's abilities less effective, as it had to deal with all of them instead of just a person or two.] And why does Scotty wait so long before telling them he can remember the third murder? They stand around accusing him of the crime and he just sits there and takes it, rather than saying, "Wait, I can remember what happened this time and it definitely wasn't me." And why does the episode suddenly decide that all the evidence points to a disembodied alien who committed the Jack the Ripper murders? At this point, all they have are a name said by Sybo ("Redjac") and the fact that it was women who were killed. It doesn't seem like the strongest of cases, particularly given that they haven't actually ruled out their prime suspect, Mr. Scott, yet, and yet everyone behaves like this is the natural conclusion of the evidence.
It's not obvious that women are actually more easily terrified than men, contrary to what Spock states here. Studies suggest that men and women experience similar levels of fear, but that are men are culturally conditioned not to admit to it as much as women. [Entertainingly, after Spock says this Yeoman Tankris reacts with a bit of an eyeroll in the wide shot.]
Classic Lines: Spock: "In the strict scientific sense, Doctor, we all feed on death, even vegetarians."
Don't Wear a Red Shirt: Lt. Tracy is the only Starfleet officer to be killed in this episode, but a belly dancer named Kara and Jarvis's wife Sybo are also killed, all of them stabbed to death by the entity Redjac. Yeoman Tankris is threatened by Redjac (and she is dressed in red) but she's too tranquilized to care.
Alien Love: Scotty becomes interested in an Argelian belly dancer named Kara, but unfortunately she doesn't even make it past the cold open before she's killed.
Library Computer: Argelius II is a bright blue planet [a bog-standard brown in the remastered version], home to a completely hedonistic society. The part of the planet we see has a distinctly Middle Eastern vibe, with low tables, lots of cushions and curtains, ogee arches [the curvy pointy ones], and loose, flowing clothing. They also have belly dancers, very similar to Arabic belly dancing on Earth, with finger cymbals and flowing clothes with an exposed midriff. The Argelians flash table lights on and off in lieu of applause or cheering. Argelius II is well-known as a hospitable spaceport, as well as the only one in its quadrant - thus giving it strategic value.
The chief city administrator is a man named Hengist. He's a short, balding man with a rather high-pitched voice, and he's originally from the planet Rigel IV - the Argelians are too gentle, harmless, and inefficient to hire one of their own as administrator, so they hire outworlders instead. Above Hengist in rank is the prefect, Jaris. [He's probably the leader of the entire planet, but the dialogue is vague enough that it could just be the unnamed city]. He's a tall man with swept back, thinning grey-white hair, and a salt-and-pepper goatee. Jaris's wife is a young woman named Sybo, with dark upswept hair and dark brown eyes. She was descended from the ancient priestesses of Argelius, and thus still had their gift for empathic contact - a technique Kirk had heard of but assumed was lost. This contact involved a special ceremony, much like a seance, where the participants sit in a circle around a flame, holding hands, while the priestess (Sybo in this instance) performs empathic contact, endeavoring to discover who committed a given crime [or other, similar information].
Two hundred years ago, Argelius II had a much more violent society, but then they underwent their Great Awakening, turning their culture to its current peaceful, hedonistic state. Thus the law of Argelius is now love, according to Jaris. However, their laws were never officially changed in the wake of the Great Awakening, and thus the penalty for murder is still death by slow torture.
Kara was an Argelian woman who worked as a belly dancer. She had brown hair and a lithe figure. Kara was the daughter of Tark [named in the credits, though not onscreen], a musician at the cafe where Kara danced, and she was at one time betrothed to a man named Morla; however, Morla was very jealous of the attentions others bestowed upon Kara, and thus the two of them fought constantly, leading to her ending their engagement. Morla was thus jealous of Scott's attentions toward Kara, which made him the prime suspect when Kara was found stabbed to death in an alley.
Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery Scott [this is the first time we learn his first name] is from Aberdeen. His serial number is SE19754T, and he is not 22 years old. He was recently involved in an explosion that threw him against a bulkhead, giving him severe concussion that led to some "peripheral anomalies" - though not enough to cause amnesia. This explosion was caused by a woman, which led to Scotty temporarily developing feelings of strong resentment toward women - although those feelings appeared to have dissipated by the time he was on Argelius II, nevertheless they made him a prime suspect for the murders, and Kirk and McCoy were concerned that he might have actually done the deed. He was present for the three murders committed, though he only remembered the third one.
