“WOLF IN THE FOLD”
Season 2, Episode 14 (Production 37), Story 43
Written by Robert Bloch; Directed by Joseph Pevney
PLOT: Scotty keeps standing over dead ladies.
SUB-PLOT: Good Lord, another trial episode? Really?
KIRKISM: “Yes. All men die. And Jack the Ripper couldn’t be alive if he were a man. But everything we’ve uncovered points to Jack the Ripper. Which is an impossibility. Isn’t it?”
HEADER QUOTE SPOKEN BY: Scotty
WOLF IN THE FOLD is an odd episode; at times, it’s a solid mystery but at others it’s interminably boring, and the result is an episode that talks at you more than it takes you with it on a ride.
The premise is that the Enterprise is on shore leave on Argelius 2, a plant with a pleasure-based society. Scotty goes off with a belly dancer and she ends up dead, with Scotty standing nearby holding the murder weapon. Another woman dies, and then another one, always with Scotty in a bad spot and unable to distinctly remember what had happened.
WOLF sets some kind of record for flipping back and forth from interesting to mind-numbingly boring. The murders of the ladies, the doubt cast on Scotty, and the ultimate revelation that the guilty person is actually the one and only Jack the Ripper is all really engaging television but there’s so much damn sitting around that it drives me loopy. The episode is written by Robert Bloch, so the dialogue is relatively strong, but there’s only so much sharp dialogue can do to get us through yet another long trial sequence.
The trial is a bread-and-butter staple of STAR TREK, and one of the most annoying aspects of the show. It exists only, it seems, to give Shatner some scenery to chew in order to display his amazing feats of logic. Here, it comes out of nowhere that Jack the Ripper is actually some malevolent entity that’s traveling the galaxy in order to kill women, and when it comes up Kirk immediately latches on to the idea, arguing that it has to be the Ripper and not Scotty, no matter how improbably it seems because “all” the evidence gathered points to that conclusion. In the sense that all of these trials were practice for Shatner’s performance as Denny Crane, I’m okay with it, but as a segment of an episode of STAR TREK, they’re a bit daft.
There’s three distinct segments to WOLF that help give the episode some uniqueness – it starts as the murder mystery, then slows to a crawl for the trial sequence, and then finally picks up again at the end when the Ripper entity takes control of the Enterprise’s computer. It’s in this third section where things really pick up and I’d have preferred to see more of the Enterprise in the throes of the Ripper instead of that big trial. That said, WOLF IN THE FOLD isn’t a bad episode at all; it’s just not as special as it could have been.