Wolf in the Fold
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|"Wolf In The Fold"|
|Star Trek: The Original Series episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Joseph Pevney|
|Written by||Robert Bloch|
|Featured music||Gerald Fried|
|Cinematography by||Jerry Finnerman|
|Original air date||December 22, 1967|
John Winston - Lt. Kyle
"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 horrific murders of women on a world where such things never happen points to Mr. Scott as the prime suspect.
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, who is recovering from a concussion caused by an explosion in the Engine Room. Scotty picks up / is picked up by Kara, an attractive Argelian dancer, and leaves the club with her. As the two remaining crewmen make their way through a fog-filled evening to another club, they hear a scream, grope their way through the fog to find the dancer dead on the ground and Scotty standing in a state of shock against a nearby wall, clutching a bloody knife.
Scott is detained and interrogated by Mr. Hengist, an administrator from Rigel IV and head of Argelius's police operations, who informs the Captain that the outlook for Scotty is grim. Jaris, the Prefect of the planet, intervenes and bids his wife, Sybo, employ the Argelian empathic contact to determine the truth. Descended from the ancient priestesses of Argelius, Sybo has telepathic skills. While she prepares for the ritual, with the consent of the Prefect, Lieutenant Karen Tracy, an Enterprise medical specialist, beams down with a psycho-tricorder, interviews Scott, and is murdered. The evidence again points to Scott, though he is found unconscious at the scene.
Sybo proceeds with the empathic contact ritual. Similar to a seance, the participants hold hands and Sybo begins her search for the truth. As the light from the altar fire fades and the room darkens. Sybo states that "There is evil here, monstrous, terrible evil ... hater of all that lives,.. a hunger that never dies ... It has a name ... Kesla, Beratis! A hunger that never dies! Redjac! Redjac!" The room becomes totally dark, and Sybo screams. When the lights come back on, Scott is holding Sybo's dead body.
Understandably, the Prefect is upset by his wife's murder, but agrees to have everyone present during the ritual, including Hengist, himself, Kara's father, and Morla (her fiancé) beamed aboard the Enterprise where the ship's computer can be used to determine if Scott is guilty. However, he warns Mr. Scott that the Argelian penalty for murder is death by slow torture, and if the ship's computer proves his guilt he will be subjected to it.
Kirk has everyone beamed back to the Enterprise so that the ship's computer 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 being during Sybo's empathic contact ritual. The computer verifies he is telling the truth.
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 a serial killer of women on those worlds. It also identifies Redjac as "Red Jack", one name given to the elusive 19th Century Earth serial killer known as Jack the Ripper. Gradually, suspicion shifts from Scott to Hengist, not least because the murder weapon was made by the hill people of the Argus River region of Rigel IV, and Hengist took up his post on Argelius shortly after the last murder took place on Rigel IV.
Hengist attempts to flee, but Captain Kirk subdues him with a single punch. Dr. McCoy examines him and announces: "He's dead, Jim." However, the Ripper-entity jumps from Hengist's body into the Enterprise's central computer, from which it can control the ship.
The Ripper-entity gets onto the ship's public address system and begins threatening the crew to generate the fear it feeds on. Kirk fights the attempt of the Ripper to terrify his crew by ordering Doctor McCoy to administer tranquilizers to everyone. Spock drives the entity out of the computer by ordering it to compute Pi to its last decimal place (which locks the computer into an endless loop, since that mathematical ratio is unbounded). The entity then jumps back into the apparently dead body of Mr. Hengist in the briefing room where Scott's interrogation had taken place, but Kirk subdues Hengist and Spock hits him with a dose of tranquilizer, rendering the Ripper-entity helpless. Kirk carries Hengist to the Transporter Room and Spock uses the transporter to beam the entity into space at maximum dispersion.
Spock notes that even if Redjac survived the dispersion beaming, each individual part of it will drift helplessly through space until the creature finally perishes. The threat from Jack the Ripper is ended for good. With the crew on tranquilizers, Kirk return to his shore leave with Spock, McCoy, and Scotty, in tow.
A generation later, 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". 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."
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." 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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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 Redjac invades the computer: "Sure, the Enterprise computer's been screwed with before, but hearing a disembodied voice screaming for your death is très 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."
- Handlen, Zack (June 25, 2009). ""Obsession" / "The Wolf In The Fold"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- "The Star Trek Transcripts - Wolf In The Fold". Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Atkinson, Torie (April 8, 2010). "Star Trek Re-Watch: "Wolf in the Fold"". Tor.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Myers, Eugene (April 8, 2010). "Star Trek Re-Watch: "Wolf in the Fold"". Tor.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Bond, Jeff (March 13, 2007). "Review: Wolf In the Fold Remastered". TrekMovie.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- 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.
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