Warp Factor Trek

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Here’s a sequel to “The Trouble with Tribbles”. Does it measure up to its enormously popular progenitor? Are there any tribbles — I mean troubles — with this episode? Let’s consider the details.


Escorting a pair of robot grain ships containing the highly valued seed grain quintotriticale to the famine-stricken Sherman’s Planet, the Enterprise encounters a Klingon battlecruiser aggressively pursuing a small, one-person scout ship. With the Klingon vessel unresponsive but violating Federation space, Kirk plans for the Enterprise to rescue the smaller craft’s occupant, so Scotty locks the transporter onto the vessel. However, the troubled little ship then explodes.

The scout ship blows up

The Klingons have a new weapon, a stasis field effect which the battlecruiser fires at the Enterprise, basically paralysing the starship and disabling its weapons. Contacting the Enterprise, the Klingon captain, Koloth, argues with Kirk about who should receive custody of the scout ship’s pilot. When Kirk attempts to ram the two robot vessels into the Klingon battlecruiser, it causes the hostile spacecraft to lose power. The battlecruiser damages one of the grain ships and then retreats.

At last, Scotty manages to beam the scout ship’s survivor aboard. Everyone is surprised to see that it’s Cyrano Jones, accompanied by piles of tribbles.

Cyrano Jones arrives aboard the Enterprise

Cyrano explains the tribbles he’s brought aboard are “safe,” genetically engineered ones, which don’t reproduce. He recalls that, to help him clean up all the tribbles on K-7, he enlisted the help of a tribble predator called a “glommer”. Jones first alleges ignorance as to why the Klingons were chasing him but eventually admits that he sold tribbles on a Klingon planet. For breaching Federation and local mandates, Kirk has Jones confined.

A briefing is held. McCoy confirms that the tribbles Jones has brought aboard don’t reproduce and simply get fat. All the grain has been transferred from the damaged grain ship to the Enterprise, which is taking up a lot of physical space. Scotty worries.

The Klingon battlecruiser looms ominously on the Enterprise’s viewscreen

Making matters worse, Koloth’s battlecruiser returns. It targets the second grain ship, wrecking its propulsion units. A battle between the Enterprise and the Klingon vessel ensues. This breaks the cargo containers in the Enterprise’s corridors, enabling the tribbles to feast on the grain and instantly grow fat. The Klingon battlecruiser, hit by a photon torpedo from the Starfleet ship, veers off. Kirk expresses concerns about the increasingly fattening tribbles to Jones and prepares to re-engage the Klingon ship.

Using the new Klingon weapon, Koloth’s spacecraft captures the Enterprise. Though Koloth demands that Jones be turned over to the Klingons, Kirk refuses, so Koloth sends troops to take Jones by force. Kirk responds by allowing the huge tribbles to infest the battlecruiser. Koloth requests the return of the glommer, a genetically engineered prototype that was stolen by Jones from a Klingon planet. The glommer is the Klingon’s quarry, not Jones, so the Enterprise crew beam the critter to the battlecruiser, which releases the Enterprise.

Koloth preparing to use the glommer

When a pair of Klingons blast a gigantic tribble aboard their ship, it shatters into a multitude of much smaller tribbles that swamp the two Klingons. Kirk also gets covered in tribbles and Scotty makes a joke about their size.


Whereas the Enterprise responds to a distress call in “The Trouble with Tribbles” which is from a space station that is presumably under attack by Klingons but turns out not to be in genuine distress, the premise is completely subverted here, the Enterprise detecting a spaceship which is genuinely being hunted down by a Klingon ship. The reason for this attack? The Klingons hate tribbles, which is basically the opposite of the previous episode establishing that tribbles detest Klingons. These reversals are impressive!

David Gerrold appears in an animated cameo

I love that David Gerrold has an animated cameo as a sciences-division redshirted ensign. It’s also fantastic that Stanley Adams was rehired to reprise the role of Cyrano Jones in this episode. His clothing, though animated, looks close enough to his original costume in “The Trouble with Tribbles”. It’s also fitting that the character who first introduced the hyper-reproductive tribbles to the Enterprise (and to us, the audience) is introduced here while surrounded by piles of tribbles.

The glommer’s upper body, with sharp-looking tooth-like parts, appears suitably aggressive and the revelation that it was designed by Klingons makes perfect story sense. The pink colour of all the tribbles has always looked fine to me, even though it’s obviously different from any of the other tribbles in the Star Trek franchise — the fact they’re unique in having been genetically engineered seems like explanation enough.

The pink tribbles roaming through the Klingon battlecruiser

There are some fantastic one-liners in this installment. Scotty’s exasperation is quite amusing. I also love the well-scripted interplay when Spock suggests throwing tribbles at the Klingons and Kirk confirms he’s not joking. On the whole, though, the episode plays less funny than its tribble predecessor.

Several factors that are reproduced in this episode after being included in “The Trouble with Tribbles” seem too coincidental to factor into both episodes. Having a different Klingon captain than Koloth in this tale would have helped make the Klingon Empire appear more vast. It also would have accounted for the change of performer between William Campbell playing the role and another actor, in this case James Doohan, voicing it.

Rating: 2/5

It’s a pity this episode didn’t venture off ship. The blue and grey hues of the Enterprise’s innards combine with Cyrano Jones’ sickly green outfit to create, artistically, an occasionally nauseating mess. The battle tactics with the Klingons are fairly interesting, though, and the animation is adequately sophisticated to show these space battles. That said, monotonous conflict doesn’t make for a particularly varied episode. I do love the look of the Klingon vessel, however, and appreciate that this episode lets us see inside Sulu’s scope at the helm station. Ultimately, this is a mediocre script which could have been executed better but is not on the same level as its TOS forebear nor superior sequel “Trials and Tribble-ations” from DS9.

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