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Star Trek TOS - Season 3

Star Trek TOS - 3x01 - Spock's Brain

Originally Aired: 1968-9-20

Synopsis:
Kirk pursues aliens who have taken Spock's brain. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 3.01

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 120 26 20 52 21 13 11 13 29 10 14

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

Problems
- Both Kirk and Sulu mistakenly refer to Sigma Draconis VI as Sigma Draconis VII in their log.

Factoids
- Another slightly revised opening theme debuted in this episode.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk: "Lifeform readings Mr. Spock? Er... Mr. Scott..."
- Remote control Spock. Hilarious!
- Spock inside a computer, talking to Kirk and McCoy. I love how well Spock takes being disembodied.
- Kirk using remote control Spock to remove the pain belts.
- I love the profound change in the alien girl's behavior and intelligence after she underwent the knowledge helmet.
- Spock dictating to McCoy how to perform his own brain surgery.

My Review
Despite what the episode's title may imply, this story is anything but cerebral. On the contrary it's pretty goofy but in ways that are entirely intentional and the comedy is quite effective. The central amusement of the story is how well Spock takes being disembodied. He spends the whole episode reveling in the novelty of the experience and even objects to his own rescue at one point on the grounds that the odds for success are too low and pose too great a risk to the landing party. Unfortunately the episode's rather simplistic tone is its greatest weakness as well, as a deeper exploration of the cost-benefit analysis of whether or not to attempt a rescue of Spock could have made for some interesting drama.

For instance, throughout much of the episode McCoy objects to the rescue attempt in a sort of half-hearted way on the grounds that he lacked the surgical knowledge to restore Spock's brain to his body. Kirk simply barrels on ahead assuming that the people who did this to Spock could undo it, which was by no means certain, and that in addition he could also somehow convince them to undo the brain theft even after all the painstaking work they went through to perform that surgical strike in the first place. A better episode would have forced Kirk to truly wrestle with the possibility that Spock's best chance for survival was to remain disembodied rather than have Kirk never lose faith in his own abilities to coerce surgical magic out of the aliens of the week.

There are a whole host of other smaller flaws as well. It's never quite explained why the aliens of the week took such great care to extract Spock's brain without doing irreparable damage to his body, which turned out to be rather convenient! Likewise, when they follow the ion trail to the Sigma Draconis system they conclude rather hastily that none of the remarkably three M class planets in the planetary system are capable of launching an interstellar flight despite obvious evidence to the contrary. Then another awkward line emerges when it's claimed that the crew lacks the time to search three different M class planets in the same planetary system. Why not send three landing parties?

And then there's Kirk's silly requirement that they tote around Spock's zombie body with them wherever they go. Why not locate the brain first and then beam down Spock later if he needs to be down there for some reason? It's also stated that the Federation lacks ion propulsion, which seems unlikely as the technology was already beginning to mature in the real world by the time this episode was produced. Granted, the exact term used was "advanced ion propulsion" so maybe the fact that it's "advanced" should connote something more stunning. Also McCoy at one point injects a stimulant into a humanoid alien on the planet. Is it really safe to use human drugs on an unknown alien? I guess that looking exactly like humans thing sometimes goes further than just skin deep!

Setting aside the smaller flaws, there was one other larger issue with the story. At the end the motives of the aliens of the week are finally established. It's stated that they periodically go hunting for presumably highly evolved alien brains to power their Controller computer. This leads to a moral dilemma nearly as interesting but just as poorly explored as the risk analysis of whether or not to rescue Spock. Is the need for a Controller for the aliens greater than Spock's need for his freedom? The obvious answer is that Spock's freedom should not be subverted against his will for the benefit of any group of people, no matter how large. But the episode barely explores this question at all and Kirk's solution is needlessly cold.

At the end of the story Kirk simply condemns the aliens of the week to living in the harsh conditions of the planet's surface with little more than a pat on the ass and an insistence that natural selection will take care of the rest. Given how painfully stupid the aliens were, what with choice lines like, "Brain and brain! What is brain!" I have my doubts that Kirk's faith in their survival is terribly justified, especially seeing as how it's established that a biological atrophy of their mental faculties has taken place due to generations of non-use. That, and the males who were already inexplicably condemned to the surface didn't seem much smarter.

However, while this story certainly had themes with the potential for greater depth, despite that missed opportunity the episode is funny and entertaining largely because it doesn't take itself too seriously. Watching Spock comment on his disembodiment is highly amusing and none of the flaws of the story add up to the sorts of show stopping technical problems that a few noteworthy episodes from the previous two seasons have delivered so what we get in the end comes off merely as slightly below average.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Jem Hadar on 2009-05-16 at 7:08pm:
    Some problems:

    - Doctor McCoy says he has no idea how long Spock can last without his brain, and then says he has 24 hours a minute later!

    - Why did Chekov only heat one rock? He can heat all the rocks around him and they wouldn't have to huddle around one rock.

    - When McCoy was operating and started forgetting what he knew, how would Kirk know he would die if put the Teacher on again? Also, why wouldn't Kirk himself (or Scotty) put it on and then finish the operation after McCoy forgot what he knew?

    However, I like this episode. I'd give it a 7.5/10.
  • From Jadzia Guinan Smith on 2010-09-28 at 10:07pm:
    I totally agree. Spock's Brain isn't as bad as its reputation. In fact, it's about an average episode for TOS, which, in all honesty, is a stunningly bad series (but would be a magnificent mini-series if whittled down to about 15 episodes).

    Granted, the premise of Spock's Brain is stupid and the story that unfolds gets increasingly absurd. But its deadpan presentation has a farce-like quality that makes it kind of fun to watch and poke fun at. Plus, I think the episode deserves credit for NOT following one of these recurring plot patterns in the Trek repertoire:
    1. someone acquires and abuses superhuman powers, 2. a machine grows powerful enough to threaten everyone
    3. they go back in time to pre-warp earth
    4. they go to a planet where a pre-warp earth colony (somehow) exists
    5. they encounter an alien culture EXACTLY like some culutre on pre-warp earth
    6. they encounter an alien culture moedeled after a specific pre-warp earth culture because of an early human traveler's inexplicably significant influence
    7. they encounter a superior alien speicies (or a single member of such a species) who, for some reason, takes a deep interest in some aspect of pre-warp earth civilization and recreates it for amusement.
    8. they encounter a disembodied "mind" or "consciousness" that (a) has somehow managed to exist outside of the biological body in which it emerged, or (b) for some reason has a gender and the same desires as biological beings even though it emerged through non-biological processes. [for some reason we're supposed to assume it's nothing supernatural like a "soul" even though there seems to be no scientific explanation for its existence]

    Also, the stuff I find most obnoxious in TOS (the nauseating misogyny I've come to expect from just about ANY episode featuring ANY female characters) is sort of kept in check for the most part in this episode. Don't get me wrong, it's hardly free of the usual bits of TOS-style gender politics (and of COURSE there's plenty of gratuitous titilation). But for the most part, Spock's Brain neither dwells on sex/gender nor makes any wildly sexist characterization of gender and its role in the universe. For me that's almost enough to make it tolerable.

    Hey, it's TOS. The bar is LOW :-)
  • From Orion on 2010-12-26 at 11:10pm:
    I just watched the blu-ray version of this episode and it's still a bad episode despite being cleaned up.

    The beam down scene has been "enhanced" by adding snow-covered mountains to the background. It looks nice, and it also looks like it's always been there, which is good. However, when they cut to a close up of everyone after the beam down the mountains are no longer visible in the background. Instead, it's just the original blue screen. So they actually created inconsistency in the episode by trying to enhance it.

    I do love most of the enhancements they have done with the series, it's just some of the decisions didn't seem well thought out.

    As for the episode overall, I think it's pretty bad, but maybe not as bad as some of the other TOS episodes (Omega Glory, That Which Survives). It's important to note that the ribbing this episode gets isn't just from the viewers, both Shatner and Nimoy have stated that they were embarassed while filming the episode.

    You do sense that the actors weren't into it. Just watch the part where they're all in sick bay discussing what to do. Not only do Mccoy and Kirk seem detached, but the dialogue is almost too unbearable to listen to.

    What's with the scene where Checkov is heating a rock? It seemed like they were trying to kill time because there was not enough material to fill the whole episode.

  • From Dude McMann on 2014-09-16 at 1:07pm:
    I have to disagree. This is an astonishingly dumb episode. The worst Star Trek novels never reached the depths of stupidity and lazy writing that this episode did (and there are some pretty bad ones.) There should be an international vote among fans to remove this from the canon.

    That said, I like your reviews and I know that no two fans agree on everything. (I thought Miri was an okay episode.)
  • From Kevin on 2017-04-01 at 2:30pm:
    Honestly a very lame episode, but oddly kinda entertaining, in a silly way. The idea was at least different.Years later I find a lot of the silly episodes to be more watchable.

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Star Trek TOS - 3x02 - The Enterprise Incident

Originally Aired: 1968-9-27

Synopsis:
Disguised as a Romulan, Kirk steals a cloaking device. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 5.81

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 64 1 5 3 3 11 9 14 34 47 42

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
- It's mentioned that it would take three weeks to get a message to Starfleet from the Neutral Zone. However in Balance of Terror, it took only a matter of hours.

Factoids
- Spock's rank is mentioned to be commander in this episode. He also mentions having served in Starfleet for 18 years.
- This episode establishes that both the Enterprise and the Romulan ships are capable of warp 9.

Remarkable Scenes
- Cranky Kirk.
- Kirk inexplicably ordering the ship into Romulan territory.
- The Enterprise surrounded by Romulan ships.
- Spock confronting Kirk about the craziness of ordering the Enterprise into the neutral zone in the first place.
- Kirk lying to the Romulan commander.
- Spock evading the Romulan commander's questions.
- Spock betraying Kirk's statements.
- Kirk repeatedly professing that he will kill Spock.
- Scotty threatening to suicide bomb the Romulan ships before complying with their order to follow them back to Romulus.
- Spock maneuvering with the Romulan commander.
- Spock "killing" Kirk.
- Nurse Chapel: "There's no such thing as a Vulcan death grip!" Kirk: "Ah, but the Romulans didn't know that!"
- Scotty's reaction to seeing Kirk as a Romulan.
- Kirk: "Just don't put me inside a bulkhead. Energize."
- Romulan commander: "Why would you do this to me? What are you that you could do this?" Spock: "First officer of the Enterprise." The Romulan commander slaps him. Spock: "What is your present form of execution?"
- The Enterprise cloaking.
- Spock: "It is regrettable that you were made an unwilling passenger. It was not intentional. All the Federation wanted was the cloaking device." Romulan commander: "The Federation. And what did you want?" Spock: "It was my only interest when I boarded your vessel." Romulan commander: "And that's exactly all you came away with." Spock: "You underestimate yourself, commander." Romulan commander: "You realize that very soon we will learn to penetrate the cloaking device you stole." Spock: "Obviously. Military secrets are the most fleeting of all. I hope that you and I exchanged something more permanent. "

My Review
An exciting episode packed with intrigue and several layers of deception. Throughout the story you're left wondering who is playing who and only midway through the episode do we finally learn that Kirk's confusing array of behaviors were all part of an act designed to deceive the Romulans and that only Kirk, Spock, and McCoy had foreknowledge of the details of the mission. And what a bold mission indeed! The Federation ordered them to steal technology from the enemy. This is only the second time we've seen Romulan characters on screen and it's been two years since their first appearance. Since then, much has changed in the political landscape. The Romulans' shared ancestry with the Vulcans has been unmasked and since the cat is out of the bag the Romulans make no attempt to avoid visual contact any further. In fact, the Romulan commander openly discussed her shared ancestry with Spock, referring to his people as "distant brothers." That leaves me wondering which planet the two species evolved on. Vulcan? Romulus? Or somewhere else?

One curious oddity was the brief mention that the Romulans are now using Klingon ship designs. This hints at a possible alliance between the two empires, but there is no mention of that and outside of that quick one liner the concept isn't explored at all. Other oddities included the mention that English is a difficult language for Romulans to learn which seems strange seeing as how the universal translator would seem to mitigate the need for the Romulans to learn English in the first place. Also it seems unlikely that Kirk could walk around the Romulan ship and especially interact with the crew without being recognized as Kirk, despite his altered appearance. Likewise it seemed rather convenient that the Romulan ship's shields just so happened to be down, allowing Kirk and Spock to be beamed off the ship at just the right moment. Finally I found it a bit strange that the cloaking device could be so easily plugged into the Enterprise, despite Scotty's whining about its alien oddness.

On top of that, the whole idea of a hostage exchange seemed like a poor thing for the Romulans to agree to given that they had the Enterprise completely surrounded and quite frankly held all the cards by that point. But in any case, Kirk and Spock's time aboard the Romulan vessel was the centerpiece of the story. It's a bit annoying that the Romulan commander falls in love with Spock so quickly and easily without much of a substantiation, but despite the strangeness of her obsession with winning him over, the whole plot point is well played. I was intrigued by how well the story played on Spock's half human and half Vulcan nature, as the fact that Spock's human ancestry makes him more like a Romulan than a Vulcan is distinctly ironic. The Enterprise Incident is a fine piece of storytelling overall with only minor flaws. More episodes of Star Trek should be like this one!

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 4:55pm:
    It is hard to find things to criticize about this episode. The plot is for once entirely believable. The story unfolds gradually, which adds just the right amount of suspense. A wonderful spy story - a blend of suspense, humor and action - yet not lacking in depth, because unlike many action based spy stories it does deal with the emotional implications that such missions often must include (for Spock and the Romulan Commander).

    For once it is not Kirk who gets the girl. There is a beautifully subtle yet captivating eroticism to Spock's encounter with the commander, which is very sensual and essentially mind-based, as opposed to Kirk's usually very physical approach. And it's all the better for it. As a result the short exchange between the two in the end of the episode is very touching and very believable (much more believable than many of Kirk's supposed "true loves"). The not-yet love affair ends not in hatred, but in an honest acknowledgement of something that might very well have been were it not for the circumstances.

    Kirk is again in con man mode, something I always love to watch. Both Kirk and Spock seem to have a remarkable talent for espionage and acting, it is a joy to watch them lay the trap. And even McCoy and Scotty get a little screentime. An outstanding episode indeed.
  • From Rising Isis on 2012-07-08 at 2:44am:
    I came to know Star Trek TOS and instantly became a Trekkie as a child. Because of the blessing of the Internet, I am reconnecting with what feels like old friends, by endeavoring to methodically watch all the episodes of all three seasons. The Enterprise Incident is one I must have missed.

    Perhaps it's as a result of reviewing the Star Trek storybook now through the eyes, heart, mind and physicality of adult experience. But what I find to be the most memorable episodes are those that deliver a relationship story with universal themes of love and intimacy that touch my soul with a lasting impression. In this episode, yes, there is the intrigue of espionage. But what I find most intriguing is the character development of genuine admiration, cultural kinship and intellectually seductive intimacy between Spock and the Romulan Commander.

    Plus, I knew the taciturn Mr. Spock truly has a gift with words worth listening to when he does speak. But I did not know that Spock was such a deft Mack Daddy with a mind blowing rap for a lady! I agree with Rhea that their interaction displayed "beautifully subtle yet captivating eroticism." As a nerd myself, I found their encounter, intellectual exchange and sensual touching of the hands to be hot!

    Very importantly, Spock skillfully navigated his espionage role in what turned out to be a mind field of intimate deception with his principles intact. When you look back, he remained a truthful gentleman through it all. This made Spock's final assurance to the Commander, when she was in doubt, that their encounter deeply touched him in a meaningful way which he would never forget believable, tender and loving. Consequently, he provided a means whereby the Commander could look back in review fondly, and he supported her ability to go forth with her dignity intact. This made Spock's closing presentation to the Commander in the finale a generous, healing and honorable act of compassion.

    The writers did real good here, in my opinion. The role for Spock is an outstanding character study on a high-caliber balance of duty, personal integrity and respectful relationship intimacy. This episode left this audience member with an unforgettable impression and a warm place in my heart, indeed!
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-11-18 at 1:42pm:
    The Enterprise Incident

    Definitely a fun episode, but it does have some problems. It was indeed well executed, and starts out great, but then goes down to only good.

    The Romulan commander always sound a little nervous, no? Maybe it's just me.

    During the meeting in the briefing room, after being asked how the Romulans could so easily sneak up on them, Spock says, "I believe the Romulans have developed a cloaking device". But we, and the entire crew, already knew that from "Balance of Terror", two seasons back. On top of that, Star Fleet knew, too. They were the ones who initiated the plan!

    How did Star Fleet know that there was enough of a chance to pull this off to be worth taking such a big risk? To have Spock all but seduce the Commander (and to know her gender!), to find the device, get past the guards (all two of them), quickly remove the device, know it was light enough to carry, get back to the ship with it, install it on the Enterprise in only a few minutes and know it would work, seems like a rather unlikely sequence of events to me.

    And this gives the Romulans a good excuse to start a war -- based on "Balance of Terror", anyway.

    Why did the Romulans wait for Spock to recite his "statement" before attacking? They could have destroyed the Enterprise and then done the statement bit.

    Why were the ships of Klingon design? I read that it was because the designer of the Romulan "bird of prey" ship got pissed off about something and destroyed all the models!

    AEF
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-10 at 9:19pm:
    I thought this was a great episode. Although it did become clear, even before the big reveal, that Kirk and Spock were playing at something, it really wasn't clear exactly what it was. This kept me thoroughly interested.

    When we DID learn that it was all a ploy to steal the cloaking device, we then had the interesting interactions between Spock and the Romulan commander (I love the fact that it was a woman - I'm guessing that was a bit progressive for the 1960s).

    Like most of the very best episodes that I've seen, this one features an antagonist who is fleshed out much more clearly than the many 1-dimensional villains that we've had to deal with. The mutual respect offered between the commander and Spock and Kirk is extremely satisfying.

    Great episode, no doubt.
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-23 at 7:56pm:
    I will admit that this was one of the better episodes, but it did have its problems. As someone here already wondered, how did they know that the romulan captain was a woman? If they didn't, what was the plan?

    In the deadly years, we are told that romulans do not accept surrender, and we are led to believe that the enterprise and its crew would be completely destroyed. But in this episode, apparently the capture of the enterprise intact would have a great career move for the romulan captain. In addition, she seemed sincere in her offer to spare the lives of the crew of the enterprise. Was she lying? Surely she couldn't have expected Spock to be her ally (and more) if the enterprise crew was put to death.

    This episode makes it clear that Spock CAN tell a lie; speaking of Kirk, Spock said: "he is not sane".

    Again, someone already mentioned this, but it bears repeating: the enterprise plan required the assumption that the cloaking device was portable, and could be carried by one man. More importantly is the assumption that Scotty could figure out how to install it so that it could work for the enterprise. "Mr. Scott, even though this is alien technology, developed completely independently of earth technology (and most likely independent of ANY technology known to ANY member of the federation, we expect you not only to figure out how it works, but also to make it work for the enterprise in what might be a matter of minutes. If you can't, then probably you and everyone else on this ship will die. No pressure."

    Wouldn't the romulan ship have its shields up, so that the transporter wouldn't work to beam Spock off the ship? And when the romulan captain grabbed Spock when she realized he was being beamed off the ship, what did she THINK would happen? Either she would become a captive (if the enterprise escaped) or she would be killed (if the enterprise was destroyed). For that matter, why hadn't romulans already taken over the enterprise, ejecting all members of the crew from the bridge, engineering, auxiliary control, and anywhere else they could regain control of the ship ?

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Star Trek TOS - 3x03 - The Paradise Syndrome

Originally Aired: 1968-10-4

Synopsis:
Kirk loses his memory and begins a life in a native village. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 4.13

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 51 5 15 5 7 35 15 28 9 9 8

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's mentioned that the asteroid deflector stops the wind and thunder in order to save the tribe. But why would there be wind and thunder in the first place? It's an asteroid impact, not a thunderstorm.
- This episode incorrectly refers to the Vulcan mind meld as a "Vulcan mind fusion."

Factoids
- This episode establishes that sustained flight at warp 9 is very straining for the Enterprise's engines.

Remarkable Scenes
- Spock's rather elementary school explanation of asteroid deflection to McCoy.
- Kirk giving the drowning boy CPR and then being revered as a god for saving him.
- Spock attempting to destroy the asteroid.
- Scotty bemoaning about Spock's heavy demands on the ship's systems.
- Spock continually ignoring McCoy's advice weeks later.
- Spock deciphering the symbols on the alien monument.
- Spock's mind meld with Kirk.
- The death of Kirk's wife.

