Feb. 23, 2021

TOS: The Devil in the Dark

Communication really is the key to everything.


Episode Transcript

On this episode, Jeff Akin reviews Star Trek The Original Series, The Devil in the Dark (Season 1, Episode 26). He will examine the leadership approaches of Captain Kirk.

We talk about identifying unconscious bias and how to effectively communicate.

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Transcript

Welcome, everyone! We get a classic episode of Star Trek today. Season one, episode 26 of the Original Series, The Devil in the Dark.  

<<Transporter>>

We start hard and heavy; soundtrack booming. We find ourselves in some deep caves with a crew of miners, armed with what look like phasers. They’re on watch for some, thing, that has killed 50 people already. The crew heads out, leaving a guard. The guard is hopeful the Enterprise will arrive during his watch. Within seconds of being left alone, something appears out of the darkness and attacks the guard. The crew hears the commotion, rushes back and see that the guard has been “burned to a crisp.”

So, it’s a horror movie episode! Our literal monster of the week!

The Enterprise arrives to Janus 6 and meet with Chief Engineer Vanderberg. He’s the administrator of this pergium mining facility. Kirk, Spock and McCoy learn about the “monster” that has been killing miners. Vanderberg says they found astonishingly rich deposits of pergium and other minerals deeper on the planet. They started digging deeper and their machinery was being sabotaged; destroyed. Shortly after that, miners were being killed. Most recently, the attacks have started happening on the higher levels, the “monster” appears to be on the offensive. 

Kirk’s team ask questions to learn more. McCoy offers to examine the body of the recently killed miner. We meet Chief Ed Appel who saw and shot the monster. He says it’s big and shaggy, and that his phaser had no effect on it whatsoever. Vanderberg says they’ve halted production and are now dumping the problem in the lap of Starfleet and the Enterprise. 

Spock spies an object on the administrator’s desk; a sphere about the size of a kickball. Vanderberg says it’s a silicon nodule and that there are millions of them down in the caves and tunnels. Spock is impressed with this find; it’s a geological rarity. 

The miners leave as McCoy returns. He reports it’s not that the person was burned, but more corroded, like it was dropped in a vat of acid. Kirk points out that that sounds similar to the damage caused to the machinery. Spock charts the points of attack on a chart of the tunnels. He says the creature must have moved at lightning speed to perpetrate the attacks. 

We hear the sound of the creature again, down near the power reactor. It attacks and kills the guard standing outside it and we see that it ate it’s way into the reactor. The reactor alarm sounds!

Vanderberg, Kirk, Spock and McCoy arrive on the scene. They find that the main circulating pump for the reactor is gone. And the colony doesn’t have a replacement. The reactor is a time bomb now. “Death by asphyxiation or radiation positioning.” 

When you don’t have the tools you need to complete a job, it’s time innovate! And when it’s time to innovate on the Enterprise, you call Mr. Scott! Scotty thinks he can rig something together to keep the reactor in place and pumping for about 48 hours, but he’ll need some time set it up. Kirk makes it his top priority. 

Vanderberg is worried that 48 hours won’t be enough time. Kirk says it has to be; over a dozen planets rely on the pergium, and this equipment is critical. Vanderberg says his priority isn’t the pergium at all, but his people. 

Score one for Chief Engineer Vanderberg! As a leader, you have a singular priority: the health and safety of your team. Of course, there are times when the mission may outweigh that, but those are generally military or public safety operations like firefighting and law enforcement. But with those jobs, risking your health and safety is a part of the job; it’s literally in the job description! If you’re leading a sales team, or a restaurant crew, or an industrial mining facility, safety is always job number one.

Vanderberg puts that straight into action here. Given the choice to mine pergium or evacuate his teams, he’d choose evacuation. And not because he doesn’t care about the pergium or the planets relying on Janus 6 for it, but because he cares about the people more. 

We are going to have a lot of heavy stuff to talk about in the command codes section, so let’s take some time to talk about this here. 

