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Star Trek TOS - Season 3 - Episode 13

Star Trek TOS - 3x13 - Elaan of Troyius

Originally Aired: 1968-12-20

Synopsis:
Kirk is distracted while the Enterprise is threatened. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 3.16

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Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 143 6 10 11 16 15 18 44 20 10 9

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 definitely a fun ride!

Problems
- At one point Elaan says: "If I have to stay here for ten light years, I will not be soiled by any contact with you." That's great Elaan, but a light year is a unit of distance, not time.

Factoids
- This episode's title "Elaan of Troyius" deliberately resembles Helen of Troy. An earlier version of the story was even named "Helen of Troyius." Both stories are about a woman whose marriage is motivated by the threat of war. In essence, this episode is Star Trek's version of Shakespeare's plays "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Antony and Cleopatra."

Remarkable Scenes
- Scotty: "Captain, you'll not be using the warp drive? All the way on impulse? That'll take a great deal of time!" Kirk: "You in a hurry, Mr. Scott?" Scotty: "No..."
- Uhura offended that Elaan disliked her quarters.
- Kirk, regarding Elaan's desire to throw things: "If that's the only way you can get gratification, I'll arrange to have the whole room filled from floor to ceiling with breakable objects."
- Kirk trying to teach Elaan manners.
- Elaan: "I will not go to Troyius, I will not be mated to a Troyian, and I will not be humiliated, and I will not be given to a green pig as a bribe to stop a war!"
- Kirk: "Mr. Spock, the women on your planet are logical. That's the only planet in this galaxy that can make that claim."
- Elaan using her tears on Kirk to seduce him.
- Crichton killing himself.
- Kirk and Spock discovering that dilithium crystals are abundant in this system and that's why the Klingons want it so bad.
- Kirk using the dilithium in Elaan's necklace to repower the engines, outmaneuver the Klingons, and save the day.

My Review
This episode strongly resembles Journey to Babel although lacks some of the terrific details and layers that made that episode shine so bright. Nevertheless, Elaan of Troyius still stands out as one of Star Trek's better stories. The character of Elaan was both well conceived and well acted. Her outrage at being little more than a bribe to stop a war was certainly understandable and her childish behavior was consistent with what one would expect from an over-privileged elitist.

It was amusing to see her demean just about everyone around her, going so far as to explicitly refer to everyone around her as "inferior" which is a distinct irony given that her people don't even possess warp drive. The fact that her people lack warp drive is an odd detail, as it would seem someone in the Federation broke the Prime Directive long ago, since Elaan's people clearly have knowledge of the inter-stellar nations which do possess warp drive and the Federation is more than happy to engage in diplomatic missions with this warp-incapable species.

I was sad to see that her people are yet another alien race which looks exactly like humans, although I was glad to see the Troyians sport a unique look. I enjoyed Petri's character just as much as I enjoyed Elaan's. Both were stuck up and self righteous in their own charming ways such as when Petri after having been stabbed resolved himself to have nothing further to do with the mission even if it ended the ceasefire, or when Elaan asked Kirk to completely obliterate Troyius with the Enterprise so there would be no need for the marriage.

And yet both of them had an innate understanding of the larger issues plaguing their people and how they must personally sacrifice in order to serve the greater good. Petri got over his disgust for Elaan and Elaan resigned herself to a life of "only responsibilities" and "obligations." Elaan and Petri faced death together at the hands of the Klingons and that trial by fire ultimately helped bring them and their people together perhaps once and for all.

Adding to the intrigue of the episode was the amusing detail of Elaan using her tears to seduce Kirk. Perhaps someone should have let Elaan know that Kirk needs no magic potion to fall for the hot alien woman of the week! In any event, I was kind of annoyed that no one briefed Kirk on the danger of her tears, but regardless of whatever plot contrivance it took to get Kirk hooked on Elaan, the drama induced by this trope was fun. By the end of the story, Kirk had to deal with a lot more than his annoyance with the guests aboard the Enterprise and the looming threat of an armed conflict with the Klingons. He also had to allow his heart to be broken by seeing to it that Elaan was married off to another man, for the greater good of the Federation.

The battle with the Klingons was certainly among the finest of the episode's many highlights. Everything from Kirk's bluff to the open combat to finally Kirk's daring maneuver using Elaan's dilithium necklace was terrific tactical fun. The only detail I felt was missing from the episode was a more firm geo(astro?)political basis for the territorial conflict between the Klingon Empire and the Federation. It certainly makes sense that the natural resources in dispute are a fine basis for such a conflict, but we see very little in the way of setup or consequences for the skirmish that takes places in this story. Does open combat with the Klingons abrogate the Organian treaty? Why were the Klingons willing to risk the treaty over a single planet's natural resources?

With a tighter story and more attention to detail on the larger scale political motivations of the nations involved, this episode easily could have been worth as many points as Journey to Babel or perhaps even a perfect score. Although what we got instead was certainly a fun ride.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion on 2012-02-10 at 9:21pm:
    This one is very entertaining. It's hard to believe it's a Season 3 episode. Elaan is a strong guest star; much more interesting than we are used to. Of course, being filmed in the 1960s, we still get some sexism in there (Kirk finds another way to slap a woman, and he comments how Vulcan is the only place where women are logical).

