Subspace Radio: a Star Trek podcast

Kev and Rob whistle their way through the "fun run" on Halem’no as they discuss "Whistlespeak", but are wise enough not to step into the rain-making machine at the finish line. Instead, they revisit past instances of primitive cultures unknowingly blended with advanced technology, including "The Apple" (TOS), "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" (TOS), and "Caretaker" (VOY).

DIS 5×06 Whistlespeak
Prime directive
Hugh Culber

TOS 2×09 The Apple

TOS 3×10 For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky
See also Subspace Radio #11 In love with an alien

VOY 1×01/02 Caretaker

TOS 3×06 Spock’s Brain
  • (00:00) - Episode 55: Technology in primitive cultures (DIS 5×06 Whistlespeak)
  • (00:30) - DIS 5×06 Whistlespeak
  • (14:17) - Technology in primitive culturesa
  • (15:37) - TOS 2×09 The Apple
  • (26:21) - TOS 3×10 For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky
  • (37:04) - VOY 1×01/02 Caretaker
  • (47:15) - Outro
  • (48:56) - Bonus

Music: Distänt Mind, Brigitte Handley

What is Subspace Radio: a Star Trek podcast?

Kevin Yank and Rob Lloyd explore the intersecting wormholes that permeate Star Trek canon, inspired by each new episode to hit the subspace relays.

Kevin: Hello and welcome
back to Subspace Radio.

It's me, Kevin.

And here's your friend, Rob.

Rob: I'm your friend
and your friend Kevin.

Kevin: We are talking about Discovery
season five, episode six, Whistlespeak.

Rob: We are definitely
speaking about that.

And we are going to then spark
off into conversations about a

broader theme connected with this
episode with the Star Trek universe.

Kevin: And this week takes us to a
primitive culture, which is something

I feel like we haven't done in a little
while, certainly in, in modern Star Trek,

like the, let's go undercover and pretend
we don't have tricorders in our pockets.

Rob: It's definitely a
big part of classic Trek.

Um, haven't seen it for quite
some time, that's for sure.

Kevin: I think I will look back
on this episode and remember

it as the fun run episode.

Rob: The deadly fun run!

I don't know if it's, uh, sending
the right message about fun runs.

Kevin: It wasn't that fun.

I mean, the hallucinations were
cool, but I could, I, I would prefer

to be able to drink the water.

Rob: Uh, what did you get
out of this episode, Kevin?

Kevin: Look, I, I think I liked
this more than I disliked this.

I like the elements.

I like the, the, the undercover setting.

I like the setup on the planet
of just, you know, one pocket

of livable space remaining.

I like the whistlespeak and the
fact that from the moment we beam

down, it really feels like an
alien planet, and an alien culture.

They speak in whistles and then they
speak in, in translated English.

But even then, the patterns of,
of speech are very different.

They use different metaphors and
different, uh, colloquialisms

and it all, it feels very rich.

But, you know, as the episode
wears on, it all kind of starts

to drop away and, and thin out.

And it, it becomes a fun run.

It becomes a, you know, an engineering
puzzle where we swap some isolinear

chips and solve the puzzle.

A lot of the trappings that are,
that feel so rich at the start of

the episode don't really amount
to much by the end of the episode.

Like the whistlespeak, the titular
whistlespeak is used in one, like it's

set up, it's used in the very next
scene, and then we never see it again.

And I feel like so much of this
episode has that feeling of

it's, it's form over function.

Rob: Yeah, and it was that case of
bringing it back at the end, once

everything is solved, it goes to
like a voiceover and a shot of the

planet and with the whistlespeak
there, they have that moment of, yeah,

we've done something special here.

And I'm there going, I don't
think you've really earned that.

You did the really cool stuff at the
start, and then you went to, you know,

the generic format of a primitive
civilization who's been, you know,

who's bastardized or been bastardized
by this technology type stuff.

And that, they pushed it
so hard, it's in the title.

It would have been great for
that to be at the forefront.

Kevin: But ultimately, like, this
is an episode that's carried by

the charm of Tilly and Burnham
working together on their mission,

and that mostly works for me.

It carried me along, and I
enjoyed my time with this episode.

It's just not quite as special as I
thought it was going to be ten minutes in.

Rob: Burnham and Tilly obviously
have been there since the beginning.

So that relationship has developed
over years and years and years.

But there's a lot of stuff in here about
the Prime Directive, and stuff like

that, and normally it's a lot more of
a discussion and a debate, and that's

the great thing about Star Trek, it can
always be this debate of what happens,

but sadly with this one, Burnham went,
no, we're breaking it, we're saving

Tilly, we're doing it straight away.

No debate at all, or anything like
that, it's just a case of, it doesn't

even pass Burnham's mind, there's
no conflict for Burnham at all.

I'm going, I'm breaking
this rule and I don't care.

Kevin: At least it's mentioned.

I mean, that is also original series Star
Trek, is someone will mention the Prime

Directive, and Kirk will say, I hear ya.

Rob: Well, it was interesting, interesting
going back and I mean, I don't want

to jump ahead, but from what I've
seen of the episodes that I've watched

in relation to this from a certain
classical era, um, from one episode to

the next, from each, from one series
to the next, it isn't really defined.

Kevin: No it's very inconsistent.

Is it you don't make contact?

Is it you don't reveal your
tech, your level of technology?

