Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Original Series

"For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky"

**1/2

Air date: 11/8/1968
Written by Rik Vollaerts
Directed by Tony Leader

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise encounters an asteroid that actually turns out to be a huge alien bio-dome-like spaceship—carrying passengers who think they're living on an actual world. This spaceship, navigation having malfunctioned, is on a collision course with another populated world.

Meanwhile, McCoy learns that he has a terminal illness that leaves him with a maximum of one year to live. Upon beaming to the spaceship to investigate, Kirk, Spock, and Bones find that the inhabitants are at the mercy of an apparently computerized oracle that dictates thought and speech—speak the forbidden words and it kills you. Bones is elected to keep Natira (Kate Woodville), the landing party's host who finds herself enamored with McCoy, busy while Kirk and Spock try to figure out how to gain navigational control of the planet-ship.

The "spaceship planet" idea and some of the social implications are genuinely intriguing. There's an implicit analysis of a society built on censored thought, but the story doesn't dig as deep as it could've. Also unfortunate is that Bones' romance with Natira—a key emotional focus point in the story and a good idea—is a major letdown, severely lacking punch and devoid of passion or sweetness, thereby reduced to a plot element. It's a real shame, because I like Bones and would've liked to see this side of him more believably brought to the surface.

Previous episode: Day of the Dove
Next episode: The Tholian Web

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4 comments on this review

Paul - Sun, Dec 2, 2012 - 4:47pm (USA Central)
The remastered version of this aired last night -- and it's a big improvement, as far as the shots with the Enterprise and the asteroid.

The real problem with the episode is that Shatner and Kelley seem really off. Shatner's reactions to learning that one of his closest friends is dying is far too muted. And the good bye scene was weird, too.

Shatner's performance could be overlooked, but Kelley really drops the ball. For somebody who was willing to leave the Enterprise to be with a woman he just met, he sure doesn't seem very happy to be with Natira. He hardly smiles!

I wonder if Kelley tried to play Bones in a weakened state? If so, it was a bad call.
Adara - Tue, Oct 29, 2013 - 2:55pm (USA Central)
I'm so happy to see Bones finally get some action that I'm willing to overlook all the problems with this episode. Well, almost all of them. The high priestess's acting is terrible!
Jo Jo Meastro - Mon, Feb 17, 2014 - 8:56am (USA Central)
It probably sounded a lot better on paper than how it actually turned out.

I think the main pitfall is the unfortunate lack of an emotional punch. Wether it was the actors or the director or simply an uninvolving script, it leaves you strangely unmoved at times when you should be completely hooked and in the heart of the moment.

Coupled with a very slow pace and a failure to actually do anything interesting or original with its good concepts; it wasn't one of my favourites despite me being a big McCoy fan.

I would rate it a 2/4. I didn't hate it but I was left feeling very indifferent to it which isn't much better. As a side note, I love the episode title and I noticed TOS has a tendency for really cool sounding titles (excluding Spocks' Brain of course)!
William B - Sun, Sep 28, 2014 - 11:27am (USA Central)
This is surprisingly similar to "The Paradise Syndrome," which also features a main character leaving the Enterprise for a brief marriage and an asteroid hurtling toward a planet. It's like someone decided to show the same story from the *asteroid's* point of view, rather than the planet's. This episode avoids many of "The Paradise Syndrome's" flaws and is probably more engaging overall, but I still find this one pretty frustrating. The basic plot of the asteroid colony, who are prevented from understanding their situation or even making proper corrections to their course by an autocratic machine whose original purpose has become corrupted over time, is fine if familiar for TOS. Rather than another computer-goes-awry story (which, you know, this *is*, but still) this is more properly about religious fanaticism, where insistence that no one *question* the way in which one reaches the "Promised Land" actually makes arriving at that destination impossible. The Big Three figure it out and save the people. The Yolandans' faith turns out to be justified, but not in this literalistic way in which no actual pursuit of truth can be allowed. It's uninspired but I guess fine as far as it goes.

The bigger interest and bigger letdown is McCoy's story. McCoy is *dying*; and then he finds the possibility of a year of happiness, even if he has to give up a great deal for it, and he takes it. I was actually fairly willing to accept the somewhat implausible and mostly low-chemistry Natira romance provisionally, on the hopes that it would lead to something of a good story. And there are hints of one. With time running out, McCoy realizes that he really doesn't want to die alone, and his priorities shift with the recognition that this is his last real chance at love. The understated way he deals with the news with Kirk and Spock has some pros and cons -- I agree that the Kirk/McCoy stuff feels a little underwhelming, but there is something very affecting about Spock's reaction all the way through, his completely snark-free touching of McCoy and McCoy's surprised reaction. It's a big development in the Big Three dynamic, which really has continued to evolve throughout the series. It's also a recognition that the Big Three bond, important as it is, is not actually a substitute for romantic love and peace of mind.

But then the computer is destroyed and McCoy just...decides to leave his wife? What exactly has changed here? Now, more than ever, he wants to go out there and find a cure! Um, okay. I mean, yes, it makes sense for McCoy to want to do all he can to work on finding a cure, but I hardly see what has changed between now and when he agreed to give up his freedom for the chance at love and peace. I guess the destruction of the machine thing and his inability to stave off his curiosity made him realize that he couldn't actually sit quietly and wait for the end, but had to look into it? Maybe? But if all it takes is a couple of days of realizing how curious he is, it seems like that marriage thing was a pretty bad decision. I guess it was -- an impulsive stupid decision that was always going to end. Which...is actually a potential story choice, because people who just learned they are going to die in a year are likely to make some bad decisions, but the story's portrayal of McCoy and Natira is much more akin to tragic star-crossed lovers than a guy who loses all ability to evaluate himself in the wake of a terminal diagnosis and makes a life commitment that he can only honour for, I don't know, probably a week or something (hard to keep track of the episode's time scale). McCoy should be a lot more apologetic, I guess is what I'm saying.

And then he gets cured anyway! So now his reason for leaving his wife for his remaining year is gone! And so he...still leaves, because, uh...he...actually much prefers being on a starship, I guess. Which again is fine -- but wow, does he even think twice about how his *stated reason* for leaving his wife now being gone might change things? It all just underlines how little McCoy's commitment to Natira meant, and how little his realignment of values in the wake of his potential death has any bearing on his actual view of himself once that proximate threat is gone. It's a shame, really, because there is a potentially interesting story there, and further, if the story more explicitly examined McCoy just bouncing back to his old values after like a day it could be a story about how fundamentally, one shouldn't make decisions in the immediate wake of tragic news, and how McCoy understandably but very regrettably made a stupid call that hurt himself and Natira too. Alas.

I...guess 2 stars?

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