Tuesday, September 1, 2009

STbtM 036: Mud Flea Sauce


Uhura continues her questioning of Commander Spock as they rapidly file through the shuttle hanger between scattered equipment, lens flares, smoke from dry ice, smoke from steamers, and the ubiquitous fire extinguisher blasts: "…and did I not, on multiple occasions demonstrate exceptional aural sensitivity and I quote: 'an unparalleled ability to identify sonic anomalies in subspace transmission tests'?" Leading the march, Spock replies "Consistently, yes." He then stops and turns as Uhura demands with increasing outrage: "And while you are well aware that I'm as qualified as I am to serve on the USS Enterprise, I'm assigned to the Farragut?" Spock nervously looks around, and in a somewhat hushed voice explains: "It was an attempt to avoid the appearance of favoritism." This admission by Spock constitutes a double contradiction of logic. Logic, (the tool for avoiding invalid reasoning) suggests and Spock implicitly admits it was proper to post Uhura to the Enterprise based on her effort and accomplishments, but he is choosing to do the improper thing. OK, sometimes there are reasons to do what seems improper – for example, as Dr. Martin Luther King explained in his April 16, 1963 letter – there are occasions where an overriding priority invalidates adherence to rules of lower priority.
Spock's concern in this instance, however, is for a possible mis-perception by others that he showed favoritism by posting his best student to her preferred ship. Such convoluted thinking and subsequent errors are usually a sign of conflicted feelings and fear of appearances over more objective consequences, which is anathema to logic and rationality. Presenting a logical justification for Spock's decision, with Uhura responding with a stronger and better case would have been more difficult to write, but as with the bulk of the irrational script, this would have made the film infinitely more enjoyable for viewers with minimal standards for the characters.
Instead, Uhura follows what this film has repeatedly established as the way to get things done in the future: fallacies. In this case, "No, I'm assigned to the enterprise" with a steady stare serves as a Proof by Assertion fallacy, which naturally causes Spock to become intimidated enough to concede, update his portable computer, and respond with "Yes, I believe you are." Uhura smiles and thanks him.
We cut to Kirk and McCoy rapidly entering a room while Kirk asks: "What are you doing?" "I'm doing you a favor, I couldn't just leave you there looking all pathetic; Take a seat. Lemme give you a vaccine against viral infection from the Levaran Mud Fleas" as he stabs Kirk in the neck with a hypo. "What for?" Kirk asks. "To give you the symptoms." "What are you talking about?" As Kirk starts to exhibit symptoms, McCoy explains "You're going to start to lose vision in your left eye." "Yeah, I already have…" "Oh, and you're going to get a really bad headache and a flop sweat." Kirk tries unsuccessfully to stand, asking "You call this a favor?" and McCoy grabs his arm and begins to hustle him out of the room, answering "Yeah, you owe me one."
I suppose we can somewhat overlook the good Dr.'s violation of medical standards since this is supposed to be due to his loyalty for his friend, but it would have been better for the film to have shown some believable motivation for dragging Kirk onto the Federation flagship and some kind of effort on McCoy's part to work out a solution to the problem, instead "looking pathetic" is why McCoy is going to break ethics to smuggle aboard his friend during an emergency rescue? Hardly believable.
McCoy is still supporting Kirk when they stumble up to the shuttle, and the commander looks at them and says: "Kirk, James T., He is not cleared for duty aboard the Enterprise." McCoy responds that "Medical code states that treatment and transport of a patient is to be determined at the discretion of his attending physician. Which is me, so I am taking Mr. Kirk aboard or, would you like to explain to Captain Pike why the Enterprise warped into a crisis without one of its senior medical officers?"
One speaking part in this segment is a woman.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The NEXT link is broken, although the contents/index on the right side works...

BurntSynapse said...

Thanks! - Fixed.

Flashman85 said...

I'm willing to indulge the writers that Spock isn't yet as perfectly logical and emotionless as is befitting of a true Vulcan at this point in time. He's away from home, surrounded by emotional and illogical humans, and is still relatively fresh in his training. As an isolated situation, at least, it seems plausible that Spock might be vulnerable to public perception and Proof by Assertion.

BurntSynapse said...

Hi Flash,

Good point. Prompted by your feedback, it also occurs to me that: Spock realized his justification was a hideous error, and corrected it rather than "intimidation", the characterization I gave.

This appears to have been unnecessarily harsh on my part.

Thanks!

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