SIDEBARS: (1) Sulu is left in charge on the ship when every other episode leaves Scotty in charge. That's odd. (2) After one Vulcan neck pinch Kirk says, "A pity you can't teach me that." Spock replies, "I have tried, Captain." (3) Spock sends out some kind of telepathic demand to one of the Yangs to bring him his communicator and she does it. Does he ever exhibit this anywhere else? I have not seen it--although he does "mindmeld through jail walls" twice. (4) It is pretty cool when Kirk comments on the Preamble.
"Plato's Stepchildren" Season 3, Episode 10. There's some weird stuff that goes on in this episode. A distress call from an unknown planet where we find a race that can screen themselves from the Enterprise sensors. McCoy needs to heal the leader. We find from Kirk's log: "When their planet novaed millenia ago, they transported themselves to Earth during the time of Socrates and Plato. After the death of the Greek civilization they idolized, they came to this planet and created for themselves a utopia patterned after it." They are thousands of years old but if they get cut and infected, it could kill them. Apparently this hasn't happened in thousands of years. The aliens are psychokinetic. They are powerful enough to control the Enterprise up in orbit and prevent communications. They want to keep Bones as their doctor. They torture Kirk and Spock like puppets and make their dwarf helper, Alexander, ride Kirk like a horse. I'm not kidding. McCoy and Spock finally discover that the psychokinetic ability is in the planet's food. The substance is called Kironide and is developed in the pituitary, which is why Alexander doesn't exhibit the ability. Kirk, Spock, and Bones inject double the amount of Kironide into their system and wait for the effects to come out. Meanwhile, the aliens make Spock sing a bad song, make Spock and Nurse Chapel and Kirk and Uhura make out, then make Kirk whip Uhura. Kirk yells about how utopia has made them lazy, "You're half-dead...you have to torture us to make yourselves feel superior." Alas, the Kironide finally kicks in and the one psychokinetic struggle between Kirk and the alien leader has Alexander with a knife in the middle. Wait a minute--the episode constantly has things flying around, many at once, powerful enough to effect the Enterprise in orbit, and they are playing tug of war with Alexander and a knife at the throat of the leader? Why don't the 38 other aliens fight back? If this were a comic book or a novel, there would be a great telekinetic struggle. The medium here fails completely. Kirk "wins" and takes Alexander away, telling the alien leader that other starships will be coming so be good, or we will use Kironide again and get you. So, dammit, I want to know what happens next! Would this planet be treated like another Talos IV in "The Menagerie" with a completely hands-off approach? What happens to the aliens? Does Starfleet leave them alone? This race knows space travel--could they become part of the Federation? What the hell happens next?
"Return to Tomorrow" Season 2, Episode 20. A distress call brings them to an alien planet of telepaths, with prophetic words about all mankind perishing. Kirk's log will take three weeks to get to Starfleet at this distance. The powerful enough alien named Sargon turned off the power of the entire Enterprise in order to communicate that Spock should beam down too, yet the alien talks other times. Dr. Ann Mulhall (played by the actress that plays Dr. Pulaski in The Next Generation) is an astrobiologist that comes along. Sargon keeps calling Kirk's crew "My children" sayind that 6,000 centuries ago they were colonizing the area. His race could be the Adam and Eve. These aliens are now just thought, disincorporated from any body. Then Sargon takes over Kirk's body. They want to borrow the bodies in order to build robotic bodies. The crew agree to it! Spock says, "With their knowledge, mankind could leap ahead 10,000 years." They never even ask Starfleet about this. We find that the alien that takes over Spock's body is jealous of Sargon's love for the female alien. Spock sabotages the injection for Kirk's body (Sargon). Bones gets to say "He's dead" over Kirk's body. They start to feel that the robot bodies would be much better than the robot bodies as they apparently want to feel (and I think that all the aliens want to "feel" Dr. Mulhall's body). They fight it all out, blah blah blah, and the aliens fight amongst themselves. Although, it does bring up an interesting point: if an alien race could take over the body of a Starfleet officer like this, what could prevent them from really wreaking havoc? If all three of these aliens had been malevolent instead of just the one, the Enterprise would have been easily and completely taken over. They should have lost this round. I guess it will make Kirk think twice about loaning out the bodies of his crew.