My Review
The Paradise Syndrome tackles basically the same "captain burnout" issue as Shore Leave except it attempts to do so dramatically rather than comically. The drama is effective, but the episode overall doesn't work as well as its funnier predecessor for a few key reasons.

The most annoying gaffe in the story is pretty much anything that comes out of McCoy's mouth up until close to the end. In the beginning he fails to understand the most elementary concepts about their asteroid deflection mission and Spock is forced to take considerable time in the middle of a crisis situation to explain these basics to him. Then McCoy has the audacity to complain to Spock about failing to destroy the asteroid, putting the ship at risk, and leaving Kirk on the planet despite the fact that 1. McCoy creating delays only made their problems worse and 2. Spock's decision to immediately attempt deflection of the asteroid was the right move. If McCoy had been paying attention he'd know that. Luckily, McCoy swallows his pride and admits that he was wrong late in the episode, but after all that the apology feels somewhat hollow.

Unfortunately as annoying as McCoy was, he was partially right about one thing: why didn't they keep looking for Kirk? Granted McCoy wanted the whole ship to stay and search for Kirk, but there is a middle ground between McCoy's position on the issue and Spock's: they could have simply left a search team on the planet, then immediately warped out of orbit to deflect the asteroid while the search team searched for Kirk. Perhaps Starfleet regulations prohibit such a course of action, or perhaps there was not sufficient time to properly equip a search team, but someone should have mentioned this.

Another point of vagueness was how Spock cracked the language of the obelisk to begin with. The eureka moment is when Spock claims the language is more music than language, but that doesn't really explain anything at all. Musical notation is a form of written language like any other, so since he couldn't know which symbols corresponded to which musical notes, the problem is analogous to not knowing which letters in an alphabet correspond to which phonetic sounds. Thus, I have a hard time believing Spock could have cracked any of that language based solely on what exposition is in the plot. I suppose some universal translator magic could have done most of the work for him once Spock simply asked the computer to translate it as music rather than language, but that seems like a stretch.

And then there's the almost-but-not-quite Hodgkin's Law moment in the teaser. After all the Earth-like planets we've seen by this point it's vaguely ridiculous for the characters to be spouting lines about how incredibly improbable it is for the planet of the week to have flora so closely mirroring Earth's. I groaned when McCoy saw the natives and referred to them as "American Indians" and Spock replied that they were, without wondering even for a moment how Native Americans could have ended up on some random planet far from Earth. As the episode progresses it does offer us a coherent explanation though: the aliens are actually humans descended from Native Americans. They were brought here by an alien race called "The Preservers" ostensibly to save them from extinction.

As McCoy points out, the historical existence of The Preservers goes a long way towards explaining why there are so many human-like races throughout the galaxy. In that sense, this episode joins Return to Tomorrow in rationalizing that unlikely fact of the Star Trek universe. Perhaps many ancient races have seeded humanoids throughout the galaxy. The Preservers went the extra mile though, furnishing our Native American friends with an asteroid deflector! Handy. I was amused that they integrated the technology into their religious superstitions and I enjoyed how Kirk's foggy recollection of his society's technology made him seem godlike to them.

However, there is something of a dark side to that story point as well, as the episode at times verges on racist stereotyping. For starters, the Native Americans are referred to as American Indians and their entire society is portrayed mostly as noble savages while the plot goes out of its way to make Kirk, the white character, seem superior with numerous scenes depicting how the natives are amazed by such simple things as Kirk's improvised lamp or even the construction of his uniform. Even with amnesia Kirk is regarded as godlike for his superior abilities and when the tribe realizes Kirk is not a god, they react violently and irrationally, even killing one of their own. I don't know if the writers meant it to come across this way, but the sheer number of questionably stereotypical details is hard to miss.

That said, sometimes stereotypes can be amusing and the one I'm most fond of is Kirk's machismo womanizing. This time he even got the girl of the week pregnant! Way to slip one past the goalie, Kirk! Indeed, like the pregnancy, the episode has a lot of highly original details. Kirk's amnesia, the asteroid deflection mission, the sheer amount of time covered by the plot, and even the episode's score (for once) were all refreshingly original. Overall if you can withstand the racial stereotypes and McCoy's borderline incompetence, the episode is a fun and refreshing change of pace.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rpeh on 2010-07-14 at 4:59pm:
    "Beam us up, Mr. Scott", said by Spock is the closest to "Beam me up, Scottie" to which Trek ever comes.
  • From jeffenator98 on 2013-05-17 at 3:49pm:
    God awful. 2/10
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-11 at 6:54am:
    I gave this one a 5/10. There were some interesting elements to the plot, but far too many nuisances.

    As Kethinov points out, McCoy was made out to be an utter moron. This is one of several episodes I've seen where the screenwriter clearly just wanted an excuse to have McCoy argue with Spock, even at the expense of McCoy's intelligence. They took it absurdly far in this one.

    I had EXACTLY the same thought about the musical notation. I don't care how intelligent Spock is - without some sort of baseline "key" or Rosetta Stone, there is absolutely no way that he could have discerned what kind of language he was looking at.

    Also, how exactly did the natives know that their "machine" had stopped working? And their violent stoning of "Kurok" and his woman was a laughably odd change in attitude.

    The general plot was, however, a decent one. Having Kirk become amnesiac and go native was interesting, even if the native culture wasn't exactly very novel. And I do like the span of time that's covered, as it gives the story arc time to settle in and for major changes to occur organically within a single episode.

    At this point, I think that Scotty has become my favorite character, along with Spock.
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-28 at 10:35am:
    Pretty amazing coincidence that the "password" to open the obelisk just happened to be "Kirk to Enterprise". And what possible purpose could there have been for the builders of the obelisk to have included that "amnesia" button that could be triggered by an unwary occupant? Lastly, about the enterprise: an asteroid hurtling through space is not going to be traveling anywhere near the speed of light. The enterprise crew must have screwed up pretty badly to reduce the engines to such a state that it couldn't travel faster than an asteroid for several weeks. And why couldn't Scotty restore the warp drive engines in all that time? He's never failed to do before or since, and there were LOTS of episodes in which the engines were burnt out. For that matter, how DID he repair the warp drive after finally returning to the planet and rescuing Kirk? Oh, and what a coincidence that the enterprise could travel EXACTLY as fast as the asteroid, without gaining or losing ground, over several weeks.
  • From McCoy on 2016-11-13 at 12:28pm:
    Horrible episode. For me it was one of the worst TOS stories ever. And more about McCoy's incompetence - why he didn't save the girl's life? Remember the movie - his pills made new kidney grow! And here he just gave up and did nothing. I woud expect more of future medicine...

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Star Trek TOS - 3x04 - And the Children Shall Lead

Originally Aired: 1968-10-11

Synopsis:
A group of children is being controlled by an evil force. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 1.42

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 217 40 9 7 7 29 5 3 6 4 9

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

Problems
- Right after the scene when Kirk begins to feel he's losing his command abilities, Spock and Kirk get into a turbolift and it starts moving without either of them specifying a destination!
- At one point Kirk reasons to the children that the entity is afraid of being seen. This is after Kirk had already witnessed the entity being perfectly content with being summoned to the bridge in front of the entire crew.

Factoids
- This is the first episode in which we see a United Federation of Planets logo. Though there's no accounting for taste...

Remarkable Scenes
- Scotty going psycho on his mind controlled officers.
- Kirk accidentally beaming two men into space.
- Kirk's entire bridge crew freaking out.
- Kirk speaking gibberish to the redshirt.

My Review
This episode is essentially Miri without the absurd technical problems. That, however, does little to enhance a blatantly bad premise. The slow, plodding plot just makes most of the main characters look stupid, as it takes 39 minutes into the episode before it finally dawns on Kirk and Spock that the children must be having some kind of mind control effect on the crew and thus must be neutralized in order to regain control of the ship.

Ten minutes before that scene, I was already shouting "just phaser the damn kids already!" at the screen, as by that point the crew had more than enough evidence to draw that conclusion themselves, not the least of which was the scene when the children summoned the entity in front of the entire bridge crew, prompting him to rattle off his entire secret plan to all the main characters. That's the moment when I'd have phasered the kids right there.

But we didn't even get that moment, as all it took to neutralize the children was to show them a video of their bizarre behavior from the beginning of the episode so that they'd finally face the fact that their parents are dead, start crying, and deprive the entity of its power over them. McCoy had been clamoring for them all to do something like that since the beginning of the episode, and yet nobody ever bothered to try the video thing until Kirk got desperate. No wonder McCoy was insisting that they take the kids to a starbase for a proper psychological examination. Maybe they've got counselors over there worth a damn.

But thanks to the converging interests of both Kirk and the evil entity, neither of which wanted to go to the starbase for no coherent reason, they never did. Kirk should have authorized going to the starbase to gain access to the child specialists that were there. The entity should have authorized going to the starbase to attempt to fool the specialists and to gain false legitimacy so the children could less conspicuously request transport to a Federation colony. A better story would have shown us these competing tactics, but alas, that would have required more sets, more characters, and more entertainment value. We can't have that.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion on 2011-03-06 at 2:21pm:
    This episode has no entertainment value, expect for a few unintentional laughs. You have child actors who come across as brats. Yeah, I know, they were being controled by an outside force, but man, these kids are annoying. Later on, in a forced scene the kids become sad, which is unintentionally hilarious due to all the fake crying.

    After two crewmembers die, there'e really no sign of remorse. Also, nodody helped Uhura when she "saw her own death." She spent the whole episode staring into the mirror and crying.

    Of course, the most chessy thing about the episode is the mind control via fist pumping.

    On a quick note, the Blu-Ray upgrade didn't change too much. The knives floating through space still look the same, even though the disc seems to indicate otherwise (it prompts you to change toggle between old and new effects, but the knives look the same either way)
  • From Bobby on 2011-08-21 at 2:45pm:
    That bit where Mr. Spock says, "we may have to kill the children" ...

    Nonsense! Just cut their arms off where they can't make that motion with their fists. :) That'll fix it.
  • From Abigail on 2012-05-31 at 7:27pm:
    At the end of this episode, I had reached a few conclusions:
    - Children are obviously much easier to manipulate than I'd ever realized. Now I'm unsure why teachers struggle so much with classroom management. Clearly it takes very little to convince them of something, and then of the exact opposte.
    - Children from the future are always incredibly annoying. A great many Star Trek episodes have shown me that.
    - I need to know where the girl with the blonde pigtails got her jumpsuit. I think it would look remarkably good on me.
  • From Strider on 2012-06-25 at 10:43am:
    Every bit as bad as I'd read it would be. There was one nice moment in the turbolift when Jim was having his "I've lost command" breakdown, and for some reason begins to strangle Spock, and Spock just says, "Jim." Jim gets himself together and breaks the spell. I live for those moments of connection between characters.

    But right before that...what was Spock seeing/experiencing that made him defy Kirk's orders? All he said was "I don't think we need to trouble Starfleet" or something. If Spock's fears came alive on the bridge, I would expect to see either Jim dying or Spock's emotions burst out of control.

    And why does the Communications Officer have a mirror at her console as big as any one of her computer screens? Seems unprofessional at best.

    Anyway, I spent a good 2/3 of the episode thinking "Stun them with your phaser! Use the Vulcan nerve pinch! Sedate them, for God's sake!" I may have yelled it to the screen a time or two, actually.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-09-26 at 10:04am:
    A ‘2’. A bad episode of Star Trek is like a plane crash; a series of unrelated errors cascading into catastrophic failure. No doubt with a longer production schedule and better judgment this episode could have been much better. Perhaps Freiberger was more inclined to step on mines that Roddenberry may have avoided.

    In ‘The Thing’ a group of scientists isolated in the Antarctic stumble across a wrecked camp where, judging from the bodies, things had obviously ended quite badly. Then have to deal with a malevolent alien presence which infects their camp by way of the sole survivor, a dog. Part of the awesomeness to the story is that the dead guys from the first camp leaving a handy video log that is just incomplete enough to perfectly develop the plot.

    And the Children Shall Lead is also that story. But The Thing was magnificent while it sucked. Mistake 1 was the kids; using child actors is always a risk since most of them can’t act. Find one kid that can act, you are lucky. Find four or five? The odds of that must be astronomical, like flipping a deck of playing cards in the air and having them land all stacked in perfect sequence. Mistake 2 was the villian; he looked stupid, he dressed stupid, he had stupid motives, and he died stupidly. (Actually, with the poofy hair and cheezy plastic see-through poncho he comes across like he was always being summoned from the ghost beauty salon) He wants to conquer the galaxy? So now it’s cross-dressing ghost Hitler? Um, ok. Mistake 3 was the baffoonish interplay between the kids and the crew of the ship. I don’t care if Sulu is afraid of swords and I don’t care that he’s too stupid to figure out it must be an illusion. Next stop, catastrophic failure.

    If Star Trek ever got an ‘episode mulligan’, this might be the one. Ditch the kids but keep the premise. I think it’s Kirk who said, ‘We may have to kill the children’. Now there’s an interesting idea. Back in the 1960’s there was an awesome short story called ‘The Counterfeit Man’. In it, the ship’s doctor decided he had to murder a crew member he suspected was an alien. He had no evidence and nobody else believed him, but ‘spaced’ him anyway, (blew him out an airlock in a great sequence where the alien, still looking like a dude, pleaded with him not to). What an awesome premise – what if Kirk or McCoy concluded they had to kill a survivor who looked human based on the hunch that they were actually an alien?
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-10-18 at 9:55pm:
    "And the Children Shall Lead"

    How did Kirk know Gorgan's name? It's not mentioned at all before Kirk asked Spock to play back the tape.

    Kethinov: You ask for more sets, more characters, more entertainment value. You forgot "more money". According to what those involved said, they had a very low budget for the third season. They spoke of doing "ship shows", shooting most of an episode on the ship to save money. Speaking of money, it seems like they spent a lot more money on the pilots than on any of the regular episodes! Maybe it's because you only do a pilot once -- okay, in this case, twice!

    AEF
  • From Colin Pearce on 2013-03-20 at 12:04pm:
    Although I agree that this episode is far from the best (in fact, it’s in my 3 worst episodes list), a common criticism / misconception is that Uhura has a mirror on her console.

    He reflection, both young and old, is intended to be displayed on her console screen, not a mirror. The mirror was obviously used by the production crew to save time and money rather than superimposing her young image onto her console screen, as her older image actually was. When Kirk goes to comfort her, there is clearly no mirror on her console, only readouts. Only she can see the image, just like only Sulu can see the swords on the viewscreen.

    The use of the mirror was sloppily done, but the intention of the production crew was that she was looking at her console. The remastering team should definitely have fixed this flaw, but once again they miss another instance requiring an easy fix.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-04-02 at 10:15pm:
    More on "And the Children Shall Lead"

    Re the "mirror": Yes, the first shot clearly shows a real mirror. But it's a very short shot -- only a second or two. Plus I think it's safe to say it was assumed that people were watching it on not very large, standard def televisions from at least several feet away. So they probably thought they could get away with such a short shot. And they probably did. Watching it in my youth, I didn't notice anything funny. I think I was fixated on the image and the story and so didn't notice the mirror vs. display aspect of it. It just seemed like a mirror to me with her mirror image aged by "the beast within her".

    Interestingly, in that shot, we see Uhura centered, which means she probably couldn't see herself! (Notice also that the mirror doesn't quite line up with the console display behind it.)

    I think there's another reason they used an actual mirror for the first shot. Notice that it's used only for _young_ Uhura. By using an actual mirror it is quickly established that she's seeing a reflection of herself. It also produces an extremely accurate (!) reflection (except for the angle bit). Then the second shot shows old Uhura on the console display, and we have already assumed there's a mirror, or something functioning as a mirror, there somehow. I'm guessing this is to make up in part for the motions of real and imagined Uhura not matching up quite right. And perhaps also to make it clear she's looking at herself, as old Uhura looks so different!

    Keep in mind that they had a very small budget for the third season, or so they've claimed.

    This episode still has its fun moments.

    So what's with the food cards? How is it that with only a handful of 3-inch wooden squares you can have almost any variety of food you want? This has always struck me as rather odd, to say the least. In this episode, the last kid asks for chocolate marble and pistachio. Nurse Chapel picks a card and is about to put it in the slot when the kid interjects, "And peach". Well, she has a card for that, too -- but out of only two cards, no less!

    This happens in other episodes. For example, there's the scene in "Tomorrow is Yesterday" where Kyle asks the sergeant what he'd like to eat. The sergeant says "chicken soup". Then Kyle, who is holding only four wooden cards, just happens to have one for chicken soup. Am I missing something here?

    AEF, aka betaneptune

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Star Trek TOS - 3x05 - Is There In Truth No Beauty?

Originally Aired: 1968-10-18

Synopsis:
The sight of a Medusan ambassador causes insanity. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 3

Fan Rating Average - 4.74

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 53 7 6 17 13 20 13 11 12 42 13

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

Problems
- When they cross the barrier at the edge of the galaxy, Spock says: "When we exceeded warp speed factor 9.5, we apparently entered a space-time continuum." As if they weren't in one to begin with? What a poorly written line.
- At the end when Miranda and the Medusan ambassador beam off the ship, Spock puts on his protective visor, but Kirk does not.

Factoids
- This episode contains the first display of the Vulcan symbol of IDIC and the mention of its philosophy.
- Diana Muldaur, who plays Miranda Jones in this episode, has previously appeared as Ann Mulhall in Return to Tomorrow.

Remarkable Scenes
- Scotty realizing he's in the same room with the attempted murderer.
- McCoy: "He's dead, Jim." Count 7.
- The revelation that Miranda is blind.
- Spock becoming the alien ambassador.

My Review
An episode with a lot of intriguing ideas but so poorly executed that they fall flat for the most part. The delightful actress Diana Muldaur having already played Ann Mulhall in Return to Tomorrow returns to Star Trek for a second time to play the blind telepath Miranda Jones in this episode. This time around she is given a much stronger character to play, but unfortunately while Miranda was well conceived and stunningly original, her central motivation of jealousy wasted much of her terrific potential.

Adding to the list of disappointments was the entire concept of an alien that is quite literally too ugly to be observed. While I'm glad the writers attempted to do a truly alien alien, their goal for this plot point of trying to make a commentary about human vanity didn't quite play, as in order for the concept of insanity induced by the mere sight of something to make any kind of sense at all, we have to assume the harmful exposure somehow induces some kind of neurological damage rather than the insanity being caused simply by some component of human shallowness as the episode repeatedly tries to imply.

In that regard, introducing a character like Larry, a man who participated in the design of the Enterprise, was a wasted opportunity. Aside from some quick lines of admiration from Scotty, Larry turns out to be little more than a throw away character to make the Medusan ambassador and Miranda seem dangerous. He spends much of the episode acting clingy toward Miranda in ways that stretch the character's authenticity to the breaking point.

I can certainly see why Miranda wouldn't want to return the affections of a man acting like that, but she acted nearly as irrational throughout much of the episode too, which came as a surprising disappointment for a human character so well versed in Vulcan mental discipline. Especially disappointing was the scene when she misinterpreted Spock's display of the Vulcan IDIC as some kind of personal attack. From that moment forward, her character started to go downhill.

The climax of absurdity for Miranda's character is the moment when Kirk resigns himself to distracting Miranda in the garden while Spock attempts to merge with the Medusan ambassador. The whole scene is premised on the idea that everyone expects Miranda to be too overpowered by her jealousy to allow Spock and the Medusan ambassador to save the lives of everyone on the ship. Once again, like the children from the previous episode, I'm wondering why they didn't just phaser or sedate Miranda if they were so afraid of her presence being that disruptive in a crisis situation.

While I enjoyed that Miranda's layers of complexity were revealed slowly over the course of the plot, the cleverly late revelation of her blindness in particular, her character flaws ended up being flaws in the story rather than the successful establishment of a tragic character. By the end, I felt that the rose metaphor applied more to the episode itself than to the character of Miranda as the writers intended. It's the episode itself that had the beauty and potential for profundity but was marred by the thorns of poor plotting.

Aside from the mixed impact of Miranda, another notable detail was the unusual cinematography of the episode. The Spock POV fight scene was especially interesting to watch and there were a few other similarly oddly shot scenes throughout the episode too. But unfortunately not all of them worked. Much of it felt as though the trippy cinematography was an attempt to distract the audience from a story that verged on incoherence at times.

