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Part II: Star Trek Endings Make All the Difference

The denouement is always worth waiting for.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Here’s part two of Star Trek endings. The signature endings of TOS will help make this cultural phenomena endure to the 23rd century and beyond.

'City on the Edge of Forever'

"City on the Edge of Forever" always gets top billing on all the original series lists for best episode. The ending haunts like no other either.  The tone is well set — despite the low tech presentation of the complete evisceration of earth’s historical timeline. But of course, Spock and Kirk bring it back down to Earth as the Captain tries to talk his way out of petty theft. “You were actually enjoying my predicament back there. At times, you seem quite human,” Kirk brings the levity.

Kirk’s not off base at all as Spock dishes the sarcasm in clarifying the impossibility of his technical task. “I am endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bearskins,” he drips with the stuff to redirect Joan Collins.

But romance is definitely in the air, and the courtship actually has enough depth to accentuate Kirk’s quandary. The worlds then collide, and the Greek tragedy is on with Dr. McCoy’s entrance. “Edith Keeler must die,” Spock now lays the humanity on thick.

Kirk knows and destiny makes no room for doubt. All that’s left is to leave and live with the pain. “Let’s get the hell out of here,” Kirk takes no solace and neither do you.

'Mirror, Mirror'

"Mirror, Mirror" is way up there too and not just because of Spock’s beard. “It was amazing the easy way his counterpart fitted into that other universe,” Dr. McCoy gloats and finds the parallel that makes this episode endure.

Kirk does his part by letting logic serve as the crossover that forces Imperial Spock to look in the mirror. “The illogic of waste, Mister Spock. The waste of lives, potential, resources, time. I submit to you that your Empire is illogical because it cannot endure. I submit that you are illogical to be a willing part of it,” Kirk gives Spock pause.

Add in that "in every revolution there’s one man with a vision," and Alt-Spock can see his reflection in the future. In the present universe, though, Spock holds his place as usual.

“May I point out that I had an opportunity to observe your counterparts here quite closely. They were brutal, savage, unprincipled, uncivilized, treacherous. In every way, splendid examples of homo sapiens, the very flower of humanity. I found them quite refreshing,” Spock delights.

The insult is left dangling for Kirk to ponder. “I'm not sure, but I think we've been insulted,” Kirk delivers the set up and Dr. McCoy knocks it out of the universe.

“I’m sure.”

His adversary is fitted quite well — whether he has the beard or not.

'Journey to Babel'

In "Journey to Babel" we finally get to meet Spock’s better halves. We also learn that the basic precept of Vulcan does not give the father/son dynamic a rest and proves logic is in the eyes of the beholder.

Spock and Sarek haven’t spoken in 18 years, and the emotion of mother is no match either — even when Sarek falls gravely ill. “Can you imagine what my father would say if I were to agree, if I were to give up command of this vessel, jeopardize hundreds of lives, risk interplanetary war, all for the life of one person,” his lecture falls on deaf ears.

Fortunately Kirk comes in to split the difference and Spock and Sarek are able to do their due diligence on the operating table. The set up now in place, the denouement is doubly satisfying and logic provides the first serving. “Spock acted in the only logical manner open to him. One does not thank logic, Amanda,” Sarek drones on.

Of course, Amanda will have none of it. Her emotional outburst leads the argument where it started, and it never gets old when we learn what precipitated this unlikely match. “At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do,” Sarek is so human too.

But it’s McCoy who invokes logic to give humanity the win and make us whole. Confining all three combatants to bed, he’s finally got the con and has never looked happier.

“I finally got the last word,” he dishes the close.

'Wolf in the Fold'

"Wolf in the Fold" is about as serious as it gets on the final frontier. Scottie is on the hook for two murders and only a slow death awaits. The knife in his hand, and an inciting bump on the head gives us nothing to laugh about either. But as the plot slowly unravels, and the force responsible is revealed, we are more than ready for a good laugh.

“Well, Mr. Spock for the next five or six hours we’re going to have the happiest crew in space,” Kirks relents the inebriation that took down the offending entity.

Of course, Spock sees the logic in it and recommends a continuation of the R&R for his captain. But impaired logic doesn’t deter Bones. “I know just the place, Jim.”

Fortunately, Kirk’s faculties are just fine, and even though Spock’s are too, James T. forgets that his first officer has yet to find the ability to leap beyond logic. The quizzical response is as good a punchline as any and remains a classic.

'I, Mudd'

"I, Mudd" gives us a second go at Harry Mudd and also delivers in the end. But we don’t have to wait for the laughs. The back and forth banter between the king and the crew seemed destined for so much more. “Spock, you're going to love it here. They all talk just the way you do,” Mudd digresses.

But that’s too painful to recount so let’s just rejoice in the sendoff wherever we can. All not forgiven, Kirk’s justice seems lenient — even to Mudd. “I suppose that taking everything into consideration, as it were, and noting all the different possibilities, I could manage. And as detention sentences go, this one isn't too uncomfortable,” the sovereign declares.

It’s not so good to be the king — especially when Jim Kirk is the one who’s actually pulling the strings. “Harcourt! Harcourt Fenton Mudd, what have you been up to? Have you been drinking again? You answer me!”

As Marlon Brando once wailed. Stellllaaaaa.

Harry Mudd maybe the only one who’s glad Star Trek ended after 79 episodes.

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