Taking the time to invest in your people’s health and wellness is time well spent. Promoting physical, mental and emotional well-being makes it easier for people to bring their whole selves to the workplace. When do people make mistakes? When do people get themselves into trouble? More often than not, it’s when they have something outside of the workplace affecting them. Poor health, financial trouble, marital or family issues…the “baggage” we carry with us. If you, as a leader, can create initiatives and spaces at work for people to give attention to these issues, they are more likely to bring the quality you hired them for!

Imagine taking 2 hours to host a webinar on financial literacy for your staff. That’s two hours that people aren’t being productive, right? Well, for 2, or 8, or 47 people on your team that are struggling to pay rent, buy food, or keep the lights on, those 2 hours can make all the difference in the world. And, guess what! Once they aren’t stressed out about having food on the table, they can focus completely on the work in front of them. You invested 2 hours, but now you’re getting closer to 100% of the hours they put in. 

In this line, Vanderberg strikes me as the type of leader that takes the time to invest in his teams. He is willing to, at the drop of a hat, abandon the entire mining operation solely for the sake of the miners. If he’s willing to do that, you can imagine he’s promoting walking groups, support workgroups, employee resource groups and other investments that help people be their whole selves. 

Kirk, Spock and McCoy are debriefing. Spock points out that there was intelligence behind stealing the circulating pump; it was a planned action. They postulate that the creature is trying to drive the miners away. Spock points out that life as we know it is based on carbon. What if there was life based on silicon. They then dive into how that would be different, and how they could attack it. Kirk points out that the Enterprise crew have stronger phasers than the miners; Spock says he can adjust them to be more effective against silicon. 

McCoy finally speaks out. He’s has enough. “Silicon life is physiologically impossible.” He just can’t buy into the theory at all. Despite his input, Kirk decides to test the silicon theory; calls for the phasers to be modified and for a crew to be called down. 

Spock, pondering the silicon nodule starts to see some possibilities. Pressed on it, he says he is working through ideas so Kirk asks him to speculate. McCoy, still not buying into this at all leans in. Spock says the nodules were found on the level where the machinery first started being destroyed. He believes those two points may be connected, but chooses to not give McCoy more ammo to make fun of him. 

The security team makes it down and Kirk briefs them. “50 people have died I want no more deaths.” He basically says the mission is shoot to kill. Based on Spock’s speculation, he sends the crew to the level of the silicon nodules, level 23. 

We get quite a few scenes of the teams searching through the tunnels. The lighting and set design here is great – they really do a good job making this feel like a massive system of tunnels. 

One of the security team is attacked, before he even has a chance to fire at the creature. Kirk and Spock rush to the scene, but he’s already gone. As they study the tunnel the creature made, they remark on how it would have taken weeks for their equipment to have made it and the creature took just seconds.

As they’re studying it, the creature comes out of tunnel and heads towards them! It looks like Pizza the Hut fell down and is crawling across the floor! Kirk get a shot off and it retreats! They chase after it but it’s gone in the blink of an eye. 

There’s a piece of the creature left on the ground, Kirk must have shot it off of it. They confirm that it’s silicon based and can move through rock as they move through air. Spock adjusts his tricorder based on the new information and confirms there is only one creature. It could be that it has a long life span, or it could the last of its kind. Either way, Spock says that to kill it would be a crime against science. 

Kirk says the mission is to protect the colony and to get pergium flowing. “I’m sorry Mr Spock, but the creature must die.” 

So, this is a thing, right? Blind adherence to the mission. Frankly, I’d expect more from Kirk here. The parameters have changed! What was known going into this isn’t necessarily relevant anymore. Changing conditions like this need, at a minimum, consideration. I mean, this is where being part of a chain-of-command really has its advantages! If I were in Kirk’s position, I’d be reaching out to whomever gave me this assignment just to update them on what I’d learned! So far, we’ve gone from a horror movie monster blindly killing and attacking miners to a lifeform that our science said wasn’t possible. I mean, that’s a big deal!! Am I right? 