A psychotricorder is a special kind of tricorder that can provide a detailed account of everything that's happened to a person recently by scanning their memory. It requires privacy to be effective, however. The ship has a verifier aboard that can immediately determine if a person is lying; the testifier places their hand on a sensor that is tied into the computer. [It appears to be the same device used in "Court Martial".] Through this, it was determined that the murderer was not in fact Scott, but an alien entity whose presence Sybo had detected just before she was killed. This entity went by many names, including Beratis, Kesla, and Redjac.
Redjac was an entity, probably a mass of energy of highly cohesive electromagnetic fields, who fed off feelings of terror and fear and could possess bodies of others, both living and dead. Redjac had a particular hatred of women, it seemed, killing them almost exclusively. [It's a bit unclear whether Redjac killed Hengist or merely possessed his already-dead body.] Spock theorized that Redjac could create a form of hypnotic screen, which could blind all but the victim to its presence, thus allowing it to kill with impunity. (Such screens were not unknown throughout the galaxy.) Redjac needed a suitable host, however, one that was capable of itself feeling fear and terror; when McCoy injected the crew of the Enterprise with a powerful sedative that left them able to function but incredibly content and happy, Redjac was unable to possess them, and thus he was trapped in Hengist's dead body - which meant that Spock was able to beam Redjac-as-Hengist out into deep space using the widest possible dispersion. While Redjac itself couldn't die, it also would [hopefully] be unable to reconstitute itself into a threat again. [So far, no official sequel has ever been made, although various Trek comic books have taken a stab at it.]
Redjac had lived for many hundreds of years, killing women on various planets. He had been known as Jack the Ripper, where he killed a number of women in London. [Jack the Ripper is said to have killed at least five women in 1888 Whitechapel, and there are a handful of other murders that might be attributable to him, though the evidence is far less solid - and in fact, historians argue about whether Jack committed all five of the "canonical five" murders, or even if they were the work of a single individual. The episode assumes (probably correctly) that the audience will know who Jack the Ripper is.] There were a number of unsolved killings of women following Jack the Ripper; in 1932, seven women were knifed to death in Shanghai, China, while in 1974 five women were knifed to death in Kiev, USSR. In 2105 eight women were murdered in the Martian colonies, while in 2156 ten women were knifed to death in Heliopolis on the planet Alpha Eridani II. There were also other similar murders in the Enterprise databanks. [Obviously the last three aren't real events, being set after the episode's broadcast, but there doesn't seem to be a real-life corollary for the first event either.] These locations were all on a direct path between Earth and Argelius. In addition, there were unsolved murders of women on Deneb II, attributed to someone named Kesla, and on Rigel IV, attributed to someone named Beratis. The Rigel IV murders occurred one solar year prior to the events on Argelius II.
The murder weapon used on Argelius was a curved knife with a thin handle from Rigel IV, made by hill people who lived in the Argus River region. The blade was made from boridium, while the handle was made of murinite. There were carvings on the handle, as well as decorations at the base of the blade.
The Drella was a creature from Alpha Carinae V which fed upon the emotion of love. [There might be a suggestion that the Drella is non-corporeal, similar to Redjac, but this isn't explicit.]
The mellitus was a creature from Alpha Majoris I. In its natural state, it is gaseous, looking like a cloud, but in its resting state it's solid. Kirk has seen the mellitus.
Lt. Karen Tracy was a young blonde woman, wearing a sciences blue uniform. She was operating a psychotricorder and was killed by Hengist/Redjac.
Dr. McCoy has a sedative on board that's strong enough to "tranquilize an active volcano".
Turbolifts can be placed into a manual mode.
Kirk and McCoy are both aware of a cafe on Argelius where the women are special in some particular way.
Final Analysis: "An entity which feeds on fear and terror would find a perfect hunting ground on Argelius: a planet without violence, where the inhabitants are as peaceful as sheep. The entity would be as a hungry wolf in that fold." Robert Bloch channels his interest in Jack the Ripper into an episode that's certainly memorable, although not exactly outstanding. There's a lot of heavy lifting going on in order to shift the focus from the possibility of Scotty being a murderer to that of an immortal serial killer, and they don't quite pull it off in a natural way. But ultimately there's nothing really problematic here, and the result is a solid, though not spectacular, effort.
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Page originally created: May 22, 2018
Page last updated: May 22, 2018