The Lorelei Signal: How to Get Away With Murder

I knew what this was gonna be as soon as I saw the title for this episode because I know that the Lorelei is “a lovely young woman faery who sits on the cliffs above the Rhine River and sings, luring sailors to their deaths in the rocks below.”*

In other words, this is the German equivalent of a siren and – like the Italian counterpart – the song /signal of the Lorelei (in this case several beautiful women, not just one) has a powerfully manipulative effect on males and absolutely no effect on females except to put them in the position of having to save the day.

Uhura  took over the ship. Spock was, of course, not as badly affected by the signal plus he had another hands-free mind-meld in which he called to Nurse Chapel (a possible lingering after-effect from a certain delightful moment in TOS).

The Lorelei? They apparently just want to be average women again. To grow old and to love men from whom they aren’t sucking out the life force to maintain their youth. And apparently — despite centuries of doing just that to one fully-crewed ship after another once every 27 years (with each ship holding a couple hundred crew members) — no one has a problem just dropping them off on a planet that will make them “normal” again (because it was all the planet’s fault, really) and no one has to pay any sort of penalty for murder.

And besides the obnoxious/accidental moral of “If you’re attractive, you can get away with murder,” the numbers just don’t add up. Starfleet has noticed a “series” of ships that have disappeared here over the past 150 years, talks with Romulans and Klingons reveal they, too, have lost ships at a rate that reveals ships have been disappearing at a rate of once every 27 years. How many ships is that?

5 or 6. Total. For all three governments to have lost multiple ships there, they would have each lost TWO MAX. Two Does Not A “Series” Make, STARFLEET.

How did nobody miss how stupid these numbers are? I’d expect these kinds of math skills from the Scooby Gang, but not from Spock, Scotty, and the rest of Starfleet.

Not even the women of Starfleet, the true heroes of this episode, catch this bull.

Ugh. Whatever. On a final, awkward note: These women want to go to another planet and give up immortality, but — to save the landing party from the rapid aging that has befallen them — the transporter is reprogrammed into a veritable fountain of youth. The writer of this episode took immortality-by-cannibalism away and replaced it with immortality-by-transitive-identity.

Which means that however much I wanted to write a sonnet for the women who saved the day, ultimately I must write it based on the theme of transitive identity which — if you want a headache-inducing introduction — you can learn about by looking up the Ship of Theseus.

How never did they call thee, child,
the Sirens to the sea? And why
set sail where winds are never mild?
What seventh hell does bid thee fly?
There is no hell but thy own mind,
no mild but what one does in kind.
So there be none for them to call,
as every breath will have its fall.
And yet while there is still some grace —
a golden thread, a stronger plank —
then every god I know I’ll thank
for gifting me thy beaming face
that ever but my babe to me
is ever changed and same to see.


*A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk (First Edition, Fifteenth printing, 2006) by Edain McCoy

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