Saturday, 18 June 2011

The City on the Edge of Forever

After passing it around to a few friends, I finally got back my "The Best of Star Trek the Original Series" DVD - just in time for summer viewing. Prepare yourselves for an overview with screencaps. (Or better yet, go watch it.)

TL,DR - right? Right.

The City on the Edge of Forever
(Mine and Leonard Nimoy's favorites)

We start with the Enterprise passing through ripples of time. Sulu's console explodes and he is unconscious. Fortunately, we have doctor McCoy, who revives him with a shot of Cordrazine. We then get a wide shot of a face men will swoon over for centuries:

Why is he wearing so much eyeshadow?
"Captain's log, supplemental entry. Two drops of cordrazine can save a man's life. A hundred times that amount has just accidentally been pumped into Doctor McCoy's body. In a strange, wild frenzy, he has fled the ship's Bridge. All connecting decks have been placed on alert. We have no way of knowing if the madness is permanent or temporary, or in what direction it will drive McCoy."

And somehow he is still good looking.
A maddened McCoy makes his way down to the planet below. Kirk, Spock, Scott, Uhura and two security guards beam down to find him. Instead, they find the source of the time disturbances: The Guardian of Forever.

I keep expecting Zar to come through here in a fury...
GUARDIAN: A question. Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question.
KIRK: What are you?
GUARDIAN: I am the Guardian of Forever.
KIRK: Are you machine or being?
GUARDIAN: I am both and neither. I am my own beginning, my own ending.
SPOCK: I see no reason for answers to be couched in riddles.
GUARDIAN: I answer as simply as your level of understanding makes possible.
SPOCK: A time portal, Captain. A gateway to other times and dimensions, if I'm correct.
GUARDIAN: As correct as possible for you. Your science knowledge is obviously primitive.
SPOCK: Really.
KIRK: Annoyed, Spock? 

Kirk and Spock consider going back in time to stop the accident involving McCoy, but before they can contemplate further, McCoy runs in a panic through the Guardian. They realise that he must have done something in the past to change the present, because the Enterprise no longer exists.

"Captain's log, no stardate. For us, time does not exist. McCoy, back somewhere in the past, has effected a change in the course of time. All Earth history has been changed. There is no starship Enterprise. We have only one chance. We have asked the Guardian to show us Earth's history again. Spock and I will go back into time ourselves and attempt to set right what ever it was that McCoy changed."

Spock attempts to hide his ears as people  (1930) stare.
KIRK: Well, we'll steal from the rich and give back to the poor later. I think I'm going to like this century. Simple, easier to manage. We're not going to have any difficulty explaining
(Then he sees the policeman.)
KIRK: You're a police officer. I recognize the traditional accoutrements.
SPOCK: You were saying you'll have no trouble explaining it.
KIRK: My friend is obviously Chinese. I see you've noticed the ears. They're actually easy to explain.
(A crowd is gathering.)
SPOCK: Perhaps the unfortunate accident I had as a child.
KIRK: The unfortunate accident he had as a child. He caught his head in a mechanical rice picker. But fortunately, there was an American missionary living close by who was actually a skilled plastic surgeon in civilian life...

POLICEMAN: All right, all right. Drop those bundles and put your hands on that wall there! Come on!
KIRK: Oh, how careless of your wife to let you go out that way.
POLICEMAN: What? Where?
SPOCK: Oh, yes, it's quite untidy. Here, let me help you.
(And a quick neck pinch in front of witnesses, then they grab the clothes and run off. With whistles blowing, they duck down the alley beside the 21st Street Mission and down the stairs to the cellar.)

I wore my ears and Vulcan make-up to work on my last day a few months ago, and replied in this fashion when an old man asked what was "up with my ears". He interrupted me and said "wait... but you're not Chinese."

They change into the civilian clothing that they had stolen.

KIRK: You were actually enjoying my predicament back there. At times, you seem quite human.
SPOCK: Captain, I hardly believe that insults are within your prerogative as my commanding officer.
KIRK: Sorry.

