The Animated Series’ “The Time Trap” in Review
Take time for this episode. It’s no trap!
The USS Enterprise explores the Delta Triangle, where many ships have mysteriously disappeared. Sensor disruption occurs and a Klingon warship, the Klothos, attacks, then vanishes. Confronted by more Klingon ships, the Enterprise breaches a time barrier, discovering a starship graveyard in an alternate universe. The Klothos fires but space battle is neutralised and Kirk is suddenly beamed away.
The Enterprise and Klothos crews are eager to escape. When the Klingons fail, Spock suggests combining the two vessels. Both sides approve but Kor plots the Enterprise’s destruction.
Finalising escape prep, Spock warns Kirk of a Klingon plot to sabotage the Enterprise. The bombing is foiled as the two ships escape the barrier. They separate, Kor claiming he saved both vessels. Kirk is simply relieved to be back.
The stardate (52.2) at the beginning, possibly a mistake by William Shatner, is weirdly short. It was originally scripted as 5264.2.
“The Delta Triangle” nods to the Bermuda Triangle but, given the three-dimensionality of space, could be more aptly named “the Delta Prism”. Alternatively, it might be a two-dimensional triangular surface or colloquially named.
In half-witted dialogue, Kirk asks Spock about seeing the same thing as him, lacking details on what Kirk observed. His term “mouse-trapped” is ridiculously casual. Uhura oddly claims that a transmission to the nearest starbase will take three weeks, despite the supposed instantaneous nature of subspace.
After “More Tribbles, More Troubles”, this is the second of only two TAS episodes showcasing the Klingons. The Klingon names here sound appropriately Klingon.
George Takei and Nichelle Nichols are too recognisable at voicing Klingon commander Kuri and the Orion Devna. Kor is more convincingly voiced but sadly not by John Collicos, James Doohan voicing the part instead.
Kirk aptly describes the starship graveyard as “a vast Sargossa Sea.” Prolonged exposure to seaweed in that sea causes disorientation, which is encountered here.
If time behaved differently in Elysia, it would be obvious. Elysia clearly shares our universe’s physics and speed of light, crucial for atomic stability. It’s more likely that Elysian biology, not time, is altered, possibly by factors like radiation (akin to Ba’ku’s rings in Star Trek: Insurrection) or lack of microbes. Uhura calling Elysia “an alternate universe” parallels a scene from the 2009 Star Trek movie.
This episode excels in worldbuilding, delving into the history of the long-lost vessels, including the Bonaventure. Mention of that ship’s descendants evokes recollection of episodes like DS9’s “Children of Time” and Enterprise‘s “E²”.
Scotty describes the Bonaventure as “the first ship with warp drive,” contradicting later productions which cite the Phoenix that way. Maybe he meant it’s the first warp-powered “starship” or the first with “modern” warp. It could even be the Phoenix, heavily refitted. Although its history clashes with canon, its true naval lineage is extensive.
A council prohibiting Kirk and Kor’s violence homages the Organians in “Errand of Mercy”. The multi-species council, similar to the Xindi Council and the Federation Council, brilliantly showcases aliens from The Original Series and The Animated Series, marking the only TAS appearance of a Gorn.
Portraying Elysia as a time-dilating location foreshadows the “Blink of an Eye” planet from Voyager. There’s also similarities with Voyager’s “The Void”, where starships are trapped by an anomaly, necessitating cooperation to escape.
The Elysian council’s nonviolence penalty, “total immobilisation of [a] ship for a century,” seems absurd when a century “means nothing” in Elysia. It’s baffling why a more meaningful penalty hasn’t been devised.
Frustratingly, this is the second consecutive episode to feature rapid deterioration of the Enterprise’s dilithium crystals. The Klingons’ S-2 graf unit, equivalent to the ship’s warp drive, is fantastic but unfortunately never referenced again. As for breaking the “time barrier,” this is inconsistent with “The Cage”, where it had allegedly been broken already.
The Enterprise and Klothos collaborating obviously foreshadows Federation-Klingon cooperation. Clunky dialogue arises, as they are technically two ships but illogically described as a single ship when joining forces. Similar unity occurs in Enterprise’s “Divergence”, where Enterprise and Columbia combine warp bubbles. Kirk and Kor’s team-up echoes their consideration of a partnership in “Errand of Mercy”.
Regrettably, this marks the last appearance of Lieutenant Gabler. Kirk mispronounces his name as “Gah-bler” in this episode, whereas it was “Gay-bler” in previous installments.
The Klingons’ antagonism, even after Kirk and Kor team up, feels refreshing. It avoids The Animated Series’ overused “misunderstood antagonist” trope. Bonus points for featuring a Klingon woman, a rarity in TOS or TAS (except for “Day of the Dove”).
Devna, who dances for Kirk, seems similar to Orion women in TOS and Enterprise’s “Bound”. However, her extremely mild vocal manner is worlds apart from the Orion women of Lower Decks.
The risk to the Enterprise seems poorly considered, since it’s highly unlikely the ship would be blown up mid-show. The warp control panel, containing the explosive, looks too small for its presumably vital role in controlling the warp drive. Although it’s puzzling why the Enterprise crew doesn’t beam the explosive into space, the similarity between an ejection chute here and a disposal tube in the TOS episode “The Conscience of the King” is remarkably observant.
This episode’s end is ambiguous. It’s unclear why Uhura mentions Kor contacting “his home base” instead of specifying somewhere like Qo’noS, which would be more believable. Yet, the Klingons remaining villainous and Kirk appreciating the return to space exploration is all very Trek.
Lamentably, this is the final appearance of smooth-headed Klingons except for DS9’s “Trials and Tribble-ations” and Enterprise’s “Affliction” and “Divergence”. The Klothos is excellently referenced in DS9’s “Once More Unto the Breach”.
Overall, this is a fun adventure with a bizarre region of space and aliens galore, including satisfyingly villainous Klingons. Though imperfect, it’s exciting, commendably paced.
Editor of WarpFactorTrek, Dan is an avid Star Trek fan who lives in Aberdeen, Scotland. Dan has loved Star Trek ever since discovering it in his childhood. He worked as an administrator, for six years, on the encyclopedic Star Trek website Memory Alpha, which involved studying the making of the various series and films. He has been mentioned in the official Star Trek Magazine, has qualified from a Star Trek course taught at Glasgow Clyde College, and coordinates the SubSpace Chatter (formerly The Scotch Trekker) YouTube channel, which regularly features live interviews with the cast and crew of Star Trek.