Is it you just don't interfere with
their development, but you can tell them

exactly who you are and where you're from?

Rob: It doesn't even seem to be defined
as that title that we know it as in one of

the episodes and then it's established and
lore and canon within the next episode.

So, yes, again, it was just a case of,
they needed to get to the planet to

do the thing, and the only inhabitable
place is covered by this shield, but

they can't get through to it, so they
need to go to the technology that's

hidden, that is disguised as a tree, as a
fallen rock type thing, fallen tree rock

Kevin: Yeah, follow the blue

Rob: the blue moss,

Kevin: your, with your eyeball

Rob: So Tilly does the fun run to distract
everyone so Burnham can do it, but then

the, the fun run is actually, yeah,
who's the most worthy to be sacrificed?

Wah wah.

Kevin: Did you, I, I didn't quite follow,
what is the purpose of the fun run?

I mean, I got the fact that they were
sacrificing themselves unnecessarily.

That is a ritual they made up is,
and at the end of the fun run, you go

into the killer silo and it kills you.

And we learn that that
was always unnecessary.

But what was the necessary
part of the fun run?

Did it do anything?

Rob: It is, like, it's, it's, it's
established as an honor, it's established

as you need to earn the right to
be sacrificed, To be, you know, to

appease their, their gods, and so

Kevin: Yeah, but did it trigger the
rain generation or the atmospheric,

uh, no, it didn't do anything,

Rob: Nope, nope, they just, they
just, they just did a fun run.

that was

Kevin: It's, uh, it's a Your
Civilization is Stupid episode,

of which there are many,

Rob: many, many episodes.

Yes, yes, this is particularly

Kevin: The Prime Directive doesn't apply
because your civilization is stupid.

Rob: think that's, that's a byline.

That's definitely, um, uh, that's a
footnote that added in very small print

going, however, if your civilization is
stupid, prime directive does not apply.

Kevin: Meanwhile, we had Rayner on the
bridge coaching Adira into supporting

the landing party, and Adira showing
some nerves and going, uh, I'm not

ready for this, but ultimately saving
the day by guiding, Burnham's repair

of the holographic thingamabob.

Rob: Yeah, now like, as someone
who has watched season four, have

we not already gone through this?

Like, Adira's been here for, this
is their fourth time, you know, or

third or fourth season here within
Star Trek, and they're still getting

the nerves about being on the bridge.

They've been on the bridge before.

Kevin: Yeah, it was strange.

This is, I feel like this is,
in so many ways, what keeps

happening to Adira's character.

They keep making them less capable, more
stammery, more self doubting, and when

you go back and see them in their very
first appearance in the series, they're

actually quite, uh, confident, and
capable, and efficient, and, and so much

of that, I want to say Starfleet's been a
terrible influence on this, this person.

Rob: I'd say it's just the
Discovery crew, I think, they're,

they're, it's a toxic environment.

So, that's why, that's why Rayner's
there to, to sort them out and go, snap

out of it, they've been a bad influence
on you, they've made you devolve.

Kevin: I mean, they are effectively
sacrificing the sense of the

character story of Adira in favor
of the arc of growth of Rayner.

Like, this was all in service of,
can Rayner give a pep talk on the

bridge to, uh, someone and help
them help bring out their best.

I feel like that was the purpose
of this plot line here, but it was

done effectively sacrificing the
Adira character, who is also a

Johnny come lately to this series.

Like, these are two characters
who were added in late seasons of

Discovery, one being sacrificed
on the altar of the other.

Rob: As we've been talking about, with
their final season, instead of elevating

one of their supporting cast that have
been there this whole time we can find

out more about them, that brought in
this new character of Rayner, instead

of sort of like elevating one of their
regulars who had no character development,

and as you've just said, bringing in
that character to make their character

arc shine a bit more, they've devolved
one of the regular characters that

they've had for the last three seasons.

I'm going,

Kevin: Yep, yep.

Rob: Yep, yep, yep.

Now, and there's also been a little
bit more development with the doctor,

which has gone into more than I thought
it would be yeah, sorta like, which

any other Star Trek series would be,
uh, it's happened and it's moved on,

which has happened in Deep Space Nine.

But Hugh has been deeply affected
by this, you know, uh, Trill ritual

where, um, a Trill persona has,
you know, taken over his body.

In previous episodes, like in
Deep Space Nine, where this has

happened, they've gone, Yeah, we've
just carried on as normal, but,

Kevin: I'm glad they're going back to the
resurrection because, I mean, that, that

was definitely something that happened.

Rob: He died.

He be killed, and he be coming back.

Kevin: As I remember it, they,
they, the show killed him off.

And then the fans said, so you
killed off the one of the two

gay characters in your show.

You're telling a tragedy about a gay
couple who gets separated by death.

That seems a little cliche.

They said, oh, we know what we're doing.

Don't worry.

Don't worry, we hear you.

We are very sensitive to these things.

We know exactly what we're

Rob: doing.

Kevin: And in hindsight, I think
at the time they went, Oh crap!

We did that!

What were we thinking?


Call him back!

Get him on the line!

Pay him whatever it takes!

We'll bring him back!

I don't know!

We'll make him of mushrooms or something!

Rob: We've had Tardigrades,
now let's have Mushrooms.

That's the arc of season 2, mushrooms.

Kevin: So yes, his return seemed very
slapped together and, and half explained.

And they did, you know, they
played with the fact that he was

back, but was he really himself?

