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Thu, Jun 11, 2020, 5:54am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Chosen Realm

Am I the only who laughs at the fact that almost every "bad guy" on this series has long hair? I
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Stefan T.
Sat, Feb 22, 2020, 9:50am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

So, this is the first time I write my comment in my mother tongue (German) before writing it in English, since I am not sure, what the comment would look like in English, nor how I should present my thoughts here. So I want to translate what I have written and thought so far, step by step.

First of all: The introduction scene with ripping out the eye of a living man could be coming from any other horror movie, and that also is the key to the whole episode as such: I experience it as a mix of Saw, Sin City, and whatever stuff you could think of. But Star Trek? Hell no!

What does this episode even have in common with Star Trek?
Just the name and some actors. Money is back. (Money-free utopian future anywhere?) Robbing, Greed, Murder, Torture, Blood, Violence, the worst human behavior which one could think of, being pressed in one episode of Star Trek.
Just for a reminder, there have been scary episodes, as well as there have been episodes with kind of violence. Think about DS9. Think about every kind of episode about war, fights, or anything related to it. But: Star Trek never needed much violence to tell a story.

This episode instead relies heavily upon that because there is not much to tell. Instead, after watching this, I just feel depressed. It wasn't enjoyable, it wasn't funny, it wasn't anything worth watching. And it is sad of what Trek has become like. DIS was a big letdown, Picard up to now? In the first place, I couldnt decide, but after watching a few episodes, I feel that every time, it even gets lower. Might only be my impression, I hope next week's better.
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Stefan T.
Sat, Feb 1, 2020, 5:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

Honestly, I've watched the two episodes now. And I still don't know what to think about it. The more I watch it, the more questions arise while watching it. Just a few of them:

- Ok, so some androids went rogue and they literally destroyed the Mars, the Utopia shipyard and killed many humans. First: Why did they even deploy something completely "new" (Data died 6 years before that incident in 2379) to one of the most important shipyards for the starfleet? Why it seems, that this was the only place they did that, and what happened to the androids elsewhere if they existed?

- Obviously, the Starfleet didnt learn from "Nemesis" nor from the dominion war. Instead it seems everyone can get in and out even with some sort of ex-Tal-Shiar-Equipment or replacing high ranking vulcan officers with Romulans.

- Which leads to the next question, why starfleet would even allow a single romulan to be at the Earth with the diplomatic relations being for most of the time non-existent. Even if saving them, wouldnt it make more sense to bring them back to the Romulan Free State after it was established? And then two former agents of an enemy power such as the Romulan Empire?

- Or in General, what is the relation of the Romulan Free State and the Federation?

- Keeping all that in mind, it becomes even more weird that some sort of super-special-troop can just fight with lasers and explosions on the top of a building in San Francisco and no one even realizes that? Except for the conspirators? and Picard himself? Oh and this super-special-squadron does send three people for an android being capable of so much more? If they knew, who she was, they also should have estimated the mission being far more dangerous than that.

- Killing a man with a knife? How theatralic and absolutely ridiculous if you think about blood, secrecy and the ability to actually desintegrate bodies. I thought romulan assassins would be more capable. /sarcasm off

- And Picard, as he has been in service, being one of the highest ranking officers and most famous people, known far over the galaxy, is not even being remembered by someone working at the entrance of the starfleet academy even after hearing his name? And that after he made a speech to, what was being said, billions of people around the galaxy in the interview?

- Still, there remains the question why there would be such a melodramatic scene with Admiral Clancy and Picard. "Sheer fucking hubris"? Isnt that a bit over the top? On the other hand, it seems very conceited being a former admiral, then saying something like "even if it means being demoted to captain" when he's been captain for over 40 years??

Things which are not mentioned but still: Borg Cube? Having an institute for artifical intelligence and so on still existing after the ban?
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Some Garak Fan
Tue, Jan 7, 2020, 1:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

I'd just like to give some context to Peter G here, and to anyone else who might be reading: Andrew Robinson's been stating in full seriousness that he played Garak as "omnisexual" (and not specifically "gay"; it's only Behr in the documentary who claims that) for decades now.

As a queer Star Trek fan who'll take whatever they can get when it comes to LGBT characters, I've looked into this a good deal myself. I'll try not to flood this comment with quotes, but suffice to say, Robinson has talked about this a LOT.

From an interview regarding his Garak novel, in 2000 (source:

"I started out playing Garak as someone who doesn't have a defined sexuality. He's not gay, he's not straight, it’s a non-issue for him. Basically his sexuality is inclusive. But--it’s Star Trek and there were a couple of things working against that. One is that Americans really are very nervous about sexual ambiguity. Also, this is a family show, they have to keep it on the "straight and narrow", so then I backed off from it. Originally, in that very first episode, I loved the man's absolute fearlessness about presenting himself to an attractive human being. The fact that the attractive human being is a man (Bashir) doesn't make any difference to him, but that was a little too sophisticated I think. For the most part, the writers supported the character beautifully, but in that area they just made a choice they didn't want to go there, and if they don't want to go there I can't, because the writing doesn’t support it."

In 2019, specifically referring to the documentary (source:

"My take was *always* pansexual. Because, you know, you’re trying to work out “Okay, an alien, what’s an alien? A Cardassian?” We have to start with the human image and they’re all kind of hominoid, the aliens. But, you know... Do they have the same habits that we do? Are they the same, you know, in taste and in their sexuality? And from the very first moment I did the show, when I saw Dr. Bashir, I see him across a crowded room and I’m sexually attracted to him. And I thought, well, that was the *in* for me in terms of Garak and his sexuality."


"That’s the one thing that they never got right. That wasn’t Garak. It, you know, I think that’s part of what Ira was talking about – that missed opportunity. Because you could have had a really wonderful kind of relationship, a *gay* relationship, you know? Or, you know, with a character that really was so different from a Cardassian, another species."

That's probably more than enough to prove the point, and more than enough page space here taken up by quotes, but for what it's worth I'd like to link a few more interviews where he talks on the subject of Garak's sexuality (and plenty more, of course, given how much the character of Garak gives you to talk about; these are all interesting reads no matter what).

Another interview from 2000, around the time of his novel:

From 2008, referring to the way he played Past Prologue and to his novel:

And another from 2019, referring back to Past Prologue, the documentary and his novel:

Regarding his novel, I wouldn't say he specifically wrote Garak as straight. Definitely attracted to women, but that's fully compatible with Robinson's view of Garak's omnisexuality. The 2008 interview linked above mentions how he'd wanted to go into more detail on Garak's sexuality, but even as it stands, the book does at least mention his attraction to a male classmate: "Five was an athlete who also did well in class. I could see that he was attracted to Eight. As indeed I was." It's easy to miss, though.

