Sunday, November 24, 2013

Star Trek: The Animated Series Episode 12--"The Time Trap"

The Enterprise's assignment this week is to investigate the mysterious area of space known as the Delta Triangle, where hundreds of ships have disappeared since ancient times.   What they find is a Klingon ship that attacks them before vanishing.  Pursuing their enemy, the Enterprise finds itself in pocket of time where all the disappeared ships across time have ended up.  Accepting their exile in this timeless limbo, the crews of these ships have formed a society they called Elysia.  Captain Kirk and the Klingon commander Kor, however, refuse to accept their entrapment and, despite the warnings of the Elysian council that escape is impossible, make plans to return home. Spock devices a plan of escape that involves the Klingons and the crew of the Enterprise working together to combine their two ship into one, giving them the power to escape the time pocket that a single ship lacks.  Of course, the Klingons, being Klingons, conspire to destroy the Enterprise as soon as the two ships have effected their escape.  Naturally,  of course, the two ships succeed in returning to normal space, and the Klingon treachery is detected and the destruction of the Enterprise averted at the last possible second.  
The Bermuda Triangle, the legendary area of the Atlantic Ocean where many ships and planes have supposedly mysteriously disappeared over the years, was, as I remember, a bit of an obsession in pop culture back in the seventies.  Speculation about the mysteries of the Triangle inspired countless fictional explanations in movies, TV episodes and comics.  "The Time Trap" is firmly routed in that  sub-genre of science fiction. The Delta Triangle is clearly an analog of the Bermuda Triangle.   Writer Joyce Perry weds that real world inspiration to an intriguing science fiction premise to create one of the better episodes of Star Trek: The Animated Series.  
My favorite part of the episode are the scenes showing the ruling council of Elysia.   The council consists of a mix of representatives of the various races that we've seen both in past animated episodes and in the original live action series.  In addition to a human and a Klingon, I could recognize an Orion, a Vulcan (or perhaps a Romulan, its not quite which he is), a Gorn, an Andorian and a Tellarite, all races seen in the original show, as well as a Phylosian and a Vendorian, from the earlier animated episodes "The Infinite Vulcan" and "The Survivor" respectively.  The inclusion of what appears to be a Kzinti is a nice bit of foreshadowing, as those felinoid alien warriors wouldn't be formally introduced to viewers until "The Slaver Weapon" aired three weeks later.
The biggest flaw of the episode is that it lacks suspense.  There's really never any doubt that our heroes, and our villains, will escape Elysia and that the Enterprise will avoid being blown up.  It seems to me that this is mostly due to the episode's twenty-two minute run time.  There is a lot of story and a lot of high concepts to fit into those few minutes.  Perhaps if this had been a live action episode, and thus twice as long, these elements could have been developed more fully.  Nonetheless, "The Time Trap" is still a very good and entertaining half hour of Trek.  The allusions to the Bermuda Triangle mark it as very much a product of its time, yet it also has a certain timeless quality, lent to it perhaps by its futuristic setting, that allows it to hold up even forty years later.

No comments:

Post a Comment