Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Original Series

"Is There In Truth No Beauty?"

**

Air date: 10/18/1968
Written by Jean Lisette Aroeste
Directed by Ralph Senensky

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

It's at about this point that the reduced quality of TOS's infamous third season becomes increasingly clear, as what initially appears to be a substantive Spock episode can't even find the right notes. This one focuses on an ambassador named Kollos (performed by a box with lots of blinding light inside) from a race "so ugly as to drive a man mad." Sort of weird, but, okay, I'll grant the story that detail.

Diana Muldaur returns as a guest character named Dr. Jones (that's Miranda, not Indiana), whose life as a human telepath took her to Vulcan, where she learned to control the powers that brought everyone's thoughts into her head. Now she plans to spend her life accompanying Kollos, whom she has come to greatly respect and understand. The problem with the episode is that it's all over the map and never figures out what it wants to say. First the story seems preoccupied with the situation surrounding a character's unrequited love for Miranda, and then his attempt to murder Kollos in a jealous rage and the resulting madness in him that ensues. Then the story shifts when the ship goes wildly off course and only Kollos knows how to get it back on track. This leads Spock to mind meld with Kollos to obtain the information, which leads him to madness.

Subsequently, only Miranda can save Spock's sanity with her mental abilities. The character analysis lies within Jones getting past the fact Spock has communicated with Kollos, with whom she previously shared exclusive mental intimacy. Some of the dialog works, but there's no clear train of thought, resulting in a ponderous mess.

Previous episode: And the Children Shall Lead
Next episode: Spectre of the Gun

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5 comments on this review

Mike - Wed, Aug 13, 2008 - 12:19pm (USA Central)
"Is there no truth..." is better than 2 stars. The narrative doesn't feel 'all over the map' to me, so that might be one reason I don't have a problem with it. The 'love story' ends early because the guy dies...but he led them outside the galaxy so they need help getting back. Simple enough and I don't see the problem (except for the stupid 'galaxy barrier' thing).

The music is extraordinary, as is some of the outrageous direction - the extensive use of wide-angle, the crazy zooms, and the like. Both music and aspects of the direction recall the great early 60s French avant-garde film "Last Year at Marienbad", and I'm stunned that a 1960s American television series would reference such an avant-garde film. This doesn't even mention the great acting by Nimoy, and some enjoyable scenery chewing from Shatner.
Strider - Mon, Jun 25, 2012 - 10:37am (USA Central)
I agree with Mike; it's better than 2--maybe 3. I like it when entities possess Spock's body and we get to see a new use of Spock's face and body language. Also, who can blame Miranda for being insecure around SPOCK, for goodness' sake? He was offered the job first and turned it down, and she was 2nd choice--who wouldn't be threatened by that?

I did think the whole "so ugly you'll go crazy" premise was stupid--why can't the alien just be of a form that people can't see without physiological damage? Why insert value judgments such as ugly into it?

And I also don't quite understand why people couldn't look upon the toolbox the ambassador was being carried in--I mean, the poor guy couldn't go to dinner with the other VIPs? He'd just have to sit in a chair and make conversation--there were 2 people who could interpret for him.

Paul - Mon, Nov 12, 2012 - 1:50pm (USA Central)
Caught this one in re-runs the other day. I'd probably go a little higher than 2 stars, but it's not a great episode. And there are three reasons for that.

Kirk's behavior in this episode is rather odd. Deciding that it would be best to distract Jones with his male charms was kind of dumb. It was like a parody of Kirk, really.

Also, all the fawning over Jones is just odd. It's like Kirk and McCoy have never seen a woman before!

Lastly, all the hand-wringing about the special visor was really strange. Why not just make sure the box stayed closed? And if it was so dangerous, why did Kirk stay in the transporter room when Spock beamed Kollos out at the end?
Lorene - Fri, Aug 23, 2013 - 10:22am (USA Central)
I thought the concept that physical appearance is the hardest prejudice to overcome was interesting. Miranda's line "Who's to say Karlos is too ugly or too beautiful to behold?" was a good example of the Star Trek philosophical/psychological concepts that the series was unique for.

I also liked the last interchange between Miranda and Spock about diversity is good, and that it is how our differences combine to give life beauty and meaning.
Jo Jo Meastro - Sat, Feb 15, 2014 - 11:53am (USA Central)
To me this was a brilliant, classic episode and I am surprised to see it only got 2 stars.

On the technical side we had absolutely fantastic direction and the whole thing was bursting with colour and style. For once we got some good guest actors with surprisingly complex characters and the plot always kept you captivated without the need of any contrived action.

As for my personal appreciation, I adored that exotic mythological flavour to the episode and scenes like the possessed Spock speaking of the loneliness of our flesh form gave me goosebumps. There's just this wonderful quality to it that I can't quite explain and I loved the philosophical themes.

The only negative was some mild hints of sexism but this can be forgiven in light of the fascinating dimension given to Miranda. I'd go as far as give 4 stars.

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