And finally, for what it's worth, Robert Hewitt Wolfe has stated (in 2006) that he did in fact write Garak as being attracted to Bashir, and suggests "it would not be wrong to interpret Garak as bisexual." Which is interesting to see, given how the first Garak episode written by Wolfe was The Wire; this would mean the undertones to Garak's relationship with Bashir definitely extended past Past Prologue.

I went on here for far longer than intended, but I imagine this makes it very clear. Garak's a complex character by any metric, and here's another aspect of his character that was made apparent in both the acting and, to some degree, the writing. As Peter G says, it can't be ignored.
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Sun, Apr 28, 2019, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Tuvix

I'm currently re-watching the entire Voyager series for the first time in a number of years. I remember hating this episode in the past. Looking forward to seeing if my opinion has changed after reading through this fascinating blog discussion.
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Trek fan
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

Kirk ultimately did not let them die. After the testy conversation with Spock he went along with the peace initiative, to the point of not firing on Chang's ship and not raising shields when the battle cruiser was bearing down on the Enterprise at point blank range.
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Trek fan
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

IMHO Kirk would not fire the first shot in the scenario set up in the Vulcan Hello. In the ep Arena he was quite disturbed at the possibility the Federation may have been the aggressor against the Gorn (intentional or not is unknown). Is he quick to draw a phaser? Yes. Would he open fire on a Klingon vessel that has not fired on him, based solely on a Vulcan course of action taken in a different circumstance? Don't think so.
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Trek fan
Wed, Jan 30, 2019, 6:31am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: New Eden

Did everyone forget this is a Star Trek discussion and review site, and not a study in political correctness or intolerant social justice?
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Wed, Dec 19, 2018, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Valiant

If Starfleet is supposed to be the military arm, it has powers way above and beyond anything seen in any military we've seen so far on Earth. We've seen it administering, adjudicating, and in some cases governing. Why is Sisko, for example, involved in diplomacy at all? Beyond coordinating a military presence with the aim of defending Bajor, he shouldn't be involved at all.

But Star Trek has always painted a universe in which Starfleet controls practically everything, and that's why it's more fantasy than serious sci-fi. Almost any other series - Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, hell even Star Wars, demonstrate much better how things will be organized should we develop interstellar travel.
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Elliott Fan
Tue, Jun 19, 2018, 10:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Whispers

Yes!! I welcome some alternative takes on these DS9 reviews.
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data fan
Mon, Apr 16, 2018, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Move Along Home

Worse part of "Move Along Home" is easily the part when Sisko introduces his crew to the Wadi. And there they are, trying si hard to look like they're posing for some photo for a tv series of bad ass space adventurers! oh wait..maybe they thought they really were bad asses!. But,the most ignorant looking one as ALWAYS imo is Nana Visitor. She is hands down not only the worst actress but the wirst character!. She should've never been hired.

This episode gets a 1star from me.
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Star Wars Fan
Wed, Mar 14, 2018, 4:45am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: The Outrageous Okona

I hate Okona, stupid Han Solo ripoff. Han iz da haxorz lol lol!!!
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Data Fan
Sun, Mar 11, 2018, 7:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Justice

David M.
Justice was filmed in late 1980's these actors aren't flabbey, they are somewhat slim. But you are thinking of the over-exercised bodies of today. Back then athlets and bodybuilders were the only obesvthat were "ripped".
To the guy about the black populated planets- this tv show like manyvothers are white dominate. BUT I also know there are several channels devoted to black people, black writer, black directors and black actors. I've never complained that those shows have no white families nor have I heard others complain of this. As for my rati g on Justice of which I just rewatched I give it a black hole of no stars, not even one!.
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Data Fan
Sat, Mar 10, 2018, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Sub Rosa

I'm RE-binging on Star Trek TNG. I was watching the episode where Will Riker carries the symbiote "The Host". Of course Dr.Crusher falls in love with Odan the Trill with symbiote.
I was cringing through every scene with Gates Mcfadden/Beverly Crusher in usual!.
Which made me wonder if I'M the only one that tries to find episodes with her either not in it,or not in it much?. My search broughtvme here,and the Memory Alpha website. And I'm not theconly one I'm relieved to know.
The Sub Rosa episode is also imho the WORST of the worst. How this woman was kept on such an iconic tv series I'll never understand. I do know how she came to be on the show though, I just wish they'd left her out of it.
The parallels to Ann Rice's Lasher and Taltos and The Witching Hour hadn't ever occurred to me until reading the comments here. I've read those books and many others by Ann Rice, and I can absolutely see some similarities. Of course whether they're intentional or not we will probably never know.
This series TNG, was very good most of the time. But, when Mcfadden, Sirtis and the guy that played Wesley Crusher was on screen much eye roling and cringing was guaranteed.
Another cring inducing scene was when Crusher and Barclay were doing a play fir the crew, her line " 100 men!...such courage " is so utterly nauseatingly BAD acting!. No other words for that least no words of praise. Well, that's enough venting and complaining from me for one post. To the webmaster /site owner I say "Great website!!" .
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Trek fan
Tue, Feb 13, 2018, 7:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

@Jammer -- Dare we hope that this limited review project will be your long-awaited coverage of Star Trek the Animated Series? With only about 22 episodes running roughly 25 minutes each, you would easily have enough time to dig into it at your leisure before the next Orville/Discovery seasons. And the multiple TOS/Discovery tie-ins contained in TAS might be a quite fitting transition between seasons.
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Trek fan
Thu, Dec 14, 2017, 8:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Turnabout Intruder

@Jammer -- Why not defend your original review of this episode? You made a great argument: Shatner's acting is highly entertaining in this one, and that's enough. Despite some retroactive gender critiques, which I feel are unfair, "Turnabout Intruder" is a solid episode and I'm going to elaborate here on its strengths.

