|||[Boldly Going]||| Star Trek: The Original Series—Season Two: Ep. 2.14 “Wolf in the Fold” – (Original air date: Friday, December 22, 1967)

TOSWolfinFold

Welcome to my rewatching of the original 79 episodes of the series that launched the franchise. Below are the bulletpointed notes I jotted down while watching “Wolf in the Fold.”

  • On this date in history, the US saw the nationwide release of The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman. The movie had premiered the day before in New York and Los Angeles. It would go on to become the highest grossing film of 1968.
  • An aside about The Graduate: the movie was co-scripted by Buck Henry, who recently passed away.
  • Another aside about The Graduate: killer soundtrack, featuring Simon & Garfunkel. My parents owned the soundtrack album, which was my introduction to Simon’s music. Easily my personal favorite of my parents’ record collection, which featured a lot of Eddy Arnold and Elvis. “Mrs. Robinson” is okay. “The Sound of Silence” is amazing.
  • Don’t tell my niece. She thinks “The Sound of Silence” was a Disturbed original.
  • The Beatles’ film Magical Mystery Tour premiered a few days later—on Tuesday, December 26—as a made-for-television movie on the BBC. It originally aired in black-&-white, since color television wasn’t yet found in most households. It was also the band’s first commercial flop, derided by British newspaper critics as “blatant rubbish” and “tasteless nonsense.”
  • The Beatles movie itself was inspired by Ken Kesey’s 1964 cross-country bus tour with the Merry Pransters. By all accounts (full disclosure: I’ve never watched it, except for the “Walrus” bit), it is a home movie gone wrong.
  • Which is not meant to disparage the Magical Mystery Tour album, which was already released prior to the television show. I’ve often said that I prefer this LP—which included “Hello, Goodbye,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Penny Lane,” and “All You Need is Love,” in addition to the sublime nonsense of “I Am the Walrus”—over Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I’m saying it again today, in fact.
  • I feel compelled to add that I have absolutely nothing against Eddy Arnold or Elvis.
  • Author Robert Bloch, of Psycho fame, wrote the teleplay for this episode. Bloch liked to revisit the Jack the Ripper story in his work. He also wrote the short story “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper.” The short story was adapted for the television series Thriller in 1961. It also served as the basis for this episode.
  • Bloch wrote the teleplays for two other Star Trek episodes. The first was “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” (which earned 3 out of 5 stars from me). It featured the Addams Family‘s Ted Cassidy and a bunch of killer androids years before Westworld and Star Trek: Picard. The second was “Catspaw,” a Halloween-themed episode from the second season that earned a dismal 2 out of 5 stars from me.
  • So, Bloch doesn’t have such a good track record with me, it seems.
  • In the teaser, we learn that Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott is on medical leave on the planet Argelius II, where he is accompanied by Captain James T. Kirk and Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy.
  • This is the first episode to prominently feature Scotty, who I’ve always insisted is “the bravest man in Starfleet.”
  • James Doohan was a WWII veteran who was actually at Juno Beach in Normandy on D-Day, where he was wounded, hit by six rounds, apparently friendly fire. He was shot four times in the leg, once in the chest, and once through his right middle finger. A silver cigarette case stopped the round to his chest. His right middle finger had to be amputated.
  • The next time you watch a Trek episode or movie, see if you can spot the missing finger. He was good at concealing it.
  • He was Canadian, not Scottish, and his parents emigrated from Ireland. He is an honorary Scot, however.
  • In the episode, it seems that Scotty is on medical leave after being injured in an accident caused by a female crewmember. Dr. McCoy believes that the sexually permissive Argelian culture will cure Scotty’s “total resentment towards women.”
  • Nice of Bones and the captain to accompany their poor, ailing chief engineer. I’m certain that there are no ulterior motives.
  • An Argelian belly dancer, equipped with the customary accoutrement (including hand cymbals), joins our stalwart Starfleet officers at their table. Scotty seems enamored of her.
  • A serious-looking man watches them from across the room.
  • Scotty refers to himself as “an old Aberdeen pub crawler” at some point. When I saw this episode as a child, it was the first time I ever heard of something called a pub crawl.
  • Not the last time. I am now a veteran.
  • Scotty asks the comely young woman to go for a walk with him in the fog. She is delighted to accompany him.
  • What could go wrong?
  • Plenty, as it turns out. Kirk and McCoy leave Scotty alone with the cure for what ails him, and are in a foggy alley when they hear a woman’s bloodcurdling scream.
