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Star Trek Blind! -- The Original Series

I really wish those would come back in style.
I really love the closeups in TOS where they zoom into a characters eyes, dim the scene, but shine a light on their eyes. It's a really effective tool to both build tension and get into the head of whoever they're doing this so we can see their emotions/how they're processing whatever moment is happening. The eyes are the window to the soul and what not. It must have fallen out of fashion as being hokey and too blunt, but I adore it. I'd really love if that would happen more these days.
 

Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
They were going to make an episode in TNG where they revisit Iotia, but the Iotians would have been imitating the TOS crew instead of gangsters after the Enterprise's visit (and McCoy leaving his communicator behind) but the producers shelved the idea.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
The "ship captain and doctor become fast friends" is a narrative construction from age of sail period novels (think Master and Commander, etc), and it's pretty common in those novels for the ship's doctor to stop in at the bridge frequently to offer his not-usually-naval point of view on whatever series of events is happening.
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
ep49 – "A Private Little War" (★★★)

Random thought: Why is it that in old media, when someone is playing a part set in the ancient past, they always do that thing where they grab your arms and shake them when they're happy to see you? Y'know what I mean – its the hug without actually hugging. I don't think its an example of 60s syndrome though because you sometimes see it in modern media as well; its always in the context of some older, dignified culture.

Those WACKY KLINGONS are up to their old tricks again! This is a peaceful planet of simple hunter-gatherers. However they have no need of warfare and cooperate with other tribes on their world. So naturally, the Klingons have decided to influence their development by giving them GUNS. Not just any guns, flintlock rifles! Go, fight with the others, and let the strongest be the ruler of this world, and a new governor of the glorious Klingon Empire! (sigh)

This is one that's really hard to rate. Its probably more like a 3.5 for me. More than simply interesting, but not good enough to be thrilled seeing as a re-run. The standout here is Nona, the wife of the village leader Tyree. She's a fantastic actress that stands toe-to-toe with Kirk, outshining everyone else. Its basically an episode all about how Nona, far more callous and unopposed to killing than the others, is trying to secure more powerful weapons so that the hill tribes can fight against the village dwellers and their rifles. Tyree and his hill tribes are struggling against their loathing of killing with the need to defend themselves, and the enterprise crew is trying to prevent their gaining advanced technology because of their policy of noninterference. Thus I'm confident in categorizing this as the first real prime directive episode, where it presents a genuine dilemma.

Kirk eventually decides that since the Klingons have already contaminated the culture, its simply wishful thinking to believe they can be reverted back to their peaceful ways. If he doesn't introduce guns of equivalent technology to the hill tribes then they'll be wiped out by the villagers anyway. This draws some pretty obvious parallels to the Cold War that the episode is eager to hammer over the anvil. The real crux of the story is Tyree's personal struggle. Killing others is clearly anathema to their culture and although he's well aware of the dangers his people face, he refuses to turn away from his values. Nona, frustrated with Tyree and the others, steals a phaser and tries to switch sides to join the villagers. They villagers end up assaulting then killing her, which finally drives Tyree over the edge as he demands for more weapons from Kirk to take revenge on the villagers who he sees has completely abandoned their ethos. This is sort of what I meant when I said City on the Edge of Forever had no right to be that good: This premise has just as much merit, but doesn't reach the heights as that episode did because of how ham-handed the delivery is.

Speaking of which I didn't think of it till just now: Spock got shot by one of the guns in the opening and spends the episode in sickbay recovering from the wound. We get a good luck at his vulcan physiology and a doctor who's had some experience with vulcans to help explain it to the rest of us (one of the running plot-points of the show is that Bones doesn't know much about vulcan biology so having a doctor in this episode tells me he's probably a recent addition to the crew). The fact that Spock is out of the picture means that his logic is likewise indisposed, leaving the passionate Kirk & McCoy to feel their way out of the situation. The ending left me unsatisfied because I'm certain there had to be a better way.

P.S: The (alleged) noninterference policy has nothing to do with this episode! Kirk initially lived here as a researcher 11 years ago and personally recommended to starfleet in his field notes that the planet be left untouched so the culture could continue to develop along its uniquely peaceful path. The show might be starting to find its footing with the prime directive but there is still plenty of plausible deniability.

ep 50 – "Return to Tomorrow" (★★)

Not a huge fan of this one although it isn't without merits. My dislike stems from everyone acting wooden with the exception of Nimoy & Shatner (heart....pumping....to...see!....again!). There's something magical in seeing Spock leaning 28 degrees against a door frame with a shit-eating grin spittin' fire at poor Scotty for just bein' himself. Those few moments of fun are like drops in a sea of ROOOODDENBEERRRYYYYYY.