As I wrote in my review of "All Our Yesterdays," there's something very uncomfortable and weird about watching Shatner play a woman in his own body and the female guest star do likewise, but that is both the weakness and strength of TOS's final episode "Turnabout Intruder." This story by Roddenberry takes the classic Sci-Fi concept of people switching bodies -- later cheapened by Tom Hanks's "Big" and other sitcom-style imitators on TV and film -- as the vehicle for a fresh and tense examination of the great Kirkian fear of losing his ship. There are strong echoes of the Hitchcockian "wrongly accused man" trope in watching the helpless Kirk, trapped in the body of an ill woman, struggle to make people believe him as two enemies continually sedate him (her?) with claims he is delusional. Again, I think "All Our Yesterdays" is the superior episode, but I agree with Jammer's review and give "Turnabout Intruder" a solid three stars.

It may be politically incorrect, and a dramatized reflection of Shatner's own preening egoism projected into the body of Kirk, but "Shatner plays a hysterical woman out for revenge" (not that all women are hysterical, of course) is entertaintly executed in all its details from Shatner doing his nails to clucking his tongue. The early pre-credits line "your world of starship captains doesn't admit women" is clearly a reference to Kirk jilting Lester and driving her mad with the desire for revenge. Her ensuing revenge plot, carried out with the aid of her quack doctor minion, generates real tension in this episode as we watch Lester and Kirk squirm around in each other's bodies like two parasites. Say what you will, but "Intruder" is EDGY about pushing gender boundaries in a way that still feels fresh to our present debate about the impact of sex change operations on public restrooms, and this edginess generates a real discomfort that makes us wonder how the crew will resolve this situation.

Indeed, the fun of "Intruder" also includes Lester-as-Kirk testing the depth and strength of the crew's loyalty to him, especially the response of McCoy and Spock to the crisis. The threat here is really to the Big Three, as Lester threatens to destroy their three musketeers vibe by killing Kirk and replacing him. It's enjoyable to watch Spock -- him going rogue on the security guards with neck pinches is a nice touch -- and McCoy unravel the mystery and figure out how to fight Lester-as-Kirk. Incidentally, did anyone else notice that Nurse Chapel (Majel Barrett) has given up the platinum blonde hair of seasons one-two and gone brunette for this season three? There's still some blonde highlights there, but it's nice to see Barrett wearing her own hair color. As for the rest of the crew, Uhura doesn't appear in this one and only the Big Three appeared personally in "Yesterdays," so it's interesting to note that "Savage Curtain" is really the last TOS show with the full cast of regulars -- minus many of the semi-regulars like Chapel.

Finally, I don't see how the "jilted ex-lover out for revenge" plot is necessarily sexist or demeaning to women, as it's still a staple of modern-day relationship fiction. And frankly, let's admit it: Kirk can be a colossal jackass even at the same time he is impossibly heroic. Since it's clear that Captain America in Space loves only his ship, and we've seen countless women on this show end up thrown to the side of the road after entering his life briefly, I find it totally plausible that one of them might come back to haunt his paunchy butt. And what's really infuriating is that he's so freaking heroic: How the heck do you win against someone who keeps saving the universe? That seems more than enough to drive someone like Dr. Janice Lester, who really acts no less hysterical than Commander Ben Finney in Seasone One's "Court Martial," crazy. And let's remember that Lester is a DOCTOR -- a rarity for the 1960s, she's obviously a very smart and accomplished woman who (like Finney) can't stand a pompously self-assured ass like Kirk passing her by in life on his long climb to galactic fame. So yeah, I totally buy this story, and I welcome it as a sign of imperfection in the Trekverse that dissenters to the Legend of Kirk exist and are willing to go to the mattresses to wipe the smug grin off of his face. (That sounds more hostile than I mean it, as I personally love the Kirk character, but I think it makes the motives of a Finney or Lester quite relatable to us 21st century plebes.)

Other thoughts: As a series ending episode, I like how the show played its cards close to the vest here, generally running "Intruder" like an ordinary episode but including great callbacks to earlier shows as a sign of self-awareness of the ship's history. In addition to Kirk-as-Lester describing earlier Season Three stories to Spock, the Sulu/Chekov reference to the only death penalty offense being General Order 4 (visiting Talos, as we learned in "Menagerie Part I" back in Seasone One) is a nice touch. For an episode series, these overt continuity references are stronger her than in any earlier episode, giving a sense that the producers were at least aware the series cancellation might actually stick this time even as they were holding out for another writing campaign to get Season Four. As for the "Five-Year Mission," I have always considered the two seasons of "Star Trek: The Animated Series" to represent the final two years of that mission, despite Roddenberry later trying to exclude them from the franchise continuity. Since that continuity is completely muddled after 50 years of self-contradicting incarnations, and Roddenberry-produced TAS (with all its original cast, writers, and sequel episodes) explicitly cites the five-year mission in its opening narration and presents itself as "Star Trek," a continuation of the original show, I feel quite free to claim it as part of the franchise. Now I say to Jammer: Give us some TAS reviews!!! There are only a few 30-minute episodes and you've got plenty of time before "Discovery" (next month) and "Orville" (next fall) come back.

And I'll also say this for "Turnabout Intruder": There's a strong sense that the cast has matured as a unit as TOS ends here. I love how Spock and McCoy doubt almost from the start that Lester-as-Kirk is himself, how they quickly form ranks to investigate and help, and how they instantly risk their careers to fight the intruder. Scotty, Chekov, and Sulu planning mutiny is also a cool bit -- showing how the other series regulars (foreshadowing Star Trek III) have also grown close enough to the Big Three that they will likewise throw their careers under the bus for the group. It's too bad there's no Uhura in this final episode, but I think we can assume where her sentiments would have lain. That this series and TAS ends without trying to "resolve" anything doesn't bother me since the movies (especially Star Trek VI) do that quite well, and TNG has the opposite problem of a great final episode ("All Good Things") and a final movie ("Nemesis") that much like "Intruder" didn't fully admit its own end.

Anyway, at the end of my first-ever chronological marathon of remastered TOS on DVD, I feel I've rediscovered what makes this show great and grown in my appreciation of it. And watching all of those dull TNG and Voyager reruns on BBC USA, plus ho-hum Enterprise and DS9 (which is excellent but somewhat overrated, as there are long stretches of weak shows in seven seasons) on Netflix, I've felt energized by the reality that TOS remains the most original and striking of all Trek shows. There was something really special about this show back in the 1960s, before Paramount reduced everything to a cynical moneymaking formula and brought in soap opera actors to keep rehashing the same story concepts, and I say that as someone who came of age when TNG/DS9 was airing first-run. Part of it, for me, is simply that that TOS cast (even Shatner in his mellower older years) are genuinely lovely and humble people who feel vibrantly real every time they are interviewed or appear in public -- there's something about the light and unselfconscious way they wear their status as cultural icons that just makes me want to hang out with them (the few who are still alive) more than the cast of any other Star Trek series. For whatever reason, I've always felt that the other casts were just cashing their checks, including the current "Discovery" that I actually like very much so far.
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Trek fan
Wed, Dec 13, 2017, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: All Our Yesterdays

A touching Spock story with a poignant Sci-Fi setup, "All Our Yesterday's" is one of my favorite Trek episodes. The way it separates Spock/McCoy from Kirk, and ALL three of them from the Enterprise whose interiors we never even see in this one, remains unique in TOS despite the more routine reset-romance subplot. I gladly give it 3 1/2 or 4 stars.