Was he still able to love Stamets?

Did he, was he still the same
person who wanted the same things?

Rob: And they had to go find his
personality in that alternate,

like, his body was there but his
real him was somewhere else and

Kevin: The way I remember it is they found
him and then they brought him back into

the mushroom body, but who remembers, Rob?

Who remembers?

They did a little bit with it, but it was
all very hand wavy and unexplainy y and to

their credit, they are at least making the
attempt to have that, um, that history,

convoluted as it is, and the, this, this
show is doing this on so many levels

as they are going, all of that nonsense
happened and we are going to continue to

reference it and continue to use it in our
stories, whether it makes sense or not.

Rob: And we've talked about before,
the more you lean into the continuity

that's been established, and
you say it out loud in the show,

Kevin: Yeah,

Rob: it doesn't help you justify
what you're doing, it actually

makes it more ridiculous.

Um, but yeah, it seems, like a lot
of these supporting characters,

it's, it's the Doctor going, No, I, I
want to have some attention, dammit.

So, I've been killed, I've been
brought back, I've been possessed

by a Trill person, and I want
to have a story arc, and if

Kevin: Let's it about
me for one minute, okay?

came back to life!

Rob: Every other supporting character
should, should be having this moment

going, Hang on, it's our final season.

Burnham's been getting
every bit of attention.

I want some attention.

I was in this, you know,
my so called life, dammit.

Anthony Rapp going, I'm
a Broadway star, dammit.

I was in the original Rent!

Kevin: I've been wearing this
lizard mask for three seasons

and only now am I getting lines.

Rob: Don't bring any new characters.

No, no, no.

You've got everything you need here.

Kevin: So yes.

It is strange that Culber is spiraling
in this spiritual crisis as a result

of the ritual on Trill when He was
previously resurrected and, that contrast

between those two experiences for this
character, but I guess, you know, I'd

rather have character development than
not, so I'm, I'm kind of on board for it.

Rob: And fair enough too.

Yeah, he does seem to
be talking to everyone.

He seems to be having multiple
confidants, like talking with Book

and Tilly and other people as well.

Uh, so yes, it's, um, uh,
we shall see where it goes.

Kevin: I want to think that this, this
idea that Culber got resurrected and is

now asking spiritual questions, it might
connect to this idea that the Progenitors'

tech can bring people back to life.

Rob: You have brought that up before.

Kevin: Yeah, but it feels
like there is at least a theme

going through those two ideas.

Rob: It has been mentioned before, it
was like rather pointed with uh, they're

talking about the Progenitors' tech
and um, I believe it was Anthony Rapp

pushed it quite hard of going bring
back living flesh and tissue, huh?

Kevin: I'm reminded of Spock
dying and coming back to life.

And, uh, and, you know, it eventually
just became kind of a joke line

where he goes, I've been dead before.

You know?

Rob: Exactly,

Kevin: I wonder if we'll
get there with Culber.

Oh, yeah.

I've died before.

It's no big

Rob: it's no big deal.

No big deal.

It's like, they'll just bring Picard's
body back as opposed to the, you know,

synthetic form that he is right now.

Kevin: But let's uh, let's hop in
our transporter and go looking at

some other times in Star Trek history
where technology has been blended

into a primitive culture in some way.

In this case, it was a Denobulan scientist
that, uh, secretly saved their planet from

the drying, but we've seen other examples
of, you know, technology blended in a bit.

And, uh, when I went looking
for these, I really, uh, I found

a lot in the original series.

Like, this feels like one of the
original ideas of Star Trek the

franchise is, uh, you know, visiting
more primitive civilizations.

Rob: And how they've been affected by
the advancement of technology, which

is very much on brand with the 60s sci
fi show is looking at, sure, if we get

this advanced technology, what does that
mean for us as humanity or civilizations

or how can that be exploited?

And a lot of talk about, you
know, how technology evolves and

grows, over decades and centuries.

How does that, because
cultures are affected.

Does that affect a computer program?

Does that affect, you know, technology?

Does it wear does it evolve?

Does it change?

It's very, very, does it
just repeat the same cycle?

Kevin: So what do you
want to talk about first?

Rob: Well, I will, direct you to the
original series, season 2, episode

9, uh, a rather contentious episode
within the Star Trek world that's

either loved or reviled, uh, The Apple.

Kevin: The Apple, yes.

Vaal, the big, uh, the
big, uh, lizard head thing,

Rob: Big lizard heads that's, uh,
that is, uh, that is, the big surprise

is it is a computer, um, that is
programming these, uh, these life forms

that don't age, that um, but don't
love, don't have physical contact.

Sort of like a slave to Vaal,
but um, but they're healthy.

And so the debate is within
the, the, the top three,

especially with McCoy and Spock.

McCoy's going, these people are slaves,
uh, and Spock goes, well actually

they're being treated quite well,
they're healthy, they're, you know,

they seem to be happy with their life.

Kevin: Does the Prime Directive apply,
or is their civilization stupid?

Rob: This is where, yeah, I
don't actually hear them say

the Prime Directive here at all.

They talk about we

Kevin: No, they, they mentioned
the non interference directive.

Rob: Non interference directive.

So it hasn't been clearly defined even
like nine episodes into the second season.

Kevin: Right at the start, Kirk cites
their orders and says, this is a

primitive Culture, but there are strange
readings, so Starfleet wants us to contact

the inhabitants out what's going on.