I've started to sniff out a few common recurring elements:
  • Disembodied voice of highly intelligent, omnipotent beings? Check
  • Lofty dialogue that comes across sterile? Check
  • Woman who appears to have an important role but doesn't accomplish much? Check
  • Highly cerebral premise that dominates the plot? Check
  • Crew of the ship more like fascinated observers than actors within the story? Check
  • "Vessel?" Check
  • Primary conflict revolving around moral decisions? Check
  • Deus ex machina? Check

I'm poking fun here but these sorts of episodes tend to run very drrrrrrrrry and considering all of the great banter, acting, and depths the main cast has been able to explore over the series course this feels like a step backward. No one feels like themselves – McCoy at one point says "What the devil?" which is the least 'McCoy' thing ever! Also in case it wasn't obvious: Kirk, Spock, and Mulhall (I had to look up her name I think they mention it once in the episode and I plum forgot) are possessed by three deific beings: Sargon, Thalassa, and Henoch. The episode is entirely about these beings and their struggles. I do admire the premise, just not how it takes the focus away from the main cast we've come to love. You see, he's called Sargon because his alien race may have been a progenitor of the human species and many others. Maybe. He's not sure. Its just a hypothesis, really.

Also return to tomorrow is a terrible title. We don't go back to the future at all!

ep 51 – "Patterns of Force" (★)

I tried my best readers but it was 7:00am and I fell asleep. I skipped over it and watched the next episode before coming back and trying again. I made it about halfway then gave up. If this is secretly good, let me know!

I can't believe they took the exact same concept as A Piece of the Action except boring this time. In that episode they clearly knew it was the dumbest thing ever and executed it with tongue firmly in cheek. But this time its nazis! I don't want nazis in star trek! Nazis ruin everything! You don't invite nazis to a birthday party!
 
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YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
You're getting awfully close to the point where I finally tapped out from watching TOS in its entirety. It certainly started to feel like all the best stuff was behind me and it wasn't going to ever reach the highs it had before. Maybe it does, I have no idea! But I don't think I watched more than a couple episodes from season 3.
 

TyrMcDohl

The Goofiest Hrothgar
(He/him)
Everyone not named Isrieri is allowed to read this.

OH MY GOD I CANT WAIT UNTIL ISRIERI FINDS OUT WHO WAS ACTUALLY PELTING KIRK WITH TRIBBLES
 
ep 51 – "Patterns of Force" (★)

I tried my best readers but it was 7:00am and I fell asleep. I skipped over it and watched the next episode before coming back and trying again. I made it about halfway then gave up. If this is secretly good, let me know!
I think this is one of the most memorable episodes of TOS not because I thought it was particularly well made or entertaining but just because I think it's very funny to imagine every TOS episode as 100% literal and canonical and operating in the same universe as later Star Trek. Captain Kirk's history professor going off to establish a Nazi regime is a wild piece of information to incorporate into your understanding Star Fleet.
 
I mean, "How could people forget the Nazis were bad?" was/is a common criticism of this episode, but with the lived experience of [current year] I feel like as hamfisted as this episode is, it's actually super relevant right now?
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
ep 52 – "By Any Other Name" (★★)

The netflix description for this episode reads: "Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and a couple of redshirts beam down to the surface of a planet to answer a fake distress call." This describes every mediocre episode of star trek and I am most concerned. The team beams down to the planet (nice backdrop btw) and two people, a man and a woman come over the hill to speak to them.

"I'm Captain Kirk. We're here in answer to your distress call."
"Very kind of you to respond so quickly, Captain. Now, you will surrender your ship over to me."

I couldn't help but imagine Kirk roll his eyes. Usually when this sort of thing happens there's some kind of lead-up and rising action before we get the big stinger, but this time its just a guy in a field! A man and a woman who look like they were on holiday in the bahamas! What's more this is like the 9th time its happened. Turns out that the two of them are a scouting force of the Kelvan Empire from the Andromeda galaxy, advance scouts for an invasion 300 years in the making.

Now imagine learning about something like that! An empire as dastardly as the Romulans or the Klingons! The Kelvans! From a distant galaxy! Their technology foreign and unknown, their potential unmeasured and totally overmatching ours! They turned the crew into salt cubes! That's exciting, or it would be if they weren't so goddamn boring. They don't even have cool costumes like the Romulans they just look like dudes. Farmer dudes who don't look out of place on an earth colony.

