“The Time Trap” (Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 12)
Despite being a hardcore Trek nerd, I must confess that I had never actually seen The Animated Series before sitting down to make this post. It had just never been readily available in my youth (as far as I know, it was never on any TV channels I had), and what I had heard had been middling at best so I never made an effort to seek it out. I was pleasantly… not disappointed by this episode. That it was voiced by the original cast gives it a great amount of legitimacy, and the plot in this particular adventure would have fit into The Original Series. Nothing about it seemed especially silly or kid-oriented, which was surprising but welcome.
The “Delta Triangle” moniker of the space anomaly is a bit silly, but the idea of a hidden pocket or null region of space has been done several times with subtle variations for episodes in almost all of the Trek series. For example, in the TOS episode “The Tholian Web” the USS Defiant was pulled into an interphase pocket (and turned up again in an ambitious Enterprise two-parter).
The point of difference in this episode is that there are many ships and peoples living on the other side of the anomaly and it provides a little color and personality to the situation, but for the most part, they’re just there. There are a handful of details and potential plot points that are introduced but not explored or just forgotten. Starfleet’s supposed first warp-capable vessel, the USS Bonaventure, is glimpsed but not mentioned again at all.
Spock’s strange behavior, which at first almost seemed like a ruse (I thought he was going to plant an eavesdropping device when he touched the Klingons), is not really explained, nor does it become a source of much drama for the story. Kirk has a requisite flirtation with Devna, who expresses a forlorn desire to see her home once more, but again, it doesn’t lead anywhere.
The half hour time frame does truncate what amount of story can be reasonably done, but it still seemed imbalanced between potentially interesting threads and some nonessential clutter.
The episode features Kor, the legendary Klingon who would again turn up on Deep Space Nine. He is sadly not voiced by John Colicos, and ends up being a pretty one-dimensional villain. At this point the Klingon culture of honor and nobility hadn’t really been invented yet, but it’s still disappointing that despite Kirk defending him to the alien council, he still goes through with their plan to destroy the Enterprise once they’re free.
The crew having to work together with the Klingons recalls the conclusion of “Day of the Dove,” which featured a malevolent alien entity feeding off the crews’ hatred for each other. One of the persistent themes of Trek is of enemies not being evil; our adversaries often have more similarities to us than differences. It’s been rendered beautifully in episodes like “Balance of Terror,” so it’s a little bit of a letdown to not come close to that level of complexity here.
- This exact same plot would be re-used for Voyager’s seventh season episode “The Void,” which is a decent outing that explores the ideas of collectivism and cooperation in a dire situation.
- The science of the void is glossed over, but how have all these aliens survived for so long? They age more slowly, but surely they would have run out of energy and stuff after so long. The Enterprise’s draining dilithium crystals indicate that either the void saps their energy (or the process of entering it drains it). To its credit the above Voyager episode makes this a central plot point, with the the alien ships mercilessly preying on new arrivals.
- Arex is just kinda there, isn’t he? He doesn’t say a whole word the entire episode.
- It’s theoretically nice to see an Orion woman in a central speaking role, but she is unfortunately garbed in some inexplicably skimpy clothing and does an (offscreen) Dance of Her People. It hearkens back to the lascivious nature of “Orion slave girls” in TOS, so not much progress there.