“You say I’m a man of curious habits? Jim’s talking to a table!”
The Enterprise is patrolling the Neutral Zone when they find a small one-man craft pitted with meteor damage. They beam the survivor aboard, and he turns out to be the famed Carter Winston. He’s supposed to be a “living legend,” a space trader, but the animation makes him look like the guy on the Captain Morgan Spiced Rum bottle. Spock demands an immediate identity check, which irritates McCoy. The computer confirms his identity, but McCoy finds some irregularities. Conveniently, Carter’s fiancé, Anne Nored (a dreamy-voiced Nichelle Nichols), is also aboard Enterprise and reunites with Carter long enough for him to tell her the wedding’s off. Nice way to find out.
Later, Carter changes his physical appearance. At first, he looks like a plant-creature, but then he changes into Kirk’s form. “Kirk” enters the bridge and sets a course through the Neutral Zone, which raises eyebrows from Sulu and Spock. The real Kirk is in his quarters when all of this is happening. He’s shocked to discover the ship is in the Neutral Zone. They look at a security tape showing “Kirk” give the order. Carter morphs again, this time turning into McCoy. Anne enters sickbay and asks for advice from “McCoy.” Get on with your life, Anne! There are some shades of “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” It’s weird that we have women serving on a starship waiting around to snag husbands.
Kirk wants “McCoy” to run a complete physical examination of him, considering what he perceives to be memory lapses, but all of this comes to a head pretty quickly when “Winston” reveals himself to be a Vendorian, a race of shape-shifters banned from the Federation for their deceitful ways. Anne, being a security officer, confronts “Carter” with a phaser, but she can’t bring herself to pull the trigger even though this is obviously not Carter Winston. She does know she could’ve used the “stun” setting? She’s a terrible officer. The Romulans show up and demand the Enterprise surrender. Kirk reasons the Enterprise was lured into the Neutral Zone by “Winston” to provoke a conflict with the Romulans.
I don’t understand this. If you have the ability to shape-shift, why would you bother with political intrigue? I know this was a major plot-point in Deep Space Nine with the Founders and their machinations, but it still makes very little sense. It turns out Winston died a year after crashing on the Vendorian planet. He tells Anne the real Winston loved her, and that by adopting Winston’s form, he now feels the same emotion, but he’s a weird shape-shifting plant monster so it’ll never work. The Enterprises engages in battle with the Romulans. Out of a sense of guilt “Winston” saves the day, and I’m not quite sure how. Anne gets over her prejudice and decides to strike up a relationship with the plant monster. What? Anne, I’m telling you …
Twice a week, Star Trek Rewind explores the Star Trek universe. From Archer to Janeway, Kirk to Picard, and Georgiou to Sisko — boldly read what no one has read before!
For more insane Star Trek babble, check out my podcast (with co-host David B. Anderson), Ship to Ship: A Star Trek Podcast.