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Star Trek TOS - Season 2

Star Trek TOS - 2x01 - Amok Time

Originally Aired: 1967-9-15

Synopsis:
Spock undergoes the Vulcan mating ceremony. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 5.7

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 97 7 6 4 8 6 9 58 58 48 62

Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- Aside from being one of Star Trek's most famous episodes, this episode also contains a great deal of crucial exposition about Vulcans and is Chekov's first episode.

Problems
None

Factoids
- A slightly revised opening theme debuted in this episode.
- This episode establishes that the Enterprise can do "warp 8 or better" under extreme circumstances. This is up from warp 7 in the first season.
- It is mentioned in this episode that T'Pau turned down a seat on the Federation Council and that she is the only person ever to do so.
- This episode was nominated the 1968 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Remarkable Scenes
- McCoy describing Spock's behavior to Kirk.
- Spock freaking out at Nurse Chapel.
- Sulu and Chekov discussing the abrupt course changes.
- Spock: "How do Vulcans choose their mates? Have you ever wondered?" Kirk: "I guess the rest of us just assumed it was done... quite logically!"
- Spock bashing his computer monitor. The effect was cheap and cheezy, but hilarious nevertheless.
- Kirk and McCoy expressing awe over the fact that Spock knows T'Pau, a revered Vulcan celebrity.
- Kirk and Spock fighting.
- Spock "killing" Kirk.
- T'Pring explaining her motives for the death match.
- Spock to T'Pring's new husband: "She is yours. After a time you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true."
- Spock and T'Pau to each other: "Live long and prosper."
- Spock's reaction to seeing Kirk alive and well. Gotta love Spock's brief smile.

My Review
This episode skillfully dramatizes the secret mating ritual of the Vulcan people. Known as the pon farr, it is a time honored tradition that the Vulcan people seem to pour their entire emotional core into; the one exception to their rigid culture of emotional purging. Since Spock is half human, his emotional control has always been somewhat weaker than the average Vulcan and Spock had hoped in vain that his unusual ancestry would spare him the full effect of the pon farr. Like clockwork, Spock's marriage to T'Pring, arranged at childhood and consummated with a mind meld, reasserted itself at a most inconvenient time, causing Spock to experience the "blood fever." It is stated in this episode that had he not returned home to participate in the ceremony with T'Pring, the emotional trauma could have actually killed him. All of that exposition and so much more coalesces into what is easily the most nuanced and interesting depiction of an alien culture on Star Trek so far. Combined with great writing, good plotting, and even an excellent score, this episode is strikingly original.

Only minor blemishes diminish the storytelling. For instance, when Kirk spoke with Starfleet Command, he failed to mention that Spock's life was in danger. Although the conversation was cut short by the terse commodore, it still seems like Kirk should have mentioned that. The next most annoying detail was the unusual speech patterns of T'Pau. All of that "if thee this" and "thyself that" was pretty awkward stuff to listen to; definitely not the best aesthetic choice. Although I will confess to greatly enjoying her line questioning Spock "art thee Vulcan or art thee human" in spite of the old timey vocabulary. The ceremony itself slowed down the pace of the plot considerably and the episode probably could have benefited from being five or ten minutes shorter in general, but overall the episode was way above average. Everything from the smart inclusion of a Nurse Chapel subplot dealing with her unrequited love for Spock to T'Pring's chillingly logical explanation of her scheming to Spock was excellent drama.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Thomas on 2009-08-03 at 5:33am:
    I found it a bit disturbing and inconsistant with the other series that the Vulcans here have such a barbarous and illogical ritual. i mean fighting to death for a woman.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-03-31 at 4:12pm:
    I just watched this on Blu-Ray last night. I have a few nitpicks.

    There's a pretty nice new part that was added. When the Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down, it now cuts to a far away shot of the temple. It looks pretty nice. The problem is that when Spock beams back up, they cut to the shot again, but it does not show the wedding party standing inside it, even though they were standing near Spock as he beemed back up.

    Also, when Spock's future wife appears on the view screen, she starts talking to him ("something something never parted"). I just would like to know where the echo is coming from. She sounds like she has supernatural powers!

    There's also a lot of unnecessary stunt doubles used in the slow moving combat scenes. I'm pretty sure Nimoy and Shatner had the skills to wield plastic sticks.

    Otherwise, this is a pretty good episode.

  • From John on 2011-02-18 at 12:20am:
    This is a funny episode: I love it, but there are a lot of things about it that tick me off:

    1. Why does T'Pau have such a strong accent, while no other Vulcan ever presented has an accent? I realize that this is the first "Vulcan" episode of all time, but still. Her accent is annoying and unnecessary.

    2. What's up with the constant use of "thee"?

    3. I would have liked to see Spock take T'Pring as his wife anyway, just to wreck her plans. Logical or not, as far as he knew, she forced him to kill his best friend and captain. In a short time he can divorce her, and make her look like a fool. Seems like justice to me. Of course, Spock would never do this -- revenge is illogical -- but it would be entertaining nonetheless.
  • From Robert Koenn on 2011-03-24 at 1:11pm:
    This was another favorite overall episode from the Trek universe for me. And that partially makes sense as two of my favorites were written by acclaimed scifi writers, this one by Theodore Sturgeon. It was quite interesting to learn more of the Vulcan culture. I didn't find the "illogic" of this violent death match for a woman to be out of place. As was stated, Vulcan suppress their emotions, they are not genetically non-emotional. So at that point in time when the Pon-far occurs this pent up strain is released resulting in years of suppression getting out into the open. And for a Vulcan this is not only personally devastating but embarrassing as well. I also found the effects quite good for the budget and time period they filmed this episode. Finally it went quite a ways in developing the Kirk/Spock/McCoy relationship.
  • From Wes on 2011-04-19 at 4:08pm:
    I too really appreciated the development of the Kirk/Spock/McCoy relationship.

    I also thought the addition of one or two of the little "extra" scenes was great. The one that stands out to me is the little back and forth between Sulu and Chekov when they ask the other if they think they'll make another course change. Those types of little scenes really added to TNG, DS9 and Voyager for me. It helps you see other sides of characters. It adds more of a human element. The first season of TOS really lacked those types of scenes. I'm really glad the writers decided to add this. I hope it continues.

    Overall, I enjoyed how this episode seemed to really take a big step forward from the first season. Well done. This is what Star Trek is made of and I am beginning to see why people enjoyed TOS. After only watching the first season, I wondered what was so great about TOS, especially in comparison to the other series.
  • From steve on 2012-07-08 at 4:40am:
    One nitpick. How is it that Kirk and McCoy didn.t know about ponfarr until Spock tells Kirk. In Managerie,its stated that the events on Talos IV took place 13 yrs previously,and this episode takes place about 1 yr later so 14 yrs at least have gone by with Spock on the Enterprise. Given that ponfarr occurs every 7 yrs Spock would have gone thru 2 under Pike . No medical records, no Captains logs of them were made, two unscheduled trips to Vulcan are made but ponfarr is not known? Just asking.
  • From Strider on 2012-07-27 at 3:29am:
    I've also wondered why this seems to be Spock's first pon farr. Actually, I have a lot of questions about pon farr.

    Pon farr happens every 7 years to mates who are bonded, right? So, Sarek, for example, would not have experienced it, because he didn't have a bond mate...as evidenced by his being able to marry Amanda.

    But Vulcans can still have sex if they are strongly enough attracted to someone, right? I mean, they don't have to wait 7 years--I think one of the writers said as much. Pon farr is not regular sex; it's the drive toward the bond mate...right?

    Someone (somewhere) said they found it unbelievable that Spock suddenly gets over the blood fever when he realizes he's killed Kirk. I didn't have a problem with that--he goes through the ritual of "marriage or battle," his body must release the hormonal tension one way or the other, and he ended up doing it through battle. Makes total sense to me.

    I didn't have a problem with T'Pau's use of extremely formal archaic language--this is a very formal, ritualized occasion, and such things often use formal and archaic language. It did bug me that Vulcans seem to use "thee" when they should properly say, "thou," but I'm assuming they're not actually speaking Elizabethan English.

    Some of the TOS novels seem to indicate that if you're away from your bond mate when you hit that 7 years, you can relieve the pressure with someone else. So...when Christine comes into Spock's room and he's nice to her and asks her to make him some soup, did he just feel bad that he had been a jerk to her earlier, or was he coming on to her? He reached out and touched her cheek, but then quickly put his hand behind his back. Was he trying to keep his hands off her because he just needed "it" so bad, rather than T'Pring specifically? Frankly, I think she'd have helped him out and the whole fake-Kirk-death thing could have been avoided.



  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-03-06 at 3:28am:
    AMOK TIME

    Has its fun scenes. Here are my comments:

    While parents wanting to choose their children's mates, and children wanting to choose their own mates themselves are both understandable, the rituals here are silly and the fight to the death, barbaric. Even animals often size each other up to see if a fight would be pointless.

    People complain about sexism in Star Trek, but I've never heard it mentioned with regard to this episode. Check out this dialog:

    T'PAU: He will have to fight for her. It is her right. T'Pring, thee has chosen the kal-if-fee, the challenge. Thee are prepared to become the property of the victor?

    T'PRING: I am prepared.

    And a short time later:

    T'PAU: Here begins the act of combat for possession of the woman, T'Pring.

    Property? Possession? On the other hand, if Spock hadn't freed her, she'd get his name and property -- and instant estrangement! And Stonn.

    So when does the clean-up crew come around to clean the soup off the wall outside Spock's quarters? You really want to do it before it dries on.

    I'm okay with T'Pau's accent; however, the misuse of 'thee' and such is a little annoying.

    What's with the humongous nose mask on the guy with the big blade? How do you breathe with that thing on?

    Continuity error: At 29:27 Spock starts walking toward the gong. Once Spock is almost there, T'Pring begins walking and makes it about half way there. Then in the very next shot she's standing still, near Stonn again. She starts off toward the gong again and gets there a little too fast. I'll chalk this up to a screw-up they didn't have the time or resources to fix.

    Look at Kirk's pose when T'Pring is about to choose him (32:29). Words escape me.

    Pretty amazing timing for the neural paralyzer to kick in just before Spock's choking Kirk would have really killed him. Let's see: how many times does Kirk "die"? Here, in "The Enterprise Incident", and mistakenly declared dead in "The Tholian Web" and "Space Seed". And he "partly died" in "Return to Tomorrow".

    Yep, pretty good logic on the part of T'Pring. And she had to have thought it up right on the spot, as she didn't know until then that Kirk, an "out-worlder", would be there. Pretty good! But what if Kirk had declined? It would have been tough luck, and Stonn would have had to fight. But that was her starting point anyway. Oh, and this also explains why Stonn was surprised by her choice of champion, which added a nice twist. In the end, she and Stonn lucked out big time.

    In the remastered version we see our heroes walking across a huge arch with a Vulcan city in the background. I'm sorry, but it just looks out of place. It's a totally different look. Switching to and from this scene almost looks someone's changing channels. There is also a lack of continuity in their walking. And why would they beam down so far from the temple in the first place?

    Near the end, Uhura relays Admiral Komack's approval of T'Pau's request to divert to Vulcan. Sorry if I missed it, but I don't recall her ever making such a request.

    AEF, aka betaneptune
  • From Tooms on 2013-09-14 at 4:50pm:
    Great episode. Warp 8 isn't new, though. The Enterprise went to warp 8 during the space chase in Arena (season 1).
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-05 at 10:42am:
    Really good episode. I gave it a 7/10.

    I had some of the same unresolved questions and nitpicks that the other commenters here have, mostly concerning the Enterprise crew not knowing anything about pon farr. Surely they would have had some indication from the past. Secret or not, would it not have been "logical" for Spock or some other Vulcan to inform the Federation of a ritual that would possibly endanger the crew? Especially when a Vulcan is in a position of power such as First Officer?

    And yes, the fight sequence, as with all of the others I've seen on TOS, was pretty laughable. Based on what we know of Spock's strength, added to his blood rage and a climate that was inhospitable to Kirk, Spock most likely would have mopped the floor with poor ol' Jim in a matter of seconds, long before McCoy can enact the ruse that saved him.

    Still, there's a ton to admire and be entertained by in this episode. Being the first episode to focus so heavily on not just Spock but his home culture is fascinating, and handled quite well. It shows just how effective it can be to have a character fall out of type temporarily. Unlike Star Trek Into Darkness, throughout which Spock was a virtual emotional wreck, this episode of TOS gets it right. Have Spock a slave to his emotions for a single story, and then return to his usual, logical self.

    Odd to see Chekhov added without any mention of exactly why he's part of the crew now. Even a slight recognition of this new crew member would have been a nice little touch.
  • From jd _juggler on 2015-04-01 at 2:02am:
    This is indeed a good episode for the relationship of the three principles. In the turbo lift, Spock asks for McCoy to be his guest at the ceremony, basically saying that McCoy is one of his closest friends. The doctor's short response says volumes: "It would be an honor, sir." Never in the entire series did McCoy show that kind of formal respect to Spock.

    I agree with an earlier commenter that Spock should have been able to easily defeat Kirk, but let's face it: Spock did not want to kill Kirk, no matter what kind of altered state Spock was in.

    As to Pon Farr, it is absurd to suppose it would have remained a mystery to men from earth. Vulcans were known to earth men for at least 150 years (recall that in "metamorphosis" zephram cochrane recognized Spock as a Vulcan). Spock himself was the product of a "mixed marriage". And stories about sexual practices tend to spread.

    And here's something else to think about; Spock has obviously gone through this before. Wouldn't he know when this strange thing is happening to him sufficiently in advance, so he could make the proper arrangements to be on his home planet? And why didn't this whole t'pring thing happen seven years earlier, at which time Spock was already an adult, and serving aboard the enterprise?

    That said, this is still a very good episode. Certainly among the top ten, and maybe among the top five.
  • From Emil on 2016-01-22 at 4:31am:
    I have not seen that many ST:TOS episodes but I had to see this one because of T'Pau, one of my favorite ST character (the others being Q and Wynn Adami). I have read many comments on T'Pau's "heavy" accent and her "awkward" use of archaic pronouns. I personally have no problems at all with these. The heavy accent was perhaps inevitable as the actor who played the part was from Austria-Hungary (Celia Lovsky). Her German accent was quite obvious. I think this was quite apt, actually as T'Pau is supposed to be an ancient Vulcan. It's like an old Chinese woman from China who speaks English with a heavy Chinese accent. The use of the archaic pronouns could be because we see T'Pau presiding over an ancient ritual. The occasion may have necessitated the manner of speaking. When we see a younger T'Pau in ST Enterprise, she had no such accent and neither did she use archaic pronouns so the original T'Pau's doing so may indeed be due to age and the occasion.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x02 - Who Mourns for Adonais?

Originally Aired: 1967-9-22

Synopsis:
The Enterprise is held captive by the Greek god Apollo. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 3.35

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 74 40 18 26 22 19 26 18 10 10 14

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

Problems
None

Factoids
- A line from Spock indicates that Earth-like planets are excessively common in the galaxy, to the point of it not even being terribly noteworthy when a new one is discovered.
- This episode establishes that Chekov is 22 years old.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk and McCoy making fun of Scotty being for smitten with the historian officer.
- Scotty fighting for his girl in vain.
- Kirk making fun of Chekov's age and supposed vulnerability to young, pretty girls.
- The Enterprise phasering Apollo out of existence.

My Review
While the idea that the gods of ancient civilizations were in fact advanced space aliens taking advantage of primitive humanity is an intriguing premise for a science fiction story, the way this episode tells such a story leaves much to be desired. Aside from the fact that Star Trek has already featured far too many god-like aliens, nearly every aesthetic choice made in this episode is overwrought and embarrassing to watch, especially the giant hand forcefield which fondles the Enterprise all episode. More than that we've got yet another story where the Enterprise is held hostage by the guest antagonist of the week with an irrational motive, yet another female officer who falls for the arrogant bad guy of the week, and yet another plot resolved by blowing up a concealed power source fueling a bag of magic tricks.

Then there's the logical problem about why Apollo and his comrades ever left Earth to begin with. Apollo mentions that the Greeks simply stopped worshipping him and his comrades. Okay, and how did they get away with that exactly? Kirk's crew was only narrowly able to avoid enslavement by Apollo by firing phasers at his power source. I'm not an expert on history, but I'm pretty sure the ancient Greeks didn't have phasers with which to overthrow their gods. If Apollo and his comrades wanted them to keep worshipping, they certainly could have forced the Greeks to continue doing so.

There is a powerful theme in this story though which is nicely summed up by a line from Kirk which opens with "mankind has no need for gods." This is an excellent illustration of the episode's theme, as the whole point of the story is to demonstrate how the whole concept of a god is little more than a human psychological construction to explain observations (or imaginings) which appear supernatural. Kirk even says that mankind has outgrown gods in a manner easily likened to how children outgrow their infantile toys. But Kirk undermines that entire point and in doing so the entire theme of the episode in his very next sentence by stating "we find the one quite adequate." In that single sentence, Kirk's credibility suddenly vanishes. How could mankind have outgrown gods if it still needs to believe in one? All in all, I'll sum up this episode by saying what a great idea for a story wasted on such bad storytelling.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Jem Hadar on 2009-04-06 at 6:45pm:
    Hey, long time reader, first time poster.

    Problem
    - How would Spock know that the God's name was Apollo when he was talking to Kyle about his location- it was never mentioned until the landing party beamed to the surface, which he wasn't a part of!

    Also, I really enjoy this episode. I give it a 7.5/10
  • From Flex on 2009-05-22 at 4:52pm:
    Hey, great site - while I often rate these TOS episodes more highly than you do these are all great reviews and entries, very thorough?

    I just wanted to say I rate this episode rather highly (a 6, maybe). It's nothing stunningly original, but I find the story rather poignant and sad.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-04-04 at 12:39pm:
    My nitpicks, once again:

    -Somebody has mentioned this, but Spock mentions Apollo's before he should have been aware of it.

    -This episode reeks of sexism. At the beginning, you here McCoy talking about the woman on the bridge. He mentions that if she meets a man, she'll withdraw from Starfleet and settle down. Also, when that same woman is down on the planet, she acts mindless, and falls in love wih Apollo very easily.
  • From Krs321 on 2011-11-01 at 4:01pm:
    I like the new 'filler quotient' ratings; solid addition and I hope you put them on the other series at some point.

    However, I have to disagree on this episode. Kirk crushing this guy's spirit is awesome and I genuinely feel bad for Apollo.

    I'm not sure the filler quotient should depend so heavily on canon significance as much as how sucky the episode is (Alternative Factor, barf).
  • From Strider on 2012-07-30 at 12:58am:
    Even though we have another female officer who falls in love with the bad guy of the week, at least this female officer knows her duty and doesn't put her romance ahead of her captain, crew, and ship. It's an improvement from other episodes, at least.
  • From Deggsy on 2013-04-11 at 4:49pm:
    Am I wrong in thinking that the networks used makeup or whatever to hide Apollo's exposed nipple?
  • From Alan Feldman on 2015-08-15 at 9:44pm:
    "WHO MOURNS FOR ADONAIS?"

    I don't think the story is as bad as you make it out to be. Parts are good; parts are bad. I'd certainly give it a higher rating than a 1.

    Yeah, the giant hand looks ridiculous, esp. in the remastered version, in which, when it first approaches the Enterprise, looks a little like a twisted-balloon sculpture, or an inflated latex glove. But how else is Apollo going to hold, squeeze, and crush the ship? You kind of have to go with it. I suppose he could just zap it, but it wouldn't have the right imagery. You couldn't have, "And I'll crush it's empty hull." It's worth going with it just for that line. What else could you do? A tractor beam? Doesn't quite fit in with the Greek-god bit. But the hand looks a little better toward the end. Maybe it should have been at the end of a really long arm!

    About Spock knowing Apollo's name too early in the story: This type of thing happens elsewhere in the series.

    Chekov is clearly wearing a wig.

    Re your question about the Greeks stopping worshiping the gods, Apollo addresses this: "We could have struck out from Olympus and destroyed. We have no wish to destroy, so we came home again." What you think of that is another matter.

    You wrote, ". . . we've got yet another story where the Enterprise is held hostage by the guest antagonist of the week with an irrational motive, yet another female officer who falls for the arrogant bad guy of the week, and yet another plot resolved by blowing up a concealed power source fueling a bag of magic tricks."

    There was only one previous episode where a female officer falls for the bad guy of the week: Space Seed. So that's only two episodes from the first 31. But yes, there were three previous episodes with machines blown up and seven with the Enterprise held hostage.

    But you can look at it as what the show is. "What? Another symphony with four movements and in standard form?" "Ralph Kramden did something stupid again?" Trying to be positive here. :-)

    Carolyn's dress is pretty good.

    I love the special effects when Scotty is propelled across the marble floor by Apollo's lightning bolt. Intense, and well done! (From the remastered version. I don't presently have access to the original and can't recall how well it was done in that. But I do remember being impressed.) OTOH, Apollo should have recoiled at least a little.

    How can Apollo be so clueless about humans in the 22nd century? He wants something he can't have from our heroes: genuine worship. You can't force that. He has god-like powers, but this simple fact somehow eludes him. But gods need worship, etc., he says. Still, wouldn't that get pretty boring for after a while, even for Apollo or the other Greek gods? (The 22nd century? Yes, I know. But Star Trek TOS being in the 23rd century is based on an incorrect argument about "Miri." It should be recognized as the 22nd, which it clearly was in "Space Seed" and "Tomorrow is Yesterday." And do you really want to base the TOS period on "Miri" at all?

    Scotty was pretty clueless, too. It took two lightning bolts (the second being pretty severe!) and a smack in the face that sent him tumbling over the picnic bench from Apollo to teach him. First time we have Scotty fawning over a woman and showing signs of bad form (getting a bit hysterical in this episode). And as we know, it's going to get much worse!

    You ask, "How could mankind have outgrown gods if it still needs to believe in one?" Most have outgrown multiple gods, the kind of gods the ancients worshiped. That's progress. Some have speculated, with good reason, that many are just hard-wired to believe in a personal god. They can't help it. Neil deGrass Tyson gave an excellent talk on this subject, mostly with regard to scientists of various fields. It's on YouTube somewhere.

    Man, who would want to live in Apollo's dream world? Sounds pretty boring to me. Well, at least there'd be no war or disease.

    When Uhura works on fixing the bypass circuits, the thing she's using makes big sparks and such. Now generally, why does stuff like this on Star Trek always involve bright flashing light? Why is fixing things in TOS always like welding? And dig the 1960's circuit boards in that scene!

    Carolyn is a little too taken to Apollo until the end after Kirk talks her out of it.

    The scene where Carolyn spurns Apollo is weird. Also: "Carolyn, I forbid you to go. I order you to stay." "Is that the secret of your power over women? The thunderbolts you throw?" The dude just can't take no for an answer.

    The scene where the Enterprise destroys the temple is pretty cool. "Stop! . . . Stop, I say! . . ." And the power of the Enterprise vs. the power of Apollo. Intense.

    Boy, Michael Forest's neck looks really long after the temple is destroyed, no?

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Star Trek TOS - 2x03 - The Changeling

Originally Aired: 1967-9-29

Synopsis:
The Enterprise encounters a probe named Nomad. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 3.42

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 102 5 7 31 17 23 22 19 18 14 8

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

Problems
- In some scenes you can see the wire attached to Nomad to make it appear to float.

Factoids
- Several speed records are broken in this episode. Nomad's weapons travel at warp 15 and the Enterprise travels at warp 10.
- I operate a satirical Twitter account based on this episode. If you're interested, then follow Nomad on Twitter.

Remarkable Scenes
- Nomad thinking Kirk is its creator because he's from Earth and his last name is the same as the creator's.
- Nomad killing Scotty and wiping Uhura's memory.
- McCoy: "He's dead, Jim." Count 3.
- Spock: "That 'unit' is a woman." Nomad: "A mass of conflicting impulses."
- Nomad "repairing" Scott.
- Nomad enhancing the warp engines.
- Kirk talking Nomad to death.

My Review
This irritating episode is painful to watch and all too familiar. Once again Kirk talks a computer death, a feat made possible by the fact that, as I wrote in my review of Return of the Archons, "computers in the Star Trek universe have a tendency to be emotionally unstable and explode when they are sufficiently upset, contrary to how computers work in the real world." But that's not all, for there are any number of terrible aesthetic choices to pick on in this rather half-baked story. For starters, I find it hard to believe that the Enterprise could withstand even one blast, let alone four, equivalent to 90 photon torpedoes striking the ship at warp 15, or ~3375 times the speed of light. Then there's Spock's silly mind meld with Nomad. How was that supposed to even work exactly? What's next, Spock mind melding with the ship's computer to make course corrections? All of this to the backdrop of listening to Nomad irrelevantly restate its name over and over again and utter prominent examples of eloquent phrasing such as, "Non sequitur. Your facts are uncoordinated."

For a prop as awkward and unthreatening as Nomad was, it was nevertheless just filled to the brim with overwrought capabilities. In addition to the excessive weaponry, it managed to kill Scotty and then bring him back to life, fly through forcefields, vaporize a number of security personnel, and wipe Uhura's memory. The plot point about Uhura losing all of her knowledge and needing to be "reeducated" is perhaps the most annoying part of the story. In a single day she goes from an elementary school level of knowledge back to college level. For us to swallow this fact, we have to assume that Nomad didn't really wipe her memory at all. Instead, it must have caused her to experience some kind of amnesia. The knowledge must have still been there, but rendered difficult for Uhura to access. Or at least I hope this is the case because if it isn't then the whole thing becomes very difficult to explain very quickly. Not to mention the fact that the crew seems to have little regard for the possibility that Uhura may have forgotten everything about her personal life.

