Star Trek: Season 3, Episode Eleven “Wink of an Eye”

Stardate: 5710.5 (2268)
Original Air Date: November 29, 1968
Writer: Gene L. Coon (under the pen name “Lee Cronin”)
Director: Jud Taylor

“Captain, we have the right to survive.”
“Not by killing others.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Scotty narrates the opening “ship’s log” for this episode. The Enterprise has been exploring an outer quadrant of the galaxy when suddenly it receives several distress calls from an apparently uninhabited and plentifully beautiful city located on the planet Scalos. Meanwhile, Kirk beams down to Scalos along with a landing party consisting of Spock, Dr. McCoy, and a pair of redshirts. Despite the urgent distress calls, they only find a barren planet –no Scalosians are to found. Nevertheless, Kirk swats away several pesky insects that curiously do not register on Dr. McCoy’s tricorder as life forms. After some investigation, Spock notes Scalos is a civilization of the highest order, rating number seven on the industrial scale, and the populace is humanoid in appearance according to the paintings present within the city. According to the pre-recorded distress calls, there were once about 9,000 Scalosians on the planet, but now all that is left is a humble cohort of survivors.

Suddenly, one of the redshirts named Compton (Geoffrey Binney) disappears right before Dr. McCoy’s eyes. Back aboard the Enterprise, a series of malfunctions disable the ship –the controls and the intercom begin breaking down. And then, while investigating the situation, time seems to slow down for Kirk, and then a woman named Deela (Kathie Browne) suddenly appears on the bridge. She explains that she is the queen of her people, who have developed the power to move within the “wink of an eye” by hyper-accelerating their own activities while leaving others in suspended animation. While in accelerated time, they sound like high-pitched insects to the ears of ordinary humans (hence the sounds of insects on Scalos). Deela attempts to seduce Kirk and bring him back to Scalos to serve as king and help repopulate her species because their race has grown sterile and incapable of producing children. Kirk tries to appear ambivalent and he gets into a fight after discovering that Compton has been taken by Deela and her crew, however it causes “cell damage” to Compton who then rapidly deteriorates and dies. Existing in accelerated living poses great risks, it can cause early death due to “cell damage.” Deela explains the dilemma facing her species:    

“A long time ago, it is in our history, we used to be like you. Then our country was almost destroyed by volcanic eruptions. The water was polluted. Radiation was released. That changed us. It accelerated us. The children died. Most of the women found they could not have more. All of our men had become sterile. So we had to mate outside our own people. Whenever a spaceship came by, we’d send our calls for help. But accelerating them to our level burned them out. Don’t you see, Captain? Do I have to go into every detail? We are going to take you down with us. Perhaps one or two others of your crew. “

Along with Deela, we meet her jealous male counterpart, Rael (Jason Evers) and their mysterious cryogenic device which electro-shocks anyone who touches it. Kirk secretly records a message regarding what he has learned about the Scalosians and he implants it for Spock to find in normal time-speed. Kirk then sabotages the transporter so the Scalosians cannot beam him down to Scalos.

After uncovering the secret of the Scalosian’s time signature, Spock drinks some “stimulating” Scalosian water which hyper-accelerates his own time continuum, and he is then finally able to join the captain. Together, Spock and Kirk stun Rael and destroy the cryogenic device while the Scalosians are beamed back down to their planet. In the end, Spock and Dr. McCoy manage to develop an experimental anti-accelerant which returns Kirk to his normal time signature. Before returning to standard time, Spock uses his own accelerated time to quickly make vital repairs to the Enterprise.


My Thoughts on “Wink of an Eye”

On first pass, this was an intriguing and complex episode –especially with the inclusion of two distinct time signatures. However, there are plenty of criticisms which have been leveled against this particular form of a parallel time concept, because in the time it takes Spock to uncover the mystery of what happened to Kirk, the Scalosians should have been easily able to carry out their plan while in accelerated time continuum, and admittedly the Synchronization is a bit messy, but I still thought this was a terrific inclusion into the Trek series.

Also, in considering the role of the Federation in relation to Scalos, Kirk makes some good points in this episode –have the Scalosians really considered all their options for repopulating their race? Their aggressive strategy seems all but guaranteed to backfire. And, why not simply express full transparency in their distress calls rather than the laborious (and risky) decision to compel the Enterprise crew to repopulate their race? In the end, what does the future of Scalos look like? Will the Federation help them with their fertility problems? Do we trust the promise of the Scaosians not to ensnare another spaceship? In some respects, I was reminded of the ethical questions explored in earlier episodes, such as Season 1’s “The Man Trap”, wherein the last creature of its own kind is killed off. In this case, the Scalosians are condemned to a long and lonely demise. Still, I would be interested to learn if the Scalosians are ever explored again in the expanded Trekverse out there.

With those wrinkles out of the way, say what you will about the plot holes, but it is neither a predictable nor a redundant narrative –another surprisingly enthralling installment in the notoriously weak Season 3 of TOS.  


Writer/Director

This episode was written by former show producer, Gene L. Coon (albeit under the pseudonym “Lee Cronin”).

Director Jud Taylor (1932-2008) directed a total of five Season 3 episodes, more than any other Season 3 director. This episode was completed under budget.   


Star Trek Trivia:

  • The show’s producer managed to sneak in a scene suggesting that Deela and Kirk were intimately involved. In the scene, we can clearly see Kirk sitting on the edge of his bed, tugging his boots, while Deela is busy brushing her hair.
  • The painted backdrop of Scalos in this episode is re-used from Eminair VII as seen in Season 1’s “A Taste of Armageddon.”
  • This was women’s costumer Andrea Weave’s last episode before leaving to join the set crew of Mission: Impossible.
  • Elements of this episode were recycled in a later Voyager episode entitled “Blink of an Eye.”

Click here to return to my survey of the Star Trek series.

1 thought on “Star Trek: Season 3, Episode Eleven “Wink of an Eye”

  1. Revisiting Scalos would be interesting and can be possible. The creative opportunities would provide some worthy challenges for today.

    Thank you for your Trek review and trivia.

    Liked by 2 people

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