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Wolf in the Fold

Review

Series : The Original Series Rating : 4
Disc No : 2.3 Episode : 37
First Aired : 22 Dec 1967 Stardate : 3614.9
Director : Joseph Pevney Year : 2267
Writers : Robert Bloch Season : 2
Guest Cast :
Charles Diercop as Morla
Charles Macaulay as Jaris
Eddie Paskey as Lieutenant Leslie
John Fiedler as Mr. Hengist
John Winston as Transporter Chief Kyle
Joseph Bernard as Tark
Judi Sherven as Nurse
Judy McConnell as Yeoman Tankris
Marlys Burdette as Serving girl
Pilar Seurat as Sybo
Suzanne Lodge as Serving girl
Tania Lemani as Kara
Virginia Aldridge as Lieutenant Karen Tracy
Stunts :
Paul Baxley as Hengist's stunt double
Moral :
Appearances : Things are not always what they seem
YATI : Now I must admit that I've never walked a pretty girl home through dense fog... but if I did, I suspect I could find something better to do than wander off out of sight to "lead the way", as Scotty does in this episode. Surely the point is to actually be with the woman?
Great Moment : I love the crew's zoned out reactions to Hengist's threats, especially Sulu's "he sure is gloomy".
Body Count : A blueshirt and two locals. Hengist also effectively dies.
Factoid : The Enterprise's computer can act as a lie detector. It can scan both the concious and unconcious mind, revealing the truth even if the person honestly does not know what happened. A psychotricorder can give a complete scan of a person's memory, even through blocks.

In the Next Generation episode Relics, Scotty would remark that his quarters reminded him of his hotel room on Argelius and commented that "on the first visit, I got into a wee bit of trouble" - an obvious reference to this episode.

No less than three of the Star Trek comic books have served as follow ups to this episode - "Wolf on the Prowl", "Wolf at the Door", and "Embrace the Wolf".

Quote : "Yes, there is something here. Something terrible... I feel its presence. Fear, anger, hatred! Anger feeds the flame. Oh! Oh! There is evil here. Monstrous, terrible evil! Consuming hunger! Hatred of all that lives... hatred of women. A hunger that never dies. It is strong, overpowering. An ancient terror. It has a name... Beratis, Kesla, Redjac! Devouring all life, all light. A hunger that will never die! Redjac! Redjac!" - Sybo; in her trance

"Of course he knew her. They were to be married, but he behaved disgracefully. Unheard of! He was jealous of her!" - Tark to Kirk and Jaris

"Humans and humanoids make up only a small percentage of the life forms we know of." - Spock to Kirk

"Computer, this is a Class A compulsory directive : compute to the last digit, the value of pi." - Spock; giving an impossible order to the computer

Plotline

The Enterprise is visiting Argelius II, a planet whose philosophy heavily emphasised hedonism and pleasure. Kirk and McCoy are accompanying Scotty on shore leave, enjoying some female entertainment in a local bar. Scotty recently suffered a near-fatal accident caused by a woman, and there has been some concern that he harbours a deep seated resentment of women as a result. The shore leave is an attempt to get him over this feeling.

The therapy seems to work, and Scotty accompanies one of the dancers home through the quiet night. However, shortly afterwards the woman is found stabbed brutally to death, with Scotty standing over the body paralysed with shock, holding a knife in hands covered with blood.

Scotty claims to have no clear memory of exactly what happened. Mr Hengist, the Chief Administrator of the planet, demands that Scotty be confined whilst the crime is investigated. However the planet's leader, Prefect Jaris, suggests that his wife Sybo may be of use. She has some form of empathic ability which he thinks may be of value. Kirk has Lt. Tracy beam down from the ship with a psycho-tricorder, which will be able to probe Scotty's memories of the event and determine his guilt or innocence.

As she prepares to administer the test they discuss another suspect, the dancer's former fiance Morla. He was jealous of the attention her dancing brought from other men, a reaction the Argelians consider to be shameful. Morla is questioned but claims that he had nothing to do with the crime. As the testing of Scotty begins the lights black out and there is a scream; when the lights come on again Lt. Tracy has been stabbed to death and once again Scotty is standing practically over the body. With the only other entrance to the room locked, it appears certain that he is the killer.

