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Star Trek TOS - Season 1 - Episode 16

Star Trek TOS - 1x16 - The Galileo Seven

Originally Aired: 1967-1-5

Seven Enterprise crew members go on a shuttle mission with Spock in command. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 4.79

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Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's definitely a fun ride!

- Kirk says Spock's shuttle could be lost in one of "four complete solar systems in the immediate vicinity" in the teaser. Uhura later in the scene also mentions one of the "solar systems." This is a common error. The term they were looking for is planetary system. The planetary system we live in is called the Solar System because our star is named Sol. As such, the term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term.
- The Murasaki quasar system was originally intended to be an actual quasar, but scientific knowledge has advanced considerably since the time that this episode was filmed. As a consequence, we now know that there are no quasars in the Milky Way galaxy. A quasar is in fact an extremely bright but distant galaxy. As such, we must conclude that the system under study in this episode actually a quasar-like phenomenon rather than an actual quasar. This is luckily a reasonable conclusion for us to draw because Kirk's standing orders were stated to be that he study any "quasars or quasar-like phenomena" that he should encounter.
- The rock prop that fell on Spock's leg was so light that Nimoy actually had to quite obviously hold it on his leg to make it appear "stuck" there.

- This episode received an extensive visual effects update when it was remastered that was far greater in scope than that of the other remastered episodes.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk justifying his curiosity to Ferris.
- The shuttle launch. The first time we see one launch!
- Kirk arguing with Ferris over what should and shouldn't have been done and what to do now.
- Spock declaring that he will decide who will and will not be left behind.
- An alien monster killing one of the crew members.
- Spock's negative reaction to the idea of taking the life of an alien indiscriminately.
- Scotty's idea to rig the phasers as a power source for the shuttle.
- McCoy harping on Spock for making bad decisions.
- Spock: "Strange. Step by step I've made the correct and logical decisions and yet two men have died!"
- Kirk being forced to abandon the search.
- Spock igniting the fuel in a flare in an attempt to get the Enterprise to notice them.
- Spock, explaining his desperation: "I examined the problem from all angles and it was plainly hopeless. Logic informed me that under the circumstances the only possible action would have to be one of desperation. A logical decision, logically arrived at." Kirk: "Ah hah. I see. You mean you reasoned that it was time for an emotional outburst."

My Review
Obligatory Earth bureaucrat of the week becomes a repetitive pain in the ass for Captain Kirk as the Enterprise feverishly engages in the search and rescue of the derelict Galileo shuttle which veers off course not long after beginning its mission and crashes while attempting to study the Murasaki quasar-like multiple star system. I have mixed feelings about this premise. Parts of it are fantastic but other parts are riddled with unnecessary details that drag down the appeal of the plot. None of these annoying details ruin what turns out to be an exceptional story for the most part but are regardless worth a mention. The two most prominently poor choices are the character of Ferris and the choice to have the shuttle crash on a habitable planet.

First let's talk about Ferris. The whole point of his character was to force Kirk into having a short window of opportunity with which to rescue the downed shuttle. We didn't need such an overdone character to achieve that. Something along the lines of Starfleet Command radioing Kirk every now and then and yelling "where the hell are you?" would have even been sufficient to achieve this dramatic effect. Instead we get a useless character trolling the bridge in nearly every one of the Enterprise's scenes acting smug and self-righteous; contributing absolutely nothing useful to the story.

Second let's talk about the habitable planet the shuttle crashed on. Of all the random gravity wells the shuttle could have fallen into they happen to land on a habitable planet? In the middle of a quasar-like system? I find that hard to believe. But even setting that issue aside, the planet's habitability was not an asset to the story largely because the subplot concerning the crew fending off the primitive natives followed by the subsequent burial controversy was not terribly compelling. A much more compelling and realistic story would have had the shuttle crash on a deserted wasteland not unlike Mars or Venus forcing the crew to don spacesuits in order to make repairs. Personally I find the idea of a hostile environment on the planet far more compelling than spear chucking hostile aliens.