So, this is right away a very
different Prime Directive than

later on when we're dressing up in
costume and pretending we're from

the eastern, uh, lands, you know?

Rob: We come from the east.

Kevin: Very east!

You just keep going straight east, east!

Straight east and eventually you
get to Starfleet headquarters.

Rob: I mean, there's a high body count.

There's a lot of redshirts
killed in this episode.

I think

Kevin: they beam down, they beam
down three red shirts, then the

landing party steps aside and then
McCoy beams down with two more red

Rob: shirts.

You're going, Oh, this is.

Yeah, my naive self went, Oh, wow,
we're gonna learn a lot about all

these characters at the moment.

No, we

Kevin: Well, we learned one
of them's cousin helped Kirk

get into Starfleet Academy or

Rob: There we go, yep.

So, one gets hit with
poison darts from a flower.

And the others get knocked
off in quick succession.

Kevin: There's the landmine rocks
and then there's the lightning.

Rob: This is a Chekov on an away mission,
um, but no Sulu in this episode or Uhura.

Kevin: No, they're left
behind on the ship.

Rob: And Kirk's got his,
uh, wraparound green,

Kevin: Yeah, the thing, I like that
uniform, but it's, it's never stopped

bothering me that he doesn't have an
insignia on his chest because it's

wrapped around his waist instead.

Rob: And it's, and it's on an, and
it's on a, like, on a 90 degree angle.

Kevin: It's like, he said,
I'm wearing my badge as a belt

buckle and nothing can stop

Rob: You can't stop it.

I'm the captain.

Kevin: Yeah, I like it.

I don't mind it at all.

There's a long tradition of
captains wearing a slightly special

uniform and it started here.

Rob: Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Um, so we have Chekov here
and he is very frisky.

He is

Kevin: whole character in this episode.

Rob: just horny the whole episode.

All he wants is like, and, and literally
there is only one woman who's been

beamed down and apparently this is
the woman that, despite how utterly

sleazy and utterly repulsive a lot
of his behavior is, I don't know from

any lens, she gets it, she digs it.

I'm there going, really?

Kevin: You know, at least it seems mutual.

I get the sense that they've been
dating for a while and they are

very excited to have been assigned
to the same landing party for once.

Rob: Sure someone's died, but
we've got some time alone.

Kevin: We've all been there in
the workplace romance where,

you know, you steal some time
in the hallway between meetings.

Chekov and and his lady
love are doing here.

Rob: Go into the photocopy room
and discuss reams of paper.

Yeah, I know what you're

Kevin: Exactly.

Rob: So, yes, so everything seems
to be pleasant, and then it's

deadly, and then it's pleasant
again, but then it's deadly again.

Kevin: And Kirk's second
guessing himself the whole way.

And fair enough too.

I, uh, the moment one of my
people was insta killed by a

plant, I would have beamed up too.

Rob: Yeah, just go!

Why are they still there?

Kevin: Yeah.

This was a bad idea.

Let's come back with armor.

Rob: And Spock gets a lot of pain.

He gets hit by the flowers, he gets
shot at by Vaal, gets electrocuted,

he gets, he is, he has gone
through the ringer in this one.

Kevin: I remembered Spock being, like,
out of commission towards the end of this

episode, or at least the worse for wear.

And so when he got hit by the
flower, I was like, ah, that's it.

This is what will have Spock, you
know, laid up for the rest of the

episode, so that the rest of the
people have to get by without him.

But, no, he pops right
up a few seconds later.

And he's back in action until
the next unfortunate event.

Rob: It is a series of unfortunate events.

Lemony Snicket would be very impressed.

Kevin: But uh, yeah, I have to say,
like, despite the, the, the corniness

or the jankiness of these early Star
Trek episodes, if we look at this

through the lens of, of technology
blended into a primitive society,

find this really interesting.

Like the, the aliens act alien.

And you know, it is very
clunky, the whole, children?

What is that word, children?


We know not of your alien love.

You know, there is lot of
that 60s stuff going on.

But it, it is in service of a picture
of this, despite what McCoy says,

living, arguably thriving, uh, culture
that just has figured out a very

different way to exist than what the
Federation and Starfleet are used to.

Rob: Yeah, I did keep on yelling in
support at the screen when um, and for

it to be done in the 60s episode, I'm
just, just shows the bounds forward

it made within the restrictions
of the social norms at that time.

The, the fact that they actually had
the debate where McCoy is there going

this is wrong, this isn't humanity,
this isn't anything like that, and

Spock rightly says, Doctor, there
are more than just one type of, you

know, creature in this universe, and
you know, humanity is, is not the

Kevin: Who are you to say?

Why, why are you applying your
standards to this, this group of

people halfway across the galaxy?

Rob: Exactly, and I'm there going, yes,
that's good, that's actually, well done,

you know what, Star Trek, I think you've
got a future ahead of you, well done.

Kevin: I think this episode gets
a bad rap because, you know,

the costumes are a little silly.

The, the lizard head made of papier
maché is certainly very silly.

Spock getting zotted by lightning
and doing a flip is very, very silly.

Rob: The high redshirt body count.

Kevin: On the surface, this is
a silly episode that is not to

be taken seriously, but I think
there's a lot of meat on this bone.

Rob: There is, and I mean, I'm, I find
it quite charming, we talked about like

those very 60's old fashioned ways of
What is this thing called children?


