The Tholian Web: Much Ado About No Captain

A ship has disappeared into an unexplored region of space, only it turns out it hasn’t disappeared; it’s become trapped in the space between universes and — wouldn’t you know it — Kirk has gotten himself trapped right along with it.

Spock is calculating time issues for getting the captain back, Scotty is calculating engine issues, and McCoy — while being a little more temperamental with Spock than usual — is calculating a cure for the strange effects of this mysterious region of space on the crew.

The title of the episode is Tholian Web because, while all the calculating is going on, a group of Tholian’s show up and — having messed with the region of space enough to throw the utility of Spock’s preliminary calculations out the window — start building a web around the Enterprise as though they were a random enemy.

So Spock is calculating new things, Scotty is giving her all she’s got (which seems to happen every episode), and McCoy is curing a weirdly-violent space-version of cabin fever. Then Uhura has a “vision” of the captain which isn’t actually a vision but Kirk trying to communicate and eventually this leads to the captain being deemed alive and then everyone’s new calculations are put into effect to save the captain, to save the ship, and to cure the crew.

What could I possibly write a poem about this week? The one thing they don’t really explore: Kirk’s experience of being trapped and wanting to be home, and his striving — however futilely — to affect some sort of change of any kind; a sensation that I know from experience is not just the stuff of science fiction.

Lean into the sun, a flower
ever trapped and free in itself;
have no delusions of power,
being able to will yourself
to move on command is more than
that for which you were built. Don’t plan
on living for yourself, but learn
to see your tame so that you burn
with a will that is more than free;
choose to be in your proper place,
to hold this world in your embrace
with a will that is more than free.
You have that gift of roots and wings
that ever ease and ardor brings.