I'm going to start this one off with a relevant joke, because I keep noticing this and I find it funny and you all probably don't get it. There's a ship captain, and whenever an enemy vessel is sighted coming towards his ship, he always orders the first mate to bring him his red shirt. Every battle, as soon as the enemy appears, it's "bring my red shirt." One day the first mate asks him why, and the captain explains that it's important for morale, order, decorum, what have you that the crew not see him injured in the course of battle, as it would be a distraction from their duties, so he wears a red shirt to hide the blood.
One day they sight ten enemy vessels, and the captain asks for his brown pants.
Anyway, the point of the joke is that at our gaming table, we had a catch-all term for the NPCs and whatnot whose job was to show up and die as a measure of the stakes, a depiction of power, consequences, what have you. No hit points, no attack rolls, they'd just automatically go splat in the face of whatever peril was on the menu for the day. Since we never "saw the blood," so to speak, we started calling them "red shirts." The reason I'm finding this funny is because Star Trek is doing the very same thing, only the red-shirted personnel seem to be the ones immune to it. On Star Trek, it's the blue uniforms who are most likely to be killed bloodlessly for narrative convenience, then the yellow ones. I think only one red has died so far that I've seen, and it was the gent who was going to be married before the fight with the Romulans. I have to wonder why they didn't go with killing all the red-uniform personnel, since when something gigantic throws a spear into you I would expect a lot of blood, rather than THUNK dead. Shows what I know, though.
So Star Trek has their own record of NPCs getting thugged for the hell of it, a narrative convenience that the characters don't ever address again. I think Kirk lost, what, four men to this endeavor? And at the end they're still just making jokes about Mr. Spock's emotional state. Given Bowman's reactions to Spock, though, I'm inclined to feel like it's something the captain will deal with personally, and give them a pass on it.
This was an episode focused almost entirely on Mr. Spock and how he, as a part-alien, relates to the human crew. I still don't really understand why he's on an Earth ship to begin with except that he's part-human, so perhaps as a diplomatic gesture? Not to say that he doesn't deserve a spot on the crew - although the episode clearly demonstrates that he's not cut out for a solo command over humans. Even with Dr. McCoy there to counsel him, Mr. Spock is completely wooden. The id cannot help the superego without the mediating presence of the ego. I thought the episode would examine Captain Kirk bereft of his two advisors and friends, but the presence of High Commissioner Rectumface put a stop to that. Speaking of whom, how come he didn't show up to be a rectum again when they went back to transport out the missing crew?
Mr. Spock. So very fond of his logic, but he really does have an emotional core, doesn't he? It fascinates me that others are aware of it and yet he so highly values not using or even exposing it. I liked that the episode used Bowman as a sort of secondary McCoy, another emotional character who wore the angry, negative reaction to the logical Mr. Spock as opposed to McCoy, who has obviously known him far longer and attempts to honestly advise him on how to deal with humans, to say nothing of the idea that one should not expect logic from all other beings. It's that expectation that fails Mr. Spock, and shows why he's not cut out for command. Nonetheless, he proves himself capable of making an emotional decision, much as he denies it afterward, which saves the day. I love character development. It's cool to see McCoy interact with Mr. Spock without any Captain to filter them, and I like that they're friends of a sort as well.
On the second string front, Sulu and Uhura get nothing much to do this episode, Janice wasn't anywhere at all (or did I miss her?) and Scott gets to be part of the action. Mr. Scott might well be a sort of... I don't know, antipode to Captain Kirk? in the psych triangle. He's a machines guy who's also human and emotional; his work is all about logic, but he approaches it from an almost non-quantitative basis. He remains hard at work even when Mr. Spock makes a really cold call about Latimer's last rites, no comment on the matter, but is quick to call out Mr. Spock when logic doesn't work and he resorts to illogical decisions. I'll have to get more of Scott to decide.
All in all, a wonderful episode for exploring the character of Mr. Spock. Can I get one for Bones now, please? :D