I do comprehend.

I find that endearing, that whole case
going, really teaching an audience who

has never seen this style of science
fiction before on a weekly basis, to,

they really were trying hard to appeal
to the wagon train, Western audience

of the 60s who are watching Bonanza or
Rifleman or whatever and going no, no, no.

You can feel safe here.

But you know, this is
what science fiction is.

It's really science fiction 101
going this is a different race.

They don't even what love is.

Kevin: Yeah, there a Lower Decks
episode waiting to happen here to go

back and see what happened to these
poor people that that, you know, the

crew of the Enterprise completely
upset their civilization and said, Ah,

just keep going the way you're going.

You'll figure it out and bye bye'd off at
the end, engaged in some light workplace

bullying of Spock in the corridor at the
end of the episode and then they're done.

Rob: Yeah, just throwing
in the word Satan.

And they're going

Kevin: I really love that Spock says,
I think we did the wrong thing here.

I think this whole episode might
have been a terrible mistake.

Kirk and Bones go, dude, chill out.

You're taking this too seriously.

And what's with your ears?

Your ears are ridiculous.

End of episode.

Like, there's, there's, Lower Decks
is certainly doing this, but looking

back on this show, you can imagine
that this is, this is a cautionary

tale: this crew of the Enterprise
bumbling through the galaxy, wrecking

every civilization in their path, and,
uh, and having no regrets about it.

Like they are the villains at the end
of this episode through a certain lens.

Rob: Was, it was really close to
being, oh, just lighten up, poindexter!

You know four eyes,

Kevin: It totally was

Rob: Go tell the dean
what's been going on!

Yeah, and I mean, they, they're
going, sure, we'll introduce you to

physical intimacy, but we are not
giving you any education about it.

We're not giving you any pamphlets,
no, no, videos or anything, so,

there's, there, that, that society's
gonna be ripe with, uh, love.

They'll figure it out as they go along.

Everyone knows how to do it.

Kevin: Yeah.

Everyone knows.

Rob: One thing I forgot to mention.

They mentioned money.

That's how ill defined this second season

Kevin: Yes!

Yeah, do you know how much
Starfleet has invested in you?

And he starts saying

Rob: He starts, he does it for a gag.

It's a gag.

It's a great gag.

It's a very classic gag.

Do you know how much money?

Of course I do.

It's this money.

All right, all right, all right.

It's old school vaudeville comedy stuff.

So they don't clearly
define the prime directive.

It's just the non interference thing.

And this one, they're talking about money.

Kevin: Yeah, yeah.

Oh, wow.

I'm sure there was a scribbled note from
Gene Roddenberry in the margins saying,

money doesn't exist in our future.

And someone

Rob: Somebody's going, yeah,
but there's a good gag.

Kevin: It's a great joke.

Rob: joke.

So yeah, just wanted to mention that.

That's one thing that stood out.

I went, they're talking about money.

It's a good gag, but
they're talking about money.

Kevin: You had another TOS episode on your

Rob: I did, I did.

From the simple title of two words,
The Apple, we go to season three,

episode ten, and one of the longest
titles in the history of the universe.

For the world is hollow,
and I have touched the sky.

Kevin: I love those, I love those kind of

Rob: Better, it's a lot better than
the original title which they took

from, uh, mishearing the Jimi Hendrix
song, Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy.

Which is, I think, a far better
lyric than, you know, excuse

me, while I you know, anyway.

Kevin: There are a bunch of these, these
kind of very literate titles in Star

Trek, especially in the original series.

I remember when I was a young boy watching
this, I thought, that must be a reference

to something that I just don't know.

But no, they just, they got flowery
with their titles back then.

Rob: Yeah, and it's like incorporated
into, like, one of the, uh, the

old character who says the line.

So it does give this of, ooh,
is that a quote from something?

No, no, no, they're
just quoting themselves.

Um, but this felt very much for
me like, you know, the Star, the

classic Star Trek that everyone
remembers, I do in inverted commas.

This is what everyone makes fun of.

So everyone is in their rightful
place here and dressed accordingly

with their insignias, not on a
jaunty angle near near the waistline.

So Kirk's in his, in his,
um, in his proper outfit.

Chekov and Sulu, uh, you know, at the,
on the bridge, you know, flying the ship.

Uhura's there in the background
being wasted and just

looking very, very pensive.

Um, all three of our leads go down.

You've got Chapel in there as well.

And you've got Scotty, not Uhura, in
charge of the ship while, um, while

they're down on an away mission.

So this

Kevin: Yeah, this is peak original series.

Rob: Peak original yes,
that is everything.

It's the format that we've all,
you know, assumed happened right

from the get go, but it took time
to evolve to get to that point.

Um, And this again is another episode in
this similar style of seemingly primitive

culture, but how much is primitive, how
much is, uh, controlled, how much is, uh,

yeah, is their evolution being stifled?

Already, it's like It's a
civilization, a ship within an

asteroid and it's not a planet.

It's a, it's an illusion of
um, what they think it is.

They're on a mission, a journey of
a thousand year trek through the

solar but they actually had it.

Their, their ship asteroid is
heading toward a planet that

will kill billions of people.

Kevin: I'm reminded of that, uh, Strange
New Worlds episode with the, the asteroid

going towards the planet and it turning
out at the end that the asteroid was

on the right course the whole time,
and the flyby, the close call with

this planet was actually part of the

Rob: the plan.

