Star Trek requires a lot of explanation

Yesterday was my birthday. It was a busy day. In the morning I …

  • Dropped Jadzia off at preschool
  • Took Ludi with me for my chiropractor appointment
  • Came back to preschool to watch Jadzia’s class perform a “play” about a pumpkin.

While we were waiting for lunch, I decided to watch a Star Trek episode (since it was my birthday) and let the girls see it.

First I had to choose which episode. I found a box with several of my tapes. I decided against most of them because they involved monster-type aliens or other plots that might scare the girls. Then I saw City on the Edge of Forever, considered by most to be the best episode of the original series. My choice was made.

I was sort of in a hurry, so I just took it upstairs and popped it in. But as the episode started, I realized I was going to have a lot of explaining to do.

The episode starts with the Enterprise being rocked by waves or ripples of time displacement. Sulu gets injured, and Dr. McCoy comes to the bridge to administer some cordrazine — a strong medicine. Then the ship rocks again and McCoy injects himself with the entire vial of cordrazine. Then he goes crazy.

The girls of course don’t understand any of this and are asking questions. So I have to explain that when you take too much of any medicine, it can do bad things to your body. That’s what happened to the doctor. But it was an accident.

McCoy is running around the ship and sneaks into the transporter. Then he beams himself down to a planet. So then I have to explain to the girls what a transporter is and what it does. Not sure if they really got that.

Jadzia is sort of scared of the manic McCoy, and she covers her face with a pillow. I have to keep telling her that the doctor is a good guy, and that this episode doesn’t really have a bad guy.

Kirk and company follow McCoy to the planet, where they find the Guardian of Forever, a sort of portal to the past. McCoy runs from his hiding spot and jumps through the Guardian. Kirk tries to call the Enterprise, but receives no answer. They realize McCoy has changed something in the past which has changed all of history.

So through the entire rest of the episode I have to repeatedly explain the concepts behind time travel:

“Jadzia, you’ve been here five years. Five years ago you were born. And before that your Mamá and Papá got married. What if someone went back to the past — which of course people can’t do, but we can pretend — and pushed your Papá in front of a car and he died? Then we wouldn’t have gotten married, and you wouldn’t have been born!”

Once Kirk and Spock go back to the past, things became a little easier. Not quite so much science fiction. But Jadzia didn’t understand that in the 1930s they didn’t have computers. That’s why Spock had to build one.

And of course the true crux of the episode — that social worker Edith Keeler must die. Somehow McCoy is going to save her from dying, and she will lead a successful pacifist movement in the U.S. This will allow Germany to develop the A-bomb first and win World War II. Kirk can’t allow that to happen, but he has fallen in love with Edith. At the climax of the episode he forces himself to restrain McCoy and allow Edith to be hit by a car.


Any time we watch a new movie or TV show, we are bound to have to answer questions throughout the whole thing. Usually the questions are easy to answer. But I can see now that time travel, overdose-induced psychosis, and other sci-fi concepts are probably just a bit beyond the girls’ reach.

3 Replies to “Star Trek requires a lot of explanation”

  1. A bit beyond their girls’ reach? Yep, I really think so… But great choice for an episode!! And what a job with the explanations 🙂

  2. Florecita: I wish, but I am realistic to know they are still years away from watching TWOK or Lord of the Rings, etc. Maybe Star Trek IV, with the whales, would be a good introduction. No bad guys.

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