Ignoring those annoying aesthetics, this episode is terrific. It's a lot of fun watching Spock handle his first command and getting a chance to see him as fallible just like the rest of us. Granted, many of those serving under him were a bit too quick to criticize the many reasonable choices he made, but it's also clear by his own admission that some of his choices were not at all appropriate. The most obviously poor choice Spock made was to order Gaetano to patrol the periphery of the crash site alone, rendering him an easy kill by one of the aliens. This is counterpointed brilliantly by Spock's innovative act of desperation igniting the improvised flare at the end of the episode. Indeed we learn a lot about our pointy-eared friend in this great Spock character drama, not the least of which is that while he may not be perfect, he is certainly decisive and thinks on his feet well. These qualities in my opinion portrayed him as a fine leader.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 3:04pm:
    Does anybody else think that Spock's command performance was made a little bit too weak? Sure, he has problems with the human factor, and he does have a different approach than Kirk, but I still thought (and have thought so on several occasions when Spock was in command), that from the way I understood the character (his personality, his training …) he should have been able to enforce his command position more ..well..forcefully, demanding respect, not accepting open hostility etc. The writers' fault, maybe?
  • From TashaFan on 2008-09-09 at 9:51pm:
    Good point, Rhea; I noticed in the episode where Kirk is caught on the Defiant that McCoy challenges Spock's command until they view Kirk's final orders, and in "The Gamesters of Triskelion" McCoy is downright insubordinate and doesn't back down until Spock outright asks him if he's planning a mutiny. The same in the epsiode when Kirk loses his memory and becomes "Kirok" on the "Native American" planet. It seems the idea that humans won't follow the unemotional alien was a bit of a theme. This continues in TNG when the somewhat Spock-like android Data takes command of a ship in Picard's makeshift fleet during the Klingon civil war, and the first officer is constantly insubordinate.
  • From NickyP on 2009-10-02 at 12:44am:
    Nice comments you guys about Spock being challenged by McCoy and simply not doing anything about it or demanding respect for his new position. I do think this may be a theme of humans not wanting to follow the unemotional alien. But I also think that when Spock didn't really challenge McCoy until he finally had to ask him if he was planning mutiny, that it just goes to show how cool Spock is. I think that McCoy constantly challenging Spock just rolled right off of Spock's shoulders.
  • From technobabble on 2010-11-26 at 2:52am:
    Time & again Spock was given a pathos test by his human subordinates and accepted it a necessary venting of his overly passionate shipmates but never put the verbal smack down on them as Kirk did.

    I believe Spock viewed such heavy-handed command style as an affront to emotional ego on the part of the commander and would not do follow that model. Throughout the series, many viewers & his fellow starfleet servicemen they viewed it as heartless &/or weak. But it was respect in his Vulcan way for letting them express their emotional platitudes...sigh. Spock I get you bro.
  • From Devlonas on 2011-02-18 at 7:50pm:
    Kethinov, your's is hands down the best ST review site. To add to all the Spock editorials, I just wanted to say that I love this episode if only for the scene of McCoy (my man) checking on the status of the crew after the crash landing. I enjoy seeing him in the role of competent emergency medic. Also this is the episode where I first noticed that every alien planet has the same "weird chimes" sound effect outside...
  • From wes on 2011-03-30 at 4:30pm:
    The crew laughing at the end of the episode and blatantly dragging it out is pretty laughable in and of itself.
  • From ProfZoe on 2011-10-02 at 11:44pm:
    When I first saw this episode, back in 1967 when I was in high school, I remember my friends and I discussing it as an example of the difficulties a woman or a minority would have with command, not just in 1960s USA but other times and place. The 19th century Dreyfus Affair comes to mind: discriminating againsy a Jewish French officer to the point of manufacturing "evidence" and bearing false witness.
    Also recall that this time was the height of US involvement in the Vietnam War.The incidents of "fragging" officers (murdering in out of sight locations), because they were either incompetent or "different" had been a growing problem.
    The best science fiction addresses current problems in such a way that people are willing to reconsider their previous assumptions, biases, beliefs, or practices.
    THAT was the joy of TOS with all its faults.The sum TOS is truly greater than its parts.
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2011-12-06 at 5:41pm:
    "Spock's first command?" He is in charge of 7 people. Who was in charge of the Enterprise when: Kirk was down on the planet in "Mudd's Women", Kirk was strapped to a table being Android-ize by Dr Corby in "Little Girls", Kirk was having his mind scrambled by Dr Adams in "Dagger"?
  • From Kethinov on 2011-12-07 at 1:52pm:
    In those previous episodes Spock was not in command long enough, especially in screen time, for the plot to deal substantially with the impact his leadership style would have on those under his command during a crisis situation affecting the ship.
  • From Josh on 2012-06-05 at 9:51pm:
    I'd have to agree with the previous commenters: The issue of 'us' vs 'them', the people serving under a foreign officer in a tense situation is the heart of this episode and provides the important drama.