Kevin: and, and I wondered if that would
be the same for this, uh, Fabrini asteroid

ship, that the, the planet Daran Four
that I think they are hurtling towards.

I was like, who's to say
that's not their destination?

Uh, but yeah, and it turns out it did
need a course correction in the end.

I did talk about this episode with
Jason Snell on episode 11 of Subspace

Radio, In love with an alien.

About McCoy falling in love with
Natira here, but there's certainly

lots more to discuss about this,
this primitive culture on this hollow

Rob: There is so much to discuss
like within the first two

minutes we find out that McCoy is
going to be dead within a year.

He's having a rather genuine and
heartfelt and quite, you know, uh, gutting

um, argument with, uh, with Chapel.

Uh, he does his usual 60s white
man of, yeah, I'm still going to

carry on, you know, stiff upper lip.

But there's a beautiful, really leans
into, for me, it's the first time

I've seen the three relationship of
McCoy, Spock, and Kirk, what I grew

up with in the movies, I see it here

Kevin: Exactly.

When Spock puts his hand on his shoulder,
and it's like, I can't say what I mean.

But I'm still going to, you
know, signal what I mean.


Rob: McCoy can't say how he, what he
means with what the look means, what he

Kevin: It's, it's anti Discovery, Rob.

I know, I understand fully now
why you respond so violently to

Discovery, where everyone says
what they're feeling at all times.

It is the opposite here.

They're completely bottled up and
dysfunctional people, but it is

Rob: It's charming as heck and just
to have Kirk go I've told Spock.

And they're just, look, they say
nothing, but they say everything.

Um, but yes, uh, uh, McCoy
goes through a lot here.

He's gonna die, he instantly falls
in love with someone while he's

having a fistfight with someone
in pajamas and a very pretty hat.

Um, the hats are so

Kevin: Look, that guy in
pajamas was carrying a sword.

He wasn't using it as a sword, but he was

Rob: He was just holding it
for somebody else I think.

think it was somebody.

I'm just here, I'm just, I'm
literally the spear carrier.

Um, and instantly falls in love with this
lady and she seems to have fallen smitten

for him as well like within five seconds.

Kevin: Yeah, it's pretty fast.

They have one conversation about, um,
how did the oracle punish the old man?

Wow, you're so amazing.

I'm in love with you forever.

Rob: So hot.

That's so hot.

Um, and I love the, the way that Star Trek
original series does love at first sight.

It literally has a, a reaction shot of
McCoy looking stunned, horrified, like

he's just stepped on a thorn or something.

I'm going, all right, okay,
how love at first sight.

Kevin: Is there a woman for you, McCoy?


Rob: So yes, and of course there is a
omnipotent creature that is controlling

this, this culture, and it has

Kevin: Presumably a computer or an
artificial intelligence of some kind.

It's never made completely

Rob: But yes, the, the society is
restricted by the orders that this

so-called computer gives, and at the

Kevin: The oracle.

Rob: The Oracle, uh, which is a,
a, you know, a very impressive

block of, uh, paper mache,

Kevin: Yeah, they had their fake
marble down pat in this episode.

Rob: But no flashing lights, like at
least with Vaal we had the flashing

lights of the snake eyes, but this had

Kevin: No, all the flashing lights were
hidden behind the altar in the computer

Rob: That's right.

And we just had um, just a
simple spaceship just needed

to be fixed and Spock was able
just to change the alignment.

One of the thrusters wasn't working,
turn it back on and uh, change

correction, Derek 7 or whatever the
planet was called, is saved and yeah.

Will this society evolve or not?

No, they're carrying on with their
journey, and possibly in a year when

they reach the place they need to
go, McCoy might go and join his love.

Kevin: The, um, the ambiguous
technology level on board this

asteroid ship really fascinates me.

Like, they have artificial lighting, they
have sliding doors, but they carry swords.

this instrument of obedience that she
just kind of like, it's a bar of soap

that she presses to McCoy's temple, but
it, it implants a device into their head.

Rob: The skin flashes red.

Kevin: She's talking to a computer,
she presses the planets on the altar

and it goes, shhhhhh, and it slides up.

And this feels like a fiction that
is not fully thought out to me.

Either that, or these people are the
most deeply uncurious, uh, culture

that I've ever heard of, and maybe I am
judging them by my human standards, Rob.

But the idea that you could be surrounded
by these automated systems that make

your life comfortable and easy, and
not understand how any of them work.

Like, what do these people do all day,
asides from walk around these corridors

and bow at each other, that they aren't
trying to recreate this technology,

pulling it apart to find out how it works.

Instead, they are just waiting to be
let off at their planet, and it, this

does feel like a dead culture to me,
if that is truly how they're existing.

Rob: They're passing
each other swords, Kevin.


they're filling their days with
going, look, I've been holding

this sword for a little bit.

How about you hold this
sword for a little bit more?

Thank you, I'd really appreciate it.

Um, once I'm done holding it, I may
pass it back to you, if that's okay.

That's, that, I don't, if
that's not a living, thriving

culture, Kevin, I don't what is.

Kevin: I mean, I'm sure there is, there
is art aplenty happening and maybe

that's what they're doing all day is
they're writing symphonies and operas and

performing great plays to each other in
the rec room and no one is, no one, is

too concerned about how the doors open
and close in this place where they live.

But, uh, yeah, it is very strange
to me, the primitive culture trapped

in a bubble of high technology
that they don't understand.