But poor aesthetics are nothing new on Star Trek. Perhaps the most unforgivable aspect of the story is the recklessness with which Kirk and Spock treat Nomad in the first place. At the beginning of the story, Nomad starts firing extremely powerful weapons at the ship. Kirk barely manages to convince it to stop and Nomad offers to visit the ship. From this moment forward, Nomad was vulnerable. At any moment Kirk could have used the transporter to destroy Nomad, as I'm pretty sure a device capable of dematerializing something and then rematerializing it elsewhere is capable of permanently dematerializing something and never rematerializing it. But we can rationalize that oversight quite simply by saying that Nomad's defense screens would not have permitted this, in spite of the fact that Kirk and Spock never tried. The issue of recklessness crosses into unforgivable territory shortly before the mind meld scene. Kirk explicitly convinced Nomad to lower its screens to allow Spock to mind meld with it. Why not phaser the damn thing out of existence as soon as it did so? Who cares where it came from and why it got this way? Kirk's and Spock's reckless scientific curiosity cost the lives of several crewmen and nearly the entire ship.

All things considered despite the value and originality of a story about a space probe encountering something dangerously unexpected and its mission being corrupted beyond repair, the story's promising potential is drowned out by an onslaught of bad storytelling which is becoming all too common on Star Trek by this point.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-04-05 at 4:28pm:
    I like this episode because it has a traditional robot instead of an android. I also like the cold responses the robot gave: "Non-sequitur," "insufficient response," etc.

    The biggest letdown while watching this episode is the whole "Uhura's brain got erased" subplot. How absurd is it to think that Nurse Chapel is going to reteach Uhura EVERYTHING, and she's going to do it just in time for the next episode. How is Uhura going to perform her duties on the bridge if she can't even pronounce the word "blue"? What a joke!
  • From Jadzia Guinan Smith on 2010-09-09 at 10:59pm:
    Pimpdaddy is right (now there's a statement I never would have imagined myself making)!

    It's totally absurd to think Uhura will just be "re-educated" to be a fullly functional starfleet officer. But even if we can make peace with the idea that she'll somehow learn all the job-related functions (she's an astronaut, so she probably started out a with a pretty good brain, right? Stay with me, my fellow retconners)... but how is she supposed to resume her LIFE without any personal memories? What about her family, friends, memories of growing up, etc.? Somebody should look for instances in subsequent episodes where she refers to things she should not be able to recall.

    You know, if this were TNG, you can be sure that Dr. Crusher and/or Data would have found a way to "restore" her original brain contents by the end of the episode :-)
  • From Alex on 2012-05-23 at 8:08pm:
    I thought this was a 7. In the 2nd tier of shows in the second season. Nomad and how its purpose changed is excellent. That main plot was great. Erasing the brain was cool, but the reeducation was unbelieveable even for star date 4,000.
  • From warpfactor 10.1 on 2012-09-19 at 6:14pm:
    It seems clear on even the most cursory of inspections that Nomad started life as a patio heater. There are several of these 'units' in the garden of the pub near where I live and I tried to destroy them in the way that Kirk destroyed Nomad but they outwitted me by ignoring me completely. They did however have an off switch on the side.
    Pity about the sub-plot with Uhura which was pointless and had so many holes in it.
  • From Jasper on 2013-11-03 at 5:17am:
    This episode does, however, invalidate a recent popular memegif: Scotty was *not* the only redshirt never to be killed. He just got resurrected when he did.

    I would imagine, watching it at the time, if you'd noticed the redshirt tendency, his death might have had some impact for the original audience that it doesn't for the watchers today.
  • From Chris Long on 2017-11-18 at 5:24pm:
    The biggest problem with Uhura's memory wipe aside from everyone else's complaints was that she was fluent in Swahili. I'm kind of surprised that no one else mentioned this little bit of idiocy.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x04 - Mirror, Mirror

Originally Aired: 1967-10-6

Synopsis:
Kirk, Scott, McCoy and Uhura enter a parallel universe. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 6.05

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 75 3 8 39 1 5 6 11 31 62 95

Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- This is the first episode to feature the mirror universe. It won't be seen again until Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode was nominated for the 1968 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Remarkable Scenes
- The transition into the mirror universe.
- I love the new militant look on board the evil Enterprise.
- The ruthless Spock.
- Evil Chekov betraying the captain.
- Good McCoy: "I'm a doctor, not an engineer!" (Count #4 for "I'm a doctor, not a [blah]" style lines McCoy is famous for.)
- The computer telling good Kirk that he succeeded to command of the Enterprise through the assassination of former captain Christopher Pike.
- Evil landing party in good universe.
- Evil Spock telling good Kirk of his orders to kill him.
- Evil Spock threatening evil Sulu.
- Good Uhura seducing evil Sulu and then turning a knife on hm.
- Evil Spock taking on the entire landing party.
- Evil Spock mind melding with good McCoy.
- Good Uhura disabling evil Kirk's girlfriend.
- Spock, a man of integrity in both universes.
- Good Kirk trying to convince evil Spock to lead a revolution against the Earth Empire.
- McCoy, regarding Spock: "I think I liked him with a beard better. It gave him character."

My Review
After a painfully banal opening scene featuring yet another alien race that looks exactly like humans (except for a dot on their foreheads...), the landing party beams up into pure awesomeness: the mirror universe. Then after a brief moment of stilted dialog in which Kirk jumps to conclusions way too quickly about the exact nature of their predicament, the episode soars forward on this absurd premise masterfully extracting well executed comedy and even an inkling of terrific drama from an episode that turns out to be far more entertaining than it probably should be.

The irresistible fun of this story is mentally noting all the subtle differences in this parallel universe where the Federation is instead the Earth Empire and Kirk is a conqueror instead of an explorer. The bewildered landing party does an excellent job adapting to their new roles and slowly scheming their way back to their own universe all the while taking the audience for a wild ride filled with hysterically treacherous asides. My favorite detail of this story is the extensive use of secondary characters. Uhura beats people up, Scotty sabotages things, and Sulu turns into a violent womanizing villain.

Kirk's performance is the centerpiece of the story though. I can't help but admire his obvious inability to take any of it seriously. He acts as though throughout the entire episode he's questioning whether or not it's all some kind of freaky dream. Every time he sees another twisted absurdity he just shrugs it off with bemused amusement and it is perhaps this total detachment from the reality he ever so briefly inhabits that allows him to so nonchalantly persuade evil Spock to begin inciting a revolution.

The only thing saving this delightful romp of a story from a perfect score is a few brief moments of weak writing. Aside from the aforementioned unambitious makeup for the aliens of the week (who themselves for some reason are identical in demeanor in both universes) and Kirk awkwardly leaping to conclusions about being in a mirror universe (not to mention the computer just automatically confirming his hypothesis somehow as if computers know everything), Kirk's scenes with his counterpart's girlfriend were also a bit weak. I never really bought her motivations for helping the landing party, although I suppose if we just assume she's not very smart it works out well enough.

Likewise, the whole bit about the "Halkan prediction of galactic revolt" was a bit hard to swallow. I have a hard time believing that some sociologist somewhere has come up with a scientifically plausible theorem for quantifying a mathematically exact maximum possible lifespan for imperialistic, expansionist empires. A better ending scene in the mirror universe would have had Kirk use some other rationale to convince evil Spock that he had a shot at overthrowing the empire. The scene is nevertheless effective anyway and the episode as a whole stands out as among Star Trek's most entertaining stories so far. To me, the ending of this episode isn't an ending, it's a cliffhanger. I want to see what happens next! Well done.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Cory on 2010-08-11 at 10:56pm:
    I found a problem with this episode, only one however. If the mirror universe is parallel, then why are the aliens in the mirror universe also peaceful pacifist? Shouldn't they be as ruthless as the Federation, more so even?
  • From Lennier on 2011-03-30 at 10:42pm:
    Ah, so you are revising your ratings (this used to be a "7", and now it's a "9").

    By the way, this is not a criticism; I would be doing the same thing!

    Anyway, this is indeed a classic but I agree that there a few minor niggles that prevent promotion to a perfect score.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-10-18 at 10:43am:
    Spock, arguably the most intriguing science fiction character ever created, is thrust into the situation where he alone has to ignite the struggle to reconnect all of humanity to its human values. That is a deliciously ironic premise, and may be the most interesting unexplored Star Trek idea ever. This would have been a very interesting story, albiet one that would have required an entire season to have told properly.

    Obviously, bad Kirk has to go back to his quarters to find the Tantalus Field is missing. He’s not converted to bearded Spock’s cause, he doesn’t even know Spock has one, but he is cornered and careful because whoever stole the weapon can make him disappear at any time. Spock has to reach out one by one around Kirk and reestablish the ‘normal’ bonds of loyalty with the other crew members. Seems to me that McCoy is first ‘recruit’, in part because he is the one that will be the most idealistically inclined, in part because he’s already mind melded with ‘good’ McCoy, but mainly because he is the least corruptible to darker influences. Each character will have different ways for Spock to reach them. But in order to overthrow the empire, he has to have Kirk, because only Kirk has the abilities to pull it off. Kirk is the most strong willed, the most capable of deception, and therefore the most dangerous to approach. Then, once Spock has his rebel crew lead by his rebel captain, somehow just this one ship has to go on to ignite freedom in the galaxy. Ah, what a delicious tale this would have been. Mirror Mirror - a stroke of genius and a genuine ‘10’.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-04-14 at 12:40pm:
    "MIRROR, MIRROR"

    Great episode. Here are my comments:

    Factoid: The leader of the Halkan council was played by Vic Perrin, who also played the voice of Nomad in "The Changeling"!

    Notice that after the opening title sequence, the Enterprise is orbiting the planet in the opposite of the usual direction! The planet's rotation is also reversed, at least based on a few spot checks I just made. But, as usual, the planet is rotating way too fast.

    The Halkans reasoning in denying Kirk the di-lithium crystals is just plain dumb.

    [Main Phaser Power Control]

    (The door opens and guard blocks Scott's entrance.)
    SCOTT: I've been ordered to check phaser couplings for possible damage by the storm.
    GUARD: Do you have authorization from security, sir?
    SCOTT: Captain's orders.
    GUARD: I'll have to check with Security Chief Sulu, sir.
    SCOTT: Never mind. I'll attend to it.

    OK, since when does the chief engineer need authorization to check the phasers?

    Why are the Halkans the same extreme pacifists in the mirror universe? Well, it's clear that the anti-symmetry is not exact (witness Evil Spock's goatee, e.g.), so this must be one of the larger aberrations, sort of like non-conservation of parity of just a miniscule percentage of phenomena in our own universe. (Conservation of parity in physics means that the mirror image of any possible process is also a possible process. Astonishingly, albeit for only a very few processes, such as beta decay, this is not true. Hence the Halkan aberration is somewhat analogous to non-conservation of parity.

    Why does Marlena "disappear" every one of Sulu's cohorts except Sulu himself?

    I love scene with Spock's and the evil gang of four, esp. when he says "fascinating." The scene with his commentary on them at the end of the show is also quite good.

    Re your command about the "Halkan prediction of galactic revolt": Check out Isaac Asimov's _Foundation_ series with Hari Seldon's "psychohistory," which allows one to make useful, though probabilistic, predictions of large-scale events. So one can view it like that, though I'm not so sure the Halkans could perform such calculations!

    About this line:

    KIRK: In every revolution, there's one man with a vision.

    Awesome. Though it's partly due to the music (as is quite often the case), only Shatner could do it so well.

    AEF, aka betaneptune
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-05 at 1:33pm:
    I gave this one 8/10. Really entertaining episode.

    The problems I had with this one "mirror" those given by other posters, especially Alan (above).
    The one that probably bugged me most was the interaction with the computer, which, as Kethinov has pointed out, is ridiculously capable. It would seem that nearly any question about astrophysics, theoretical or not, can be handled by this thing. It would seem to make engineers virtually worthless. Bye-bye, Mr. Scott.

    Nonetheless, the story and characters are wonderful to watch here. The subtleties are intriguing, of not completely consistent. The notion of parallel worlds has enough plausibility, and the story was written just intelligently enough to keep a viewer's brain engaged throughout.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x05 - The Apple

Originally Aired: 1967-10-13

Synopsis:
The crew discovers a paradise controlled by computer. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 3.16

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 103 13 32 25 11 12 38 18 14 4 14

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

Problems
- Despite the Enterprise being stated to be in a decaying orbit throughout the entire episode due to the pull of a tractor beam from the surface, at no point does any orbital shot reflect this.

Factoids
- According to Spock the Federation has invested ~122,200 units of whatever currency it uses in his training.

Remarkable Scenes
- Chekov claiming that the Garden of Eden was just outside Moscow.
- Spock's exploding rocks.
- Kirk: "A Garden of Eden with landmines!"
- Spock getting shot by thorns to save Kirk.
- Spock getting zapped by a forcefield.
- McCoy regarding the forbidding of sex on this world: "Well there goes paradise."
- Spock getting struck by lightning.

My Review
An episode filled with another round of cliches such as more evil flowers with poisonous pollen, another society controlled by an evil computer which must be destroyed, and more cheesy comedy, especially the awkward Spock-the-sex-ed-teacher scene. On top of the cliches this episode breaks new ground on the poor choices front by making Kirk uncharacteristically second guess his decisions constantly and worry repeatedly about endangering his crew. Meanwhile the plot simultaneously makes him look like an idiot for not coming to the conclusion that they should just phaser the evil computer from orbit sooner. Though at least they blew it up rather than talk it to death this time.

While Kirk was having an off day, Spock sure got a chance to shine. In the space of a single day Spock survived two separate assaults that both by themselves killed a member of the landing party. By this point there can be no doubt that if you join Starfleet and your uniform is red then you are more likely to die with statistical significance. Since Spock's shirt is blue he must be immortal.

What little intrigue this story has to offer is tied to the potential for a moral dilemma with regards to destroying this society's paradise so that Kirk can save his ship. But the trouble is since there's no actual choice in the matter there is nothing to weigh. Given the choice between survival and violating the prime directive there is no choice so the whole debate is useless.

Nevertheless they seem to want to debate it anyway with Kirk and McCoy arrogantly trampling all over Spock's argument with rhetoric that amounts to little more than, "Who cares! Our culture is superior! They should live like us!" All the while glossing over the fact that however sedated the alien culture may have seemed, they were happy, sustainable, and for all intents and purpose immortal before Kirk showed up and ruined their happy little lives. All this to the backdrop of a plethora of annoying Bible references, as if we're supposed to believe that Christianity somehow dominates 23rd century Federation culture as much as it dominates 1960s American culture. Oh well. There have certainly been worse episodes.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From J. Poole on 2006-04-20 at 1:43pm:
    This is an episode that I remembered fondly from my childhood, but it stood out as one of the worst when I watched the series again recently on dvd (God bless Netflix).

    For the most part, I agree with the review of this episode featured on this site--the problems with the prime directive, the mass murder of the redshirts, etc. are all indicitive of bad TOS episodes. I don't buy McCoy's arrogance when he's debating with Spock about saving these people from their idyll, but I guess you can ultimately justify breaking the Prime Directive because the ship was in danger.

    That aside, though, there are still some real problems with this episode, namely the cliched aliens du jour and the "nothing can kill Spock" attitude this episode takes toward the first officer.

    The aliens (aside from looking silly with their flowers and make up and spray-on tans) are ridiculous. I like the idea of their "Eden," even if it is a bit over-used, but I just don't buy these guys. And why, why, why does the Enterprise have orders to contact them just because of "strange readings?" This episode tramples on the Prime Directive from the very beginning. And you'd think that the crew would have learned to stay away from alien flowers by now.

    The problem with Spock bothers me as well. I realize that he's physiologically different--stronger, able to mentally heal himself, etc.--but he should have died twice in this episode. I can buy the spore-thorns not killing him because of his different physiology, but a lightning strick capable of not only killing but actually vaporizing a red shirt ensign simply gives him some second-degree burns that are never mentioned again. Give me a break.

    This episode is a real candidate for my personal "Worst Of" list. The only thing that saves it for me is Spock's analysis after the Feeders of Vaal try to kill the crew: if McCoy was worried about their stagnation, their lack of humanity, he need worry no longer because they have now taken a vital step by learning to kill.
  • From Arianwen on 2010-07-26 at 7:43pm:
    Gentlemen/women/variations thereupon, I submit to you one Yeoman Martha Landon, who wears a short dress, is in love with one of the crewmen and shows concern for the natives' well-being. And flattens large, muscular men. Twice.

    This is only the third time I remember seeing a woman take physical action against another person and succeed - without screaming. One of the redeeming features of this episode.

    I agree with your review - the story is annoying and has many flaws. But it had potential, and with better handling (and laying off Spock for a few minutes) it might have turned out very well. I quite liked the natives - not the hippiness, but the physical portrayal, the facepaints (but don't look too hard at the hairstyles). It would have been more interesting if they had found out just what that machine was, rather than just destroying it and strolling off happily. Although I have a feeling it would have resulted in Kirk talking yet another computer into oblivion. The man is a menace.
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-22 at 12:09pm:
    No, the saving of one's ship is not a justification for violating the Prime Directive. In one of the Captains Log entries from "The Omega Glory" Kirk notes that the prime directive even includes sacrificing the entire crew rather than interfere with the native culture. By the way, remember the redshirt who tripped on a rock and was blown up? The stuntman was severely injured and in fact was hospitalized.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x06 - The Doomsday Machine

Originally Aired: 1967-10-20

Synopsis:
A machine that destroys planets threatens the Enterprise. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 10

Fan Rating Average - 5.44

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 95 12 13 5 28 9 9 14 28 43 92

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
- Throughout the episode numerous characters make mention of the planet eating monster devastating all the nearby "solar systems." This is a common error. The term they were looking for is planetary system. The planetary system we live in is called the Solar System because our star is named Sol. As such, the term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term.

Factoids
- This episode is a candidate for my "Best Episode of TOS Award."
- Uhura and Chekov are remarkably absent from this episode.
- This is the first time we get to see another Constitution class ship.
- This episode establishes that detonating a starship impulse engine can generate a 97.835 megaton explosion.
- This episode was nominated for the 1968 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Remarkable Scenes
- The sight of the crippled vessel Constellation.
- The freaked out commodore Matt Decker.
- The revelation that the entire crew of the Constellation was killed by the planet eating machine.
- McCoy: "I'm a doctor, not a mechanic!" (Count #5 for "I'm a doctor, not a [blah]" style lines McCoy is famous for.)
- Kirk's speculation that the planet eating machine must be a remnant from a distant, ancient war which destroyed its creators.
- Spock's calm and logical refutation of Decker's argument, then doing his duty and giving up command despite the fact that Decker's decision was wrong.
- The Enterprise engaging the planet eating machine.
- Kirk to Decker: "You're the lunatic who's responsible for almost destroying my ship!?"
- Spock taking command.
- Spock: "Vulcans never bluff."
- Decker's battle with the security person.
- Decker plunging himself into the planet eating machine.
- Kirk regarding plunging the Constellation into the planet eating monster: "I'm gonna ram her right down that thing's throat!"
- The Constellation exploding inside the planet eating machine.
- Spock regarding the planet eating machine: "It's quite dead."

My Review
In what is easily the most exciting episode since Balance of Terror, captain Kirk, his crew, and a crazed commodore Decker do battle with an automated weapon from another galaxy programmed solely to seek out new life and new civilizations and destroy the strange new worlds they inhabit. Indeed the planet eating machine featured in this story is in every way the antithesis of our Star Trek heroes and presents itself as a worthy foe to the Federation.

This well paced story delightfully sets up the freak of circumstances that places Decker in temporary command of the Enterprise while Kirk is left to fend for himself on Decker's crippled ship. Likewise the exposition that Decker beamed his entire crew down to a planet that he was tragically unaware the planet eating machine was about to destroy also nicely sets up Decker's despicably unstable demeanor throughout the story.

You can't help but root for Decker during his ill-advised battle with the planet eating machine. A part of you wants his crazy desperation to work. Meanwhile the race against the clock for Kirk to rush in and save his ship using Decker's crippled hulk of a ship is a thrilling ride with an excellent climax. Star Trek sure can do action well when it wants to and the space battle depicting two Constitution class ships doing battle with the planet eating monster was masterfully choreographed. If only Balance of Terror had this much battle footage!

The way Kirk and Decker counterpoint each other throughout the story is also nicely done with Kirk doing more with less while Decker continues his downward spiral of doing less with more. In the final act it was both touching and clever for Kirk to take inspiration from Decker's suicide move and at the end of the story watching Kirk stare down death wondering if his crew would fix the transporter in time was excellent suspense. Overall an outstanding episode.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 4:50pm:
    Decker as a Commodore: well, that depends. In some fleets on Earth (e.g. in the UK), a Commodore (a flag rank) outranks a Captain, so if this is the case in Starfleet Decker outranks Kirk and can take command of the Enterprise even against Kirk’s direct order. That is however weird since Commodores don’t command single ships on a regular basis. Unless the writers accepted this kind of plot hole for dramatic purposes.
    On the other hand, an American Commodore has the rank of a Captain, but temporarily is given command of a small fleet and is thus temporarily elevated in rank so he outranks the other Captains. The authority attached to the rank is temporary; the person stays a Captain and retains the duties attached to a Captain’s rank. Out of courtesy, however, the title is sometimes still used even after the temporary mission is over, so Decker may well have been a regular Captain who was once elevated to Commodore for a special mission and retained the title from it. What do you think?
  • From TashaFan on 2008-09-18 at 10:24pm:
    Decker is a Commodore for dramatic effect. As a Commodore he outranks Kirk and therefore it is clear that when Kirk forces him to relinquish command, it's not a battle of equals, but Decker has been emasculated by his junior. It also means Kirk's actions are not just an argument among peers but are actual insubordination. If Decker was just another Captain there would be much less dramatic conflict. Although I agree with the other comment, in the episode with the M5 computer we see that Commodore Bob Wesley is indeed in command of a fleet of four ships.
  • From Ggen on 2012-03-15 at 7:01pm:
    This was an altogether awesome episode. The central plot and its resolution are both quite good. At the forefront of the entire thing is the twisted psyche of the Commodore, clinging to a failed captaincy, trying to redeem himself in his own bizarre, suicidal way. The Commodore is rather brilliantly written and portrayed and a kind of twisted pleasure to watch. (Interesting how in his misguided efforts he ultimately did help stop the doomsday device by giving Kirk the right idea).

    The command tensionS on the Enterprise between the Commodore, Spock, and McCoy was especially great.

    I have to comment here about the Commodore's fight sequences en route to the shuttlebay, which were absolutely awesome. Something in the choreography was definitely lost, irretrievably lost between the transition from TOS to all the later series. (I just watched TNG The Hunted which is about a supersoldier and has numerous fights, all of them atrocious when compared to TOS...)

    The doomsday machine was an interesting idea (later recycled somewhat in TNG 1x21 Arsenal of Freedom and Voyager 2x17 Dreadnought) and was executed sufficiently well. I can't quite decide whether the model and special effects were silly or awesome (I think some strange mixture of both). The final explosion was definitively cool.

    Problem(?):
    If the Enterprise was more maneuverable than the doomsday device, it stretches credibility a bit to have it reappear "out of nowhere" and catch everyone by surprise early in the episode. Of course, there was the matter of "subspace interference," but from what I recall, that was mostly discussed in terms of communications, not things like long-range sensors, the viewscreen, etc...
  • From warpfactor 10.1 on 2012-09-20 at 1:20pm:
    I'd forgotten what a great episode this was. I thought it was exciting despite the fact that I knew Kirk wasn't going to die (hope that doesn't spoil it for anyone). The dramatic tension regarding Decker's clash with Spock and Kirk was well done. Guests often get to overact but somehow it doesn't seem out of place and is almost necessary given the relatively short episodes. Although Decker seems as mad as a box of frogs at least he was prepared to go down with his ship which is more than can be said for at least one captain recently.
    I thought the visual effects were done well (being no fan of CGI).
    The one thing stopping me giving it quite as high a score as I might is NO UHURA! There can be no excuse for that. No wonder Scotty was a bit subdued.
  • From Royals42 on 2013-06-12 at 2:22pm:
    Is it just me or is there no thought whatsoever on shooting Photon Torpedos. I know it probably wouldn't have done much but maybe shooting a dozen right up the throat of that thing would have been comparable to the explosion of the ship.

    Other than that it was in my top 5 episodes of TOS. #1 of course is Balance of Terror! It was exciting to see something from another Galaxy and it would have been more interesting if they had examined it more after they "killed it." However maybe it's identity would have made it less menacing.
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-06 at 7:55am:
    Excellent episode. I gave it an 8/10.

    The only things that bug me are: (1) the way that Decker becomes oddly smug and calmly self-satisfied right in the middle of his fit of obsessed vengeance/guilt. It seemed completely out of place. (2) At this point, I'm rather tired of just how insanely quickly Kirk becomes bemused and cracks wise, even immediately after a horribly traumatic experience. I know some hardcore devotees of TOS will consider this blasphemy, but it just rubs me the wrong way.

    All else about this episode is great. The shift of Decker from victim to villain to hero is splendid viewing. The antagonist Doomsday Machine, obviously social commentary about the Cold War arms race, is the most terrifying thing that I've seen in a Star Trek episode. Having Scotty be a major part of defeating it was fun, and the entire 3-way interaction between the Machine, Kirk on the Constellation, and Decker on the Enterprise was perfectly balanced. The drama that ensues moves the tale along at a great pace, and it truly is one of the absolute best episodes.
  • From Chris Long on 2017-11-08 at 4:39pm:
    I know I'm late to this great website so forgive me.

    The acting by the guy who played Decker was superb. The one thing that draws me back to TOS is a generally outstanding acting by the cast and the guest stars!

    The "Don't you think I know that?" line is one of the most heart-wrenching in television in general.

    Contrasted against Kirk's casualness at the end of episodes where billions of people have died, it was pretty stark.