    One issue I noticed just having rewatched this episode: in an episode only a few chapters prior, Kodos the Executioner was condemned for making the exact decision that Spock makes at the start of this episode. In both episodes, some people would be sacrificed for the greater good of the rest. Spock makes this determination unfeelingly, of course, but still accepts it as in inevitable fact. As Kodos said earlier, 'if that supply ship hadn't arrived early I might have been seen as a hero.' Had Spock decided to stay and build a new society on this habitable planet rather than leaving men behind, perhaps he would have been seen as a hero by his descendants :)
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-07-14 at 8:47pm:
    I really enjoyed this episode! To me the way Spock handles command is one of the great strengths of the Galileo Seven.

    I kind of disagree with some of the criticism posted here. If I understand it correctly. I think Spock was very forceful while he was in command. He never gave in to the emotions of everyone else and made discisions that was in the best interest of the crew as a whole.

    However, the other part of the criticism was right on. There have been numberous examples of human resistance to alien commanding. Balance of Terror comes to mind. I wish it had come up more often in Star Trek myself. I think it was a very strong statement about human racism and how we deal with it.

    And while I agree with Josh that there are some things similar to the Kodos affair there is one major difference. Twice Spock put himself in harms way for the good of the crew in this episode. He went back for the missing crew man which could resulted in Spock being killed. And then again when he was pinned by the rock and told the crew to "take off" without him. These were command decisions that Kodos never made. It showed how Vulcans make their command descisions based on what is the best for the whole and not on their own emotions.

    And finally, I loved this episode because it has Yeoman "Mears" in it! Despite The spelling, to hear my family name on my favorite TV show was mind blowing. lol.

  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-02-09 at 8:03pm:

    My biggest question for this episode: Why couldn't they deliver the emergency medical supplies first, and _then_ check out the "quasar-like" phenomenon?

    I understand your gripe about Ferris, but I don't think occasional prods from Star Fleet command would work. I also don't it's realistic that they would be calling often enough to have the same effect. And it's interesting to have the PITA high official actually be right for a change. Sending a shuttlecraft into the Murasaki system before delivering the emergency medical supplies was plain dumb. I mean, really: There's an out-of-control plague on New Paris. Science can wait a few days.

    It's also interesting to see our hero, Kirk, being wrong and having to sweat it under Ferris while at the same time trying to save face with his lame scientific-duty routine. You also need Ferris to force Kirk abandon the search at the last possible minute. That wouldn't work with Star Fleet command on the radio. You need a Ferris on the bridge to force a turnaround; otherwise, Kirk would stay.

    Two quick asides:

    How do these people memorize regulations down to the paragraph number?

    It must be no fun to work for Star Fleet, as can be seen in episodes in which they do give direct orders to Kirk.

    My second biggest question is about Spock's supposed lack of emotions. He clearly gets angry at the Galileo crew, and is sympathetic to the plight of the aliens. Are these not emotions? And just prior to leaving the planet he exhibits a whole slew of emotions. More on this below.

    The problem with being logical is that it is not enough. You need a goal. And goals come from emotions; they do not pour forth from logic. Subgoals, yes -- but not ultimate goals. You could say that Spock has his emotions more or less under control (less in this episode!), but not that he doesn't have them or has completely suppressed them.

    There is nothing at all quasar-like about the Murasaki system that I can see. I could go with the "Murasaki effect", but not it being quasar-like.

    How could the ship have landed safely so close to all the large rocks? On top of that it's incredible that they had as soft a landing as they did! Look at how hard it is to safely land something far smaller on Mars. And again, as in other episodes: why are there no seat belts?

    Yes, landing on a habitable planet is pretty long odds, but that's pretty normal for Star Trek. I'm not sure of what kind of similar story you could have landing on a "deserted wasteland not unlike Venus or Mars", but I think even that would be incredibly unlikely. And Venus is far worse than a wasteland. You couldn't survive there at all. Furthermore, landing on anything at all, much less a solid planet, much less a habitable one, would still be highly improbable.

    Just after the soft landing, Boma's explanation is pure babble.

    Scotty is really focused on fixing the ship, unlike in "The Naked Time" where he pauses cutting through the bulkhead to talk to Mr. Spock when minutes, if not seconds, are crucial. This was quite welcome.