So, you update the admiral or fleet captain or whatever, and then proceed. I mean, I imagine a situation where Kirk and his team are successful. The kill the creature and the miners get back to work. He hands in his after action report, you know, the one stating he killed a lifeform….wait a minute. It just hit me. Yes, here, the mission is to protect the miners and get the pergium flowing, but isn’t the core mission of the Enterprise to seek out new life? New life and new civilizations?? This is a perfect example of the cognitive dissonance that occurs when you’re told to do a thing that goes against the core values and mission of your organization. If your mission is to grow apple trees, but your boss tells you to burn down a bunch of apple trees, you should be asking some questions! Kirk has been sent out to seek out new life – and here it is!! So, he’s just going to kill it?

Yeah…no. I don’t like it. You find yourself in this situation, you ask the question. Maybe you have to burn down the apple trees because that actually helps apple trees or something. Maybe Kirk still needs to kill this thing because Starfleet already has intel on this lifeform. Or, it changes everything! With this new information, if Kirk asks the question, maybe they still want him to kill it but they give instructions on capturing samples or something. Or they totally change the mission and it shift to a first contact kind of thing.

Well, we’ll never know, because Kirk, unilaterally decides that the mission stands and this thing must die.

Whew. That was a lot. I’m still feeling pretty fired up…bottom line, ask questions. Please. 

Ok, back to the episode. 

Kirk’s briefing the security team. Spock mentions they might capture the creature and Kirk doubles down on his shoot to kill order. After he dismisses the security team, he chastises Spock for countering his order. Kudos to Kirk for doing this away from the security team – praise in public, punish in private, we all know that, right? Spock is great here, though. He doesn’t offer excuses or try to minimize the situation. He accepts accountability and explains his point of view. Kirk, hearing it, confirms that the creature will be killed. He then reassigns Spock to help Mr. Scott. Spock pushes back, but Kirk says that having both the captain and XO together is too much of a risk – a precaution he basically never even almost tries again, even though TNG and other future Star Trek have this as a core directive. Spock offers the odds of anything bad happening to them, and Kirk changes his mind, allowing Spock to stay. 

Awesome thing here – Kirk initially makes an emotionally based decision. Spock counters with data, and logic. Kirk hears this and changes his mind. He changed his mind because he let the data steer his thinking, not his emotions.

Not so awesome thing. I’m pretty sure he was reassigning Spock because he countered his order in front of the security detail. First, he addressed the problem so there isn’t a need to further punish Spock. Second, if this is true, he straight up lied to Spock. Not cool! 

Speaking of Mr Scott, his idea was a wash. His rigged solution gave out and there isn’t anything more he can do. Kirk orders the evacuation of the colony and Scotty says they have about 10 hours until the reactor goes critical.

Vanderberg and some of his team stay along to help search for the creature. They have clubs and phasers and are fired up. More scenes of the crews searching through the tunnels. 

Kirk ends up in a cave that is full of the silicon nodules. We see the creature; it shoves a support causing a cave-in that almost buries Kirk, but he’s ok. And then it happens. The rock is melted and the creature makes a bee-line to captain Kirk. He raises his phaser and the creature stops; he lowers it and it advances. Kirk tests this a few times and decides there is an intelligence to the creature; it’s avoiding the phaser!

Seriously?? It took this to show its intelligence?? What about the targeted attack on the one piece of equipment that the colony now only needs to survive but is also not replaceable! I mean, it was clear from waaaay early on! Ugh. 

Well, Kirk lets Spock know the creature is right in front of him so Spock hurries up. Despite the opportunity to kill it, Kirk won’t. Spock even eggs him on, but Kirk is seeing things differently now. 

He sits down and tries talking to the creature. It turns and shows its injury. He continues talking to it while it climbs up onto some rocks.

Spock arrives and, keeping his phaser pointed at it, he joins Kirk and points out there are thousands of the silicon nodules around them. After some discussion, Spock offers to mind meld with the creature. A mind meld is where a Vulcan joins their mind with someone else’s and they can share thoughts; communicate. 