"The Empath" Season 3, Episode 12. What a horrible episode. Boring. A sun is about to go nova and Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are beamed away from their mission on the alien planet by alien tech. They are kidnapped by aliens with big heads and robes who look remarkably similar to the aliens on Talos IV in "The Menagerie." I guess they were bored in coming up with a new-looking alien. There is also an "empath" being there, mute but healing injuries with a touch. These aliens, the Vians, are testing the girl empath--according to Memory-alpha: "they explain to Kirk, Spock, and the dying McCoy that they have been part of an experiment. They have the power to save one species from the impending nova, and so they wished to test whether Gem's species is worthy of being saved. Apparently the Vians want to be certain that she has learned the principles of self-sacrifice, the will to survive, the passion to know, and the love of life from her contact with the Humans. These qualities, they say, make a civilization worthy to survive." I guess the whole thing is about the value of a species being its emotions, like compassion and self-sacrifice. But then the episode just ends--what the heck happened? Did the Vians survive? Did the empath's race survive? Where did they go? Does Starfleet do anything about this? The whole time I was watching this episode, I was bored. I wanted to shut it off at the halfway point.
"Elaan of Troyius" Season 3, Episode 13. A top secret diplomatic mission, bringing two strange races together. The "queen" Elaan is a super-bitch is to be brought to the other planet into a political marriage. It becomes Kirk's job to "tame" her. She actually stabs the Troyan abassador! There's a Klingon ship following them. Elaan's tears are said to be some kind of super love potion that ensnares men. And of course she ensnares Kirk. One of Elaan's guards, Kryton, ends up being a Klingon spy and sabotages the Enterprise. I was watching, thinking to myself how the hell does this guy have the run of engineering, able to get to and disable the warp drive and dilithium crystal. He snaps the neck of Watson, a redshirted engineer. Kryton is soon phasered to death by a security guard--ahhhhh, why the hell weren't phasers set on stun there?? The Klingon ship attacks. I understand why there is no phaser power but are the photon torpedoes powered by the crystal? It would seem not when Kirk orders Chekhov to prepare the torpedoes before Scotty engages the new crystals. Oh, yes of course, the necklace that Elaan is wearing is conveniently made of dilithium crystals. That's why the Klingons are involved anyway. At the end, there is actually a great space battle, with Kirk ordering some neat little manuevers--it is not just one blast. Now, at the end here, Kirk gives up Elaan to her new political marriage. And I am sitting here wondering why nobody seems to be too worried that Kryton was a Klingon agent in the first place!
"The Lights of Zetar" Season 3, Episode 18. I can see how Star Trek starting losing it during the third season. Sometimes, you can tell that the writing was just disinterested. That's because this episode was written by none other than Shari "Lambchop" Lewis and her husband. Not kidding. She even wanted to be cast as the lead, Lt. Mira Romaine, but thank goodness they didn't. The Enterprise is en route to the total and complete library at Memory Alpha, sort of like a Star Trek Library at Alexandria, and is the inspiration for the cool Star Trek wiki site Memory-Alpha.org. Scotty falls in love with Mira, and even after the events of this episode is never seen or heard from again (except a novel that is a sequel called Memory Prime by good Star Trek writers, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens--I haven't read that one). On the way, the Enterprise is attacked by some kind of unnatural light storm--hey they don't have a better name for it either. The lights take over the body of Mira. The lights go on to destroy Memory Alpha, all the people and the records. Spock says, "The loss to the galaxy may be irretrievable...a disaster for the galaxy." Spock figures out that the lights are alive. When the Enterprise shoots at the lights, Mira gets hurt. The Enterprise crew boringly sit around a conference table to compare Mira's Starfleet record to what they know about the lights. Her brainwave pattern has changed to that of the lights. The pacing is agonizingly slow here. The lights come aboard and further merge with Mira. The lights say they have searched for millenia for one to speak through. They are the remaining life force of a dead race, the Zetar. They are stealing her body. The crew put her in a pressure chamber of some kind that remove and kill the lights because they had become used to the vacuum of space. They die--ah, is this killing? Is it genocide then? I know it appeared to be her or the alien life force but does Kirk now have genocide under his belt? Then, that's it. The episode ends, with a little character tidbit of Kirk saying something "funny" like this being the only time Spock, McCoy, and Scotty all agree on something. Ha ha. Now give me my fifty minutes back for watching this horrible episode.
"The Paradise Syndrome" Season 3, Episode 3. I think that if I had been watching Star Trek as it was first running, this episode would have made me turn it off and never turn it back on, sort of like my feelings towards the killing of another of my favorites, the UPN TV series Seven Days and its third season premiere episode was so stinking bad that I never watched it again. I think this episode would have done it for me. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to an idyllic little planet similar to Earth. An asteroid is due to hit the planet in two months and they have been ordered to divert it. (Now, that is the part I don't understand--1) isn't it the part of Starfleet not to interfere--imagine if someone had diverted the asteroid on Earth 65 million years ago 2) if they were going to divert the asteroid anyway, why did they go check out the planet first???) The lifeforms of the planet are so basically like Native American Indians that we might as well call them that. Although, there is a strange obelisk on the planet that Kirk falls into unwillingly and gets knocked out, losing his memory. Meanwhile, Spock and McCoy have to get back to the Enterprise to rendezvous with the asteroid while there is a better chance of deflecting it way out in space.
