The Enterprise, carrying vital medical supplies for the New Paris colony, makes a detour to study a Quasar-like formation called Murasaki 312. But instead of the Enterprise scanning the Quasar from a safe distance, a shuttlecraft (the Galileo) is loaded up and sent out into space. This seems to be a rather reckless move, but had it not happened then we wouldn’t have a story ….
The Galileo quickly spins out of control and crash-lands on the only planet in the region capable of supporting life (a remarkable slice of luck that). Spock is the ranking officer, with six others – Bones, Scotty, Latimer (Rees Vaughan), Kelowitz (Grant Woods), Boma (Don Marshall) and the lithesome Yeoman Mears (Phyllis Douglas) under his command.
The Galileo Seven places Spock front and centre for the first time. Whilst Kirk remains onboard the Enterprise, carrying out a desperate search for the missing Galileo, Spock is in the thick of it – using logic in an attempt to find the answer to their predicament. But he discovers that this approach isn’t always appreciated by the others.
In the original draft, Kirk was in command of the Galileo. Changing to Spock helps to give the story an extra twist, although Leonard Nimoy considered it was something of a failure. Without the character of Kirk to bounce off, he felt that Spock’s effectiveness was reduced.
Spock doesn’t get off to the best start after he states that three crewmembers will have to be left behind (without their excess weight, the shuttlecraft stands a better chance of leaving the planet). We never learn how Spock would have made this choice (only that it would have been logical). Of course, you can always guarantee that on an alien planet the landing party will be thinned out thanks to the efforts of the unfriendly locals.
Latimer is the first to bite the dust – skewered by the biggest spear I’ve ever seen. The ape-like creatures who infest the planet (thankfully they’re only glimpsed briefly) are pretty large, but quite how they managed to find the strength to impale this spear into the unfortunate Latimer’s back is a bit of a mystery. Whenever we see them chuck spears later on they don’t do any damage at all. A lucky first shot maybe?
Kelowitz and Boma are growing more irritable by the minute, their anger not helped by Spock’s decision that officiating at Latimer’s funeral would be a waste of time. The pair are then keen to mow down the natives, but Spock favours shooting to frighten rather than kill.
This is an interesting part of the episode – Kelowitz is left on guard after they’ve driven off the creatures, although Spock is convinced that having displayed superior force they are not in immediate danger.
Spock’s sadly mistaken and the result is that Kelowitz perishes. His logic has lead him astray and this causes him to reflect on his actions. “Step by step, I have made the correct and logical decisions. And yet two men have died.” It probably wasn’t very logical to leave poor Kelowitz all on his own – as soon as that happened I had an inkling his days were very numbered.
Boma is now openly mutinous but it’s more surprising that McCoy also strongly questions Spock’s command decisions. That he chooses to do so in Boma’s company (rather than seeking a one on one conversation with Spock) does feel slightly off.
By contrast, Scotty is his usual no-nonsense self. He spends most of his time tinkering away in the innards of the Galileo, but whenever he emerges he’s always utterly supportive and loyal to Spock. As for Yeoman Mears, she doesn’t really contribute a great deal. She seems to be there for decorative purposes only (if the Yeoman has any strong feelings about Spock’s handling of the crisis then she keeps them to herself).
Spock’s rigidity and total inability to listen to the advice of others is key to the episode, but we also see that he saves the day by making an illogical act. Although he’s quickly able to explain this away – an illogical move was the only logical option ….
Several plot contrivances are brought into play in order to raise the stakes. Firstly, the Enterprise has to search for the missing shuttlecraft without the aid of sensors. And secondly, they only have a limited time as Commissioner Farris (John Crawford) is constantly at Kirk’s elbow, reminding him about his duty to deliver the drugs to New Paris. Crawford’s performance is merely adequate (it seems strange that Farris appears to be smirking on certain occasions).
Notwithstanding a few plot flaws, The Galileo Seven is a decent episode. Leonard Nimoy is – as you’d expect – excellent. I especially love the middle part of the story which sees Spock start to exert his authority with a raised voice.
Don Marshall (probably best known for Land of the Giants) has the pick of the guest roles although how Boma escaped censure is anybody’s guess. But if you accept that the tie-in novels are canon then (in Dreadnought by Diane Carey) he was later court-martialled.
Generally the production looks pretty glossy (the full-sized shuttlecraft and miniature effects are especially noteworthy) but there are a few signs that the episode had slipped behind its shooting schedule. The painfully lightweight rock which we’re invited to believe has trapped Spock is a case in point. A retake here might have made thIs scene seem slightly less comic.
For those interested in firsts, this is the first episode to conclude with Spock looking dignified whilst the rest of the bridge crew dissolve into giggles. Whether that’s something to be celebrated or not is down to personal preference I suppose.