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Star Trek TOS - Season 3 - Episode 18

Star Trek TOS - 3x18 - The Lights of Zetar

Originally Aired: 1969-1-31

Synopsis:
Zetarians threaten Lieutenant Mira Romaine. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 4.39

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 31 10 16 10 17 10 7 28 22 8 4

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- Pretty lame episode with no significant long term continuity.

Problems
- Kirk claims no natural phenomenon can travel faster than the speed of light. What about tachyons?
- When the landing party reaches Memory Alpha, they complain about having beamed into darkness. But the room is actually quite well illuminated!

Factoids
- This episode confirms the figure from The Mark of Gideon that there are 430 people aboard the Enterprise at this time.

Remarkable Scenes
- Nurse Chapel making fun of Scotty.
- Kirk's impatience with Scotty's behavior.
- Kirk sticking Mira in the pressure chamber of doom.

My Review
Poor Scotty. He's such a terrific character, but for some reason episodes revolving around him always seem to suck. He and Mira were just insufferable together which wasn't helped by the fact that the show kept intercutting their boring scenes with the crisis situation. The climax of absurdity is Kirk calling a long conference room meeting in the middle of the ship being attacked by the entities in order to slowly and verbosely determine their next move. Kirk occasionally called the bridge to check in with Sulu and to make sure they weren't all seconds from destruction, but that doesn't really save it.

Likewise Kirk's reasoning for why he chose to toss Mira in the pressure chamber to kill the entities was terribly opaque. We have no idea exactly why Kirk thought the pressure chamber was the best move or why he thought it would even work in the first place. For all we know he was just guessing. Another area of opaque reasoning was Spock's rather hasty conclusion that the lights were an alien attack and not a natural phenomenon. Although perhaps by this point in the series Spock is as cynical as we are about the repetitive nature of the plots.

The concept of Memory Alpha as a central repository for all Federation knowledge is also a bit puzzling. Why would only one colony possess all the knowledge of the Federation? Computer data is easily copied. Why not maintain a number of these public space libraries, e.g. Memory Beta, Memory Gamma, Memory Delta, etc. Likewise since the galaxy appears to be filled with any number of hostile aliens, why not equip these crucial facilities with better defenses? At least Kirk seemed irritated with the fact that Memory Alpha lacked shields though.

The only part of the story with any real merit was the philosophy articulated by Kirk's line to the aliens, "the price of your survival is too high." He goes on to say that they are entitled to their own lives, but not that of others. In this short, but profound line Kirk articulates the philosophy of Star Trek quite eloquently. The Federation respects all life, but sometimes despite that respect for life you have to kill in order to survive. A better episode would have wrestled with the ethical implications of killing one sentient being to save another a bit more, but alas, this story lacked sufficient nuances to really do that.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Lt. Fitz on 2012-06-20 at 4:24pm:
    Horrible episode. I had to watch it like 5 times to get through it without falling asleep. Even the actors looked bored. It looked like Kirk was falling asleep in the conference room. I still don't know why they figured that putting her in a pressure cooker would solve the problem of alien possession. And, what were those pressure cookers for, anyway? They use replicators for food. Thank goodness those otherwise useless devices were put on the ship.

    - Kirk's intense whisper: "Pressure, Spock. Pressure." And, then: "Pressure."
    - Bones: "The pressure's dangerously high, Captain!" Good writing. Glad that he said that to remind the audience that there is a threat in this snoozer of a plot.
    - Spock: "We may tax Mr. Scott's patience, Doctor." That's OK. He's been taxing my patience the entire episode.
  • From James Ingalls on 2014-11-12 at 4:55pm:
    What happened to the great screencaps in these last few episodes?
  • From Kethinov on 2014-11-13 at 12:41am:
    This was the last episode I could get to before other projects unrelated to this site began consuming my time.

    I actually do have a complete set of new 1080p screenshots to post for the rest of TOS and all the films, but I just haven't gotten around to putting them up yet.

    Stay tuned, it will come! That, and a brand new completely updated design for this entire site is in the pipeline. :)
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-22 at 11:14am:
    Phasers are fired into the entity and Mira collapses in pain. Scotty reports to the bridge that just one more such shot would kill Mira. Kirk seems to believe this without question, without even any medical examination. Yet, having heard all this, Sulu STILL says "phasers ready for firing". At this point I usually audibly mutter at Sulu "you cold-hearted bastard!"

    The aliens certainly must realize that putting Mira into that pressure chamber was an attempt to destroy them. So why didn't they leave Mira's body? The inhabitants of memory alpha were all killed; how did the crew of the enterprise escape this fate?
  • From Chris on 2019-01-12 at 9:13pm:
    If you ask me! ... and you didn't this episode just pissed me off from start to finish with Scott's insufferable attention to Mira at the expense of everyone else!!!
    Starship Officers are allowed to act this way? EVER?!?!

    Aside from the absolute nonsense bitched about in the other reviews, this episode was close to vomit inducing for me!

    Hey! What happened to Karyn!
  • From Chris on 2019-01-16 at 9:00pm:
    If you ask me! ... and you didn't this episode just pissed me off from start to finish with Scott's insufferable attention to Mira at the expense of everyone else!!!
    Starship Officers are allowed to act this way? EVER?!?!

    Aside from the absolute nonsense bitched about in the other reviews, this episode was close to vomit inducing for me!

    Hey! What happened to Karyn!

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