Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Original Series

"Wink of an Eye"


Air date: 11/29/1968
Teleplay by Arthur Heinemann
Story by Lee Cronin
Directed by Jud Taylor

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Responding to a distress call from the Scalosians, the Enterprise landing party beams down to a planet to find ... nothing. Or apparently nothing. When one of Kirk's men vanishes in front of McCoy's eyes, a search for the mystery's solution becomes the new focus of the mission. Kirk suddenly finds himself pulled into another dimension of existence, where the Scalosians exist in a hyper-accelerated pace, faster than any human being can see. Deela (Kathie Brown), the leader of the remaining dying Scalosians, needs Kirk and his crew's men to repopulate a world that has sterile men.

"Wink of an Eye" has an interest-piquing concept involving the perspective of a race who lives in this accelerated state; the Enterprise crew appears frozen from their perspective. Unfortunately, this episode suffers from a crucial flaw in logic: the fact that the action of two extremely different rates of time are allowed in story terms to unfold alongside each other at the same rate. Spock is able to discover what has happened (in a nice scene where he uncovers the mystery without any dialog but rather with logical visuals) and send himself into the Scalosians' time rate ... but in the time it takes Spock to uncover this mystery in normal time, Deela's plan should've been carried out 1,000 times over.

"Wink of an Eye" works best if you don't try to use reasoning or logic and just go with the flow. The way the Scalosians' dimension is always photographed in canted angle proves effectively surreal without being distracting.

Previous episode: Plato's Stepchildren
Next episode: The Empath

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4 comments on this review

rick - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 - 10:40pm (USA Central)
I love this episode. I also like all the season 3 episodes if for nothing else, nostalgia. Everytime I watch I am transported back to being a child watching them with my father whom is no longer among the living. That being said I do realize season 3 is weaker but this episode is a highlite. Just don't use logic and it goes down well.
dgalvan - Thu, Jun 5, 2014 - 1:37pm (USA Central)
I like this episode a lot because it was DIFFERENT. It broke what was becoming a litany of formulaic templates for Star Trek episodes. The accelerated race of people makes for an intriguing and refreshing concept, and it was a fun mystery to build up to ("what was that mosquito sound?").
William B - Thu, Oct 2, 2014 - 12:13am (USA Central)
Well.... I can't help but compare this episode to other episodes of the franchise with similar takes on the "sped-up time" concept: Voyager's "Blink of an Eye" and TNG's "Timescape." The former uses the concept to look on long-term societal evolution, among other things, and is pretty exceptional; the TNG episode is a fun, techy adventure with (mostly) carefully-thought-out details. Both leave this episode in the dust. It's not so much that I need TOS episodes to be well thought out in terms of the techy details; the big discrepancy between the ratio of the two timelines (Kirk's and the crew's) is something that could maybe have been fixed with a bit of a rewrite. The bigger problem is that the episode starts with this cool idea -- what if there was a society that lived far, far faster than humans do? -- and then doesn't do anything with it, or does very little. It doesn't really make use of the cool implications of how that would impact society the way "Blink" does, nor does it make use of the time continuity to do cool plot/storytelling developments the way "Timescape" does. Put it this way: would either the plot mechanics, or the meaning, of the episode be particularly changed if, say, the Scalosians lived in an alternate dimension or some such, one in which Kirk could send messages out but -- without doing some hefty research -- no one could expect the crew to come, as Spock does, in?

I guess we can sort of say that the Scalosians' disappearance into obsolescence is the danger of a culture going "too fast" to survive -- which makes some kind of figurative sense. The redshirt death, with a single cut making him launch off into an even further, and indeed instant, acceleration, sort of supports this linking of speed with lack of security. I guess it's also cool, as a small detail, that it's the *coffee* of Kirk's that gets spiked so that he ends up finding himself thinking far faster than his crew -- you need to lay off a bit there Jim! I should say that some of the speed up/speed down stuff is fun, and the mystery surrounding the buzzing is fairly effectively presented.

I like how finely-tuned the Kirk/Spock team is by this point in the series -- the episode's best moment is the one in which Kirk sees Spock, at his own speed, in the corridors, and just nods and the two continue on, no need for any explanation of how Spock got there! Similarly to the way Kirk just looks at Spock for some kind of clue as to the odds of Kirk and Spock returning to normal speed later in the episode. And there's something so goofy and funny about Spock repairing the whole ship before returning. And Spock tells a joke! ("It was an accelerating experience.") I think it works more than it doesn't -- because it's such a tiny joke, delivered so deadpan, and when Spock's level of trust with Kirk is at an absolute high.

What's interesting is that this episode is really "mostly" about the question of whether it's right for a dying people to use people who are not themselves dying. And the answer Kirk gives is "no," but it's an interesting, kind of un-Trek ending that Kirk doesn't seem particularly intent on sending anyone to save this dying specides when he warps away at the end. It's not really a criticism, though it does give a kind of unfinished feeling to the episode; Kirk spent all that time with Deela, but while he found himself sympathetic to her he didn't seem to want to devote any of the Federation's resources to find any alternate methods for Deela's people to not entirely die out. I actually enjoyed some of the Kirk/Deela banter, and the way she seems somewhat evenly matched for him (though ultimately of course Kirk inevitably gets the upper hand); the way she knows he's lying and finds the fun and pleasure in the game they play, works pretty well. Less well is the jealousy plot with her alternate mate. Oh well. I guess ultimately the Kirk/Deela stuff seems like it should have pointed to at least some indication of *some* alternative plan to help Deela, even if it's as simple as Spock giving some advice as to how to improve their research so they stand a chance of surviving the next Earth day. But there's nothing.

I think I'd say 2 stars -- not terrible by any means, and largely pretty competent, but it doesn't make good enough use of the SF concept, and the main story focus is itself undercooked.
navamske - Thu, Nov 27, 2014 - 8:53pm (USA Central)
I'm surprised no one has commented on the scene the episode is most famous for: Deela is fixing her hair in the mirror while Kirk sits on the bed, pulling his boots on. The implication is pretty obvious.

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