Once the ship is captured and on its way back to Andromeda things start getting juicy. I adore how the episode resolves itself: Because the Kelvans have taken human form to operate the enterprise, this subjects them to human stimuli, which Kirk & co are quick to take advantage of. POUR ME A STIFF ONE, MR. SCOTT! The Kelvans are so stubborn and anti-fun they have to be slowly drip-fed all the things that make life worth living over an unspecified number of weeks before they finally are convinced to just settle a planet in the Milky Way and live out their lives having a good time...which is what Kirk suggested in the first place! The latter 1/5th of the episode is good, but everything before is so stringent I can't recommend this too highly.

ep 53 – "The Omega Glory" (★★★★)

Earlier in the season when I said "Prime Directive?! What kind of communist propaganda is that?!?" never would I have guessed in my wildest daydreams that statement would be foreshadowing. At long, long last the prime directive finally lives and breathes in star trek. Most episodes start good and get better toward the end. This one starts well and gets worse? But that's debatable because FLAAAAAAAG. I was doing triple-takes in my seat. The mental decathlon this episode puts you through...

I wasn't sure how I felt about this episode immediately after watching it but now with some time to reflect I'm confident that this is excellent! A perfectly balanced breakfast of greens, eggs, and ham. What more can one ask for?! There's a genuine villain here in Captain Ron Tracey. A starship captain gone rogue, using the natives of an alien world for his personal gain. He's properly despicable and a good antagonist but he sort of falls by the wayside once his plot is uncovered to be a wild goose chase. The dynamic between him and the cohns isn't fleshed out but he treats them like sub-humans, and won't even let them finish sentences. I love how the episode begins with the deserted starship and the mysterious piles of salt, the urgent final records of the ship doctor and the sudden scene of violence down on the surface of the planet. It just throws everything at the wall, this one.

I take it many folks aren't too keen on Kirk busting out the goddamn U.S Constitution to inspire some primitive natives but he DOESN'T bust it out on them! They had it the whole time on their planet! This place isn't earth mind you, there's no reason for them to have these artifacts and no explanation is given for why they're there. The yangs worship these sacred words despite not being able to read them well. All Kirk does is reveal the true meaning of the sacred texts! There's also a knife fight between Roy & Kirk. Back in high school I was a member of the martial arts class and we'd bust out a toy knife and tussle just like in the episode. Gave me warm fuzzy flashbacks. It ends up a draw because Spock stares at a woman long enough for her to give him the communicator she was holding. Its hard to explain.

Embrace the ham!


They were going to make an episode in TNG where they revisit Iotia, but the Iotians would have been imitating the TOS crew instead of gangsters after the Enterprise's visit but the producers shelved the idea.
Aw man, that would have been awesome! I don't know how child me would have reacted to TOS stuff so maybe it was the right decision.
 

Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
The Omega Glory was actually one of the original script drafts for a pilot to replace The Cage.
 
This place isn't earth mind you, there's no reason for them to have these artifacts and no explanation is given for why they're there.
There are a lot of models of history that follow a kind of evolutionary view toward the status quo, so in this context basically assuming Euro-American liberal Democracy as an endpoint and imagining every other system as a stepping stone on the path to that inevitable endpoint.

What's going on in this episode is that it's taking that as an implicit framework. It's an absurdly literal execution of that framework, but honestly barely only slightly more absurd than the way Euro-American liberal democracies still draw on that framework when they talk about themselves in 2020.
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
ep 54 – "The Ultimate Computer" (★★★★★)

This is an episode about the perils of ambition and pride. Cautionary tales against hubris never go out of style.

Daystrom is a badass name and what a great guest star! He elevates this episode from what could have been another man vs machine story into something more complicated. Its a very simple setup and execution so you wouldn't think it would be that captivating but its hearing the distress in the voice of the Lexington's captain. Seeing Kirk's pain at being utterly helpless to prevent the carnage. Daystrom's desperate attempts to appear stoic in the face of tragedy and bury his clear excitement when M-5 takes control of the ship. Kirk displaying his black belt in logic-fu. And not least the ambiguity of sending in such a young (it is a word I have chosen) computer to handle such a demanding assignment, there's a lot of humanity in this one. Oh the humanity! I watched it twice.