He approaches the creature. Moments later he tears away saying that it is feeling intense pain, absolute agony. It moves across a section of rock and etches a message into it: “No Kill I.” Spock points out the mind meld worked both ways and it gained knowledge of them as well.

He goes on to say that it is called the Horta. And that while it is in intense pain, and it is not behaving like a wounded animal; there is clearly much more to the Horta than they initially thought. 

You can see the conflict on Kirk’s face. He was completely set on killing this creature, this monster. But it turns out it isn’t a monster at all. He’s still focused on getting the circulating pump back and protecting the miners but realizes that he’ll have to treat this Horta as an equal; he must gain its trust. 

He calls McCoy, telling him he has a patient on the 23rd level and to beam down immediately. Spock questions this decision. Not only is the Horta a silicon based lifeform, meaning McCoy’s medical knowledge won’t apply, but McCoy doesn’t even believe this form of life is possible!

Kirk says an amazing and powerful thing in response: “He’s a healer. Let him heal.” Oh, this is good! And this is something that applies directly to our everyday life. Here, Kirk knows McCoy, he knows who he is, what he is capable of, and he knows that he knows what his job is. Then, the powerful part – he just opens the door and lets McCoy do his thing. When he comes down momentarily, he basically says, “heal it,” and leaves the rest up to McCoy. What we will see is the power of trusting and empowering people.

Kirk asks Spock to re-engage with the Horta and find out why it resorted to murder. Spock is apprehensive – for this level of communication he’ll need to be in contact with it, plus he must open his mind as well. The Mind meld can be a painful and traumatic experience. Understanding the importance of this, and that establishing meaningful communication could save the Horta’s life, Spock agrees. 

He lays his hands on the Horta and we see the dedication Leonard Nimoy has for his character. He is all in here! 

While he’s communicating, Kirk contacts the security team; they’re waiting outside the cave he’s in. He tells them that under no circumstances are they or the miners to enter the cave.

McCoy arrives as Spock is in the throes of his mind meld. Kirk quiets him and gestures for him to stand by him. He quietly complains that the Horta is his patient and just tells him to heal it. Spock continues while McCoy examines the phaser wound. 

He tells Kirk it’s basically made of stone and that “I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer,” and Kirk just says it’s wounded and needs to be helped. Frustrated, McCoy continues his examination. 

Spock is successful in learning where the circulating pump is; the Vault of Tomorrow through the Chamber of the Ages. He learns the Horta is the last of its kind, but is awaiting the rebirth of them. About every 50,000 years, all but one of the Horta dies. Its job is to watch over the eggs of the next generation until they hatch and the species thrives again. The eggs are those silicon nodules that the miners have been disturbing, stealing and destroying. 

The eggs are close to hatching, but with the living Horta wounded, it is convinced it will die and the young Horta won’t have anyone to care for them. Their race will become extinct. It has not been attacking the miners, but defending it’s very species!

Kirk enters the Chamber and finds millions of eggs, and they are about to hatch. He finds the pump and returns to the cave.

McCoy calls for some thermal concrete as the Horta begins to succumb to death. He begins applying it to the Horta’s wound. 

Outside the cave, the miners overpower an unsuspecting security team and rush in. They attempt to tackle the Horta but, phasers raised, Kirk and Spock block them. Kirk explains that while it has killed 50 miners, they have killed thousands of young Horta. He then walks them through his change of heart and shares that the Horta had no objection to sharing the planet and its resources until the eggs were being destroyed and the young Horta killed. 

There is real remorse and sorrow from the miners. “We didn’t know.” I really appreciate this moment. It would have been easy for the writers to have kept the miners as an angry mob, ready to extract revenge from this creature. Instead, they show that the ideal of intelligent life being special is more ubiquitous than just Starfleet. They thought they were just being attacked, but there were barriers between them that served only to escalate the conflict: species, language, the chemical makeup of their being! 

This is not unlike so many situations and interactions in today’s world. Barriers between individuals, communities, nations, and people often serve to escalate conflict. 

