Star Trek TOS: The Infestation of Fuzzy Intuitive Pets

Star Trek TOS: The Infestation of Fuzzy Intuitive Pets
Star Trek TOS: The Trouble with Tribbles

Star Trek: The Original Series

Season 2, Episode 15

The Trouble with Tribbles

The term Klingon was referenced in the opening sentences of the episode by Kirk, Spock, and Chekhov, so fasten your seatbelt. Speaking of which, Chekhov, a new cast member of Season 2, really solidified as a main character somewhat quietly in Star Trek: The Original Series’ second act. 

Uhura interrupted the three men, notifying of an emergency alert. And away we go. 

The alert came from space station K-7, but the signal giver was a bit skittish when Kirk pressed him for details. Kirk was not fond of his mysterious, noncommittal words. So, Kirk and Spock beamed to K-7, only to find suits were responsible for the emergency notification. Those suits essentially used the off-limits summons request in the interest of procuring some wheat. Kirk became even madder after he learned “higher-ups” had so little regard for Enterprise’s time and resources.

Kirk obliged, designating two crewmembers for security assignment of the aforementioned wheat. Enterprise crewmembers were also given leave time. Uhura took advantage of the vacation, and she wound up bargaining at a bar for a furry pet called a tribble

Soon after, the Klingons entered the plot. They wanted shore leave rights on K-7. Kirk granted the wish, assuring the Klingon captain his security would be ever-present.

Back on Enterprise, Uhura’s tribbles multiplied exponentially. The fuzzy things were cute, but it was almost certain something rotten was going to result from their existence on the ship. 

At the bar, Korax, a Klingon began insulting Kirk and everything associated with Enterprise. Scott and Chekhov held off humoring the Klingon initially. Then. he twisted the knife with his words a little too tight. Plus, Scott is Irish — and insults in a bar can only be tolerated for so long. Scott punched him in the face, bringing a melee to life at the bar. The fight was one of those comically long ones — like Kirk and his joker cadet friend in Season 1’s Shore Leave. The writers must believe vacations from work entail fights. 

Kirk got wind of the fight and canceled shore leave for everyone, interrogating folks about their involvement. Scott outlined how a man’s pride is worth defending, even when petty insults are the cause. Kirk didn’t seem to mind Scott fighting for his honor and the reputation of Enterprise. Perhaps Kirk loathed Klingons that much.

After disciplining Scott — slightly — Kirk returned to his post and promptly sat on a tribble. It should also be noted tribbles were absolutely everywhere and no one really cared. This was an infestation. Uhura pointed out, while the tribbles were overpopulating, they provided the crew needed love. 

But then they got into people foods — like part of the meal you hope to eat – and Kirk ordered their banishment. Put flatly, the tribbles got on his nerves. 

The cool part about tribbles? The soft pets-turned-pests brought out total lightheartedness in Star Trek. All of the crewmembers were playfully annoyed by them. 

The suits were peeved to the utmost by the proliferation of tribbles — Kirk sort of liked that. As it turned out, one of the suits was an undercover Klingon. Tribbles don’t like Klingons, so they spilled the beans on the suit. The culprit Klingon purposefully poisoned the wheat mentioned early in the episode as a sabotage attempt. 

The takeaway from this episode? It was a vehicle to further define hostilities between Starfleet and Klingons — while introducing fuzzy pets into the franchise for the first time. 

Themes: Infestation of Invading Species 

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. His odyssey with Star Trek starts from beginning to finish, watching ‘The Original Series,’ all the way to the present day. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).