When I first saw this episode as a kid, I was moved by Spock's tragic romance with Zarabeth, as he devolves mentally into a more primitive state (and yes, I think that's plausible given his isolation from the logical trappings and mental bond with Vulcans of his own time) and begins gradually to show alarming signs of shirking his duty to remain with the woman who loves him. Today I'm a bit more "meh" on Zarabeth, having seen the entire series including Spock romances like "This Side of Paradise" that make the beats feel more routine, but Nimoy still plays the part well. This story feels like the more challenging performance for him, given that he needs to show gradual loss of control rather than a sudden alien-induced emotionalism as in earlier episodes, and he has some nice chemistry with the guest actress who unfortunately isn't terribly strong. As their shared loneliness smolders into a deep attraction, and McCoy becomes alarmed at the realization that he can't get back to the future alone without Spock, there is still some genuine tension in the dilemma.

The Sci-Fi setup of a planet whose people travel back into their own history to avoid destruction by their sun's supernova -- a highly understandable way of coping with an inconsolable disaster, as I can understand their preferring to live on their home soil even in the past to current-day diaspora, if resettling on another planet was even an option -- is to me one of the best and most intriguing in Trek. And I don't mind so much how the Big Three get there: While trying to ascertain where the planet's population went to avoid the supernova, Kirk hears a woman scream and acccidentally jumps into the time machine, and McCoy and Spock jump in after him. Makes sense to me: They wanted to stick around just long enough to find out where people went and make sure they're safe; there's no way they could have known what would happen. When they land in different places, there's a real shock in the realization that they will spend most of the episode incommunicado and completely cut off from their own time period, and I like that extra edge. The time machine -- Automocron? -- perfected by the planet's society is fascinating, as we learn that it was used in the past to sentence criminals like Zarabeth, who is apparently from a time earlier than the present-day supernova, when she was sentenced to the ice age for life by a tyrant. Meanwhile, Kirk meets a magistrate in the planet's Salem Witch Trial age who is actually from the present day and has chosen to flee into this particular time period, learning that the machine needs to prepare them to survive in the past or else they will die there. On the other hand, if they are not prepared on a molecular level before time travel, they must return to the future before they die.

On this point, watching Spock rebuff McCoy's digs and become the Alpha Male of their three-person universe is also intriguing: Spock's actions are technically logical, as he mistakenly thinks he and McCoy can no longer survive in the future, and McCoy is the one illogically clinging to the hopes of return. Yet Spock seems a bit too quick to accept the apparent logic of the situation for illogical reasons, namely his attraction to Zarabeth. In any event, his closing line about Zarabeth being dead for 5,000 years is moving in its self-inflicted coldness. If the planet's people cope with their pain by fleeing into whichever part of its past, they idealize most, Spock is a man who copes with his personal pain through logic, allowing his brain to soothe his feelings. This kind of emotional suppression is not the best coping mechanism for an emotional crisis, obviously, but it's a key part of Spock's character nicely essayed by Nimoy here.

Meanwhile, Kirk plays around in the renaissance fair and returns to the library, where he talks to Scotty (audio only -- and Scotty is the only other cast member in this episode since we never see the ship's interior) and contends with the irritating Mr. Atoz. The scene where he pushes Kirk in thte library cart is funny. Indeed, the colorful and over-the-top Kirk action subplot is almost comic relief between the increasingly desperate cave scenes. I like the Spock-McCoy dynamics when McCoy finally says something like "my life is back there, and I'm going to try, because I want that life." Another unusual touch is that McCoy (with this dialogue, in which he decides to return to the portal) and not Spock ends up saving them from the death they do not even know awaits them (they merely think they are lost in the past forever) if they stay too long in the past.

If we compare this final Spock episode to the next and final episode "Turnabout Intruder," which is the final Kirk episode, I think this one is the real winner. While "Intruder" has plenty of Shatnering, the spectacle of Shatner pretending to be a woman in a man's body, and the female guest star pretending to be Shatner in her body, feels weird and uncomfortable. By contrast, "All Our Yesterdays" delivers a classic tragedy that looks through a Sci-Fi lens at how hurting people cope with impossible loss, and offers some really solidly thoughtful stuff on that.
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Trek fan
Sun, Dec 10, 2017, 5:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Mad Idolatry


To be fair, Peter G. said he hasn't seen the episode yet. But to answer your question, Macfarlane doesn't understand how religions originate and develop, as any sociologist of religion will tell you (from an entirely non-religious standpoint) that they don't begin with someone performing a miracle and being declared a god. Regarding Catholicism and Christianity in particular, I suppose Macfarlane's story implies with the Kelly analogy that Jesus was a guy who healed some people and was mistakenly worshiped as a god after he disappeared. And now we are evolving beyond that belief into a more logical and enlightened view. But I've never seen any account, least of all by Catholics themselves, that argues this view.

Anyway, Macfarlane's approach of reducing things he doesn't like to absurdity only works when they evoke real things which people universally recognize as absurd. This approach worked for me in "Majority Rule" because the government by social media, with its up-vote and down-vote culture, satirized a part of our current Zeitgeist that is very real (we actually like/dislike things on social media) but not terribly deep. The problem in taking on religion with the same absurdist approach -- especially Catholicism, which has always been full of sensitive and intelligent people, even back in the medieval period -- is that it's much deeper and quite different in reality from the vision presented in this episode. There are certainly absurdities in religion, but cutting people's hands for heresy against the great hand healer doesn't happen to be one of the vices of Catholics, and so takes all bit out of the satire. As someone said upthread, the problem here is that Seth isn't satirizing anything that feels real, because he's not tackling any actual Christian/Catholic beliefs so much as painting religious people as "stupid heads."

@Peter G.