This is an example of Kirk and Spock taking advantage of an opportunity to begin bridging those barriers instead of running into them, as well as an example of a culture, the miners, that have a foundational respect for intelligent life. 

Kirk uses this moment to build an even bigger bridge between the barriers that will benefit everyone. With thousands of Horta moving around and creating tunnels, the miners can access resources exponentially more easily and increase profits a thousand-fold. They can live in harmony, helping each other. If, that is, the Horta itself survives.

McCoy, being awesome, as always says, “I can cure a rainy day.” He says that by patching it with thermal concrete, it’s bandaged up and will heal perfectly well. 

Spock agrees to talk with the Horta again, “I find that curiously refreshing,” and negotiates the agreement. 

On the Enterprise, for what I think is the first time this whole episode, we get the trio around the chair, Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Chief Vanderberg reports what a success the agreement is. Even in this short time they’re mining faster and better than ever before. There’s probably a whole other discussion to be had about using a native species to strip-mine a planet, but, hey – this was 1967! Stuff like that was totally ok….

Vanderberg says “they aren’t so bad,” which is a remarkable first step in accepting those that are not as you. Like I feel you have to do with the Original Series, when you look at this through the eyes of a young viewer in the late 60’s, messages like this were powerful and necessary to hear. 

Spock, though, uses it as a hilarious opportunity to remind us that it is not just the privileged class that gets to say who looks odd: “Horta said the same to me.” And that leads to what may be the greatest closing line in all of Star Trek: “I see no reason to stand here and be insulted.”

<<Red Alert>>

This episode is why I love Star Trek. In a time when a monster could just be a monster and the story was people trying to figure out how to stop it, Star Trek comes in and says this monster actually thinks you’re a monster! And then, even better, it ends with no one being a monster but just two groups of beings coming together to create a better whole. 

Does this episode have its faults? Absolutely. I think Kirk being so focused on killing the “monster” even after it shows signs of intelligence and unique life to be wildly inconsistent with his character and with what we have been told about the Federation. There are some inconsistencies in character motivation and approach, but not so bad they take away from the story. Oh, and this struck me at the end of the episode, but there wasn’t a single line spoken by a female, and, I don’t think we even saw one until we were on the bridge of the Enterprise. 

There’s a bit of well known trivia about this episode. During its filming, William Shatner was informed his dad had passed away. While it was expected he would fly home right away, he chose to finish his parts first. This was a relief to production staff, as it could have seriously delayed filming. But, Shatner has shared that he chose to stay because the cast and crew had become like his family and their support was what he needed when he heard the news.

A touching story that shows a side of Shatner you really don’t hear about that often. 

Also, this is the first time McCoy tells us that he’s a doctor, not a…. That alone makes this an iconic episode! 

In my opinion, this has to go down as one of the best and most iconic episodes of all Star Trek. Its messages are timeless, but the time in which it was produced makes it all the more powerful; stories like this simply weren’t told – especially on a nationally broadcast TV show!

And that ending sequence, with Kirk, Spock and McCoy on the bridge…incredible. If nothing else in this has compelled you to go watch this again, let this be your reason! The fact they have so perfectly nailed their relationship at this point of infancy of the series, let alone the franchise, is amazing. 

<<Command Codes>>

Assumptions. Misunderstandings. Poor communication. In this episode, those nearly lead to the extinction of an entire species. In life, these can lead to so many things ranging from eating something you don’t like for dinner, to poor work performance, to war…and even genocide. 

One of the things that makes this episode so great is the microcosmic hyperbole. It’s able to take extinction level interactions and pare it down to Kirk, Spock and the Horta. It is, of course, wildly more complex in our lives, but this is a telling example; a fable almost. 

I’m going to keep the scope of this analysis to the workplace, but the principles apply to every possible interaction from personal, to family all the way to globally. 