    The space battle feels a little confusing and takes up more time in the episode than is needed. But hey, this is season 3 and my expectations are low. Good episode.

    For those who are watching TOS on Blu-Ray, this is the episode that has been enhanced the most. The long battle with the Klingon ship has been completely redone. Also, the planet (from orbit) has been replaced by a very lush and detailed-looking one.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-11-16 at 8:20am:
    Great episode - '8' The retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, Trek style. Lines like, "Vulcan is the only planet in the galaxy where the women are rational". Pure comedy gold.

    The third season had its moments, and this was one of them. This time around the Klingons are thrown in to the plot create the dramatic background for Kirk and his latest (but well acted) tart. The Klingons look a bit tacked on, but it worked and serves to underscore how much better some of the earlier episodes might have been had more use been made of them. Think of it - The Apple? Klingons. Return of the Archons? Klingons. They're like the ranch dressing of plot devices.

  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-01-19 at 5:37pm:
    Elaan of Troyius

    I can't believe the opening shot of the Dohlman -- scanning slowly from toe to head! She looks pretty good.

    I found it painful to watch Kirk explaining a fork and knife and such to the Dohlman.

    Why the incredibly abrupt change of her from super brat to totally smitten? It takes like 3 seconds. Did I miss something?

    Kirk also did a quick switch, "curing" himself of the tears-spell: still under the spell in the transporter, but cured, once back on the bridge. But at the end he didn't look quite cured to me. He looked a little bit struggling in his mind with the whole thing. He just didn't seem quite back to normal. Maybe it's just me.

    How can Petri be up and about so soon after having been stabbed in the back? Not only is he up and about; you'd never know he was critically injured!

    The combat part was pretty good.

    I'm sorry, but the head of the Klingon ship looks ridiculous to me. It looks like it's wearing a hat.

    AEF
  • From Chantarelle on 2013-06-18 at 4:50am:
    Thanks for the review. I'm very new to the Star Trek world and was curious whether my opinion matched other peoples. Your review matches exactly what my brain thought, just a lot better worded :-)
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-12 at 3:57pm:
    I'm sorry, but I give this one a 4/10.

    There are definitely some strong elements to the plot, but I thought that their execution left much to be desired.

    Firstly, unlike some viewers who find Elaan "hot" or "charming," I found her infuriatingly annoying. Arrogance is never funny to me, and it's even less humorous when someone is so arrogant as to start attacking and stabbing people. That's not cute. That's flat-out crazy.

    On top of this, Kirk's method of going all Dr. Phil on Elaan was foolhardy at best and outright irresponsible at worst. He was charged with getting Elaan to her destination in a more congenial, enlightened state; so what does he do? He charges right in a starts berating her and literally manhandling her. Not a very diplomatic approach, and it clearly failed miserably.

    And then, for no obvious reason, Elaan suddenly lightens up and decides to accept her fate. Sure she had seen some of the trouble that she caused, but it certainly was no worse trouble than she had already been causing everyone from the moment she beamed aboard the ship. The shift was extremely abrupt. The shame is that it didn't have to be. If Elaan had been given more time to explain her situation, essentially being "gifted" to another group of people, we might have been able to empathize with her a little more. Yes, this notion is brought up, but it was not explored in the depth that it could have been.

    I know Kirk is the star of the show, but I almost feel as if Spock would have been the better choice to deal with such an emotional hot-head like Elaan. Without someone reflecting her own agitation and fury back at her, she probably would have calmed down more quickly.

    Finally, Kethinov's observation about the Troyians technology is dead-on. How, if they only have "nuclear" power, are they even embroiled in a war with a distant planet and civilization? And how, exactly, do they even pretend to superiority over groups of people whose technology and power must far surpass their own? It didn't jibe.

    I will say that the way that the Klingons were incorporated into the story was well-done. It's one of several interesting ways that the Federation and the Klingons continue their Cold War chess match.
  • From Peter on 2015-01-09 at 11:57am:
    Not the best episode, but I was intrigued to see this again recently on TV here in the UK by one thing in particular - we often hear of the 'first interracial kiss on TV' between Nichelle Nicholls and William Shatner (though I understand there's some disagreement about it being the first) - and here we are, just a few episodes later, and isn't it happening again? Only this time it's between a white man and a woman of Vietnamese/French ancestry. Is it not also worthy of comment? Star Trek was truly ground-breaking in many ways for its time.
  • From Mal on 2015-06-20 at 4:40am:
    Yes, Star Trek had the first black-white kiss and the first Asian-white kiss all thanks to our resident horn dog, James T. Kirk.

    It was also said, "She looks pretty good." That my friend is an understatement akin to saying the surface of the sun is kind of hot. She was stunning, sexy and sultry. That face, that body, that voice! France Nuyen was the most beautiful and sexy guest star of the show IMO with Barbra Luna coming in a close second. If you count recurring characters, then Nichelle Nichols comes in a solid third.

    As for the actual episode, it was not one of the all time greats but it was solid. Considering he was under a spell Shatner's performance was reserved, almost understated at least by his standards. Compare that to how he responds to being under a similar love spell in 'A Private Little War'.

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