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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8 comments on this review

Fri, Apr 11, 2014, 10:40pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Jun 5, 2014, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
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 (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Nov 27, 2014, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Nov 4, 2015, 6:44am (UTC -5)
Enjoyable episode, 3 stars, if one looks aside the ovious plotholes and the screeming voice to do things different.

also this suffers from again : kirk the spacepimp (tm) to much. (one of the things I hate about TOS in general.)

The things that brought this down for me a noth
-the timelines that indeed did not match... two different timespeeds... and events happend at the same rate??
**but they also did not keep the fast time at the same speed.
How fast WERE those being moving?
Well we know that they could not been seen.
The human eye registers 80Hz, we have seen them in direct sight before peoples eyes in the same spot, for as much as 3 minutes in a row. That makes their time acceleration at least 15000x as fast as our time. Or Put differently well over 10 days would pass in 1 minuut of "real time"
=> yet all events we see happen in the span of a few hours, socrry sais he goes to the beaming room, and is there in the next shot.. makes no sence.

But than there is the argument of the nerves.. More speciffic Touch. Touch is not made by one type of nevers.
You have chemical nerves (that would detect the pheremones and the different acidity of the other person touching you)
You also have Elektric nerves, that detect the static field that is around every living thing.
And than you have heat&cold nerves, that register the difference in temperature between you, your surrounding and whatever is touching you.
I could not find if there is a minimum amount of time to make a signal.. but it seems logic it is quite posible to move under the radar of your nerves and no be registered at all.
But given that it is registered, nerves are quite slow, 100m/s
that means to feel a kiss, 0,002 seconds are needed.
at 15000 times time exeleration, thats 30 seconds, so plausible.

But than the last piece of the puzzle.. they still can be HEARED talking.
The human ear hears upto 20.000hz, but the sound we register as mosquito, is only 600-1000hz.
Human voice is between 80 and 180Hz
that would mean the reordings were only at about 16x normal speed, a lot slower, that is not sound science.

And than there is the fact the invented a drug that would counter-react the effect of the speed up effect.. but did not share it with the people on the planet??
(would have solved their problem, at normal speed she could just go to a bar... and I let you fill in the blanks..)

Also, how often DO ships pass through there...
if they had a normal lifespan of say 200 (future healthspans longer) and they were like 20 now.. That would give them only about 5 days left. (and given that woman are only fertile until 50 orso.. (and that would not change even with longer lifespans) that would give them only 18 real time hours to breed and proceed their society.

=even IF they would keep catching ships, they needed to be incredibly lucky to have one passing by, only 18 hours later=
also.. as the thing what made the man infertile, seems to be the same thing that speeds things for them up.. would not races they speeded up to their time, not also be infertile?=
And if not, what would prevent the spieces from eventually regain fertility?=
And if the infertility is caused instead by the chemicals on the planet.. why not leave it? Or at least instal water purification devised.

Also would have have hurt the enterprise to have the males leave some seamen samples on ice, with regulair shipments added to that (seems all they needed was that)..

to much plotholes... it could have been written a bit better.
Tue, May 24, 2016, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
Just a small nit: When Kirk reappears in the transporter room, Scott asks him, "Where in the blazes did you come from?" and Kirk answers, "Out of the nowhere, into the here." Scott then says, "And Mr. Spock, is he comin' too?" But Scott left the bridge before Spock drank the Scalosian water, so he shouldn't know that Spock has also been accelerated.
Mon, Sep 26, 2016, 2:38am (UTC -5)
I wonder if they died out. Oh well, at least they got one baby out of the deal (Kirk&Deela). More, of they used that one redshirt before killing him off.
Sat, Mar 4, 2017, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
It was an ok episode, and definitely one of the best of the season for me.

The beginning was a tad slow (ba dum tiss?) but it got better and better when the pretty blonde came in. On one hand, I also liked to see an extended role for an actress for once, she seemed smart and on Kirk's level apart from being gorgeous. On the other hand, most of her character's motivation is the search for a good man. D'oh.

Just like WIlliam B. I also noticed they didn't seem to share the solution of accelerated life with the Scalosians. Kirk and company basically condemned them to death, "please don't bother us anymore and go die quietly in the corner of the universe". A very untrek ending, indeed.

Overall, it was a fun episode, loved the slow motion effects and actors just moving slow.

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