Star Trek Episode 74: Requiem for Methuselah

Technical Specs

Director: Murray Golden

Writer: Jerome Bixby

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Daly, Louise Sorel, James Doohan, and Nichelle Nichols

Composers: Fred Steiner and Ivan Ditmars

Air Date: 2/14/1969

Stardate: 5843.7

Production #: 60043-76

 

Overview

Hoping to cure the Enterprise crew of Rigelian fever, Captain Kirk travels with Spock and McCoy to Holberg 917G in order to collect ryetalyn—without which an antidote cannot star-trek-requiem-for-methuselahbe manufactured. After beaming down to the planet’s surface, the landing party is greeted by an old man named Flint (James Daly). While Spock attempts to make sense of the authentic paintings and compositions contained in Flint’s collection of ancient Earth artifacts, Kirk falls in love with the vastly intelligent and stunningly attractive Rayna (Louise Sorel).

“Requiem for Methuselah” is hampered by Kirk’s bizarre reaction to the romantic interest of a female android. Its goofy characterization of the Enterprise captain notwithstanding, this episode provides an insightful perspective on a topic of tremendous philosophical controversy.

 

Pros

James Daly should be commended for his portrayal of Flint, who must bear the burden of wartime conflicts, personal losses, and otherwise painful experiences spanning six thousand years. In complement to the lens of tragedy through which Flint has come to view even the most beautiful of life’s offerings, Daly’s performancestar-trek-requiem-for-methuselah exudes a level of gravitas that one would expect the quintessential Renaissance man to possess. Although the concept of a single human assuming the historical roles of Methuselah, King Solomon, Alexander the Great, Johannes Brahms, and Leonardo da Vinci is likely too fantastic for even the most open-minded Star Trek fans to accept, the above premise is made somewhat credible thanks to the combination of elegance, dignity, and passion with which Daly endowed his character.

 

Cons

(Spoilers beyond this point)

star-trek-requiem-for-methuselahIt should be noted that Captain Kirk’s infatuation with an android is not without precedent (e.g. “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”); however, by resorting to fisticuffs when challenged for Rayna’s affections, Kirk displays a contemptible disregard for the principles by which a Starfleet captain is required to live. Kirk’s uncharacteristic behavior also leads to a hackneyed conclusion, wherein Rayna—unable to reconcile her feelings for Flint and the captain—dies an abrupt but strangely underwhelming death.

 

Analysis

Within science fiction, the thesis that immortality would inevitably lead to perpetual boredom is often presented (see my review of The Twilight Zone’s “Escape Clause” for an example of such).star-trek-requiem-for-methuselah “Requiem for Methuselah,” however, offers a more nuanced exploration of the potential positive and negative factors that eternal life may involve. On one hand, an education encompassing six thousand years’ experience has allowed Flint to amass a body of knowledge so immense that even Spock himself cannot help but envy his remarkably erudite host. Nevertheless, Flint discovers that no amount of intellectual prowess can substitute the warm companionship that only another person can provide. Jerome Bixby’s narrative therefore posits a conception of immortality that is not altogether tedious, but rather a condition that entails many benefits in addition to drawbacks.

 

Concluding Comments

star-trek-requiem-for-methuselahWhile a poetic as opposed to literal association between Flint and the famous individuals mentioned earlier might have strengthened the credibility of Gene Roddenberry’s premise, “Requiem for Methuselah” should nonetheless be commended for its philosophical profundity. Also praiseworthy, Rayna exemplifies an almost childlike innocence to contrast her amazing aptitude, thereby countering those cynical attributes whereby her eternal companion defines himself.

 

Overall Quality: 8/10

 

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Star Trek Episode 73: The Lights of Zetar

Technical Specs

Director: Herb Kenwith

Writers: Jeremy Tarcher and Shari Lewis

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Jan Shutan, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett, John Winston, and Libby Erwin

Composer: Alexander Courage

Air Date: 1/31/1969

Stardate: 5725.3

Production #: 60043-73

 

Overview

While transporting Lieutenant Mira Romaine (Jan Shutan) to the Federation’s central library on Memory Alpha, the Enterprise happens upon an energy source moving at warp speed. star-trek-the-lights-of-zetarAfter affecting the bridge crew in a bizarre and seemingly random fashion, the phenomenon—determined by Spock to be of artificial as opposed to natural origin—takes possession of Mira’s body.

