As soon as you’ve finished reading this week’s post, toddle off to your search engine of choice, and run a simple three keyword search: “Spock Kirk McCoy.” Once you’ve done your search, head of to the images section of your results. A scan of images quickly reveals that an incredible amount of the images have roughly the same positioning: Kirk at the image’s center, Spock and McCoy on either side of Kirk, one each at a shoulder.
It’s an image that reveals the obvious: three people are the focus of the show. Positioned as the captain’s guiding angels—one pure logic, one unbridled emotion—McCoy and Spock often used their polar opposite positions to appeal to Kirk’s divided nature and guide him, and by extension the Enterprise and its crew, through the unknown.
But like any ensemble piece, one of the things that gave Star Trek its richness, and likely its longevity, was the way that other characters in the crew were incorporated into story lines. As we continue to celebrate Star Trek’s fiftieth anniversary, Lofty Ambitions takes a look at some of our favorite episodes that put other characters—those outside the big three—front and center in the episode.
- Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott: The Lights of Zetar
On the way to Memory Alpha, the Federation’s main library and of course, the origin of the name for the famous Star Trek wiki (http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/), Scotty begins to fall in love with Lt. Mira Romaine. Alien body snatchers intervene, and by the time that Enterprise reaches its destination, it’s clear that this is a story of star-crossed lovers. Ultimately, as we all know, Scotty’s only love is his starship, Enterprise.
- Nurse Christine Chapel: What Are Little Girls Made Of?
Nurse Chapel is reunited with her fiancé, Dr. Roger Korby. It was thought that Dr. Korby’s expedition had vanished five years earlier, but they survived: OR DID THEY? This, of course, won’t be Nurse Chapel’s only failure in love.
- Communications Officer Nyota Uhura: The Changeling
Nomad, an extremely powerful space probe, is beamed aboard Enterprise. Upon hearing Uhura singing, the probe scans her mind to understand what she is doing. Her memories are destroyed, and she has to relearn everything.
- Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu: The Naked Time
An alien virus leads to strange behaviors among the crew of Enterprise. For example, Sulu comes to believe that he’s a swashbuckling, sword-wielding pirate.
- Ensign Pavel Chekhov: The Way to Eden
Chekhov is reunited with fellow Russian Irina Galliulin, as she and a group of anti-authoritarian space hippies are brought aboard Enterprise.
Some of our above choices can be found on best lists and a couple of them on worst lists of Star Trek episodes. So it is with an appreciation of Star Trek: we embrace it all, because it’s more than the sum of its parts.