I agree with you on the cynicism in Macfarlane's writing (which I think we both concur does not fall under your category of "good Sci-Fi" or "good comedy") that makes "Orville" feel like the anti-Trek. It reminds me of a book I once read that argued there are two kinds of comedy. One is the vulnerable kind that builds up ordinary people (i.e. Richard Pryor) by comforting the marginalized and ridiculing the powerful; it's a sort of "comedy that does justice" in an unjust world. The other is the smarmy and cynical comedy of powerful people (i.e. Macfarlane) who ridicule ordinary folks from a position of privilege and power. If the social satire on TOS and the other real Trek shows is about comforting the afflicted and afflicting the powerful, Macfarlane's Sci-Fi satire seems to be about shaming and mocking the values of ordinary people both religious and secular. To be fair, I think this kind of satire can work to an extent if it sympathizes with some of these ordinary people as their characters develop in a believeable way, like that great barista character in "Majority Rule." But I think you get my point: The basic difference is between comedy of the people that speaks truth to power (as in the best Shakespearean works and in comics like Gilda Radner) and comedy of the elite that is content to mock "the herd" (as in Macfarlane's work more generally and in "The Office") by ridiculing the values of ordinary people who are just struggling to get by in our world.
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Trek fan
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Way to Eden

When I was young, I disliked this episode for the harsh comeuppance the idealistic hippies receive in the end, but now that I'm older and a bit wiser I've come to really enjoy it as an allegory about the dangers of seeking Eden (paradise in this life) without working for it. As such, much like "This Side of Paradise," this episode actually epitomizes the classic Trekkian belief that easy utopias are illusions, because the enlightened future envisioned by Roddenberry is the result of centuries of human struggle and hard work to make progress as a species. As a respectful exploration of the hopes and limits of utopian societies, I give it 3 stars.

The counter-culture movements of the 1960s and 1970s accomplished much in terms of non-violent protest, but they also made many mistakes, seeking easy comfort in sexual license and recreational drug use that altered users' perceptions more than their realities -- and not always in a good direction. To be honest, the reality is that most 1960s hippies ended up cutting their hair, raising families, and quitting drugs to become productive members of society. And the rest -- those few who kept living the hippie life without "selling out" to society -- ended up sick, homeless, and addicted. Having lived in Berkeley CA, I can show you where they live in People's Park or on Shattuck Avenue any day you please. But preferably not at night, because they ARE violent and they ARE dangerous, just as this episode shows in Dr. Sevrin. Disease and drug use really *do* make people dangerous over time.

Perhaps that's putting things too harshly, because "The Way to Eden" actually treats the hippie movement with tremendous respect, as Spock even says at one point that Sevrin's madness does not alter his respect for the cause at all. I love how Spock, totally in character as a cultural outsider himself, is the simpatico one with the hippies here. It's great to see him jamming with the musicians led by Adam (the great character actor Charles Napier of "The Blues Brothers" and "Austin Powers" among many other films) on his Vulcan lute here. It's cool seeing Spock as the most hip and sympathetic to the hippie outsiders who have abandoned technological society.

I also love Chekov's back story here as he encounters the Russian hippie, a Starfleet Academy dropout and former romantic interest. Honestly, I'm not sure why Jammer finds Chekov's defense of Starfleet and anger that the girl he wanted turned her back on it out of character here, as his character on the show has been defined entirely by his DEEP pride to be in Starfleet and his STRONG love of technological knowledge. He's always been a know-it-all who loves all of humanity's technological accomplishments -- i.e. the grain in "Tribbles" -- which are precisely the things these hippies scorn. And he's angry that Irina turned her back on the things he loves. Of all the TOS shows, this one is the biggest "Chekov episode," as his thread actually runs through the whole show from start to finish, and he even gets a cute exchange of advice farewell scene with his crush. Too bad TOS was cancelled: It would have been great to see Uhura and Sulu get stories like Chekov got here. And Spock gets a nice line at the end, telling Chekov's girl to keep looking for Eden, which again defies the "reactionary" tag some people give this one.

Good touch of continuity here, too, with the reference to Sulu's love of botany and other skills. And I *love* the teaser where we watch the hippies (presumably stoned) fly their stolen spaceship into ruin, then promptly form a drum circle on the Transporter Room floor when the Enterprise beams them aboard. It's just a lot of goofy fun to see contemporary hippies on the ship, fitting for the age, and somewhat thoughtful as well when we consider that someone in the 23rd century might one day revive the old hippie movement for a new generation of space travelers.

In the end, the message of "Eden" is that we all have to grow up sometime, resisting the urge (which is dangerously infantile according to all modern psychologists) of returning to a womblike state of childlike innocence and freedom from responsibility. To be a healthy and mature adult is, ultimately, to take responsibility for our own actions and make hard choices in life. And folks, this message of "Way to Eden" is PROFOUNDLY in line with *everything* we've seen on TOS, even if the style makes it feel different from the rest of the series: Much like "The Apple" (where the "Eden" planet is likewise poisonous) and other episodes earlier in TOS, the Federation here encourages people to think for themselves rather than seek easy answers in messianic groupthink, and so "Eden" is perfectly consistent with Trekkian ideals. If "Way to Eden" is reactionary for saying we all have to leave the Garden of Eden to overcome infantile dependency, then so is pretty much every TOS episode where Kirk refuses to let alien races be the pawns of charismatic leaders seeking artificial utopias. (See also "Return of the Archons.")

Having said all of that, I was sorry the Romulans were teased without actually showing up, as I was totally game for the kitchen sink to drop in our laps. Yet the concept of paradise being a poisonous planet in Romulan space, so useless that even the Romulans don't patrol it, makes for a memorable ending where the hippie named "Adam" (as Spock reminds us with irony) dies from eating a poison apple in "Eden." Even the hippies here have to grow up, except of course for Dr. Sevrin who takes the Jim Jones-style exit.

The hippies turning evil through Sevrin's influence isn't a total loss, as the episode maintains respect for them and their cause despite their crazy leader. And it's not like Sevrin is trying to kill the crew, take over the ship, or conquer the universe: He just wants to go to this planet he's obsessed about and stay there with his people. So the hippies here are dangerous, but not necessarily murderous, and the episode raises good questions about well-meaning people who give up their best judgment to charismatic visionaries with mixed motives. Incidentally, it amuses me that some people get upset at TOS for too often making that charismatic leader a computer, but also get upset when TOS makes that leader a hippie or a Nazi. Is there someone else you had in mind to exemplify the excesses of groupthink? Perhaps Paris Hilton?