    Spock says he will decide which three people to leave behind on the planet based on logic. Well, I guess this means leaving behind the three heaviest people. Simple! Okay, we need someone who can pilot the ship and do quick repairs, so Scotty is a safe bet. And Spock is the commander, in effect, Captain of the ship. And Spock, as Captain, has to get a seat on the ship, as the Captain always goes down with his or her ship. Yeah, he can pilot the ship and help Mr. Scott fix things, too. And perhaps you can make a case for saving the doctor. But for the rest you go by weight.

    I like when Bones and Scotty come to Spock's defense when Boma gets out of line about having a burial for Gaetano.

    Phasers do pack a lot of energy in a small device, but enough to launch a space ship? I'm skeptical. And how does "phaser energy" turn into fuel that burns?

    Spock ordered Latimer and Gaetano to remain within visual range of the ship. Looks like they disobeyed this order.

    Why does Spock instruct Gaetano to be a guard -- a lone guard, no less -- so far from the ship? Seems quite illogical to me. Actually, I believe "foolish" is a more accurate description. Just as you said.

    There's an interesting twist here: In the scene starting at 20:37, some of the crew go out of the ship to see what the noise is. Apparently the natives are making their sound and preparing to attack. (The sound is a great sound effect, but is that really what wood on leather sounds like?) Then the crew discusses tactics. Now look at who's getting logical and who's getting emotional!

    SPOCK: I am frequently appalled by the low regard you Earthmen have for life. [He says this with anger, and is it not also an expression of sympathy? E-mo-tions.]

    GAETANO: Well, we're practical about it. I say we hit them before they hit us.

    SPOCK: Mister Boma?

    BOMA: Absolutely.

    SPOCK: Dr. McCoy?

    MCCOY: Seems logical to me.

    SPOCK: Yes indeed. It seemed logical to me, also. But to take life indiscriminately. [Sympathy!]

    GAETANO: The majority.

    SPOCK (_in anger_!): I'm not interested in the opinion of the majority, Mr. Gaetano.

    Not only does Spock get angry (emotion!), he just asked their opinions, and after he gets them he says he's not interested. (Illogical!) And just prior to the above conversation he eagerly asked Mr. Boma about how they can use his observation about the aliens being tribal against them. Spock is right that it is he who is in command, not the majority -- but he should have stated it that way. Asking for advice and following it are two different things, as Kirk pointed out in "Dagger of the Mind".

    So Spock has no problem leaving three crew members behind to die, but killing the alien "humanoids" to save their own skins is somehow appalling. And he seemed to have no emotional reaction at all when encountering a dead Latimer. [This reminds me of Spock not saving Tomlinson in "Balance of Terror". Was Tomlinson already dead when Spock showed up, or did Spock really, coldly, leave him there to die? It's not clear, but as I said in my review on that episode, I certainly hope it was the former. But if it was the latter, then again he has no problem leaving humans to die (and neither did anyone else in that episode).]

    I don't have the remastered version, but by looking at the photos on your site I see that yet again they make things worse. The Murasaki system in the original is just a more or less homogeneous thing of illuminated dust, gas, and solar systems (sorry, we disagree on the definition of "solar system"). In the remastered version there is, at the center, some kind of star with high-energy jets, perhaps even a black hole. Now, if the Galileo were to be drawn to the center of the remastered nebula -- well -- I don't think it wouldn't survive. The Murasaki system also looks too much like a work of art. Its structure looks quite unnatural to me. It was done right the first time, except that it "swirled" a little too quickly.

    And the jettisoned fuel doesn't look right. Yes, the quality of the imagery is superior, but I don't think it makes things more realistic. If anything, just the opposite. In TOS, it looks like a plume within a plume. Much more likely and realistic. Scotty clearly said that Spock "ignited" the fuel. The fuel in the remastered version doesn't look like it was ignited, while it _does_ in the original version.

    The worst thing about the remastered version is the fact that the rear view is partially obstructed by the engines! That's patently ridiculous, ugly, claustrophobic, and pretty piss-poor for a 23rd-century viewing system. Simply awful. Judging by the photograph on this website, the camera is on the outer rim of the upper part of the ship. One could at least put cameras below the shuttlecraft bay doors.

