Star Trek: The Original Series

"Wolf in the Fold"


Air date: 12/22/1967
Written by Robert Bloch
Directed by Joseph Pevney

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

In a Trek murder mystery of galactic proportions, a series of killings on the hedonistic world Argelius II puts Scotty in the middle when he becomes the prime suspect. Worse yet, he can't even remember if he was responsible for the killings or not—he suffers from blackouts and memory loss at the instant of two of the three killings. As for the third murder ... he's certain it wasn't him—and had noticed a strange presence in the room after, as they say, the lights went out. The search for the truth eventually heads back to the Enterprise, where effective use of lie-detector equipment and extensive computer databases eventually leads to the uncovering of another suspect: the Argelian administrator Hengist (John Fledler).

This episode makes for a solid, interesting murder investigation with a few neat twists—including the revelation that the murderer is an alien entity that has jumped from body to body and planet to planet for centuries in its quest to feed upon other people's terror. At one point, the story explains, this presence even manifested itself as Earth's Jack the Ripper.

Although the plot is a little on the fantastic side, and Scotty's blackouts are never explained, the story pulls itself together nicely as Kirk and Spock find the vital clues in the database. I must admit, however, that the light-and-chummy ending seems a little out of place in an episode where confronting "ultimate evil" is a major theme.

Previous episode: Obsession
Next episode: The Trouble With Tribbles

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11 comments on this review

Mike Meares
Sat, Jul 9, 2011, 9:59pm (UTC -6)
Although, I generally believe Jammer's reviews of the second season are good ones, I take exception with the Wolf in the Fold rating of three stars.

I think it is a very weak episode and contains many weaknesses.

The main problem with the story is the way women are portrayed. The role of women in Star Trek was always a little weak, but in Wolf in the Wolf it is out and out chauvinism.

I always had a problem with Star Trek stories that tried to say Scotty was a womanizer, which I feel was stupid. I just never beleived that Scotty would have behaved like that.

And for Captain Kirk to say that the best way to "heal" a man under his command was to set him up with the nearest woman was beyond belief. And for Dr. McCoy to go along with the plan only compounded the problem.

And then to make matters worse Mr. Spock jumped on the male chauvinist band wagon when he explained about the entity that was killing women, "And I suspect it preys on women because women are more easily and more deeply terrified, generating more sheer horror than the male of the species." This was the most rankest form of male chauvinism and something I do not beleive Mr. Spock would have ever said. It isn't logical.

Near the end of the story instead of taking control of Captain Kirk or Mr. Spock, which would have been the logically thing to do, the entity choose the weakest people to inhabit. Nothing about this story made sesne.

Wolf in the Fold was actually a sheep in wolf's clothing.

Tue, Nov 29, 2011, 6:14pm (UTC -6)
I liked the review of Wolf in the Fold, but had to comment about its light hearted ending. If you want inappropriate levity, look at the Galileo 7 episode. Several crewman have died, Spocks command abilities on the planet were lacking and yet the final scene is a rip-roaring, rib tackling laughter session. If this was vaudeville, they be rolling on the floor or slapping each other on the back. Its almost as if the deaths and so on were irrelevant.
Thu, Aug 2, 2012, 6:33am (UTC -6)
Piglet was Jack the Ripper? It's always the one you least suspect, isn't it?
Chris L
Thu, Feb 7, 2013, 11:57pm (UTC -6)
This one produced a moment of unintentional humor the first time my wife and I watched it together. There is a scene on the ship where the killer is revealed and a fight ensues. The character was being played by a short (not much over 5 feet I'd say) actor, but the stunt double in the fight was well over 6 feet tall. This discrepancy led to my wife (who didn't know about the limits of 1960's TV production) to shout "Look honey, he's changing!" After I stopped laughing, I explained to her that it was a problem of bad editing, though her idea would have been a lot cooler. Yes, bad editing can be funny.
Plain Simple
Tue, Apr 23, 2013, 5:26pm (UTC -6)
Although this episode overall was reasonable entertaining, I too was bothered by the multiple instances of sexism Mike Meares points out above.

