Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Star Trek Continues Episode 2: “Lolani” (2014) Review:

Star Trek Continues Episode 2: “Lolani” (2014) Review:

“You’re right about one thing, Lolani…everyone deserves the right to be free.”

- Kirk to Lolani, after trying to seduce her way off the ship.

Lou Ferrigno guest stars as Zaminhon, a big muscled Orion slave trader! Not the first time he’s gone green, as he’d played Hulk before! An Orion slave girl he owned is on the loose and she is accused of killing one of her Tellarite captors. At first she won’t speak, but Kirk is gentle and says it’s not a good idea for her to stab friends. Eventually, Dr. McKenna gets her to talk. She must’ve picked up some language amid the slave traders after all. She doesn’t  want to go back.

This is the crux of the episode: Does Captain Kirk compromise his morals (He’s reading a book on The Roman Empire as the episode begins…which collapsed to moral decay.) or does he respect Orion culture and send her back as property. But, it’s not all heavy tension, as some funny scenes do arise between Kirk and McKenna as she begins to question his authority. Lolani patiently asks if this is a mating ritual.

Lolani is determined to get off the ship any way necessary. Tonally, this episode reminds me of Elaan of Troyius. She even tries to seduce the Captain to get her way. But unlike Elaan of Troyius, it doesn’t work here. But, he’s still unwilling to give her back to the slave traders, and wants to keep her safe. But, successfully, she seduces a redshirt (Kenway) and nearly steals a shuttlecraft! If there’s one thing you DON’T DO on Kirk’s ship, it’s overstep his chain of command. Kirk says: “Get a hold of yourself, mister!” and of course confines the redshirt and Lolani.

Meanwhile, Spock is able to determine that Lolani is innocent through a very detailed Vulcan mind-meld which shows her acting in self defense against the Tellarites. This is influential in Kirk’s firm decision not send her back to slavery. He meets with the slave trader (Lou Ferrigno!) who plays at being an epicure when invited to dinner to discuss Lolani. Ever the poker player, Kirk jibes with him, trading barbs with McKenna and pretending to respect Orion culture. But, when Scotty tells 'Hon: “Lolani says you’re an inhuman monster…” things get a little tense.

This whole scene is reminiscent of the dinner scene in Space Seed. But the final fun of the episode for me comes when Kirk catches 'Hon striking Lolani, and gives him a rabbit punch and a signature Captain Kirk dropkick. But, 'Hon is too strong. He throws Kirk aside, and leaves the ship in anger. But, Lolani still won’t go back. Some of his self-sacrifice and equality lessons to Lolani must’ve paid off however, for she blows up 'Hon’s craft as she leaves rather than go back to slavery.

This series is  looking be a bold new take on a classic formula. Lou Ferrigno is gripping as the conniving giant green slave trader. Star Trek: The Original Series was always about exploring human rights issues. But, I doubt the show wouldn’t explored the equality of women so openly. (Although it’s originally hinted at and taken as Starfleet umbrella creed of equality!)

 This episode in particular got into the nitty gritty of that creed, and tested it, along with Kirk’s will, against the Prime Directive. They never did get along, if you know your Trek! Excellent episode! Classic formula with new ideas! And McKenna is proving she’s a match for Kirk’s stubbornness! 5/5 stars! Watch it now!

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