TREK-A-DAY: Wolf in the Fold
EPISODE FORTY-THREE: Wolf in the Fold
Well, this may be the strangest Star Trek episode to date. It began with belly dancing. Then Scotty accused of murdering a bunch of women. Then it turned out to be Jack the Ripper (a ghost-like *but not ghost, they insist* alien who was on Earth for a long time and has been moving planet to planet). Then Jack the Ripper took over the ship’s computers. Then everyone got high. The end?
Look out, The Enterprise! It’s…wait, seriously?
Here’s the thing, as wacky and strange as this episode was, it is a lot of fun and is another neat way Trek transcends genres. What starts out as a pretty standard drawing room murder mystery has the added twist that the planet they’re on is a pleasure planet with an entirely docile and passive population (so already we have the difficulty that murder and investigation are new things). A little sci-fi flavour to our mystery. Cool. As the body count rises (Mr. Scott being implicated each time) the crew examines the name a medium gave them which turns out the be Jack the Ripper. This is a pretty big leap, but a neat one. Saucy Jack has possessed the investigator so our mystery convention still holds: one of the suspects has committed the crime. We get our drawing room reveal, the “Mr. Plum in the Library with the Lead Pipe song and dance,” but the motive isn’t just a Law and Order style “I hate women! So I killed them!” bit. It’s that the entity (NOT A GHOST! We swear! Because that would be too weird.) one of the most notorious serials killers in history is an alien and is responsible. I wouldn’t buy this on many shows, but here it kinda fits. Trek has already estabilished that it is tinkering with many genres and this is a fine example; it has a heavy Twilight Zone vibe, but I dig it.
The most questionable part (to my mind) comes with the mass sedation of the entire crew (to prevent their fear, which the creature feeds on) which has everyone laughing and doing their best “Whoa, dude. I’m sooooo high!” acting…which make sense, I guess…but is a really strange way to end an episode.
Oh, and they deal with Jack BY TRANSPORTING HIM APART. It’s cool to see the damn thing used as a weapon.
So yeah. Strange, strange episode…but fun. A great example of how Trek embraces genre stories but twists them in inventive (and kinda strange, but kinda cool) ways.