Let’s imagine a workplace that has a relatively diverse staff. But the leadership is completely male. There’s ethnic and racial diversity among this group, but every person is a male. One of the positions has opened up and quite a few staff members are excited to apply. One of them is a woman that has years of leadership experience but joined this company as a staff member because of its impressive reputation. We’re going to follow her story. 

So far, this is a situation we can all envision, right? Pretty real-life and not terribly uncommon? Good. 

Ok, 50 people have applied for this position; 39 men and 11 women. Candidates will meet with people at the first two levels of leadership for a series of short interviews. HR shares the qualifications, knowledge, skills and abilities the candidates will be assessed on with the candidates. Because they shared that, 8 people dropped out of the process stating they just didn’t meet one or many of them. 6 of those 8 were women. 

The interview sessions kick off. The concept is, that among the various members of leadership, all the skills and stuff will be assessed. The woman that we’re following is friends with one of the other applicants that is a man. After all the interviews, she tells him how exhausting it was to meet with 6 different people. She says most of them met for an hour but a few only lasted about 15 minutes. Her friend was a little surprised. He shared that he only met with 3 people, each for an hour. 

She thinks that’s odd, but she’s also accustomed to interviews looking a little different for people, so she files that fact away. After the interviews, they drop from 42 candidates to 15. 13 of them are men and 2 are women, including our hero. 

Are we still tracking here? We’re veering down a path, for sure, at this point, but I want to be sure you can still see that this is a real thing that happens in the world today. Please, let me know if I’m way off base here!

So, the process continues, as they do, and they end up with their top two candidates. Our hero, and her friend. In their conversations, they realize they have had very different experiences. They’ve been asked different questions, met with a different number of people and for different amounts of time. Her friend has been asked a lot of questions about projects he’s led, how he motivates teams and how he holds people accountable. Our hero has been asked about her family obligations, who she relies on for technical expertise and how she communicates with others. 

You can probably see where this is going, right? Her friend gets the job. She’s happy for him and thinks he’ll do well, but she doesn’t understand how the decision was made. She has more experience, and more relevant experience at that, a higher level of education and a stack of letters of recommendation that would impress anyone! When she asks why her friend was chosen, she was told that, “his communication style is a better fit.” 

Wow.

What an incredible story, right? If only it were a story. I did this last time too, but this is a true story. Our hero filed a formal complaint, and it was found that she was the victim of discrimination. The company had used a selection process that had a clear bias favoring men. 

To their credit, this company took meaningful steps to improve their recruitment and hiring practices, but they also focused on training their leaders to recognize their unconscious biases and to be aware of them not only in their hiring, but in all their communications with their teams and customers. Good for them, and I hope they are continuing on a path that builds inclusivity and provides opportunities for everyone.

In this episode of Star Trek, though, a lot of the same things happened. There can’t possibly be a life form that is based on anything other than carbon; that thing is attacking us so it must be evil; these silicon nodules are neat but mostly worthless. These are all biases, assumptions, that steer the discussions, questions and actions of everyone involved. It took a traumatic experience for the tide to shift. It wasn’t until the Horta was wounded, and dying, that it chose to protect itself, demonstrating its intelligence.

From there, Kirk and Spock, pause, and reassess the situation.

This is another repeat for us. Pause. Take a moment to stop, breathe, and look at situations through new eyes whenever possible. 

What they do at this point is look for a way to effectively communicate with the Horta. Once they can do that, everything changes. 

In our example, it took a traumatic experience for the organization to pause; a qualified person was not selected for a job and they filed a complaint. Once that happened, they paused, looked at the situation differently, and reassessed the situation. Much like Kirk and Spock, they focused on improving communication. 

It’s pretty remarkable, I think, and not surprising, that so many things can be boiled down to communication. Saying what you mean, and what you mean being heard and understood. 

Imagine if the Horta and the miners were able to communicate immediately. As soon as they breached the 23rd level, the Horta could have said, “Whoa! This is my nursery, and literally my entire species is here waiting to be born. Think you could hold off for about a year?” And, hopefully, the miners would have been cool with that. But they couldn’t communicate. The barriers and gaps between them were vast and great. No common form to communicate, totally disparate motivations, and, their basic atomic and cellular makeup is totally and wildly different. But, through Vulcan mind melding, they were able to bridge all of that and communicate well.

