Friday, June 5, 2015

A Twenty-third Century Ripper

"Wolf in the Fold."
First aired: December 22, 1967.
An episode of Star Trek (79 episodes, 1966-69).
“I think we bear left,” Kirk said. But the turn they took led them into an alley. They had paused, about to retrace their steps, when a woman’s agonized scream tore the silent darkness before them. “It came from there!” Kirk shouted, and plunged deeper into the foggy alley, McCoy at his heels. They both stopped at the sound of heavy breathing. Kirk took a forward step only to stop again. He had stumbled over a body.
It was sprawled, face down, on the damp paving. The back of the cloak it wore was ripped by venomous slashes.
McCoy, kneeling beside it, lifted the head. After a long moment, he raised a face that was blanched with horror. “It’s Kara,” he said. “Dead. Stabbed a dozen times.”
The heavy breathing sound came again. They ran toward it. Scott was crouched against the alley wall. He stared at them unseeingly, his face twisted into a grimace. In his hands he held a long, sharp knife. It was wet with blood.
— James Blish (1921-75), “Wolf in the Fold” story adaptation of a Star Trek script (1967) by Robert Bloch (1917-94).
Perhaps on the day of judgment the true identity of the Victorian-era serial killer known to history as Jack the Ripper will be revealed, but for now he (or she) will have to remain an enigma lost in the fog-enshrouded back alleys of London.
Robert Bloch wrote two other Star Trek scripts during the original series’ first run; but when he returned to his tried and true theme of Jack the Ripper preying on contemporary society (“Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper,” Weird Tales, 1943) and projected the character four centuries into the future, he succeeded very well.
The Trek production team gave Bloch’s story the proper treatment, with nearly every scene largely drenched in shadows and fog accompanied by an intense, fittingly nerve-jangling musical score—and for the first-time viewer, the attempts at misdirection succeed at diverting suspicion away from the real killer, a definite plus.
If you like science fiction mixed with mystery and horror, you might enjoy “Wolf in the Fold.”

Quotes from the episode:

  “Captain, you mean my neck’s gonna have to depend on some spooky mumbo-jumbo?”
  “The entity would be as a hungry wolf in that fold.”
  “I’ve got some stuff that would tranquilize an active volcano.”
  “This is the first time I’ve heard a malfunction threaten us.”
  “With an armful of this stuff, I wouldn’t be afraid of a supernova.”
  “Computer, this is a Class A compulsory directive. Compute to the last digit, the value of pi.”
  “Well, Mister Spock, for the next five or six hours we’re going to have the happiest crew in space. Of course, we won’t get much work done.”

- Robert Bloch still has many admirers; go HERE.
- As most of you know, Bloch was responsible for the source material (HERE) of Hitchcock’s film Psycho (HERE).
- James Blish wrote short story adaptations of Star Trek episodes, available on HERE.
- Blish is most famous for his Cities in Flight tetralogy, also available on Amazon, and a darkly philosophical science fiction novel, A Case of Conscience, available HERE.
- Amazon has “Wolf in the Fold” on video HERE.
- A detailed summary of “Wolf in the Fold” is available at Memory Alpha HERE; but if you haven’t seen it before, be aware that there are SPOILERS.
- ONTOS previously touched upon some other Star Trek mysteries HERE.

Category: Science fiction mysteries

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