Last but not least, I'm left to wonder what is it with telepathy episodes and the ludicrous fictional barrier at the edge of the galaxy? This annoying barrier first featured in Where No Man Has Gone Before makes an unwelcome recurrence in this episode, complete with new annoying details to further assault the realism of the story, such as the fact that only a few minutes moving past warp 9 was sufficient to take the Enterprise past the barrier. They must have coincidentally already been pretty close to the edge of the galaxy already for that to happen.

When they cross the barrier, Spock utters perhaps the most ridiculous line ever written for him, when he says, "When we exceeded warp speed factor 9.5, we apparently entered a space-time continuum." Seriously? Something tells me the writers didn't know what a space-time continuum is and were hoping the audience would share their ignorance about one of the most basic concepts in theoretical physics.

Anyway, while this episode definitely has some fun concepts, it could have used a lot more polish before it ever got in front of cameras. A shame.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Mike on 2008-08-13 at 1:24pm:
    Re-watch the film, and pay attention to the extraordinary music and crazy direction. While there are clearly stupid/silly sides to this episode, the filmmakers of ST are still taking things VERY seriously. You can't see filmmaking this crazy outside of avant-garde filmmaking in the 1960s; not even Twilight Zone.
  • From Orion on 2011-03-16 at 1:26am:
    The story could have used a few rewrites. It just jumps from situation to situation and ends up being a typical "get the ship out of danger" episode when it could have been something a whole lot deeper.
  • From Deggsy on 2012-02-28 at 8:25am:
    Was it established that this was the Great Barrier we've seen in previous episodes? I assumed that it was just a re-used shot, and that the Enterprise has slipped into a pocket of subspace similar to the Chaotic Space in the Voyager episode "The Fight", and so needed assistance to navigate out of.
    The one factor of this episode I cringed at the most was how everyone (okay, the men) fawned over the character, declaring her to be so beautiful. It's what the Jabootu website calls an Informed Attribute, where the characters tell us about it rather than show it. Diana Muldaur is a handsome woman, but you'd think these men didn't see women all the time onboard...
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2012-02-28 at 8:28pm:
    Well Deggsy, I can see you haven't made your way to "Mudd's Women" yet. In that episode the men didn't fawn, they actually drooled. And, yes, it is the same barrier – and of course, in both episodes it is quite idiotic. If it actually did exist, how could one ever see anything outside of the Milky Way? Let’s just chalk it up to less than perfect writing. But, then again, who would have ever thought at the time there would be fifteen thousand PhD theses picking the series apart, or that folks wold be doing exactly what you and I are doing right now.

    Keep on Trek’en,
    Old Fat Trekkie
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-04-05 at 11:56pm:
    "Is There in Truth No Beauty?"

    Problem: If the Medusan is too ugly to look at, why are we, the audience, given any glimpse of it at all? If it doesn't make us go mad, why should it be able to make any of the characters do so?

    AEF, aka betaneptune
  • From Stefan on 2013-04-10 at 6:35am:
    Apparently this episode was subject to "executive meddling" after shooting was done, according to the director. http://senensky.com/is-there-in-truth-no-beauty/
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-26 at 4:51pm:
    This episode establishes that people still play tennis in the future.

    It also shows the rare (if no completely unprecedented) instance of Kirk being completely unsuccessful in his efforts to seduce a woman. She gave him absolutely no encouragement but he still tried to kiss her.
  • From Farfle on 2016-09-02 at 12:42am:
    There were some funny moments. The first, while perhaps not intentional, I couldn't help but chuckle:

    1. Right after Kirk was trying to seduce her in the garden, and she was having none of it, they then find out she was blind, and immediately Kirk says "Well that makes perfect sense!"

    2. On the bridge right after the Ambassador inhabits Spock's body, Spock starts talking all weirdly and Bones turns to Kirk and says "That's not Spock", Spock then makes a deriding reply to him, in which Bones turns to Kirk again and says "That's Spock!" with a smile on his face.

    As I'm watching the whole series through, when I get to episodes like this that are original, I'm finding myself enjoying them more and more even if they do have their problems. Give me ones like this any day (as well as Spock's Brain) vs the same crappy reused stories and ideas Gene Roddenberry bludgeoned us with back in Seasons 1 and 2.

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Star Trek TOS - 3x06 - Spectre of the Gun

Originally Aired: 1968-10-25

Synopsis:
As punishment for trespassing, Kirk and crew are forced to re-enact the shootout at the OK Corral. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 4.51

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 49 33 3 5 25 11 17 31 22 23 14

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
- When Chekov is with Sylvia and she proposes marriage, there are several shots that cut between a left angle and a right angle of the two sitting on the bench. Whenever it's from the left angle, her arm is around his. Whenever it's from the right angle, her arm isn't around his. It goes back and forth like this a few times.

Factoids
- DeForest Kelley, who plays Dr. McCoy, has a history of portraying the Wild West characters from this historical event, as he has also played Ike Clanton in a 1955 episode of You Are There as well as Morgan Earp in the 1957 film Gunfight at the OK Corral.

Remarkable Scenes
- The probe warning the Enterprise to leave in the native languages of every crewmember.
- Chekov diving into his role.
- Kirk trying to tell the bartender who he really is.
- Kirk trying to tell his enemies who he really is.
- Kirk and his crew trying to leave the city.
- McCoy meeting Doc Holliday.
- Chekov's "death."
- Spock mentally preparing Kirk, McCoy, and Scotty for the battle.
- The crew standing there while the bullets do nothing.
- Kirk regarding Chekov: "Perhaps that explains why he's here. Nothing was real to him except the girl!"

My Review
The Enterprise encounters a xenophobic race, brazenly ignores their warnings to go away, and faces the consequences they rightly deserved. Kirk's decision to arrogantly ignore the aliens' wish to be left alone was bad enough, but setting foot on their frigging planet on top of that was downright unforgivable. Though without Kirk's brazen act of trespassing, this wouldn't have been much of an episode, now would it?

That said, this episode is the first to explore the power of illusions in a sufficiently novel way since The Cage and does so just as masterfully, if not better. Unlike The Cage, the landing party is well aware that they're inside an illusion right from the beginning, so the focus is instead on figuring out how deep the illusion goes. The delightfully incomplete nature of the sets reflect this conundrum in a strikingly visual way, as the illusionary town of Tombstone is comprised of fragments of buildings missing most walls, exposed to an eerily alien red sky. I suppose it's pretty obvious that this stylization was a budget saving move, but I'd say it's a well earned one, as it added a surrealist quality to the drama which enhanced the discomfort and out of place feeling that the characters struggled with.

The most striking detail of the story is Spock training the landing party to disbelieve the illusion, thus robbing it of its power. This nice piece of writing manages to be both the episode's most dramatic story point when it climaxes in the gunfight scene as well as the episode's funniest story point when we discover at the end that Chekov hadn't in fact died because he never took the whole situation seriously to begin with. The constant sense of dread the rest of the landing party experiences as the episode builds to its climax was overall well played; I enjoyed seeing them try so many different things to avert their fate with each attempt failing in rapid succession as the clock ticked closer and closer to five o'clock.

Unfortunately for the plot, however, the gunfight at the real OK Corral didn't actually occur at five o'clock. It took place near the hour of three o'clock instead. There were other historical inaccuracies as well. For instance, the gunfight is depicted as taking place just outside the OK Corral, but in reality it took place some good distance away near Fly's Photographic Studio. Also a sign visible in this episode at one point noted Wyatt Earp as the marshal of Tombstone. However it was actually his older brother Virgil instead in reality. Wyatt was only a deputy marshal. Finally Kirk during one part of the episode made a big point about how Billy Claiborne (the character Chekov played) was the only one of their crew to survive the gunfight, but apparently Kirk had forgotten that his own character, Ike Clanton, also survived.

I suppose all of those historical inaccuracies could be chalked up quite easily to the aliens having created the scenario from Kirk's inaccurate recollection of history, but unfortunately nobody else seemed aware of all of these errors either, even despite Spock's apparent expert knowledge of the period. Not all of the errors in the plot logic are confined to historical inaccuracies though. Another notably odd detail was the whole subplot when the landing party refused to trust their illusionary guns so they resorted to trusting the other illusionary resources at their disposal instead, which is a striking error in reasoning because if you can't trust the illusionary guns, why would you think you could trust anything else in that illusionary world?

I was also a bit put off by the scenes when the landing party all mourned Chekov's death. There's a ticking time bomb about to go off in their faces and they're all more interested in talking about their feelings for an extended period of time? How silly. Spock had every reason to be annoyed with them all. A final odd detail of the plot was that curious scene when the alien message is noted as having been broadcasted in the native languages of everyone on the ship. It's implied that the alien telepathy enabled that. However, what I find curious is the fact that the crew could tell the difference between an alien speaking in an alien language with the universal translator translating it as opposed an alien speaking the native language of various crew members. This implies that however the UT works, it isn't entirely seamless. Whenever it's translating an alien language on the fly for you, you can tell when it's working its magic and when it's not.

As for the ending, I felt that it was weaker than The Cage's. In The Cage, the aliens learn something. In this episode, the aliens are just engaging in some bizarre test of the Enterprise's resolve and the plot grants little insight into their motives. By the end of the story a magic switch is flipped and they suddenly go from being xenophobic to welcoming a Federation delegation simply because the landing party saw through the illusionary danger they created. But even though the aliens of this episode were less well conceived than those of The Cage, this episode managed to be a bit more entertaining simply due to all the fun aesthetics and psychological tricks noted above. As such, I would declare this episode the superior story of the two, by a hair.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion on 2011-03-31 at 10:06pm:
    I'm always tempted to skip this one because I can't stand westerns, but this episode goes beyond the standard "put crew in earthlike situation." It stays focused on one thing, the upcoming moment of dread for Kirk and the landing crew. They try so many things to avert their fate, but all of them fail, say one. Kind've gripping for a third season TOS episode.
  • From Blob on 2012-03-25 at 8:02am:
    I thought the aliens were suddenly friendly at the end because Kirk refrained from killing his adversaries at OK Carrol. This showed them that human beings are decent.
    I liked the alien's design btw. It was eerie and effective.
  • From Andrew Wiltz on 2012-04-06 at 6:27am:
    Another problem with this episode:

    In the 1880s reality they were forced into, the cause and effect ties directly into the belief of the victim (Checkov dying because he "believed" the bullet was real, and the rest of them not dying because they "believed" the bullets were unreal)

    However, when Scotty tests the tranquilizer on himself, he believed it would work - but it did not. Is this not a contradiction?
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-04-04 at 9:59pm:
    "Spectre of the Gun"

    Spock says, "History cannot be changed." Say what? As ridiculous as it sounds, history _was_ changed in all their time travel episodes (albeit "restored" in the end). And there weren't buildings with missing walls and our heroes "playing" the Clantons in Star Trek uniforms in Tombstone AZ, and so on. Strikes me as somehow different.

    I think it's awesome when Kirk fails miserably to convince various townsfolk that they are not the Clantons.

    Chekov "died" because he believed the bullet was real? Please, that's just plain ridiculous.

    Kirk says he can't just kill or murder the Earps and Doc Holliday, but in other episodes he killed "humanoids" in self-defense, which is what this would have been.

    At the end of the episode when the Earps and Doc Holliday are walking toward our heroes in the corral, they keep appearing in a different order; it changes with every shot!

    Notice that the bullet holes behind our heroes aren't really in line with them and the Earps. Well, that's how it looks to me.

    AEF, aka betaneptune
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-11 at 2:27pm:
    Eh. I gave it a 5/10.

    This episode, though not having any massive problems, is rife with little ones. Like Kethinov points out, the crew's belligerence about forcing themselves on the aliens is out of character and rather contrary to the spirit of Star Trek. "No" means "no", boys.

    The idea of using a Western setting seems little hokey and odd (further justifying my semi-serious theory that many Star Trek episodes' plots were dictated by whatever set pieces were laying around the film studios that day. "Hey! There's a bunch of cowboy stuff left over from yesterday's episode of 'Bonanza'! Let's use that!!").

    The exploration of reality is interesting enough, but they seemed to drag out the resolution to a length that defies some logic. The crew, Spock included, very quickly recognized the aliens as "pure telepaths." As such, it seems that at least Spock would have figured out that the things they were seeing and experiencing were illusory. It probably shouldn't have taken Chekhov's "death" and the failure of the gas grenades for him to figure it out.

    The recognition of McCoy that humans will always have doubts about reality was a very intelligent touch, and having Spock use the mind meld to assist them was intriguing.

    Decent episode, but not one of the better ones I've seen.

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Star Trek TOS - 3x07 - Day of the Dove

Originally Aired: 1968-11-1

Synopsis:
A malevolent entity pits Klingons against the Enterprise crew. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 3.69

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 153 4 4 5 32 6 15 26 41 27 20

Filler Quotient: 1, partial filler, but has important continuity. I recommend against skipping this one.
- Kang's character will recur in DS9: Blood Oath and Voy: Flashback. However, it isn't absolutely essential to watch this episode first in order to fully get his character in those later appearances.

Problems
None

Factoids
- This is the first episode to feature a Klingon woman.
- This episode establishes that beaming from one point in a ship to another point in a ship is extremely dangerous.

Remarkable Scenes
- Chekov's outburst against Kang for having killed his brother.
- Scotty freezing the Klingons in the transporter buffer.
- McCoy and Chekov expressing unrestrained bias and hatred toward the Klingons.
- The Enterprise destroying the Klingon ship.
- The sword fight between the Klingons and the Enterprise crewmen.
- Sulu claiming Chekov is an only child and that his "brother" was fictional.
- Kirk: "What about the armory?" Scotty: "I'm in there now, sir. And you've never seen such a fine collection of antiques in your life!" The camera pans out and a massive sword collection is displayed.
- McCoy freaking out about Kirk and Spock planning a truce.
- Kirk and Spock discovering the alien entity.
- Scotty, Spock and Kirk freaking out too.
- Kirk trying to convince Kang's wife to team up against the entity.
- Kirk, goading Kang to stab him: "In the heart, in the head, I won't stay dead!"
- Kirk and Kang calling a truce, thus robbing the entity of its power over them.

My Review
A great idea for an episode with only a few flaws. The central success of the story is pitting the Klingons and the Federation against a common enemy. A similar theme is hinted at in Errand of Mercy when Kor briefly proposes to Kirk that they work together to defeat the Organians, but this episode takes that idea and crafts an entire story out of it; quite a good one at that.

Aside from simple pleasures like watching Kirk outmaneuver the Klingons using the transporter buffer and taking in the ridiculousness of sword fights on a starship (Sulu always seems to find a sword to go rampaging with, doesn't he?), the story has some measures of intelligence and depth as well. I was particularly fond of the hints of propaganda influencing bias of both sides against the other and I was fond of the characterization of Kang's wife in that she would not trust Kirk until he proved by not executing her that not everything she believes about the Federation is true. Likewise, the moment Kirk and Spock both briefly questioned whether their own judgement could be trusted due to the entity's mind-altering nature was a nice touch.

The biggest flaw in the story, not unlike so many other Star Trek episodes, is that it takes them all so long to figure out that the entity is responsible for their conflict. The climax of absurdity here is the moment when swords start appearing in the rec room and nobody questions it at all. Everyone just picks up a sword and starts fighting. Even after the Klingons have a moment to reflect on that event, they don't bother to question their good fortune. They just keep plotting against the Enterprise crew seemingly oblivious to the fact that something was terribly wrong.

But it wasn't just the Klingons who were slow on the uptake there. Not long after that scene, Kirk starts rattling off a hypothesis about how the Klingons could have transformed ordinary objects into weapons. Spock quickly brings some sanity back to the discussion by pointing out that it's ridiculous to assume that the Klingons could have done that. One of my favorite lines was when Spock said "if they had such power, would they not have used it to create more effective weapons and only for themselves?" Thanks Spock for stating the obvious. Apparently Kirk needed to be slapped around with elementary logic today.

There are a few other smaller groan-worthy details in the story too. Scenes when characters talk to the computer are almost always annoying and Spock's conversation with the computer analyzing the entity in its shrill, monotone voice and drawing obvious conclusions was no exception. Kirk also had a few choice awkward lines in this episode too, such as telling Kang to "go to the devil" and declaring (sarcastically?) that it's "stardate armageddon" at one point.

Though this sort of awkwardness is not uncommon for Star Trek by this point and it's easily forgiven. With more polish, better plotting, a faster pace, and perhaps a more compelling common enemy for the Federation and the Klingons to engage, this episode easily could have earned a perfect score. Certainly one of the better installments of the series thus far.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion on 2011-05-08 at 12:51am:
    Silly and over-the-top, but we like that in an old episode of Trek. You also get a possible moral lesson; the episode may be alluding to the Vietnam war, as well as racial tensions of the time. We even see Spock almost go into a racial rage. These kind of moral components in Trek can sometimes be too obvious, but this episode keeps the issues just under the surface.

    Regarding the high def release:
    The outside-the-ship shots near the beginning of the episode have been improved quite a bit.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-09-03 at 2:04am:
    This is a fun episode.

    Michael Ansara is great as Kang, no?

    Walter Koenig does some great screaming, no?

    The scene where the alien entity changes the ship's course to exit the galaxy (starting at 12:12) is great! It starts with Uhura getting all worked up over her trouble making outside contact while telling Kirk about it. Then the boom and the ship starts shaking. I love how Shatner plays this. Look at the fear in his face as he backs away from Sulu. At one point you can even see him swallow. Very well done!

    I think the alien special effect was also well done. When it goes down the corridor and goes down into the hole, it looks like it's really at that distance (well, pretty damn close, at worst). It looks pretty good the rest of the time, too.

    Right about 21:24, Sulu gives a quick karate chop to a shoulder of one of the Klingons. This knocks him unconscious. Is it really this easy to bring a man down? (Hey, who needs the Vulcan neck pinch when a simple karate chop will do?) This type of thing happens a lot in Star Trek TOS.

    At about 35:23, the alien entity shows itself to Kirk, Spock, and Mara. Why? How can an all-powerful entity make a simple blunder like this? Overconfidence, I guess. And what does it take to convince Mara that the alien entity, which is in plain sight, is responsible for all the violence? On top of this, Lt. Johnson enters the scene all agitated by the alien entity, all charged up, ready to kill all the Klingons -- "It's them or us, isn't it?" -- thereby providing a clear example of what's going on. Then Kirk and Spock figure out the whole schmear, explain it clearly with Mara right there, with all of them staring at the entity, and _still_ she doesn't believe.

    I love seeing everyone getting so worked up seeking vengeance (losing it, so to speak). Everything is normal and then an individual suddenly gets angry, agitated, and vengeful (or enters the scene this way). It's always a trip when our heroes get out of character, like Spock on spores in "This Side of Paradise", or Chekov in "The Way to Eden".

    Intra-ship beaming: "Pinpoint accuracy is required. If the transportee should materialize inside a solid object . . ." says Spock. Well, there never seems to be a problem with materializing with one's feet in the ground, or one hanging in the air, or one's head in the ceiling, or upside-down, etc. Whatever. Just add it to all the other absurdities I mentioned in my comments on another episode (The World is Hollow . . . , I believe).

    The actress playing Mara does some great acting when Chekov is upon her.

    Did you catch Mara tossing a sword to Kirk? What a great toss and a great catch! Doesn't seem to me to be such an easy thing to do. That's probably why it was done in separate shots.

    I like it when Bones, Spock, and a few red-shirts just walk down the corridor (la-dee-dah) and suddenly start sword fighting with a few of the Klingons. Great scene.

    The alien's ability to rapidly heal the wounded -- even those with fatal wounds -- is a bit much. But we couldn't have a story, otherwise.

    At the end: Boy, what does it take to convince Kang that there's an alien entity keeping them fighting? It's in plain sight and still he pauses. Kirk clearly explains what's going on and he's still not convinced. I think either Kang thinks it's "one of Kirk's tricks" (perhaps a holographic projection) or his heart is hardened -- no, sorry -- his mind is affected by the entity.

    It seems to me that there are a few times when the alien is the wrong color.

    OK, here's my big question for this episode: The Federates (is there a better term? "Members of the Federation"? "The humans and Spock"?) and the Klingons make peace. The alien entity departs. Then what? Kirk just gives them a ride to the nearest Klingon outpost or planet? What do these sworn enemies do along the way? Have dinner together, play cards and 3D chess, engage in some light chit chat, dance and party with each other?

    Imagine being Kang and having to explain this to your superior: "Yeah, an entity made of blurry spinning-pinwheel lights killed 400 of my crew, made us and the Federates all angry, agitated, and vengeful over nothing, turned phasers and other items into swords, sent us racing out of the galaxy at warp 9, . . . ." Yep.

    Kirk's speech to the entity is a little too preachy and, well, silly. There has to be a better way to end it.

    Side note: The Klingon ships just don't look scary to me. The head of the ship looks like it's wearing a hat. The Romulan ships look much more menacing.

    Bonus point: Was the name "Klingon" derived from "cling on"?

    AEF
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-11 at 10:23pm:
    I have several problems with this one, though there was enough to keep me engaged throughout the tale.

    Firstly, if the agitating force was composed of pure energy, why did is linger around where the humans or Klingons could see it an surmise its essence? Pretty stupid that, for an otherwise exceptionally powerful entity.

    On top of that, the writers played it pretty fast and loose with exactly what this creature could do. It can transform physical objects into whatever will stimulate hatred, but it can't do so when the combatants start to figure things out and act against it? It doesn't really hold up under much scrutiny.

    The ending was horrendously awkward. Watching the Enterprise crew and the Klingons forcing themselves to laugh at the antagonist, leading right into the credits was just plain weird and abrupt.

    And my god, the amount of bronzer used on the caucasian actors playing the Klingons? Yikes.

    And still, there were a few decent things about this episode. As a study of the culture of violence, it does show some thoughtful consideration of the futility of hatred of such a stance. The Klingons exemplify one of the more destructive aspects of the human experience, and this episode does a nice job of using that idea effectively. Unfortunately, this is one of the few positives about this episode.

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Star Trek TOS - 3x08 - For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky

Originally Aired: 1968-11-8

Synopsis:
An inhabited asteroid is on a collision course with a Federation planet. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 3

Fan Rating Average - 4.55

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 16 7 9 30 15 23 13 21 11 9 3

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

Problems
- Several characters during this episode make reference to the "solar system" the alien ship is on course to collide with. 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
- Jon Lormer, who played the old man in this episode, also played Theodore Haskins in The Cage (and The Menagerie) and Tamar in Return of the Archons.
- This episode has the longest title out of any Star Trek episode.

Remarkable Scenes
- The Enterprise destroying the missiles.
- McCoy revealing that he has a terminal illness.
- Kirk pleading with Natira, explaining to her what her world is.

My Review
A society of people living on a ship disguised as an asteroid from the outside and disguised as a planet from the inside so the people within won't know that it's a ship. A complex and intriguing premise that unfortunately suffers mightily due to the fact that the plot at no point ever answers this simple question from Natira: "Why should the truth be kept from us? Why should the creators keep us in darkness?" Kirk dodged the question and although he was quite busy at the time trying to save her life, I honestly don't think even the writers knew the answer. For some reason it was all set up for the ship's population to be oblivious and that's just the way was. Don't ask why. Knowing why might make the story more interesting, and we can't have that!

While we're at it, let's not ask why we have yet another alien race that looks exactly like humans, why a civilization that clearly was highly advanced 10,000 years ago would voluntarily reduce itself to this, or why the writers decided to afflict McCoy with both a terminal illness and a marriage only to erase both by the end of the story. Oh wait, I already know the reason for that last one. On Star Trek, the writers have an aversion to main characters growing, changing, living, and dying. This show could learn a thing or two from a soap opera.

Granted, I wasn't the biggest fan of McCoy's romantic scenes with Natira anyway. They were verbose and, frankly, pretty damn boring. But McCoy grappling with a terminal illness and looking to make a change in his life so he can maximize the enjoyment of his final days was a compelling piece of drama. Had it not been manufactured drama with a manufactured cure, it would have been far more compelling. But even with that, there was at least one terrific scene enabled by the manufactured drama. When Kirk, Spock, and McCoy were struck down by the shock and McCoy was the last to wake up, I greatly enjoyed McCoy trying to play off his weakness only to be rendered speechless when Kirk informed him that "Spock knows." Wonderful character moment.

But outside of its intriguing premise and some decent, albeit forced character drama, this episode has little to offer. It's not the worst episode of Star Trek, but it's far from the best.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2011-07-12 at 9:52pm:
    Not bad at all. I think I'd give it a 7.

    Things I liked:
    -The idea of a controllable asteroid
    -McCoy having a new perspective on life
    -Spock and Kirk breaking into a sacred temple without much concern (it was funny somehow)
    -The old man who had the guts to climb the mountain
    -Kirk and Spock discussing the prime directive before interfering. At least they considered the ramifications
    -The science in the episode didn't have too many problems

    Things I didn't like:
    -Putting control devices on people in Trek is way overdone
    -Curing a disease within the last minute, that's overdone too
    -How Spock was able to predict the asteroid's collision just by being read the coordinates. I know he's smart, but c'mon, at least use the computer to double check.
    -I tend to dose off when I watch this episode. The scenes between Mccoy and the woman are very calm (I wouldn't say boring) and the music is very soft

    Other thoughts I had:
    -I sure hope Spock shared the "cure" to Mccoy's disease with Starfleet, since I imagine the same disease is killing millions of people each year. Actually, he needs to have a conference call with every doctor in the quadrant at once. "I have the cure!"
    -The updated Blu-Ray edition has some nice shots of the missiles (at the beginning) and of the asteroid. I think some of the special effects within the "chamber" were also cleaned up
    -Does every species in the galaxy have the same code of conduct when it comes to hospitality? Just about everyone Kirk and Spock meet offers food and drink at some point. I do realize it's an easy way to set up a dialogue scene and to introduce the characters.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-02-11 at 9:55am:
    Only one barrage of missiles? And a small one, at that. Pretty lame defense. And it simply draws attention to the source. As far as I can tell, the Enterprise was minding its own business, so why attract "trouble"?

    I cringed every time Natira said "the people."

    At the end when Kirk and Spock find Natira on the floor in the Oracle Room and then proceed to get the book, why doesn't the Oracle just zap them again? Instead you get a short duration of medium-strength wind (inside a closed room!) and heating elements turned up full blast. Aside from that, Mr. Oracle suddnely becomes quiet and impotent for no apparent reason. And after Spock turns off the toaster coils, wouldn't it take a while for the room to cool down?

    Perhaps this story is to show what happens, or what it's like, when all you have is dogma, when you're not allowed to ask questions, and so forth. There'd be endless ignorance and no science. Galileo vs. The Church comes to mind.

    Why the dogma? Perhaps to maintain control and keep order.

    Note when Natira says, "Is truth not truth for all?" Interesting that the Oracle comes up with the idea of multiple truths: "their truth" and Yonada's truth, instead of just saying that our heroes are wrong. (Perhaps Mr. Oracle is just being polite!)

    McCoy: "Press the three lower planets on the left-hand side." Obviously this is Yonada's version of Ctrl+Alt+Del.

    As far as main characters dying for credibility's sake, I'd rather see them again next week (JMHO). Although I did like the idea of McCoy changing his life, we need him back next week. The show would suffer immensely without him.

    Furtermore, credibility in Star Trek is already stretched way beyond reason: gravity everywhere, all the time, in heavily damaged ships, in ships playing dead, on asteroids, inside asteroids, people falling over when the ship "tilts"; ignorance of the existence of inertia (Newton's First Law), as in the crew not being splattered against the wall during the incredible accelerations of the ship (I imagine that the artificial-gravity machine somehow takes care of that, even though it has trouble with "tilting" during an attack), and needing engine power just to keep going at a steady speed (there's no friction in space!), "drifting," "stopping" (okay, stopped relative to the galaxy); faster-than-light travel; multiple earths; an "energy barrier" at the edge of the galaxy that one somehow can't just go above or below; psychic power, "mind transfer," entities made of "pure energy"; etc. So what's adding on just one more? As much as I cringe at all the bad science, I love the show. Even the bad episodes have their moments. And never forget the fun aspect of the show.
  • From Strider on 2012-06-27 at 11:24am:
    Just a quick correction to Mr. Feldman--your example of Galileo "vs" the Church is a commonly misunderstood one and doesn't really apply to this situation. I don't want to argue about it on here, but you can read more here: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-galileo-controversy.

    I like this episode. I'm always pleased with the ones that have relationships, rather than action, at their core, and this one had some good moments.

    --Chapel arguing with McCoy at the beginning. --McCoy telling Kirk about his illness.
    --Kirk unsure how to treat McCoy once he found out about the illness.
    --Spock asking, "May I ask precisely what is troubling the doctor?"
    --Kirk telling Spock about the illness. Spock's grave "Yes, I know of it, Captain," with the raised eyebrow.
    --Jim's eyes downcast as he says seriously, "Then you know that nothing can be done."
    --Spock resting a hand on McCoy's shoulder as he came out of unconsciousness. McCoy's look, not at Spock, but at Jim, and Jim admitting, "Spock knows."
    --Love the little old guy. When McCoy says about the "energy powder," "Tastes like an ancient herb derivative," I thought that the powder would contain the cure--which of course was coming.
    --McCoy asking, "Is that too much to ask?"... that he live out his last year with some happiness. And really, is it?

    There were definitely problems, as there always are. My biggest one is that McCoy and Natira are married, but they just decide to go their separate ways at the end. It's nice, though, that Kirk arranges for them to have some time together. But a wife, for heaven's sake, isn't the same thing as one of Kirk's alien girls. Do we ever hear about her again?

  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-09-04 at 8:58pm:
    Strider wrote on 2012-06-27 at 8:24am:
    "Just a quick correction to Mr. Feldman--your example of Galileo "vs" the Church is a commonly misunderstood one and doesn't really apply to this situation. I don't want to argue about it on here, but you can read more here: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-galileo-controversy."

    And Mr. Strider, you can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_affair.

    AEF
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-01-27 at 12:53pm:
    More on "For the World Is Hollow . . ."

    At the beginning of the show, Natira and some guards apprehend our heroes on the surface of the asteroid. How can they not know from this that their world is not limited to what's inside the asteroid? And again when two of the guards leave Kirk, Spock, and McCoy on the surface? At one point Kirk says to Natira, "You are living inside a hollow ball." She was on the surface outside the hollow ball at the beginning of the episode! She needs to be told this?

    How did they round up "their best people" and put them on this disguised space ship without their knowing what's happening? Did they zap them with dumb-down rays? That could be how they got them to accept the instruments of obedience, too, and thereby the Oracle dude. And all this was done by the lesser people? (Okay, maybe it was done by their second-best people.)

    When Spock points out that letting the Yonadans know they are on a space ship would violate the Prime Directive, Kirk points out the obvious that it's better than allowing their destruction and that of the 3 billion inhabitants of Darren 5. On the other hand, only Natira needed to be told, but they'd have to put the Oracle dude back in charge. But "the people" would find out in the end anyway.

    A similar problem happened in TNG in the episode "Homeward", but with the captain favoring the extinction of a people in order not to violate the Prime Directive, possibly even with a religious-like, unquestionable belief. Regardless, I don't see the logic in allowing an entire civilization (and in the case of this TOS episode, a second totally unrelated civilization!) to be wiped out for sake of the Prime Directive. Extinction interferes with the normal and healthy development of the alien civilizations. While extinction is normal, it's certainly not healthy! Kirk got it right.

    AEF
  • From Simon on 2013-02-04 at 6:00am:
    To answer the point raised in another post, the landing party do not land on the outside of the asteroid, they beam down to a point inside the asteroid (this is stated in the dialogue). From that point the inner surface of the hollow asteroid looks just like the sky. Presumably it's some kind of giant display screen - later on Natira says she can see the sun and the stars, presumably these are images displayed on the screen/sky. This is also the reason why it is possible to touch the sky if you climb a high enough mountain.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-04-06 at 5:36pm:
    "The World Is Hollow . . . post 3"

    Reply to Simon's post regarding landing on the asteroid

    Thanks for your response, but I checked it out and still think they landed on the surface.

    SPOCK: Asteroid has an outer shell, which is hollow. It surrounds an independent inner core, which has a breathable atmosphere. Sensors read no life forms.

    My interpretation of this is that the surface is the outer shell. Either way there must be two breathable "atmospheres", and Spock is referring to the inner of the two.

    (Dead flat soil, rocky outcrops, orange sky.)
    MCCOY: You'd swear you were on the surface of a planet.
    SPOCK: One fails to see the logic in making a ship look like a planet.

    This sounds to me like they're on the surface of the asteroid.

    After being captured, our heroes are led underground. What is the point of this if they were already inside the asteroid? There'd be two artificial skies and two artificial suns. Seems ridiculous to me.

    [A side note: Since the inside of the outer shell (in my interpretation) is the Yonadan sky, our heroes descend through the tube buildings right through it! That must be at the top of the mountain no one is allowed to climb. The whole thing is just plain ridiculous.]

    Add to this there bring near-Earth-strength gravity on the surface of the asteroid (in my interpretation), asteroids being too small to have appreciable gravity, and near-Earth-strength gravity inside the asteroid, in a arbitrary direction, no less (although the latter is a matter of course in Star Trek). Add to that the fact that asteroids are not massive enough to hold onto an atmosphere, and it's all just plain ridiculous.

    Bottom line: Either of our interpretations leads to a ridiculous asteroidal environment.

    AEF, aka betaneptune
  • From Vandervecken on 2014-01-10 at 2:21pm:
    Am I missing something? How does Spock know what the Fabrini language looks like if the Fabrini world was destroyed by a nova approximately 10,000 years ago?
  • From Rick on 2015-03-18 at 2:22pm:
    At Alan Feldman:

    Simon is right, you are mistaken. The people live underground. There is not a "second sky" inside the second hollow shell. Spock or someone else mentions that they began to live underground on their planet before they launched the asteroid ship. So it makes sense that they would still live "underground" on the asteroid ship for either continuity of lifestyle or to keep up the ruse.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2015-05-03 at 7:33pm:
    At Rick:

    Yes, they live underground. How does that conflict with what I said?

    OK, so they live underground. At the beginning of the episode they come out of those tube things. Are the tube things underground, too? If so, how? So how does that work with the sky?

    As best as I can tell, the tube-things are not underground, and when Natiria and company emerge from them and fight with our heroes we see a sky. Then they go underground and see what certainly must be a different sky!

    Recap: When they land on the asteroid they are under a sky. They are captured and led underground. And even though we don't see it, I assume there is an underground sky. You're now telling me that these are one and the same sky? How?

    No one is right on this because the whole thing is ridiculous and screwy to begin with.

    The only sensible point of the episode seems to be how bad things happen when you're not allowed to question things and are forced to accept dogma.
  • From Rick on 2015-08-14 at 12:51am:
    Feldman,

    I don't know how to explain it to you if you don't already get it, but there are not two skies. There is one sky. They beam down to the surface with the sky above them. Then they go "underground" (from the perspective of the asteroid people). There is I sky in that underground area. Rewatch it, you are missing something, it all makes sense.
  • From Rick on 2017-02-15 at 10:41pm:
    To Kethinov: the episode states pretty clearly that the civilization reduced themselves to this because their star was about to nova. I imagine that the civilization survived elsewhere through colonies and by integrating into other civilizations, but it is certainly reasonable that the remaining people on the planet constructed this ship/asteroid in order to maintain their underground lifestyle and overall way of life. That also explains the secretive nature, along with the fact that maybe they thought it was easier for a civilization to handle a 10000 year trip under the lie they created.

    Per usual, good sir, you grasp at straws to tear down TOS episodes. I really dont think you understand the pacing and plotting of older television. I understand your reverence for the serialization of television, but a lot of us like Gunsmoke, Bonanza, TOS, and Law&Order more than the serialized shows. Doesnt make you or us right or wrong, but I think it is a little disingenuous to present your side as objectively correct so often.

    As for the pacing, it is entirely about what you are used to and what you prefer. That is in a vacuum of course, as individual episodes from any era can be too slow or too fast, but since you continually say that TOS episodes are too slow without ever saying a single one was paced too fast (I dont believe), that clearly shows a bias.

    Long live classic television!

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Star Trek TOS - 3x09 - The Tholian Web

Originally Aired: 1968-11-15

Synopsis:
Kirk is trapped in interphase, while the Enterprise is trapped by a powerful energy web. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 6.34

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 15 0 3 22 15 10 14 31 35 24 25

Filler Quotient: 1, partial filler, but has important continuity. I recommend against skipping this one.
- This episode (along with Mirror Mirror) is the core premise to Ent: In A Mirror, Darkly. The Tholians are also curiously referenced repeatedly in later Star Trek series.

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode establishes that there has never been a mutiny on a starship before, or at least no record of one.

Remarkable Scenes
- Chekov freaking out.
- Spock's discussion with the Tholian.
- Spock battling both the Tholians and McCoy at the same time.
- Kirk's recording for Spock and McCoy.
- Uhura pleading with McCoy about having seen the captain and McCoy not really believing her.
- McCoy discovering the antidote.
- McCoy and Spock lying about having heard heard Kirk's last orders.

My Review
The Tholian Web is a cleverly written story which makes prominent use of an unusually large set of characters and multiple plot threads. While the Enterprise is engaging in an already dangerous rescue mission and investigating what befell the crew of the Defiant, an aggressive alien race called the Tholians attacks them for trespassing into what they claim is their territory. Interestingly, neither of these two events seem related to one another, which is a nice surprise. Whatever happened to the Defiant is clearly implied to be the result of a natural phenomenon. The intolerant Tholians are just an inconveniently timed distraction.

But while battling the Tholians Spock must also battle McCoy whose characteristic and predictably endless criticisms of Spock's command decisions rear their ugly head once again. Toward the end of their bickering McCoy crossed the line several times by claiming that Spock had no good reason to fight the Tholians and that Spock's only motive was to secure permanent command of the Enterprise from Starfleet. Luckily, Kirk's "last orders" recording brought some sanity back to their work relationship.

There are a few other unsavory details as well. For instance, early in the episode it's mentioned that while the crew can visually identify the Defiant, that sensors are reporting that it's not there. Once again like my complaint from Operation: Annihilate! do sensors just not measure visible light? What a silly line. Likewise, at one point McCoy uses a hypospray on Kirk through his space suit! Must be a powerful device. Finally, toward the end of the episode Uhura looks over to Chekov who is screaming like an idiot. She looks over to McCoy and asks him "will I become like Chekov?" No Uhura, you won't. Because your character is better acted!

The two biggest gaps in the story though are the fact that we never learn what exactly befell the Defiant and its crew as well as the murkiness surrounding how the Enterprise escaped the Tholian web. I was actually pretty damn annoyed with how they escaped the Tholian web. All that's said is using the ship's power somehow propelled them out of it. We see some brief visuals which might indicate they passed into the alternate dimension which claimed the Defiant, then suddenly the Enterprise is back in normal space, thrown clear of the Tholians. How convenient and vague.

All things considered though The Tholian Web was a terrific episode. The pacing was great, the judicious use of minor characters was a welcome surprise, the Tholians with their unique (if oddly slow) weapon made an intriguing enemy, and trapping Kirk off the ship during the crisis added heightened drama. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing the Tholians again or seeing a followup episode that tells the story of what happened to the Defiant. All in all with a bit more polish and attention to detail, this already terrific episode could have been worth even more points.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Arianwen on 2010-08-07 at 7:29pm:
    I don't know, I find this episode very entertaining and good sci-fi. It seemed very original - no clichés that I noticed, and multiple plotlines. The idea of 'space distorting' and actually causing the psychosis that killed the Defiant's crew was interesting, and a welcome surprise (after innumerable episodes infested by mysterious diseases, finding a dead crew *not* killed by disease was quite a shock). The Defiant and the Captain being dragged into a parallel universe gave the plot added depth and complexity, not allowing the crew or us to focus on the one problem.

    It would have been nice, though, to see a little more of the Tholians. They too felt original - they actually *listened* to Spock's explanation! - and it's a pity we never hear any more from them. But I mark it as a sign of a good episode that I was left with questions rather than complaints.
  • From Orion on 2011-09-04 at 10:50pm:
    This episode felt like too many people were involved with the script. There's too many things going on, and their combined mass ends up hurting the storytelling.

    You got Tholians, but not much explanation about who they are

    You got an energy web, but almost no talk about what it actually does

    You got McCoy being belligerent toward Spock, with no real resolution to the conflict

    You got crew member turning hostile

    You got the captain floating around like a ghost

    Instead of having so many plotlines, they should have saved some of them for another episode. The plot about Kirk floating around the ship should have had the most playtime since it was the most creepy, but instead it takes a backseat to all the other stuff. All in all, I think Tholian Web was a missed opportunity.
  • From Andrew Wiltz on 2012-04-07 at 11:15pm:
    In episode 2 of season 3 of TOS, "The Enterprise Incident," it is established that Vulcans cannot lie.

    However, Spock rather blatantly lied directly to the captain in this episode. Spock is half human, so perhaps this rule (which may not even be a rule) doesn't apply to him.
  • From Rick on 2014-04-01 at 1:09am:
    To the reviewer: yes of course the enterprise can measure visible light, its called the view screen (which is presumably fed by external cameras). I think when spock references "sensors" he is not including the view screen because obviously they are looking right at it.
  • From Kethinov on 2014-04-01 at 1:46am:
    Rick, the point was it's pretty ridiculous to assume that the sensors can't measure visible light.
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-04-19 at 2:46am:
    This is a typical low-budget third season episode. Not horrible, but well below average. Rather convenient, isn't it, that McCoy's hand passes through a man's body, and a table, but nobody's feet pass through the floor? Also, neither Uhura not Scotty mentioned that they could see through the captain, a rather important detail, I would think. It is also curious that Kirk's oxygen was running out - yet in TNG we learn that Scotty was trapped for decades in a "pattern buffer", apparently without needing oxygen at all. Also, just before Uhura saw the "ghost" captain, she was doubled over in pain - a symptom she appararently never discussed with the doctor. She seemed physically fine when she ran into McCoy in the hall, and aside from an apparent hallucination, she was nothing like checkov, the lab technician who attacked McCoy, and the crewman who flipped out in engineering, all of whom were completely out if their minds. So why was Uhura admitted to sick bay?
  • From thaibites on 2015-07-30 at 3:03pm:
    This episode fails for me because of Bones. His treatment of Spock is absolutely ludicrous. He's just over the top, and Spock should've beaten the living crap out of him. But that's the whole problem with Bones always needling Spock - he knows Spock won't kick his ass. Bones takes advantage of this because he is a bully and a gutless coward.

    I grew up with TOS and remember not liking Bones' miserable, whining, bitch-boy attitude, and this episode makes me dislike him even more. Bones and Pulaski can both sod off!
  • From Rick on 2017-02-16 at 10:05pm:
    Kethinov: Yes, I get that. I just think when conversing on the bridge where time is of the essence, Spock need not tell Kirk that "every sensor other than the visible light which you can clearly see in the viewscreen cannot detect what is out there." I think we all understood what was going on.

    Hate to say it, but I think you missed this one again. The crew of the Defiant fell prey to the same space sickness that the crew of the Enterprise began to experience. We dont know why they stayed in that space for so long for the effects to happen, but it is a safe bet that it was to investigate the strange dimensional phenomena.

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Star Trek TOS - 3x10 - Plato's Stepchildren

Originally Aired: 1968-11-22

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

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 4.18

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 40 11 15 12 13 33 16 16 10 17 5

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

Problems
None

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Star Trek TOS - 3x11 - Wink of an Eye

Originally Aired: 1968-11-29

Synopsis:
Hyperaccelerated aliens, invisible to the naked eye, take over the Enterprise. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 5.59

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 28 2 8 10 11 11 22 25 14 33 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
None

Factoids
None

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk seeing everything in slow motion.
- Scotty, hysterically: "Was it the coffee?! Are we going to go too, just like the captain?!"
- Deela talking about Kirk like he's a pet.
- Deela and Kirk debating the morality behind killing each other to survive.
- Spock moving in slow motion.
- Kirk faking out Deela.
- Kirk coming from "out of the nowhere and into the here."
- Spock rampaging throughout the ship repairing everything at super speed.
- Spock: "I found it an accelerating experience."

My Review
A once thriving civilization of 900,000 is reduced to only five people due to a natural catastrophe related to volcanic eruptions and increased radioactivity. Somehow the anatomy of the aliens of the week (which sadly once again look exactly like humans) reacted in an odd way, producing a hyper acceleration effect. The hyper acceleration concept is highly intriguing and the episode explores its implications well, although I was disappointed with the decidedly comic book superhero (or supervillain?) way that these aliens acquired their superpowers. Volcano-induced radiation makes them move really fast! What's next, a radioactive spider bites Captain Kirk? Once you're substantiating your plot off of crap like that, it's not science fiction anymore. It's fantasy.

Nevertheless, it's a lot of fun to watch the plot explore the implications of two different groups of people experiencing time at different rates of speed. A better written story with better production quality could make this concept shine even brighter I'm sure. But what we have isn't so bad on its own. The idea of creating a buzzing effect to connote the existence of the hyper accelerated aliens was clever, as was Kirk writing it off at first as alien insect life. Seeing the crew frozen in time while Kirk walks around dumbfounded was eerie and Deela stepping out of the way of the phaser beam was one of my favorite science fiction moments of the whole series so far. Granted, we don't really know why the phaser wasn't accelerated too, but whatever. It was a cool scene.

Likewise, you've got to wonder how much relative time passed between Kirk and Deela during the scenes when the Enterprise crew was busy figuring things out at their normal, slow pace. But I never got the impression that at any time the plot stretched the parallel realism of the two timeframes beyond the breaking point. There were a few scenes when I was wondering if perhaps days or weeks had gone by on Kirk's side and it would have been nice to hear some lines indicating that, but it isn't strictly necessary.

Unfortunately, much like the comic bookish premise, the aliens' motives were similarly poorly conceived. Summoning starships to their planet to take mates by force? Seriously? When Kirk suggested to Deela that they seek out the Federation's medical assistance and she wrote it off with a vague statement implying that they've tried things like that already, I didn't buy it. Why not send a few Federation exobiologists with expertise in fertility and genetic engineering to their planet, hyper-accelerate them, and get that research done in no time? For that matter, why not solicit a few volunteers for the original breeding plan? Compton was certainly all for it with minimal convincing. I'm sure there are at least a few other folks in the Federation ready and willing to help these poor souls breed too. Especially given the promise that they'll live in luxury.

The climax of absurdity though was the rapid decline of Deela's character in general. After her first few scenes, her conceptual intrigue shifted into a plodding idiocy. It doesn't take long at all for Kirk to convince her that "he's made the adjustment," after which Kirk betrays her with ease. She respond to this with, "you are very clever, captain. You tricked me. I should have known that you would never adjust." No kidding. It was obvious to just about everyone except you, Deela. I'm not sure which moment was more painful: Deela's obliviousness, or Spock once again awkwardly asking the computer to analyze the situation, complete with a request for command advice. Who needs command officers when the computer clearly knows everything?

I suppose the only scene even more ridiculous than all of that was the ending. Kirk and Deela essentially condemn Deela's people to death since neither side seems willing to explore alternative solutions and in a moment of rare insight Deela realized that their failure to execute on their forced breeding plan would ruin its effectiveness forever. And there you have it. Captain Kirk more or less ushers in a minor genocide. Though are aliens this stupid really worthy of survival to begin with?

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Andrew James on 2009-11-18 at 7:33pm:
    I can't get past the physics of this episode. With the speed at which these aliens are moving the force of their movements (force = mass*acceleration) would tear the ship apart, not to mention that the atmosphere would burn them if they were moving at such speed.

    That aside, I loved the shot of Kirk putting on his boots, a real acknoledgement of what he and the lady of the week did.
  • From Aniket on 2011-10-27 at 2:13pm:
    I had problem with the alien faster than phaser ..
    phaser wud have to be fired at speed of light ..
    how come they were able to dodge it .. does that mean they are faster than light ..
    That aside the lady of the episode was very cute ..
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-02-20 at 10:29pm:
    Deela's dress is something else! Asymmetric and revealing.

    The men's costumes look pretty ridiculous, but note the colors.

    What would happen if an accelerated person were to bump into a normal-speed person? I suppose they'd be knocked about really fast, as the buttons the fast people press must also move really fast. Doesn't make much sense. What would that feel like? Think of the G-forces involved!

    What prevented Kirk from grabbing Deela's weapon while he and she were "doing it"? And why was Rael so bad at defending himself when Kirk used her weapon on him?

    Why did Kirk et al. condemn the Scalosions to extinction when they found the antidote? Am I missing something here?

    It sure would take a very long time from the Scalosions' point of view for the next space ship to wander by! What do they do with all that free time? In a similar vein, a tremendous amount of time must have gone by for the accelerated ones in order for the regular-speed people to get anything done.

    Aniket asks how the aliens move faster than the speed of the phaser ray, which he or she says moves at the speed of light. Think of it as the accelerated people moving at "warp speed". Problem solved.

    A more or less fun episode that, like many others, starts out good and just gets worse as it goes along.
  • From Andrew Wiltz on 2012-04-08 at 5:56am:
    The technology presented in this episode could be used to (literally) take over the galaxy.

    They could transport to an enemy ship, drink the serum developed by McCoy, kill everyone in the ship, drink the serum to reverse the effects of the prior serum, and voila.

    This could be used to make almost instantaneous repairs to the ship in case of an emergency.

    This technology could have changed Starfleet for the rest of their history.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-10-07 at 2:57pm:
    More on "Wink of an Eye"

    Another remarkable scene: Deela's second interaction with Kirk being to grab him tightly and give him a sudden intense kiss, the first being simply, "Captain" only seconds before.

    I agree with Kethinov that the premise is silly -- hyper acceleration from volcanic eruptions polluting water and releasing radiation. Say what?

    Another problem with the "acceleration" is using the doors. The doors would open almost imperceptibly slowly. Would the doors even detect them so as to know to open? Well, perhaps there's a button they can press. But the doors are always fully open once Kirk has been accelerated, even on the bridge. Whatever. Must be one of those modifications the Scalosians made to the ship. But hyper-accelerating the door motors? The motors can't drink the Scalosian water. And then later the transporter? There must be lots of problems like this in this episode.

    Deela says "it always happens this way . . ." and "The way our parents and their parents before them." So after all that they now have a population of only 5?

    As pointed out on another website, the Scalosians' beaming aboard is problematic. Don't they have to stand still during the process, and hence be visible, even if smeared a bit, to Kirk and company? I think it would have been better if the Scalosians had their own transporter and beamed themselves aboard. That would also make plausible their getting the freezer device on the ship. Rael claims they are superior, so why not?

    Why does Kirk say, when saying goodbye to Deela, "I can think of nothing I'd rather do than stay with you. Except staying alive."? Sorry if I'm missing something obvious, but wouldn't he live just as long on his own time scale? Didn't Deela point that out only seconds before? For the crew left on the ship it would be different, but he wouldn't care if he decided to join Deela et al.

    Lots of problems, but the episode does have its fun moments.

    AEF
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-11-14 at 12:41am:
    Yet more on "Wink of an Eye"

    When Kirk fires his phaser at Deela, he aims it right at her face! Pretty rude, no?



  • From Rick on 2013-10-04 at 10:21pm:
    ""Granted, we don't really know why the phaser wasn't accelerated too, but whatever. It was a cool scene.""

    For someone who is hypercritical of TOS you missed the boat here. Kirk drank something to become accelerated. Why would that affect his phaser?
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-10-04 at 11:46pm:
    Still more on "Wink of an Eye"

    Since my last post here, I have realized that my idea of the Scalosions having their own transporter ruins another aspect of the story, which is that Kirk could not sabotage it. OTOH, a race that advanced really ought have one.

    Maybe Kirk couldn't get the weapon from Deela while they were "doing it" because she could still scratch him, causing the deadly "cell damage." (What a phrase: "cell damage"!) Whatever.

    A lot of time must have passed for the accelerated ones. I mean A LOT. This would give Kirk plenty of time to (pretend to) "adjust."

    The scene where the phasers are whisked out of Kirk and Spock's hands is extremely well done. It looks great even when you know it's coming. And the music goes really well with it, too! Bravo!

    The question and answer session with the computer was particularly bad here. "Have we been invaded?" Say what? A huge contraption has been attached to the environmental equipment, and they wonder if they've been invaded?

    May I say that I don't find the computer Q&A sessions to be a bad idea in general. AI could have come quite a ways in 300 years, so the computer may be able to do some careful reasoning with all its data using a vast library of knowledge (knowledge base!) to assist it. OTOH, the computer certainly wouldn't (or wouldn't have to, at least) sound so monotone.

    AEF, aka betaneptune
  • From Kethinov on 2013-10-05 at 2:28am:
    "Kirk drank something to become accelerated. Why would that affect his phaser?"

    Maybe drinking the potion made him emit some sort of time distortion field that would affect objects he came in contact with?

    There's plenty of ways to rationalize it. The episode should have done it explicitly, I agree, but the scene is fun enough that I'm willing to forgive them for not explaining it explicitly.
  • From Rick on 2017-02-16 at 11:35pm:
    Kethinov: Of course there are plenty of ways to rationalize what you were trying to say. Balance of probabilities, however, suggests that my explanation is more likely as well as being more simplistic. I am not of the opinion that an episode needs to add dialogue explaining every instance. If the phaser is slow, then it is slow. As long as some reasonable (and in this case it is more than reasonable) explanation supports the occurrence, then they need not explain it. In science fiction that would bog down too much time on explanation.

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Star Trek TOS - 3x12 - The Empath

Originally Aired: 1968-12-6

Synopsis:
The landing party is used to test an empathic race. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 4.08

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 51 10 33 7 5 19 26 7 15 14 17

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

Problems
- Scotty says they found a "solar flare" coming from the star. This is a common error. The term "solar" should only be used when in reference to our star, which is called Sol. A flare from another star is more properly referred to as a "stellar flare." Likewise, the reference to "74.1 solar hours for the storm to pass" is also incorrect, as the term "solar hour" makes no sense in reference to any context.

Factoids
None

Remarkable Scenes
- Spock neck pinching the alien while Kirk tells it about how their star is about to go nova.
- McCoy: "I'm a doctor, not a coal miner!" (Count #8 for "I'm a doctor, not a [blah]" style lines McCoy is famous for.)
- Spock to McCoy after being injected: "Your action is highly unethical. My decision stands!" Spock passes out. McCoy: "Not this time, Spock."
- McCoy attempting to sacrifice himself to save Spock and Kirk.
- Kirk: "The best defense is a good offense and I intend to start offending right now."
- Spock to Kirk: "He's dying, Jim." So close, but so far from a "he's dead, Jim."
- Gem sacrificing herself to save McCoy.
- Kirk and Spock escaping the forcefield by suppressing emotion.
- McCoy, regarding the Vians: "Well, personally, I find it fascinating that with all their scientific knowledge and advances, that it was good old-fashioned human emotion that they valued the most." Scotty: "Perhaps the Vulcans should hear about this." Kirk: "Mister Spock, can you be prevailed upon to bring them the news?" Spock: "Possibly, Captain. I shall certainly give the thought all the consideration it is due."

My Review
This episode is sort of like an inferior version of The Cage. Two large-headed, intellectual super aliens with the power of illusions entrap the cast for their own seemingly selfish motives which turn out to be rather benevolent in the end, or at least somewhat well intended. While this episode has some strikingly original austere aesthetics from a directoral perspective, unfortunately this version of The Cage's themes doesn't work quite so well from a storytelling perspective.

For starters, the Vians' methods were not terribly scientific and their cruelty remained poorly substantiated even by the end of the story, not the least of which was because there at no point ever appeared to be any consequences for the Vians killing two Starfleet officers. The Vians simply wrote it off as "their own imperfections killed them. They were not fit subjects." And "we did not kill them. Their own fears killed them." Kirk never appeared to follow up on these ridiculous explanations and the Vians never appeared to answer for their crimes.

While it's certainly true that they're from an alien culture guided by an alien philosophy, not much of the story's time is spent on developing their philosophy. We know that they had the power to save the population of one of two planets in this planetary system and were trying to decide which of the two were worthy of survival, but unfortunately that's a rather bold claim for the episode to ask us to simply accept at face value, as it seems rather contrived that it's simply impossible to save the populations of both planets. It would make sense for the Federation to refuse to save the populations of either planet on the grounds of the non-interference Prime Directive, but no mention is made of this. As for the Vians, they clearly were not guided by a similar philosophy and I have a hard time believing that the resources they spent setting up this ridiculous experiment couldn't have been used to save the populations of both planets instead.

What's worse is most of the episode boils down to unsubstantiated torture scenes and long, boring Gem-stares-significantly scenes which brought back bad memories of The Corbomite Maneuver. At one point during the torture scenes a Vian tries to console McCoy by implying that if there was any other way for them to accomplish their purpose, they'd be seeking those means instead. Golly, had the Vians shared their purpose with the landing party any earlier than 39 minutes into the episode, perhaps the landing party could have educated the Vians as to the many possible alternatives!

Aside from that, plenty of other little details add up to a pretty big stinker of an episode as well. Unlike the Vians, Gem is yet another alien race that looks exactly like humans. She is referred to as an "empath" but McCoy incorrectly acts like that term automatically implies and substantiates her remarkable healing powers. When the Vians allowed the landing party to keep one of their devices, Spock makes the ridiculous claim that the only logical explanation is that the Vians let them keep the device so they could reverse engineer it and escape so the Vians could keep McCoy. Why would the Vians do that? If their intent was to let them go, why do it through such indirect means? Why not just... let them go?

Finally, the most obnoxious part of the episode is that the whole thing is Christian theology in (a poor) disguise. In Gem's first scene, she's laying on a bed shaped like a cross. Her healing powers and her theme of self sacrifice mirror the story of Jesus Christ. The Vians play the role of god watching Jesus (Gem) self sacrifice for his (her) entire race. On two occasions the episode even makes direct references to the bible. Early on, Ozaba says "in his hand are the deep places of the earth. Psalm ninety five, verse four. Looks like he was listening." At the end of the episode, Scotty says "I would say she was a pearl of great price. [...] Do you not know the story of the merchant? The merchant, who when he found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it." That's a quote from the Gospel of Matthew, 13:45-46.

As I wrote in my review of Bread and Circuses, this sort of writing is hardly in the spirit of Star Trek which, for the most part, would seem to advocate a progressive future without superstition guiding society's laws and moral code any longer. A few religious characters or a few biblical references here and there in the spirit of realism and good literary referentiality is all well and good, but this episode went well beyond that. The episode itself feels preachy. Its very theme oozes Christian evangelism, which is shameful.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Bryce on 2009-08-28 at 9:52am:
    This has to be my least favorite episode of the series is so slow a boring and the music doesn't help.
  • From rpeh on 2010-07-16 at 9:10am:
    It's not necessarily the worst episode, but it's really bad. The premise is absurd, the music grating, and the ridiculous number of times somebody tries to sacrifice themselves to save somebody else is nauseating.

    It was one of the few episodes that made me glad when it was over.
  • From Jem Hadar on 2010-08-25 at 2:43pm:
    What are the two below me talking about? Were you watching the same episode I was? This is one of my favourite episodes of the Original Series! I loved the black background throughout, it gave it a very mysterious and supernatural feel.
  • From Orion on 2012-01-29 at 8:29pm:
    I give this episode credit for being artistic, but there's just too many problems to for the viewer to come away satisfied. It's hard not to be restless when the camera cuts to the close-up shots of Gem's face. The music during these shots make them even more unbearable. Why run such a slow experiment while the star system is about to destroy itself? Why did the Enterprise not offer assistance?
  • From Strider on 2012-06-28 at 11:51am:
    A Christian theme (and I strenuously argue the premise that it's present here) is not at all the same as Christian evangelism. Themes are drawn from all sorts of cultural mythologies--just because a story has an archetypal Greek mythos doesn't mean the creators want us all to worship Zeus.

    Any themes of self-sacrifice will resonate with the Christian mythical system, as well as with the many other cultural expressions of the high virtue of sacrifice for the good of another or of the whole. It's encapsulated in the Vulcan maxim of "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one or the few." Of course, that can be taken too far and is only valid when the "one" or the "few" sacrifice their needs voluntarily and not by force.

    Actually, if there's a Christ figure in all this, it's McCoy...who is dying from the exact wounds that Christ died from on the cross: heart damage and lung congestion.

    The theme of self-sacrifice is one that strongly resonates with me, and I never tire of seeing these 3 men sacrifice for each other, even if they have to lie and manipulate in order to ensure the others' safety. I do prefer, however, when it just happens, and we don't have self-satisfied bighead aliens taking up valuable time lecturing on it.

    The episode has some other serious problems. The "Gem" character is SO annoying! I've known people who can't speak, and they still manage to communicate. They have facial expressions, for example, and don't just sit around looking doe-eyed all the time. Also, empathic healers (which is what I think "Gem" is supposed to be, rather than a pure empath), relieve the pain of others by taking it into themselves. I didn't see an indication that she was in pain...though maybe that was what her almost non-existent acting was trying to convey.

    And why was "Gem" the one that had to take the test for her whole people? Why not bring in a few of them and average the results? And are they ALL mute? You'd think a mute race would have developed some writing or sign language.

    And the music...God save us from meaningful 60's sound tracks. And WHY weren't those Vians arrested and tried for kidnapping, abuse, and torture? And I don't see why "Gem" should be called a pearl of great price. She was useless. Yeah, she healed them, but she was the reason they were being tortured anyway. And, what will happen to the people on the other planets--is the Federation just going to let them die when the sun novas? And everybody's okay with that?

    For me, the only value in this was in the loyalty of the 3 to each other.
  • From Mosh on 2012-08-01 at 10:33pm:
    Yeah, every time someone quotes the bible in this show it just rings false. It just ruins my optimistic view of the future. I guess maybe that's my fault.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-09-04 at 10:44pm:
    Frankly, I'd rather watch "The Alternative Factor". At least there are a couple of exciting scenes in that one.

    This episode is simply awful. Overall it makes no sense.

    The reasoning behind the test is invalid and the test itself is unjustifiably cruel.

    And I find it really, really painful to watch Gem. (Yeah, I know -- I'm not the only one. Just seconding it, so to speak.)

    All it takes at the end is a 30-second speech by Kirk to make the Vians change their minds.

    After the Vians heal Bones and pick up Gem, why do they leave flying backwards? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_affair

    And all they say as they leave is "farewell".

    AEF
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-11-28 at 8:07am:
    '0' Worst episode of the entire series.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-11-16 at 10:43pm:
    The Vians look pretty cool.
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-26 at 3:46pm:
    This episode has my vote for the worst of the series.
  • From Mal on 2015-06-13 at 4:56am:
    To be a fan of sci-fi/fantasy/horror is to accept plot holes. Often the difference between great, good and bad of genre fiction is how egregious the viewer or reader perceives those plot holes to be.

    When I first saw this one as a kid, I hated it and would have given it a one. Too static, no action and overly sensitive. But now, I have a different view of life, suffering and mortality than the twelve year old who first watched this episode in 1968.

    This episode speaks to friendship, compassion, self-sacrifice, loyalty and the ability to both acquire those traits and amplify them. These are the very traits that give us our humanity. Wish there was more of it in this world.

    The actress who played Gem annoyed me to no end in my first viewing. I now see in those lingering close ups she so often got that she spoke volumes with just her eyes, leaving no need for physical histrionics or excessive facial contortions. The music that accompanied her was mysterious without being sinister, poignant without being maudlin.

    There is one thing I could have done without: the biblical pandering.

    I gave "The Empath" an 8.

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Star Trek TOS - 3x13 - Elaan of Troyius

Originally Aired: 1968-12-20

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

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 3.11

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 140 6 9 10 16 15 18 39 20 9 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The combat part was pretty good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Star Trek TOS - 3x14 - Whom Gods Destroy

Originally Aired: 1969-1-3

Synopsis:
Kirk is confronted by one his heroes, now criminally insane. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 4.32

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 13 6 33 10 13 22 10 11 9 9 6

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
- Garth mentions that he will rule a number of "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
- The uniforms in the mental hospital are the same as the ones in Dagger of the Mind.

Remarkable Scenes
- Garth trying to beam up to the Enterprise and failing "the test."
- McCoy: "How can we be powerful enough to wipe out a planet and still be so helpless?"
- The insanity dinner.
- Garth blowing up Marta.
- Spock Vulcan neck pinching two people at once!
- Spock having to decide between two Kirks.
- Spock explaining to Kirk how he decided which Kirk was correct.

My Review
A rehash of Dagger of the Mind, complete with another impersonation of the warden and another agony chair. This agony chair is even the same prop that was used in Dagger of the Mind. It seems a number of medical breakthroughs have been made since the first season regarding the treatment of the criminally insane, as the asylum featured in this episode is stated to be the last of its kind. These remarkable breakthroughs are said to be enabled by a wonder drug that the Enterprise is on a mission to deliver to this asylum, only to be thwarted temporarily by the coup.

The existence of a miracle cure to general insanity sounds like a scientifically implausible idea up until you see how the ending of this story defines that: drug-induced amnesia. Taking a page from the nurture-always-trumps-nature book, the Federation has apparently decided that all insanity is caused by the accumulation of traumatic memories and that wiping away those bad memories will fix everything. The ethical concerns raised by this course of action are as fishy as the underlying scientific premise and certainly do much to assault the episode's credibility.

Setting that aside though, this episode isn't really about wonder drugs, miracle cures, scientific implausibilities, or poor medical ethics. If anything, that's all just a very poorly thought out afterthought of a premise for the real story which is about Kirk confronting his fallen hero. Garth effectively carries the whole episode. The actor does an excellent job building a character that is both menacing and funny. You can see what must be shades of his former greatness in him at times as he formulates tactics and commands his madmen while he prances around in a silly, regal fashion.

The episode is well paced and at times even profound. I greatly enjoyed the scene when Kirk pleads with Garth, trying to get him to remember his former self and insisting that he's not really responsible for the terrible things he's done. This is counterpointed brilliantly by impulsively terrifying actions by Garth, such as when he blew up Marta with a bomb after having spent nearly the entire episode flirting with her.

In this sense the episode succeeds at half its goals. Garth is successful in portraying a character who is compulsively irredeemable. The other half of the episode was an attempt to espouse a philosophy that Star Trek strives for which is that all people are redeemable. In this case the episode attempts the aforementioned poorly conceived scientific redemption drug but glosses over what the true consequences would be for deploying such a drug as a long term strategy.

I think it's safe to assume despite the fact that the Federation acted on this horribly unsound premise and seemed to see apparent success from it over a protracted time, that this strategy will eventually implode on them and relapses will take hold at statistically significant enough rates to get them to backpedal on the drug, as drug-induced amnesia won't necessarily address the underlying medical cause of some patients' insanity. Either that or the shady medical ethics will catch up with them and they will decide to stop doing harm in order to curtail their social problems. Or at least I hope so because if I see this obnoxious drug show up in another episode, I'm going to get pretty damn irritated.

There are other niggling issues with the story too, such as the totally ridiculous science behind Garth's shape shifting. We're expected to believe that all humans are capable of this "cellular metamorphosis" given enough study and training from a suitable master. Either that, or Garth isn't really human. At one point he referred to the landing party as "you Earth people," which I believe was meant to accentuate his craziness. However, there are so many aliens in Star Trek that look exactly like humans, maybe Garth isn't human!

Probably the most annoying part of the plot though is the two Kirks scene. Why Spock even bothered to talk to either of them is beyond me. The most obvious course of action is to simply stun them both and sort it out later. Kirk even orders Spock to do that by the end and rather than doing so, Spock simply shoots the false Kirk, confident that he has identified which is which. That seems like a pretty cavalier attitude for someone like Spock!

Overall the episode fits pretty solidly into the mixed bag category. You'll probably enjoy it if bad science doesn't bother you too much and Garth's breed of goofiness works as well for you as it did for me, but there certainly have been a whole bunch of better episodes aired by now.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rpeh on 2010-07-16 at 5:27pm:
    It's worth noting that the title comes from the phrase "Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad". The original version of the phrase seems to have come from Sophocles, although the wording was slightly different.
  • From A. Rust on 2012-01-16 at 6:33pm:
    Apparently Charles Manson wasn't the only insane megalomaniac to draw inspiration from the White Album. I noticed that Garth's line "Marta, my dear..." was suspiciously close to the title of the Beatle's song "Martha, My Dear." The song opened side two of record one on "The White Album." Probably a coincidence, but the album did come out the year before this episode aired.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2012-03-05 at 10:43pm:
    So at the beginning, the bad guys come out of their cells, approach Kirk and Spock, then it cuts to the opening. When the episode resumes, Spock is being dragged away. What happened? I assume Spock was shot, but it's unusual to do it off camera.

    Anyway, I kind've like the episode. The part where the green girl is reciting Shakespeare (claiming it as her own) is reason enough to watch. We also learn a little bit of Kirk's background.

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Star Trek TOS - 3x15 - Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

Originally Aired: 1969-1-10

Synopsis:
Two survivors of a devasted planet remain committed to destroying one another. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 5.15

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 39 6 9 8 4 19 14 27 44 11 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 a decent episode, even though it could have been better.

Problems
- In the original airing of the episode they reused special effects from The Galileo Seven for the shuttlecraft shots. However in The Galileo Seven, the shuttlecraft bore markings which clearly indicated it as one of the Enterprise's shuttles. Reusing that shot would seem to suggest that the Galileo for some reason was now stationed at Starbase 4, with its registry having never been updated, which didn't make a lot of sense. However, in the remastered version of the episode, new visual effects were added replacing the original shot with a new shuttle named da Vinci with its registry number being SB4-0314/2, clearly indicating that it's a Starbase 4 shuttle.

Factoids
- Lokai and his people hail from what is described as the "southernmost" part of the galaxy. They seem to have extensive knowledge of the Federation which implies that the borders of the Federation and Lokai's planet are relatively close to one another. All this would seem to imply that the Federation occupies what has been arbitrarily designated the south of the Milky Way.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk's first conversation with Lokai. I love how blatantly hostile Kirk is.
- Kirk playing mediator.
- I love the scene where the auto destruct sequence was being set. Some interesting camera work there.
- Kirk: "Mr. Spock, is this ship headed for Ariannus?" Spock: "Negative, captain. The Enterprise is now moving in a circular course." Scotty: "And at warp 10 we're going nowhere mighty fast."
- Chekov: "There was persecution on Earth once. I remember reading about it in my history class."
- Seeing Cheron a dead planet.
- Spock: "All that matters to them is their hate." Uhura: "Do you suppose that's all they ever had, sir?" Kirk: "No. But that's all they have left."

My Review
This episode is an intriguingly stylized satire of racism; black vs. white racism of the real world in particular. The half-moon aliens do a nice job of demonstrating the innate silliness of racial prejudices by creating a racial difference between the aliens that seems so insignificant to us and yet so significant to them as to automatically shame us for ever having acted like them. That's the power of a science fiction story on society: the power of analogy. These aliens would have been a ridiculous analogy in a real world 19th or 20th century debate on race relations, but in the world of Star Trek where many more things are possible they're not so ridiculous after all.

Sure, the whole idea that such a skin pigmentation would ever be favored by natural selection seems patently ridiculous, but Spock wastes no time pointing that out early in the episode. As long as the story itself acknowledges how unlikely such a thing should be before brazenly going with it, I suppose I can live with it. The layers of absurdity are even nicely staggered. At first Spock assumes that Lokai must be one of a kind for his species. Then when the commissioner comes aboard, Spock is amazed and struck with near-disbelief that all their people must have evolved to be this way and it isn't just a fluke.

Likewise, Spock points out one of my favorite medical cliches to pick on: McCoy is once again using Federation drugs on an unknown alien. I loved McCoy's response insisting that most humanoid life forms have similar anatomy; the blood may be slightly different and the organ configuration may be slightly different, but medical principles are largely sound across species. I also loved the fact that McCoy conceded the fact that it's hard to give a prognosis on a totally unknown alien despite the anatomical similarities. This is the sort of careful scriptwriting that should have been present in earlier episodes.

As for the story itself, I enjoyed the details concerning extradition law, which made a lot of sense for the situation. The Federation's policy on trying Lokai for his domestic crime before considering extradition back to Cheron certainly seemed reasonable and I thought the off the record note that the Federation would most likely grant extradition after his trial in the Federation was a nice touch. It added some humanity to the usual faceless bureaucracy.

Sadly that nice detail was somewhat undermined by the fact that neither of the half-moon aliens seemed content to wait out Federation due process and mediation. They've been keeping chase for some 50,000 years and yet they acted with such impatience while aboard the Enterprise. If they've been at it that long, why not wait a short while longer to see the process through to the end legally?

At least the commissioner had the good sense to let Kirk complete his humanitarian mission before irrevocably commandeering the ship for a course to Cheron, but it all could have been done with considerably less fuss. Although the manufactured drama did give us an opportunity to explore that delightfully overwrought self destruct scene. The camera work in that scene was a lot of fun although not all of their directoral experiments were a success. We've also seen the unwelcome return of the camera zooming in and out on the red alert light, which is nauseating and serves no purpose.

You've got to wonder how Kirk even knew the commissioner wouldn't be able to stop the auto destruct sequence when he had already displayed what appeared to be limitless control over the ship's systems by that point. Maybe it was a desperate bluff. The half-moon aliens had some pretty vaguely overwrought technology at their disposal in general. Throughout the course of the episode they displayed immunity to phasers, apparent telepathic control over the ship's navigational systems, and somehow temporarily enhanced the warp drive to safely fly faster than its typical capabilities.

Although the Enterprise itself possessed some pretty overwrought capabilities as well. I cringed a bit when the Enterprise somehow globally decontaminated Ariannus entirely from orbit in the space of a minute or two. That's some powerful tech.

Other logical oddities of the story include the scene when Lokai gets up and walks out of sickbay without anyone noticing. Apparently no one was guarding the Federation's detained prisoner scheduled to be tried for grand theft shuttlecraft. Likewise, it's kind of ridiculous to assume that not a single survivor was left on Cheron. Even a total nuclear war would leave some survivors, huddling together far from the blast sites, living off of subsistence farming or something. Though given the overwrought technologies of the episode, perhaps they were all killed by some kind of super-effective biological weapon released into the atmosphere globally all at once like the Enterprise's Ariannus decontaminator.

One final amusement: you've gotta love the cost cutting tricks in this episode. An invisible ship saving them from needing a ship model, the destruction of Cheron which is actually just stock video from World War II, and the fact that we never actually see the half-moon aliens on the surface of Cheron ever. The Enterprise just cynically leaves orbit and dooms them to their mutual annihilation. I can't blame Kirk for doing that, honestly. They've been such poor guests, why bother saving them from their self-inflicted fate? Indeed it's an effective satire of racism. With more polish I have no doubt that this episode could have easily been worth a perfect or near perfect score.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Steve on 2009-04-17 at 10:29am:
    Best feature: a great performance by Frank Gorshin,an excellent actor and impressionist who was also the Riddler on the original Batman series.
  • From John bernhardt on 2010-01-08 at 4:33pm:
    What made Original Star Trek episodes so entertaining was that most episodes even the weaker and average episodes had some memorable scenes, in this episode it is the dramatic auto destruct sequence
  • From rpeh on 2010-07-16 at 6:00pm:
    One problem: the shuttle "reported stolen from Starbase 4 two weeks ago" has NCC 1701/7 (ie, the Galileo) on its side. Why would an Enterprise shuttle have been stolen from Starbase 4?

    The camerawork focusing in on the eyes during the self-destruct sequence is the most obvious example of Gene Roddenberry's "western in space" view of the series. Remember the final duel in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, released just a couple of years before?
  • From Chris on 2011-06-17 at 6:27pm:
    Just saw this episode the other night. The enhanced version deletes the WWII footage.
  • From Kethinov on 2012-01-16 at 8:44pm:
    Chris, that's not correct. The footage is still there. Examine the chase scene intercut with the fire.
  • From sherry on 2012-02-26 at 2:21pm:
    This one seems we can make a continuation of this show,,,,
    I have been working on it a bit,,,,,

    I call it the last Battlefield continuation

    I started to make a doll I painted her black and pink,,, same color with her hair,,,, I've been doing this for a little while,,, pink and black boots ,,,, I sew her a uniform,,,, I also made a flag for the cheron,,,, and a flag,,, and even symbol,,,,, and I'm trying to make a language as well,,,,, this is a lot of work,,,, I'm trying to pretend they all went underground,,, and that there was only 30 of them while,,,,, I would say that's a pretty good start,,,,, I also have a main character,,, then I'm working on,,,,
    if anybody's interested,,, go to space trek,,, this is where I'm leaving it,,,, they can contact me at ,,sherry63@telus.net,,, anybody's interested,,,,,
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2012-03-21 at 11:50pm:
    The episode inspires a lot of conversation, but it can't escape the black hole of mediocrity that is the third season. I started to realize this once I saw the lame sequence with the "invisible" ship. Sure, there's some substantial commentary about race relations, but at times it feels heavyhanded. I want to like this episode more than I actually do.
  • From warp factor 10,1 on 2012-08-14 at 6:50pm:
    They must have freaked out every time they looked in a mirror.

    I also wonder what would happen if they intermarried. I'm white and Mrs. Warp factor is black (actually I'm a sort of pink colour and my wife is dark brown), our son, Master Warp factor, has a skin colour somewhere between the two of us. What would hapen with them? Would the two halves, each black with white, produce an all over grey or would they have four vertical stripes? In a few generations they could end up looking like walking bar codes. The checkouts at Walmart would be thrown into total confusion. Alternatively perhaps they could end up like chess boards.

    Despite all this foolishness, and it not being a brilliant episode, in many ways it is indicative of the way Star Trek was a force for good when it was made.
  • From jeffenator 98 on 2014-10-30 at 1:10pm:
    This is one of the episodes when the Enterprise flew faster than warp 9.
  • From Wes on 2016-04-29 at 9:15pm:
    One to add to the "Problems" category:

    Kirk says that Cheron is in the "south" part of the galaxy. What is South in space?

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Star Trek TOS - 3x16 - The Mark of Gideon

Originally Aired: 1969-1-17

Synopsis:
Kirk is abducted by aliens who wish to use him to help solve their overpopulation problem. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 3.71

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 47 23 11 11 15 14 33 7 6 15 6

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

Problems
- Why is sickbay on red alert on the fake Enterprise when Kirk first gets there as he's calling for people in the teaser?

Factoids
- This episode establishes that there are 430 people aboard the Enterprise at this time.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk on an empty Enterprise.
- Spock negotiating with the Gideon bureaucrat.
- Scotty being ordered to leave, angry at his technical skills being insulted and mumbling as he left.
- Scotty's reaction to Spock calling from "the bridge of the Enterprise."

My Review
On yet another planet with aliens that look exactly like humans, Kirk is asked to be a delegation of one to negotiate the admittance of an isolationist culture into the Federation whereupon Kirk is abducted and placed into an identical copy of the Enterprise's interior. Inside there is nobody except for a girl who the aliens somehow expect Kirk to instantly fall for so that he'll forget everything else about his life and commit to spending the rest of his days on Gideon with her. As idiotic as it is already for the aliens to expect Kirk to just drop everything and fall for some random girl he just met shortly after facing the possibility that his entire crew has fallen victim to some terrible accident or attack, the reason why they've hatched this scheme is even more stupid: they want to take diseases he's a carrier for so they can commit germ warfare against their own people as a means to solving their overpopulation problem. Seriously, that's the premise the episode expects us to swallow.

Setting aside the already pesky logical problem of how the Gideons even acquired Kirk's medical history to begin with before specifically requesting that the Federation dispatch Kirk and only Kirk to their planet, their whole motivation reeks of painfully faulty logic. Gideon is depicted as being so overpopulated that it's mostly a standing room-only planet. Kirk asks the obvious question of why not simply mandate the use of contraceptives. The Gideon bureaucrat responds mostly with an alien version of Catholicism, by saying that all life is sacred and contraceptives are morally wrong. He goes on to make the even more dubious claim that their culture's love of life is what's made them so disease-resistant and long-lived in the first place. Kirk then points out the blatant hypocrisy of a society that bans contraceptives but condones committing germ warfare against its own people, which is a thinly veiled satire of a society that bans abortion or contraceptives but condones the death penalty.

All that social commentary might have been profound if the Gideons weren't such poor representations of socially conservative religious values. Since nobody is as stupid as the Gideons were during this episode, it's difficult to take any of the social commentary seriously. For instance, why didn't the Gideons just ask the Federation to help them find new planets to relocate to? Or alternatively since killing their own people to cut down on population numbers seems to satisfy their moral code, why not just directly mass execute a large swath of the population rather than hatch this overcomplicated, indirect germ warfare plan?