  • They discover the belly dancer’s body. She had been stabbed repeatedly.
  • She’s dead, Jim,” Dr. McCoy says, which always give me a rush.
  • Scotty is nearby, a bloody knife in his hand. Maybe he’s not over his total resentment of women, after all.
  • End of teaser.
  • As we head into Act One, we are introduced to the chief city administrator, Mr. Hengist. He is not Argelian by birth, but originally from Rigel IV. This is an important fact, so you should file it away for later.
  • The role of Mr. Hengist is played by John Fiedler, a familiar character actor. He was the voice of Piglet in the Winnie the Pooh cartoons. Plus, he played Mr. Peterson on The Bob Newhart Show. He was a slightly built, bald man with a high-pitched voice. He typically played an unthreatening milquetoast type.
  • Mr. Hengist is interrogating Scotty. Violent crime is virtually unheard of on Argelius II. Only Scotty’s fingerprints are found on the knife, and Scotty is claiming that he has no memory of what happened.
  • Kirk is asking what the law is in this case when the Prefect Jaris, and his wife Sybo, enter the room. “The law of Argelius,” the prefect says, “is love.”
  • This was 1967. The Summer of Love was that year, you know.
  • It turns out that Sybo is some sort of empath, and Prefect Jaris suggests that all of them go to his house so that his wife can perform her psychic séance thing. Mr. Hengist objects, as do I, but no one else cares.
  • The USS Enterprise also beams down Lt. Karen Tracy, a young blonde in a daringly short blue miniskirt, who is there to perform a 24-hour memory check of Scotty using a psycho-tricorder.
  • The psycho-tricorder is a Starfleet tricorder programmed for use by a psychologist, I guess. It never appears anywhere else in any Trek series, to the present day. As far as I know.
  • The prefect’s wife asks for the murder weapon so that she can get psychic impressions from the knife. But, as it turns out, the knife is missing.
  • Right on cue, there is a loud scream from the other room. Kirk and McCoy find Lt. Tracy lying dead, and, once again, Scotty is unconscious with the bloodied knife in his hand.
  • She’s dead, Jim,” Dr. McCoy says. Again.
  • Seems like an open-and-shut case, doesn’t it? Although the chain-of-custody for the murder weapon is sketchy at best.  End of Act One.
  • As we’re going into Act Two, it’s already apparent that we’re in an episode unlike any of the ones we’re used to. The space trial—or generic “legal proceeding”—was already a Trek trope before this episode, with installments like “Court Martial” and the frame story of “The Menagerie.” But, this episode had a bit more of what Scotty himself called “spooky mumbo jumbo” with all the stuff about empaths and psychic impressions from inanimate objects. Trekkies will accept a steady diet of technobabble, but you can’t just throw a “psycho” in front of “tricorder” and pretend like everything’s normal. This episode just doesn’t feel right.
  • Even after writing two other teleplays, I’m beginning to doubt that Mr. Bloch even watched this show.
  • In my notebook, in angry capital block letters, I wrote: PIECE OF S**T! (without the asterisks).
  • We’re still at the prefect’s place, and it looks like we’re still going forward with the séance thing.
  • Mr. Hengist brings in two men from the club for questioning. One is the dead belly dancer’s father, a musician in the club, and the other was her boyfriend. The father says that the boyfriend had disgraced himself by acting all jealous after the belly dancer joined the Starfleet officers at their table. The boyfriend says he left the club, but he certainly didn’t kill his girlfriend.
  • Kirk believes the boyfriend seems to be a plausible suspect.
  • Mr. Hengist reminds the captain that Scotty was found next to both bodies with the murder weapon in his hand. Well, yeah, if you want to base your opinions on the facts of the case—
  • Kirk asks the prefect to have the room sealed so that no one can leave or enter. Then everyone gathers around some kind of ceremonial altar with a flame burning in its center. Sybo closes her eyes, goes into a psychic trance, and then begins talking about a terrible presence filled with anger, hatred and fear. She calls it a “monstrous, terrible evil. Consuming hunger. Hatred of all that lives. Hatred of women. A hunger that never dies . . .” You know, stuff like that.
  • This ancient terror even has names. Beratis. Kesla. Redjac. She says the name Redjac several times.
  • Then the lights go out, and Sybo screams.
  • When the lights come back up, the flame has gone out and Scotty is standing holding Sybo in his arms. He lets her go and she falls into McCoy’s lap. She has a knife in her back. McCoy doesn’t say, “She’s dead, Jim.”  He should have tried for the hat trick.
  • It seems every act ends with a stabbed lady and Scotty looking as guilty as Maxwell and his Silver Hammer.