SIDEBAR: The Enterprise is said to be using maximum warp speed for several hours to reach the rendezvous point. That seems like the writers didn't do a lot of real calculation. Remember, the asteroid is two months away from hitting the planet.
Anyway, Kirk comes out of the obelisk and is sort of seen as a god, especially when he saves a drowning boy with CPR, seeming to breathe life into the kid. Kirk unwittingly then usurps the medicine man role, making an enemy who he will fight later. Kirk marries the priestess-girl now. Yep, gets married. Is it really a marriage if it is under amnesia?? Wow, now that's a debate!
Meanwhile, the Enterprise looks like it is attacking the asteroid head on and losing. It drains most of its power and has to limp back to the planet for a two-month journey with the asteroid right on its ass. Ah, Scotty, what the hell? Two months isn't enough time? Two months. Spock though learns about the markings on the obelisk, saying it came from a race known as The Preservers who have seeded the galaxy. Bones notes how he always wondered why there were so many humanoids in the galaxy. This gets brought up again in a Next Generation episode entitled "The Chase."
So Kirk has been busy back on the planet--the wife is now pregnant. Kirk is the medicine man and when the asteroid apparently starts causing massive winds on the planet (I know, ridiculous), he must be the one to turn on the obelisk and save them. But he doesn't know how. They stone him and his wife. Bones and Spock beam down just in time to stop the stoning, although the wife dies, and deflect the asteroid using the obelisk. Spock cures Kirk's amnesia with a mind meld.
What a stupid episode. The biggest question is barely addressed--The Preservers. "Seeding" the galaxy? That is like huge news, archaeologically, metaphysically, religiously, etc. How can you just glance over that??
"Arena" Season 1, episode 18. This is one of my favorite Star Treks, one I especially remember as a kid. It is inspired by a story from SF great Fredric Brown. I love the one-on-one fight and how Kirk wins by being smarter and making gunpowder.
O'Herlihy, a redshirt, is vaporized quickly during a barrage and Kelowitz and Lang die off screen. It's like a future mortar battle, although I am wondering why you wouldn't beam the bombs to the camp? Can the only get through by mortar fire? Kirk almost gets blown up twice but rolls into a communicator conversation with Sulu. The enemy lock onto Spock's triorder signal and detonate it. "They've fed back my own impulses and built up an overload!" They eventually pursue the aliens who have blown up this settlement on Cestus III into space. Both ships are scanned by an unknown solar system (How can a neighboring solar system to an outpost be unknown?). Kirk is ready to annihilate the enemy ship, without even knowing who they are. Then we find another race of super beings in control. The Metrons. They have stopped the ships with "an unidentifiable power" and choose to "resolve your conflict in the way most suited to your limited mentalities." They have "prepared a planet with a breathable atmosphere." Then Kirk is gone, whisked away to the planet with the leader of the other ship, a Gorn, a lizard-like alien who looks like a refugee from a Barney show. The Gorn stalks Kirk like Pepe Le Pew. We find that the Gorn were attacking the outpost because they saw it as a sign of aggression against their space--apparently Starfleet didn't look into this further before establishing an outpost there. Kirk beats him with gun powder but refuses to kill him. The Metrons let them all live because mankind has shown great compassion. They are then, in the blink of an eye transported five hundred parsecs (roughly 1610 light years) away from its previous location. Now, I found out that the original script was a bit different.
http://www.fastcopyinc.com/orionpress/articles/arena.htm The only major plot point excised from the aired version reveals the Metrons' true original intentions.
METRON: I am afraid we perpetrated a hoax on you.
KIRK: What hoax?
METRON: We said that the ship of the loserof this personal combat would bedestroyed. That is not quiteaccurate. It is the winner... thestronger, the more resourceful...who would pose the greatest threatto us. We planned to destroy thevessel of the winner. Your ship, Captain.
KIRK(dangerously): Not my ship.
METRON: No, captain. We have changed our mind.
The rest of the Metron's dialogue explaining how they were impressed with Kirk's sparing of the Gorn's life is as aired.
There is a DS9 episode that talks again about the Gorn and an Enterprise episode that mentions them. Here. Then the Metrons, a super-race, is never mentioned again either until a DS9 episode, either. To be honest, that brief Metron mention may have been accidental--it isn't like it is a hard sci-fi name to come up. There are plenty of METRONS in sci-fi.
"The Cloud Minders" Season 3, Episode 21. They're out to rescue a planet with a cure for a plague. They need to get a substance called zenite from a planet called Merak II and bring it to the planet Ardana. However, they run into difficlty when they come between the apartheid policies of the "upper class" living in the cloud city of Stratos and the "working class" living in the mines--a quite succinct literal interpretation of "upper" and "lower" class. It is interesting how the beautiful "upper class" woman that Spock tries to woo shows her bitter social hatred, proving that beauty is more than skin deep. I would have liked to have seen Spock chastise her for it, or at least somehow address it. He does leave her completely alone after he sees this, but I wish it had been confronted. Also, is Kirk violating the Prime Directive when he tries to help the working class? He basically frees them. While personally I applaud his actions, isn't this supreme interference in the culture on the planet? Is he the catalyst for change or does he press it? Wouldn't he be idolized for this? I mean, look how we rightfully idolize Rosa Parks and MLK--would there be Kirk Day on this planet for his liberation of the working class? However, this is a good little episode; it just feels a bit cramped in a 50-minute tv show format. This may actually have made a much better novel than what appears on the screen. Theme is good though.
"Patterns of Force" Season 2, Episode 21. The Enterprise is sent to the planet Ekos to investigate the disappearance of Federation historian John Gill. He studies history by "causes and motivations" and not "dates and events." This episode completely shows the danger of violating the Prime Directive. Bones injects "subcutaneous transponders" in the event they lose their communicators. What the hell!? Where did this great invention go!? John Gill has imposed himself as the Fuhrer of a Nazi regime he has created on this planet. Spock says to Kirk after they steal uniforms, "You should make a very convincing Nazi." Spock and Kirk take out their transponders to create a crude lock-picking laser. While the premise seemed cool, I think the episode quickly degenerated. Instead of just beaming McCoy down in a Nazi doctor's uniform, why didn't they beam down like 200 guys with phasers and set on stun? The planet has already been contaminated against the Prime Directive. Then they are in a room alone with John Gill, they guy they came to get--just beam him up already! Because they don't, it does lead to his getting shot. Even though he was used by the Melakon guy, Gill still started the whole Nazi thing in the first place, thinking it would somehow help to bring the planet together. I guess he never really learned from history. This truly violated the Prime Directive, especially someone who was just supposed to be a "cultural observer." This episode truly highlights how far ahead the idea of the Prime Directive was, and indeed still is. What I want to know: what happens next on the planet?
"The Devil in the Dark" Season 1, Episode 25. There's a monster on the loose at a remote mining planet colony. This one is sort of like a Horror Trek episode, and would also make a good Dr. Who. One redshirt dies by the monster. Spock mentions the probability that the creature is the last of its kind and that killing it "would be a crime against science." Yet they both see that killing it is the only option--at first. Spock mind melds with the creature and they come up with a solution. This is a great episode with a good lesson. Understanding others not like us and not invading others' space. Who exactly is the "devil in the dark"?
"The Mark of Gideon" Season 3, Episode 16. Kirk is abducted, sent to what appears to be an empty Enterprise. (Lots of negative talk about "diplomats and bureaucrats" in this episode.) Altogether, it's an interesting puzzle you have to find the answer to. Kirk has been abducted to infect the Gideon population with diseases in order to fix the overpopulation problem. (Ahh, couldn't they just get some virus samples?) There's a real contradiction here from the aliens about loving life by not preventing conception yet being able to kill people to fight overpopulation, and it doesn't make any sense. They want to change their life cycle, from long perfection to a shorter duration. This reminds me of that one Next Generation episode with the Bynars where they stole the Enterprise-D without asking because they "may have said 'No.'" In all honesty, the creators skirted all the real issues that they brought up in this episode. It would make an interesting full-length novel. Couldn't they use the Gideons at colonies throughout the universe? I'm sure some would like to go if the world was that full, literally standing-room only.
"That Which Survives" Season 3, Episode 17. Something instantly hurls the Enterprise 990.7 light years away, stranding the landing party. Kirk, Bones, Sulu, and a geologist named D'Amato get stranded on a mystery world. The transporter officer is killed by a strange woman, who then also kills D'Amato on the surface of the planet. Then the strange woman is on the Enterprise again, one thousand light years away. She kills an engineer named Watkins. Then she is back on the planet--the tech, or magic, or whatever to instantly transport a thousand light years? Wow. The landing party discover that it is an outpost for a long dead alien race. It's almost exactly like that one Next Generation episode "The Last Outpost." Indeed, that TNG episode seems to be a sort of remake. Speeds of warp 11.9, 13.2, and 14.1 are mentioned. It is a completely forgettable episode.