One thing I do like about the murder mystery side of things, is that early on they put in a subtle hint, which they never come back to and thus leave it up to the viewer to pick up on it or not. Either that, or it was an unintentional slip up by the writer(s). After the second murder when Hengist tries to put the blame on Scotty he says that Scotty was found with both the victims when they were found. But how would he know that Scotty was with the second victim? No one told him that yet at that point, I think? Subtle clue or inconsistent writing?
Sun, Dec 1, 2013, 10:02am (UTC -6)
One of those annoying episodes full of blatant sexism.

I keep hearing that TOS was so far ahead of its time, well maybe it was, in some ways, but the writers certainly lacked imagination when it came to womens' roles.


Wed, Apr 23, 2014, 7:25am (UTC -6)
As others have noted, this is a pretty great and tense episode, but the sexism displayed by the Enterprise crew is disgusting (the entire season is sex obsessed), especially in light of the episode's broader story, which is ABOUT the sexism and violence of a crazy serial killer. In essense, the good guys are portrayed as being no better than the bad guy, but we're positioned to accept this because they're only "casually sexist" and dont kill people. Oh my.
William B
Sun, Aug 10, 2014, 9:49am (UTC -6)
I thought that Scotty's blackouts were explained -- it's stated by Kirk or Spock that Redjac (or whatever one wants to call it) would have some ability to create blackouts in order to shield itself from everyone but its victim, and that is how it managed to survive in London. Why it doesn't use this power at the episode's end, when it's cornered, is anyone's guess. ( panicked?)

Given that Redjac seems to have the ability to possess individuals, and eventually threatens to possess various characters, particularly male, I think one can read the episode's metaphor as being about the *potential* for evil within all people, a common theme within TOS (see, for instance, "The Enemy Within," suggesting Kirk has a big and even important dark side, or "Mirror, Mirror," which suggests that different circumstances could bring out incredible cruelty in our beloved cast). In that sense, the sexism of the Enterprise crew is not necessarily a function of 1960's attitudes, but is making a point: in strong emotions, and resentment, "Redjac," or, the drive toward evil in general and hatred of women in particular, can take hold. This is why, the Argelians point out, jealousy is so heavily frowned upon in their culture, because it can develop and erupt into violence. And I think this is why the first thing we learn about Scotty is that McCoy and Kirk think, or at least jokingly think, that as a result of a recent injury from an explosion apparently caused by a woman, Scotty could develop a "resentment toward women." In some ways I wonder if the episode would be stronger if Scotty, or, at least, that jealous Argelian man, were "possessed" by Redjac, to strengthen the idea that this rage can take hold -- rather than just introducing the possession abilities only at the episode's end once it becomes convenient to have it possess the computer.

In this read, Redjac is the exaggerated form of the objectification which Kirk, McCoy and Scotty happily engage in, and the crew's defeat of it represents their triumph of that side of themselves. It makes sense that at the very end of the episode, the crew stay on the ship rather than go down to where "the women are" etc. This still doesn't explain Spock's statement about the female being the more easily terrified of the species.

There is something delightfully mid-to-late-60's about the way to defeat hatred and misogyny being, basically, drugs. TOS rules out the hippie lifestyle as a long-term sustainable project in "The Way to Eden," but for this particular episode all you need is loooove.

The episode doesn't actually tell us anything about Scotty, unfortunately, which is...fine, I guess, because there's no reason the episode *has* to, though it's a bit disappointing considering how underdeveloped the main cast is save the Big Three, with Scotty as the most important of the second tier of cast members.

I hadn't really thought this episode held together when I started writing this, but I think I've talked myself up to a marginal 3 stars.
Paul M.
Thu, Nov 27, 2014, 6:26pm (UTC -6)
This has to be one of the worst episodes of Star Trek I've had the misfortune to watch... and that is not something I say lightly.

- As Mike noted above, Wolf in the Fold is hilariously chauvinistic: women are terrified "more easily and more deeply"? Really? Where does this little gem of wisdom come from?