The Gideons weren't the only ones suffering from faulty reasoning though. The plot itself has some real clunkers too. If space comes at such a premium on that planet, how were they able to build a giant, empty replica of the entire Enterprise interior? Where do they get all their food? How is waste managed? At one point Spock asks a Starfleet admiral for permission to beam down to Gideon to rescue Kirk. The admiral asks Spock if Kirk's life is in danger. Spock doesn't reply as if to concede that Kirk's life probably isn't in danger. Huh? Kirk is being held against his will! Of course his life is in danger! Later on when Spock beamed down to Gideon he was easily able to order the Enterprise to beam the landing party up with his communicator. So why didn't Kirk bring a communicator with him in the first place when he originally beamed down to Gideon?

All things considered it's a terrible episode. That said there are a few nice moments interspersed with the prevailing badness. My favorite moment was Spock's line to the Gideon bureaucrat that "the wars between opposing planetary systems no longer prevail in our galaxy." Ah, Federation propaganda! I also enjoyed how Kirk wandering through the empty Enterprise was intercut with his crew's efforts aboard the real Enterprise to rescue him. And finally the scene when Kirk is tipped off to the fact that the whole thing must be a sham due to the fact that he can hear sound coming from outside the ship which wouldn't happen in a real space ship was a nice touch of scientific accuracy. All in all though you wouldn't be missing much by skipping this episode.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rpeh on 2010-07-16 at 6:59pm:
    This episode is a pretty obvious critique of the Catholic Church's opposition to all "non-natural" birth control methods.

    Even if you buy the scenario set out in the episode, you have to wonder what all those people were eating for so long.
  • From technobabble on 2010-11-30 at 3:12am:
    What did they eat why each other! "Soylent green is people!"

    I know, I had to say it. Yes, this ep is a logic buster.
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2011-12-06 at 4:33pm:
    Isn't a population limited by its food supply?
    Where do they get all of their food? - Not to mention a private place to procreate. Or, is that done while standing?
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2012-03-20 at 3:53pm:
    This one had a great premise, but falls apart at the seams after about 15 minutes. Why was the "heartbeat" only audible for a few minutes? Since when are beaming coordinates said aloud? Aren't coordinates usually "sent"? There are way too many plot holes in this one.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-11-19 at 9:46am:
    ‘2’. This episode is ‘filler’ from one end to the other with so many silly plot details there’s really not much point to discussing them. My favorite part is when Spock beams Kirk down after quickly rhyming off some numbers, not even properly double-checking his input, or establishing that the co-ordinates given are safe. I’m pretty sure he violated every transporter safety regulation in the book. Then, instead of following up straight to the beam co-ordinates in a ‘hot’ rescue operation, he asks permission of Star Fleet, when he must know what the answer will be.

    I'm not even certain what the point of the fake ship was in the first place? If they wanted Kirk to transmit a disease, there was no need for any of that nonsense - just beam him down to negotiations and let natural viral transmissions do the rest. A better plot might have been to have him arrested for unleashing a pandemic.
  • From SNSG on 2016-01-14 at 8:04pm:
    DI thought this episode was awesome and that's mainly because I love the idea of a planet that wants to introduce sickness to a population. We often do not consider our viral roommates to be a welcome addition to our planet, but what if we're missing something? I also like the idea of a planet where loneliness is a commodity. That requires some imagination and is a great example of the new social constructs that Star Trek can represent. I would also like to address the issues with the episodes above.

    The need for romantic contact: Glen239 noted that they simply needed Kirk need only show up to infect the populace. Even though they didn't show it on screen, the disease was obviously a venereal disease. It is only logical that Kirk what is contracted one of these at this point in his career and that they would try to create an (off-screen) sexual connection with him.

    The fake Enterprise: yes there was a large amount of space devoted to the facade, but I have no problem believing that a government could secure special access to resources.

    The aliens that look human: a misstep in my opinion. Why not just make them colonizers who are suddenly experiencing the inability to die? Hell they could have even been descendants of an earth group that was anti-contraceptive for any reason, and even if they weren't, you could point out that various factors fail to keep humans from reproducing beyond their means all the time.

    The coordinates: yes coordinates are usually transmitted, but for the sake of the audience they are spoken so that we could see that they're faked.

    I also liked Spock's diplomacy, the empty enterprise and Scotty's noise. My main issue with the episode is that the Gideon's randomly sent up an officer only to have him sent back only after having revealing a difference in trajectory. Also, you really only need 9 numerical to describe your place in space? Put some letters in there at least. And if you're only describing your place in space relative to the Enterprise within transporter range, why could the officer on Gideon do it?

    I got a couple problems and head canon doesn't solve everything but I like this ep.
  • From Rick on 2017-02-17 at 6:09pm:
    I do not see how Kirk pointing out that using germ warfare against your people is hypocritical if you think life is sacred, is a satire in any way of contraceptives and the death penalty.

    Are you equating germ warfare against your own people to executing people through due process? That is a heck of a leap. And by the way, even under your supposed satire, it would then be equally hypocritical to be in favor of contraceptives/abortion and against the death penalty.

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Star Trek TOS - 3x17 - That Which Survives

Originally Aired: 1969-1-24

Synopsis:
A deadly computer image protects a long dead outpost. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 5.39

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 26 8 16 7 12 11 11 23 48 8 15

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

Problems
- Warp 14.1 (the maximum speed the Enterprise travels during this episode) is nowhere near fast enough for the Enterprise to travel 1000 light years in a single day. Even at warp 15 (~3375 times the speed of light), it still would have taken the Enterprise months to travel 1000 light years.
- The lieutenant at the helm measures the time it will take to arrive at the planet in "solar hours." What the hell is a solar hour?

Factoids
- The Enterprise travels at its fastest (natural) speed ever: warp 14.1.

Remarkable Scenes
- Uhura: "What happened?" Spock: "The occipital area of my head seems to have impacted with the arm of the chair." Uhura: "No, Mr. Spock, I meant what happened to us?"
- Kirk: "Mr. Sulu, if I wanted a Russian history lesson, I'd have brought along Mr. Chekov."
- Spock and Scotty's silly scenes.
- Sulu: "Terrible way to die." Kirk: "There are no good ways."
- Losira withstanding Sulu's phaser blasts as if they weren't there.
- Spock: "Beauty is transitory, doctor."

My Review
A planet even Spock can't explain! I giggled at such an amusingly goofy opening line and I enjoyed the scientific paradoxes presented by the planet. It's only a few thousand years old and the size of Earth's moon, and yet it has vegetation, significant atmosphere, and Earth-like gravity. Much like the mystery of the scientifically implausible planet, Scotty's near-suicide mission and the landing party's terrific command of survival skills in the sudden absence of the Enterprise were nicely done. I also was struck by how cranky Spock was all episode. I've never seen him so difficult to get along with!

The explanation that the planet was artificially created reasonably explains away all the paradoxes, but the story about the people who created it totally fails to deliver. As Losira slowly starts killing people, her inability to communicate anything resembling a motive gets more and more frustrating. In what is perhaps the longest Star Trek has ever dragged out establishing a character motive, Losira's motives only become apparent in the very last scene of the episode.

At the end we learn that her people, who are yet another alien race that looks exactly like humans, died out due to a disease they accidentally unleashed on themselves while creating that planet. The image of Losira attacking people was due to a computerized defense mechanism that was set to auto attack anyone in the vicinity not of Losira's people. Somehow Losira's personality was fused into the computer before she died, which explains her ambivalence to all the killing she did. The end of the story gave us a motive, but not a reason to care, resulting in quite a flop.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From TashaFan on 2008-09-18 at 9:46pm:
    Another thing I noticed about this is how at the very end Spock shows up with one Redshirt(tm) and one quick phaser shot destroys the computer that was creating the artificial women. (Although it continues to spin in crazy patterns, just more slowly). An awfully quick solution so the danger certainly seems to have been manufactured and then conveniently disposed of once it's time to end the episode, I quite agree. So here's another supercomputer destroyed. But shouldn't Kirk have argued it to death?
  • From Arianwen on 2010-09-01 at 6:45pm:
    Another remarkable scene - or rather sequence - from this episode: Scotty's time in the crawlway. The tension it generates is palpable and the final moments, when he's panicking over the magnetic probe ("it's stuck!") are pure gold. It feels very real; on the whole, a great episode for Scotty.

    Also good to see a female goldshirt actually being efficient on the flight-deck, and doing her job, her whole job and nothing but her job. (With a little bit of panicking to keep the crew company.)
  • From Strider on 2012-07-01 at 12:48am:
    I was also very excited to see the female navigator! That actor was also one of the Native American women from "The Paradise Syndrome." While she was portrayed as a competent helmsman, you could also see that she was new to bridge duty and probably to working with Spock, because she makes a few mistakes that a person used to this dirty wouldn't have made. Though it's true tat ST has a mixed record in portraying women, I found these details to be realistic and not necessarily based on Radha's gender.


    I liked how big a role D'Amato played before his (inevitable) death--he really seemed to fit into the landing party, like he'd been with them before. And he got to offer some real expertise in his field, as well. Unlike all the doomed redshirts, I was sorry to see D'Amato go. He'd have been a good addition to the supporting cast. The actor who played him, Arthur Batanides, became a very accomplished television actor.

    Spock is awfully "Spocky" in this episode, isn't he? None of the irritated humor of "The Mark of Gideon," and none of the stress we usually see when he's worried about Kirk. However, it's my observation that the more deeply Spock feels emotions, the more Vulcan he becomes in response. Also, in this episode, he has what's essentially a science problem to solve, and that's what he's best at.

    Lots of good Scotty scenes in this episode as well. I loved when Scotty had just saved the ship against all odds (again) and Spock starts lecturing him on humans' need for gratitude, and Scotty just collapses in the crawlway in relief.

    Otherwise this episode's plot is weak, and the disco ball/cube computer corny. And I wanted Spock to tell Kirk, "Dude, we got the Enterprise up to warp 14.1! It was AWESOME!"
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-03-26 at 10:07pm:
    "THAT WHICH SURVIVES"

    A solar hour is 1/24th of a solar day. A solar day is how long it takes the earth to rotate once relative to the sun. (Note that a sidereal day is how long it takes for the earth to rotate once relative to the fixed stars, which is about 23h56m. Since the earth has moved about 1 degree in its orbit over that time, the sun appears in a different place, and it takes about 4 extra minutes for the earth to rotate that additional degree.)

    So a solar day is 24 hours long.

    On a starship carrying humans it makes sense to emulate 24-hour days. In "The Conscience of the King" Kirk even says that's what they do. Hence, solar days on Star Trek.

    I like the scene where Scotty saves the ship. But why doesn't Spock say thank you? He says that in other episodes. Anyway, it works here, so that's good.

    Yeah, lame episode. What's the point of custom killer women who all look exactly the same? And the light-show computer? Bizarre.

    What's with that additional piece of Miss America's costume covering up her belly button? Looks silly. It's purpose is just so blatantly obvious. Didn't we see Nichelle Nichols' navel in "Mirror, Mirror"? And Nancy Kovack's (Nona) in "A Private Little War"?

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune

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Star Trek TOS - 3x18 - The Lights of Zetar

Originally Aired: 1969-1-31

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

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 4.29

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 25 10 15 10 13 10 7 27 12 8 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

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

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

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

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

    The aliens certainly must realize that putting Mira into that pressure chamber was an attempt to destroy them. So why didn't they leave Mira's body? The inhabitants of memory alpha were all killed; how did the crew of the enterprise escape this fate?

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Star Trek TOS - 3x19 - Requiem for Methuselah

Originally Aired: 1969-2-14

Synopsis:
Kirk and crew meet an immortal human named Flint. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 4.77

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 9 13 15 9 7 8 15 13 9 12 5

Problems
None

Factoids
None

Remarkable Scenes
- Rayna: "What is loneliness?" Flint: "It is thirst. It is a flower dying in the desert."
- Kirk dancing with Rayna while Spock plays the piano.
- Kirk criticizing his own actions in the end.
- Spock mind melding with the sleeping Kirk, forcing him to forget the whole experience.

My Review
This episode would have been better if it focused more on the plague and less on this mysterious human who's claimed his own planet. The absolute worst detail in this episode is Kirk falling in love with yet another girl of the week. He should have just left Flint alone and left the planet once he had his medicine.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Crystal on 2012-06-19 at 9:55am:
    I am not sure why Spock felt the need to make him forget this girl of the week, and not Edith or Elaan.
    I agree that there should have been more focus on the plague, since it threatened the entire crew of the Enterprise.
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-28 at 12:41pm:
    Arguably the worst episode of the entire series. Shatner's acting, and the inane dialogue is almost painful to watch, especially when he is "falling in love" with an android. And we know what most of those historic characters Flint claims to have been looked like. And they didn't all look alike. And if we are to suppose that none of those famous people actually died, they all must have simply "disappeared" - again, not credible. Nor would any of them (except his first incarnation) have had a childhood.
  • From Harrison on 2015-11-22 at 1:22pm:
    While there is a fair bit of appalling acting, this episode has some redeeming and memorable virtues. For one thing, Nemoy delivers a very strong performance Spock's revelation of Flint's genius and past identities unfolds exactly as it should, thanks o some pretty elegant dialogue. James Daly is quite convincing as the inscrutable Flint. Louise Sorel is not only drop-dead gorgeous, but delivers some undeniably entrancing lines ("It is a flower dying in the desert"). Even Kirk's philandering campiness doesn't entirely lack amusement value. There's some classic Star trek to be had here, adn ti certainly isn't the worst episode of the original series.

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Star Trek TOS - 3x20 - The Way to Eden

Originally Aired: 1969-2-21

Synopsis:
A charismatic leader and his followers hijack the Enterprise in their search for "Eden." [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 3.01

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 68 13 12 9 7 6 9 5 5 8 15

Problems
None

Factoids
- Uhura is remarkably absent from this episode.

Remarkable Scenes
- Spock's careful handling of the space hippies.
- Adam: "I crack my knuckles and jump for joy! I got a clean bill of health from Dr. McCoy!"
- Chekov: "I am proud of what I am. I believe in what I do. Can you say that?"
- Chekov respectfully submitting himself for punishment.

My Review
This episode is famous for being terribly bad and overly silly. Essentially a band of dropout space hippies go on a religious quest to find Eden. Then they discover, much to their discontent, that there is no Eden. Fans vigorously bash this episode, but I am less critical. This episode features no incredible technical problems; nothing in this episode couldn't have happened in the canonical Star Trek universe. Indeed, I think this episode holds historical value on many levels. It shows the pointlessness of the whole hippie movement of the 1960s by showing the same pointlessness in the 2260s. Basically, extremist groups guided by religious beliefs never accomplish anything. Another redeeming quality of this episode is the fact that for once the Enterprise doesn't feature superior condescending malicious guests. Instead, they are ignorant, misguided, and in fact have good intentions. Now, admittedly, the acting is ridiculously silly and very over the top. I give it a low rating thusly. But not nearly as low as many fans would say it deserves.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Peter on 2010-08-12 at 7:05pm:
    Human behaviour appears to be sillier and sillier with hindsight, the only reason being that you were either not living at that time or were not really involved. In contrast to other "bad episodes" many fans give very high ratings to this episode, as I do myself. Because there is a lot in this episode that seems to elude many people. Of course, the crew of the enterprise is confronted by characters of the late sixties, a guru, hippies, dropouts, whatever you call them. First of all, it is a funny episode with a tragic and realistic ending. In fact, even the "insane" Dr. Sevrin is a far more credible evil guy than many other entities that roam our galaxy. I like the idea that an expert of future acoustics will use his knowledge to paralyze the crew of the enterprise much more than blinking lights that grow more powerful by the emotions released in ridiculous sword fights of Humans and Klingons. In fact there is a basic and dominating idea in this episode: What can sound and our voices be used for? For entertaining music, for derising authorities (rarely Kirk is more helpless when he is called "Herbert") and for "evil actions". The whole story is well constructed, e.g. the scenes of Chekov and Irina are beautiful and well played as is the music, in particular when Spock is involved. I think that Spock really FEELS and not only UNDERSTANDS what the quest of the space hippies means: finding UTOPIA or EDEN. Maybe the best idea in the episode and implied by Spock is that this EDEN/UTOPIA is not ready-made but has to be created by us.
  • From Mosh on 2012-08-06 at 10:25pm:
    Well now that they've encountered a planet with such hostile conditions, maybe they will stop blindly beaming down to new planets and start sending probes or at least wear an environmental suit of some kind. Somehow I don't think they'll learn their lesson, though.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-11-24 at 8:31am:
    “Captain’s Log: While we’ve had a lot of bad episodes lately, at least we haven’t been hijacked by space hippies yet.”

    At first I’m watching this thinking, ‘do I reach?’, but then around that groovy scene where Spock and the chick are jamming with the bicycle rim I’m thinking, “That’s now. That real now.” It starts to chime, man. I reach.

    26 zero ratings? You guys are total Herberts. Stiff man’s putting my mind in jail. Ok, so the dueling bad Russian accents might have been painful. But don’t get jelly in the belly, man. The space hippies die on an acid planet. Do you reach, Herbert? The episode was all about a bad acid trip. Gotta give it a ‘6’ for that.
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-30 at 11:40am:
    Notwithstanding a few memorable moments, this is not a good episode. Kirk (who seems overly bothered being called "Herbert") defends the group by saying to Scott "I used to get into a little trouble when I was that age, Scotty, didn't you?" - though the groups leader seems at least as old as Kirk. The others aren't exactly teenagers, either. At that age, Kirk would already have been in star fleet, and the only "trouble" he got into was not firing fast enough into that creature that later appeared in "obsession", a ratting out his friend ("court martial").

    Nor were these people peace-loving hippies. They intended to kill everyone on board ship to achieve their objective. Checkov's ex-girlfriend irina realizes this, but offers only a token objection. She, like the others, is prepared to murder well over 400 people to ensure what she supposes to be a happy life, with only a handful of humanoids as companions. And after they fail, everything is still fine and dandy between "pavel" and irina. And apparently, no charges are ever filed against the survivors of the "hippies".

    At the beginning of the episode, the group apparently didn't know the location of Eden. So when dr sevrin asked to be taken there, why wasn't the answer "we don't know where it is"? It was only later that Spock, with checkov's help, was able to locate the planet, which was deep in romulan territory. That raises two questions: how would romulan space have been mapped? and how come no romulans appeared? This is the only time I can recall the enterprise EVER entering romulan space without encountering a romulan ship.

    How did Kirk and Spock simply wake up after the sound waves rendered them unconscious?

    And by the way, what are "space studies" (in which Tong Rad had "extraordinary abilities"? Physics? Anthropology? Navigation? Geology?

    I will say that the blond girl musician was absolutely gorgeous. The brunette who flirted with sulu (same actress was one of the "Galileo 7") was cute, too.
  • From thaibites on 2015-10-21 at 3:34pm:
    Typical low-score TOS review by "Herbert" Newport. It's obvious that he didn't grow up with TOS, so he doesn't understand.
    I thought the whole thing between Chekov and his old girlfriend was really sad. Having to give her up for star fleet is a tough choice to make. She looked awesome in that futuristic outfit!
    Spock jams! They should've brought Jimi Hendrix on to guest star in this one.

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Star Trek TOS - 3x21 - The Cloud Minders

Originally Aired: 1969-2-28

Synopsis:
Kirk is forced into negotiating peace on a planet with severe class inequities. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 5.13

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 24 4 4 7 4 14 17 20 9 12 10

Problems
- Just after the opening credits when Kirk said, "Who are you, what's the meaning of this attack?" his lips weren't moving.
- Why does no one on the Enterprise crew at any time object to the class struggle on Stratos on the grounds of it and its consequential cruelties and torture being illegal in the Federation?

Factoids
- The view of the planet from Stratos are actually satellite images of Earth.
- The "Troglyte" race is actually a reference to "Troglodytes," which is slang for "cave dweller."
- The class struggle on Stratos in this episode bears a striking resemblance to the similar one that occurred in the 12000 BC time period of the 1990s RPG Chrono Trigger. However, both are probably based on the H. G. Wells novel "The Time Machine."

Remarkable Scenes
- The sight of Stratos. Some neat artwork.
- Droxine: "I have never before met a Vulcan, sir." Spock: "Nor I a work of art, madame."
- Droxine: "Father, are we so sure of our methods that we never question what we do?"
- Kirk forcing Plasus and Vanna to dig in the mines.