    In agreement with Scott Hearon, I'm constantly annoyed by that little 'habit' of TOS.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x07 - Catspaw

Originally Aired: 1967-10-27

Synopsis:
Aliens on a mission of conquest hold the crew captive. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 2.97

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 85 46 17 22 32 14 21 13 2 19 8

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

Problems
- The cat's meowing and shrieking was dubbed in such a way that it doesn't match the cat's mouth movements.
- The aliens in their real form were puppets and the strings were at times very easy to see.
- Spock said that mapping expeditions have charted the "solar system" featured in this episode before. This is a common error. The term they were looking for is planetary system. The planetary system we live in is called the Solar System because our star is named Sol. As such, the term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term.

Factoids
- This episode establishes that DeSalle is the ship's fourth officer and will take command when Kirk, Spock, Scotty, and Sulu are all off the ship.
- This episode establishes that the Enterprise is capable of manufacturing precious gems.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk regarding the witches: "Spock, comment?" Spock: "Very bad poetry, captain."
- Kirk seducing Sylvia.
- Kirk, Spock, and Korob being chased by the giant cat.
- Kirk destroying the alien illusion device.

My Review
The Squire of Gothos + Return of the Archons = Catspaw. Like The Squire of Gothos this story features yet another super alien that captures the crew and demands something silly along with yet another alien technology plot device (the transmuter) that once trivially destroyed solves all the crew's problems. And like Return of the Archons the aliens yet again achieve their goals by transforming various members of the crew into zombies and trapping the crew inside of an ancient Earth stereotype. To be frank, Star Trek didn't need a Halloween special, much less a poorly executed one.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From kaser on 2010-05-13 at 5:58pm:
    This episode is sub-par to say the least. The language is stilted, the jokes lame. The fight scenes are badly directed. The cheap costumes and mis-en-scene furnishings seem to bear the dust of the studio B closet. The story is jumbled and poorly told. A felinephobiac might get a brief thrill from the screeching catwoman but there is otherwise little dramatic effect to this careless production. The deflating of the shabby bird-like marionettes are a fitting ending to this mess. How did Shatner keep from giggling through his final speech?
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2011-12-09 at 9:35pm:
    Oh just had to mention it. This was the first episode shot in the second season. Assignment Earth was the last. Did any one else notice that in both of these episodes a cat turns into a chick?

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Star Trek TOS - 2x08 - I, Mudd

Originally Aired: 1967-11-3

Synopsis:
A takeover leads Kirk to his old nemesis, Harry Mudd. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 5.11

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 42 7 9 8 11 17 16 37 15 21 19

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- Technically Mudd will recur, but all episodes which feature him suck, so they can all be considered bad filler. On top of that there's a scene early in the episode in which Mudd's backstory has to be explained to Chekov, so it isn't necessary to watch Mudd's first episode to understand what's going on in this one.

Problems
- Harry Mudd had the entire crew of the Enterprise beamed down to the planet. How exactly did they get back up to the ship with no one up there to operate the transporter?

Factoids
- This episode establishes that the Federation has a patent system.
- Chekov makes a reference to Leningrad in this episode, but in 1991, many years after the episode aired, the name of the city was restored to St. Petersburg. Since Star Trek takes place in an alternative timeline which diverges presumably before the 1990s, it's conceivable that the city was never renamed back to St. Petersburg in Star Trek's timeline.

Remarkable Scenes
- Mudd revealed to be behind the androids' treachery.
- Mudd: "Knowledge, sir, should be free to all."
- Androids: "Why should we leave you?" Kirk: "Because we don't like you!"
- The various crewmembers being enticed into staying.
- The crew acting ridiculous to confuse the androids.

My Review
Once again we have androids trying to acquire power and once again Kirk talks a computer to death to resolve the plot. The badly acted androids offered little in the way of intrigue and the recurrence of the Harry Mudd character is most certainly not an asset to the story either. The ending was perhaps the most irresponsible one so far given that Kirk marooned Harry Mudd, a citizen of the Federation on an alien planet. This exposes Mudd to possible unknown dangers in the future, it prevents him from standing trial for his crimes, and also possibly even arms Mudd with an escape route if he can find a way to some day manipulate the androids. Moreover once again Kirk makes no effort to study or harness the android technology, preferring instead to act as though both the androids and Harry Mudd never existed. Then again given how terrible a story this was I think I could live with pretending these androids and Harry Mudd never existed too.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Simon on 2012-06-21 at 5:28am:
    You missed a factoid: type K planets only support life on the surface in pressurized domes with life support systems - or words to that effect.
  • From Peter Collins on 2015-03-13 at 7:35am:
    I think you're a bit harsh on this episode in that it's just a bit of fun, as TOS was prone to. Something that marks it as 'of its time' is the horribly sexist portrayal of Mudd's nagging wife.
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-23 at 8:56am:
    I disagree that this is a "skippable" episode. Roger C. Carmel was a funny guy, and his character actually had a personality, which is not necessarily a given among TOS villains. As for the problem of getting back on board the enterprise, remember that after Norman et al. were defeated, the androids were reprogrammed, and presumably that included the androids that were aboard the enterprise.

    Here are a couple of problems, though. McCoy and Scotty were both amazed and delighted at the level of medical and engineering technology (respectively), but there was no mention that they took any of the technology with them. Uhura pretended to be sold on the idea of an android body, but wouldn't it have been a good idea to have one created and standing by (not yet activated) and ready to be "moved into" when your natural life is nearly over? This is assuming, of course, that androids aren't going to turn out like Roger Korby, but since they were made with a different (and presumably superior) technology, that shouldn't have been a deal breaker.

    It also amuses me that these androids apparently can serve as sexual surrogates, no doubt with great skill. Having a few of those around would be handy.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x09 - Metamorphosis

Originally Aired: 1967-11-10

Synopsis:
The shuttlecraft Galileo makes a forced landing on a world with a single human inhabitant. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 5.09

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 36 10 6 12 10 20 20 17 24 26 12

Filler Quotient: 1, partial filler, but has important continuity. I recommend against skipping this one.
- The Zefram Cochrane character is first introduced in this episode, although it is his chronologically final appearance.

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode establishes that Zefram Cochrane invented warp drive.
- This episode establishes that Zefram Cochrane is at least 237 years old.
- This is the first episode to feature a Federation universal translator device.

Remarkable Scenes
- Cochrane's sudden appearance before the landing party.
- McCoy, regarding Cochrane: "Talks a lot, but he doesn't say much."
- The revelation of who Cochrane really is.
- Cochrane: "Believe me captain, immortality consists largely of boredom."
- Kirk enticing Cochrane to rejoin the universe.
- Kirk conspiring to attack Cochrane's companion.
- Kirk negotiating with the companion.
- Cochrane agreeing to stay with his now in human form companion.

My Review
This was a charming story with a premise that should not have worked anywhere near as well as it actually did. If I were to describe the episode to someone as "Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and annoying Federation bureaucrat of the week crash land onto a random alien planet," I would likely receive yawns in response. However, adding in details like "whereupon they discover the long lost Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of warp drive, still alive despite being aged over 200 years, sustained by a neurotic alien entity which has fallen in love with him," I suspect I might raise a few more eyebrows.

The appeal of this episode lies solely with Cochrane. It takes an unfortunate twelve minutes into the story before the narrative finally allows Cochrane to reveal his backstory (we can't let the plot move forward too quickly now, can we!), but when he finally does, the implications are fascinating. What kind of life has this man led? As he interacts with the landing party, the story grapples with concepts like immortality, eternal captivity, and inter-species love in remarkably compelling ways.

However, I would have enjoyed a deeper exploration of Cochrane's life on pre-Federation Earth. Why did he invent warp drive? How did he achieve the breakthrough? What were relations with the Vulcans like before the Federation existed? Given Cochrane's "parochial" and arguably racist and xenophobic attitude towards aliens, I can only imagine that Cochrane's era was a considerably different one. But the episode spends little time on the totality of Cochrane's long, storied past.

Both Nancy Hedford's character as well as the entity fell considerably more flat, as Nancy spent most of her time acting irrationally and the entity came off as a female version of Nomad. Even with the two of them combined at the end of the episode, there still wasn't enough personality between them to add up to being a compelling character. It's also worth noting that the companion unilaterally inhabiting Nancy's body could be seen as morally questionable, but since Nancy seemed to be all for it after the fact, it could be dismissed as voluntary. I suppose since her only other choice was death, the moral ambiguity is somewhat moot.

Speaking of death, I found it intriguing that Kirk repeatedly argued that the eternal captivity of Cochrane and the landing party would lead to their deaths. Kirk's statement was at best a metaphor and at worst a lie. Nevertheless, it was a perceptively persuasive tactic. Kirk basically recognized that the landing party was brought to this planet because Cochrane wished for companionship. Kirk expanded on Cochrane's dissatisfaction with the boredom of captivity to convince to the entity that her solution would be ineffective in the long term because that boredom would merely reassert itself in short order. Sure, some of his rhetoric may have been a bit less than accurate, but what good diplomat doesn't fudge the truth every now and then? ;)

A final wrinkle in the story is Kirk's refusal to reveal the discovery of Cochrane to the Federation, nor the true fate of Nancy. I can understand Cochrane's desire to avoid fame, but doesn't Nancy have at least a single person in the Federation who cares about her? Parents, siblings, family of any kind? Won't they want to know what happened to her? Won't they want to come visit her? Perhaps throw a wedding party? Kirk was responsible for Nancy's safety, as he himself so appropriately pointed out in the middle of the story. It was irresponsible for him to lie about her fate after the fact.

Overall though this was a terrific story. I'd love to see the Zefram Cochrane character again in subsequent episodes or at least learn more about his apparently pivotal role in the history of Earth and the Federation.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 2:25pm:
    I can think of one reason why the episode is disliked, at least by me for: the racist-sexist notion in Cochranes reaction to the gender/sex of the Companion. As long as he does not know it is female he believes it to be a good buddy. When it turns out to be female and maybe in love with him, he is so utterly disgusted, I want to slap him - hard. So what does it mean: companionship is ok, but interspecies/interracial love is disgusting?? Then the Companion decides to give up immortality and live on in Nancy Hedford's body, and all is well again? I for one am happy he stayed on the planet, for all the poison he was spewing against interspecies relationships.
    Some may say he felt raped, sexually violated, but I am not sure that I accept that.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2008-07-19 at 1:36am:
    Decent episode. I love the part where Kirk is talking to Cochrane about how far the Federation has come in terms of the numbers of planets humans inhabit and how much intelligent life is out there.
  • From Rick on 2010-05-10 at 10:06am:
    Also, Cochrane would be hailed as the "inventor" of the warp drive, for earthlings, but obviously, all the other species discoverd warp drive for themselves. They make it sound like cochrane invented warp drive for everyone in the galaxy, but of course, that's not the case.
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2011-12-08 at 4:16am:
    If for nothing else, this episode is great due to the conversation between the Companion and Kirk.

    On one hand you have Kirk hamming it up while uttering "Companion ..." on the other, "The man must continue ... It is necessary."

    Who thinks this stuff up?
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-06 at 9:20am:
    I give it a 7/10.

    Kethinov covers the same gripes and weaknesses that I have for the episode. Those aside, there was a lot to like about it.

    I feel that, rather than the drawn out reveal of who Cochrane was, that time would have been better spent showing us an exchange between the Companion and Nancy. A negotiation between them could have been extremely heart-felt, philosophical, and engaging. As it was, it did raise very serious questions about the ethics of the invasion of Nancy.

    More time could also have been given over to the exploration of Cochrane's bigotry. It's actually an interesting idea, and we could perhaps have gotten a glimpse of his true motivation. Maybe it wasn't innocent curiosity about the universe that guided him, but rather a desire to find and dominate other life forms. An idea like this could have set up some interesting exchanges between him and the Enterprise crew about the Federation's mission. This would have been a great opportunity to reveal the true heart of Star Trek, as Roddenberry conceived it.

    These missed opportunities aside, there was a lot of great food for thought in this one, with a few great little moments. One that immediately comes to mind is Spock's desire to learn as much about the Companion as possible, seeing it as an invaluable opportunity to learn. That's great stuff.
  • From Rick on 2017-02-06 at 10:17pm:
    You guys are completely missing the point on Cochrane's reaction. He felt sexually violated. Understandable reaction.

    Cochrane would still be famous throughout the Federation since he discovered warp drive for the planet that would spur the founding of the Federation. Without him... no Federation.
  • From Chris Long on 2017-11-22 at 4:19pm:
    I really liked this episode and your review for me was spot on.

    The thing I didn't like about it was Nancy's fever. As was/is done in so many TV shows then and now, they always describe fever symptoms backwards!

    People with fevers are NEVER hot, but are always cold due to the elevated body temp relative to the ambient air temp! McCoy is no doctor IMO!!! ;-)

    Just a peeve of mine...

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Star Trek TOS - 2x10 - Journey to Babel

Originally Aired: 1967-11-17

Synopsis:
Tensions run high when the Enterprise transports ambassadors to the Babel Conferences. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 7.1

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 28 4 3 3 7 9 5 11 51 55 51

Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- Aside from being one of the best episodes of TOS, this episode also is the first to feature Spock's parents, Andorians, Tellarites, and the Vulcan salute.

Problems
- While Spock is giving blood, he recalls a crucial tactical detail about the ship pursuing the Enterprise. Rather than contact the bridge with the information Spock forgot to communicate, McCoy and Chapel sedate Spock instead, endangering the lives of everyone on the ship! It sure is a good thing Kirk saved the ship without this information...

Factoids
- This episode further establishes that humans have lots of trouble pronouncing Vulcan last names. This detail was first mentioned in This Side of Paradise.
- This episode establishes that Vulcans have extreme longevity. Sarek is quoted to be 102, which is, according to McCoy, relatively young for a Vulcan.
- This episode establishes that the Enterprise is incapable of flying at warp 10.

Remarkable Scenes
- McCoy having difficulty doing the Vulcan salute.
- Spock revealing that Sarek and his wife are his parents.
- Sarek: "Tellarites do not argue for reasons, they simply argue."
- Spock, regarding his sehlat: "On Vulcan, the teddy bears are alive and they have six-inch fangs."
- Amanda pleading with Spock to save his father's life.
- Kirk retaking command despite his injury just to get Spock to leave the bridge and save his father.
- The Andorian losing an antenna.
- Amanda: "Logic, logic! I'm sick to death of logic. Do you want to know how I feel about your logic?" Spock: "Emotional, isn't she?" Sarek: "She has always been that way." Spock: "Indeed. Why did you marry her?" Sarek: "At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do."
- Kirk, regarding McCoy having both Kirk and Spock in his sickbay at the same time: "Dr. McCoy, I believe you're enjoying all this." Spock: "Indeed, captain. I've never seen him look so happy." McCoy: "Shut up!" A long silence ensues. McCoy: "Well what do you know, I finally got the last word!"

My Review
Journey to Babel is a skillfully written story which benefits mightily from the utilization of multiple plot threads, an unfortunately rare quality on Star Trek so far. The result is a fascinating array of tidbits, factoids, and drama relating to Federation politics and Spock's family. The reveal of Spock's parents to both Kirk and to the audience simultaneously was a terrific opener and sets a marvelous tone for the cultural differences between Vulcans and humans, as neither Sarek nor Spock wanted to reveal that fact until they were socially forced to, on the grounds of its lack of relevance from a strictly logical perspective.

Indeed, Sarek's devotion to logic is unwavering and his skill at it easily rivals Spock's. Since Spock is half human, his characterization has always varied somewhat between the emotional and the unemotional, but we see a new side to Spock as when in the company of his father he actively tries to ratchet up his unemotional, logical persona. When Amanda asked Spock if there was any part of her inside of him, she should have realized that Spock's emotional attachment to Sarek, something he and Amanda have in common, is what makes Spock want to act outwardly so much like his father in the first place.

Spock's desire to be more like his father is further illustrated with a brilliantly symbolic metaphor during the conception of the medical procedure to save Sarek from his heart problems when Spock proposes synthesizing pure Vulcan blood from his diluted hybrid blood by filtering out the human factors. This is of course a metaphor for what Spock has been doing all his life: trying to make himself less human. On top of that, McCoy's reference to the Vulcan heart being constructed in such a way to make surgery difficult is a nice metaphor for Vulcans in general struggling with their feelings.

What didn't work quite as well in the family drama was Sarek's disapproval of Spock's career path. Although Sarek's objections seem to stem from disapproval of Starfleet's organizational purpose, which he regards as primarily military in nature, the reasons for why that's such a problem to begin with are not explored in as much depth as I'd have liked. Sarek claims Spock's scientific interests would have been better suited by a life at the Vulcan Science Academy, but that assertion is left to be taken at face value rather than being fleshed out in any detail.

On the Federation politics side, we learn that Tellarites routinely engage in illegal mining operations, despite being members of the Federation. We also learn that the "carefully neutral" Orions raid non-Federation worlds, which motivated their duplicity in this episode. The fast, maneuverable Orion ship and the Orion murderer disguised as an Andorian were exciting details and Kirk leading his crew through the space battle despite suffering from a stab wound was excellent drama. I think I would have preferred to actually see Babel though, including the political chamber, the vote itself, and the admission of a new world to the Federation.

Given all the potential for depth and nuance that this episode simply didn't have the time to get to, I think Journey to Bebel could have benefited greatly from being a two part episode. Part 1 could have focused on the murder mystery as-is in the episode, with increased time spent developing the career conflict between Spock and Sarek. Part 2 could have resolved the murder mystery as-is while giving us time to actually see the political aftermath at Babel and the admission of a new world to the Federation. Even without that additional detail though, Journey to Babel stands out as one of the best episodes so far.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From TashaFan on 2008-10-25 at 8:57am:
    If you're referring to TNG, I'm not sure heart surgery is all that perfect in the 2300's - despite all the regeneration technology, Picard still ends up with an artificial heart when a Nausican stabs him as a cadet (and was that guy prosecuted?) but even so the new heart requires unexpected maintenance, (Wesley asks, naively "why would anyone use a faulty artificial heart" as though they planned it that way) and then the surgery goes so poorly that the Enterprise has to be called to the medical facility so that Dr. Pulaski can intervene (TNG "Samaritan Snare").
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-05-02 at 7:35pm:
    I just watched the Blu-Ray version of this. Despite being cleaned up for the upgrade to high def, there are some serious issues with the picture quality in some of the scenes. From time to time the screen gets blurry as if it's being filmed with a 9mm camera. This isn't anything to do with the conversion to Blu-Ray; it had issues beforehand. I guess they couldn't repair some of the images.

    They did do a good job with the special effects upgrades. There's a map screen that Checkov stares at a lot in this epidode, and it's been redone and looks more high tech. Also, the mysterious ship has been redone, but it's still mysterious because it's never shown up close.

    Very good episode.
  • From JB on 2010-10-05 at 7:47am:
    This is so far the best TOS episode I have seen. I started with TNG some years ago, and have seen DS9, Voyager and all the movies. Now it's time for TOS :) And so far this is my favorite :) 10/10
  • From tigertooth on 2011-01-04 at 11:09pm:
    Overall it was quite good, but I was confused by one thing: early on, Spock is all for the transfusion/operation, but Bones and Spock's mom are both strongly against it. Then when Kirk is incapacitated, Spock changes his mind. So far, so good.

    But why did Bones and Spock's mom suddenly decide that it was imperative for Spock to undergo the transfusion? What made them change their minds?

    Before Kirk is hurt, Spock's mom says "I can't lose both of you" at the thought of Spock undergoing the risky procedure. Then after Spock changes his mind, suddenly his mom is slapping him for not doing it. WTF?

    I also found it quite odd that in one scene, Sarek is well enough to easily defend himself against the Tellarite ambassador, but soon after he's on his deathbed requiring immediate risky surgery. They could have easily explained this by saying that he was poisoned by the spy on board (everything about the transfusion and the experimental drug would have fit), but instead it was just a big coincidence that his health problems came to a head right as he was about to attend an important summit. And he didn't even bring a doctor with him.

    Anyway, apologies for focusing on the negatives when overall it's quite a fun episode.
  • From McCoy on 2012-04-13 at 10:05am:
    I disagree about this being better as a two-part episode. While I agree that seeing the summit would have been fun, it's really just one scene. TOS is notorious for "stretching" episodes with useless filler that bog down the excitement. I can see this as a two part episode getting a review like "why couldn't they just remove all the useless parts and make this a single episode"...
  • From Ser Mosh on 2012-07-07 at 12:01am:
    I really liked this episode. Until a month ago, I had only ever seen the movies, but I decided to go through all 700+ episodes of all Star Trek series recently. Your site has been a great source of information.

    Also, I just wanted to say that the Vulcan salute (along with the "Live long and prosper" line) was shown at the end of Amok Time, so this isn't the first appearance.

    Thanks for all the work you put into these reviews!

  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-06 at 9:02pm:
    Excellent episode. The only thing that I didn't like was the hyper-fast cut to Kirk as he's right in the middle of the assassination attempt. It seemed like a really bad editing job, and the fight itself (like pretty much every TOS hand-to-hand fight), it downright silly in terms of physical action.

    Every thing else is solid gold. All that we learn about the various alien races, Spock, and his parents is interesting enough. When it's all blended into a gripping tale of intergalactic politics, intrigue an action, both inside and outside of the Enterprise, you have one of the most well-rounded stories of the series.

    I love the twist of a wounded Kirk's ruse to get Spock off of the bridge going slightly awry and forcing him to stay, tough it out, and see his ship to safety.
  • From Mike on 2017-08-13 at 5:47pm:
    This was the first episode of Star Trek television I ever saw. I'd seen "Wrath of Khan" as a kid, and had heard that it was based on a TV show. At the time, the brand new TNG was only airing on Monday nights and I was usually too busy with homework to watch it, so didn't see it for its first few seasons. But TOS episodes were running in syndication on weekends.

    I got lucky in seeing this one first, as it kind of introduces you in a way to the Federation itself, the mission of Starfleet, the character of Spock, and the relationships between Kirk, McCoy and Spock primarily. The episode also has an exciting plot, with plenty of intrigue and action involving the delegates and the Orion ship shadowing and battling the Enterprise.

    I do agree it could've been a two-parter, flushing out the Babel conference plot a bit more. But the suspense of the episode was excellent. Even after we realize Thelev is involved and in contact with the unidentified ship, we still don't yet know why any of this is going on until it's reveled that Thelev is actually an Orion.

    We also see in this episode, to an extent, that the Federation isn't always a big happy family, and that member worlds sometimes have competing or diverging interests. It adds to the intrigue.

    The plot involving Spock's parents is wonderfully done, with a very interesting dynamic. It's reveled that Sarek doesn't approve of Spock's career path, a typical father-son problem. And Spock, throughout this episode, is presented with a problem: logic dictates that he fulfill his duty in Kirk's absence, but he must weigh his obligations to the ship against his father's health, a dilemma that is not made easier after Amanda's pleadings.

    This is a classic Trek episode that is just as enjoyable with repeated viewing.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x11 - Friday's Child

Originally Aired: 1967-12-1

Synopsis:
The Enterprise crew becomes embroiled in a local power struggle on a tribal planet. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 4.4

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 36 16 10 10 11 19 9 29 6 18 9

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

Problems
- Responding to a distress call, Scotty orders the Enterprise to the distressed ship's location at warp 5. But the Enterprise's maximum speed is at least warp 7 or 8 from other episodes we've seen! I guess they're not in that much distress after all... Then to make matters worse, when he returned to the planet, he did so at warp 6, and made a big point about it! Yes, because when the captain's in trouble, it matters far more than the lives of potentially an entire freighter!
- When Kirk and Spock used their communicators to cause the rockslide, the special effects instead depicted the rocks exploding off the cliff as if they were rigged with explosives. Those must be some pretty potent sound waves...
- In the teaser when McCoy is briefing the senior officers on the aliens of the week, the footage shown of them battling is actually recycled material from later on in the episode when the warriors are hunting down the landing party.

Factoids
- This episode establishes that the maximum speed of a Federation freighter is warp 2.

Remarkable Scenes
- The security offer whipping out his phaser the moment he saw a Klingon and then getting instantly killed.
- Kirk currying favor with the new tribal leader by exposing fear in the Klingon and proposing that he be allowed to duel the Klingon.
- McCoy and Eleen slapping each other.
- McCoy: "I'm a doctor, not an escalator!" (Count #6 for "I'm a doctor, not a [blah]" style lines McCoy is famous for.)
- Kirk and Spock constructing and wielding bows and arrows.

My Review
An episode which on the surface seems nearly identical to Errand of Mercy. Once again we have a proxy battle between the Federation and the Klingon Empire and once again the aliens of the week being manipulated by this proxy fight are a primitive race which oddly appear identical to humans. The trouble is Errand of Mercy was a good story and this episode sucked.

In Errand of Mercy we're treated to the delightful character of Kor whose well characterized personality really drives home the philosophy of the Klingon Empire and how it differs from that of the Federation. But in this episode, the Klingon antagonist lacks intrigue or personality of any kind. He falls completely flat. This contrast is even reflected by the events in orbit of both episodes. In Errand of Mercy there's an exciting space battle in orbit. In this episode there is no action in space at all. Instead the Enterprise follows up on fake distress signals and chases away a timid, fearful Klingon ship, lacking in any kind of dramatic appeal whatsoever much like its Klingon counterpart on the surface.

On top of that the diplomacy in this episode is terrible in a couple of places. First and foremost, the entire premise of this episode is a blatant violation of the Prime Directive, again much like Errand of Mercy. Second, even if we assume that the Federation had made an exception to the Prime Directive due to the importance of securing the resources on this planet, that by no means gave Kirk the authorization to interfere with local law by saving Eleen, thereby endangering the mining rights negotiations as well as the lives of the landing party.

