Wink of an Eye
|"Wink of an Eye"|
|Star Trek: The Original Series episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Jud Taylor|
|Story by||Lee Cronin|
|Teleplay by||Arthur Heinemann|
|Featured music||Alexander Courage|
|Cinematography by||Al Francis|
|Original air date||November 29, 1968|
"Wink of an Eye" is a third season episode of the original science fiction television series, Star Trek, first broadcast on November 29, 1968, and repeated on June 24, 1969. It is episode #66, production #68, and was written by Arthur Heinemann, based on a story by Gene L. Coon (under the pen name Lee Cronin), and directed by Jud Taylor.
In this episode, normally invisible time-accelerated aliens take over the Enterprise and attempt to abduct the crew for use as "genetic stock".
Following a distress call, the Federation starship USS Enterprise arrives at the planet Scalos. Captain Kirk beams down with an away party into an advanced metropolis but can find no signs of life, except for an odd constant insect-like buzzing around them from no apparent source. Suddenly, crewman Compton disappears in front of their eyes, and Kirk orders the away team back to the Enterprise for safety. Back aboard, the ship begins to experience strange malfunctions, and Engineering reports the sudden appearance of an unknown device attached to the ship's life support systems. Kirk has the ship placed on red alert while Engineering attempts to remove the device.
While waiting, Kirk has a cup of coffee, but after drinking it, finds the bridge crew appears to have become motionless. He suddenly sees a woman, who introduces herself to him as Deela, Queen of the Scalosians. She explains that due to radiation around the planet Scalos, her people have entered a state of hyperacceleration, causing them to move faster than can be seen; this has also caused her people to become sterile. They used the distress signal to bring a ship here, planning on putting its crew into cryogenic suspension and using them to help procreate their species. She has used some of the radiation-tainted water in Kirk's coffee to bring him to this state to help them complete their plan as well as to become Deela's consort. Kirk refuses, and he is taken under guard to the other Scalosians, as well as finding that Compton is still alive, having also been hyperaccelerated, and willfully working with the Scalosians. Kirk condemns Compton's actions, and attempts to escape. In his efforts, Compton is slightly injured, but this causes his body to age rapidly and he dies, a side effect of the hyperacceleration.
Meanwhile, First Officer Spock and the other bridge crew witness Kirk's apparent disappearance, and recognize the insect-like buzzing again. They find that the buzzing is actually voices at a sped-up pace. This leads Spock to study Kirk's coffee and find it was dosed with Scalosian water, and determines what has happened to Kirk. Spock refines a dose of the water to take himself, while Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy gives him antidotes for him and Kirk to return them to normal speed. On becoming hyperaccelerated, Spock quickly locates Kirk and helps to subdue the guards. The two remove the device from the life support system and then see to transporting Deela and her guards back to the surface. Kirk takes the antidote to return to normal time, while Spock uses the state to effect repairs on the other systems the Scalosians interfered with. The Enterprise departs with a warning to others about the planet.
Star Trek novelist Dayton Ward judged that "the setup for 'Wink of an Eye' is interesting enough at first blush: A race of beings who move through time at a rate so fast that they're all but undetectable. Unfortunately, it's upon the second and subsequent blushes that the concept begins to fall apart." He writes that the Scalosians had too limited imagination for continuing their race, and that mating with members of other species would be no help. He found the science wanting, though "I have to admit that here it provides for one of the series' more original 'redshirt deaths.'" Ward did admire the set design: "Clever use of tilted camera angles and lighting help to sell the illusion of the characters moving about the ship at their hyper-accelerated rate. One nice touch is the slowing down of the various lights and gauges that fill the bridge's workstations when Kirk and Deela are there."
David Alan Mack, also a Star Trek novelist, wrote, "It's not a bad idea for an episode, but the execution on this one felt sorely lacking." He noted some gaps in logic: "Still, how does one propagate a species by mating one's women with aliens? ... And if time moves so slowly for them, why would they need to place the Enterprise crew in suspended animation? Wouldn't a few days' worth of knockout drugs suffice?"
Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club was unimpressed by the episode, assigning it a B- and noting some plot holes: "They manage to beam aboard the Enterprise somehow, which doesn't make a lot of sense, science-wise. If their speed makes them invisible to the computer as life-forms, how would the transporter even work? Especially since they get brought on without anyone on the ship realizing it." Handlen judges that the "hook is clever," although "the ep might've been stronger if it had spent more time focusing on the mystery, and the danger that mystery represented, instead of dropping Kirk down the rabbit hole and spoiling the question so early on." He concludes, "In a stronger season, "Eye" would've been a low spot, a perfunctory by-the-numbers programmer which, while not embarrassing, wouldn't have made much of an impression. Here, it reminds us that, for a while anyway, competency was the least we could hope to expect from the series."
Melissa N. Hayes-Gehrke of the University of Maryland found more problems with the science:
Unfortunately, the ramifications of the accelerated living just do not stand up under scrutiny. If a Scalosian stays in one place for awhile - even just to have a protracted conversation - he should become visible, albeit briefly, to a normal person. We didn't see any indication that this could happen. Kirk fires his phaser at Deela and she steps out of the way because the beam is moving so slowly. This is patently ridiculous; phaser beams travel at the speed of light, and no object with mass can travel faster than that. From a practical perspective, how do the ship's doors know to open for the Scalosians, when the ship's sensors cannot detect them? How can the Scalosians flip and slide switches (like the transporter controls), that are not designed to move so quickly, without breaking them?
StarTrekReviews.com found some praise: "There's no character interaction between our heroes, save for the wonderful moment when Kirk meets Spock in the corridor and simply smiles"—a moment which many other reviewers also enjoyed.
- Ward, Dayton (December 16, 2010). "Star Trek Re-watch: "Wink of an Eye"". Tor.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Mack, David Alan (December 16, 2010). "Star Trek Re-watch: "Wink of an Eye"". Tor.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Handlen, Zack (January 22, 2010). ""Wink Of An Eye"/"The Empath"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Hayes-Gehrke, Melissa N. (November 22, 2008). "Episode Review of Star Trek - The Original Series Season 3: "Wink of an Eye"". University of Maryland: Department of Astronomy. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- "Wink of an Eye". StarTrekReviews.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
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