Anyway, "Eden" isn't a top tier episode for me, as it's a bit too weird/atonal to feel truly satisfying, and it kind of meanders in the shipboard scenes for a while without advancing the plot. But I like it. And like several commenters here, I don't understand why some people are okay with Trek criticizing religion or AI run amok in a society, but self-righteously hate on "Eden" because Trek dares to take the counter-culture to task for the same problems. The truth is that any big social movements, even a counter-cultural or justice-oriented one, is vulnerable to the unhealthy whims of a charismatic leader -- it's not just religion and computers. Hitler also started as a social reformer: We tend to forget that the National Socialists (like the German Communists and others who favored government ownership of property) were liberals/progressives in 1930s Germany, not conservatives like the German Republic group or reactionaries like the pro-Kaiser German monarchists. So let's not throw the word "reactionary" at Trek so easily.
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Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 8:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Mad Idolatry

I agree with the few dissenters on this post: I found "Mad Idolatry" to be a predictable, derivative, and weak season finale. The overall take-away for me is "that's it?!" Like a train wreck, it's hard to look away from this one, but I found the whole show went downhill in a mishmash of bad stereotypes and TOS/TNG/VOY cliches after the initial romance-relationship prologue between Ed and Kelly. I give it 1 1/2 stars.

For whatever reason, and perhaps it's because I've watched too much Sci-Fi, there wasn't a single plot beat I didn't see coming a mile away here. As soon as Kelly and crew got into the shuttle, I said: "Oh no, something bad is going to happen to them, and we're going to forget that the wonderful first 15 minutes of the ep ever happened." Then Voyager's "Blink of an Eye" (itself a better take on TOS' "Wink of an Eye," where a planet of hyper-accelerated people is aging at a different time rate than the crew) intuitively popped up in my head as soon as the primitive people appeared; the plot of "Idolatry" indeed followed the same Voyager pattern of checking back in on the planet every few centuries to see how the crew's existence has affected its development until a ship finally came up to meet the crew. And when the "pope" character was left alone with the "cardinal" character, I knew he was going to get stabbed before they even spoke.

I'm sorry, folks, but this is pretty lousy plotting-by-numbers -- and there feels like a real disconnect between the early Ed-Kelly stuff (which I really enjoyed this time) and the main plot here, as their relationship merely bookends the show without any connective tissue. That's more weak writing from Macfarlane with an A-B story structure that feels tonally disjointed like the worst of post-TOS Trek. As for the story itself, I acknowledge the TNG "Watchers" reference of some posters, but I found myself thinking more of Voyager here, as Voyager did tons of stories (including the great space dinosaurs episode!) on cultures struggling between religious dogma and scientific progress, on developing societies (like the ep where the Doctor finds himself in an alien museum and the ship guilty of mass murder) affected by our crew's contamination, and on time paradoxes. In some ways, I think the themes of "Idolatry" are all Voyager staples more than any other Trek show. And folks, I never thought I'd say this out loud, but even the worst "Voyager" story along those lines feels like Shakespeare compared to Macfarlane's turgid mess in this one!

The Orville story's added critique of a society locked in mindless ideology recalls TOS episodes like "Return of the Archons," but generally was done far better in TOS and TNG shows like "Who Watches the Watchers," with greater nuance and respect for people's beliefs. Here we get the feeling that Orville, despite boasting a far bigger budget than TOS, is doing the old "parallel earth" trick to reuse old costumes and studio backlots. We have someone dressed in a Franciscan friar's habit torturing people, cathedrals and stained glass windows, religious figures dressed as pope and cardinals, and finally 21st century televangelists and TV news talking heads. Huh? At least TOS offered the "parallel earth" theory to explain this setup; "Orville" doesn't even acknowledge the parallel here, as not a single series regular comments on how similar the planet's trappings are to Earth's past and how all of the aliens look exactly like humans. We could excuse these shortcuts in the 1960s, but in 2017? I call BS on the lazy writing here.

Of course, the parallel is obviously meant to evoke Christianity in this episode, which we might excuse if the story's presentation of religion was in any way believable, or at least as believable as Kirk becoming the god "Kirok" in TOS. Unfortunately, we only get the very stupid notion that the entire religion revolves around Kelly healing someone's hand, with heretics punished by being crucified (which the History Channel tells me simply means being hung up on a pole, which is not something Christians did to each other historically) and their hands sliced. I'm sorry, but this is *really* dumb and offensive to serious-minded people. Unlike "Majority Rule," where this show's average-Joe allegorizing hit home in tackling our current-day attitudes in a way that felt close to reality, "Idolatry" serves up a critique of a Christianity that never was, taking potshots at a straw man ("the past") rather than at who we are today. Even "Life of Brian" is more believable than the religion we see here.

That's where "Idolatry" really falls short for me: The sting of a good allegory comes from hitting close to home, taking on attitudes that intelligent people actually espouse. "Majority Rule," with its spot-on critique of social media culture, excelled in presenting well-rounded people who look and talk enough like many of us in the U.S. today that I felt like I was watching something real. To be blunt, I *know* Americans (myself included) who sometimes act like the casual "down-button voters" (love the barista character) in Majority Rule, but I don't know any Christians outside of the extremes who act like the zealots in Mad Idolatry. And the extremes is not a good place to go for intelligent Trekkian dialogue so much as a mob scene, like we see in too much of our world today.

Another problem with "Idolatry," as in some past Orville shows including the equally Trek-derivative "If the Stars Should Appear," is that it seems to be lifting Prime Directive stories from Trek without a Prime Directive, which means the implications of its cultural encounters remain overlooked and underdeveloped. In stories like this one, we're never quite sure what the first contact rules of "the Union" might be, as Macfarlane seems to be stopping just short (does he fear a lawsuit?) of saying the "Main Principle" or something else that sounds like "Prime Directive." Since there's no clear sense of Union law here, we get none of the debate over principles and ideas that makes Trek prime directive episodes like TNG's "First Contact" so great, but rather trite and sophomoric cheap shots. And let's be clear that "Idolatry" is not an intelligent debate between reasoned people, as we see even in the most-disliked Trek shows (TOS' "The Apple"?) where Kirk talks a computer to death, but rather a screed at caricatured Christian "true believers" we are invited to dehumanize as backward neanderthals. There is a cynical and ugly underside to this "us against them" approach to religious polemics that doesn't feel anything like Roddenberry, no matter how many people feel (wrongly, I think) that "The Orville" is more truly "Trek" than the more promising "Discovery." In the best of "Trek," we get difficult encounters with worthy adversaries whose beliefs and motivations are respectable discussed as understandable and relatable, not ignorant people doing stupid things while uttering cartoon villain lines. Folks, I don't know a lot of things in life, but I know one thing for certain: Despite its trapping, this "Orville" show is not "Star Trek" and never will be.