But it wasn't just Kirk who was off his game today because the bridge crew of the Enterprise started to look mighty stupid too by the end of the story. I'm glad that the overwhelming obviousness of the distress call being fake eventually occurred to Scotty, but the time for that was well before he turned the ship around. The most annoying scene on the bridge was when Uhura questioned Scotty's rather solid reasoning about the distress call being fake with little more than "but what if it's real?" That challenge alone convinces Scotty to keep plugging away at the useless search for a while longer, further endangering the landing party unnecessarily.

Probably the only charming aspect of the story was McCoy's high degree of competence, which was a nice relief from an episode filled with incompetence by nearly every other character. For reasons not terribly well explained McCoy seems to be an expert on this planet's culture and while on the surface he takes charge of the medical situation effectively and in ways allowing for a bit of decent humor as well which too was a nice relief from the overabundance of fistfights and tribal ritualistic nonsense the episode seemed to focus on to excess. Overall though this episode is quite a disappointment.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-05-03 at 4:13pm:
    I liked this episode a little. It is one of the rare episodes where Kirk spends a great deal of time regetting the loss of his fellow redshirted crewmember, the one who dies a minute after beaming down. He even chews out McCoy with his misplaced anger. Also, McCoy's semi-romance with the pregnant woman is interesting.

    Eventually, the show falters as it shifts into cliche action sequences out in the rocks. This is the only time I know where a communicator is used to create an avalanche.

    One more thing, there's something distrubing when you hear McCoy saying Ochie Woochie Koochi Koo; it's sounds dubbed.
  • From Peter Collins on 2015-03-18 at 10:34am:
    Pretty poor episode, but just one thing: isn't there a line about how McCoy spent some time on the planet getting to know the locals, which is how he has some in-depth knowledge?
  • From Rick on 2017-02-07 at 10:22pm:
    "On top of that the diplomacy in this episode is terrible in a couple of places. First and foremost, the entire premise of this episode is a blatant violation of the Prime Directive, again much like Errand of Mercy. Second, even if we assume that the Federation had made an exception to the Prime Directive due to the importance of securing the resources on this planet"

    Eventually I assumed that you would figure out that the Prime Directive does not apply to worlds where the Klingons will conquer and destroy unless you intervene. The point of the Prime Directive is to allow worlds to develop naturally. If you have advance knowledge that a race (i.e. the Klingons) are going to conquer, use, and destroy a planet, then yes, you can intervene because the Klingons are going to intervene regardless of whether you do. Come on man. Stop being so uselessly hard on TOS. We all clearly realize that you dont like TOS in favor of the precious continuity of the much lesser DS9 and the like.
  • From Rick on 2017-02-07 at 10:53pm:
    In addition to the above, come on, give some credit to the ending. The antagonist of the entire episode finally comes to the realization that the Klingon that he has been supporting is in fact a fraud, and decides to sacrifice himself for the good of his people. That is the kind of antagonist I can get behind and the kind of one that makes a great episode.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x12 - The Deadly Years

Originally Aired: 1967-12-8

Synopsis:
Accelerated aging affects the senior officers and threatens Kirk's ability to lead. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 3

Fan Rating Average - 5.94

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 14 5 7 11 16 16 18 24 20 29 14

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

Problems
- As Kirk ages, his hairline begins to recede. Then when he gets even older, his hairline advances again!

Factoids
- Kirk is stated to be 34 years old in this episode.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk: "Maintain standard orbit, Mr. Sulu." Sulu: "You already gave that command, sir." Kirk: "Oh? Well, follow it!"
- Chekov moaning about his medical adventures: "Give us some more blood, Chekov. The needle won't hurt, Chekov. Take off your shirt, Chekov. Roll over, Chekov. Breathe deeply, Chekov. Blood sample, Chekov. Marrow sample, Chekov. Skin sample, Chekov. If I live long enough, I'm going to run out of samples!"
- Kirk's senile behavior.
- McCoy: "I'm not a magician, Spock, just an old country doctor!" (Count #7 for "I'm a doctor, not a [blah]" style lines McCoy is famous for.)
- Commodore Stocker calling for a competency hearing against Kirk.
- The space battle with the Romulans.
- Kirk pulling the Corbomite maneuver.

My Review
A reasonably entertaining story mired by lousy science and faulty plot logic. Simply stated, a disease which causes the aging process to accelerate should be regarded as irreversibly terminal even in the fantastical Star Trek universe because McCoy's miracle cure is nothing short of a reversal of the aging process itself! To rationalize the story we have to make up a bunch of nonsense about how McCoy's miracle cure can only reverse artificial aging induced by the evil comet's radiation, so as to avoid the implications of the idea that McCoy has found some sort of anti-aging miracle drug. On top of that, the very idea that a mere injection could somehow reverse any kind of radiation damage in the first place is absurd to begin with, much less reversing the aging process itself.

Though I suppose if we assume that the Federation has access to cell damage reversal drugs beyond the wildest imagination of what science tells us is realistic technological advancement and we assume that the artificial aging induced by the comet is a somehow different and more innately reversible form of cell damage, then I suppose the science in this episode could be considered workable. However, if you've forced your audience to go into that level of depth to rationalize the events of your story, then you haven't written a very good story.

In addition to the science errors there are a number of wrinkles in the basic storytelling as well. For instance, why is Dr. Janet Wallace even aboard the ship? It's never once mentioned just what the hell she's even doing there. And why did we spend so much time on a competency hearing for Kirk in the middle of a crisis situation? Since he quite literally aged years waiting for the hearing to end, I had some sympathy for him when he condemned the procedures, regarding them as "the most fool thing I ever heard of. Competency hearing when there's work to be done!" Then finally there's the painfully absurd moment when Commodore Stocker orders the ship through the Neutral Zone despite Sulu's warning for completely no reason.

All that adds up to quite a stinker of a story for the most part, but there are charming aspects as well which render this one of the better picks of the bad episodes. The reuse of the Romulans as antagonists was a nice choice; especially the detail that we never actually see them face to face, in keeping with their tendency for a rather reserved and distant characterization as previously established in Balance of Terror. Another nice touch was Commodore Stocker's personality in general. Despite his completely boneheaded Neutral Zone mistake, he was a generally likable incompetent-Federation-bureaucrat-of-the-week, unlike most of the rest. Finally the reuse of the Corbomite Maneuver was a nice nod to the fans. All in all though this was a story with a lot of wasted potential.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-05-11 at 4:45pm:
    I often cringe when I have to watch an episode of Trek where the crew catches a disease that causes them to grow old. Almost every series had at least one episode where this happens. However, when I start watching The Deadly Years, I realize that it's really not that bad of an episode. It's cool how different members of the landing party age at different rates. I also think they did a great job with the makeup, given the budget of the show. The "trial" DOES seem to slow down the plot a lot, and I wish they would have skipped it altogether. Overall thought, I enjoyed this episode.
  • From Wiley Hyena on 2012-05-12 at 9:22pm:
    Reviewer missed the mark here. This episode is one of the funniest Trek episodes of all. McCoy stole the show. Give it a 7.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-10-05 at 9:46am:
    Quote: “As Kirk ages, his hairline begins to recede. Then when he gets even older, his hairline advances again!”

    Well, in all fairness to the makeup department, that’s pretty much what happened in real life too.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-10-13 at 2:08pm:
    "The Deadly Years"

    At about 22m39s Spock tells McCoy that "the ship's temperature is increasingly uncomfortable for [him]" and that he's adjusted the temperature of his quarters to 125 deg., "which is at least tolerable". But he's standing right there where the temperature is normal without so much as a sweater and seems to be all right! Then he asks McCoy if there's something that would lower his sensitivity to cold. How about a parka? A great dialog exchange in that scene, though. And what's that 2 or 2 1/2-foot tall thing on the table?

    I thought the aging-makeup was pretty good!

    Yeah, the story's not all that sensible, so you watch this episode primarily for the "remarkable scenes".

    In reply to Kethinov's question: Commodore Stocker ordered the ship to go through the Neutral Zone because he was in a hurry to save the crew before they aged to death. Time was of the essence. Still a rather risky move*, but it enables us to get the great rescue by the rejuvenated Captain Kirk at the end. Speaking of which, why do the Romulans suddenly stop firing when he arrives on the bridge? Also, why didn't Commodore Stocker at least shoot back?

    * Recall that the Enterprise spent a considerable amount of time in Romulan space in "The Way to Eden" and weren't confronted by any Romulans, so it seems reasonable that there is at least _some_ chance they could take a short cut through the Neutral Zone and emerge unscathed.

    Notice that Chekov is wearing his wig in the last shot! You can see his sideburn is covered by it. Maybe it's recycled from another episode.

    I think the remastered special effects are in general overrated. They often make the "science" even worse than in the original, as in the Doomsday Machine where the just-killed planet killer slowly tilts downward. In the original it just stayed put and actually simply looked dead, and was very well done, to boot. In this episode we have the fireballs flying at the Enterprise in arcs. Say what? Seeing the shields actually absorb/deflect direct hits in this episode was pretty cool, though. But we also have ships making bank turns as if they were flying through air. Also, wouldn't the Romulan fireballs be the same as the plasma balls that destroyed asteroids in "Balance of Terror"? If so, hardly something the Enterprise's shields could withstand.

    AEF
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-22 at 11:06pm:
    Regarding the competency hearing; why wasn't Kirk permitted to have a lawyer, or any representation? A lawyer might have objected to pretty much all of Spock's questions as "leading".
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-24 at 12:55pm:
    In this and many other episodes, the 20th century is referred to as "ancient history". That doesn't make sense; when we use the term today it usually means a few thousand years ago, not a few hundred years ago.

    Kirk did not have a lawyer or advocate of any kind for his competency hearing. If he had a lawyer, no doubt there would be an objection to pretty much every question asked by Spock - they were all "leading" questions.
  • From Rick on 2015-04-10 at 11:06pm:
    jdjuggler,

    Leading questions are allowed in cross-examination or in the questioning of adverse/hostile witnesses on direct. Your objection, as it were, is overruled.
  • From Kevin on 2017-03-14 at 11:20am:
    Entertaining, but full of plot holes. Again, most of the Senior officers go down to a planet. Are there not competent normal guys/girls on this huge ship that can do anything?
    Okay the aging process, was kinda fun, and interesting, but wow, they were cured instantly and look like they just hit the make up trailer!! Like no signs that anything even happened.
    I really liked the Commodore, he seemed to be a good actor and personality. Shame he was not used more, but how he basically just sat there after he was put in command was stretching credibility. He has literally "Zero" ideas. Shields up, get us out of here, Sulu do something...Anyone have ideas??? He could have said ANY of that and appeared at least credible.
    As it is, he appeared to go from a pretty good actor, to a cardboard, "Deskbound clueless high ranking officer" that classic Star Trek uses way too often.

    Overall, pretty entertaining, but a lot of issues.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x13 - Obsession

Originally Aired: 1967-12-15

Synopsis:
Kirk is determined to hunt down a vampiric entity he failed to destroy in his past. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 5

Fan Rating Average - 4.48

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 34 4 10 30 13 18 14 28 17 7 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 a decent episode, even though it could have been better.

Problems
- Spock claims that an ounce of antimatter exploded will destroy a planet's atmosphere. This is incorrect. The actual yield would be no more than the atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Factoids
- This episode establishes that Vulcan blood is based on copper, not iron.
- Tritanium is stated to be 21.4 times harder than diamond in this episode.
- Kirk's first assignment was on the Farragut.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk chastising his newly promoted ensign for his poor performance.
- Spock revealing the origins of Kirk's obsession to McCoy.
- McCoy and Spock confronting Kirk about his obsession and Kirk handling it candidly.
- Nurse Chapel lying to Garrovick about McCoy's orders.
- Spock revealing to Kirk that based on his observations, there's no way Kirk could have killed the entity eleven years ago even if he had he fired his phaser on time.
- Kirk to Spock: "Why aren't you dead?"
- McCoy: "Crazy way to travel, spreading a man's molecules all over the universe!"
- Scotty: "Captain, thank heaven!" Spock: "Mr. Scott, there was no deity involved. It was my cross-circuiting to B that recovered them." McCoy: "Well then, thank pitchforks and pointed ears!"

My Review
Captain Kirk becomes Captain Ahab in this mostly charming story. While attempts to temporarily relieve Kirk of command seem to be becoming a cliche by this point, just about every detail of the story related to Kirk's personal quest had plenty of dramatic appeal, including Spock's and McCoy's perhaps too familiar conspiracy to relieve Kirk. The noticeable change in Kirk's behavior was well played. After having seen this many episodes we've seen a pattern to Kirk's typical behaviors which is clearly broken here. Kirk quite deliberately acts out of character in this story to service his incredibly unusual mood.

The suspense and build-up is well played too. It takes a full 14 minutes into the episode before we even have complete context as to why Kirk has instantly snapped into being such a mad man, during which time subtle clues are dropped in front of the audience, keeping us guessing. Normally it's annoying when the plot fails to get to the point and reveal to full nature of the danger to the audience, but this episode manages to succeed where similar episodes have failed. The audience has just enough information about what's going on to not be annoyed while still remaining curious about the full context of how Kirk could have such intimate knowledge of the evil entity of the week. It's clear Kirk is familiar with the entity from some prior experience with it, but we're fascinated to know precisely what experience Kirk is drawing from.

When the full context and origins of Kirk's obsession are revealed, the backstory delivers on its promise to substantiate Kirk's errant behavior. It makes sense that on Kirk's first Starfleet assignment that if he were to make a mistake that cost the lives of 200 people, that he would carry that guilt with him for a considerable time. Ensign Garrovick succeeds in acting as a metaphor for Kirk's past and the fact that Garrovick is the son of Kirk's old commanding officer from the very ship that suffered at the hands of this entity was a nice touch.

Garrovick was indeed a conceptually great character, but the execution could have been better. The facts surrounding who he was and what he represented were what made him compelling. Strictly speaking, nothing he actually did made him interesting. A better character would have been more than a window into Kirk's past. Likewise, both Garrovick and one or two of the other security officers had very clear shots at the entity which they didn't take. I wouldn't be as forgiving as Spock was. Their reactions weren't forgivably natural, they were incompetent. Either Starfleet's training of its security personnel is terrible or these officers haven't learned to suppress their fear in a combat situation. Either way there is a competence problem somewhere, regardless of whether or not phaser fire actually was effective.

Regarding the weapon that actually was effective, the antimatter bomb was perhaps the most annoying part of the story. The yield from an antimatter explosion triggered by a reaction of a single ounce of fuel would most certainly not produce an explosion of the magnitude the episode so explicitly and repeatedly goes out of its way to indicate. Worse yet there was no reason why both Kirk and Garrovick had to risk their lives by personally detonating the bomb or acting as bait, especially if the yield was large enough to leave a giant crater on the planet.

Strictly speaking, the ship should have been able to fire the bomb at the entity from orbit and there should have been no need for human lures with a bomb of that scale, given that it was clearly a weapon of mass destruction. Finally, they never even bothered to scan to see if the entity was really dead before trotting off back into the stars.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-07 at 7:35am:
    Some decent psychological drama in this one, and it was interesting to see Kirk rather unhinged for reasons other than being manipulated by something other than his own psyche.

    My problems with this one stem from some of the science. I'm no medical, physics, or chemistry expert, but the writer(s) seemed to play pretty fast and loose with just how the creature was composed and what its capabilities were, in order to suit the drama of the story. If the thing is composed of electricity and basic elements and compounds, why would it require human blood to sustain itself? How, exactly, it is able to maintain its composition in the vaccum of space as it's "surfing" on magnetic waves?

    At this point, I'm growing weary of Kirk's smug little smiles, coming as they often do in oddly inappropriate places. In this episode, it's when Spock agrees that the creature is, in fact, intelligent. Kirk all but rubs it in his "friend" McCoy's face by giving him his little crap-eating grin. It's a petty little habit of the character (perhaps an addition by Shatner) and completely out of place in the middle of his obsessive compulsive hunting of this creature that's been haunting him for 11 years. It's far from the first time, and I presume far from the last time, that he's done it.
  • From Rick on 2015-08-06 at 1:01am:
    Kethinov,

    Kirk and Garrovick were needed by the weapon in order to confirm that the entity was there. I believe a few times during the episode the characters mentioned that scanning for the creature from orbit was practically impossible.
  • From Chris Long on 2017-11-09 at 1:38pm:
    The stuff I find irritating about this episode is that Kirk repeatedly tells his pals everything they need to know about the creature and yet they continue to disbelieve him and view him as being some kind of crack-pot.

    I'm also always annoyed at how his logic works when it comes to who will perform the dangerous task at hand... In this case, it's, "If this plan fails, I want you to be on the Enterprise." This, after Spock's perfectly logical reason (little iron in his blood) for being the one to go down to the surface to detonate the bomb.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x14 - Wolf in the Fold

Originally Aired: 1967-12-22

Synopsis:
Scotty is implicated in a Jack the Ripper-style murder. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 5.15

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 23 9 8 15 11 15 18 16 13 29 7

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

Problems
None

Factoids
- John Fiedler, the man possessed by Jack the Ripper in this episode, also played the voice of Piglet in Winnie the Pooh.
- It is stated that in the Star Trek universe, there was a colony on Mars by 2105.

Remarkable Scenes
- Scotty's serious satisfaction with his salacious shore leave.
- McCoy: "S/he's dead, Jim." Counts 4, 5, and 6 all in this episode!
- Spock: "Humans and humanoids make up only a small percentage of the life forms we know of."
- Spock: "In the strict scientific sense, doctor, we all feed on death. Even vegetarians."
- Sulu all drugged up.
- Spock ordering the computer to compute pi to the last digit in order to clog up its processing and memory capacity.
- The entire crew drugged at the end.

My Review
What started off as a fairly entertaining story about a murder investigation in the tradition of The Conscience of the King focused nicely on the underutilized character of Scotty turned out instead to be a flop induced by yet another non-corporeal entity, poor pacing, some awkward aesthetic choices, and some wonky writing. At the start of the story, the idea that Scotty while recovering from an injury could be committing murders he couldn't recall due to his injury was an intriguing idea. I question the medical ethics of allowing a concussion victim to galavant around in a strip club, but McCoy's always played it somewhat fast and loose. ;)

But it doesn't take long for the annoying details to kick in. What the hell is a psycho-tricorder and by what fantasy mechanism is it capable of determining without a doubt whether or not Scotty murdered anyone? Why was Scotty not confined until the murder investigation was concluded? Exactly how was Sybo supposed to receive "impressions" from inanimate objects? And then there's of course the annoying recurring issue of the aliens of this planet being yet another alien race which looks identical to humans without explanation.

The most annoying detail though is the Jack the Ripper connection. I suppose there's nothing fundamentally problematic with the idea that Jack the Ripper was in fact an alien entity which feeds off death, but aside from the fact that that idea is pretty silly to begin with, the plot logic didn't take the logical consequences of that premise very seriously. For starters, the way they used the computer to jump to this conclusion so quickly based on the lookup of a single name was silly, as was the ridiculous over-reliance on the computer in general. At one point they ask the computer to validate the hypothetical conclusions of five minutes worth of conversation, as if the computer is some kind of all-knowing godlike arbiter of truth.

They then spend another several minutes after this continuing to uselessly speculate on that very hypothesis in a painfully verbose fashion. All the while the entity sits and listens to all this while inhabiting Mr. Hengist. Why the entity waited so long to go hide in someone else's body is beyond me; it must not have been very smart. Were I an entity of such power, I wouldn't have inhabited the body of someone charged with performing the murder investigation. Instead, I'd have picked the most irrelevant bystander I could find and disappeared into the crowd.

Finally the episode reaches its climax of absurdity when they beam the entity into space while it's still inhabiting Mr. Hengist, killing Mr. Hengist in the process! I suppose you could say the crew was desperate to survive, but they didn't even try to save that poor, unfortunate man, nor did the plot make any excuses for why the characters may have been unable to do so. Overall a terrible episode.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2008-07-24 at 1:23pm:
    The leader of the planet had his wife murdered right in front of him. Why does he not show any remorse?
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-05-16 at 11:19pm:
    I found something odd. Remember when the administrator who was possessed by Jack the Ripper dies while trying to flee the room? Watch closely what McCoy and Scottie do with the body. They pick it up and place it in a chair at the table. Since when is this the procedure when someone dies aboard the ship. Why would they pick up a corpse and seat him at the table with everyone else?

    Well, the obvious reason is that the director of the episode needed his body to remain in the room because it was going to be reanimated later on. I guess they didn't want to bother having him walk all the way back to the room from the sick bay morgue, where he should have been.
  • From rpeh on 2010-07-13 at 8:54am:
    The episode starts well and is interesting and suspenseful... right up until the Jack the Ripper connection is made. It turns what could have been a decent story into a stupid one.
  • From Wiley Hyena on 2012-05-14 at 2:12pm:
    Reviewer missed the mark here. The suspence of the revelation of Hengist was very good. Some continuity problems, but those are standard fare in TOS and usually forgivable. Give this episode a 6. Entertaining.
  • From Harrison on 2012-09-04 at 4:53am:
    A turkey to be sure, but a titillating one, and darn funny in spots. John Fielder is incredibly funny and the tranquilized immortal serial killer, chanting "with a groggy smile "Die! Die! Everyone is going to Die!"
  • From Troy on 2013-01-14 at 12:15am:
    Although I was worried about the killing of Mr. Hengist at the end there, I believe it was justified by the fact they declared him dead earlier in the episode. To me this implied the entity already killed this man and was basically using his lifeless body as a vessel, hence why the crew had no qualms with beaming him into space.
  • From Tooms on 2013-10-12 at 5:52am:
    I agree with Troy that it was already explained why Hengist couldn't be saved. When McCoy said Hengist was dead earlier in the episode, they were shocked because although Kirk had kicked him, it wasn't anything that should kill a man. I took that to mean Hengist was long dead and reanimated by the entity, so there was no way to save him.
  • From Chris Long on 2017-11-10 at 2:33pm:
    Aside from all the other problems described the main reviewer and commenters... Why didn't Kirk just have Spock beam down and mind meld with Scotty to at least get an idea of what may have happened to him?

    Also, the funniest line in all of TOS,
    McCoy describing a possessed person on his tranquilizer: "Well, it might take up knitting, nothing more violent than that."

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Star Trek TOS - 2x15 - The Trouble With Tribbles

Originally Aired: 1967-12-29

Synopsis:
The Enterprise is overrun by furry creatures while tangling with Klingons and bureaucrats. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 6.7

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 35 8 3 4 3 42 9 12 22 47 77

Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- Aside from being a terrific episode, this is the first episode to mention Tribbles and the first episode to feature Koloth. There are a number of subsequent followups to this episode in later Star Trek series.

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode was nominated for the 1968 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
- William Campbell, who played Koloth in this episode, also played Trelane in The Squire of Gothos.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk: "How close will we come to the nearest Klingon outpost if we continue on our present course?" Chekov: "One parsec, sir. Close enough to smell them!" Spock: "That is illogical, ensign. Odors cannot travel through the vacuum of space." Chekov: "I was making a little joke, sir." Spock: "Extremely little, ensign."
- Kirk: "I have never questioned the orders or the intelligence of any representative of the Federation. Until now."
- Everyone falling in love with tribbles.
- The Klingon's reaction to the tribble.
- Scotty starting a fight with the Klingon.
- Cyrano Jones stealing drinks while casually observing the bar brawl.
- Scotty explaining why he started the fight to Kirk.
- Tribbles infesting the Enterprise.
- Kirk buried in tribbles.
- Kirk trying to figure out where the tribbles on the Enterprise went and everyone on the bridge avoiding his question.

My Review
The Trouble with Tribbles is the funniest episode so far and benefits mightily from multiple plot threads and combining a decently written drama with excellent humor. It's worth noting that many of Star Trek's typically most obnoxious cliches are present in this story, but each is rendered harmless by the clever writing's light hearted whimsy.

For instance, we have another proxy fight with the Klingons, but instead of the episode being a rehash of Errand of Mercy or worse yet a rehash of Friday's Child, this story takes a considerably different tone with the plot focusing instead on the Klingons and the Federation competing over offering assistance with developing a neutral world entitled Sherman's planet. The focus of this competition, a grain known as quadrotriticale, is known to everyone in the episode except for Kirk, who exhibits a remarkably cavalier attitude towards this mission, especially once his ship is rushed to the K7 space station on a priority distress call which is weakly substantiated by the annoying Federation official of the week, Mr. Baris, another common cliche.

Much like the improvements made to the proxy fight cliche, Kirk's growing cynicism towards the mission enables him to treat the annoying Federation official of the week with all due contempt, which greatly mitigates the typical storytelling issues that would normally result from that cliche. I laughed when Kirk said "I have never questioned the orders or the intelligence of any representative of the Federation. Until now." Then I realized he should do that more often. It's considerably more entertaining.

Another typical cliche featured by this story is scrappy Federation citizen of the week who shows up and causes trouble. That role this week is played by Cyrano Jones, who was at risk of being a rehash of the obnoxious Harry Mudd. Instead, however, he merely came across as a bumbling goofball and the plot did not pay any undue attention to him beyond utilizing him as a plot device for some light hearted comedy. This is essentially the tactic of the episode that makes it most successful: there's so much going on that the cliches never have enough time to become annoying!

There are a few flaws though. For one, it's never quite established just why the hell space station K7 exists in the first place. Was it in orbit of Sherman's planet? Sure didn't look that way. If not, then why is it hanging around in the middle of empty space? Why put it there of all places? I also could have done without Spock's New Testament reference (the "lilies of the field" line), as it's rather odd for a Vulcan to make a biblical reference. Finally it seems rather odd that the Federation punishes people transporting harmful animals with 20 years in prison. Likewise, the estimate that it would take 17.9 years to remove the tribbles from K7 is ridiculous, seeing as how it is such a simple matter to beam them elsewhere.

