Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Star Trek: TOS 1.28 - The City on the Edge of Forever

Review 27 - Episode 28

The One where Kirk goes back in time and has to make an impossible decision.

So, this has always been considered one of Trek's absolute classics, referenced in various other media and set the bar high for time travel stories involving the butterfly effect. But is it any good?

Well, yes, especially the 2nd half, but let me get a couple of issues out the way. Unfortunately, due to the time it was made, there was no follow up episodes to events like these, so we're left to surmise that there is a dirty big gateway in time that can let you alter history and change the future. This should surely be the most protected planet in the Galaxy. Also, the time travel rules for this episode, comparing it to a river where they will naturally flow together is a bit woolly, as is spock able to access future newspaper reports on his tricorder. The Guardian comes across as a giant micro fiche resource.

But frankly, none of the above matters, because at it's heart, this is about the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the one. In this case, Edith Keeler. Who Kirk has fallen in love with, but has to die, as if she lives she will cause the Nazis to take over the world through her pacifism. Right idea, wrong time as Spock notes.

Right I'm getting ahead of my self. Lets start at the start. McCoy accidentally injects himself with Cordrazine and goes crazy paranoid just at the same time the crew find a gateway through time. De Forest is excellent in this episode as he's really given a Chance to let rip and eat up the scenery, and he does it so well. His makeup is also very impressive for it's day, gradually looking like a zombie.

Kirk and Spock chase after him and through various mishaps end up working for Keeler and Spock tries build a computer out of 30's technology that will let him see what changed time. These scenes are all good and entertaining, especially as at the start of the episode their dialogue seemed slightly stilted, calling Scotty "engineer" and so on. Keeler, played by Joan Collins, is good, though Kirk falling in love with her is slightly weakened by the fact that every girl he meets is "the one".

McCoy ends up at Keelers, his paranoia wearing off and has some wry dialogue about his state of mind, but Kirk and Spock are unaware of his presence, though they ARE now aware that Keeler must die, as Spock keeps repeating. Kirk actually pushes this knowledge to one side and keeps dating her (fast mover to be honest) and saves her from falling down the stairs, which is commented on by Spock, who doesn't actually come across as cold as he did in Galileo 7, just stating the facts to Kirk and it's noticeable Kirk never lashes out at him. Nicely underplayed by the pair of them.

The final scene, as Kirk see's McCoy, embraces hims, then has to stop him saving Keeler, the woman who saved him and loved Kirk is heartbreaking and McCoys quiet rage is incredible to watch. Of course, if Kirk hadn't taken her across the road to see the film, then she would have never run back to see Kirk and McCoy, so perhaps this was all destined to happen.

The final line by Kirk in the future "let's get the hell out of here" as the eerie wind blows, is chilling and one of the best endings to any Trek. One minor downside is that Scotty, Uhura (who appears to be on the planet simply to give them screen time) and Sulu don't really have much to do, but I'm willing to let that slide. Also the Guardian, the mysterious device that can send people trough time, is rightly left as an enigma amongst the ruins, as any attempt to explain it would only ruin it's power.

Right, I've wittered on enough. Watch it, nuff said.


No comments: