*** (3 stars out of 5)
It's time for saloon doors and tumbleweeds in "Spectre of the Gun"!
"Shadows, illusions, nothing but ghosts," intones Spock in the trailer. On the heels of the psychedelia of "Is There In Truth No Beauty?" this, too, is a surreal trip. But fun.
A Melkot buoy plays the old First Federation buoy game: chasing, spinning, making deep-voiced, thinly-veiled threats... which the spacemen ignore in their pursuit of peaceful contact at all cost. This is one assertive meet-and-greet! Why the urgency? Federation seems a little desperate today. Maybe the Melkotians unfriended them on spacebook.
A hovering green meatball with eyes decrees they shall be punished with death for their disobedient intrusion. And what an unreasonable but imaginative hovering green meatball he is! They are presented with an incomplete set dressing of Tombstone, Arizona 1881 under a tomato aspic sky. They have been given antique guns to fight as the losing side of the shootout at the O.K. Corral.
The piano tune in the Bar With No Walls is the most warped version of "Buffalo Gals" ever achieved. Or, for all I know, the Melkot Space National Anthem. Kudos, composer Jerry Fielding.
Chekov plays smoochy face with the barmaid Sylvia, in the interest of good relations with the natives.
Sheriff Earp tries to steal Sylvia, and when Chekov challenges him, Earp shoots the ensign dead. Holy crap! If this was tense before, it's nail-biting time now. Chekov! And he wasn't even in a red shirt!
Spock points out that Chekov's role was William Claibourne, and Billy survived the historical version of this fight. Can they change the inevitable?
McCoy whips up a tranquilizer gas, and Scotty tests it- downing some booze first "to kill the pain".
"But this is painless," Spock insists.
"Should have warned me sooner." Scotty is like the future version of Life Cereal's Mikey: he'll drink anything.
But the stuff doesn't work! If science isn't science-ing, then belief is the only reality. If everyone remains CERTAIN that this is an illusion they will live. Spock melds with Kirk, McCoy, & Scott to share a firm understanding that they are not in danger. The Earp gang bullets pass harmlessly!
Suddenly, they are back on the bridge and Chekov is fine. Kirk says that's because the only thing real to Chekov was the girl. Chekov is like the future version of Life Cereal's Mikey: he'll kiss anything.
The Meatball is impressed with their choice not to kill their attacker. By which it means itself. So humanity's lessening taste for violence earns them a new friend- who'd fill ya fulla lead soon as look at ya!