Overall though the episode was terrific. I enjoyed the continuity with Errand of Mercy when Koloth referenced the peace treaty established there as a reason why the Klingons should be allowed to take shore leave on a Federation space station. And the resolution to the plot was amusingly clever: Kirk while in the midst of not caring one bit about the K7 mission accidentally uncovers and solves a hidden plot to poison the quadrotriticale by the Klingons! Hilarious. An instant classic.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Jem Hadar on 2010-08-24 at 8:56pm:
    Only a 9 and not a 10? :O
  • From Scott on 2011-05-04 at 11:23am:
    I really don't like this episode. I just don't think its funny. I chuckled maybe twice.

    I don't understand why Chekov's references to Russia inventing everything should be funny. I just found them repetitive.

    The scene in which Kirk interrogates Scotty is just painful - it's obvious where the scene is going.

    Then there's the "wah-wah-wah-waaaahhhh" music accompanying every joke. Urrggh!

    Generally, I like the humour in Star Trek - mostly when it involves Spock.

    As for this episode - I hated it!
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-09-27 at 8:28am:
    A good episode, but certainly not a '10'. This one is campy-cute, like the 3rd Season tried often to be, but failed. Tribbles is not in the top tier of episodes because that requires an intensity that this story lacks.
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-07 at 8:01pm:
    It's rare for me to disagree so strongly with the esteemed founder of this great website, but I can only give this episode a 4/10.

    I totally agree with the other Scott here on the comment board - I really didn't like most of this episode. I'm simply not into campy humor, and a lot of the gags in this one are either repetitive, hokey, or can be seen coming from a mile off.

    I will say that James Doohan actually had a few good, solid scenes in this one, as he often does.

    The story is OK, and Kethinov makes the astute observation that this episode puts a few interesting twists on several of the stale cliches of Star Trek. Still, it wasn't enough to elicit more than a few wry grins from me.

    I also didn't like the casting of the same actor from the Squire of Gothos as a Klingon. Terrible choice, as he comes off about as threatening as Liberace.

    I know that this is considered a classic episode, and I can even see why, for hardcore fans of the original series. For me, though, I need something far different from my comedy.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2016-05-29 at 9:29pm:
    "THE TROUBLE WITH TRIBBLES"

    As far as humor goes, this is definitely right on the funny/not-funny fence. (Sort of like Mel Brooks' movies.) I can see some people not finding it funny. I like it, though.

    In the scene where Spock says he's immune to the tribbles' trilling: I'm not sure, but when he and Kirk walk away I think you can see that Shatner is barely able to keep from bursting out loud in laughter.

    Why on earth (or anywhere else) would you make a grain storage compartment with overhead doors that the grain will fall out of when opened? I suppose you could put a bin under it, but it seems like a messy way to do things. It's only real purpose, of course, is to drown Kirk in tribbles, and make it easier for our heroes to find that the tribbles were dying or dead. But if there were still grain in there, he'd be drowning in that!

    "A Klingon warship is hovering only 100 km from deep space station K7". In the remastered version it looks a lot closer than that to me! In the original you can't see it at all, and if it really were 100 km away, you'd have a tough time seeing it. Point: the original.

    About the location of the station in deep space:

    In orbit around a planet, various parties can beam down to a common area and interact. Out in deep space you're stuck with just your vessel. So it'd be nice to have a common external area to hang out with others, pick up supplies, what have you. In the episode it appears to serve as a relay station for the grain.

    In the scene starting at about 21:32, Korax pours some of his drink into Cyrano Jones's glass. What? Is this some bar custom I'm not aware of?

    I love Spock's line, "He simply could not believe his ears."

    "Disrupting a space station is not an offense." Say what?

    As for Spock's quoting from the Bible: Like it or not, the Bible is part of our culture. No less than Richard Dawkins (author of _The God Delusion_) says people should read it, but as literature, not scripture. There are too many references in English literature and such that you would not get without at least cursory knowledge of the Bible (see the first 3 minutes of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJtCqjUUHG0 ). Since Spock seems to know pretty much everything, that would include the Bible.

    Yes, it was cool to see continuity with "Errand of Mercy" with the Organian peace treaty.

    I tend to agree with Scott Hearon about the odd choice of William Campbell for Koloth. On the other hand, he fits in quite well with the lighthearted, humorous atmosphere of the story.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x16 - The Gamesters of Triskelion

Originally Aired: 1968-1-5

Synopsis:
Three disembodied beings wager on fights staged by prisoners abducted from around the galaxy. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 3

Fan Rating Average - 3.68

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 31 22 49 18 9 14 24 23 5 8 8

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

Problems
- At one point, Spock says that the landing party is "not within the confines of this solar system." This is a common error. The term they were looking for is planetary system. The planetary system we live in is called the Solar System because our star is named Sol. As such, the term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term.
- During the three against one fight, Kirk puts his entire foot on the opposing color several times with no penalty! I guess the slavers weren't quite as perceptive as they claimed.

Factoids
- The first draft of this episode featured Sulu instead of Chekov as part of the landing party. However, because George Takei was busy shooting his role in The Green Berets at the time this episode was being filmed, he could not return to the set of Star Trek to appear in this episode at all.

Remarkable Scenes
- McCoy badgering Spock during their search for the landing party.
- Kirk as target practice.
- The providers wagering on the newcomers.
- Shahna: "How can one live on a flicker of light?"
- Kirk: "A species that enslaves other beings is hardly superior, mentally or otherwise."
- Kirk's battle three against one.

My Review
A rehash of Arena. Once again the Enterprise's fate is decided by an unfair fight that Kirk must win for the crew to survive, complete with the plot once again contriving a way for the bridge crew to witness the fight on the viewscreen. The story is mildly entertaining, but the plot logic is deficient in a couple of ways. For starters, it's never quite explained why the glowing brain aliens chose to abduct the Enterprise's landing party in the first place. What was their selection process for procuring new fighting stock? Was the Enterprise in the wrong place at the wrong time or were they targeted?

Also, why were the slavers so willing to relinquish their slaves based on the results of a single, simple bet? They had all the power and were by no means obligated the honor their word. You'd think that this twisted trio of torturers would think nothing of adding a bit of dishonesty to their status quo of violent enslavement, but apparently to them breaking a promise is even more immoral than kidnapping people and forcing them to fight as gladiators.

Aside from that, I much enjoyed Kirk's slow, willful exploitation of Shahna's feelings as means to an end for his freedom. And while I could have done without Spock making yet another biblical reference (this time to Daniel in the lion's den), McCoy and Scotty bickering with Spock during their search for the landing party was perhaps the best material of the episode; a welcome reprieve from the awkwardness of the aliens of the week. A better episode would have given us better fleshed out antagonists instead of glowing brains in a box with zombie minions.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 3:40pm:
    The main plot was extremely horrible, I agree. I did like the subplot (Spock in command), though. Granted, McCoy (ad Scotty) with their tendencies to disregard Spock’s authority can be annoying, but here Spock solves the problem quite well without telling the two of them off too harshly in front of the bridge crew.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-05-25 at 12:11am:
    I just watched the Blu-Ray version, and was impressed by how the trinary system looks in the updated graphics. As for the story, I kind've don't like it when Kirk manipulates woman to get free of his circumstance. This episode is the best example of it; one minute he's praising her beauty, the next minute he's slapping her!

    On another note, why do the three talking brains need money? Do they get to spend it? Do they have a virtual Wal-Mart?
  • From Strider on 2012-06-06 at 9:59am:
    What I'm getting tired of are all these omnipotent alien races that only let the Enterprise go because they see something noble in Kirk et al, or because Kirk has accomplished something arbitrary. These dudes are still out there and could apparently take over the universe if they wanted to.

    And I don't mind McCoy and Scotty disagreeing with Spock, but I don't think they should be doing it in front of the bridge crew. It's just not good military discipline.
  • From warpfactor 10.1 on 2012-08-08 at 7:25pm:
    This may well be my favourite episode. If I were an alien being of superior intelligence this is exactly how I would behave. It's a shame that in later series the idea of abducting species from around the galaxy to pit them against one another seems to have gone out of fashion. I was confused a bit though as to why they had to stay on the Nat West sign when they were fighting. What would have happened if they hadn't? I assume that Nat West was a major sponsor of the events, hence their symbol being used, but having evidence of the behaviour of the banks in Earth's early twenty first century I'm surprised that the providers had anything to do with them.
    These are minor points however and could no doubt be explained logically enough. I do like to see alien species fighting and although it's true that Kirk treats Shahna shamefully, when did he ever do any different with women/female aliens?
  • From Harrison on 2012-09-04 at 7:47pm:
    Ok, the plot is filled with flaws, and it's a struggle to suspend disbelief. But Star Trek aesthetics owe a great deal to this episode. Some of the best martial choreography of any episode, and even today you'd be hard pressed to find a single 14-year old boy who doesn't respond in a very basic, visceral way to that green-haired babe in the shiny bikini wielding that heavy pike ...
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-24 at 5:34pm:
    I'm used to implausible plot lines by now; it is a given that in EVERY episode several things do not make sense. But this is not a "skippable" episode. Angelique Pettyjohn is among the most memorable of female guest stars; she couldn't act to save her life, but she is still quite watchable. Not understanding Kirk when he says he wants to help, followed by kissing her, she supposed that the kiss is a kind of "help". The she says "please, help me again" - that may well have been the sexiest thing ever said in the entire series!

    Some hilarious moments between checkov and his thrall, who I would have sworn was a female impersonator.

    Not that it makes the episode better, but in this episode,
    Uhura is apparently raped.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x17 - A Piece of the Action

Originally Aired: 1968-1-12

Synopsis:
Kirk investigates a planet with an Earth-like 1920s gangster culture. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 5.82

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 32 5 6 3 10 10 14 50 20 20 24

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, even though it could have been better.

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode establishes that the ship's phasers can be set to stun like the hand phasers and fired onto a planet's surface from orbit.

Remarkable Scenes
- The crew's reaction to the mob slang.
- Kirk, Spock, and McCoy debating the Federation's responsibility to correct the cultural contamination.
- Kirk's "Fizbin."
- Krako: "Waddaya think, we're stupid or somethin'?" Kirk: "No, no, I don't think you're stupid, Mister Krako. I just think your behavior is arrested." Krako: "I ain't never been arrested in my whole life!"
- Spock pointing out Oxmyx using a double negative.
- Kirk using the mob slang.
- Kirk and Spock wearing the mob clothes.
- Kirk and Spock trying to figure out how to drive a car.
- Spock: "Captain, you are an excellent starship commander, but as a taxi driver you leave much to be desired."
- Kirk and Spock using the mob slang.
- McCoy admitting that he left his communicator on the planet and the resulting speculation that the aliens may become far more technologically advanced by studying it.

My Review
100 years ago an Earth ship, the Horizon, was lost with all hands shortly after visiting this planet. The aliens who live there, the Iotians, fixate on a single artifact left behind: a book about the Chicago mobs of the 1920s. From this book they derive and adopt an entirely new culture. This is a vaguely ridiculous premise for a story and the aliens looking exactly humans again certainly doesn't help. However the story is just so damn charming that it's hard to stay annoyed with it for too long. And while there are plot logic problems aplenty, none are so far beyond rationalization that it substantially diminishes the enjoyability of this whimsical, fun episode.

For starters, the imitative nature of these aliens would seem to substantiate their odd fixation on the Chicago mobs book. The fact that the aliens of the week look exactly like humans remains unexplained, but this problem is common to so many episodes that by this point we have to simply assume that there is some good, in-universe reason why so many humanoid aliens on Star Trek look exactly like humans or nearly identical to humans. Though it would be nice if some episode at some point outlined specifically why so the audience doesn't have to make up the rationalizations on its own.

It's also not mentioned what exactly Kirk decided to do about the communicator McCoy left behind on Iotia, as the episode ended by making a joke of it instead. Given the weight assigned to repairing cultural contamination, I think it's safe to assume Kirk ordered the communicator retrieved rather than leaving it on the planet. Though it would have been nice to have a scene depicting that rather than leaving it open ended.

The issue of cultural contamination by a more advanced society visiting a more primitive one is actually nicely explored by this episode despite the focus mostly on comedy. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy discuss the issue intelligently in several scenes, making note of the harmful effects of such contamination and exploring ideas for how to repair the damage. At one point Spock rather insightfully points out that even though he's not a fan of Oxmyx' methods, his goal of unifying Iotia under one boss is actually the right goal because it is the first step towards stabilizing their society.

By the end of the episode, Kirk is forced to give up on his rather naively conceived plan to get all the bosses to sit down together and talk through their issues, so he instead chooses to simply and arbitrarily declare Oxmyx the head boss in a mostly bloodless Federation-imposed coup. This move was one born out of pragmatism rather than idealism, as after 100 years of contamination, Kirk could only work with the resultant culture. The very idea of undoing all that contamination in a single visit rapidly became unrealistic, so Kirk merely stabilized the situation so that the Federation could put into place more subtle manipulations to fix things over time.

In that respect, unlike Spock, I would tend to think that Kirk shouldn't really have much trouble explaining to Starfleet why they'll need to send a starship each year to collect the Federation's "cut." Likewise, I also rather liked Kirk's suggestion that they use that cut in some fashion to fund efforts to slowly repair the cultural contamination on Iotia and guide their further development. All in all, this is an episode which was at risk of being a rehash of that terrible similarly premised episode from season one, Miri, but since the writing was more careful this time around and considerably more entertaining, it instead managed to be a slightly above average and highly memorable episode, despite its flaws.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-05-28 at 12:08am:
    This epidode is okay if you don't take it seriously.

    Strange things:
    -There's a very distracting crewmember in the background during the opening scene on the ship. He's on the left side of the screen, dressed in a blue uniform, and Uhura is on the right side. He's smiling and looking into the camera. He looks like a superimposed image of Bashir from Deep Space Nine.

    -During the crews initial beamdown, there's a drive-bye shooting. One of the gangsters on the sidewalk gets shot and falls into some boxes. When the shooting stops, McCoy walks directly to Kirk and pronounces the gangster dead, but he never even examines him, or even looks at him from afar.

    -Watch closley when the gangster is playing pool. He's hitting random balls, but not the cue ball. (maybe there's a variation I don't know about)

    -I beleive we see the crew get taken hostage five times.
  • From Mosh on 2012-07-14 at 8:18pm:
    Being a complete Star Trek beginner going through this for the first time, there are a couple things I've been wondering about since the beginning.

    Up until this episode I assumed the 6 spots in the transporter room and the surrounding equipment were an integral part of the transporting process, and therefore you either had to beam to or from one of them.

    Now that it's been established that they are able to beam a person from one spot to another on the planet, my assumption would seem to be incorrect. I mean, if you can beam someone from anywhere to anywhere (within range), why have a room for it at all? Is it meant to be just a designated loading and unloading zone? Are those just arbitrarily designated spots with the coordinates set as default? Is this just a continuity error?

    I'm guessing all possible questions about this have been raised in the last several decades, but I'm too wary of spoilers to go to any other Trek sites.
  • From koolaid62 on 2013-03-14 at 5:05pm:
    What bothered me (even years ago when I was a kid) was that they were fighting for domination of the planet and the gangs are supposedly replacing governments but you could drive from one territory to another in minutes and their individual headquarters consisted of 2 lackeys outside, 2 inside, one moll , one desk and one phone. At that rate you would need several thousand gangs to dominate the planet, culturally speaking. Yes, I know I'm nitpicking and didn't grasp the concept of budgetary restrictions !
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-03-30 at 7:29pm:
    "A Piece of the Action"

    A more or less fun episode. But it gets a little tiring with our heroes getting recaptured again and again. Also, Shatner's gangster voice gets a little annoying after a while. It's not very good.

    What makes this episode, of course, is the comedic value of the clash of cultures. In particular, Spock and Scotty's cluelessness about the gangster culture, and esp. their language, is pretty funny. The story itself is ridiculous (esp. the Fizzbin bit -- I mean, really), leaving only the comedy to make it worth watching. And I believe it was intended as such. Kirk's last line pretty much proves that.

    So Sigma Iotia II has been like this for 100 years straight? No scientific or technical progress in all that time? It's a silly story, so no biggie. Just wanted to point that out.

    When Kirk first drives the car, you just _know_ it's going to go in reverse. But it's funny anyway! I guess this is a gag that just always delivers.

    Notice that Oxmyx is actually spelled Okmyx (see the poster in Krako's office), but pronounced ox-mix. Perhaps just another spelling quirk of English -- Iotian English, anyway.

    I can't believe they're pointing machine guns at an infant, and shortly thereafter, a boy -- especially when Kirk does it! I find it rather disturbing just seeing that.

    So Bones might have left a communicator on the planet. So what? The Iotians don't have the tools to copy it. They don't even have the tools to make the tools to make the tools. They're in the equivalent of the 1920s! Do you think humans in _our_ 1920s could copy a modern circuit board, let alone a smartphone, if they came upon one? I think not! And here we're talking about something far more advanced than a smartphone: the transtator (whatever that is)! Being "bright and imitative" is just not going to be enough. The worst the Iotians could do is make crank phone calls to passing space ships -- that is, until the battery dies.

    Don't Kirk and Spock look outrageous in gangster clothes?!

    AEF, aka betaneptune
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-25 at 11:02am:
    This was the only episode that ended with a freeze frame.

    The actor who played the gangster gunned down (who fell ino the boxes) was Jay Jones, a stuntman and occasional ill-fated "redshirt" in ither episodes. He was blown up in "the apple" (and was severely injured in real life for that stunt), and he played Crewman Jackson, who was beamed up dead in Catspaw.

    When playing "Fizbinn", the gangster gets a pair of jacks, and supposes a third jack would be a good thing. Kirk says no, then he would have a sralk, and would be disqualified. But the gangsters next card IS a jack, and Kirk says "how lucky you are! How wonderful for you!"

    Another reviewer pointed out how annoying kirks "gangster" voice was. I quite agree. But Spock's attempts to act like a gang were hilarious. ("I would advise yas to keep dialing"). Scotty had a few amusing moments trying to act like a gangster as well.

    The boy who approached Kirk and Spock suggested that the entrance to Oxmyx's headquarters was being watched from several windows, which would render a direct assault suicudal. The boy cleverly allows Kirk and Spock to get close to the two guards without raising suspicion. However, to do this, the boy makes a loud and very visible demonstration himself, which, although not likely to be viewed as a viable threat itself, would surely have gotten the attention of anyone keeping an eye on the entrance to Oxmyx's headquarters (unless the kid was lying, although it is reasonable to suppose that the biggest "boss" on the planet would have better security than two inept goons standing outside his building).

    For his trouble, the kid wanted "a piece of the action", and he certainly lived up to his side of the bargain. But he got nothing. "Action" means money.

    It seems to me that the ship's sensors, in the hands of a competent crew, would know when the landing party had been captured, confined, held at gunpoint, or had their phasers and/or communicators taken from them. In another episode, Kirk brags that ship's sensors could locate a matchstick on a planet, so how hard could it be to locate a phaser or a communicator, then just beam them up?

    The Horizon, which visited the planet 100 years earlier, surely must have impressed the Iotians with its advanced technology, and Oxmyx even acknowledged that there must have been further improvements made during the intervening century. Thus, it would seem rather foolhardy to take an officer of the federation hostage.

    How exactly will the "fed's" 40% "cut" be calculated? And how can Kirk promise that the "Feds" will be coming back every year? And if in fact the federation does NOT come back every year, what's to prevent the planet from falling back into its former bad habits? Bela is now officially 2nd in command on the planet, but he and Oxmyx are longtime adversaries. Wouldn't bela be motivated to assassinate Oxmyx, making it look like an accident, so that he (Bela) could assume overall leadership of the planet, which is what he's wanted all along? Didn't Kirk and co. just make such course of action a whole lot easier for Bela?

    Despite all the above quibbles (and believe me, I could go on), I rate this as a very good episode overall. Among the top ten, I'd say.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x18 - The Immunity Syndrome

Originally Aired: 1968-1-19

Synopsis:
A giant space amoeba threatens the entire galaxy. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 5.43

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 29 7 8 5 10 16 31 30 15 18 18

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

Problems
- Throughout the episode numerous characters make mention of the giant space amoeba threatening all the nearby "solar systems." This is a common error. The term they were looking for is planetary system. The planetary system we live in is called the Solar System because our star is named Sol. As such, the term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term.
- At several points during the episode the characters switch fluidly between the metric system and English Imperial Units for no discernible reason. Hardly scientific...
- Spock's explanation in this episode that Vulcan has never been conquered would seem to contradict McCoy's statement in The Conscience of the King where he stated in regards to Vulcan: "Now I know why they were conquered," in response to Spock's refusal to drink alcohol. However, I suspect McCoy's statement was hyperbole in reference to Vulcan's admittance to the Federation, an organization which appears to be run largely by humans.

Factoids
- This episode establishes that it is common for ships in the Federation to have a racial bias. For instance, the Enterprise has a mostly human crew, while the Intrepid has a mostly Vulcan crew.
- This episode establishes that Vulcan telepathy is powerful enough to sense the mass death of Vulcans across relatively great distances.
- According to Spock, Vulcan has never been conquered.

Remarkable Scenes
- Spock sensing the Intrepid's Vulcan crew dying before the ship's sensors could detect it.
- Kirk sending Spock on the suicide mission, much to McCoy's irritation.
- McCoy: "Shut up Spock! We're rescuing you!"

My Review
This episode is a rehash of The Doomsday Machine, but considerably less entertaining, mostly due to the fact that it's slower paced and lacks the subtleties, intrigue, and overall dramatic appeal that The Doomsday Machine had in spades. To fill the time, the episode is laced with useless filler scenes depicting Kirk making all hands announcements or log entries, despite the fact that they only have a short time before the ship is destroyed by the giant space amoeba. Likewise, the scenes with loud, high pitched sounds generated by probe telemetry certainly didn't help the episode's entertainment value either.

The only redeeming quality of the story is McCoy and Spock competing over which of the two shall go on the suicide mission. Their valor combined with their their posturing and mock(?) contempt for one another was rather amusing, although it isn't terribly well established why a probe or even the shuttle itself couldn't have been remote piloted into the center of the space amoeba to mitigate the danger. Likewise, the whole technobabble scene that rambled on about "anti-power" and "everything in reverse" so Kirk could conclude that they needed to detonate an antimatter bomb at the center of the space amoeba was unnecessarily incoherent.

Overall while this episode had some potential despite its unoriginality, it failed to deliver on most of it. What's left is a sombre, depressing, slow, and tired story with no subplots. It reminded me quite a bit of The Corbomite Maneuver for all the wrong reasons.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 6:07pm:
    True, in a lot of ways it is The Doomsday Machine II, but on the level of character interaction, we still learn something new. The captain is (all too briefly) in captain mode, deciding which of his friends to send to death. The inability of McCoy to wish Spock luck but being worried nonetheless is quite telling, more clearly defining their love-hate-relationship. Spock is remarkable in his stoic expectation of death. What annoyed me was that it was again Kirk who saved the Enterprise with the idea of the antibody and the antimatter bomb, when clearly Spock had the same idea before (but was unable to communicate it). Why not once give the credit to him?
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-06-06 at 10:09pm:
    I just watched the Blu-Ray version and I thought they did a great job with the new visuals. They didn't do a complete redesign of the organism; they just show more detail. That's a good thing.

    As far as my overall opinion of this episode, I'd say it's a good one. There's a lot of tension and drama. Spock embarks on a dangerous mission, Kirk has to make tough decisions, Scotty's having troubles with the ship, etc. I think we see real suffering with the crew, as opposed to manufactured suffering.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-09-27 at 9:10am:
    A solid drama-based episode that is in the top 1/3rd. That it was a rehash of the Doomsday Machine speaks for it, not against it. Star Trek repacked everything and I'd rather it reprise its great moments than its weak ones. I find much of what is called 'character building' in the series to be exercises in piling onto pre-existing cliques. I'm much more interested in a story establishing an interesting premise to which the crew responds - like this one does – and then examining the relationships between each member along the way, only as is necessary to resolve the problem. Yes, we get it. McCoy backbites Spock every chance he gets and Kirk and Spock are secretly in love or whatever. Now, can we please go phaser the Klingons? That’s why this episode is a ‘9’; good premise, good resolution, and good character interaction along the way.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x19 - A Private Little War

Originally Aired: 1968-2-2

Synopsis:
The Klingons provide arms to a peaceful planet and disrupt the balance of power. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 4.81

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 26 4 4 14 43 23 14 14 17 13 10

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- Despite the apparent cliffhanger at the end of the episode, none of the events depicted here are ever followed up on. As such, this episode can be regarded as filler. However, it's a great story and well worth a viewing.

Problems
- When McCoy fires his phaser to heat up rocks, the phaser fires without him pressing the trigger!

Factoids
None

Remarkable Scenes
- McCoy regarding Spock: "Lucky his heart is where his liver should be or he'd be dead right now."
- Kirk and McCoy attacked by a strange alien animal.
- Nurse Chapel holding Spock's hand, and then being informed that Spock probably knew she was doing that.
- Kirk: "We once were as you are. Spears and arrows. There came a time when our weapons grew faster than our wisdom and we almost destroyed ourselves. We learned from this to make a rule during all our travels never to cause the same to happen to other worlds, just as a man must grow in his own way and his own time."
- The revelation that the Klingons are feeding gradual technological improvements to the aliens in exchange for loyalty.
- Spock asking Nurse Chapel to hit Spock repeatedly and Scotty stopping her.
- McCoy debating the ethics of giving technology to more of the aliens with Kirk.
- Kirk fighting another one of those white-furred aliens.
- Nona stealing Kirk's phaser.
- Nona getting herself killed. What a moron.
- McCoy knelt over Nona's body watching in horror as Kirk and the hill people fight the villagers.

