Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Original Series

"Elaan of Troyius"


Air date: 12/20/1968. Written and directed by John Meredyth Lucas

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

A mission of diplomacy brings the Enterprise to Elas to transport warrior leader Elaan (France Nuyen) to Troyius, where she is to marry into their society as the first step of bridging the two peoples and ending the long-lasting hostilities between them. The problem (or, more specifically, the running gag)—Elaan is a terrible-mannered woman from a society short on manners. She must be taught in the ways of etiquette. Her teacher (after she stabs the first one) is James T. Kirk, naturally.

Watchable, mostly brainless, middle-of-the-road fare, "Elaan of Troyius" is at its best when it shows Kirk balancing the approaches of diplomacy and forceful wording when dealing with the brat that Elaan is. Of course, the frustrating and repetitive joke of Elaan being so appalled at having to behave in a civilized manner is something that gets old quite fast, and it's not very wittily developed.

The episode turns into a mild muddle when it begins juggling mystical "love potion" (Elaan's tears) notions, Klingon battleship attacks, and mysteriously tensionless spy missions and sabotage, without really knowing which of the plots is important, or if any of it means anything when rolled into one. Still, seeing Kirk on the bridge while under the influence of uncontrollable love urges is somewhat amusing.

Previous episode: The Empath
Next episode: Whom Gods Destroy

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7 comments on this review

duhknees - Sun, Feb 24, 2013 - 3:34pm (USA Central)
I disagree with the rating. I like the various plot lines that come together at the end. No big philosophical statements, but better than long, drawn out one strand plots. I was surprised at Nguyen's ability to pull off this part, one note that it is.
Grumpy - Mon, Feb 25, 2013 - 7:58pm (USA Central)
Trivia: the only Trek episode with a "written & directed by" credit. Besides John Meredyth Lucas, the only other person with a writing credit for an episode he also directed is David Livingston for "The Nagus" (plus Nimoy's and Shatner's movie credits). In fact, hardly anyone else has both writing and directing credits for Trek. Others include Tom Benko, Kenneth Biller, and, lest we forget, Robert Picardo.

Further trivia: according to Memory Alpha, Lucas was the stepson of "Casablanca" director Michael Curtiz.
Nissa - Thu, Nov 14, 2013 - 12:06am (USA Central)
This episode was terrible. I liked it when Elaan had to learn about duty, but the whole tear thing was gimmicky. Quite frankly, I'm not sure Kirk needed the excuse of love potion. He turns into a moron the instant any woman is in front of him. I wish at least for this episode he could have kept it in his pants.

Zero stars.
Joseph - Sun, Nov 24, 2013 - 5:53am (USA Central)
It's interesting to see these again, and notice the influences on TNG that exist throughout TOS - In particular, this episode seems to be the seed for season five's "the perfect mate".

It also seems quite inspired by "Taming of the Shrew"
dgalvan - Wed, Jun 4, 2014 - 4:39pm (USA Central)
This was ok.

But the deus ex machina that Elas happened to have dilithium crystals as a "common stone" was a bit hard to take. Seriously. . . the Federation never noticed this before?
William B - Mon, Nov 3, 2014 - 2:37am (USA Central)
In which Kirk asks for the ship to move forward at .035 sublight speed, and the episode's pacing ultimately matches.

It's not as wholly, mind-bogglingly bad as something like "And the Children Shall Lead," but it's aimless, dull and offensive. It's *possible* that the "Taming of the Shrew"-esque plot (Joseph is correct that this episode has something in common with that play -- and also that "The Perfect Mate" has some broad similarities to this episode) could have worked under other circumstances, and there are the hints of a possible culture clash story here, focusing more strongly on the fact that Elaan's problem is that she's from a warrior culture, unable/unwilling to adapt to peace, rather than that she's awful as a *woman*. The story sort of tries to do this, and some of the moments which almost work rely on this story element. Still, to deal with why Elaan is so awful for not wanting to be married against her will, there has to be at least some acknowledgment that it's totally reasonable for a person to not want to be married against their will. Kirk almost gets there at one point, by suggesting she could quit her job as Dohlman, implying that she has *some* choice. But, you know, the idea that as ruler she *has to* marry someone else is weird, backward, and I think not a little sexist, with the implication that she needs to accept that the planetary merger means her basically ditching all her independence, strength and identity. Then the story throws in the magic tears story element. I *could* read this story generously, but it has the hallmarks of certain sexist tropes about women using emotions and crying to manipulate men. Not one of Trek's more, uh, progressive hours.

But at least it could have been fun, you know? The episode just wanders from story point to story point, never particularly building on any element when moving to the next section. Kirk's attempt to teach Elaan like Eliza Doolittle gives way to the tear plot and then to her apparently falling for Kirk, and then Elaan has a complete personality transformation at this point, choosing to commit to "duty" when she had been stabbing people for entering unannounced not long before. The confrontation with the Klingons is dull at this point. No one seems to know or even particularly care why this Elas/Troyius merger is so important, which makes Kirk's utter indifference to Elaan's continued protestations that she doesn't want to get married all the more frustrating.

I guess 1.5 stars if I am feeling generous.
William B - Mon, Nov 3, 2014 - 3:08am (USA Central)
Scratch that, I'm not feeling generous -- 1 star.

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