Prefect Jaris insists that his wife carry out a kind of seance. She appears to enter a trance-like state, speaking of a great evil, a hunger which can never be satisfied. She calls out several names, "Beratis", "Kesla" and "Redjac". As the seance reaches a crescendo the lights black out - and as they come back on Sybo lies dead, and once again Scotty is apparently the killer despite having no clear memory of what happened.

Mr Hengist is completely convinced that Scotty is guilty, but Kirk convinces Jaris to beam up to the Enterprise so that Scotty can be subjected to computer analysis - this will provide a definitive answer as to his guilt or innocence, regardless of any mental failings. The test shows both Scotty and Morla to be innocent of any wrongdoing. When Scotty talks of feeling a cold, evil presence in the room when the lights were out Kirk begins to suspect some form of creature may be responsible, something that feeds on negative emotions and attacks women to cause them. Although Hengist finds this answer incredible, the computer confirms that it is possible and Jaris seems open minded. The computer cites creatures native to Alpha Carina V who subsist on the emotion of love; this being apparently subsists on terror. It is suggested to be incorporeal, existing as a formless being but capable of taking solid form at will - much as the Mellitus cloud creature of Alpha Majoris I that can change from gaseous to solid forms.

They run the names spoken by Sybo through the computer and find that Beratis and Kesla are the names of mass murderers of women on Rigel IV Deneb II respectively, neither of whom were caught. Redjac is a mystery until the computer checks variations and finds 'Red Jack', another name for the infamous Jack the Ripper from Earth history. Further analysis shows a string of such murders throughout history - and the trail leads directly towards Argelius, with the Beratis killings happening on Rigel IV less than a year ago. Further, the knife used in the killings on Argelius is of Rigellian design. Kirk notes that Hengist is from Rigel IV, and arrived about a year ago.

As suspicion turns on Hengist he becomes agitated and attempts to flee, only to be knocked down by Kirk. However, he dies on the spot. The ship's computer begins to go out of control, telling the crew they will all die - apparently the Hengist creature has abandoned his physical body and infested the computer in an attempt to terrify the crew.

Kirk has McCoy dope up everyone in the crew, putting them into a state of mild euphoria. Spock orders the computer to calculate the value of Pi to the last digit, an insoluble problem which will suck up most of it's resources. Hengist is forced from the computer and returns back to his body, but he is injected with the same drug the crew have taken. Although the entity cannot be killed in the conventional sense, Kirk has it beamed into space on a wide dispersion - scattering it across space and effectively destroying it.

Analysis

A half decent attempt at a mystery, this one suffers from having to bend events in an implausible way to create suspicion. I don't know how it came across in the 60s, but to modern eyes the idea of Scotty suffering from a murderous hatred towards all women simply because a woman caused his accident is stupid and frankly kind of insultingly sexist. Are gender relations of the future really such that men are ready to fly into a murderous fit against the whole female gender at a moment's notice? This in a society that has allegedly conquered all bigotry and prejudice, no less. It's just so absurd, and it gets the episode off on a horrible footing - but it's also necessary, because there's simply no way the audience are going to believe that a main character like Scotty could be responsible for such a crime whilst he was in his right mind.

Then you have to wonder at the way Scotty keeps on finding himself right there at the scene of the crime, no less than three times in a row. Is this a deliberate attempt to frame him by the creature, I wonder? That doesn't make sense to me. With a concrete victim to blame I would think most people would react with anger rather than fear. The Jack the Ripper killings are a classic example of this - the London population was paralysed with fear precisely because they didn't know who was doing the killings. That's an eminently sensible mode of operation for the creature, but now this same creature seems to be going out of the way to place the blame on a single individual. Why?

Strangely enough, although it is a simple plot device I always find myself fascinated by the idea of the computer as ultimate lie detector in this episode. A device that knows you are lying even if you do not, even if you have no memory of the events in question... I wonder how the police use this device? You would think that blanket questioning of everybody involved in every crime would be a commonplace investigative technique. Would the right to avoid self incrimination survive such an advance when it would mean that you could be 100% positive that no innocent person could ever be convicted?


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 3,520 Last updated : 23 Nov 2014