  • Kirk wants to move the proceedings up to the Enterprise, where they have a reliable method of recording Scotty’s conscious and subconscious mind that none of us have ever heard of. Prefect Jaris agrees to go to the ship, but states that whoever is guilty will face the ancient penalty for murder, death by slow torture.
  • End of Act Two.
  • Believe it or not, when Act Three begins, we’re still going ahead with the investigation. Just our setting as changed.
  • The computer is operating as a lie detector machine. Since Scotty didn’t pass out this time, he remembers going to Sybo when he heard her scream, but says there was something cold between them. The computer says he’s telling the truth.
  • The computer also confirms his statement when Scotty claims to not remember what happened when the belly dancer and Lt. Tracy were killed.
  • Mr. Hengist is still not convinced of Scotty’s innocence, however. Kirk decides they will run a psycho-tricorder analysis of Scotty’s memory, which Prefect Jaris thinks sounds fair.
  • By the way, the computer also verifies the belly dancer’s boyfriend’s innocence. Which is problematic since he’s the best alternate suspect.
  • Kirk and Spock go through Sybo’s final words again, and run the names she used through the computer. Redjac is identified as “Red Jack,” who was Jack the Ripper.
  • Speculation turns to the idea that perhaps whatever is murdering these women isn’t human. McCoy points out that whatever is responsible seems to feed upon fear as well as death, which causes Spock to point out the Drella of Alpha Carinae V, who derive sustenance from emotions, with fear being the strongest and most potent emotion.
  • Drella was also the name of the harpist played by Alex Borstein in Season 1 of Gilmore Girls.
  • Spock proves that he is no feminist when he says that there seem to be more female victims than male because “women are more easily and more deeply terrified, generating more sheer horror than the male of the species.”
  • Just by talking, and disregarding all of the evidence that Scotty is surely the murderer here, our Enterprise heroes decide that the true murderer is a malicious incorporeal entity that feeds on fear.
  • The other names that Sybo mentioned before taking her dirt nap were Kesla, a mass murderer on Deneb II who was never caught, and Beratis of Rigel IV, who was murdering people there only a single solar year before.
  • Who else came to Argelius II from Rigel IV? Yes, that’s right. The man who was the voice of Piglet in Hundred Acre Wood. Mr. Hengist.
  • The Jack the Ripper entity is forced out of Hengist’s body. Naturally it jumps into the Enterprise‘s computers, threatening to disable vital systems and murdering the entire crew. End of Act Three.
  • At least Scotty’s been exonerated. Right?
  • In Act Four, we have to deal with the fact that the computer system is now Jack the Ripper. As one does.
  • Capt. Kirk, who has demonstrated the ability to destroy a computer just by talking to it in the past, instructs the crew to remain calm so that their emotions won’t feed the creature.
  • Dr. McCoy, who believes in better living through chemistry, injects everyone with tranquilizers to prevent them from feeling fear. Everyone except Kirk and Spock, who decide to take their chances.
  • Spock drives the being out of the computer by having the computer attempt to compute pi to the final digit, which is impossible. The Ripper being jumps briefly into Prefect Jaris, then back into Hengist. Hengist threatens another young female, who is too high to feel any fear, which enables Kirk to save her. Spock tranquilizes Hengist, and then beams him into space at maximum dispersal, flinging his trillions of particles—and the alien serial killer beast—harmlessly into space.
  • In the quick outro, Kirk quips that for the next four or five hours they’ll have the happiest crew in space. You know, because of all the drugs.
  • Still 1967. End of episode.

My favorite Star Trek story isn’t a demonic possession horror story thinly disguised as science-fiction. This has been true across all of the series. The space trial is a tried-and-true trope, and I would continue to enjoy episodes with legal proceedings after this one. But traditional horror rarely works in Trek. The monster-of-the-week episodes were not my favorites.

2StarReview

 

I’m giving this one 2-out-of-5 stars. The only reason I didn’t rate it lower was because Scotty finally gets to star in a story. I like Montgomery Scott. For blatant sexism and stupid act breaks, it earns a zero.

2 thoughts on “|||[Boldly Going]||| Star Trek: The Original Series—Season Two: Ep. 2.14 “Wolf in the Fold” – (Original air date: Friday, December 22, 1967)

  1. When I saw this one in reruns as a kid in the early 1980s,I thought it was a really good, scary episode.

    When I rewatched this years later as an adult, I realized how incredibly sexist it was. As progressive as the original Star Trek was in certain respects, in others it has aged poorly, particularly in its depictions & treatment of female characters.

    Liked by 1 person

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