While Star Trek has had some interesting fight scenes up to this point, it’s really with “Court Martial” that you can begin to play the “spot the stunt double” game in earnest. It’s not really all the difficult. All you have to do is watch for any wide shot that involves the regular cast and thanks the wonders of high definition, you can tell without a doubt when the stunt doubles are taking part in the action and when the regulars are.
Though, if we’re totally honest, I noticed this trend LONG before the advent of the HD remastering.
If there’s one thing “Court Martial” does well, it proves how elastic Trek can be with its storytelling. A fairly straight-forward courtroom drama with Kirk fighting for his professional life and trying to prove that he didn’t kill a crewman as the records appear to show. As I’ve stated before, one aspect of Star Trek I find fascinating is that while the characters use and rely on the technology that surrounds them, the series has a consistent warning about not relying on it too much or trusting it without question.
The courtroom scenes as Samuel Cogley defends Kirk and his actions are great. His reliance on books that you can feel, touch and turn the pages is a great character moment and when he gives Kirk a book at the end, you almost feel like this is the start of a character thread that will pay off in the Wrath of Khan. Whether that’s true or just wishful thinking on my part, I guess we’ll never really know.
The series also seems to establish that it doesn’t really pay to be an old friend of James T. Kirk. Gary Mitchell got god-like powers and had to be killed to save the ship and humanity. Ben Finney got put on report and bears so much resentment toward Kirk that he is willing to sabotage the computer, fake his own death and see his old friend court-martialed. It makes you wonder what might happen if Kirk and McCoy truly had an epic disagreement.
Ron Moore noted that season one Kirk has a bit of a swagger to him that diminishes over the run of the series, especially in season three. I’d argue that edge is on full display here as Kirk demands the trial and his complete faith in himself, regardless of the odds being stacked against him or what the records on the computer show. Kirk clearly knows he’s innocent and he’s going to prove it. He refuses to step down or brush this under the rug. It’s his sheer force of will that keeps him in command, even if he faces a court martial.
Of course, you can question the logic of Finney’s plan as well as how he executed it. It must have been difficult has all get out to hide out in the bowels of the ship for so long and keep covering up that he was still alive. It also makes you wonder just how long he’s willing to go along with this plan. Because, let’s face it, the minute he puts in a re-appearance, the jig is up. Or does he really plan to never come out of hiding and let his daughter know that he’s alive and well.. She is pretty upset about his death — well, unless all her hysterics is part of his plan.
As with many of the episodes of the original run, there is a lot of good here. But there’s also a few things that keep this one from being an upper level classic.