There's a moment where Kirk switches on the intercom and speaks to the whole ship. He's done this a lot to deliver inspiring messages to the crew before they do something dangerous, but due to the circumstances there's only 20 crew aboard this time. Not counting Daystrom we see Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Chekov, Sulu, Uhura, and one dead engineering lieutenant. There's only 12 other people on the ship! It makes sense, I just found that very funny.

ep 55 – "Bread and Circuses" (★★)

The mind reels trying to communicate the incongruous dissonance between the subject matter and the presentation here. I simply cannot reckon a modern day ancient roman culture with televised gladiatorial matches with 1960s style commentary. My brain short-circuited. I'd love to know how much of this was a part of the script from the beginning and how much was compromise due to either budgetary or practical limitations.

This is a mediocre episode but its also a baffling one: The tail end of season 2 has been fond of alien races with anachronistic earth cultures that are tailored to those cultures down to a T. They do this at the expense of making a genuinely interesting alien race modeled after such a culture. That takes elements from it without copying it completely, leaving room for their own unique aspects that can be fleshed out over time and revisited instead of being a weird one-off. If only we had such a way of thrusting Kirk & co onto a world habitated by space romans!

That said I was pretty happy with how madcap this was. The space romans use sub-machine guns instead of swords, but still fight with swords and shields in the gladiator games. I also thought it was genuinely interesting how this time, the previous starship captain who finds himself stranded on the planet acquires the title of princeps civitatis not by his own hand but the machinations of the native pro-consol that now has the captain under his thumb in order to learn more about these strange spacemen and their powerful technology. Very shrewd! It looks at the danger of breaking the Prime Directive from another angle.

ep 56 – "Assignment: Earth" (★)

Nothing__________Happens
_______________so________________boring
_______send_____________________________________________help



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
SEASON 2 COMPLETE!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Favorite Episodes

Mirror, Mirror
Journey to Babel
The Doomsday Machine
I, Mudd
The Trouble with Tribbles
 
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Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
The guys on the Mission Log podcast observed how little the Star Trek characters interacted with Gary Seven, and hypothesized that that was by design. They noted that, with some edits, the episode could be trimmed down into a proof-of-concept for the proposed new series without any of the Star Trek bits.
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
ep 57 – "Spock's Brain" (★★★★)

*SPOCKS BRAIN
HAS BEEN
STOLEN BY
CAVEWOMEN


This episode does not take itself seriously and neither should you. I could see the rips in the fabric here: The budget's been cut hasn't it? The opening segment was full of re-used clips. When we first begin I was initially intrigued because Spock's mind has just up and left. Stolen by the hot young woman who boarded the vessel from an advanced spaceship. Its not like they stole his mental capacity like what happened to Uhura -- she up and LIFTED his brain. *wildly flailing arms* What do they need Spock's brain for?! And why Spock!? Once we arrive on the planet and encounter the primitive natives I figured we had a Zardoz situation on our hands BUT NOOOO! The women are also dumb! Everyone is dumb! EVERYTHING is dumb! ROOOOLIN ON THE RIVERRRRR.

This episode is a work of genius. This is exuding powerful Dungeons & Dragons featuring Jeremy Irons energy.

I think my favorite moments were the James Doohan cutaways. I don't know if its because of a spotty filming schedule or what but they splice in edits of Scotty remarking on the situation in the most ham-fisted way possible. They cut from a wide shot of the group, to a close-up of Scotty saying something, then back to the group that still includes Scotty! Oh, wait lets back up a second. I haven't mentioned that McCoy rigs up Spock's brainless body to a control mechanism that lets them walk Spock around like an R.C Car. They explain in sick bay why this is necessary but I couldn't shake the feeling that it was bullshit? I dunno, maybe its just me but if you have a body that's running without a brain its probably expending a lot of energy to do so and you shouldn't have it use more than necessary. I'm a layman, not a doctor! Once McCoy puts on the happy hat and levels up he starts to put Spock's brain back in but then halfway through he forgets how because the mind powers wear off! BUT he got just enough done to hook up Spock's vocal chords, so Spock is able to guide him through the rest of the process and put him back together like new *phew!* Science officer Spock learned much from his experience being a brain-in-a-box about the sociological structure of the society and oh boy he was like a kid in a candy store.

SWING BATTERBATTERBATTERBATTER SWING BATTERBATTERBATTER SWING~BATTERRRRR~

*please read this in the voice of the Monty Python gumbys.

ep 58 – "The Enterprise Incident" (★★★★★)

"Chart course for the Neutral Zone, Mr. Sulu"

We're goin' into the WHAT

"Leaving Neutral Zone" says Mr. Sulu "Now entering Romulan space."

We're comin' into the WHAT?!

"That's a Klingon ship!" says Mr. Scott.

WHAT IS HAPPENINGGGG

"We're surrounded."

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

It didn't take very long to put the puzzle together here, because we've known Spock far longer than the romulans have. I adore this idea of looking at the Kirk Romance from the opposite perspective. I suppose being able to flirt is a requirement for becoming a starship captain! You could look at the romulan captain's attempts to seduce Spock to the romulan side as the height of stupidity because, y'know, he's a vulcan and isn't too concerned about his personal advancement. I look at it as foolhardy overconfidence: "You say I can't seduce a vulcan THE HELL I CAN'T" well she had some of that Kirk magic in that old silk dress because she certainly made an impression on the science officer.

I didn't think there'd be such a low number of episodes with Romulans in them (two and a half so far across the three seasons) so any story featuring their cunning is most welcome. If you haven't seen this because you skipped out on Season 3 go check it out! Its always a blast watching the enterprise crew work in absolute synergy and this is one of the best of those.
 
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Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
The producers of the third season really, really liked Spock. Expect to see many more episodes where he's the central character.
 
We're a bit into season 2, and I love how present the incidental music is compared with later Treks, where it's more of a seasoning. TNG has plenty of classic music cues (Mr. Worf ... fire!), but they just paint the walls with it in TOS. I love it.
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
ep 59 – "The Paradise Syndrome" (★★)

Oh noooo a Native Americans as childlike culture plotline. Lets-a-go I suppose.

As an episode its serviceable – it isn't as dreary as The Deadly Years or takes ages off your life like Assingment: Earth. Its just you know this plotline, we all know how it goes. Kirk is mistaken for a god, which he rolls with because he has amnesia, the asteroid threatening the planet get diverted, and all is tied up in the end. Its not as though native american actors can't be in a star trek or play these kinds of roles, its that native americans cannot be divorced from the trappings of their heritage or be given much dignity or solemnity that makes this uncomfortable; it feels very manipulative. I must impress again that I am not a sociologist. This look into the choice of following the path of duty and advancement or living a life of simplicity was already dealt with, and with far more aplomb, in This Side of Paradise. I suppose you can say that Kirk taking on the role of a god does a lot of harm in the end, but him being amnesiac throughout suppresses any catharsis.

It does introduce us to the concept of the Preservers, an ancient alien race that scooped up cultures in danger of extinction and repopulated them on new habitable worlds. That's a pretty interesting idea that I hope gets explored further; looking at other relics they may have left behind and whether or not their intentions were benevolent. Here they use it as their justification for why there's so many humanoids running around the galaxy. Hasn't bothered me!

ep 60 – "And the Children Shall Lead" (★★★)

OKAY MOTHERFUCKERS LETS DO SOME RESEARCH

This episode was written by one Edward J. Lasko. Miri was written by Adrian Spies. The Squire of Gothos was written by Paul Schneider. And Charlie X was written by Gene Roddenberry himself. So it seems that my initial assumption was slightly mistaken: MULTIPLE writers had a phobia of children! (Or at least in Gene's case, had a lot to say about the terror of pre-pubesence when unchecked and unguided)

There's a real poignancy here underneath all the cheese. These children are being manipulated, but what does that mean exactly? The episode makes it appear as though the ignorance of these kids is what is being abused but we've clearly demonstrated that the Gorgon is an alien with the power to control minds: It controls the children, and the children control the crew. The gorgon wants to travel to the earth colony to "recruit" more people and raise an army of subservient followers with himself at the top. Its very reminiscent of a pyramid scheme hence the gorgons being a race of marauders and pirates. The adults on the planet conducting the archaeological dig were with time able to pick up on and resist the mind-control. The gorgon deliberately went after the weakest and most susceptible targets, using them to kill the more strong-willed. Its chilling stuff. The ending is bittersweet when the children are finally able to grieve for the deaths, and themselves. I totally understand if people can't take this episode seriously, but it works for me.

ep 61 – "Is There in Truth No Beauty" (★★★★)

First gorgons and now medusas? This show about the future takes a lot of inspiration from the past!

An ambassador that drives you MAAAAD when you look upon him would not be high on my personal consideration to draft into an episode but I'm pleasantly surprised at how they executed it. The ambassador himself does not feature into the episode heavily: The story's really an examination of Dr. Miranda Jones and her relationships, as well as the social forces that attempt to pigeonhole her.

There's a scene which is uncomfortable but also what makes it very good: When Kirk confronts Jones during her failed attempts to resuscitate Spock. She's willing to give up and declare him a lost cause but Kirk won't back down and tries to play the psychologist, blaming her for Spock's condition and passionately declaring she doesn't want Spock to recover on account for her jealousy of his mind-meld with the ambassador. Later he confesses to McCoy that maybe he never should have spoken to her, and maybe he let Spock die because Jones couldn't hear the truth.

But the episode plays all of this very ambiguously. Kirk might not only have been mistaken to enter the room and speak with her (against McCoy's recommendation) but totally mistaken to her motives. We never find out if that's how she actually felt, we only have Kirk's word and Jones herself is inscrutable on the matter. The whole episode most of the male crewmen have their idea of what a woman should desire and who Dr. Jones is, but are only able to appreciate her point of view superficially. They respect her, but only her aspects that they relate to. Dunno if any of what I just said was intended or even there at all but that's what I took away from it. This is a good'un in my book.

That is a terrible title though. We're a far cry from the poeticism of City on the Edge of Forever. Perhaps not best episode, but best title by far. Maybe you disagree?

EDIT: I just realized now that I'm calling the ambassador male but there are no clues to their gender in the episode. I assumed so because they merge with Spock for a while.
 
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Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
ep 60 – "And the Children Shall Lead" (★★★★★)

OKAY MOTHERFUCKERS LETS DO SOME RESEARCH

This episode was written by one Edward J. Lasko. Miri was written by Adrian Spies. The Squire of Gothos was written by Paul Schneider. And Charlie X was written by Gene Roddenberry himself. So it seems that my initial assumption was slightly mistaken: MULTIPLE writers had a phobia of children! (Or at least in Gene's case, had a lot to say about the terror of pre-pubesence when unchecked and unguided)

There's a real poignancy here underneath all the cheese. These children are being manipulated, but what does that mean exactly? The episode makes it appear as though the ignorance of these kids is what is being abused but we've clearly demonstrated that the Gorgon is an alien with the power to control minds: It controls the children, and the children control the crew. The gorgon wants to travel to the earth colony to "recruit" more people and raise an army of subservient followers with himself at the top. Its very reminiscent of a pyramid scheme hence the gorgons being a race of marauders and pirates. The adults on the planet conducting the archaeological dig were with time able to pick up on and resist the mind-control. The gorgon deliberately went after the weakest and most susceptible targets, using them to kill the more strong-willed. Its chilling stuff. The ending is bittersweet when the children are finally able to grieve for the deaths, and themselves. I totally understand if people can't take this episode seriously, but it works for me.
Welllllll, it's not just that. It's also that the producers did a bit of stunt casting, in that the Gorgan is played by Melvin Belli, an attorney whose claim to fame was defending Jack Ruby (the man who assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald). His acting can best be described as... perfunctory.

It would have been like if, say, the producers of Star Trek: Voyager had cast Robert Shapiro as the clown in "The Thaw".
 
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Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
I've decided to change my rating of And the Children from a 5 to a 3. I still enjoyed it but on reflection there's so many other episodes I'd rather watch again and introduce to others. The tricky thing with these ratings is that they're first and foremost meant to gauge my attention while watching and how much fun it is rather than signify objective quality, but I'm trying to cheat and do both anyway. Save the listed exception I feel the metric has been very accurate.


ep 62 – "Specter of the Gun" (★★★★)

I'm consistently surprised by Season 3's ability to take the goofiest setups and still be able to spin something investing out of them. Like the last episode this isn't the best idea on paper, but the strong acting and esoteric mise-en-scene of the red sky, dilapidated sets, and faux lightning made this a ton of fun. I really like this episode but its hard to explain why: I feel this is the quintessential star trek episode, where they descend to a planet and shenanigans happen. However in the previous cases they felt like they were always trying to ground the lack of realism in a semblance of internal consistency ("A perfect replica of earth thousands of light years from Sol. What are the chances Mr. Spock?!" "Astronomical, captain.") The best episodes have been where they minimize that need to 'convince' you of the stage and sets, and this one outright uses that disconnect to it's advantage: This is probably the most believable alien world given the higher level of abstraction. That its all a mental fabrication is icing on the cake.

The plot itself ain't too special, just Kirk & co trying not to get shot for 40 minutes, but the performances, camerawork, and dialogue are all on point. Much fun to be had, and strangely compelling.

ep 63 – "Day of the Dove" (★★★)

Y'know I don't know what it is about these cheesy effects (I AM NOT AN EFFECT) but they're super charming. This episode is a little on the nose, don't you think? I've got mixed feelings about the message given how the Klingons and the Federation don't seem to practice what they preach and harbor such animosity against one another, but also that's sort of the point in having them be such diametric opposites. Its easy to tread water in a pool, much less in a squall in the open ocean. Still the second best Klingon episode after Tribbles. Prove me wrong.

I'm on board with the swashbuckling and there's ham for days (a claymore!) so I'm on board. That seems to be the big theme of season 3: So far I've really enjoyed all these episodes because of how bombastic they are and also because this is a lot of what I had in mind when I started TOS. I feel less like the quality of episodes have gone down and more like we're finally hitting our stride making decent episodes consistently, rather than fantastic episodes peppered into a sequence of meandering duds.

ep 64 – "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" (★★★)

For me, this is going to forever be the "Call the plumbers" episode. Setting aside the interesting sci-fi premise what we have here is the enterprise beaming down to fix the asteroid-sized starship's navigation so it doesn't smack into a planet. They're the maintenance men! I cannot view it without that framing it fits far too well.

McCoy is the last person I expected was going to get a romantic plotline and so I was kinda mixed about the whole thing. I think it was acted alright, and it had its place in the story, but I really felt like McCoy should have stayed behind with the Felisians. I knew the status quo was going to continue and knowing that made the whole thing feel like a cheat. Good thing the Felisians had the cure to McCoy's terminal illness!

I mentioned before how the lower budget is kinda working in star trek's favor and this is another example. I have a strong hunch that this concept might have been done so they could film the whole thing on interior sets, and what we get out of it is a pretty interesting concept of an entire civilization living on a traveling starship. I'm sure this has probably been a sci-fi trope even in TOS times but its a new one to me.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
The plot itself ain't too special, just Kirk & co trying not to get shot for 40 minutes, but the performances, camerawork, and dialogue are all on point. Much fun to be had, and strangely compelling.
Yeah, I like stories about fates closing in on people and trying to find ways out and Spectre of the Gun is a solid episode that draws you in. I feel like the intentional fakiness really works in the show's favor in the same way that The Prisoner often did.
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
ep 65 – "The Tholian Web" (★★★★)

What an eerie moment. When the rest of the crew barely beams back in one piece, and Kirk is left stranded alone on a silent spaceship filled with death, slowly phasing away into oblivion. He looks down at the former ship captain, neck broken, the hands of the killing officer still gripped around him. Dead silence. Its not much, but it works!

This feels very much like a Season 1 episode. If they had aired this instead of The Corbomite Manuever it would have fit right in! McCoy is particularly insufferable here, even for him. The relationship between McCoy & Spock probably feels a little weird because of how inconsistent the writers keep being with it: Its almost certainly the case that different people had different images of what the relationship was and how it would develop, but it ended up being kind of scattershot. Sometimes Spock & Bones get along just fine despite their personalities clashing and causing them to rib each other, and sometimes it feels like the two's innate prejudices get in their way of doing their duty and force them to adjust their perspectives in order to see the enterprise through. The Tholian Web is the latter, but McCoy just dunks on Spock constantly about firing on the damn Tholians and what a risk that was for the ship, the crew, and their mission of peace. What do you want the man to do, Bones. You're a doctor not a commander. It seemed a little out of character for him to be acting so vehement but then we see Kirk's recorded tape and I went "Ohh, okay." Makes sense with hindsight. Cool scene when it all comes together.

The Tholians look slick. Way better than Bartok, and a lot more thrilling if you ask me. The show's not very clear what the effects of this web were. Its clear that its meant to trap the enterprise but was it also having some kind of effect on Kirk and the derelict ship? I'd say this is on par with The Immunity Syndrome so if you liked that you'll likely get a kick out of this too.

ep 66 – "Plato's Stepchildren" (★★★★)

"Scotty, prepare to beam us up." says Kirk.
"'Fraid not, captain. Everything's frozen!" says Scotty.
"Everything? The storm hit you that hard?"
"Wasn't the storm, sir. Damage is minimal."
"Then what caused it?"
"I Don't Know Sir."
*DRAMATIC ZOOOOOOM*
"And those are the facts!"

I've yet to address this haven't I? William Shatner's acting. Apparently it is bad; I don't understand this. I didn't understand it before I watched the show, I didn't understand it while watching the show. It cannot be easy to look at the script and see that you're gonna be playing a horse. I understand that over-exaggerating your lines and your body language is not authentic to real human reactions or to how a normal person behaves. What perplexes me is why its popular for critics, internet and professional alike, to look down their noses at it. Sure, its difficult to give genuine emotional weight to a story without the appropriate subtlety but that does not mean that you cannot use ham to give a work vigor either! You wanna critique this stuff consider this - poor Mr. Sulu has kinda been getting worse ever since they relegated him to bog-standard helmsman. He used to live such a rich life tending to plants in his quarters, popping off jokes, adoring the arts of fencing, and collecting antique weaponry. Now its all 14 degrees mark 240 captain warp factor 4 captain firing phasers captain. The real question I have is "Where is the line" because I always feel like I'm the weird one who's not in on the joke.

We've yet to encounter anything that I'd call horror in Star Trek. I suppose the closest may have been Dagger of the Mind but that was more an episode of suspense and mystery: This is outright horrific to sit through. Its not easy to keep watching while Kirk & Spock get degraded in front of you. On the one hand the low budget prevents the episode from being given any dignity, but it uses that to its advantage and in fact is the whole point. This is an episode about bullying and cruelty. Much like A Taste of Armageddon it examines the concept by taking it to the absurd extreme. Alexander is every poor kid who's been mocked and beaten down by people who think nothing of themselves and less of their victims. Spock himself became so filled with hatred by the actions of the Platonians he had to fight to keep it contained. It was hard to watch at the end, when Parmen & Kirk have their mental duel, that Alexander was still used as the pawn between the two of them: Even his own act of defiance against his tormentors was taken and toyed with.

"How can you let this go on?" Parmen asks McCoy. These people know exactly what they are doing, and how much it hurts those they control.

P.S: Kirk & Uhura kiss! I believe this must be the oft-referenced first interracial kiss? This is the last episode I would have expected it.

ep 67 – "Wink of an Eye" (★★)

The ladies always think they can pull one over on ol' Kirk but no matter how smooth they are he's been too quick for 'em. So how do you schmooze with Kirk without getting bamboozled BECOME THE FLASH THAT'S HOW. You think I'm joking don't you?

In a word, "Solid." Not great, but decent. Silly, but executed well enough. There's romance, intrigue, subterfuge, and pillow-based combat. Not a bad way to kill 40 minutes but I'm starting to feel the misgivings of those who were disappointed by this season. The highs we've ridden before just aren't to be found this time. The Scalosians refer to an "adjustment" that their mates go through once they bring them up to their speed that makes them more susceptible to suggestion but its never adequately explained what this is, why it happens, what the process is like, or what super speed has to do with it. It seems to affect the security ensign who was captured before Kirk was, but he was so young he couldn't act for crap! Maybe he was just smitten, or maybe its because his mind was too slow [badum_tish]. I think what I love most of all is that when given the powers of the Flash, what does Star Trek choose to do with this? MAKE REPAIRS AT LIGHTNING SPEED. Spock fixes up the ship in no time at all and then apparates onto the bridge. Magnificence. Shame about the Scolosians. Its rather uncharacteristic of Kirk & the enterprise to leave people hanging without hope. It would be sad if the show had TIME to address the issue AHYUCK.

Seriously though this is the second time Kirk has used a pillow as a deadly weapon and I did not know this and NOBODY talks about it WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN star trek nerds, when I need you?!
 
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I've yet to address this haven't I? William Shatner's acting. Apparently it is bad; I don't understand this.
It's a meme, just like Kirk being a womanizer. The TOS that lives in the popular imagination of society is a hollow imitation of the show, born of clips taken out of context of the show at its hammiest. You can pretty much tell who has and hasn't actually seen TOS all the way through based on how someone talks about it. It's also a show that most fans in our age range have little experience with. By the time we were all kids growing up on TNG or later, TOS reruns were basically gone from TV, so most of us just perpetuated opinions of others taken as gospel without a lot of critical thought. And it's also from that weird young, transitional period in television history where shows are only just beginning to try to be serious and using brand new state of the art technology like COLOR. So it feels extra antiquated to people with low tolerance thresholds who make zero attempts to try and contextualize media from the periods they came from. William Shatner is a classically trained stage actor, and most of his "overacting" is simply just acting for stage productions sake. He's doing what he knows best, in an era during what was and wasn't good acting was still in flux, and it really works as long as you have an open mind about things.
 
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