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Star Trek TOS - Season 3 - Episode 10

Star Trek TOS - 3x10 - Plato's Stepchildren

Originally Aired: 1968-11-22

Synopsis:
Platonians use psychokinetic power to toy with the crew. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 4.23

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 38 11 14 12 13 33 16 16 10 17 5

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's a decent episode, if a bit goofy.

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode establishes that the common cold has not yet been cured in the 23rd century.
- This episode depicts the first interracial kiss ever shown on American television.
- Barbara Babcock, who plays Philana in this episode, also played Mea 3 in A Taste of Armageddon.

Remarkable Scenes
- Philana: "How old would you say I am? Oh don't be afraid, I'm not vain." Spock: "35." Philana: "That old? I stopped aging at 30! Well anyway, you're off by 2000 years."
- Parmen freaking out and telepathically throwing things around.
- Kirk: "Alexander, where I come from, size shape and color makes no difference."
- Spock: "Dr. McCoy, you may yet cure the common cold!"
- Parmen making Kirk slap himself repeatedly.
- Kirk and Spock singing.
- Emotional Spock.
- Alexander riding Kirk like a horse.
- Alexander's disgust about the prospect of receiving the Platonians' powers.
- Spock singing.
- Kirk using the powers against Parmen.

My Review
Another alien race that looks exactly like humans with some kind of connection to ancient Earth and extremely powerful abilities who decide to capture the cast and make them do things for their own entertainment. The cliches abound but the episode certainly could have been worse. For a while there I was worried that this was going to be another Who Mourns for Adonais? but luckily it wasn't. For once the aliens weren't openly malicious from their first scene, which was a nice touch. The distress call was genuine, the need for a doctor was genuine, and their thanks was genuine. It doesn't take long for things to go downhill though, as it never made a lot of sense for the aliens to abduct McCoy when they could have simply requested a volunteer doctor from the Federation to attend to their population.

I'm sure that in the entire Federation there would be at least one doctor who would want to do it willingly, and since these folks have been putting off medical treatment for centuries, I'm sure it could have waited another few weeks. Although it's a little hard to believe that in all the centuries they've been here, no one has ever cut themselves before until now. Likewise, McCoy once again engages in one of my favorite medical cliches to pick on: administering medical treatment to an unknown, undocumented alien species with no knowledge of their anatomy, complete with giving them injections!

The episode is not without its charms, however. Any excuse to disrupt Spock's emotional control is always welcome. The scene when Spock starts laughing uncontrollably without seeming provocation comes as such a surprise that it almost looks like a blooper! Likewise, much of the episode's protracted puppetry scenes are so ridiculously awkward that you can't help but laugh because it's so hard to take seriously. Indeed, these aliens don't really seem to take anything seriously, thus their casual cruelty. I felt for Alexander when he broke the pottery with the intent to use a shard to murder all the Platonians.

But when you combine the cliches with the Platonians' poor critical thinking skills on the subject of the easiest way to acquire medical care and the fact that nobody from the Enterprise's crew ever bothers to make note of the fact that a planet where everyone can develop psychokinetic powers might be pretty damn useful to the Federation, the episode certainly loses some points. There's a bit of good stuff in here, but the episode definitely falls short of its potential.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion on 2011-12-10 at 5:39pm:
    This is a ridiculous episode to sit through, but it does have that "it's so bad, it's good vibe." Shatner gets to engage in a lot overacting. It must have been his dream episode!

    The resolution is a bit of a let down. "We'll keep an eye on your planet, so you better behave." I wanted to see a larger kinetic battle between the inhabitants and the Kirk/Spock duo.
  • From Strider on 2012-06-28 at 3:02am:
    I agree that the ending was too quick, too clean, and didn't even go near the ramifications of having a planet like this in existence.

    However, the plot isn't the point of this episode at all. The point is the relationships--primarily among the Big 3, but also with the other 2 officers who were drawn into the terrible games. I LOVED McCoy following orders even when he had to watch Kirk and Spock humiliated, and I loved seeing McCoy's only outburst come at when Parmen was forcing emotions out of Spock.

    The two best moments were both Spock-and-Someone moments. First, Spock asking the other two men about their anger and hatred, then admitting his own and declaring that he must master it...and then giving a show of strength so that we have an idea how bad it could be if he can't get his anger and hatred under control. It's really something--we've seen Spock hurt and out of his mind before, but we've never seen him humiliated, or seen him watching Jim humiliated.

    The other best moment was with Christine. She's so mortified and you can see on Spock's face how miserable he is. He is a compassionate person, whether he admits it or not, and he doesn't like seeing Christine humiliated, either.

    Those were the moments that made this episode. That, and the vision I got of Alexander crawling around in the Jeffries tubes on the Enterprise.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-10-01 at 8:49am:
    ‘0’. This episode is unwatchable dross that oscillates between bland and embarrassing. Not only is it bad, it is incompatible with the whole Star Trek universe. Apparently Earth scientists have missed for centuries that some form of wheaties gives you godlike powers of telekinesis that is cheaply duplicated and therefore would transform the culture of the entire galaxy within a decade. Oops.
  • From Rick on 2017-02-16 at 11:01pm:
    I had the same thought as you regarding a request for different doctor from the federation, but I think that is easily explainable given the fact that the Platonians were so drunk with power. People like that want what they want and they want it now. They have no empathy and they do not care that there may be an easier path. What is the difference to them? Bones resisting actually gives them more people to torture, it is a win-win.

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