Wolf in the Fold

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"Wolf In The Fold"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 14
Directed by Joseph Pevney
Written by Robert Bloch
Featured music Gerald Fried
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 036
Original air date December 22, 1967 (1967-12-22)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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"Obsession"
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"The Trouble With Tribbles"
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Wolf in the Fold" is a second-season episode of the original science fiction television series Star Trek. It is episode #43, production #36, and was broadcast on December 22, 1967. It was written by Robert Bloch, and directed by Joseph Pevney.

In this episode, a series of bizarre murders points to Mr. Scott as the prime suspect.

Plot[edit]

On stardate 3614.9, the Federation starship USS Enterprise arrives at Argelius II, a planet with a Middle-Eastern cultural influence primarily dedicated to peaceful hedonism. Ship's Captain James T. Kirk, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Leonard McCoy, and Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott beam down for some therapeutic shore leave focused on Mr. Scott.

Scott is attracted to a belly dancer named Kara and invites her to walk down a fog-shrouded alley. Shortly thereafter, Kirk and McCoy hear a scream, and find the dancer's slain body, stabbed to death, and Scott, in shock, is holding the murder weapon. His are the only fingerprints on the knife, but he claims to have no memory of the event. Dr. McCoy had previously diagnosed Scotty with a mild concussion, in an incident caused by a female crew member aboard the Enterprise. McCoy had already concluded that Scotty has developed a level of resentment towards women, and that distrust could manifest itself in murder.

Hengist, the Chief Administrator of Argelius II, demands that Scott be locked up, suggesting he may murder again if left unsupervised. Prefect Jaris suggests that Kirk seek the advice of his wife Sybo who is an Argelian empath. Kirk agrees, but he wants Scotty monitored by a "psycho-tricorder" and orders Lt. Karen Tracy to beam down and administer the test. Kara's father mentions another suspect: Kara's former fiancé Morla, who, unlike most Argelians, is extremely jealous and fought with Kara. Morla is brought in for questioning but he claims he had nothing to do with the killing; he actually left the café where she danced in order to maintain his composure.

Lt. Tracy begins testing Scott. Suddenly, the lights are cut off, screams ring out, and when power is restored, the others find Tracy's lifeless body, stabbed to death, and Scott once again in shock. Hengist claims that Scott must be the killer, as there is no way into that room except through the room in which the others were setting up for Sybo's seance.

Jaris and his wife Sybo insist on continuing and Sybo falls into a deep trance. She senses a great evil and cries out several names: "Beratis", "Kesla" and "Redjac", all names for an ancient entity that has intense hatred for the life of women. The room goes black, Sybo screams and when the lights come, Sybo has been fatally stabbed in the back, her limp body lying in Scott's arms.

Scott is desperate to prove his innocence as the penalty for murder on Argelius II is death by slow torture. The law was never revised since civilization evolved into its current perfect state -because no murders have occurred since.

Kirk has everyone beamed back to the Enterprise so that the computers can analyze Mr. Scott's testimony of innocence. The computer confirms that both Scotty and Morla know nothing about the murders. Scott insists however, that he felt the presence of a cold, evil creature during Sybo's meditation.

The computer confirms such a creature could exist, but would be incorporeal, existing as formless electromagnetic impulses. The computer cites the creatures of Alpha Carina V who subsist on the emotion of love. It also suggests that the creature may take a solid form at will, as the Mellitus cloud creature of Alpha Majoris I that can change from gaseous to solid forms. Science Officer Spock believes this "Redjac" to be an entity that gains nourishment from the fear of its victims.

Kirk decides to run the names spoken by Sybo through the computer. The machine returns information that Beratis (of Rigel IV), and Kesla (of Deneb II), are names given to the unresolved identities of serial killers on those worlds. It also identifies Redjac as "Red Jack", the name of the elusive 19th Century Earth serial killer Jack the Ripper.

The computer goes on to say that Redjac may have been responsible for other killings, both on Earth (seven women in Shanghai, China, Earth, in 1932; five similar murders in Kiev, U.S.S.R., Earth, in 1974) and other planets; there were eight murders of women in the Martian Colonies in 2105 and ten murders of women in Heliopolis, Alpha Eridani II in 2156. Spock notes that all these locations lie sequentially between Earth and Argelius.

The computer adds that the Beratis killings took place on Rigel IV less than one solar year ago, and that the knife used in the killings matches knives crafted by the indigenous Hill People of Rigel IV's Argus River region. This implicates Mr. Hengist, who is from Rigel IV. Mr. Hengist becomes nervous and denies the evidence points to him.

Spock says, "An entity which feeds on fear and terror would find a perfect hunting ground on Argelius, a planet without violence, where the inhabitants are as peaceful as sheep. The entity would be as a hungry wolf in that fold."[1]

Hengist attempts to flee, but Captain Kirk subdues him with a single punch. Hengist falls to the floor; Dr. McCoy examines him and announces: "He's dead, Jim."

Suddenly, the ship's computer system goes haywire and Hengist's distorted laughter is heard throughout the ship. He makes threats that they can never catch him and that they will all die. Spock believes the Redjac entity has taken over the ship through its computer and that the entity will become stronger by feeding off the crew's growing fear.