My Review
The Ardanans and Troglytes look exactly like humans. Looks aside, these guys make poor Federation members, what with this class inequality and all. One wonders how they were ever accepted into the Federation. Fortunately, it seems the situation was largely resolved. Despite the seeming lack of consistency with a Federation member having social class issues, the episode is largely exciting and visually stunning (especially for its day). Quite a memorable original series episode.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 5:33pm:
    Two things I would like to point out that have not been mentioned (therefore in the review section):
    1. Problems: in Amok Time Spock is unwilling to tell anybody about the Pon Farr - this goes so far that he is almost willing to die instead of confiding in his best friend, his captain. And all of a sudden he tells Droxine about it, a woman he has met maybe a day before? Not granted he is smitten with her (which is a little out of character, anyway), but this is one of the greatest characterization inconsistencies of TOS.
    2. Praise: One of the very few occasions where we have a woman who is a) the leader of men, b) smarter than most of them c) willing to physically fight and d) even kicks some serious ass. Have we ever seen Kirk in a true fistfight with a woman which he did not win easily? Gotta love Vanna.
    The reference is probably indeed to The Time Machine, only that in Wells's book the upper class people were mentally degenerate, while the lower class people were physically ugly, but highly intelligent. But then, there's gotta be some variation on the theme.
  • From Strider on 2012-07-02 at 11:38am:
    I liked Vanna, too. I loved that she was resourceful enough to figure out how to use the communicator and then to call the Enterprise to beam them up. And you could see Kirk liked her, but he never made a real move on her, besides one or two suggestive comments. Probably afraid of getting his butt kicked.

    I have mixed feelings about the Spock/Droxine aspect. Spock's "flirting" is so low-key and subtle, it is wonderful to watch. It's like with the Romulan commander--he doesn't make overtures, he receives them, he just answers questions, but he does so in that slow, deep, thoughtful voice and some serious eye contact.

    And I know that Droxine seems childish and naive, but I can see why she appeals to Spock. She's intellectual and artistic, and those are two primary values for Spock--even if the Stratus-dwellers were prejudiced, they did produce good art and science. Besides that, for a man who has seen every kind of violence, horror, abuse, and flaw of nature, someone who is soft, welcoming, and likes him, in addition to being aesthetically beautiful, could be very appealing.

    And I expect he's learned from Jim that there are joys to be found in the opposite sex. How many women did Kirk hook up with in the series, sometimes almost right in front of Spock? You have to think that every now and then Spock wonders, "Maybe I should get me some of that." In a more Spock-like way, of course.

    I was also a little put-off by the "ponn-farr" conversation, but I realized that he never speaks about his own experience. He only speaks theoretically. It made me think that she was the one who asked the question and he was answering it. She's probably read about it. Bringing up such a sensitive subject is one way very young people flirt.

    Besides, it isn't very clear in the whole early ST world whether Vulcans ONLY have sex during the ponn-farr, or if that's just the drive toward the specific mate that happens in that way. Weren't we all just a little curious?

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Star Trek TOS - 3x22 - The Savage Curtain

Originally Aired: 1969-3-7

Synopsis:
Kirk and Spock are forced into a battle of good and evil. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 3

Fan Rating Average - 4.63

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 18 6 5 19 12 14 8 11 4 12 9

Problems
None

Factoids
None

Remarkable Scenes
- Abraham Lincoln floating in space. WTF?
- Uhura not taking offense to Lincoln's accidental racist remark.
- Spock correcting Scotty when he pointed to the direction Earth was in. Hilarious!
- Surak's appearance.
- Surak: "Perhaps it is our belief in peace that is actually being tested."
- Lincoln: "There's no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war except its ending."

My Review
One wonders how much respect an ancient revered European leader like Sir Winston Churchill or an Asian leader like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi would get on this most blatant episode of Americans in space. Thankfully, McCoy's and Scotty's objections offset Kirk's odd behavior. Unfortunately, yet another alien who forces our cast to fight for its own amusement. One remarkable detail is that Kahless is considered evil in this episode. In TNG he is considered quite the honorable figure. This isn't necessarily a technical problem; surely the Klingons are considered evil by Kirk, and the alien in this episode just extracted that impression in his recreation of Kahless. Ultimately, this episode consists largely of pointless fighting which makes it totally inconsequential. I wish there was less of this in Star Trek.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From TashaYar on 2008-09-15 at 12:38am:
    I just saw this ep again the other day... interestingly they address your objection. In the transporter room, Scotty in his dress uniform says something about rendering honors to "Lincoln" and asks who will be next, will it be Robert the Bruce. Kirk enters at this point, having overheard the remark, and replies "in that case we will render appropriate honors to him as well." For further details see "http://startrek.wikia.com/wiki/Robert_the_Bruce"
  • From technobabble on 2010-11-22 at 4:48pm:
    Seemed odd that the aliens did not understand the good vs evil moral dynamic of the human condition but chose to interpret it only through small bout of combat. If they could use the ship's library etc. to replicate important historical figures could they not also sift through historical analysis?

    Aliens seemed only interested in the brute strength of the two moral philosophies & dismissed the rest, making the story only about the contention that good & evil have to function similarly in times of war, offering the peace laurel at the wrong time can just leave you dead.

    Points for showing a unique alien this time, made of scalding volcanic living rock.


  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2012-05-27 at 7:11pm:
    It's the Hunger Games! LOL The fight ends very prematurely, probably because they stuffed too much into a one hour show. They probably could have scrapped the whole "Lincoln walking around the Enterprise" bit in order to show a more complete battle on the surface. Still, it's not a bad episode. I thought the pacing was perfect, and the lava being's costume is the best costume of TOS. On the Blu-ray version, the planet's new appearance enhances the episode quite a bit. There's a part where a section of the lava planet changes to earthlike conditions, and it is now clearly seen. I'm not sure why the creature created such a large arena for everyone to fight in though (thousands of miles).
  • From Warp factor 10.1 on 2012-07-19 at 7:11pm:
    I love it when superior beings abduct different species from around the galaxy to pit them against one another, as in 'Gamesters'. It's just what superior beings ought to do and why the other series aren't as good (they seem to have given it up).
    Like you, I'm puzzled by the choices for the two sides. What about Hitler, Margaret Thatcher or Dick Dastardly for the baddies?

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Star Trek TOS - 3x23 - All Our Yesterdays

Originally Aired: 1969-3-14

Synopsis:
Kirk, Spock and McCoy enter a time portal and get stuck in the past on a planet about to be consumed by a nova. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 6.74

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 17 3 1 3 6 4 9 21 25 25 26

Problems
- Spock claims his home planet is millions of light years away. Uh, no? The galaxy isn't even that wide.

Factoids
- I like the small silver disks used for data storage. What? That's not remarkable you say? This episode was made many years before CDs, youngster. ;)
- Interesting names: Mr. Atoz, or "A-to-Z" for a librarian. And the Atavachron (the time travel machine) which means "forefather's time."

Remarkable Scenes
- Atoz: "A library serves no purpose unless someone is using it."
- Atoz in two places at once. Awesome.
- Kirk: "You're a very agile man, Mr. Atoz. Just how many of you are there?"
- Kirk's fencing fight.
- McCoy and Spock stuck in a frozen environment.
- Kirk accused of being a witch.
- Spock getting emotional.
- Spock falling in love with Zarabeth.
- Spock realizing he's losing his emotional control.
- Spock letting go of his woman.
- The sun going nova.

My Review
The last great original series episode before the show was prematurely canceled. Generally the original series' over use of time travel tended to suck, but this is one of nicest uses of it. Spock falls in love with a truly beautiful woman, having lost his emotional control. Spock and McCoy stuck in an ice age while Kirk is stuck in a dark age. It's nice to watch the two storylines unfold, and get a brief look at the people of this world at the same time. It would seem fitting that if a people's sun were to go nova, that some of the people would take refuge by living out their lives in the past. Interestingly, they could alter their own history to better prepare them for that eventual nova. Though this would create a time paradox. If every new altered generation kept going back in time to assist the previous ones, we'd have limitless time with which a society could evolve! Sheesh, time travel gives me a headache, and I seem to have gone off on a tangent. In any case, this is a truly enjoyable episode to watch. One of Spock's greatest moments.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rpeh on 2010-07-17 at 2:43pm:
    Brilliant stuff, and good to see Spock getting the woman for once. The best exchange is with Spock and the Doctor at the end:
    McCoy: But it did happen, Spock.
    Spock: Yes it happened. But it was 5,000 years ago... and she is dead now. Dead, and buried long ago.
    Really makes you feel for Spock.

    The time paradox issue is obvious a pretty serious one, but it doesn't detract from a really good story.
  • From Q on 2010-11-30 at 2:55pm:
    Wow! Genuine Star Trek stuff. Unlike many others TOS episodes this one can easily keep up with the standards that were later set by the successor series of the franchise. Timeless. My favorite.
  • From Strider on 2012-07-03 at 2:24pm:
    After watching The Savage Curtain, which was just embarrassing, this episode was balm to my soul. Every character is at his best in this, and like the review says, this is a great and actually sensible use of a time travel setting.

    I wanted Spock to have more time with Zarabeth. We knew that was a very significant relationship because we saw Spock justifying why he wasn't moving heaven and earth to find Kirk. The doctor standing up to Spock was excellent and powerful, and it was SO NICE not to have to watch Kirk with some woman again. And of course, Spock's struggle with his deeply written Vulcan nature was so vivid. Why is it we like to see him suffer so?

    One of the best.

  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-13 at 12:53pm:
    I guess I'm in the minority on this comment board, as I only found this episode to be "OK," and gave it 5/10.

    As with so many other episodes, this one has a very interesting idea that allows for some interesting situations for our main characters to deal with. And yet, there are too many unanswered (and possible unanswerable) questions:

    Leaving aside the entire time travel story headaches (they always exist, even with the most carefully planned time travel story), I have to wonder why the "tyrant" referred to set up this entire system? Zarabeth explains that he needed to keep them alive, but it wasn't clear as to why. Setting up a time travel system just to imprison people seems insanely elaborate. (Maybe another poster can explain this to me - it's quite possible that I might have missed it.)

    And of course, if this tyrant DID set up a time travel system, couldn't it be used in some way to influence the future? And whose future was it, anyway? These people were from another planet, and yet they seemed to be transported to the history of "our" Earth, including European inquisitions and duelists. Baffling.

    The major strength of this story, though, was Spock's struggle with his regressing nature. Seeing him go through the pain of realizing that he is both becoming more savage and experiencing more primal love was touching and heart-rending at the same time. And it was good to see McCoy finally get called out for his tiresome, bigoted antagonism of Spock. If there's one Star Trek cliche that I got tired of very early in the series, it was this one. Even if Spock was acting irrationally, McCoy deserved to be choked out at least once before the series ended.

    Some good. Some bad. Very much like most of the episodes I've watched.

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Star Trek TOS - 3x24 - Turnabout Intruder

Originally Aired: 1969-6-3

Synopsis:
A woman from Kirk's past exchanges bodies with him and takes control of the ship. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 5.06

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 24 6 3 7 11 5 14 17 17 13 7

Problems
None

Factoids
- The 2260s seemed to be a period of sexism. See comments.
- Uhura is remarkably absent from this episode.

Remarkable Scenes
- Lester: "Your world of starship captains doesn't admit women."
- Kirk and Lester swapping bodies.
- Lester-as-Kirk: "Now you'll know the indignity of being a woman."
- Lester-as-Kirk: "Believe me, it's better to be dead than alone in the body of a woman."
- Kirk-as-Lester waking up and realizing who he is.
- Kirk-as-Lester trying to use his knowledge as the captain of the Enterprise to convince Spock that he is who he says he is.
- Spock Vulcan neck pinching the redshirt.
- Kirk and Lester arguing over who's who.
- Lester-as-Kirk freaking out.
- Lester losing Kirk's body.

My Review
A nice episode, even if an unsuitable end to the series. Granted, it's one of the most blatant displays of sexism in Star Trek I've ever seen. It makes canonical that the 2260s was a (most likely brief) period of sexism in the Star Trek universe. This is isn't necessarily impossible; societies can revert to earlier sentiments, although it is unlikely. Despite likelihood, it's a part of the Star Trek universe and we must accept this. Moving on, this is the first of many "personality swapped" episodes we'll see in Star Trek. This one does it well. Kirk and Lester play each other's parts very nicely, making this episode thrilling. Most fun to watch. The best part is how well Lester has planned her move against Kirk. Personally, if I were Kirk stuck in Lester's body, I'm not sure I would have taken it so well!

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 5:40pm:
    ... also watch the way especially Shatner acts trying to impersonate a woman (at one point he is sitting at his desk talking to Spock while doing his nails). Very campy, slightly sexist, but for once not too much over the top, which is an achievement for William Shatner.
  • From Strider on 2012-07-06 at 1:25am:
    I don't think it's necessarily true that the "no women starship captains" rule is canonical--it depends whether you feel Janice Lester is a trustworthy source. She was "unsuited by training and temperament" for a command, and we know she's nuts, so she might have just been using that as her excuse to herself why she didn't get that position. We can see she didn't fare that well in a man's body even when she finally had what she wanted.

    I thought Sandra Smith was great in this, when she wasn't being "crazy Janice." When she was Kirk, she played with intensity and strength. I liked watching her.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-10-07 at 1:42pm:
    "Turnabout Intruder"

    I would add the following to "remarkable scenes":

    Apparent Kirk knocking down apparent Lester. Again a simple karate chop to the shoulder brings a person down. It doesn't even look like he's hitting her hard.

    Apparent Kirk announcing to the entire crew that Spock is charged with mutiny. Here Lester's mind is descending into total wacko-land with a sharp increase in speed.

    These two lines of Spock's powerful steadfast defiance:

    SPOCK: No, sir. I shall not withdraw a single charge that I have made. You are not Captain Kirk. You have ruthlessly appropriated his body, but the life entity within you is not that of Captain Kirk. You do not belong in charge of the Enterprise and I shall do everything in my power against you.
    [...]
    SPOCK: Yes, sir. An immediate vote before our chief witness can be left to die on some obscure planet with the truth locked away inside of her.

    The entire episode is so jam-packed with remarkable scenes that it's hard to narrow the field!

    >----o----<

    General Comments

    Re "life-entity transfer" in "Turnabout Intruder":

    [Apparent Lester's room]

    SPOCK: Complete life-entity transfer with the aid of a mechanical device?
    LESTER (with KIRK's mind): Yes, that's what it must've been.
    SPOCK: To my knowledge, such total transfer has never been accomplished with complete success anywhere in the galaxy.

    Did this not happen in "Return to Tomorrow", "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", "Wolf in the Fold", and "Metamorphosis"? Even if you limit this to the use of a mechanical device, the second in the list still qualifies, albeit to an android. This is one thing apparently written into the story just to make it harder for transferred Kirk to prove his case. On the other hand, things could hinge on just what Mr. Spock meant by "complete success". Still, what happened in these episodes is enough to make a case of "complete success" quite credible.

    I don't see how Kirk/Lester could have passed the Robbiana[sp?] dermal optic test. How could there have been no measurable psychological changes between such vastly different personalities? This is another thing apparently written just to make it harder for transferred Kirk to prove his case, while at the same time causing some anxiety for Apparent Kirk (Lester).

    The scene with Spock and (apparent) Lester trying to leave her room and Spock giving the guards neck/shoulder pinches somehow comes across as a little awkward. Spock takes apparent Lester's wrist.

    It's incredible and fun to see Shatner acting as lunatic Lester.

    Notice that Lester in Kirk's body is able to duplicate his famous cadence. Impressive! This makes for yet another thing to make it harder for Kirk in Lester's body to make his case. Correspondingly, it would have been fun if Smith as Kirk had imitated this same cadence! I guess cadence doesn't get transferred along with "the life entity". You'd think it would, no? (Perhaps Shatner couldn't help but do his trademark cadence and Smith simply couldn't do it well enough.)

    Also, at times, Smith doesn't come across as very Kirk-like when playing Kirk.

    One thing I like about this story is the fact that each side gets more and more frustrated as the story unfolds. Lester (apparent Kirk) is continually frustrated that there is an endless stream of obstacles placed in her path while at the same time Spock and Bones (and later, others) are continually frustrated that those same obstacles don't thwart Lester's takeover plans while getting themselves in more and more trouble. Fascinating.

    All in all, a fun episode, but not to be taken too seriously.

    >----o----<

    Re Strider's remark on Lester's excuse for not making Captain:

    LESTER: Your world of starship captains doesn't admit women. It isn't fair.
    KIRK: No, it isn't. And you punished and tortured me because of it.

    Evidently, Kirk agrees with lunatic Lester.

    AEF
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-12-14 at 9:11am:
    ‘7’ A much better episode than I remembered. Shades of Mirror, Mirror with the internal conflict in the crew. The power and authority of the captain are really driven home in this episode. (Like The Cloud Minders, it’s good to see that starship captains have some weight to throw around in the Federation). Also, the plot had more of an ensemble cast feel to it; a nice change from the Kirk and Spock show. Uhura’s unexplained absence from the episode yet again makes me wonder if the producers might have been fishing for ratings with with younger eye candy in the communications seat.

    McCoy’s testing of Kirk obviously would have included basic memory recall that the imposter would have immediately failed, and then he would have had adequate grounds to relieve him. Scotty’s intention to vote for Spock in the court marshal was in character, but his private incitement to mutiny was not. It is also not clear that Kirk would have the authority to prevent McCoy from treating Lester or examining her as part of his investigation of Kirk’s capacity to command.

    Still, not at all bad. I like the last line about ‘what if’ or ‘only if’ or whatever. Perhaps aimed as much at this being the last show as at the episode itself. What if indeed.
    My numbers for the whole series are

    1st Season 5.48 rating. (Best: 2x‘10’ episodes, 1x‘9’, 3x‘8’. Worst were 1x‘1’, 3x‘2’, 3x‘3’)

    2nd Season 5.59 rating (Best: 2x‘10’, 2x‘9’, 3x‘8’. Worst: 1x’1’, 1x’2’, 4x‘3’)

    3rd Season – 4.38 rating. (Best: 4x’8’. Worst: 2x‘0’, 3x‘1’, 3x‘2’, 2x‘3’)

    The Third Season had serious problems with subpar scripting (only 46% of episodes rated ‘5’ or above, in comparison with 69% for the first two season). It also had no ‘magnificent’ episodes of score 9 or 10. It also had the only two of my zero rated episodes of the whole series (The Empath and Plato's Stepchildren), a rating I reserved for rejecting that the episode was even Star Trek.

    But the final 10 episodes of the 3rd Season showed a considerable improvement in quality relative to the first batch of 10, (47 points vs. 42). So I see no reason why the 4th Season could have been better than the 3rd.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-10-05 at 10:56am:
    Replying to Glenn239:

    He writes, "Uhura’s unexplained absence from the episode yet again makes me wonder if the producers might have been fishing for ratings with with younger eye candy in the communications seat."

    She was on vacation. Hey, even working for Star Fleet, evidently one gets some vacation time. And probably sick time and personal days, too.

    On rhea's comments about Kirk acting ladylike:

    Note how he places his hand on his hair after beaming up from the planet when mentioning his previous romantic involvement with Janet. Kirk wouldn't do that.

    AEF, aka betaneptune
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-13 at 2:26pm:
    I give it a 6/10. A few rather serious problems, but they're just barely overcome by the amusing and sometimes impressive acting, as well as the general rise in tension throughout the episode.

    I agree that there is a strong sexist overtone to this entire story; the funny thing is that there didn't really have to be. With a few thoughtful lines of dialogue, it could have been established that either: (1) Lester clearly had a persecution complex that she saw focused solely on her gender rather than a lack of requisite skills, or (2) that the Federation had no such sexist rule against women as captains. The screenwriters didn't do either one, and the tale suffers for it.

    Also, you mean to tell me that not ONE person thought to simply start asking questions to Kirk and Lester about things that only Kirk would know? Any one of Spock, McCoy, Scotty, or the other longer-term crew members certainly had certain intimate moments with Kirk which they could draw from. As Scotty says in his line, "I've seen James Kirk afraid, drunk..." etc. All it would have taken to convince them, even the all-of-a-sudden logically-minded Bones, is to ask about one of these private moments ("Hey Jim, what was the name of that purple alien chick you banged back on Rigel 7?"). The very moment that the false Kirk couldn't and the real Kirk could answer a few of them, end of story.

    It was still a compelling enough episode, though, just to gain the satisfaction of seeing Kirk regain his body from a raving loony. I especially liked the passive resistance of Sulu and Chekhov. Understated, but very effective.

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