"And the Children Shall Lead" Season 3, Episode 4. Kirk and company investigate what's left of a scientific party on the planet Triakis. All the adults are dead from an apparent mass suicide. The kids just keep playing, immune to any kind of grief. As the crew tries to figure out the mystery, the kids on board try to take over the ship. See, the kids brought aboard some kind of ghost-alien that wants the Enterprise to take them to another planet. The ghost-alien has given the kids remarkable thought-powers. They are able to make the crew change the ship's direction and see things that aren't there, like the planet when they leave orbit. Sulu sees a wacky "tunnel of daggers" in space. Kirk and Spock and the deluded transporter operator beam two redshirted crewmen into space, killing them. Kirk posts a 24-hour guard on the kids really early in this show, actually exhibiting good foresight for once. The kids make everyone else see things except Kirk as he tries to fix things. Then they finally get Kirk. Spock comes out of his trance in the nick of time to save Kirk. While you are watching this one, you can't help but wonder why doesn't Spock neck pinch all the kids, or Kirk stun them? Kirk breaks the spell over the kids by showing them video of playing with their families. Somehow, the ghost-alien just fades away.
"Turnabout Intruder" Season 3, Episode 24. This episode was the finale of The Original Series, and what a horrible way to go out. We get to see Kirk prance around like a woman. The Enterprise is sent to rescue archaeologists studying the ruins of a dead civilization on Camus II. One of the scientists is Dr. Janice Lester, a woman from Kirk's past and a one-year love of his. "Your world of starship captains doesn't admit women," she says. And that is why she hates Kirk now, with a passion to rival the wrath of Khan. Apparently, it's a setup because with the help of those ruins, she switches bodies with Kirk. Lester in Kirk's body says, "It's better to be dead than to live alone in the body of a woman." But she is interrpted from strangling Kirk in Lester's body. She says she has studied for years to take over command of a starship. It's funny to watch Kirk put an emory board to his fingernails! I don't know if they are making fun of the idea of a woman as captain or not. With the doubts of Spock and McCoy, because Lester is being freaky (had she been normal, this would have worked), this is another cause for a code-word known only by upper echelon of the ship. I have a code-word with Morgan, for pity's sake. Bones has some kind of test, dermal optic, to "reveal the basic emotional structure" in order to compare with a previous reading. The first security guard that Spock tries to take out has his first Vulcan neck pinch blocked! The number one crazy stupid thing about this episode is that if Lester hadn't been so %$#%^ crazy, she'd probably have gotten away with it. SIDEBAR: It is said in this episode that General Order 4 is the only exception for dishing out the death penalty. This contradicts General Order 7 regarding Talos IV in "The Menagerie" but this must be like the concept of Stardate, never intended to be so serious.
"A Private Little War" Season 2, Episode 19. Kirk says the planet they are on is the first planet Kirk ever did a planet survey on thirteen years ago. Starfleet says "NO
INTERFERENCE" on this planet based on that survey. Spock is shot by an old flint-lock rife. Bones says, "It's lucky his heart is where his liver should be or he'd be dead already." The Klingons who have no such Prime Directive, help one group on the planet to create arms in order to disrupt the balance of power. There are a couple of inferences to Klingons breaking the treaty without mentioning the term "Organian." We learn of the medical necessity of Vulcan-slapping to help them regain consciousness. Bones and Kirk debate over Kirk's decision to give the other hill people guns in order "to equalize" the balance of power. Kirk gets seduced by the witch doctor woman by some kind of plant fragrance. She's conniving; she only wants his phaser. She hits Kirk over the head with a rock and takes the phaser to the other side, then appears to get gang-raped. She is knifed to death by the rapists when they are trapped by Kirk and the hill people. What I really want to know is what happened on this planet. Kirk requests 100 flint-locks be replicated, an order questioned by Scotty, then they just ask to be beamed up. What happend with the Klingons? With the whole planet? Was the Prime Directive violated? What did Starfleet do? On a larger scale for Star Trek: Could and would the Klingons and Romulans interfere with other "hands off" planets in order to gain more power and control?
"Court Martial" Season 1, Episode 20. As it opens, the Enterprise has been through a "severe ion storm" in which one crewman, Lt. Cmdr. Finney, dies while out in a pod taking readings. They put in to a Starbase for repairs and for filling out a report on Finney's death. Kirk "had to jettison" the pod during the storm. Kirk and Finney had served together on the Republic. Kirk solved a negligent problem of Finney's and Finney has hated him ever since. Kirk's actions are under examination, and his lawyer is Samuel T. Cogley. This guy made this episode. He has to be one of the simply coolest secondary characters that has ever been on Star Trek. The prosecutor is an old lover of Kirk's, Lt. Shaw. One strange thing that seems to be the crux of the argument--Kirk presses the yellow and red alert buttons on his command chair? Only in this episode. After watching all 80 episodes, I never saw him turn the alerts on--someone else always did after his order. I also think it is extremely strange that he would be the one pressing the button to jettison the pod. Someone laments to Spock, "You may be able to beat your next captain at chess." That gives Spock the idea that the computers have been messed with. Then the final solution is another one of those once-in-a-lifetime tech fixes that solves this problem but is never seen again, even though it would come in handy in later episodes. The crew tunes into the heartbeats of those on board the Enterprise, removing beats one by one until they surmise that Finney is still alive and on board the ship. Kirk of course has to fight Finney barehanded for a climax. There could be an awesome sequel to this: The Wrath of Finney. It's a good episode, all in all.
"All Our Yesterdays" Season 3, Episode 23. I know that this episode is the basis for two Star Trek novel sequels that I read way back in high school. Yesterday's Son and Time for Yesterday written by A.C. Crispin. The first one has the honor of being the first Star Trek novel to hit the New York Times Bestseller list. The star Beta Niobe is about to go nova. They are checking out a power source on a planet where the people have all disappeared. It is the library. The Librarian, Mr. Atoz (get it--Atoz? A to Z?), is taking care of the Records Room. All the people escaped into past eras of the planet's history. Kirk is transported to some Three Musketeer-type era. Spock and McCoy get transported to a frozen wasteland in the planet's ice age. Spock and McCoy find shelter thanks to a girl. She knows about the time portal. I know according to the sequel novels that Spock fathers a son, Zar, with this woman, Zarabeth. Zarabeth was imprisoned in this ice age for fighting against a tyrant, she says. Kirk manages to walk back through the portal eventually, but three hours have passed in both time periods. Time moved for Kirk there as well as here. Spock starts to become emotional, the weirdest thing about this episode, and Bones surmises that Spock is reverting to his barbarian ancestry because in this timeline of five thousand years ago, Vulcan is savage and barbaric--somehow Spock's present mental condition and control is based on what is happening on Vulcan right now? Is his control then somehow tied to the planet? They escape before the star goes nova.
"Friday's Child" Season 2, Episode 32 (even though there is no season 2, episodes 26-31--CBS.com numbered them wrong or something). The Enterprise goes looking for a mining treaty on a tribal planet that they are quite afraid of. They beam down, the classic three Kirk, Spock, and McCoy plus one redshirt who gets a dagger in the chest for pulling a phaser on a Klingon, all before the opening credits. It's a very strange tribal structure that is warrior-based. This is sort of the same plot and theme as "A Private Little War." Bones slaps the pregnant woman, the "Queen," after getting slapped twice himself by her. Kirk and Spock, with their communicators, produce some kind of sound vibration that starts a very explosive landslide. Bet you didn't know they could do that! Then, when Kirk and company are being chased by the tribesmen and the Klingon, one of the tribesmen says they are behind the rocks. When the Queen escapes and comes down (after giving birth and leaving the baby, mind you), she says she killed Kirk and company as they slept and they turn to leave on her word--after just seeing them behind the flipping rocks. It's kind of a boring episode but it has some good character moments.
"Bread and Circuses" Season 2, Episode 25. The SS Beagle is destroyed, just debris in space. Kirk knows Captain Merrick from the Academy. The wreck leads them to a pre-atomic world but with their sports as gladiator fights. It is twentieth-century Rome. Kirk discovers that the barbarian in the fight is Flight Officer William B. Harrison. The crew of the Beagle have violated the Prime Directive. Kirk gets captured again! Isn't it amazing how many sci-fi shows have our heroes captured in order to learn the lay of the land? Kirk mentions Hodgkins' Law of Parallel Planet Development. There's a great scare when their little party is behind a group of trees and gets shot at by machine guns. It's a great idea to imagine the Roman Empire lasting until the twentieth-century, with guns and cars. The bad guy proconsul, a native of the planet, uses the Prime Directive against Kirk quite well, knowing they can't just phaser their way through the world. And there's a code-term! "Condition Green" means they are in trouble but no interference is to be taken from the Enterprise. Finally, a code-term so the ship isn't overrun or something. We find the rebels are devoted to Son worship, not Sun worship. Kirk says, "The word of Christ is spreading now...Wouldn't it be something to watch...to see it happen all over again." After the episode is over, again you are wondering what happens next. There is apparently a sequel novel set in The Next Generation universe that I have to find now called The Captain's Honor.