Rob: Yes, I mean, it did seem to be, like,
previously with The Apple, there wasn't,

um any real drama going on outside.

So the characters were there just
to be, you know, a conduit for this

civilization of Vaal and all the
people on board, on this planet.

Whereas, with this one, because they had
that personal drama of McCoy, and that

personal drama of Kirk and Spock dealing
with that, um, the actual civilization

didn't have much time to grow.

I mean, we didn't get much of Vaal's
disciples, we had our lead character

and the young couple who like to perv on
Chekov and, uh, the Ensign making out.

Um, you know,

Kevin: No judgment.


Rob: No judgement here.

Um, whereas here we only really get to
know McCoy's love interest as a character.

We the old man who's killed off very
quickly, but every other character is

just a, you know, a glorified extra.

So we don't see, as we say, yeah, we
got a little bit of, at least in The

Apple of how the young, the young couple
interact and how that affects their

culture and their interaction the leader.

Whereas here we have none of that.

We have no moments of, it's always,
she's there to service McCoy's, um,

desire for, you know, what he's going
to do with the last year of his life.

Kevin: Yeah.

I might take us to one more if you don't
mind, I was inspired by this idea of

a culture that doesn't understand the
fishbowl they've been placed by, uh,

a, a technologically superior culture.

And it reminded me of the premiere of
Star Trek: Voyager, Caretaker, uh, we

get to meet the Ocampa, and they are
under the protection of The Caretaker,

who we learn throughout this two part
episode, they accidentally kind of

poisoned the atmosphere of their planet.

And this is the debt
that can never be repaid.

Part of the attempt to repay that
debt is The Caretaker created this

underground city of high technology
that is supplied energy from its

array and there are replicators that
create food and there are again there

are sliding doors and escalators that
people go up and down and it all looks

like, you know, white polished marble.

And the people who live there don't
understand how any of it works.

They talk about how they've lived in this
city for five hundred generations, and

they used to be this thriving culture that
was in full command of their cognitive

abilities that are now kind of lost to
myth and legend, because of the influence

of this superior culture that is, was,
doing its best to look after them, but

in a way, uh, stunted their development
and even caused them to regress.

So yeah, the Kes who, who joins the crew
of Voyager on their journey at the start

of their, this series is kind of one
of the few Ocampa, who is dissatisfied

with living in this bubble, and they're
growing their own fruits and vegetables,

uh, kind of in, in violation of tradition,
and she finds a way outside of the

force field that keeps them penned in.

It feels very parallel to me to The
World is Hollow and I Have Touched the

Sky where like these, we know better,
um, high technology beings try to look

after a more primitive culture and,
and do it a disservice in the process.

So if anything, I think this is
an argument for Kirk's throw a

grenade and then walk away attitude
towards more primitive cultures.

It does seem to go better when they're
left to figure it out for themselves.

Rob: Yeah, definitely.

I mean, this was the, the launch of the
brave new series and, um, uh, and they're

just going, let's, let's set the table up.

All right.

We've got the Curzon.

They're going to be the new Klingons.

We've got the Ocampa.

They're going to be an awesome,
exciting series that we're going

to see, uh, creature, species
we're going to see as well.

Everything's going to work.

And then they go, Oh, actually the, uh,

Kevin: We have to fly away

Rob: The Kazons are very, very dull
and boring, and oh, the Ocampa, uh,

yeah, they probably just should have
been a one episode thing, but we've

got to go through Kes for longer yeah,
it's, it's like, yeah, you know what

the crazy thing is about the Ocampans?

They have a shorter lifespan.

It is that wonderful moment as well
when they actually meet the Caretaker

and the Cartaker's set up a really,
you know, a, a familiar looking

1950s, sixties farm yard type thing.

And I love that about Star Trek
when it comes to something that

we know, like a familiar porch
and, you know, uh, you know,

Kevin: A banjo.

Rob: Yeah, and a banjo playing,

Kevin: Corn on the cob.

Anyone for corn on the cob?

Rob: But, you know, to have our
Starfleet people in uniform come down

and everything is cautious and strange
and weird, um, whereas, you know, if

it was Yeah, where someone from, you
know, the original series, uh, Kirk

would have come down and go, Corn?

I'm bang up for corn.

All right, let's do this stuff.

And Spock be there Captain, it's not
logical for you to be eating corn in

such a manner without knowing the full.

And then, of course, McCoy would
go, Oh, you green bodded alien.

You're so alien.

Why don't you be more like us?

And they all go, Yes, you should be.


Kevin: At the end of the episode,
Janeway has a, has a quiet

conversation with the dying Caretaker.

Uh, and the, the Caretaker is arguing
for the fact that he's set his array

to self destruct after he dies because
the, the, his technology can't fall

into the hands of the Kazon who would
harm the Ocampa that he's looking after.

And yet the Ocampa only have five years
of energy stored up at this point.

So they are, they are kind of screwed.

Uh, in their little
bubble under the ground.

And Janeway says, have you considered
letting the Ocampa care for themselves?

And the Caretaker goes, they're children.

And Janeway says,
children have to grow up.

And, uh, I think that's a really
nice kind of button on this theme of,

are primitive people to be sheltered
or left to their own devices?

Should they be protected,
even by the Prime Directive?

Or should we let it, let them
work it out for themselves?