My Review
Yet another proxy war episode featuring the Federation and the Klingon Empire manipulating a primitive planet as a power play in their their everlasting cosmic cold war. However unlike The Trouble With Tribbles and Friday's Child, neither of which very deeply explored the issue, and unlike Errand of Mercy whose exploration of the issue was cut short by interference from godlike aliens, A Private Little War is perhaps the most poignant exploration so far of the terrible impact a proxy war can have on the subjects of said manipulation.

Right from the beginning this episode is packed with great pacing and effective drama. Spock is badly wounded and there are Klingons in orbit! Kirk must focus on maneuvering the ship out of view of the enemy without knowing if his friend will live or die. As the episode moves forward, it makes it clear in no uncertain terms that it's a satire of conflicts like the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as a direct reference to such conflicts is made in the terrific ethical debate between Kirk and McCoy. The two characters wrestling with their morality is the centerpiece of the story, a rare treat afforded by the conspicuous but amusing incapacitation of Spock early on.

By taking Spock out of the picture at the beginning of the episode, the story was able to explore unusual character dynamics such as the oft-neglected plot thread involving Chapel's unrequited love for Spock while giving McCoy a chance to spend some quality time being Kirk's wingman in Spock's place for a change. McCoy's unique and highly emotive perspective on the issue served as a wonderful contrast to Spock's typically cold, logical analysis. This time Kirk gets to play Spock's role by making the logical argument for escalating the conflict while McCoy gets to play the idealist, instead making a principled argument against arming less advanced civilizations.

Accompanying the great ethical debate are a few nice, smaller details that certainly enhance the story's overall effectiveness, such as the inclusion of the hostile alien animal that attacked Kirk, along with the fact that Kirk's injury seriously incapacitated him in a way not usually seen among the lead characters. I also enjoyed Kirk's fretting over whether or not the Klingons had broken the treaty they signed in Errand of Mercy as well as the quirky form of medicine that was required to heal Spock. The scene where McCoy sarcastically(?) accuses Kirk of being under the influence of some kind of mind control induced by the roots used to heal him based on the local superstition was also a nice touch.

As usual there are imperfections though. While the hostile alien animal was delightfully alien, the intelligent inhabitants of the planet once again looked exactly like humans. Also, Spock's curious tendency to make biblical references reared its ugly head once again and the conspicuous presence of a doctor who just so happened to be an expert on Vulcan physiology was a bit too convenient. However, the most annoying detail was the inability of the Klingons to detect the Enterprise in orbit despite the clear ability of the Enterprise to monitor the Klingons the entire time. I'm at a loss to understand why this tactical advantage wasn't exploited more readily by the Enterprise.

The ending is perhaps the most notable aspect of the story though. In an unusual twist, there is very little closure to this story despite no indication that this apparent cliffhanger will ever be picked up on again. Kirk resigns himself to arming "his" side in this proxy war with advancements equal to those given to the other side by the Klingons; with the plot clearly implying that this will soon develop into an arms race without an obvious end in sight. In short, our heroes have failed. And that's the story. The ending is bold, but in this case I think a better story would have featured more closure or at least the promise of a further installment. Nevertheless, as written it's still a great story.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 6:17pm:
    in this episode, the Vulcan Healing Trance was established (factoid)
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-08 at 9:47pm:
    I think this is the episode where TOS's collective shortcomings, as seen in hindsight, are starting to get to me.

    The basic premise and even many of the situations are very thoughtful and put together well. However, I think I'm just growing weary of extremely weak dialogue, acting, and shoddy costumes. It's a good thing that Nancy Kovacks is so incredibly hot, since that was the only thing slightly distracting me from that hideous orange fur drapes around her neck and shoulders. And those blonde wigs? Horrendous.

    Yes, I have to concede that the allegory to the Cold War is interesting and the ethical questions are still relevant. But honestly, that's not really what I'm looking for from science fiction, especially not 25 years after the Cold War has ended. The most science fiction part of this episode was Spock's alien physiology as his body repaired itself. There's something fascinatingly Zen-like about it that I feel could have been explored more, though probably not in this episode, as it clearly had no place.

    I just hope that some of the next few episodes I check out are a little more like Amok Time or The Doomsday Machine, rather than this one.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x20 - Return to Tomorrow

Originally Aired: 1968-2-9

Synopsis:
Telepathic aliens take over Kirk and Spock's bodies. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 4.76

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 41 4 6 26 11 9 33 27 12 18 12

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, even though it could have been better.

Problems
- It is claimed that Sargon's planet is class M, but it is also established that it no longer possesses an atmosphere. Since the designation of class M has been consistently reserved for Earth-like planets, it would seem to be a continuity error that a planet can be regarded as class M despite no longer possessing an atmosphere, even if it at one time did possess Earth-like qualities.

Factoids
- This episode in some ways rationalizes the problem of why so many aliens look so much like humans by heavily implying that Sargon's race seeded humanoid life throughout much of the galaxy 600,000 years ago.
- This episode and its writer, John T. Dugan, were nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written Dramatic Episode in 1968.
- Kirk states in this episode that the U.S. Apollo program successfully reached the moon, a remarkable statement given the fact that at the time this script was written, the feat had not yet been achieved.

Remarkable Scenes
- Scotty: "You could materialize inside solid rock!"
- McCoy's terror regarding the transporter.
- Kirk: "We faced a crisis in our earlier nuclear age. We found the wisdom not to destroy ourselves."
- Sargon: "There comes to all races an ultimate crisis which you have yet to face."
- Kirk's speech about extending goodwill to this potentially dangerous alien species; calling for volunteers rather than ordering people to participate.
- Possessed Spock getting all emotional.
- Possessed Spock to McCoy: "I'm surprised the Vulcans never conquered your race!"
- Possessed Spock using a Vulcan mind meld to manipulate Nurse Chapel.

My Review
In this leg of the Enterprise's five year mission while having traveled hundreds of light years farther than any Federation starship has ever traveled before, Captain Kirk and his crew happen upon a most unusual discovery: the remnants of an alien race which colonized the galaxy 600,000 years ago, possibly even seeding life itself on both Earth and Vulcan! This little bit of exposition goes a long way towards rationalizing the problem of why so many aliens look so much like humans on Star Trek, so as you might imagine this episode has earned some bonus points from me for that. Unfortunately, the crew regards this bit of exposition with little more than a "gee whiz" response, so the impact is somewhat less than what I'd have preferred, dramatically. Nevertheless, the episode's main focus still has much to offer.

At first glance this episode seems to start off as yet another "godlike alien takes the crew hostage" story, but fortunately the episode rises above this cliche rather quickly by establishing these particular godlike aliens as remarkably benevolent. All except for the amusingly evil one that inhabited Spock, anyway. Shortly after the first encounter, I couldn't help but join in Kirk's enthusiastic optimism for aliens of the week that were outwardly cooperative and not hostile during his motivational speech to the crew, soliciting volunteers in extending a helping hand to the aliens in the hopes of forming a fruitful alliance. In a universe where godlike aliens seem overly plentiful and nearly always mad with power, this was a refreshing change of pace.

Likewise, at first I was worried that the evil alien inhabiting Spock would ruin the overall likability of the aliens of the week, but thankfully Leonard Nimoy's delightfully Machiavellian performance and the refreshingly amoral writing for the character saved the day by at least making our cliched antagonist suitably amusing, while giving rise to well utilized opportunities for the plot to exploit Chapel's attraction to Spock for both comic relief when inhabited Spock compliments the poor nurse as well dramatic appeal when Spock's consciousness is literally hidden within Chapel's body, much to her overt satisfaction.

Unfortunately, at least one too many such misdirections pile up by the end of the episode. Combine that with the fact that the "godlike alien takes the crew hostage" premise rarely yields a very good story to begin with no matter how well executed it is and the fact that the ending wrapped things up way too quickly and cleanly given the stakes and you end up with a bit more of a mixed bag of an episode. It's never well established why the two remaining aliens couldn't simply resume their efforts to build android bodies now that their evil colleague is out of the way; all that rhetoric about temptations being too great seemed merely like a weak excuse to push a reset button and end the story as quickly as possible. Oops, so much for that potential alliance! That said, however, this is certainly an above average outing.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Nick on 2009-03-06 at 12:25am:
    An obscure gem. The character that takes over Spock is what makes the episode. Lots of good lines between Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Dr Mulhall, and it's a cool concept for an episode as well.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-06-12 at 9:58pm:
    The plot moves along nicely until the last 15 minutes when they start throwing in too many twists. However, there's still a deepness to the overall story as it does a large examination of the human condition (What does it mean to feel? What does it mean to be superior?). There's also a lot of heart in the performances of all the main characters. Specifically, I enjoyed Kirk's speech in the conference room, McCoy getting irritated about beaming down, the woman starting to regret he future transfer to the android, and last but not least, Spock's performance as a casual azz hole while being possessed.

    Now, here's some odd stuff:
    -At the beginning, they scan the planet and call it a class M, then they go on to say it has no atmosphere because it had been blown away. How is it a class M then? Don't you need air for that classification?
    -It seems that at some points in the episode, the "soul" of the person being possessed (Kirk, Spock, etc) has to be "traded" into the sphere, and at other points in the episode, they "share" the brain with the being. It just seems like the rules are not consistent. It's kind of hard to explain.
  • From Strider on 2012-06-17 at 7:27pm:
    Why does Dr. Mulhall wear red if she's an astrobiologist? Why isn't she wearing blue?
  • From Troy on 2013-01-14 at 1:11am:
    Factoid: Diana Muldaur who played Doctor Ann Mulhall went on to play Miranda Jones (Also a Doctor) in TOS: Is There in Truth no Beauty and also later portrayed Doctor Pulaski in the second season of The Next Generation.
  • From Jim Wilcox on 2016-08-28 at 1:22am:
    The ending is classic purification by death. Gill, who has obviously violated the Prime Directive AND proven why the Prime Directive is a vital Federation policy, dies in a hail of gunfire after confessing (making amends)his sins.
    To complete the purification, Melakon, who kills Gill, is himself assassinated by the new, younger order that will lead each world (tribe) to peace and prosperity where the lamb will lie with the lion.
    Star Trek used many age old dramatic vehicles but which were played out in space, instead on Terra Firma.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x21 - Patterns of Force

Originally Aired: 1968-2-16

Synopsis:
Enterprise is sent to planet Ekos to investigate a disappearance of Federation historian John Gill. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 4.47

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 37 37 11 7 16 22 17 19 14 24 17

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, even though it could have been better.

Problems
- During the scene when Spock is about to dig the transponder out of Kirk's arm, Kirk's handcuffs are visibly not secured.
- At one point, Melakon states, "our entire solar system will forever be rid of the disease that was Zeon." This is a common error. The term they were looking for is planetary system. The planetary system we live in is called the Solar System because our star is named Sol. As such, the term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term.

Factoids
- German TV stations declined to air this episode during Star Trek's original run.

Remarkable Scenes
- The Enterprise blowing up a nuclear warhead launched at them from the planet.
- I like the subdermal transponder idea. A good precaution after so many away missions when they lose their communicators.
- Kirk: "You look quite well for a man who's been utterly destroyed, Mr. Spock."
- Kirk, regarding Spock in a Nazi uniform: "That helmet covers a multitude of sins!"
- Spock to Kirk: "You should make a very convincing Nazi."
- Spock digging the transponder out of Kirk's arm. Ouch!
- Kirk bemoaning about holding Spock up on his back.
- Daras: "You mean that the Führer is an alien?" Yeah, hard to tell sometimes, isn't it? ;)
- Kirk regarding McCoy's difficulties with the uniform: "Well send him down naked if you have to!"
- Spock being called a member of "an inferior race."
- Gill: "Even historians fail to learn from history. They repeat the same mistakes."

My Review
An episode which seems to run on little more than the assumption that Nazis on TV makes for good drama. Sadly, that's not entirely the case here, but despite the episode's weakly substantiated, mostly tacky premise which is little more than an excuse to fill the screen with somewhat bastardized World War II imagery, this episode manages to still retain some entertainment value.

The entire story is predicated on the idea that John Gill, an historian from Earth, had become so fascinated with Nazi Germany and so disturbed by the conflict between the primitive civilizations of Ekos and Zeon that he decided to violate the Prime Directive and interfere with their conflict by manipulating Ekos into adopting the characteristics of Nazi Germany on the grounds that Nazi Germany was, in both John Gill's and even more oddly Spock's peculiar judgement, Earth's "most efficient state" in history.

This is a remarkably stupid idea on a number of levels. Even accepting the premise that Nazi Germany was somehow blazingly efficient, which seems like an unlikely conclusion for either today's historians or the Federation's, it's hard to imagine that John Gill could ignore the painfully obvious fact that this hypothetical efficiency came at the cost of startling totalitarian brutality. Worse yet, if John Gill's goal was to end Ekos' conflict with Zeon, then why transform Ekos into a society perhaps most famous for its intolerance of outsiders? Hardly a way to foster peace. And I have a hard time imagining how Ekos transformed in such a way could ever be run "benignly."

Nevertheless, these seemingly stunning errors in plot logic are confined entirely within the thinking of the character of John Gill, who even acknowledges his gravely poor judgement in his final words. As such, instead of flawed plot logic, we are left merely with a flawed character subscribing to ridiculously faulty reasoning, which greatly enhances the realism of the plot itself, though at the expense of most of John Gill's authenticity. Even with John Gill being established as flawed in his thinking, it's almost hard to believe anyone in his position could have been that stupid.

Another curious detail was the statement that John Gill's view of history was unusual in that he subscribed to a concept that history is best viewed as a series of causes and motivations rather than dates and events. What struck me as odd about that statement is that this deterministic view of history doesn't strike me as at all unusual even today. By the Federation's time period, I would suspect that this reading of history would be rather common.

The plot logic itself is not immune to critique either. Since both Ekos and Zeon are yet another pair of planets full of aliens which look exactly like humans, I question the wisdom of bringing Spock down to the surface in what is supposed to be an undercover mission shortly after the ship was attacked by a nuclear weapon launched by these people. While Spock's headgear did indeed "cover a multitude of sins," the episode itself seemed to laugh at this cliche by having Kirk and Spock end up being captured early on entirely due to the removal of Spock's helmet.

Likewise, the plot logic surrounding the transponders was pretty fuzzy too. The reason Kirk and Spock were given transponders was so that the Enterprise could beam them up if they got into trouble. But then the first thing they do once they get into trouble is remove the transponders to stage a risky escape attempt! Why not just wait for the Enterprise to beam them up? I suppose that it's possible the next check-in from the ship was not scheduled soon enough to prevent their execution, but even assuming that, the policy surrounding check-ins should be more regular specifically to counteract that problem. That, and it sure was nice of the guards to wait outside and completely out of view to give Kirk and Spock ample time to stage a complex escape.

All that said, as we've seen from similar episodes, this could have been far worse. As was mentioned before, the core issue with the plot logic was confined to the judgment of John Gill rather than the plot logic itself, unlike what was the case with Miri and similar stories. Likewise, the fact that the social sciences have advanced to such a degree that it is even possible for John Gill to subtly and carefully alter a society of people to produce an identical clone of Nazism is a fascinating idea; far more compelling than Miri's pathetic excuse of the planet just so happening to have randomly evolved identically.

The premise being what it is also enables us to watch Kirk take far too well to pretending to be a Nazi. He takes to the role quite naturally, making up all kinds of wonderful hate lines about good hunting, dumping corpses outside due to overflow, captured pigs, and so forth. I also quite enjoyed the bizarrely out of character yet nevertheless amusing scene where Spock expresses excitement regarding the exhilarating effect the gamble of whether or not their plan will work has on him. I suppose it's nice to see Spock unable to control his human side on occasion. Finally I quite enjoyed the clever use of the Vulcan mind meld to manipulate comatose John Gill. All things considered, I would have to characterize this as a remarkably well executed story given its mostly shoddy premise.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 4:12pm:
    And what do you think the “obvious reasons” are? ‘Cause I don’t think they are so obvious to a non-German readership. I hope you do not think that the Germans did not want do be reminded of the Third Reich, which is not the case. Being a German I have heard and read a lot of discussions about it here. The TV audience has no problem with engaging in the topic. In fact there is a lot on the Third Reich on TV. The problem lies within the way the episode is done(taking this rather lightly, somewhat belittling the horrors of reality).
    During the first run in the 70s it was not allowed to broadcast Nazi insigina on entertainment television as to not support remaining Nazi tendencies. Later on the channels feared they would meet with strong opposition from political science scholars and historians, who would harshly criticize the casual way the topic was handled in the episode. Many people who do not live in Germany seem to take the topic with a lightness that is not conceivable for most Germans. Here, especially well educated people demand a certain sensibility, even a strict code in which the topic has to be approached - absolutely historically correct and very seriously to do the extreme horror justice. I myself found the episode painful to watch for this very reason.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-06-28 at 11:59pm:
    Not entertaining. For the most part, I think the jokes fall flat in this episode. Like when Spock was commenting while standing on Kirk's back, or when Spock is telling McCoy how to put on a boot.

    I did somewhat enjoy the climax where Kirk and the others are sneaking around the back rooms, trying to get to John Gill. There were lots of twists and turns throughout the sequence.

    However, I just think Patterns of Force doesn't have that "must watch again someday" appeal like a lot of the other episodes.
  • From Arianwen on 2010-08-02 at 6:51pm:
    I think I'll add a positive review to the cooking pot. I agree with the criticisms of the portrayal of the horrors of the Nazis - although there's not very much you can show in 50 min when you have a whole plot to develop, they could still have put in a little on the sidelines, small details. Another thing that annoyed me (and that annoys me through all TOS) was the lack of blood or even bullet-holes when John Gill was killed. He was shot with a machine gun, for heaven's sake! It quite distracted me from the sadness of the situation.

    On the other hand, I'm rather fond of the episodes when the crew of the Enterprise go undercover; all the little twitches and the massive bluffs. As to the characters, the baddies could have done with some more development, but all the goodies felt real and well built. The dialogue was excellent, the humour a bonus. With a bit more explicit darkness it would have been truly memorable.
  • From Arianwen on 2010-08-02 at 8:32pm:
    Oh, and another plus for the episode: Daras. Female, blond, attractive - does not wear risqué dresses, shriek, panic, require rescue, fall for Kirk/Big Baddie, etc, etc, etc. Quite astonishing, very satisfying.
  • From Scott on 2011-05-21 at 12:23pm:
    For me, this is one of the worst episodes of season two. Apart from the dumb premise, the Nazi "world" is overly claustrophobic - nearly all of the action takes place in the same corridor, it seems. Worst of all, the humour doesn't work. It just all seems very flat. Spock is out of character, at times - "Captain, now I understand why humans enjoy gambling. There is some exhilaration." This is not a line we would expect from the proudly unemotional Vulcan. In all, a big yawn.
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-24 at 9:37pm:
    Plenty of episodes feature a shirtless Kirk, but this is the only episode to feature a shirtless Spock.
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-04-27 at 12:54pm:
    Just how long had Gill been on that planet? Darris said she grew up watching John Gill, so I'm thinking at least 20 years. And nobody from the federation bothered checking on him in all that time?

    Near the beginning of the episode, the enterprise was attacked by a weapon that was "generations" ahead if where these people should be, but the subject was dropped with no further explanation. So where did this technology come from? Gill was a historian, not a scientist, and he wouldn't have provided weaponry even if he had the ability to do so.

    With the vast superiority of the enterprise, there were lots of options to delaying the war called for by melakon. The pilots on the attacking fleet could have been beamed out of their ships, then the ships could have been destroyed. Or the ships could have merely been disabled. And it should have been a rather easy task for the enterprise to disrupt communications so that mekakon's "final solution" could not be broadcast beyond that building.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x22 - By Any Other Name

Originally Aired: 1968-2-23

Synopsis:
Extra-galactic beings commandeer the Enterprise in an attempt to return home. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 4.87

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 27 9 2 23 15 14 23 20 17 13 10

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 great story nevertheless.

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode establishes that there are hundreds of uninhabited presumably M class planets which are presumably within the Federation's borders during this time period.
- This episode establishes that due to an unspecified cause, high radiation will make life in the Andromeda galaxy impossible in ten millennia. Although it is not specified whether or not this radiation is only deadly to Kelvans.
- This episode establishes that the mysterious energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy prohibits communication with other galaxies.

Remarkable Scenes
- The aliens thanking Kirk for responding to their distress call and then immediately demanding that Kirk surrender his vessel to them.
- Yeoman Thompson getting killed by the belt weapon.
- Kirk: "Immense beings with 100 tentacles would have difficulty with the turbolift."
- Spock trancing himself into being sick suddenly and all too authentically.
- Spock and Scotty proposing self destructing the ship to stop the Kelvans.
- Rojan announcing that he will execute Kirk's entire crew shortly after they traversed the barrier.
- Scotty's drinking scenes with the Kelvan.
- Spock defeating a Kelvan at chess.
- Scotty: "It's uh... it's green!"
- Spock: "Rojan, you are only a link in a chain following an order given 300 years ago. This is an opportunity for you to establish a destiny of your own."

My Review
Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2 sports the following iconic line: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." The episode's namesake Shakespeare reference is a metaphor for the fact that while the Kelvans may continue to call themselves Kelvan, they've chosen to take human form and in so doing they are inevitably forced into the totality of the human experience. They begin taking on all characteristics of humanity, including those that they did not expect to adopt, like love, jealousy, and ultimately compassion.

The metaphor is a bit forced and backward given that it is usually meant to convey the idea that language can change our perception of things, but perception is subjective and all things have some objective characteristics which cannot be altered by language. Given that, one would expect the metaphor to work in reverse on the Kelvans and produce the opposite effect on the story. A more traditional interpretation of the metaphor would have left the Kelvans incapable of experiencing what it is to be human because even though they've taken on the appearance of humanity, they cannot fundamentally change who and what they are.

But setting aside literary quibbling for a moment, this is still a terrific story with well conceived science fiction elements. Due to some kind of increasing galactic radiation in the Andromeda galaxy, the Kelvans who are native to the area are preparing to flee their home due to its impending uninhabitability. The next closest galaxy is the Milky Way and they intend to conquer it by force. This is perhaps one of the most epic premises upon which an episode of Star Trek has been built so far and the plot fully explores all the implications of such a grandiose premise.

I can't say I'm happy to see the return of giant energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy which was originally featured in Where No Man Has Gone Before, but at the same time I suppose I'd have been more annoyed if it were conspicuously missing from the episode, as that would have simply been a continuity error. The writing of this episode responsibly deals with its canonical existence and even uses it quite cleverly as a plot device while tactfully not dwelling on the reason for its existence or exploring how it came to be. I'd still like to see an episode dealing with why it's there at some point, but the crisis situation in this episode simply precluded that.

Speaking of long standing issues with the realism of the science fiction on Star Trek, this episode gives us new exposition which either clarifies or complicates the problem concerning why so many aliens in the Milky Way look like humans. It's explicitly stated in this episode that chances are very much against the idea of another alien race evolving to look like humans in the Andromeda galaxy. This implies that there is an extraordinary reason for why so many aliens look like humans in the Milky Way, such as the common genetic heritage hypothesis I outlined in my review of Return to Tomorrow.

Moving onto the actual story, there's a great deal of dramatic detail to praise. For one, while I'm not one to comment much on TV trends regarding gender and racial issues, I was pleasantly surprised to see that given the choice to execute a white girl or a black man, the plot bucked the typical trend by choosing to off the white girl. I also quite enjoyed Kirk's line to Rojan claiming that the Federation has handled foreign invaders before. That threat felt more like posturing than substance; a nice piece of subtle acting from William Shatner.

Perhaps the best dramatic moment of the episode is when Kirk struggles with whether or not to self destruct the ship, ultimately choking on the decision; being unable to go through with it. In my view what we see here is a rare moment of weakness in Kirk. In that moment he had an opportunity to sacrifice his ship to protect the entire galaxy from a formidable threat, but something prevented him from being able to give the order. My suspicion is somewhere in the back of his mind he remained confident that he could thwart the Kelvan threat without destroying himself in the process. This confidence may well have been hubris, or perhaps in that moment Kirk simply feared death and couldn't bring himself to give an order that would take his life and the lives of everyone under his command.

However Kirk arrived at his decision, it ended up being the right course of action. Amusingly, the Kelvans had detected Spock's and Scotty's subterfuge and could have prevented the self destruct if necessary, so all of Kirk's fretting was for nothing. But that removes none of the suspense from the moment, since there's no way Kirk could have known that at the time. After the ship cleared the Milky Way, Kirk seemed to waste no time finding the most beautiful woman in the episode to seduce, as usual. Meanwhile, Scotty's quest to drink a Kelvan under the table provided perhaps the most entertaining scenes of the episode.

Ultimately the resolution of the story was both a piece of clever writing exploring the idea that the Kelvans could be exploited by their newfound humanity as well as true to the spirit of Star Trek in that Kirk refused to abandon his peace proposal throughout the perilous conquest of the Enterprise. The story ends on a note indicating that automated vessels will be sent to the Kelvan homeworld to propose Kirk's peaceful solution, but I have my doubts about that plan's potential for success, even with an endorsement from real, live Kelvans since it is well established that these Kelvans arrived on a generational ship, disconnected completely from a home they never knew.

All in all, this episode has sequel written all over it. I'd love to see a future Star Trek production tackle the return of the Kelvans some time later after having received the message, still bent on conquest. Since few episodes of Star Trek leave me wanting to see more of the aliens of the week, I'd say this episode has earned itself a well deserved place in the above average episodes club.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-07-07 at 12:08am:
    I completely disagree with the scores people are giving for this episode. This is one of the best episodes of the original series. Why? Well, I'll try to prove my point:

    -The villian, Rojan, is a very effective opponent for Kirk. Almost as good as Khan. He's cunning and calm, until he starts having feeling of jealously. He's vicious as well, having crumbled one of the redshirts in his hand.