"The Savage Curtain" Season 3, Episode 22. Another super-entity! This one is Abraham Lincoln in space! Literally, he is Lincoln, sitting in a chair in space. "I am Abraham Lincoln." WTF? And Gene Roddenberry wrote this one. Can you trust Honest Abe? Kirk and Spock beam down and the aliens somehow prevented the beaming of their phasers and tricorders. They also deprive the Enterprise of almost all its power. Spock meets the great Surak of Vulcan on the surface. We find that they have been brought here by powerful rock-beings! Genghis Khan, Colonel Green (who led some genocide war on Earth), Zora (some evil alien scientist), and Kahless the Unforgettable (a terrible Klingon) are all on the surface of the planet too. And it's all set up as some kind of battle to watch and test them. The whole episode reminds me of a child's toy box, mine especially--different toy lines have been merged to make a cohesive story. I remember playing with Indiana Jones (from Temple of Doom, wish I still had that figure) and an Ewok that teamed up in an alternate dimension just so they could have adventures with or against my other toys. Spock in hand-to-hand combat is losing to Genghis Khan when Kirk has to come and save him. Kirk beats Kahless and Green in hand-to-hand. Then the rock-alien basically shrugs and says he will try to understand these concepts of "good and evil." They were still able to control matter and create things easily, like these historical figures. What happens next? Does Starfleet send a follow-up mission, like damage control? Would they quarantine the planet like Talos IV in "The Menagerie"?
"The Gamesters of Triskelion" Season 2, Episode 16. Kirk, Uhura, and Chekhov are abducted and used to fight aliens so some disembodied, all-powerful aliens can watch and bet on them. They are The Providers.
They're all-powerful because they have whisked Kirk and company far away from the planet that the Enterprise was orbiting, Gamma II. Scotty eventually says the planet they want to search is 2 dozen light years away. Kirk on the new planet says, "If we're even in the same dimension." Uhura seems to be getting raped by her drill thrall guard but it becomes only an attempt as the guard is disgusted, saying, "You're not allowed to refuse selection." Back on the ship, Bones and Spock are searching. Some good dialogue as Bones says the search may be leading in "a wild goose chase." Spock replies, "I am chasing Captain Kirk, not some aquatic fowl." This episode has always been one of my favorites. I guess I really like the sci-fi gladiator/stuck in an arena story. It helps to show why freedom is important. When the Enterprise finds the planet, The Providers completely disable the Enterprise, apparently mentally. Kirk wages freedom with the lives on the Enterprise by fighting a match, three-on-one. He wins! This now becomes another episode where I want to know what happens next on this planet. Would Starfleet quarantine this too? Could the make friends with The Providers? Could they learn from them, especially "beaming" distances of dozens of light years?
"Spectre of the Gun" Season 3, Episode 6. You know, I didn't take many notes on this one. Other than the basic plot of the crew being whisked away to be tested by the Melkots, making them relive the Gunfight at the OK Corral on the Clanton side, there's really not much to tell. It's a neat littl episode, but...again, this could come from any number of science fiction shows. Replace Kirk and crew with anyone.
"The Trouble with Tribbles" Season 2, Episode 14. The fan favorite. Supposedly. It's never been my favorite episode. I think this is the favorite episode of people who only occasionally
watch Star Trek, not real Trekkies. The actor William Campbell, who played Trelane in "The Squire of Gothos" gets a new role as a Klingon. The Enterprise is on its way to Space Station K7 near the planet known as Sherman's Planet, within a parsec of a Klingon outpost. They mention the "Organian Peace Treaty" and who can develop the planet most efficiently. Cyrano Jones is a trader, selling Tribbles. There is tons of comic relief in this one, especially when Kirk almost sits on a Tribble in his command chair, and when he is insulting the director of the space station. The idea of Tribbles being an over-populating parasite is intriguing. At one point, they are even attached to the walls! However, the Klingons are real pushovers in this episode, making it a bit unexciting. Kirk sentences Cyrano Jones to pick up all the Tribbles which Spock calculates will take 17.9 years. Deep Space Nine actually came back to this episode once--some sort of time travel thing that is done extremely well.
"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" Season 3, Episode 15. This episode opens with a rogue shuttlecraft that I swear looks like a tissue box. Two aliens have been chasing each other for 50,000 years. There is a form of racism involved here. They are both half black and half white, symmetrically, but white and black on different sides. This is a decent example of the stupidity of racism, much like Dr. Seuss' The Sneetches. They are quite powerful too, as one of them beams through deflector shields, has an invisible ship which would be a technological marvel, can mentally take control of the Enterprise, and burns out memory banks just by pointing. They also have personal shields that can prevent a phaser stun. When talkng about racism, Chekhov says,"There was persecution on Earth once. I remember reading about it in my history class." (SIDEBAR: I had a similar memory with this as the first time I taught To Kill a Mockingbird at South Kitsap when I swear the students could not see the racism and had no idea why the town hated Tom Robinson worse than the Ewells.) Sulu responds, "Yes, but it happened way back in the twentieth century. There's no such primitive thinking today." If only, my friend.