They run into Edith Keeler, and she brings them to the 21st Street Mission.

She is so pretty. The dreamy-effect may have something to do with that, though.
I love seeing Spock in casual wear and a tuque.
Edith gets up and starts talking like she is (in that time) a crazy, delusional space-head who has done to much LDS. (Voyage home joke. Did LSD even exist in the 30s?)

MAN: You'll be sorry.
KIRK: Why?
MAN: You expect to eat for free or something? You got to listen to Goody Two-shoes.
EDITH: Now, as I'm sure somebody out there has said, it's time to pay for the soup.
MAN: Not that she's a bad-looking broad, but if she really wanted to help out a fella in need
KIRK: Shut up. Shut up. I want to hear what she has to say.
SPOCK: Yes, of course, Captain.
EDITH: Now, let's start by getting one thing straight. I'm not a do-gooder. If you're a bum, if you can't break off of the booze or whatever it is that makes you a bad risk, then get out. Now I don't pretend to tell you how to find happiness and love when every day is just a struggle to survive, but I do insist that you do survive because the days and the years ahead are worth living for. One day soon man is going to be able to harness incredible energies, maybe even the atom. Energies that could ultimately hurl us to other worlds in some sort of spaceship. And the men that reach out into space will be able to find ways to feed the hungry millions of the world and to cure their diseases. They will be able to find a way to give each man hope and a common future, and those are the days worth living for. Our deserts will bloom. (She continues under the dialogue.)
KIRK: Development of atomic power is years away, and space flight years after that.
SPOCK: Speculation. Gifted insight.
KIRK: I find her most uncommon, Mister Spock.

Edith then lets them know where to find a "flop".
KIRK: We have a flop.
SPOCK: We have a what, Captain?
KIRK: A place to sleep.
SPOCK: One might have said so in the first place.

A day or two later, we see that Spock has built an interesting contraption:

I wish I could build something like this in my room.
KIRK: Mister Spock, I've brought you some assorted vegetables, baloney in a hard rolls for myself, and I've spent the other nine tenths of our combined salaries for the last three days on filling this order for you. Mister Spock, this bag doesn't contain platinum, silver or gold, nor is it likely to in the near future.
SPOCK: Captain, you're asking me to work with equipment which hardly very far ahead of stone knives and bearskins.

Edith enters...
EDITH: If you can leave immediately, I can get you five hours work at twenty two cents an hour. What? What on Earth is that?
SPOCK: I am endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bearskins.

Spock takes some tools that can be used for finely detailed work. Edith finds out, and wonders how he could have possible got to them, through the lock. Kirk guarantees that she will find them returned in the morning.

EDITH: On one condition. Walk me home? I still have a few questions I'd like to ask about you two. Oh, and don't give me that questions about little old us? look. You know as well as I do how out of place you two are around here.
SPOCK: Interesting. Where would you estimate we belong, Miss Keeler?
EDITH: You? At his side, as if you've always been there and always will. And you? You belong in another place. I don't know where or how. I'll figure it out eventually.
SPOCK: I'll finish with the furnace.
EDITH: Captain. Even when he doesn't say it, he does.

Edith and Kirk go on to have a romantic evening of sorts, as he tells her about writers that come from the sky.

Back in the room, Spock gets an image on his tricorder:

The weird thing is, she looks like a friend of mine.
They know that she has to do with how the future was changed, but they don't know if the change was made by her dying, or her living. She may be supposed to die that year, or meet with the president and become internationally famous in six years.

McCoy appears, mad. He meets a man on the street:
MCCOY: Assassins! Murderers! Murderers! Assassins! You! What planet is this? (he drops the bottle) No! Don't run! I won't kill you! It's they who do the killing! Don't run! I won't kill you!
Later, Kirk and Edith are walking together again, up the stairs. They talk about man going to the moon, and peace. They kiss.