A mediocre installment, “The Lights of Zetar” contains no philosophical insight to compensate for the mostly uneventful plot on which it operates. Star Trek fans may nevertheless find Scotty’s childlike infatuation with Mira to be mildly entertaining, if somewhat odd.

 

Pros

star-trek-the-lights-of-zetarFollowing her initial encounter with the Zetarians, Lieutenant Romaine makes an effort to communicate with the bridge crew; however, only incomprehensible sounds of a guttural nature are produced. This effect is made quite disturbing by the warped quality that defines it, thus resulting in a decidedly ominous—albeit indirect—introduction to the Zetarian people.

 

Cons

By giving the chief engineer a love interest, “The Lights of Zetar” allows for many cute and amusing sequences wherein Scotty fawns over the newly assigned lieutenant as if smitten by his first crush.star-trek-the-lights-of-zetar That being said, Scotty’s unprofessional decision to abandon his post in order to visit Mira in sick bay can only be described as uncharacteristic (perhaps such an action would have been more humorous if reserved for the tag scene, at which point the Enterprise no longer appears to be on emergency status).

Also worth criticizing, Captain Kirk’s unsuccessful attempts to elude the alien light cluster fail to generate a satisfactory level of tension. While the Zetarians’ possession of Lieutenant Romaine is certainly a problem that requires solving, the surrounding narrative provides very little action to accentuate this minor conflict.

 

Analysis

star-trek-the-lights-of-zetar“The Lights of Zetar” alludes to the concept of extinct aliens living vicariously through others, yet such a premise never culminates in profound or lasting implications given the relative brevity with which it is explored.

 

Concluding Comments

Although “The Lights of Zetar” should be commended for developing Scotty’s character, this episode offers virtually no substance that would appeal to Star Trek fans of an intellectual disposition. A number of crude but disquieting sound effects may, however, captivate the interest of those who prefer surreal horror over spacefaring science fiction.

 

Overall Quality: 5/10

 

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Star Trek Episode 72: That Which Survives

Technical Specs

Director: Herb Wallerstein

Writer: John Meredyth Lucas

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Lee Meriwether, James Doohan, Arthur Batanides, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Naomi Pollack, Booker Bradshaw, Brad Forrest, and Kenneth Washington

Composer: Fred Steiner

Air Date: 1/24/1969

Stardate: Unknown

Production #: 60043-69

 

Overview

Captain Kirk travels with McCoy, Sulu, and Lieutenant D’Amato (Arthur Batanides) to a planet of geological interest. Upon arrival, the landing party is confronted by a mysterious womanstar-trek-that-which-survives (Lee Meriwether) whose very touch can destroy every cell in the human body. Meanwhile, Spock and Scotty are forced to implement a dangerous maneuver after the Enterprise is sabotaged by an alien intruder.

“That Which Survives” should be commended for maintaining an eerie atmosphere throughout. That being said, Star Trek fans who prefer compelling character development over monster-of-the-week antics may wish to avoid this offering.

 

Pros

star-trek-that-which-survivesThough employed more effectively in “The Man Trap,” the premise of a female predator stalking and later killing crew members through physical contact alone is made credible once again, this time due to the haunting manner that Lee Meriwether exemplified while portraying Losira. Meriwether’s mesmerizing but deadly feminine allure is never more chilling than when Losira approaches the Enterprise helmsman, who, when isolated from the landing party, panics in such a fashion as to fool casual fans into believing Sulu’s death may be imminent.

 

Cons

Whereas a dry sense of humor often provided Leonard Nimoy’s character with a subtle charm, Spock’s snippy attitude in “That Which Survives” only serves to irritate rather than amuse.star-trek-that-which-survives In addition to giving Spock a condescending demeanor, the Vulcan’s pithy retorts tend to contradict his previously established personality (e.g. Spock scolds Uhura for inquiring about the captain’s chances, even though he himself had, on many occasions, predicted the odds of success/failure for missions past).

Also “illogical” is the fact that Enterprise is hurled 990.7 light years from its prior position, yet the following narrative offers no reason for why such a remarkable displacement occurs. One could argue that the above effect is caused by another facet of the planet’s defense mechanism; however, the concluding sequence never confirms or even implies this to be the case.

 

Analysis

star-trek-that-which-survivesThe concept of a person “surviving” for thousands of years by imprinting on an artificial lifeform is an intriguing one, though little time is allotted to exploring this notion to its full potential.

 

Concluding Comments

A mediocre effort, “That Which Survives” benefits from a suspenseful sequence involving Scotty’s aforementioned maneuver. Unfortunately, the momentary tension outlined earlier fails to redeem this episode from its obnoxious and downright bizarre depiction of Spock, whose interactions with fellow officers border on the absurd.

 

Overall Quality: 6/10

 

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Star Trek Episode 71: The Mark of Gideon

Technical Specs

Director: Jud Taylor

Writers: George F. Slavin and Stanley Adams

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Sharon Acker, David Hurst, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Gene Dynarski, and Richard Derr

Composer: Fred Steiner

Air Date: 1/17/1969

Stardate: 5423.4

Production #: 60043-72

 

Overview

After attempting to beam down to the planet Gideon, Captain Kirk finds himself aboard a version of the Enterprise devoid of occupants save for a mysterious woman named Odona (Sharon Acker). Unable to contact the captain, Spock must negotiate with the bureaucratic Ambassador Hodin (David Hurst), star-trek-the-mark-of-gideonwhose lackadaisical attitude regarding Kirk’s disappearance prompts the first officer to conduct an investigation of his own.

“The Mark of Gideon” establishes an ominous atmosphere stemming from Kirk’s predicament, but fails to maintain tension following a nonsensical plot twist. Nevertheless, Star Trek fans may appreciate the thoughtful commentary showcased in this offering.

 

Pros

star-trek-the-mark-of-gideonWhen Kirk and Odona roam the Federation flagship turned ghost vessel, a most eerie sensation of “being watched” trails both characters at all times. This unnerving impression is confirmed when a gallery of green heads—all of which appear to levitate in midair—flashes on the viewscreen while the captain and his “guest” share a tender embrace. Though such a display may unintentionally elicit laughter from audiences of an unserious inclination, the very concept of luminous aliens studying humanoid subjects as if for experimental purposes is a chilling one indeed.

 

Cons

While the premise of Captain Kirk stranded on a duplicate Enterprise is intriguing, “The Mark of Gideon” contains one significant flaw: no explanation is provided as to how the Gideons obtained an Enterprise diagram, which would have presumably been required in order to construct such a convincing star-trek-the-mark-of-gideonreplica of the vessel’s interior.

Also problematic is the fact that, despite having lived on the Enterprise for three years, Kirk is not able to surmise that his surroundings must be false. Even if one were to assume that the Gideons recreated every internal facet of the ship without flaw, subtle differences in background noises and even scents associated with various locations would likely prevent the captain from accepting his circumstances at face value.

 

Analysis

At its core, “The Mark of Gideon” is a commentary—albeit not a terribly well-disguised one—on late-1960s overpopulation concerns and their inevitable influence on social issues of the timestar-trek-the-mark-of-gideon period, including any controversial arguments pertaining to the ethics of birth control that were often raised as a result. In this case, Captain Kirk offers a compelling, if overtly secular, defense for the efficacy of contraceptive methods. On the other hand, Ambassador Hodin and his fellow Gideons assume the position of many religious authorities, who claim to oppose such measures given their extraordinary respect for human life. The metaphorical undertones outlined above lack a certain nuance that one would expect of an intelligent social analysis; however, the central thesis underlying this episode is never presented in a preachy or insensitive fashion and should therefore be commended regardless of any minor shortcomings.

 

Concluding Comments

A flawed but occasionally captivating effort, “The Mark of Gideon” will appeal to Star Trek enthusiasts who prefer political and cultural discussions over riveting space battles. The structurally realistic but lifeless Enterprise might, however, have made for a more appropriate plot device in a narrative featuring alternate dimensions as opposed to alien tricksters.

 

Overall Quality: 6/10

 

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Star Trek Episode 70: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

Technical Specs

Director: Jud Taylor

Writer: Oliver Crawford

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Frank Gorshin, Lou Antonio, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Majel Barrett

Composer: Fred Steiner

Air Date: 1/10/1969

Stardate: 5730.2

Production #: 60043-70

 

Overview

While traveling to the planet Ariannus, the Enterprise encounters a shuttlecraft whose pilot—a duo-chromatic humanoid named Lokai (Lou Antonio)—claims to be seeking refuge from Commissioner Bele (Frank Gorshin), who bears an identical visage to that of Lokai save for one minor difference: Bele’s people wear their star-trek-let-that-be-your-last-battlefieldblack and white colors on the respective right and left sides of their faces, whereas Lokai’s people display their colors in the opposite arrangement. Kirk and his crew members remain unperturbed by this fact, yet the above variation in skin color has, according to Lokai and Bele, fueled a conflict spanning fifty thousand years.