Ok, rant over. On the plus side, I loved the funny early scenes of Mercer bouncing around looking for company, and the Moclan game "stinger" was a great gag. I'm just sorry Macfarlane jettisoned the whole relationship story to plug into a routine and unconvincing polemic against "Christianity" that, far from achieving even the exchange of ideas in something like the cheeky interviews of Bill Maher's "Religulous," doesn't even bother to take its subject seriously. And that's the biggest problem, here, in the end: To have a true dialogue between ideas in the Trekkian fashion to which "Orville" aspires, you have to take the other side seriously and understand it on its terms, which requires a story that invites us to say more than "those people are so stupid." Dialogue requires us to treat others with the same respect we expect for ourselves. On the other hand, if all you're looking for is a show that says "look at how stupid religions are and how we will one day evolve out of their childish beliefs," then "Mad Idolatry" is for you. Watching the crude and childish interpretation of Christianity in "Mad Idolatry," however, I kind of wonder if Macfarlane's unexamined atheism/agnosticism is really more mature than the "Christianity" it satirizes.
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Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Lights of Zetar

PS - On second thought, I'll give this episode a steady 3 stars, perhaps a bit on the low side there. It was late when I rewatched it last night, but an earlier commenter mentioned something I failed to observe: The aliens on "Zetar" are REALLY creepy when they take over people. There's still a certain point -- I've never quite been able to figure out where -- when the energy goes out of the show, my mind wanders, and suddenly everyone is in sickbay ready for the climax. But there's a definite sense of the unknown with the Zetarians, a sense of torment to their possession of people, and a lack of resolution that is once again (compared to most neat TOS resolutions) strong in leaving more questions than answers. This one just seems to need a little extra shot of energy; the execution seems to be getting a bit tired as the series progresses into late third season. Anyway, not a great show by any means, but I think "Zetar" is entertaining enough.
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Thu, Dec 7, 2017, 11:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Lights of Zetar

@Trent -- Never fear, here I am! Your final paragraph actually makes it sound like you enjoyed the episode. Or at least brings out some of its stronger points.

Over the years, I've watched TOS and other Star Trek episodes in random order, finding much fault with them. But as I rewatch TOS in airdate order (except that I started with The Cage and Where No Man Has Gone Before) for the first time right now, I find myself appreciating the creativity more deeply in its original context. And yes, I'm finding I enjoy many of the episodes, even ones I've disliked in the past.

With "Lights of Zetar," I see more evidence that TOS (from little moments like the garbled speech effects to the guest star characterizations) was still doing very creative things in Season 3, trying to show us new stuff even with a new (and evidently inferior) group of writers and directors. There are also touches of continuity throughout this season, including here the return of Chief Kyle (absent for quite a few shows) and the medical decompression chamber (called a gravity chamber here) we haven't seen since "Space Seed" in Season 1. I find the Zetarians interesting, their choice to victimize Romaine intriguing, and the mystery fairly interesting here. So yes, I give "Zetar" 2 1/2 or 3 stars!

Memory Alpha, the namesake of the great Trek wiki, is a cool little throwaway concept here. Jan Shutan offers a bit more personality as Romaine than the blonde alien of the week we've seen lately. And I actually find Scotty's protective attitude toward women fairly in-character for someone who is clearly a blue collar, hard-drinking, working class Joe: This is not a man we expect to have hip and progressive attitudes about women, but a somewhat awkward/clumsy math and science guy (again, this makes sense for the type) who goes all gooey around women.

On this note, let me point out another realization in the long list of "things TNG lifted directly from TOS" that I'm accumulating in my rewatch: Like Scotty, Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge ALSO acts like a TOTAL IDIOT around women (see Leah Brahms, whom he awkwardly lures to a romantic dinner without realizing she's married) throughout TNG. Like Scotty, his professional boundaries go all over the map with the professional colleague he likes. But unlike Scotty, self-righteous Trekkies (and there are many of us, myself included at times) do not accuse Geordi of embarrassing sexism even as he *clearly* crosses professional boundaries. So again, allow me to call BS on Trek fans who view TOS as somehow uniquely sexist in comparison to the uniquely enlightened TNG. I'm sorry, but all of the stuff people find backward-looking about TOS (i.e. the miniskirts on crewwomen) was edgy and hip and provocative for TV at the time it aired, whereas TNG merely added 1980s leotards and bland self-righteousness to the elements it recycled. There's a difference between truly pushing boundaries and self-consciously pretending to do so in safe ways, and I can only say for myself: More TOS, please.

As for "Zetar," despite appreciating its efforts to do new stuff, I can't go higher than 2 1/2 or 3 stars partly because the long computer analysis of Romaine in the briefing room kills the pacing for me. Like "The Deadly Years" in Season 2, this long and talky sequence that reveals the aliens taking over Romaine's brain patterns tends to over-talk things past the point where we need exposition to advance the plot. It's at about this point in the story that my attention wanes and mild boredom or disengagement sets in. Also, while the Zetarians prove irreducibly hostile, I do lament the loss of Trekkian idealism in this episode's conclusion that is content to relegate them to oblivion. It would have been nice to see a great effort on the part of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy to at least attempt a solution.

But in the end, I find Scotty's central role in this episode to be a plus, as his warmth for Mira Romaine yields that great scene of trust at the end. And her fight to assert her personality with Scotty's help is fitfully engaging. For a split second as he expressed his belief Mira would not hurt him, I sensed Scotty's vulnerability and thought he might actually die, even though I should probably have known otherwise. As Scotty episodes go, this one ranks among the best for showing us a personal side of the engineer, and may even exceed "Wolf in the Fold" where he is more of a cog in the slasher film plot than a character.
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Wed, Dec 6, 2017, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: That Which Survives

Hmm, I actually like "That Which Survives," although there are times when I've disliked it. Although the execution feels a bit pedestrian in the shipboard crisis, Lee Meriwether makes a great guest star for the mysterious Losira, and I like the way the mystery resolves in a nifty high concept. I give it 3 stars.