- Therapeutic qualities that scantily clad womenfolk have on head injuries are indeed something I'd like to test myself. If I bang my head against the wall right now, is there a curved and padded female specimen reading this that is willing to advance the cause of medicine with me?

- So tranquilisers, huh? The word must have changed meaning in the future.

- Wolf in the Fold contains one of the most brilliant examples of level-headed reasoning I've ever encountered. I hope that all homo sapiens in the 23rd century attain such mastery of unsurpassed, and indeed unsurpassable, logic. The thing goes like this, literally: Scotty, suffering from partial amnesia, is the prime suspect in the murder of three women, but the polygraph indicates he's telling the truth when he says he either didn't commit those murders or that he doesn't remember committing them. A psychic helping with the investigation manages to say "Jack the Ripper" before she too dies. Kirk's immediate conclusion? Why, it must have been Jack the Ripper, of course! However, as those London murders happened hundreds of years ago, the only reasonable explanation is that both Jack the Ripper case and the "Scotty case" were committed by the same centuries-old non-corporeal entity that can manipulate memories and assume physical form at will! Duh! Great, innit?

- After successfully solving the grisly triple murder case, Kirk's first order of business? Let's go to the nearest nightclub and continue the sex party that was so inconveniently cut short by that bothersome and inconsiderate spectral murderer. Good times!
Mon, Sep 12, 2016, 8:08pm (UTC -6)
This episode was too sexist for me to really enjoy it. Too bad, too- the murder mystery thing could have been entertaining or interesting under other circumstances. It seemed like unfortunate type-casting that the effeminate man ended up the villain, especially when his reasons for targeting women- them being generally smaller and weaker and thus more easily victimized- seemed of convenience rather than the misogyny that our main cast so shamelessly exhibited.
Sat, Jan 21, 2017, 4:53pm (UTC -6)
I'm convinced the events leading up to this episode didn't quite happen the way they are described. See, I'm assuming Scotty woke up in sickbay after the accident, declaring himself fine and wanting to get back to work. Bones agreed, and everything was all set until someone realized there was a Starfleet regulation requiring Scotty to undergo psychotherapy for the accident. Scotty insists it's pointless; he has no emotional trauma. Bones agrees, assuming this is all some ridiculous pansy bureaucratic rule made by stuffed shirts in their ivory towers not understanding what life was actually like out on the frontier, but rules are rules... Scotty continues to argue, while Bones realizes that while psychotherapy is required, the precise form of this psychotherapy is up to the ship's doctor. So he throws his hands up in the air and declares strippers and booze to be the best therapy he knows, and Scotty decides he can get on board with that idea...

Hey, it's better than the ridiculous excuse they had in the actual episode...

As for the story itself, it... didn't really work. I mean, the mystery aspect should have been a success, and as long as you didn't think too much worked well enough to be entertained. But it just didn't help that everyone kept carrying the idiot ball around. The fact that the two follow up murders occurred showed a distinct lack of foresight on the part of Kirk and company, who despite seeing women stabbed left and right never thought to maybe, I don't know, stop leaving the knife lying around in broad daylight... Seriously, as soon as the hearing on the Enterprise convened with all the cast members and guest stars and front and center is a nameless female redshirt, I was convinced she was doomed (congrats for surviving the episode!) Also, the revelation that the knife came from the same planet as Piglett came way too late, after we already knew it was him. Why wasn't that fact disclosed earlier? Still, it was a semi-acceptable murder-mystery story...

...That then turned into a weird problem-solving episode at the end. A mystery's climax is supposed to be the revelation of the murderer, but here we have the last quarter of the episode switch genres and be about trying to defeat a ghost that feeds on fear and is possessing the ship. Fine, the resolution to that - hopping everyone up on happy pills (guess Psychiatrist McCoy didn't have enough booze and strippers on hand to prescribe that to everyone...) - was somewhat interesting to see, but the mood swings in the last 10 minutes kind of ruined whatever good will you might have had from the mystery part. At least, it all seemed messed up to me, and not really a satisfying payoff to the story.

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