Kirk orders Dr. McCoy to tranquilize everyone on the ship. When Sulu receives his shot, he grins dopily and says, "Whoever he is, he sure talks gloomy. With an armful of this stuff, I wouldn't be afraid of a supernova."[1]

Spock neutralizes Redjac's control of the ship's computer by ordering it to compute to the last digit the value of π as everyone on ship is being tranquilized. As their fears fade, Redjac weakens and flees the computer, its memory banks filling up with the endless value of Pi, and crowding him out as well. As Kirk prepares to tranquilize Prefect Jarvis, Jarvis pulls back revealing that Redjac is now in his body. Jarvis is finally knocked out and the entity heads to Hengist's body which is subsequently tranquilized. Kirk rushes the subdued Hengist/Redjac, still laughing threats of death, to the transporter room where he beams them out with the transporter set to largest possible spread, dispersed into deep space. Spock notices that even if Redjac survived the spreading, each individual part of it will drift helplessly through space until the creature perishes.

Reception[edit]

Many critics consider the episode offensive because of the sexual objectification of women; Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club commented that "women are treated like a completely different species".[2] A repeated point for denunciation is Spock's infamous remark that "women are more easily and more deeply terrified, generating more sheer horror than the male of the species."[1]

Writing in 2010, Torie Atkinson found the episode misogynistic and said she "knew from the start this was going to be awful from the offensive orientalist set pieces and the references to 'therapeutic shore leave' for men only". She objected to Kirk's demand for a "psycho-tricorder", which, McCoy says, "will give us a detailed account of everything that's happened to Mister Scott in the last twenty four hours."[1] Atkinson wrote, "Seriously? All this time they've had a piece of technology that reads and records memories, and they've been using these archaic court martials? Why ever investigate anything? This is easily the most ridiculous invention-of-the-week that Star Trek has thrown out there so far". However, she added that "it's nice to see Scotty front-and-center, and his abject terror at what's happening to him and crying over feeling powerless and dangerous were moving." She also "liked the humor—there are a lot of good one-liners (particularly McCoy's line about having drugs that could tranquilize an active volcano)" as well as "the idea of a murder mystery in the Star Trek universe".[3]

Eugene Myers also "liked the idea of a classic murder mystery with Star Trek characters, complete with a locked room murder where the lights go out and someone screams". Myers wrote a negative review, although he admired some details, such as "the table lights used to show appreciation for a good performance, an interesting detail of an alien culture that was sadly lacking for the rest of the episode" and "the brief look at the foggy Argelian streets (purposefully evocative of Whitechapel?)". He concluded that "this episode feels like someone took some other plot and shoehorned Star Trek characters into it, which is pretty much what happened".[4]

Reviewer Jeff Bond was mostly pleased with the episode:

Robert Bloch's "Wolf in the Fold" is typical both of the horror writer's contributions to the series (he also wrote What Are Little Girls Made Of? and Catspaw) and of the show's second season, in that in year two Trek often presented some fairly dark and outlandish plotlines but shook them up with humor... All of Bloch's Star Trek scripts threw classic horror tropes into the unfamiliar territory of science fiction in clever ways...and all three benefit from the creepy frisson of classic horror themes thrust into Trek '​s sci fi setting".[5]

Bond adds,

If you're planning on introducing your feminist girlfriend to Star Trek, "Wolf in the Fold" might not be the best starter episode—it's equivalent to a slasher film in the way women are presented almost exclusively as victims for a marauding monster... That's compounded by the episode's jocular wrap-up in which the Enterprise '​s command crew of hound dogs are eager to put the brutal murders of a few female citizens and crewmembers behind them by getting back down to Argelius... It's offensive in retrospect but "Wolf in the Fold" to my mind makes up for a multitude of sins when it veers off into black comedy territory late in the episode... Hengist is a superb foil... The offbeat idea of drugging the entire crew to keep the Redjack entity harmless really moves the story in an unexpected direction and conjures up what to my mind has always been the funniest line ever uttered on the original Star Trek: which comes when Kirk asks McCoy what the entity would do if it entered a tranquilized body, to which McCoy replies "Well, it might take up knitting, but nothing more harmful than that".[5]

Melissa N. Hayes-Gehrke of the University of Maryland pointed out, "A conversation between Kirk and Spock informs us for the first time that when Starfleet members are on a planet, they are subject to the laws of that planet. This is a very interesting development, with repercussions throughout all of the Star Trek series". She also wrote, "This episode showcases Kirk's loyalty to his crewmen, as well as Kirk and Spock's synergy while engaging in completely random speculation".[6]

Zach Handlen dismissed most of the story as not having "had enough drafts", saying that it "has its own strong idea; but what's so weird is the way that idea doesn't actually surface till the last ten minutes of the episode". He considered the strongest section to be when the Redjac invades the computer: "Sure, the Enterprise computer's been screwed with before, but hearing a disembodied voice screaming for your death is tres spooky; as is the vision of hell (or colored mist) we get in the computer display screens... There are some clever bits that come out of dealing with a possessed ship".[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "The Star Trek Transcripts - Wolf In The Fold". Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Handlen, Zack (June 25, 2009). ""Obsession" / "The Wolf In The Fold"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  3. ^ Atkinson, Torie (April 8, 2010). "Star Trek Re-Watch: "Wolf in the Fold"". Tor.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  4. ^ Myers, Eugene (April 8, 2010). "Star Trek Re-Watch: "Wolf in the Fold"". Tor.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Bond, Jeff (March 13, 2007). "Review: Wolf In the Fold Remastered". TrekMovie.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  6. ^ Melissa N. Hayes-Gehrke (August 8, 2008). "Episode Review of Star Trek - The Original Series Season 2: "Wolf in the Fold"". University of Maryland: Department of Astronomy. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 

External links[edit]