"Is There In Truth No Beauty?" Season 3, Episode 5. I didn't take many notes on this one either. Some very interesting and strange camera work highlight this one. Actress Diana Muldaur (who will play Dr. Katharine Pulaski in Next Generation and is in the Original Series episode "Return to Tomorrow") plays Dr. Miranda Jones. She is the liason with the Medusan ambassador Kollos. They ain't named Medusa for nothing because one look at a Medusan drives people insane. The Medusan travels in a box. Other than that, it is only a mediocre episode. It is the first appearance of the Vulcan IDIC symbol (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations).
"By Any Other Name" Season 2, Episode 22. A distress call. Two humanoids who with the touch of a button on a device on their belts make the entire landing party immobilized. They want the ship, to hijack it to the Andromeda Galaxy. The alien leader, Rojan, says that the Kelvan Empire has sent out ships to find a new galaxy to take over because within ten millenia radiation in Andromeda will make it unlivable. They take over the Enterprise with ease. Kirk does say that they should take it to the Federation, that there's "no need to do this by force." Rojan says that is not their way, that they only conquer, like a big crybaby. The Kelvans came on a multi-generational ship and it was fast enough to travel between the galaxies within only 300 years, not the thousands of years Kirk says it would take by Starfleet standards. The Kelvan ship was destroyed by that Galactic Barrier. (SIDEAR: I am sitting here watching, thinking, the Kelvans could colonize a world with Starfleet's help and then take over, with a base world already within the Milky Way.) "The chances are very much against" two galaxies developing two so similar lifeforms. Spock tries to "mind meld" through the cell wall again, a trick seen in another episode. The Kelvans turn two redshirts into some kind of ball of elements, crushing one at random, killing Yeoman Thompson. The Kelvans are really hundred-tentacle creatures; the adopted humanoid forms to take over the Enterprise. What do they need any of the crew alive for at all if they can created new bodies, have a neural-inhibitor device, can change the Enterprise to go much much faster than Warp 10? Even if they didn't kill the crew, they could have just marooned them all on the planet. Again, Star Trek created beings way too strong and couldn't defeat them without making them out to be stupid. They supposedly needed the crew to get through the Barrier. At no time did any of the crew left intact do anything the Kelvans couldn't have done themselves. They manage to get through the Energy Barrier at the edge of the galaxy, and now they want to neutralize the crew, turning them all into those crystal balls. Why the hell aren't Kirk, Bones, Scotty, and Spock transformed? They are supposedly considered "essential" although I never see why. (SIDEBAR: There is no ESP damage from the Barrier like in "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and there is no directional loss like in "Is There in Truth No Beauty?") Scotty gets one of the Kelvans stinking drunk. Kirk seduces the female Kelvan. Spock beats Rojan in 3-D Chess and brings out his jealousy (although they keep saying how much they hate these bodies, why would he think she was attractive?) McCoy is injecting one with drugs. The episode that could be so cool degenerated completely. A fist fight. The bad guy, beaten, accepts Kirk's proposition to colonize a world with Starfleet's help. Oh, isn't that nice? They're all friends now. Could Starfleet monitor the Kelvans enough to prevent an invasion? I guess we'll know in 300 years.
"The City on the Edge of Forever" Season 1, Episode 28. My favorite episode. By far. Introduces the Guardian of Forever, time travel, and the whole idea that "Edith Keeler must die" is, frankly, the best set up for a show ever. No saving everyone in this episode. Harlan Ellison wrote this episode. The best ending line of the show too, with Kirk saying, "Let's get the hell out of here." With all the apocrypha and changes that have been documented and rumored, as this episode is finished, it is by far the best of all Star Trek. Hands down. The argument could be made that any science-fiction show could do this episode as you really don't need these specific guys, but taken as a whole, it helps us understand the relationships of these three crew members, Spock has some wonderful time on camera, and Kirk does what he has to do. This planet that the Guardian is on would be classified as even more quarantined than Talos IV. Indeed, there is the great novel Imzadi by Peter David in which Riker uses the Guardian for his own ends. Whatever the case, this episode as it is is simply one of the best science fiction stories, shows, movies, whatever, of all time.
So that's it. I'm all done. I managed to watch every single episode of the original Star Trek series. Fascinating actually. Some really good stuff and some really bad stuff, but all in all enough to make this an obsession for fans for 40 years. All in all, there is something to be said for the lack of two-parters and the fact that you can literally watch just about any episode without knowing anything about the Star Trek universe. You simply can't do that with any other show.
And I would like to take a moment and give a nod of appreciation to two actors from the show who are now deceased.
James Doohan as Scotty and DeForest Kelley as McCoy. You played your parts well, gentlemen.