Back on the street:
MAN: Look, fella, you take a sip too much of that old wood alky, and, and almost anything seems like it
MCCOY: Where? Where are we? Earth? The constellations seem right, but. Explain! Explain this trick.
MAN: I, I,
MCCOY: Biped. Small. Good cranial development. No doubt considerable human ancestry. Is that how you're able to fake all of this? Very good. Modern museum perfection. Right down to the cement beams. Very, very good. Oh, I'd give a lot to see the hospital. Probably needles and sutures. All the pain. They used to hand-cut and sew people like garments. Needles and sutures. Oh, the terrible pain!

McCoy passes out, and the man picks up his phaser - and accidentally disintegrates himself. I guess he wasn't very important to earth's history, because no big deal is made about it.

Killing myself because I'm not important to history!
I just realized, that was the same man they met at the mission who was complaining about Edith's speeches.

The next day, Edith finds McCoy and takes care of him, while Kirk and Spock find out the awful truth:

SPOCK: This is how history went after McCoy changed it. Here, in the late 1930s. A growing pacifist movement whose influence delayed the United States' entry into the Second World War. While peace negotiations dragged on, Germany had time to complete its heavy-water experiments.
KIRK: Germany. Fascism. Hitler. They won the Second World War.
SPOCK: Because all this lets them develop the A-bomb first. There's no mistake, Captain. Let me run it again. Edith Keeler. Founder of the peace movement.
KIRK: But she was right. Peace was the way.
SPOCK: She was right, but at the wrong time. With the A-bomb, and with their V2 rockets to carry them, Germany captured the world.
SPOCK: And all this because McCoy came back and somehow kept her from dying in a street accident as she was meant to. We must stop him, Jim.
KIRK: How did she die? What day?
SPOCK: We can estimate general happenings from these images, but I can't trace down precise actions at exact moments, Captain. I'm sorry.
KIRK: Spock, I believe I'm in love with Edith Keeler.
SPOCK: Jim, Edith Keeler must die.

McCoy regains hold of reality, and tells Edith that he is the surgeon about the USS Enterprise.

That afternoon, Edith almost falls down the stairs and breaks her neck, but Kirk saves her. Spock points out that he may have just altered the future. Kirk states that it is not yet time - it can't be, McCoy isn't there.
SPOCK: We're not that sure of our facts. Who's to say when the exact time will come? Save her, do as your heart tells you to do, and millions will die who did not die before.
Later that night, Kirk and Edith are off to see a movie across the street. Spock heads off alone...
EDITH: If we hurry, maybe we can catch the Clark Gable movie at the Orpheum.
KIRK: What?
EDITH: You know, Doctor McCoy said the same thing.
KIRK: McCoy! Leonard McCoy?
EDITH: Yes. He's in the Mission. He's
KIRK: Stay right here. Spock! Stay right there!
SPOCK: What is it?
KIRK: McCoy! He's in...

McCoy exits the mission, and Spock and Kirk run up to greet him.

Reunited at last... tacking him and bowling him over.
Edith, wondering what is going on, begins to cross the street towards them. McCoy sees the car coming and tries to run out to save her. Kirk grabs on to him, not looking.

Intense action shot.
What the hell, Jim!
MCCOY: You deliberately stopped me, Jim. I could have saved her. Do you know what you just did?
SPOCK: He knows, Doctor. He knows. 

Back on the planet, we see Kirk, Spock, and McCoy leap back through the Guardian.

UHURA: Captain, the Enterprise is up there. They're asking if we want to beam up.
KIRK: Let's get the hell out of here. 

And at this point I am crying. I will leave you here.

1 comment:

  1. There is a book surrounding the controversy of The City on the Edge of Forever written by Harlan Ellison and his take on the matter. Mr. Ellison's reputation proceeds him as being rather difficult at times (and opinionated all the time:), the book details some of the problems they all encountered in the making of the Star Trek series, and that particular episode.