Director: Jud Taylor
Writer: Arthur Heinemann
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Kathie Brown, Jason Evers, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett, Erik Holland, and Geoffrey Binney
Composer: Alexander Courage
Air Date: 11/29/1968
Production #: 60043-68
After receiving a distress signal, Captain Kirk takes a landing party to the planet Scalos. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Compton (Geoffrey Binney) discover no sign of life, aside from a strange buzzing sound that can be heard right before the lattermost character seemingly vanishes into thin air. Upon sneaking aboard the Enterprise, the Scalosian queen Deela (Katie Brown) infects Kirk with an agent that causes him to perceive any unaffected surroundings in slow motion.
A captivating, if frequently bizarre, episode, “Wink of an Eye” is one of few Star Trek entries to utilize time dilation as a central plot device. While Kirk’s relationship with Deela may be difficult to take seriously given her overly amorous advances, this installment will nonetheless appeal to science fiction fans.
Even by Star Trek standards, “Wink of an Eye” strains credibility by splitting itself between two coinciding subplots, one of which is set in real-time and the other in an accelerated framework unique to Kirk and the Scalosians. That being said, an almost surreal quality accentuates the extraordinary rate at which Deela and her people experience time, thus allowing viewers to accept such a fantastic premise despite the logical and continuity flaws that stem from it (specifically, tilted camera angles combine with a white noise effect to generate the desired outcome).
As indicated earlier, “Wink of an Eye” struggles to maintain realism given that Spock and McCoy somehow manage to solve the mystery of Kirk’s disappearance within a matter of hours, yet a similar period of time seems to elapse from the captain’s dilated perspective. This obvious inconsistency can be overlooked in light of the pacing issues that would have arisen if months or years were to pass prior to Kirk’s retrieval from the Scalosian time rate; however, even when suspending disbelief beyond normal levels, audiences may still be inclined to question why ship functions operate as if altered by the acceleration effect outlined above (turbolifts and automatic doors in particular react just as quickly for Scalosians as they do for humans).
The concept of an entire species rendered unable to reproduce as a result of radiation poisoning is an intriguing one, and could have made for a fascinating Cold War commentary if said radiation had been released due to nuclear devastation rather than volcanic activity. Nevertheless, “Wink of an Eye” fails to explain why mating with outside races would reverse the sterilization brought about by such exposure, therefore leaving little room for scientific or social analysis.
“Wink of an Eye” succeeds by creating a world that one would expect while experiencing a genuinely warped state of time progression. Though grossly flawed at times, this offering embodies a most unusual atmosphere to distinguish itself from similarly themed episodes.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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