Thursday, 21 May 2015

“It’s just that I – I never lost a command before...”

William Windom being brilliant as Commodore Matt Decker in the Star Trek episode The Doomsday Machine. This has to be one of my favourite episodes and that’s due in no small part to Windom’s characterisation of Decker, the desperate Captain Ahab figure consumed with the need for revenge on the machine that killed his crew.

As I started watching it this evening I was captured by little details - the moment when Kirk walks around the bridge past the viewscreen so we see that not-often-seen side of the bridge between Spock’s station and the viewscreen. The fast moving camera angles. The score, which is in turn dramatic and poignant.

Then we move on to the most poignant scene in the episode, where Kirk et al discover Decker alone in auxiliary control and he explains through his shock and distress what happened to his crew. When he collapses Kirk almost reaches out to comfort him, but in a very male mid-twentieth-century way he stays his hand before he touches him. “It’s just that I – I never lost a command before,” Decker falters before McCoy leads him away.

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