21 September 2019

A Bad Day to Wear Red (Review: 'Star Trek' 2.13, "Obsession")

While collecting samples of a very hard element, Kirk's landing party is attacked by a killer cloud. A cloud that Kirk has seen before. He's determined to hunt this thing down, because this time, it's personal...

This is a very bad episode for fans of red shirts. No less than five are killed during the process of the story, none of them in particularly pleasant manner. Another, the main guest star, has a major attack of survivor's guilt and also tries to Kirk Fu Kirk, which could have gone a lot worse than it did.

Survivor's guilt is a big theme in this episode, although not named as such. It had only recently been identified - and would later become combined into the broader diagnosis of PTSD - initially among Holocaust survivors. I'd imagine there were a lot of cases of it - especially among survivors of an attack that killed a large number of their comrades - but this was one area of PTSD that hadn't been identified at the time of the war; battle fatigue (aka "shellshock") was something that had been dealt with a lot better then.

Kirk's survivor's guilt is prominent in this episode, manifesting itself in an obsession to go after the creature at the cost of a time-sensitive medical mission. William Shatner may have a reputation of being a massive scenery chewer, but here he plays it fairly restrained, his anger and determination clearer to see without throwing something at a vent that jams it open, unlike Stephen Brooks' one-shot Ensign Garrovick.

This is a strong episode for everyone except Uhura, who doesn't have that much to do and Sulu, who isn't in it. Spock demonstrates that Vulcan logic isn't perhaps the best thing to deploy in a counselling role.

As a final note, the version on Netflix is the original broadcast version, not the remastered one, which makes an interesting viewing. Mind you, the dated effects don't really detract that much.


An excellent episode, helped by Shatner playing it pretty restrained and with a strong overall story. It's very much a hidden gem and deserves wider recommendation.


No comments: