Star Trek: The Original Series

"By Any Other Name"

***

Air date: 2/23/1968
Teleplay by D.C. Fontana and Jerome Bixby
Story by Jerome Bixby
Directed by Marc Daniels

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"By Any Other Name" has a similar theme as "Return to Tomorrow," and is probably more campy throughout. However, it's also more effective overall, because it picks a tone and sticks with it, rather than throwing the book out the window when the end rolls around.

The theme is "alien lifeform takes human form and is intrigued by human sensation." Once all but four Enterprise crew members (Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty) are temporarily disabled, this leaves our four heroes with the task of undermining the Kelvans, each with a special trick suited to their personality. Kirk distracts the female Kelvan with the wonders of love. Bones injects his subject with a drug that makes him irritable. Scotty gets his subject drunk through a sequence of amusing drinking scenes. Meanwhile, the leader of the Kelvans watches all his people fall apart while Kirk wooing the female sends him into a rage of jealousy.

This is all fairly silly, but the episode knows it's silly. Marc Daniels applies a deft light touch to the material that balances the threat with a keen sense of humor that constantly reminds us not to take any of it too seriously. The end result is surprisingly likable and entertaining—probably better than it has any right to be.

Previous episode: Patterns of Force
Next episode: The Omega Glory

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9 comments on this review

Elliot Wilson
Thu, Feb 11, 2010, 10:17pm (UTC -6)
I really hated BY ANY OTHER NAME and I swear...... Roddenberry doesn't care about justice when he sees a future world, he cares only about "letting things go" to the point where murder, rape, torture are forgotten within seconds all because the other person is SORRY. But in BAON we don't get that. The Kelvans are not sorry, and they do NOT GET ANY PUNISHMENT FOR THEIR CRIME. Someday, I WILL make them pay for not making them pay in the series. I will make the CREATORS PAY......... WOMEN-KILLERS!!!!!!!
Doc
Sat, Jun 8, 2013, 6:29pm (UTC -6)
I find it amusing how the "morality police" censors allowed the scenes where Kirk was pulling on his boots and the girl was brushing her hair back into place, and where Scotty gets so drunk that he can't stand up.
dgalvan
Wed, May 14, 2014, 2:17pm (UTC -6)
Continuity bonus: This episode re-visits the "galactic barrier" at the rim of the Milky Way. Recall the enterprise encountered it in "Where no man has gone before" (the gary mitchell episode).

In "By Any Other Name", Kirk references it, saying something like "yes we've seen it" when the lead Kelvan mentions the barrier.
William
Tue, Sep 9, 2014, 12:25am (UTC -6)
I still remember my shock and horror when they turned the disposable crew people into cubes and crushed the scared girl. I was sure the guy was going to be the one crushed.

That struck me as the most horrible death on any Trek.
Pam
Wed, Jan 27, 2016, 6:43am (UTC -6)
"I'm stimulating him." Lol.
The Man
Wed, Jul 6, 2016, 8:03pm (UTC -6)
Wait a minute these people execute and murder crew members and it is just brushed away because they're sorry? Wow. A brutal episode.
Dr. Bob
Sun, Sep 11, 2016, 1:09pm (UTC -6)
A reference to this episode in TNG Relics.... "What is it"...... "It is green"!
Richard
Tue, Nov 22, 2016, 9:06am (UTC -6)
This is basically just an "aliens take over the Enterprise" for their own purposes episode. However, for such an episode it is quite well done. My main problem with this episode is the same as mentioned above. These aliens murder the young woman, hijack the Enterprise, turn the crew into little cubes, and at the episode everything is hunky-dory? Also, Kirk and Spock say they will send a robot ship to Kelva with a proposition to these aliens to come to our galaxy. Remember Rojan's statement at the beginning of the episode "We do not colonize, we conquer" (or words to that affect). Does the Federation really want to send an invitation to these people? Don't they have enough enemies to fight already?
Skeptical
Tue, Feb 14, 2017, 8:19pm (UTC -6)
So two episodes ago we had trapped aliens take over the Enterprise in order to fulfill their mission, and now this episode we have trapped aliens take over the Enterprise in order to fulfill their mission. TOS isn't exactly known for the diversity of their plots, huh?

I agree with Jammer that this is the better of the two episodes, although perhaps not for the same reason. Basically, I like the thematic resolution to the episode. It doesn't revolve around Kirk outsmarting the villains (although there is some of that) or Kirk beating up the villain (although there is some of that too). Instead, we have a nice sci-fi resolution to the conflict, that the bad guys simply cannot escape the entire meaning of what it is to convert themselves into being human.

What would it be like to completely change one's body? How much are we the product of our independent mind vs how much a function of our bodies? This episode implies that it's a bit of both, that while these aliens still thought and acted like their old selves, the feelings were overwhelming. That much is simple enough, something we might be able to expect. But then they imply that, as time goes by, those feelings will take over its thoughts. They won't be able to keep from thinking like a human, simply because they will be so used to feeling like a human. It is a unique approach, and even though we don't see if this is true or not, it feels like the right approach. And obviously the aliens agreed, and stood down on their original plan.

As for the fact that they weren't punished for their transgressions, I can see how that could be annoying. And really, they could have easily rewritten the episode slightly to make them less of karma whodinis. There was no reason to kill the Redshirt; turning them into cubes and turning one back would have had the same impact. And at least then the aliens wouldn't have been murderers. Of course, there's still the bigger problem of how to deal with the aliens stuck in Andromeda that haven't turned into humans yet, but presumably the Federation will work that out before inviting them over. At the very least, though, it is a rather positive and uplifting ending, and kinda makes the case that humans are awesome. After all, even a race of close-minded conquerors can be redeemed simply by themselves turning into humans. Sometimes Trek optimism can be a bit silly, but other than a few logical quibbles I think it works well here.

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