**** (4 stars out of 5)
Shapeshifters come in all shapes and sizes, but not often with a Porn 'Stache. Until "The Survivor"!
Carter Winston was missing for 5 years. Dr. McCoy is delighted to meet the famous philanthropist who ended the famine on Cerberus. This saved (among others) the life of McCoy's daughter. (It's the only on-screen reference to Joanna and I'll accept it! Canonical!)
Winston's fiancee is aboard: Lt. Anne Nored of Security. He tells her he's changed since crashing on Vendor. "I'm sorry I can't explain why, but I can't marry you, ever."
Worryingly, this is because he is secretly a huge orange octopoid (Octopede?) and, in this out-of-context image, looks to be preparing to marry Captain Kirk. (I kid. He's only stealing Kirk's soul... I mean, shape. Sorry.)
The Faux Kirk orders them directly across the Romulan Neutral Zone. Sulu indicates the treaty allows the Romulans to keep any ship they catch there. Not for the last time, ask yourselves: WHO AGREED TO THAT?
In her first appearance, Lt. M'Ress, the humanoid cat, puts the ship on yellow alert. Like Arex, I enjoy M'Ress, even in a small role, because in case you didn't know: aliens are awesome!
O.K., this episode is what you'd get if you crossed 'What Are Little Girls Made Of?' with 'The Man Trap'. But I'm not even going to click my tongue and grumble 'Derivative!'- because it works and I like it, dammit.
Faux Bones raises Spock's suspicion... by being too agreeable and admitting he's capable of mistakes! Someday, that's how they'll catch my evil twin...
Kirk's keen observation skills catch the shifter pretending to be an extra table. Spock explains that Vendorians can rearrange their molecular structure into anything of the same general size and mass. Also Spock says they practice deceit as a way of life. That's why their world is quarantined. This particular fellow sabotaged the shields, leaving them vulnerable to...
...Romulans who lay claim to the trespassing Enterprise (obviously). Captain Kirk accuses them of sending the Vendorian saboteur (obviously). Now for the surprises that make it all worthwhile...
The Vendorian spins a tale of tending the dying Carter for a year, hearing of his love for Anne, and how the longer his people hold a form the more they take on its emotions. He claims he loves Anne. It's very convincing. (Hey, didn't Spock say these people are a deceitful culture?)
But when the Romulans attack, the Vendorian becomes a deflector shield(!) and apparently saves all their lives.
He says he is an outcast, a non-producer, a menial on his world. He admits to working for the Romulans to feel of value, but protected the humans out of Carter's altruism.
The Vendorian will stand trial, but Kirk will vouch for him, and Anne accepts him outright!
And that's what I love about these people- trust. Even if it's a bevy of blonde vampires or a duplicitous creepozoid, the humans of 2269 tend to give everybody their respect... and often their kisses, too.