    Near the end of the episode the Galileo is having trouble maintaining orbit. But we see it in what looks like deep space with stars zooming by. This is patently ridiculous, as is the concept of a rapidly decaying orbit outside a body's atmosphere. But such things are, unfortunately, more or less a normal part of Star Trek TOS. Wait, there's more! The stars are moving even when we see Taurus 2 stationary from the Enterprise! I'm sorry, but this is totally nuts.

    Notice how Spock exhibits the following starting with being pinned by the large rock: altruism, anger, fear, panic, and a hint of desperation. Are these not emotions? We don't need to wait for his jettisoning the fuel for him to exhibit emotions.

    Spock's jettisoning the fuel is the climax of Spock's adventure as commander, of course. I think it was both logical and emotional. You have to weigh being bright for a brief period of time versus dark for a longer period of time. I think all indications are that the former was more likely to be successful. Having won doesn't prove that argument is right, of course, as sometimes the less likely thing will happen. But the best you can do in life is play the odds. Scotty: "A distress signal? It's like sending up a flare. Mr. Spock, that was a good gamble. Perhaps it was worth it." Absolutely. This was a great line, and well-delivered, to boot.

    Quick aside: That "FUEL JETTISON" switch is just a little too easy to hit by accident, no?

    When the Galileo crew is rescued, no one on the bridge notices that two are missing. They seem to act as if they know what we know, that only five are on board and that no major characters were killed. And since they couldn't know that, we see that they also don't seem to care in the slightest about who died or that anyone died at all! In fact everyone on the bridge is so unaffected by this that only a short time later they can freely laugh at Spock's admitting being stubborn instead of mourning the three dead.

    Why does Kirk order the Enterprise to go at only warp factor 1 if they were so pressed for time? Oh, and why only "full normal speed" to go back to Taurus 2 for the rescue? And just what is "full normal speed", anyway? It doesn't sound fast, like "emergency warp". It seems the Enterprise is never moving fast in this episode.

    Lots of fun, but lots of problems.

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune
  • From Rick on 2014-08-26 at 2:35pm:
    Alan Feldman

    "My second biggest question is about Spock's supposed lack of emotions. He clearly gets angry at the Galileo crew, and is sympathetic to the plight of the aliens. Are these not emotions? And just prior to leaving the planet he exhibits a whole slew of emotions. More on this below. "

    Becoming forceful in order to enforce a position of power is not the same as anger. Spock is not sympathetic to the plight of the aliens but is rather respectful of other lifeforms. Of course there are lots of problems in this episode: just like every episode of every show on tv, and every review that is overly critical and overzealous in trying to find errors that do not necessarily exist...
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-11-23 at 9:41pm:
    At Rick

    C'mon, Spock was clearly angry. There is no question about it. In fact, I just watched it again. That's anger.

    Additionally, the scene clearly shows the struggle within him between Vulcan logic and human emotions. In fact, this is in large part what makes Spock such a fascinating character, of course. I recall that as a child I was in awe of his ability to control his emotions, to be lord over them, to master them. What is also fascinating is that in this scene it is the humans who are being logical!

    If you respect, in the relevant sense of the word, other life forms, then you care about them. That includes sympathy, or, if you prefer, concern. I mean, if you don't want to kill them, you care about their well being, or at least their being alive, no?

    I am not overly critical. And I am not overzealous about finding errors. They stick out like a sore thumb. I call 'em as I see 'em. I make both positive and negative comments, even in my original review on this very episode! Hell, even in this very post!

    I love Star Trek TOS. And part of the fun is discussing both its strong points and weak points in a forum like this. And for that I say, thank you, Kethinov!
  • From Chris on 2018-02-22 at 1:56pm:
    Aside from all the other problems folks have described regarding Spock's 'leadership' or his emotional outbursts, it seems to me that Kirk is the bad guy in this episode.

    He's willing to endanger the population of an entire planet for seven shipmates, no matter how close they were to each other! Ferris' needling to me is spot on perfect and Kirk is the douche.

    Why couldn't he deliver the meds to New Paris and come back to investigate the quasar phenomenon at his leisure? It wasn't going anywhere and He still needs to investigate it even when the episode is over!

    Gaetano strikes me as a moron who deserved to die. Trying to climb the cliff instead of trying to get back to the ship is the height of idiocy. Further, he should have been firing his weapon blind into the fog before his phaser gets knocked out of his hand!

    Those aliens sure got inaccurate while throwing spears at Spock who is also carrying a body!!! What luck!

    As usual, the banter at the end while two crewmates and one from a search party, are dead along with a few badly injured, just really grinds my gears!

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