I don’t think we’ll find ourselves in a situation quite like that in our lifetimes. But we still have significant gaps and barriers between us and others. Some are more obvious: people that are non-verbal, or deaf often require different approaches to communicating. People that do not speak your born language as their first language, or who come from a different culture require different approaches. And we don’t always know what those are! Patience, grace and humility are key qualities in bridging those gaps and barriers. 

Taking the time to learn how others communicate and how you need to communicate with them is critical. We see this with the Horta. Once they can communicate, they find they can not only live together, but they can help each other. The episode ends with a win for everyone, and a much more significant win than ever imagined. 

So, what wins are waiting for you? What potential is waiting to be unleashed in your team that is just waiting for you to effectively communicate. Who knows, maybe you have a Horta on your team just dying to eat through stone for you and give you and your team access to resources you didn’t even think were possible. Patience, grace and humility. 

This really is the next step from diversity. If having a diverse team is the first thing you do, that’s great, but the next step is creating inclusion, so everyone feels included as a contributing and valuable member of the team. To achieve inclusion, you and your team must be able to effectively communicate. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have team that brings their whole-self to work, provides innovative and unique ideas and approaches, and everyone will benefit!

We see this done, not only with the Horta, but also with Dr. McCoy. McCoy wants nothing to do with this. Silicon based life is a fantasy and why are wasting our time on this? But, really, it’s his actions, his innovation that brings everything together. 

Kirk helps McCoy unlock his bricklayer potential by communicating effectively with him. He’s not going to convince him that the Horta is an intelligent sentient, silicon based lifeform; he’s not going to tell him how to do his job. He simply appeals to who McCoy is. “You’re a healer. Heal.” 

I know a lot of people that would have wasted their time making their point – McCoy was wrong, silicon based life is a thing – and then they would try to convince him to help it. That’s not solving the problem, that’s proving your point.

What Kirk does is acknowledge who McCoy is, and then gets out of the way and lets him do his thing. He creates a space for McCoy to innovate and try things out. And he absolutely does it! His quote, about curing a rainy day, really justifies Kirk’s approach. It was never about right or wrong, or eve how. It was just do what you do; you do you. 

Corey Taylor, the singer for Slipknot, Stone Sour and about a hundred other acts, gave a talk at Oxford University in 2011 about not following your dreams, but following what you are good at. Sounds pretty counter to what we’re taught through life, but it’s an interesting theory that has strong merits. What it really kind of amounts to is what we see from McCoy. He IS a healer. He is GOOD at healing. Was it his dream to be a doctor? Well, we’ll likely never know, but he good at being a doctor, and he pursued that. 

Kirk knows this about him so that’s how he communicates with him. Again, he is patient, gives grace and is humble when communicating with McCoy here. That doesn’t mean he isn’t deadline focused, or direct, but he isn’t concerned with being right or with being involved in the solution. He just wants to point his best possible person at the problem and let them solve it. 

<<Hailing Frequencies>>

We covered a lot in this one! And, probably left a lot on the table to still be discussed. Like I said, this is Star Trek at its best. 

So, what do you think? What did I leave on the table that we should talk about? Let’s do it; I’m on all the social media @jefftakin Jeff, t as in thermal concrete, a k i n. I really enjoy creating this podcast for all of you. It means the world to me when I hear from you. It would also mean the world to me if you would tell a friend or a colleague about the Starfleet Leadership Academy. Thank you for sharing the podcast!

Ok, time to see what we’re going to watch next time…. 

Voyager, season 1, episode 16 – Learning Curve. This was the first season finale for Voyager. Great timing! In the last episode, For the Cause, I said some stuff about how Voyager handled the Maquis storylines. Well, maybe I’ll eat my words watching this one. 

Until then, Ex Astris Scientia!