    -The crew is completely defeated and faces a perilous situation. In one of the most tense moments, Kirk was about to blow up the ship to stop the Kelvins. The usual sci-fi gimmicks to resolve the situation are thrown out the window at that point, so they have to resolve the situation without the use of technology.

    -The takeover by Kirk, Scotty, Bones, and Spock is skillfully done. Each using their own personality to overwhelm the adversary.

    -The description of the Kelvans by Spock adds much needed depth, and eliminates the "alien of the week" problem.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-12-19 at 11:06pm:
    "By Any Other Name"

    Great episode, in spite of all its problems.

    What's with the energy barrier? What is its origin? I'm with Kethinov on this. And why in blazes can't they just go "over" or "under" it? OK, maybe the barrier envelops the entire galaxy somehow. Nope! Rojan says it's at the rim of our galaxy. Just another absurdity to add to the list.

    More "remarkable scenes":

    The two that center on the following lines:

    KELINDA: Oh. You are trying to seduce me.

    KELINDA: Yes. I was wondering: Would you please apologize to me again?

    It's pretty amazing seeing our heroes sitting at the table so badly defeated. The hopelessness, despair, anger, and near total resignation about their fate. But then they come up with their brilliant plan for defeating the Kelvans and carry out that plan brilliantly, making this a really fun episode.

    But . . .

    I really don't think you can have a moon that big so close to the planet. You'd have some serious tidal forces, for one thing.

    Converting from 100-limb creatures to humans -- that's quite a feat! And how did they find out so much about humans and the Enterprise and such? And they turned themselves into "textbook humans". And they have the paralysis device. And they can transport themselves around at will with it. And shrink people into polyhedral shapes. Yeah, they're far superior and all that. Yet the energy barrier destroyed their ship. But it's worth going with all this just so that we can have this fun story.

    Kelinda's mind, despite now being only "human", can nevertheless propel Spock across the cave. But barely 10 seconds later Kirk grabs her, administers a gentle karate chop to the shoulder, and down she goes.

    How can five Kelvans control the entire Federation? Rojan just plainly states it and somehow that's enough. And even if they can, what about the Organians, Klingons, Romulans, Talosians, Metrons, Tholians, Trelane's parents, etc.? Can they control them, too? OK, drop the Tholians.

    The Kelvans modify the engines so the ship can go at warp 11. But the ship cannot go that fast in later episodes.

    Good luck surviving on just vitamin pills! Really. They're "textbook humans", after all.

    Rojan was calm, cool, cold, cruel, plain, straightforward. Well done.

    Watching Spock subtly noodge Rojan into jealousy combined with Captain Kirk's fun efforts to push him into a full blown jealous rage was great! I also enjoyed, of course, Scotty drinking Tomar under the table.

    Speaking of which, when do enemies like these simply sit down and play a casual game of chess and engage in friendly conversation?

    Why did Hanar permit McCoy to give him the shots? And it seemed like a kind of random, out-of-the-blue moment when Hanar confronted Rojan on the bridge. Sort of pointless -- kind of its own self-contained subplot -- but needed somehow. I suppose they had to give Bones _something_ to do.

    When Drea neutralized three of the crew on the bridge, one of them was holding one of those Etch A Sketch clipboard things. Actually, I guess its screen is more like a wrinkled version of the gray thing from the same era that you can write on with a stick pencil and erase by pulling up the clear plastic sheet, or something like that. Whatever it is, it didn't make any sound as it hit the floor.

    So we have three male and two female Kelvans. And they were going to reproduce for their multi-generational trip back to Andromeda. So that would have been three men sharing two women -- or two women sharing three men. Either way you put it, it doesn't sound like a good idea to me! Maybe Tomar is gay.

    Definitely a fun episode.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-12-20 at 11:34pm:
    More on "BY ANY OTHER NAME"

    Man, it didn't take long for the Kelvans to explore our galaxy! They were lucky just to get to that planet in a "life craft". And, while stranded on that planet, with only their life craft, they somehow managed to quickly find out all they need to take over the not just the _Enterprise_, but entire galaxy, to boot! How in blazes did they do that?

    More about the energy barrier: Hey, we know there's "dark matter" and "dark energy" in the universe, but we don't have much of a clue as to what they even _are_. If there really were an energy barrier at the rim of our galaxy, we might not know much about it, either. But we presently have no indication that there is such a thing. But assuming it's there, as I said in my last comment, why can't you just go over or under it?

    They should send the robot ship just outside the barrier, communicate with the Kelvans in the Andromeda Galaxy from there. Then it can shuttle back inside our galaxy and relay the response to us, and so forth. That should save a lot of time!

    Again, this is definitely a fun episode.

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-10 at 3:24pm:
    This has been one of my absolute favorite episodes, so far. And for some unexpected reasons.

    The science-fiction aspects of this story are excellent. The Kelvans are a very interesting race, and the way they are revealed through Spock's thwarted mind-meld was an excellent device. The Kelvans almost conjure up images of Lovecraft's "Great Old Ones," which is terrifying.

    The threat that the aliens pose is about as severe as any I've seen in earlier episodes. The sense of powerlessness among the command and crew of the Enterprise is palpable, and the cold-blooded execution of the female red-shirt drives the point home.

    The element that I surprisingly enjoyed in this one is the humor. I really haven't been a fan of the humor in Star Trek, since it's almost always exceptionally cheesy and campy. For some reason, though, I thought the gags in this one were great. Scotty out-drinking that ogre of a Kelvan and Spock coolly stoking Rojan's jealousy were comic gold.

    One of the best all-around tales of the series, no doubt.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x23 - The Omega Glory

Originally Aired: 1968-3-1

Synopsis:
The Enterprise finds a planet devastated by disease that appears to treat the American flag with great reverence. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 0

Fan Rating Average - 3.37

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 82 22 10 8 7 11 18 20 12 11 13

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- One of Star Trek's worst episodes and complete filler.

Problems
- An alien race on an alien planet developing a nation exactly like the 20th century United States, complete with the American flag, a verbatim copy of the U.S. constitution, and "asiatic" communist enemies as shown in this episode is completely impossible. I might have accepted this if they attempted some kind of explanation, like they did in Patterns of Force, but they don't even try.

Factoids
- This episode is a candidate for my "Worst Episode of TOS Award."
- This episode establishes that Constitution class ships have a standard compliment of 4 shuttles.
- This episode establishes that there was biological warfare on Earth during the 1990s in Star Trek's timeline.
- This episode establishes that the common cold still exists, according to McCoy.
- Morgan Woodward, who plays Captain Tracey in this episode, also played Simon Van Gelder in Dagger of the Mind.

Remarkable Scenes
- Tracey killing Galloway.
- Nice to see another Constitution class ship.
- McCoy discovering that there is in fact no fountain of youth on this planet.
- Spock using Vulcan telepathy to manipulate a spectator into interfering with the fight.

My Review
It's bad enough that Star Trek rehashes previous episodes occasionally, but it's even worse when they rehash a bad episode. The Omega Glory is a rehash of one of Star Trek's worst episodes: Miri. Just like Miri, we once again have an alien planet with a parallel Earth culture with absolutely no explanation given at all for how the aliens developed a parallel United States, complete with a parallel American flag and a parallel verbatim copy of the U.S. constitution. I suppose it's possible that John Gill from Patterns of Force (or someone like him) stopped by this planet on his way to go make a parallel Nazi culture on that similar planet full of aliens which look exactly like humans, but without the episode at least trying to explain this nonsense, or at least one character questioning how all this came to be, I'm afraid I can't award the episode any points, due to the fundamentally unsound nature of the premise.

Worse yet, the episode has plenty of other details to be annoyed with as well. For starters, at one point Kirk claims that a captain would give his life, or even the life of his crew, before violating the prime directive. Yet he has previously violated the prime directive many times. Likewise, it seems like a hasty error in judgement for Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Galloway to have ever beamed down to that planet at all given that the decision was based on nothing more than the recommendation of a hysterical log entry of a dying bridge officer on the Exeter, especially since it is clear that they knew there was a primitive culture down there to begin with. If they had to beam down there, the least they could have done was beam down to a location that wasn't so densely populated so as to avoid the conflict that ensued with the locals.

That said, it's totally unclear why the entire crew of the Exeter didn't evacuate themselves to the planet, since they appeared to have the knowledge that there was a cure for them on the surface, given that they took the time to leave log entries testifying as to the fact that there's a cure on the surface. But I suppose stupidity is a prerequisite for being a member of the Exeter's crew, if Captain Tracey is to be taken as representative of the average level of intelligence for a member of that ship's crew.

But that's not all. Among other annoying gaffes, McCoy incorrectly stated that the human body is 96% water when the actual figure is closer to 70%, and Kirk claimed to be unable to learn how to do the Vulcan neck pinch, despite the fact that we've already seen him perform it in The Return of the Archons. Likewise, both the shoddy construction of the Kohm prison as well as the extent to which Spock could manipulate the Yang woman with Vulcan telepathy also pushed the bounds of what is believable. Finally, Spock's reasoning that the only two posible causes for why the Yangs' advanced civilization could have regressed so much being either nuclear war or biological warfare is a painfully obvious logical error. There are any number of reasons why a civilization could experience a regression with a war being only one such reason.

But perhaps the most striking detail of the episode is its blatantly racist and nationalist qualities. This isn't like Patterns of Force, where the racist nationalism is confined to a few misguided characters. In this episode the racist nationalism seems to ooze from the plot itself. The Yangs (Yankies) are Caucasian, revere the American flag, and the U.S. constitution's texts are holy words. The Kohms (Communists) are Asian and clearly depicted as the bad guys. At one point Tracey mentions that the Yangs "look like us" and the Kohms do not, as if there are no Asians in the Federation. Kirk even refers to the Kohms as "yellow" people and claims that had his ancestors been forced out of the cities, they'd end up living like "the Indians," by which he was referring to Native Americans.

The score of the episode even begins conspicuously playing the national anthem of the United States whenever the U.S. flag appears on screen and Kirk at one point states in a moment of nationalist pride that "no words have said this thing of importance in quite this way" when referring to the text of the U.S. constitution. I wonder how he feels about the Federation charter.

Do yourself a favor and skip this one.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Matt on 2010-02-08 at 6:25pm:
    The race is not alien. It's implied that this civilization is an old human colony whose origin has become a mystery to its own people. Therefore the morphological and cultural similarities you bemoan are actually quite...logical.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-07-09 at 11:12pm:
    It's amazing that it takes Kirk and Mccoy so long to discover that the crystals inside the crewmembers' outfits are human remains. Were they thinking, "gee, all the crewmembers must have taken their clothes off and sprinkled salt on everything"?

    Also, since in the previous episode, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy all saw the entire crew turned into crystals, it's insulting to the viewer that Kirk and company can't figure it out.

    That's as specific as I'm going to get about this episode. It's doesn't deserve analyzing because it's just a mountain of stupid jibberish. And to think, this story was one of the original pilot episode ideas.

    Just a note about the issue of the inhabitants looking human: A deleted scene had McCoy, Kirk, and Spock saying the races on the planet were the descendents of early human space travelers. It's not cannon, but it's a little interesting, and probably would have helped the episode.

  • From Scott on 2011-06-01 at 10:24am:
    I'm watching season two episode by episode, and this is easily the worst so far. Actually, the first half is not too bad. But then it degenerates into execrable Yankee-doodle-dandy cold-war jingoism that is utterly out of place for a series in which humans have supposedly moved on from nationalism. The reverence with which Kirk fawns over the US flag and constitution almost made me puke. I suspect that many Americans would feel the same.

    Urgh.
  • From warp factor 10.1 on 2012-08-10 at 7:05pm:
    I'm confused. Didn't the original inhabitants of the United States look like the Kohms? Didn't the people who almost wiped them all out look more like Kirk? Aren't they the ones that wrote the constitution of the U.S.A. and had the 'stars and stripes' as their flag?

    OK, so maybe history was getting distorted but if so why did Kirk come over so moist eyed?

    More questions than answers here but given what I had always thought was an ahead of its time 'equality premise' to Star Trek this was disturbingly racist.

    Why didn't George Takei walk off the set? Sorry, another question.

    Is it possible to give it a negative score? (another question)


  • From Glenn239 on 2012-09-29 at 11:46am:
    Um, sorry to interrupt the end-of-episode feel good romp guys, but there is an unmanned but fully operational Constitution Class starship still in orbit. Shouldn't you be towing it back to starbase or something? I’m pretty sure it’s still valuable.”

    Ok. I grant you parts of this one are cringeworthy, but I got over the ham sandwich of the American flag popping out from nowhere pretty quickly. This episode makes a prescient prediction; American core values tested under the most extreme societal conditions will emerge intact and victorious over rival totalitarian ideology. ‘Omega Glory’ means that at the end of the struggle American principles will stand long after communism is buried. So this episode called the outcome of the Cold War and even has something to say about the ideological struggle underway in the Middle East right now. Normally when Star Trek hit the bulls eye it got a pat on the back. ‘7’.
  • From Tooms on 2013-11-09 at 5:05pm:
    How dare Kirk admire the flag of his homeland and one of the greatest documents ever written. Huh? Yes this episode took a very cheesy turn, but all the preaching in the comments is far more annoying than the plot.
  • From Vandervecken on 2014-01-10 at 12:17pm:
    People are way too harsh on this episode. It's awesome for Morgan Woodward's Captain Tracey alone.
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-24 at 6:35pm:
    The episode ended without telling us what happened to Captain Tracy. He murdered thousands; shouldn't he pay for his crimes?

    I hope someone reminded Sulu and the rest of the landing party to wait a couple hours before beaming up, to have a chance to build up an immunity.
  • From Martin on 2015-03-30 at 1:59am:
    As someone who is not American and has studied history, political science as well as having seen many documentaries on political philosophy and American history on you tube and PBS, I feel a lot of people misinterpret this episode.

    In the final scenes this episode shows the American flag and people think that it is an example of American jingoism.

    I hear Kirk's recitation of the preamble of the Constitution and believe that the episode is an excellent defense of the values of the enlightenment and Rule of Law.

    The enlightenment produced a number of political philosophers that have established the democratic societies that we value today. They were not just American philosophers like Jefferson, Adams, and Madison but also European philosophers like Adam Smith, Locke and Rousseau.

    What's wrong with the preamble?

    "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

    These are the words that can establish peace between the Yangs and the Kohms and reestablish individual rights and rule of law.

    Move over this episode remains relevant today given how laws are changing throughout the western world as we try to find a balance of individual freedom and the need for order as the West tries to find a way contain Islamic terrorism.

    There are many things that American have a right to be proud of.

    I don't harp on the so-called "racism" as you do. We are living in an age where these centers in the world could possibly destroy each other.

    The world has a lot of challenges to overcome in the next 100 years.

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Star Trek TOS - 2x24 - The Ultimate Computer

Originally Aired: 1968-3-8

Synopsis:
Enterprise is used to test the new M-5 computer. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 5.91

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 30 4 7 4 4 8 13 25 35 23 19

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
None

Factoids
- This episode establishes that Spock holds an A7 computer expert classification.
- James Doohan, who plays Scotty, is also the voice of M-5 and Commodore Enwright.
- Barry Russo, who played Lieutenant Commander Giotto in The Devil in the Dark, also played Commodore Robert Wesley this episode.
- Sean Morgan, who played Harper in this episode, also played Brenner in Balance of Terror and O'Neil in The Return of the Archons.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk: "There are certain things men must do to remain men. Your computer would take that away."
- Kirk questioning himself about whether or not his hatred of M-5 is because he doesn't want to lose his job.
- M-5 declaring Kirk and McCoy to be non-essential personnel for the away mission.
- M-5 performing excellently in a war game.
- Kirk: "Machine over man, Spock? It was impressive. It might even be practical." Spock: "Practical, Captain? Perhaps. But not desirable. Computers make excellent and efficient servants, but I have no wish to serve under them. Captain the starship also runs on loyalty to one man, and nothing can replace it, or him."
- Kirk: "20th century Earth. 'All I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer by.' You could feel the wind at your back in those days. The sounds of the sea beneath you. And even if you take away the wind and the water, it's still the same. The ship is yours. You can feel her. And the stars are still there, Bones."
- M-5 going psycho on the autopilot ship.
- M-5 murdering one of the Enterprise crewmen.
- McCoy: "Please Spock do me a favor and don't say it's fascinating."
- M-5 going psycho on a fleet of four Constitution class ships!
- Daystrom pleading with M-5.
- Kirk talking M-5 to death.

My Review
This is the best "Kirk-talks-a-computer-to-death" episode yet. The themes of luddism in Starfleet along with the superiority complex of an insecure genius are nicely explored by this well paced and reasonably deep story.

At first I groaned when the act out to the teaser closed on the apparent notion that the very idea of letting a computer control a starship should for some reason be considered scary, as the plot itself in that moment seemed to be exuding luddism. But as the episode progressed it became clear that this luddism, while common among many of the main characters, was regarded by the characters themselves as a character flaw. They all struggled with it and their ambivalence added a delightfully human counterpoint to a story about increased mechanization and automation leading to the obsolescence of certain jobs.

As for Daystrom, I was pretty disappointed by his character. My disappointment stems largely from the fact that as a concept, his character was terrific, but the execution left much to be desired. The basic theme of the story is that as a computer engineering genius and a prodigy at a young age, Daystrom is struggling to top the achievements of his youth by distinguishing himself yet again with an even better invention. That Daystrom's ultimate achievement turns out to be crucially flawed because he invested too much of his tragically flawed character into it is beautifully poetic writing.

Having Daystrom overestimate his own perfection in such a tragically public way by surmising that the best method for making the ultimate computer is to make it exactly like himself is a well written tragic irony and ends up being the centerpiece of the story. Daystrom is flawed. M-5 is a reflection of Daystrom. Hence, M-5 is flawed. But once we examine the details of how such a great concept unfolded in the actual storytelling, it starts to come off as somewhat less profound.

For starters, it's not clear why Daystrom required so much of the crew to evacuate the ship in the first place. Why not leave them aboard in case something goes wrong? Likewise, how could M-5 make such an obvious mistake as going out of its way to attack an ore freighter for no apparent reason or confusing a wargame with a real battle? These are no minor software bugs. You'd think Daystrom would have the resources at his disposal to test these very basic functions in a simulation before the field test with an actual starship. The only reasonable explanation at this point is that Daystrom was incompetent and that this incompetence was a result of his striking personal hubris.

That said, despite Spock's assessment otherwise, M-5's actions did conform to a certain logic, if you assume its motivations were the paranoia and megalomania imprinted onto it from Daystrom's personality. Erecting a forcefield around itself was certainly evidence of this, and a number of Daystrom's own statements lend credibility to this idea as well. At one point, Daystrom mentioned that M-5 was like a child to him and nearly came to blows with the Enterprise crew when they tried to shut it down after it so severely malfunctioned.

Likewise, when the fleet of four Constitution class ships attacked the Enterprise, Daystrom's only reaction to that was fear that M-5 could be destroyed in the battle, rather than acknowledging that many people could die, including himself, in the ensuing battle. Finally, the plot's resolution revolving around Daystrom's belief in god and the Federation's imposition of the death penalty on murderers doesn't paint Federation society in the most progressive of lights.

While the storytelling isn't perfect, with a few small tweaks and a better ending it could have been worth at least one more point. With the ending as written, Daystrom just suffers a nervous breakdown, Kirk saves the day, and we never hear from the poor man again.

A better version of this story would have omitted the attack on the ore freighter entirely and focused on a longer, more protracted wargame with the Federation fleet. I would also have had Daystrom talk down M-5 rather than have Kirk do it. A suitably profound climax scene would have featured Daystrom outlining to M-5 the flaws in its judgement while beginning to realize the flaws in his own judgement which led to his flawed creation in the first place. By confronting the flaws in his creation, Daystrom would finally begin to confront the flaws in his personality, leading both to the safe cessation of hostilities and a moment of profound personal growth for Daystrom.

Personally, I find that alternate ending a lot more touching than what we saw instead. However, as written, the episode is still terrific and one of Star Trek's best so far.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Glenn239 on 2012-09-27 at 3:23pm:
    '9'. Picking up on the idea of ditching the destruction of the freighter scene and substituting more military exercises with the starship fleet, I think that’s a good idea. Have two military exercises instead of one. M5 loses the first engagement outright, and because M5 is patterned off the egotistical Daystrom, the computer concludes the humans must have cheated the first time.

    Anyways, the Enterprise "pooper scooper" effect is demonstrated in this episode. Enterprise just phasered 430 guys deader than doornails aboard the Excalibur not just ten minutes ago, but now the episode is over and Kirk and the boys have no time for that. Lexington…you and Potemkin go scrape that one off the pavement.

    I also find it curious that none of the forces trying to take over the Enterprise ever realized that the easiest way to do so would be to open the hanger bay doors with all the internal doors open too. "No one can hear you overact in the cold, dark vacuum of space, Kirk."
  • From penguinphysics on 2013-01-10 at 4:06pm:
    I think that this episode should have a better rating in the 'filler' category, considering that the Daystrom Institute is so frequently mentioned in later stories.
  • From Kethinov on 2013-01-10 at 5:46pm:
    Occasional casual mentions of the Daystrom Institute are little more than trivia. Such is not an adequate justification to regard this episode as nonfiller.
  • From Paul Bonzulac on 2013-01-14 at 12:12am:
    Great review. I disagree about one thing, though: you have to have Kirk talk the machine into killing itself. Otherwise, the hero is just standing there while the guest-star does all the work. The star of the show has to save the day, after all.

    Great point about making the show more about a protracted war-game, but they didn't have the budget for that. They could barely afford Blackula.
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-09 at 10:09pm:
    Very nice review, and one I agree with very much. I gave this episode a 7/10 - a really good one, but with a few relatively minor flaws.

    I do like your idea for an alternate ending. And to the poster above me, I understand that it's more "Hollywood" to have the "hero," Kirk, be the one who saves the day, but having Daystrom do the talking would have been far better. And Kirk still would have needed to make the decision to leave the deflector shields down, which gives him a chance to use his human intuition and experience to save the lives of his crew. This kind of tag-team action between Daystrom and Kirk would have been more fulfilling to me.

    Excellent pacing in this one. The premise grabbed me rather quickly. Once it was clear that this was not merely some social ommentary on machines making humans obsolete and taking away jobs, I was right on board.
  • From McCoy on 2016-11-02 at 12:10pm:
    Sorry, guys, but you don't know many scientist, do you? 90% of them are just megalomanians with no distance to themselves. Your concept of alternate ending is illogical... According to historical sources - most of nazis scientists didn't realised they were doing wrong. They've keep talking about science and progress in turning people corpses into useful things (i.e. making lampshades from human skin). Daystroms "ilumination" would be too utopian happy end for my personal taste. Kirk was the one, who needed to do talking. Well, maybe Spock in that role would be interesting.
  • From Chris Long on 2017-11-13 at 12:59pm:
    Late to this party as usual, but I agree with most of the review.
    The death penalty for murder was standard in 1960's USA along with most of the rest of the world.

    When the episode first aired, it made perfect sense, in that light... at least to this youngster!

    It's easy to armchair quarterback the lack of progressiveness in this episode with regard to that except that... In the episode, 'The Dagger of the Mind', there are "clean hospitals for sick minds!" implying that psychos and murderers were treated rather than executed. Same with 'Whom Gods Destroy'.

    Another episode where the Federation shows it has a death penalty is of course, 'The Menagerie'!

    TOS can be all over the place when it needs to be.

    P.S. I really enjoy your reviews and having a place to spout off! ;-) Thanks!

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Star Trek TOS - 2x25 - Bread and Circuses

Originally Aired: 1968-3-15

Synopsis:
Spock and McCoy are forced to fight in Roman-like games. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 0

Fan Rating Average - 4.85

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 29 9 13 13 35 15 18 25 18 17 12

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- One of Star Trek's worst episodes and complete filler.

Problems
- "Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planetary Development" is patently ridiculous. It's not a sound premise to build an episode off of.

Factoids
- This episode is a candidate for my "Worst Episode of TOS Award."
- 37 million died in Earth's third world war according to Spock.
- Kirk and McCoy define the Prime Directive in fairly specific language in this episode: "No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet. No references to space or the fact that there are other worlds or civilizations."
- This episode establishes that the dematerialization process of the transporter insulates the target from projectile attacks like gunfire.

Remarkable Scenes
- Guy with a gun to Spock: "What do you call those?" Spock: "I call them ears."
- McCoy and Spock arguing about logic in the jail cell.
- McCoy and Spock arguing at the dinner table.
- Spock's terrific performance as a gladiator.
- McCoy and Spock arguing in the jail cell again.

My Review
Miri, The Omega Glory, and now Bread and Circuses. Why do alien planets mysteriously take on specific and precisely identical characteristics of Earth cultures seemingly at random so frequently? Why, "Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planetary Development" of course! I applaud the episode for at least trying to come up with an explanation for this nonsense, but unlike the meddling of John Gill from Patterns of Force, this rationalization doesn't quite work. The very idea of something like "Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planetary Development" existing as a natural law flies in the face of realism. There's just no way an alien planet, even an alien planet full of human-like aliens, is going to develop its own Roman Empire precisely identical to ours in nearly every way, except with 20th century American English, 20th century American technologies, and other such specific references.

It's kind of a shame too, because unlike Miri and The Omega Glory, this was a pretty entertaining episode. Sure it was a story about yet another Federation citizen tainting a society with yet another alien race that looks exactly like humans and yet another set of plot contrivances which exist solely to get the cast captured and forced to fight for the amusement of others, but when you set aside the cliches, this episode actually has a lot to offer. The idea of a Roman Empire which never fell and became much like the 20th century United States is intriguing. In this fictional society, slavery evolved into some form of wage slavery and the gladiator games were broadcast live on television with a characteristically familiar obsession with television ratings. Sure these details are gimmicky, but they're also pretty damn funny.