You know, go and say hi, say, hey,
I'm Captain Kirk, I'm from the

Federation, and I bring you sex.

Uh, see ya!

Rob: Here's a Russian and
a blonde to get you going.

Come on!

Um, but it is that evolution which I
really appreciate because in the original

series episodes, it's, they don't even
consider giving the computer or the

program any type of personality, really.

It kind of just goes through
this system and it needs to be

che like, the big ending of The
Apple is, let's destroy Vaal.

They literally, they just blow up the
computer, um, and with, you know, excuse

me while I, uh, touch the sky from
the hollow ground that is my feet, uh,

they just go, oh, well, well, there's
a malfunction, here we go, blip,

blip, blip, blop, blop, it's fixed.

But to have this philosophical debate
of going, is what you're doing right or

wrong, and for them to go, this is why I
do it, and then to have Janeway go, no.

I think you're not looking at this,
you know, species completely fairly.

You probably let them grow up and trust
that they can look after themselves.

Or at least try to.

That type of stuff shows the evolution
from the 60s to the 90s of going, it's

not just a black and white thing of,
that's a bad robot, and let's either

kill it or reprogram it to going,
this, this species needs to be, you

know, whatever is controlling this
lesser, lesser, I do it in inverted

commas, have the discussion at least.

Kevin: The other thing that stood out
to me in this rewatch of Caretaker

was, uh, they dropped this bit of
information that The Caretaker has

been bringing ships there for months.

And Neelix says maybe 50, maybe 50
times he's heard this story of a, of

a ship brought from far away that is
now stranded by the Caretaker's array.


it never occurred to me before,
but it occurred to me this time.

If there are 50 ships in Voyager's
situation, why aren't they like

meeting each other and teaming up?

Rob: What a,

Kevin: it feels like a particularly, um,

Rob: Wouldn't that have been story
arc to incorporate over seven seasons?

Kevin: Yeah, yeah.

And it's so strange.

It, like, in hindsight, it feels like a
symptom of the American exceptionalism

of the nineties that was, that was in
the zeitgeist at the time that Voyager

behaved very much as I can imagine
the United States behaving, is like,

Oh, wow, something has happening to
the entire world, but America will

find its way out of it alone, uh,
rather than let's, let's team up and

maybe we can figure this out together.

Rob: And it is that case of what we've
talked about before is, after the heavily

serialized nature and quite innovative
story arcs of Deep Space Nine, which had

never been done before, which, um, even
some of the production people didn't

really want to have happen so much, but
it did, and it made it what it is, um,

There was sort of like a reaction to
that by going, okay, let's go back to

that episodical type thing, so, using
that element of, there have been 50

ships before, in modern, television
storytelling, or streaming storytelling,

or even in Deep Space Nine, the writers
would identify that as going, that

is something we can come back to.

That is something we build and play with.

That is something that will create
something unique for this show.

Kevin: As much as Voyager felt like it
was scraping the bottom of the barrel

for story ideas at several points in
its run, the fact that they never came

back to that idea, that there were 49,
48 other ships, uh, from other parts of

the galaxy, trying to make their way home
from the Caretaker's array, like, yeah,

I'm sure most of them were, flying in a
different direction from Voyager and we'd

never see them again, but there was room
for a story of the week of encountering

another ship that, you know, arrived in,
in the Delta Quadrant a few months before

Voyager and, and got stuck along the way.

And what does Voyager do about that?

Rob: Yeah, it just
seemed like a plot point.

Well, it was a plot point, where
they're going, that's a whole show.

Arc that could be explored to make
this show even more unique just like

we've talked about before of how does
it affect, uh, a starship when you

have a limited amount of resources
and you have a finite number of crew.

What does that mean for
the people you have?

And it was always put in the
background of going, Oh, we've had

to recycle the water a 17th time
or down on rations for a 15th time.

Just as a, as a side note, as opposed to,
no, this is building something new within

our, within our known, um, universe.

So yeah, missed opportunity, definitely.

Kevin: Uh, the only other episode
that I think is worth just a mention

is Spock's Brain, but I'm sure
we'll find some other excuse to

talk about Spock's Brain sometime.

That's another season three episode of
the original series, widely considered

one of the worst episodes of Star Trek.

But it is definitely another one of
these civilizations that, while once

great, now does not understand the
technology they are surrounded by.

Rob: It would be very, I mean, I mean,
every podcast does it and I, you know,

loathe am I to become like any other
podcast, you know, um, but to reflect

on, you know, the times where Star Trek.

We've talked so much about great
stuff of Star Trek, I think we've

got our balance pretty good.

But to look at those truly poor
episodes of, you know, not hitting the

Kevin: Well, we'll just have to wait for
Discovery to disappoint us some day, Rob.

It hasn't happened yet, but I'm
sure they will find a way to

Rob: If you could read my face
right now, dear listeners.

Kevin: Well thanks for blending into
some primitive cultures with me, Rob.

Rob: Thank you so much
for this fun run of death.

Kevin: Ha ha!

I'm going to go have a drink of water.

(whistling) Did you get all that?

Rob: I didn't get any of that.

What was that?

Kevin: Wow, Zoom rejected the whistles.

Rob: Rejected the whistle.

All I saw was you look at me
deep in the eyes and pucker

your lips and I went, Kevin?

Is, is this the point where our,
where our podcast shifts slightly?

Kevin: Falls off the rails.

Kevin just makes duck face for an hour.