Though conceived by laudable intentions, the premise for “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” lacks the subtlety to adequately explore the variety of factors involved in racial bigotry. In spite of this, many Star Trek fans will admire Kirk’s solution to a complex problem as detailed in this episode.

 

Pros

When Bele refuses to relinquish command of the Enterprise, Captain Kirk is placed in a most difficult position. This predicament later allows for a highly intense maneuver in which Kirk star-trek-let-that-be-your-last-battlefieldactivates the auto-destruct sequence while exuding remarkable confidence, thus resulting in a bluff that parallels the corbomite deception in terms of effectiveness. Also commendable are the unique camera angles and convincing reactions from Scotty, Uhura, Chekov, Sulu, Bele, and Lokai—all of which combine to accentuate any preexisting tension (that being said, a ridiculous zooming effect used to complement the blaring siren of a red alert status does little to heighten said tension prior to this scene).

 

Cons

By shouting incessantly at one another, Bele and Lokai struggle to elicit sympathy when presenting arguments by which the Enterprise crew could potentially be swayed. Such an outcome is especially problematic given that Lokai at first seems to represent those members of society who have star-trek-let-that-be-your-last-battlefieldremained oppressed well into the 20th century, yet the almost constant hate-spewing of this character makes him appear no more enlightened than his perpetual adversary.

 

Analysis

While few would likely admit as much, even the most vile of human prejudices are often somewhat grounded in reality; however, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” acknowledges no such grey area while fleshing out its central thesis and may therefore fail to resonate with those who wish for a more penetrating commentary on the disputes and social injustices that motivated the Civil Rights movement.

 

Concluding Comments

Like many Star Trek offerings, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” tackles a controversial topic through use of a science fiction theme. Unfortunately, the appeals made in this episode are rarely poignant enough to serve their intended purpose.

 

Overall Quality: 6/10

 

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Star Trek Episode 69: Whom Gods Destroy

Technical Specs

Director: Herb Wallerstein

Writer: Lee Erwin

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Steve Ihnat, Yvonne Craig, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Richard Geary, Gary Downey, and Keye Luke

Composer: Fred Steiner

Air Date: 1/3/1969

Stardate: 5718.3

Production #: 60043-71

 

Overview

Kirk and Spock travel to Elba II—the galaxy’s only remaining asylum for the criminally insane—in order to deliver medical supplies that can cure the facility’s most incorrigible patients. star-trek-whom-gods-destroyUpon arrival, the captain and first officer are greeted by the ostensible Dr. Cory (Keye Luke); however, further investigation reveals that former starship commander Garth of Izar (Steve Ihnat) and an Orion woman named Marta (Yvonne Craig) have freed their fellow inmates and taken control of the institution.

Though somewhat lacking in philosophical substance, “Whom Gods Destroy” benefits from a number of entertaining interactions between Kirk and Garth. Also commendable are the villainous attributes stemming from the latter character’s brilliant but dangerously unstable mind, which generate a most intimidating atmosphere that would not have been possible had a less sophisticated actor played the part.

 

Pros

star-trek-whom-gods-destroyBy offering an elegant and restrained performance, Steve Ihnat exemplified a convincing manner of psychosis to make credible the concept of a starship captain driven mad by an insatiable thirst for power/revenge. Additionally unnerving is Garth’s ability to mimic the appearance of anyone he chooses, thus preventing Kirk and Spock from trusting each other throughout the entirety of their predicament (that being said, a logical problem arises from the fact that Garth performs a Vulcan nerve pinch while assuming Spock’s form).

 

Cons

As indicated previously, Garth embodies a formidable sense of realism due to the nuanced fashion with which Ihnat portrayed the character. While imitating Captain Kirk, however, Garth fails to maintain his sinister presence given that William Shatner seemed incapable of conveying maniacal laughter and blind rage star-trek-whom-gods-destroywithout resorting to the very antics for which he is so often parodied.

On more than one occasion, Kirk/Garth attempts to beam aboard the Enterprise only for Scotty to request verification via the captain’s reply to a chess move. Certain viewers may attribute this unique security feature to Kirk’s ingenuity as a captain, though others will likely question why such measures are never implemented on other missions involving would-be imposters.

 

Analysis

Within the Star Trek universe, mankind has presumably progressed beyond primitive and selfish desires in favor of more noble pursuits, hence allowing Gene Roddenberry’s futuristicstar-trek-whom-gods-destroy vision to guide the human race on their spacefaring adventures; therefore, one can infer that a megalomaniacal tyrant such as Garth serves the purpose of contrasting the enlightened principles upon which Starfleet was founded with the more archaic motivations that hindered people from realizing their full potential in centuries past. While the outward manifestations of Garth’s insanity may be less subtle than those of Khan Noonien Singh, Gary Mitchell, or other Star Trek antagonists of a similar disposition, “Whom Gods Destroy” nonetheless makes a compelling case for Roddenberry’s thesis as outlined above.

 

Concluding Comments

Shatner’s goofy acting aside, “Whom Gods Destroy” presents a captivating scenario based upon an otherwise clichéd trope centering on a madman and his quest for vengeance. In addition, an unintentionally amusing outburst from Kirk/Garth will appeal to viewers who enjoy Star Trek for its campy elements.

 

Overall Quality: 7/10

 

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Star Trek Episode 68: Elaan of Troyius

Technical Specs

Director: John Meredyth Lucas

Writer: John Meredyth Lucas

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, France Nuyen, Jay Robinson, Tony Young, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett, Lee Duncan, Victor Brandt, Dick Durock, Charles Beck, and K.L. Smith

Composer: Fred Steiner

Air Date: 12/20/1968

Stardate: 4372.5

Production #: 60043-57

 

Overview

Operating under orders from Starfleet Command, Captain Kirk provides passage for Elaan (France Nuyen)—an arrogant, ill-behaved Dohlman from the planet Elas—so that she may formalize herstar-trek-elaan-of-troyius arranged marriage with the ruler of Troyius. After refusing the advice of Troyian ambassador Petri (Jay Robinson), Elaan is forced to learn the customs and social graces of civilized culture from Kirk himself.

A decent but underwhelming episode, “Elaan of Troyius” offers a mildly poignant love angle to compensate for any contrived material. In spite of this, a subplot centered on yet another Klingon encounter fails to generate an appropriately captivating atmosphere.

 

Pros

In the initial scenes, Elaan presents herself as a spoiled, infantile woman without the gravitas or emotional maturity that one would expect of a dignified warrior (to give just two star-trek-elaan-of-troyiusexamples, Elaan throws a tantrum in response to the “unsatisfactory” condition of Uhura’s quarters and later thrusts a knife into the back of Lord Petri without severe provocation). Despite her incorrigible and downright odious behavior as outlined above, Elaan transitions into a more sympathetic character upon confessing her insecurities to Captain Kirk, who, through no will of his own, develops an intimate bond with the Dohlman of Elas after exposing himself to the biochemical compound contained in her tears.

 

Cons

(Spoilers beyond this point)

When the Elasian guard Kryton (Tony Young) is revealed to be a Klingon spy, “Elaan of Troyius” adopts a mostly action-oriented approach to storytelling. By placing strong emphasis upon star-trek-elaan-of-troyiusstarship battles and sabotage attempts in the climactic sequences, John Meredyth Lucas’ narrative leaves almost no time to resolve the predicament involving Kirk and Elaan, thus resulting in a somewhat hackneyed conclusion (specifically, McCoy offers to cure Kirk’s perpetual infatuation, but decides against doing so when Spock explains that the captain’s love for the Enterprise supersedes any force that previously attracted him to Elaan).

 

Analysis

star-trek-elaan-of-troyiusThough lacking a logical foundation, the aforementioned conclusion may appeal to Star Trek fans who wish to further understand the desires and motivations that prompt Captain Kirk to pursue cosmic adventures instead of settling down with a woman he loves and starting a family.

 

Concluding Comments

“Elaan of Troyius” benefits from the romantic chemistry exemplified by William Shatner and France Nuyen. That being said, the interactions between Kirk and Elaan are hampered by a mediocre narrative coupled with an excess of superfluous plot devices.

 

Overall Quality: 6/10

 

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Star Trek Episode 67: The Empath

Technical Specs

Director: John Erman

Writer: Joyce Muskat

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Kathryn Hays, Alan Bergmann, James Doohan, George Takei, Davis Roberts, Jason Wingreen, and Willard Sage

Composer: George Duning

Air Date: 12/6/1968

Stardate: 5121.5

Production #: 60043-63

 

Overview

Attempting to evacuate Minara II before its sun goes nova, Captain Kirk takes Spock and McCoy to the planet’s surface. Once there, the landing party encounters an empathic humanoidstar-trek-the-empath named Gem (Kathryn Hays), who appears to be the test subject of two Vians known as Thann (Willard Sage) and Lal (Alan Bergmann). When the Vians decide to include Kirk, Spock, and McCoy in their grotesque experiments, only the ultimate sacrifice from one of these men can save the other two.

Despite operating on a shoestring budget, “The Empath” demonstrates why the friendship shared by Kirk, Spock, and McCoy was such an essential component of the original series’ formula for success. Star Trek fans are therefore advised to view this episode, even though Kathryn Hays’ exaggerated mannerisms and facial expressions hardly generate the subtlety one would expect of a mute character.

 

Pros

Similar in many ways to the Talosians, the Vians utilize their extraordinary mental powers for ostensibly cruel and malevolent purposes. By employing a premise which closely resembles star-trek-the-empaththat of “The Cage” yet introduces a variety of unique elements so that it may stand on its own, “The Empath” will no doubt elicit strong emotional reactions from sensitive audiences, especially when Kirk and McCoy are brutally tortured at the hands of their Vian captors. The concept of luminous aliens experimenting on “lesser” organisms is explored quite effectively in the concluding sequence, during which Kirk makes a compelling case for why intellect without compassion is meaningless.

 

Cons

star-trek-the-empathThough adequately disguised for the most part, the aforementioned budgetary constraints become obvious when the Vians perform their vile tests on the captain. Specifically, a crude zooming effect substitutes a natural swaying motion while Kirk’s limp body is suspended by a pair of chains

 

Analysis

Due to the grueling set of circumstances with which Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are presented, “The Empath” allows for a special emphasis to be placed upon the bond that unites all three main characters, star-trek-the-empathwhich cannot be shaken regardless of any petty differences or personality clashes that happen to arise when working in proximity with one another. The sacrificial qualities exemplified by these officers tie directly into the above theme regarding compassion over intellect, with even Spock “feeling” for a critically wounded McCoy on several occasions (this is evidenced by the fact that Spock is temporarily restrained by a force field that feeds on the emotional energy of its occupants).

 

Concluding Comments

star-trek-the-empathA poignant and tragically underrated episode, “The Empath” will appeal to all Star Trek fans who admire the personal and professional cohesiveness that characterizes Kirk’s relationship with his two most valued officers. Also worth mentioning is a remarkable score composed by George Duning, which draws attention to the emotionally stirring nature of Gem’s silent interactions with the Enterprise captain and crew members.

 

Overall Quality: 9/10

 

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Star Trek Episode 66: Wink of an Eye

Technical Specs

Director: Jud Taylor

Writer: Arthur Heinemann

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Kathie Brown, Jason Evers, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett, Erik Holland, and Geoffrey Binney

Composer: Alexander Courage

Air Date: 11/29/1968

Stardate: 5710.5

Production #: 60043-68

 

Overview

After receiving a distress signal, Captain Kirk takes a landing party to the planet Scalos. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Compton (Geoffrey Binney) discover no sign of life, aside from a strange buzzing sound that can be heard right before the lattermost character seemingly vanishes into thin air. Upon sneaking aboardstar-trek-wink-of-an-eye the Enterprise, the Scalosian queen Deela (Katie Brown) infects Kirk with an agent that causes him to perceive any unaffected surroundings in slow motion.

A captivating, if frequently bizarre, episode, “Wink of an Eye” is one of few Star Trek entries to utilize time dilation as a central plot device. While Kirk’s relationship with Deela may be difficult to take seriously given her overly amorous advances, this installment will nonetheless appeal to science fiction fans.

 

Pros

star-trek-wink-of-an-eyeEven by Star Trek standards, “Wink of an Eye” strains credibility by splitting itself between two coinciding subplots, one of which is set in real-time and the other in an accelerated framework unique to Kirk and the Scalosians. That being said, an almost surreal quality accentuates the extraordinary rate at which Deela and her people experience time, thus allowing viewers to accept such a fantastic premise despite the logical and continuity flaws that stem from it (specifically, tilted camera angles combine with a white noise effect to generate the desired outcome).

 

Cons

As indicated earlier, “Wink of an Eye” struggles to maintain realism given that Spock and McCoy somehow manage to solve the mystery of Kirk’s disappearance within a matter of hours, yetstar-trek-wink-of-an-eye a similar period of time seems to elapse from the captain’s dilated perspective. This obvious inconsistency can be overlooked in light of the pacing issues that would have arisen if months or years were to pass prior to Kirk’s retrieval from the Scalosian time rate; however, even when suspending disbelief beyond normal levels, audiences may still be inclined to question why ship functions operate as if altered by the acceleration effect outlined above (turbolifts and automatic doors in particular react just as quickly for Scalosians as they do for humans).

 

Analysis

star-trek-wink-of-an-eyeThe concept of an entire species rendered unable to reproduce as a result of radiation poisoning is an intriguing one, and could have made for a fascinating Cold War commentary if said radiation had been released due to nuclear devastation rather than volcanic activity. Nevertheless, “Wink of an Eye” fails to explain why mating with outside races would reverse the sterilization brought about by such exposure, therefore leaving little room for scientific or social analysis.

 

Concluding Comments

“Wink of an Eye” succeeds by creating a world that one would expect while experiencing a genuinely warped state of time progression. Though grossly flawed at times, this offering embodies a most unusual atmosphere to distinguish itself from similarly themed episodes.

 

Overall Quality: 7/10

 

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Star Trek Episode 65: Plato’s Stepchildren

Technical Specs

Director: David Alexander

Writer: Meyer Dolinsky

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Michael Dunn, Liam Sullivan, Barbara Babcock, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett, Ted Scott, and Derek Partridge

Composer: Alexander Courage

Air Date: 11/22/1968

Stardate: 5784.2

Production #: 60043-67

 

Overview

Responding to a medical emergency, Kirk travels with Spock and McCoy to a society modeled after ancient Greece. Before long, the landing party is enslaved for the entertainment of psychokinetic aliens named Parmen (Liam Sullivan) and Philana (Barbara Babcock), who, along with the other Platonians, have survived forstar-trek-platos-stepchildren thousands of years after mastering the teachings of their eponymous philosopher.

Historically relevant for including the first interracial kiss ever featured on a television program, “Plato’s Stepchildren” benefits from a number of compelling interactions between Alexander (Michael Dunn) and Kirk. A solid twist ending will also appeal to science fiction enthusiasts, though its powerful impact is hampered by an astonishing lack of justice.

 

Pros

star-trek-platos-stepchildrenAfter nearly crushing Kirk’s skull and collapsing into a fit of uncontrollable laughter/weeping, Spock is forced to cope with his newfound hatred of the Platonian people. Spock’s pained reaction during his meditative state is made entirely realistic thanks to Leonard Nimoy’s subtle performance, which embodied the silent torment of a Vulcan confronted with emotions beyond his ability to fully suppress.

 

Cons

The Platonians’ degrading treatment of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Alexander, Uhura, and Nurse Chapel may be difficult for sensitive viewers to tolerate, especially when compounded with star-trek-platos-stepchildrenWilliam Shatner’s hammy acting (Spock’s humiliating display does, of course, allow for Nimoy’s poignant response as outlined above). Watching the Enterprise crew members behave like animals and intimately bond with one another against their will might have been made endurable if followed by a just conclusion; however, Parmen is never punished for his vile behavior, even though his antics could have easily resulted in serious injury or death for Captain Kirk.

 

Analysis

star-trek-platos-stepchildren“Plato’s Stepchildren” examines a potential consequence of extraordinary power left unchecked by benevolent intentions. Despite their apparent mastery of metaphysical techniques, the Platonians prove themselves to be nothing more than sadistic creatures with neither the gravitas nor the intellectual maturity to extend mercy when dealing with “inferior” beings. In contrast, Kirk and his officers prove their superior ethical standing when they choose to forgive Parmen and Philana instead of succumbing to a more primitive desire for revenge.

 

Concluding Comments

Though marred by an excess of deeply disturbing sequences, “Plato’s Stepchildren” will no doubt elicit compassion from audiences who identify strongly with Star Trek’s main characters. That being said, Shatner’s occasional scenery chewing may prevent certain fans from accepting the serious nature of Kirk’s predicament.

 

Overall Quality: 6/10

 

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