And then there's Claudius Marcus, who is one of the most delightfully amusing villains we've yet seen on Star Trek. Unlike most victims of cultural contamination by superior aliens, Claudius has no interest in procuring the advancements of the Federation for himself or his society. Instead, he perversely gets off on holding the Federation hostage to its Prime Directive. He even hilariously taunts Kirk by admitting that while he's well aware that the Enterprise could lay waste to the entire planet from orbit, he also knows Kirk is legally prohibited from doing so. He then spends the whole episode toying with the crew like a cat would with a bird for no reason other than his own amusement. On some level, you've got to respect that carefree recklessness. Finally, there are also several great moments featuring McCoy preying on Spock's insecurities about his human side, which was a nice touch.

But the fun ends there. And aside from the obnoxious issues with the episode's premise mentioned at the beginning of the review, there are also problems with its internal plot logic as well. Perhaps the most prominent example is the plot's bizarre dismissal of sun worship as not historically consistent with Roman theology. Apparently the writers have never heard of Sol Invictus. Likewise, the plot's dismissal of sun worship as a symptom of a primitive society while elevating the idea of worshipping the (alleged) son of god as a characteristic of an advanced society is downright offensive. Why should one religion be considered more valid than another? The way the story ends, after Uhura's exposition about the sun vs. son wordplay, everyone seems to rest easy by concluding that now that the aliens discovered Christianity, all the problems with their society will soon end.

That's an ending which aside from the sheer ridiculousness is hardly in the spirit of Star Trek which, for the most part, seems to advocate a progressive future without superstition guiding society's laws and moral code any longer. It's as shameful for Star Trek to resort to such blatant Christian evangelism as it is for Star Trek to tell a science fiction story on such a painfully weak premise as "Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planetary Development." Do yourself a favor and skip this one.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 4:24pm:
    The episode also explores the relationship of the trio and Spock’s true feelings for Kirk more than most other episodes did (The Tholian Web is one other in which this is done expertly). Spock coming as close to admitting that he cared for Kirk (by denying McCoy’s accusations of not having feelings in a way) – it is wonderfully done, very much in character for Spock. The same happens in The Tholian Web, when Spock answer’s McCoy’s “It does hurt, doesn’t it” with “What would you have me say.” Such good writing!
    I therefore love the McCoy/Spock arguments in the jail cell. This and Spock “kicking some Gladiator ass” made me give this episode quite a good rating.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-08-20 at 8:06pm:
    This is a dull episode. For a modern day Rome, the city seemed pretty dead (except for the shaky of urban 1960's file footage). Everything just seemed like an excuse for a fighting sequence. One scene that WAS exceptional was the emotional conversation Spock and Mccoy had in the jail cell. It was remarkable.
  • From Wiley Hyena on 2012-05-14 at 3:02pm:
    The reviewer missed the mark here. Just because there is a Christianity theme here doesn't mean it is evangalism, nor does it interfere with the progressive nature of the show. Historically, the Roman empire succumbed to Christianity and adopted it. So I think the reviewer places too much criticism on this point, when the purpose of the episode was to explore a world where the Romans actually maintained their empire into modern times. This episode is very entertaining and one most remember as a kid. Give it a 6.
  • From Strider on 2012-06-20 at 11:26pm:
    I've read some pretty disparaging reviews of this episode, and while some of the science is a little screwy, I think there's some truly wonderful character work in it. This is Kirk at his most Kirk-like...confident, in charge, watching out for his crew but trusting them as well. I was getting tired of too many angsty, doubt-ridden, weak Kirk moments. Kirk is a strong, totally in control leader all the way through, and it's awesome.

    Spock lets some emotion out--irritation, humor, anxiety--and gets called on it by McCoy, leading to a deeply emotional moment between the two as they share their concern for Kirk. McCoy is at his most bitchy and in Spock's face all the time, but still prods Spock to new levels of self disclosure.

    I'm not thrilled with the treatment of the Prime Directive--up till now, didn't we understand that the PD was absolute unless they had to defend themselves? How can there possibly NOT be an exemption for that?

    And I do sort of wish that Kirk hadn't sexed the slave...can he NEVER resist a woman EVER? I mean, she was a SLAVE, she can't give free consent! A new low for studly Kirk.

    The Sun/Son thing, indicating that Christianity arose within the Roman Empire in this reality as well, makes sense, and I understand why they couldn't really follow up on it. It was a neat little twist that could have been more, but it's okay that it wasn't. It didn't bother me.

    On a personal note, speaking as a woman, these men in these costumes are so hot I watched the episode 3 times in one day. Spock fighting in the arena in those tight pants? Whew... And I didn't realize McCoy was so tall, but he's almost as tall as Spock. Add the emotional intensity, and it was a pretty satisfying episode, despite the occasional plot ridiculousness.

    Anyway, good character work...
  • From Dos Flores on 2012-12-28 at 1:47pm:
    "It's kind of a shame too, because unlike Miri and The Omega Glory, this was a pretty entertaining episode. Sure it was a story about yet another Federation citizen tainting a society with yet another alien race that looks exactly like humans and yet another set of plot contrivances which exist solely to get the cast captured and forced to fight for the amusement of others, but when you set aside the cliches, this episode actually has a lot to offer. The idea of a Roman Empire which never fell and became much like the 20th century United States is intriguing. In this fictional society, slavery evolved into some form of wage slavery and the gladiator games were broadcast live on television with a characteristically familiar obsession with television ratings. Sure these details are gimmicky, but they're also pretty damn funny."
    This is all quite true, which makes your overall episode rating of 0 a bit baffling. Zero? Not one point? Huh...
    Lots of problems, to be sure, but even you seem to see at least some entertainment value. And you've rated other episodes more highly while apparently finding much loss to say in their favor. I guess I'm just wondering what's up with that.
  • From Kethinov on 2012-12-28 at 3:27pm:
    It doesn't matter how charming the villain was or how amusing certain plot details were. The premise was fundamentally unworkable. I don't award points to episodes with fundamentally unworkable premises.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-03-24 at 10:43pm:
    BREAD AND CIRCUSES

    Factoid: Ian Wolfe, who played Septimus here, also played Mr. Atoz in "All Our Yesterdays".

    OK, here's my chief question about this episode:

    Just how did Kirk et al. expect to get to Captain Merik and haul him away? The closer they get, the more likely they are to be caught -- especially with Flavius Maximus, perhaps the most recognizable slave on the planet, leading the way! (Flavius should at least wear a disguise.) And they're somehow going to keep an entire machine gun-toting police force at bay while they question Merik? Even if they used their phasers, chances are _someone's_ bullets would get them.

    And why did our heroes beam down in Federation garb?

    What was Claudius Marcus doing by an iridium quarry?

    Great discussion with Bones and Spock in the cell. And other fun moments here and there, as already mentioned by others.

    I think this is the strictest application of the Prime Directive in the entire series. No chance at all for Spock to ask Kirk at the end of the episode if they violated it. Even in "The Omega Glory", where Kirk enters into his log, "A star captain's most solemn oath is that he will give his life, even his entire crew, rather than violate the Prime Directive", Spock gets to question Kirk about their actions at the end.

    Let's see, in real Rome there's the huge Colosseum. Here we have a tiny TV studio.

    Notice that when Kirk fires at the cell door lock, nothing hits it!

    CLAUDIUS: Question, Captain?
    KIRK: The rules. If Spock should finish his man off first, would he be able to help
    CLAUDIUS: We believe men should fight their own battles. Only the weak will die. My word as a Roman. Ready to order your men down, Captain?

    Why this is a surprise to anyone is beyond me. On the other hand, why have two fights at the same time? What is Spock supposed to do when he finishes his opponent off first? Just stand there and watch? Walk off stage? Wave to the crowd?

    MERIK: Maybe now you understand why I gave in. The Romans have always been the strongest, and they've had practice for over two thousand years in enslaving men, using them, killing them.

    Hmmm. I wouldn't want to serve under this dude! And I don't follow his reasoning.

    CLAUDIUS: Quite true, Captain Kirk. The games have always strengthened us. Death becomes a familiar pattern. We don't fear it as you do.

    "We don't fear [death] as you do?" I don't see Claudius volunteering to fight. Ridiculous. Not fearing death gets weeded out by natural selection.

    Amazing how well Scotty's power disruption was timed! Virtually down to the second!

    Here's one thing that violates Hodgkin's law: Kirk's night with Drusilla. Bizarre.

    The wikipedia article on Roddenberry says that "he . . . considered himself a humanist and agnostic. He saw religion as the cause of many wars and human suffering." Yet he co-wrote this episode, which favors Christianity! Go figure.

    A zero? You'd rather watch "The Empath"? Other than that, I mostly agree with your review.

    AEF, aka betaneptune
  • From Trekkie on 2014-04-03 at 4:16pm:
    Your review is too biased. You only give this a 0 because you're biased against Christianity. This much is clear. If you truly understood the spirit of star trek you would have caught the meaning.

    At the end, McCoy said the 'sun' philosophy was "A philosophy of total love and total brotherhood." Then they all smiled, knowingly. Clearly, the united federation of planets is based on such a philosophy.

    Part of that philosophy is also to respect others. By not keeping your bias out, this is why your review fundamentally fails in our terms, and as well on the spirit of Star Trek.
  • From Kethinov on 2014-04-03 at 8:44pm:
    What are you on about? The ending of this episode was just oozing with Christian evangelism. It's hard to miss. As for my "bias" against evangelizing Christianity, I can well assure you that had any other religion been as shamelessly evangelized in this fashion, I'd be equally annoyed.
  • From Trekkie on 2014-04-04 at 7:32pm:
    You missed the point of what i was trying to explain. The point I was trying to make was that this episode gave us insights into some of the very root philosophies in the united federation of planets. All of the people on the bridge, in the scene at the end of 'Bread and Circuses', understood what was happening on the planet after Uhura explained it wasn't the 'sun' but the 'son'. They all had understanding expressions of what that implied.


    Kirk said "Caesar and Christ. They had them both. And the word is spreading only now." Then McCoy said in understanding "A philosophy of total love and total brotherhood." To which Spock also understood by saying "It will replace their imperial Rome, but it will happen in their twentieth century." Then kirk longlingly says "Wouldn't it be something to watch, to be a part of? To see it happen all over again?". His line shed light on an understanding that he had which we don't have. Perhaps that philosophy was the key one that helped bind people after the 3rd world war, and/or was a basis of the united federation of planets.

    In TOS season 3, the episode 'Whom Gods Destroy', when Garth was mocking the peace mission to Axanar, Kirk said "They were humanitarians and statesmen, and they had a dream. A dream that became a reality and spread throughout the stars, a dream that made Mister Spock and me brothers." Garth asked Spock if he agreed and Spock said "Captain Kirk speaks somewhat figuratively and with undue emotion. However, what he says is logical and I do, in fact, agree with it."

    'Bread and Circuses' is a very powerful episode that sheds light on some deep roots about the philosophy of the united federation of planets, a philosophy of total love and total brotherhood. It showed that both humans and vulcans understand this philosophy is a stable ground to build on. It just so happens to be one of the deepest philosophies of this planet as well, now, and today, in real life.

    So this is why i strongly disagree with your 0 for this episode, because it showed us a bit about how their world got to where it was, and it ranks least a 7 imho.
  • From Kethinov on 2014-04-04 at 9:27pm:
    That has got to be the most generous interpretation I've ever seen for any episode of Star Trek. Personally, I think you're reading way too much into it (as would most other people I suspect).

    But that's not really what's important here. Regardless of whether or not there is supposed to be some deep spiritual insight in this story about the Federation's origins if you read between the lines hard enough, it doesn't really matter.

    What matters is the entire story was implausible from the very first moment. "Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planetary Development" is scientific rubbish, unworthy of a science fiction.

    The story was entertaining, but we should not award points to blatant pseudoscience.
  • From Harrison on 2014-07-19 at 9:39pm:
    It's cornball, the core premise is painfully implausible, and there's a shamelessly manipulative appeal to shallow, majoritarian morality -- perhaps to mitigate earlier episodes that offended by purveying what was perceived by some as communitarian, even anti-capitalist ethics.

    With two liberal Jewish actors in the lead roles, there may have been some overcompensation going on, perhaps to blunt criticism that Star Trek was internationalist, Social-Democratic propaganda. There were a few episodes in season 2 and 3 - "Omega Glory" being the most obvious - that struck me this way.

    But the episode doesn't warrant a zero by any standard. There's solid acting, and some unusually strong character development for the series. The notion of 20th century Rome is a clever one, and the writers did pretty well fleshing it out in a 50-minute window.
  • From Kethinov on 2014-07-20 at 2:38am:
    If the core premise was painfully implausible, that's it. It doesn't matter how good the actors were or how entertaining the villain was. It can't be worth any points if the core premise was painfully implausible.

    I find Voy: Threshold to be highly entertaining. One of my favorite zeroes to rewatch. Absolutely chock full of comedy, both intentional and unintentional. But I don't give it any points either because it's equally implausible.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-11-09 at 10:01pm:
    "BREAD AND CIRCUSES" post #2:

    Notice that in the news broadcast at the beginning of the episode, one of the fighters is Claudius Marcus! Is that our "delightfully amusing villain," or someone else with the same name?

    In my first post I said this was probably the strictest application of the Prime Directive in the series. Actually, this is _not_ true at the beginning of the episode. Quite the opposite, in fact!

    Our heroes beam down in Federation garb and bring their phaser guns. Spock brings his tricorder and bones brings his own device. Kirk tries to grab his phaser when our heroes are first caught by the escaped slaves, he uses his communicator to ask Scotty to count people from afar, and Bones examines the natives with his little cylinder thing. And all this starts less than a minute after Kirk and Bones recite the PD!

    Add to that the following:

    KIRK: Perhaps you've heard, let's say, an impossible story or a rumor of men who came from the sky or from other worlds.
    SEPTIMUS: There are no other worlds.
    KIRK: The stars.
    SEPTIMUS: Lights shining through from heaven. It is where the sun is. Blessed be the sun.

    When Kirk and Bones recite the P.D., they're doing it for our benefit, not Spock's, of course. But surprisingly it doesn't come out all that awkward.

    This is one of the few episodes where the unexpected speaking of English is mentioned and remarked upon. The other episodes include "Tomorrow is Yesterday" and "Metamorphosis." Any others? I wish I had a text file of each transcript! It would make questions like this quite easy to answer (well, assuming no typos, of course).

    As for sun worship in the Roman Empire: Why can't there be something that's not exactly "paralleled"? That would be more likely than everything being paralleled, no? Not "illogical" in my opinion.

    Re "pseudoscience": In TOS, phasers and photon torpedoes somehow make sounds in the vacuum of space, which is not possible. (They sound pretty cool, though!) Faster-than-light travel is almost certainly a no-go. (If you learn the theory of special relativity and how well confirmed it is, you will see why.) And see my list of absurdities in my review of "Sky is Hollow." But I watch Star Trek for fun, the characters, the great chemistry between the characters, how they deal with situations, action sequences, interesting ideas and such. Keep in mind that there's only so much you can do with the limited time and money they had to work with (hence, Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Development). Sometimes it's either Hodgkin's Law or nothing. ... In spite of all this, I still love the show.

    I agree that Bones saying, "We represent many beliefs," is hardly characteristic of an enlightened future. But it does represent enlightened _tolerance_.

    SPOCK: Sun worship is usually a primitive superstition religion.

    Current religions are, in part, modern-day superstition. He said nothing about any religion's validity -- just that sun worship is characteristic of primitive societies. And some religions are sillier than others. Why would they be all the same?

    Yeah, the evangelism bit at the end is pretty obnoxious and cringe-worthy. And ironic in that Shatner and Nimoy are both Jewish.

    >----o----<

    To Strider - Kirk weak? He's only human and it's nice to see he has _some_ weaknesses. And I always rooted for Spock when he played Kirk in chess, and was always a little annoyed when Kirk won. But he's still our hero.

    On Kirk resisting women: he resisted Eve in "Mudd's Women," Helen Noel in "Dagger of the Mind," and Dr. Wallace in "The Deadly Years." (I assume you meant women who were after him. OK, it's not clear what happened with Eve. I suspect some random rewriting occurred.) Oh, and there's Yeoman Rand! He resisted the Dohlman in the end, and without McCoy's cure. He resisted almost all the women that weren't after him.

    AEF
  • From derek on 2016-04-07 at 5:38am:
    Actually there is nothing in real-life science proclaiming that humanoids and even a duplicate of the Roman Empire could not evolve on another planet.
  • From Kethinov on 2016-04-08 at 2:17pm:
    *rolls eyes*

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Star Trek TOS - 2x26 - Assignment: Earth

Originally Aired: 1968-3-29

Synopsis:
The Enterprise goes back in time and discovers a mysterious stranger trying to interfere with 20th-century events. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 4.38

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 45 10 12 11 48 9 13 14 24 8 19

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

Problems
- Scotty mentions that he was able to use a 1960s-era weather satellite to get those ariel views of the rocket. However, the footage is quite obviously helicopter footage. The camera even wobbles.

Factoids
- This episode was intended as the pilot for a Star Trek spin-off series named "Assignment: Earth," but it never got off the ground.
- This episode establishes that Star Trek's history splits off from the real world's history in at least the year 1968, as major historical events which never occurred in the real world such as the launch of orbital nuclear weapons platforms were cited as having occurred in Star Trek's timeline during that year. Interestingly, one of the important events cited was an important assassination. Coincidentally, six days after this episode aired, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Robert F. Kennedy was also assassinated not long after this episode first aired. It has been said that this episode accidentally predicted these events.
- This episode establishes that the planet Omicron 4 was almost destroyed by a conflict similar to Earth's Cold War.

Remarkable Scenes
- Gary Seven's declaration of his mission.
- Gary Seven's escape from the Enterprise.
- Roberta's reaction to the automatic typewriter which typed everything she said.
- Kirk barging into Gary Seven's office.
- Gary Seven getting past the security guard and breaking into the launch site.

My Review
Unlike the similarly punctuated season 1 finale entitled Operation: Annihilate!, the season 2 finale entitled Assignment: Earth sheds the exclamation point in an appropriately symbolic move. Because unlike its season 1 finale counterpart, this episode lacks any kind of excitement whatsoever and is in fact quite dull.

Even worse, this episode's premise even further aggravates the logical problems introduced by Spock's magical time travel formula, first featured in The Naked Time and further abused in Tomorrow is Yesterday. Unlike the previous episodes where Spock's magical time travel formula was used as an emergency tactic, albeit an overwrought one, this episode opens with the crew having casually engaged in time travel in a mission of historical research openly sanctioned by the Federation, as if traveling back in time has since become routine.

As if that weren't bad enough, pretty much the entire plot is a mixture of stiltedness and incoherence. The episode wastes no time making itself so awkwardly annoying, as the very first scene rattles off all that silly time travel exposition, then immediately proceeds to have Gary Seven simply appear in the transporter room. It's not explained how his long range transporter could make such a remarkable error as dropping him in the Enterprise's transporter room rather than his desired destination on Earth, but who needs coherent technical explanations? That's not what this episode is about.

No, what this episode was supposed to be about instead was the danger posed by time travel and interfering with historical events. But the story isn't very good at that part either, because Kirk pretty much does all the wrong things right from the beginning. Rather than merely assume that Gary's unlikely arrival on the Enterprise was the result of an unlikely accident, just as Gary claimed, Kirk assumes instead the even more unlikely idea that Gary could be an alien invader of Earth or some kind of hostile time traveler trying to screw up Earth's history.

Not a single thing warrants Kirk's rather remarkable paranoia, but Kirk acts on it anyway, profoundly interfering with Gary's historically undocumented, yet nevertheless historically canonical mission in the process, thereby directly violating the stated purpose of their mission into the past: to observe but not to interfere with history.

The episode tries to cover up this blatant mistake at the end with Spock rattling off some nonsense about how historical record implies that the Enterprise must have been predestined to interfere with these events, but the irony of that already bad rationalization is that had anyone on the Enterprise familiarized themselves with historical events in the first place, then they could have easily validated Gary Seven's place in history, despite its strangeness, and allowed him to complete his mission as planned.

Given all that, I think it's fair to say this episode is largely an exercise in incompetence for all parties involved. The Federation for authorizing this ill conceived mission in the first place, Kirk for choosing to consider Gary guilty until proven innocent, Kirk's crew for not fact checking Gary's story, and even Gary himself, who repeatedly showed his tendencies toward buffoonery throughout the episode, especially with regards to his mishandling of Roberta's less than elegant distractions.

The result is an incredibly boring episode filled with countless clips of stock Apollo footage dragging on at The Corbomite Maneuver's pace where none of the characters can quite figure out whose side they're on until it's nearly too late. All this peppered with endless humor scenes which nearly all fall flat, way too many monotone computer scenes, and a strikingly irrelevant female sidekick for Gary Seven who adds nothing to the plot and for some reason is disguised as a cat.

I've read that this episode was supposed to be a sort of backdoor pilot for a spinoff series entitled Assignment: Earth, which was to presumably feature Gary Seven, Roberta, the mysterious cat girl, and that terrifyingly obnoxious computer engaging in a litany of similar adventures. I don't know about you, but based on the material seen here, I think the world can do without a crappy James Bond inspired Star Trek spinoff taking place in a contemporary science fiction setting.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Tony on 2008-09-06 at 9:56pm:
    A bad James Bond movie maybe, but when does James bond have to deal with a well intending starship crew that keeps messing up his plans? Although the episode does has it's fair share of faults involving the time travel aspect, it is generally fun to watch, with odd situations and a small element of mystery as to what Gary's intentions are. On the other hand the Enterprises presence was crucial to the story, a spin off series just wouldn't work (though I am curious as to how it would turn out). It's a fun episode, just don't take it too seriously or the fun is lost.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-08-26 at 10:46pm:
    I just watched the Blu-Ray upgrade of this episode, and I have to say it's the worst of the "upgrades" I have seen so far. The picture quality looks the same, like they didn't even bother to clean it up. I also thought they would ifnd better stock footage of the rocket, but I guess there's not that much to choose from.

    The plot is decent. It has many whimsical moments thrown in even though it's about nuclear war. That's okay though. Overall, I'm never too thrilled when I have to watch this episode again (I watch them in order every few years), but afterward I always think, "that wasn't so bad."
  • From Strider on 2012-06-21 at 10:35am:
    I thought it was a boring episode, too--and what was the point of arming the rocket with a nuclear warhead just so he could disarm it 104 feet from the surface of the planet? Anyway, it was fun to see a young Terri Garr, and Robert Lansing reminded me a lot of Steve McQueen.
  • From Mosh on 2012-07-14 at 11:14pm:
    There were some weird similarities with Doctor Who in this episode. Gary Seven as a time traveler from another planet, with a very sonic screwdriver-type weapon and a human companion. The cat-lady would set it apart, though. Also, the quality.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-11-19 at 2:07am:
    Assignment: Earth

    I agree with Kethinov completely about how the time travel bit made no sense.

    At the end when Kirk has to decide whether to let Mr. Seven use the computer, his reasoning makes no sense. He says to Mr. Seven, "I don't know what your job _is_. You may set those controls so we can't detonate that warhead." It's clear that Spock almost certainly can't detonate it anyway! The only logical course of action is to let Mr. Seven at the computer.

    And why are Kirk and Spock suddenly in uniform after Gary saves the day?

    Check out the cat girl's top. It's just kind of hanging from her neck. Well, take a careful look. You'll see what I mean.

    To Strider: The point of setting the warhead was to scare the major powers to into stopping the orbiting nuclear warhead platform madness. Recall that those running the launch learned the rocket had somehow armed itself. That's the first scare. And you need the explosion to truly scare people. Yeah, it's too risky to be a good idea, but I didn't write the episode.

    AEF
  • From Francis McMenamin on 2013-01-07 at 1:29pm:
    I think most of the Assignment Earth detractors miss the point. The episode is about paranoia- the crew of the Enterprise go back in time on a research mission to find out why Earth was almost consumed in nuclear conflagration in 1968! The Federation must have had incomplete records and wanting to know more dispatched Kirk & co to clear up the mystery- a need to know more based on paranoia of a sort if you will- further fuelled by Kirk's seriousness about the mission and his discomfort with what the interloper GARY SEVEN was up to and the potential consequences for the timeline. Earth was at a delicate stage in its development and indeed if you follow the Star Trek timeline there was indeed a Third World War sometime in the 21st century according to Spock in another episode. Paranoia abounds in Assignment Earth with a lack of trust between the main protagonists; Kirk and Spock vis-a-vis SEVEN and Roberta Lincoln and SEVEN, Roberta and ISIS. It's a cold war space action adventure/espionage intrigue where conflicting agendas take centre stage. In my opinion it works on that level, is a rattling good adventure with plenty of twists and turns containing great classic Star Trek moments. The fact you are still arguing about it 45 odd years later speaks for itself! JJ Abrams take note!
  • From ALAN E FELDMAN on 2017-07-14 at 9:54pm:
    ASSIGNMENT: EARTH Post #2.

    I think the best part of this episode is the Apollo 4 launch. That's a Saturn V. That gets you to the moon. You don't need such a big rocket to put something in earth orbit. Ridiculous. But we get some excellent clear shots of the launch! Can't find anything better on YouTube.

    Again with a big age difference: Terri Garr was about 20 at the time, while Robert Lansing was about 40. Kind of a big spread for a couple. (Their becoming a couple was strongly hinted at at the end.)

    The catgirl was wearing what appears to me to be a bib. And what was the point of that temporary transformation of the cat, anyway? Just some random eye candy and filler, I guess.

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