Sunday, June 23, 2013

Star Trek TOS Post of the Day: 1.7 "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"

This post was just supposed to be that picture and nothing else because like what do you ~say about that, when I first saw the episode I tweeted that picture and the words "I CNA'T EVEN" with "can't" like deliberately misspelled to convey just how un-conveyable was my state but that tweet (Tweet?) never quite satisfied me, so I was just going to post this picture without comment, but now I want to keep talking about the episode so.

This was the first TOS episode that I actually liked. I didn't like it as much as "The Galileo Seven," which was the first TOS episode that I actually ~loved, but I liked it all right. I have a Tumblr where I take notes while I'm watching this show (it takes me like 80 minutes to watch every 50-minute episode) and when I went back to my notes for this ep to see what I liked about it I was pretty sure it was gonna be just "holy shit Andrea is hot" (this + "Shore Leave" = sex bot post coming up) and was (pleasantly?) surprised to find no mention of Andrea whatsoever—wait no there actually is one, here:

So besides Andrea being hot as hell

I want to talk about two things really quick and ahh I only have like 33 minutes because it's 1:27 and we're leaving at 2:00 to take my brother to Javascript summer camp. First thing: "Mind your own business, Mr. Spock. I'm sick of your half-breed interference, do you hear me?" aka the message that Kirk sends Spock via his android. It took me kind of a while to figure out that he somehow got the android to insult Spock so that Spock would realize the android wasn't him—and how? By like “holding” a certain attitude while the android was being created, thinking “Spock is a half-breed and I hate him” as its cortical circuits were fusing? And what was their convo at the end? Spock says he was dismayed by Kirk’s use of the term "half-breed," calling it an "unsophisticated expression" (and honestly it made me as uncomfortable as a racial slur would which I guess is what it is) and Kirk’s just like "I don’t remember that, Mr. Spock. The next time I find myself in a similar situation..." What does that mean even? Does he actually not remember saying what he did? Does Spock not know it was the android version speaking? Was Kirk saying sorry next time I’ll use a less offensive code word but isn’t the ~point that it’s uncharacteristically offensive; that’s why it works as code?

I was also interested in how this episode is interested in what makes us human. If an android isn't human, why isn't it? And that's what TOS is ~about—figuring out what "humanity" means, and in this episode being human = being unique in the purest sense, being unduplicatable. Dr. Korby says that "The android will be so perfect, it could even replace the captain. The same memories, the same attitudes, the same abilities," but sure enough, although he insists "I am the same! A direct transfer. All of me. Human, rational, and without a flaw," his attempts to prove that he is "not a computer" ("Test me. Ask me to solve any—Eqau—Transmit—") do the opposite.

What makes these androids inhuman? As Dr. Korby himself puts it, the inability to love—and also a certain Spock-like rationality: moments prior to her killing him, android Kirk refuses to kiss Andrea because "It is illogical." I'm tempted to make like a list of "Characteristics of Humans and Androids According to Star Trek" based on this episode, to be more specific about how this episode defines them both—and honestly I probably will sit down with a notebook and do that at some point, ~these are the kinds of notes I really need to be taking if I'm going to make them into blog posts later, not like "omg wait the android starts ~talking to spock when its cortex circuits are activated (aka when they turn on itz brAiN haha)... AHHHH IT'S ALL TRUE)" which is an actual note I took (by which I think I meant that I was desperately looking for signs of the ~birth of the backslash from which slash fanfiction takes its name or like something and thought I had found one)—but it seems that the androids' inhumanity isn't simply the presence or absence of certain qualities but something that pervades their entire beings. As Christine says to Roger, when he insists "It's me": "Everything you've done proves it isn't you." The androids' inhumanity is greater than the sum of everything they do wrong—they may be violent, too rational, and incapable of love, but add those qualities up and you don't necessarily get "not human." What makes the androids inhuman really lies in the idea—an idea that the show will return to in, for example, "The Return of the Archons" with Landru—that a human being cannot be duplicated, that ~something, however un- or vaguely defined, will be lost in the transfer. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that idea would hold true even if we didn't have physical evidence of Dr. Korby's android-ness in the tangle of machinery just beneath the flap of skin that Kirk shreds off by shutting his hand in a door. Even if Korby ~didn't kidnap Kirk, even if Andrea did feel something when Kirk... sexually assaulted her? They still wouldn't be human based on that idea alone: the idea that we are truly unique, and that there is something in each human being that cannot be duplicated and that dies with us.

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