Like many TOS episodes, TNG later lifted this concept ("crew fights planetary defense system left behind by long-dead culture") in an early episode, namely "The Arsenal of Freedom" in Season 1. Admittedly, I think TNG offers the stronger episode, mixing more action (shipboard battle with Geordi in command while the top officers fight for survival planetside) with a good character moment in Picard stranded down the hole with wounded Dr. Crusher. But "That Which Survives" is also pretty good, treating the concept as more of a Sci-Fi mystery than battle setup. And the payoff here is particularly satisfying: Lee Meriwether's final recorded monologue as the real Losira is thought-provoking and even moving. She comes across, even in the echo of her holographic ghost, as a very strong woman leader for Star Trek.

The execution is a bit pedestrian, however, and the lack of urgency about the ship blowing up in 15 minutes really leeched any excitement out of the shipboard peril. It just felt a bit too routine here, unlike early TOS where the cast and direction really sold the idea that these people feared for their life when the ship was in danger. As for Spock, he is indeed a bit tight here, but I think we can allow that even Vulcans can have bad days and bad moods. Personally, my theory is that Leonard Nimoy was the one having a bad day, either because he was fighting with the director/writers or didn't like the script, or for personal reasons completely unrelated, and his irritation leaked into the performance. Honestly, I don't think Spock's dialogue here is negative so much as Nimoy's line delivery, as he brings noticeable irritation to the story that comes from who knows what. But given Dr. Mbenga's reaction to one of Spock's snippy lines over the comm system, it seems the story is self-aware over Spock's irritation, and I admit it's a disappointment the script doesn't acknowledge or comment on his bad hair day even so far as to have someone say "he hit his head." It might well be that some of the writers wrote Spock as more of an arrogant prig in this one than usual and Nimoy doubled-down on the nastiness in protest. Whatever it may be, it doesn't interfere with my enjoyment of the episode since Spock still has a lot of good reasoning scenes here, but it's noticeable.

Kudos to TOS, though, for doing some universe-building even in Season 3: It's great to see Dr. Mbenga back from Season 2's "A Private Little War" as well as the backup female helmsman from "Gamesters of Triskelion," plus a new blue shirt scientist in Lt. Yamato. Early on, Mbenga even refers to another doctor in sickbay, giving us the sense for the first time in the history of Trek that the Enterprise has a whole staff of doctors that isn't reduced to the CMO and an assistant or two.

Also good to see Sulu mixing it up on the landing party again after so many episode of him just kind of hanging out at the helm, going all the way back to Season 2 -- albeit with certain exceptions -- when he went through a whole story in "Catspaw" without a single line and then missed half the season due to Takei's movie obligations. Anyway, Sulu gets a little more to do here with Kirk and McCoy than usual, which is always welcome. Chekov is referenced by Kirk to Sulu, incidentally, but doesn't actually appear in this episode.

The little dancing around by the landing party to avoid Losira, whose avatars are programmed to take out only specific persons, is a good example of TOS working on a limited budget to do something creative that feels more impressionistic than realistic. The show obviously couldn't afford a special effects battle at this point on a part with "Arsenal of Freedom" in TNG. The shuffle dance is kind of silly, but also fun to watch, like much of TOS. So I give it a pass.

Overall, a good episode for me despite these flaws, and I'll still take it any day over more than half the Trek episodes that appeared post-DS9 and pre-Discovery.
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Tue, Dec 5, 2017, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

I used to hate "Mark of Gideon," but now I kind of dig it, as it explores the question of overpopulation resulting from medical advances allowing people to live longer (still relevant today) and offers some delightful Spock diplomacy that fits his character's family background and future role as ambassador in ST VI/TNG. Ever-patient Spock and the oily Spock-baiting Hodin are genuinely fun to watch in their diplomatic chess game, the duplicate Enterprise is another clever (albeit implausible) TOS budget-saver, the gradually unspooling mystery of Kirk's location/fate, the unclear purpose of Odona, the ominous wound that appears on Kirk, and the creepy green faces in the window are all highlights. I give it 3 stars.

On the negative side, the episode does move slowly, as some scenes (especially between Odona and Kirk, who endlessly tries to operate the fake ship) feel like filler. Their romance is a nice example of Kirk's schtick, but plays out as a bit obligatory. The elaborate villainy of Odona and her people feel a bit forced here, as if the story feels obliged to make us side against them even though their solution to overpopulation is not demonstrably the worst one possible.

The writers seemed to intend this episode as an argument for contraceptives, holding up the silly image of the immortal Gideons crowded shoulder-to-shoulder on their overpopulated planet to invite our ridicule of their belief in the absolute value of life. Indeed the Gideons' insistence on re-introducing a terminal disease through Kirk, and their isolationism that presumably keeps them from settling off-world, is intriguing. But I actually ended up sympathizing with the Gideons more than Kirk here: By the strict rule of the Prime Directive and general respect of the Federation for warp-capable cultures not yet accepted into its ranks, they are free to solve the population issue in their own way, without the Federation imposing its values on a non-member planet. While the Gideons must be faulted from our perspective for using Kirk without his informed consent to reintroduce morality into the population in a highly suspect way, this episode gives us an example of the Federation trying and failing to reach a common understanding with a planet of very different values which are perhaps irreconciliable. As such, it continues the Season 3 trend of giving us a fresh tone and story for the series, but the execution and plot beats feel just tired enough in spots to keep it from being one of the best.
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Mon, Dec 4, 2017, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

I've always loved "Let This Be Your Last Battlefield" as a classic Trekkian exploration of racism, a topic all-too-sadly missing on pretty much every series after TOS, as if we've "solved" the issue or something. Frank Gorshin is great as always in the role of the more self-righteous/haughty of the two aliens, and their black-white/white-black makeup is a clever illustration of racial differences that boils racism down to the simplest elements so that all viewers can see its absurdity. There's also the devastating and sorrowful shock ending, very rare for Trek, that leaves a big impression. I give this one 3 1/2 or 4 stars.

The sequence of the two men chasing each other through the ship corridors while images of the planet are superimposed is memorable. The struggle and failure of the crew to confront the racism of Bele and Lokai add to the sorrowing feel of the show: Racial hatred defies all reason and can reach a point of insolubility. Lots of contemporary parallels in this allegory even today, with all of the ethnic cleansing and mass migration going on in the world. Maybe "Battlefield" is uncomfortable viewing for some people who view racism in the past tense, but I think it's an essential Trek episode that remains more relevant than ever. Love it or hate it, it's one of the most iconic examples of Trekkian ideals ever filmed, and the lack of resolution feels very real at the end. As a geek, I also love the introduction of the Enterprise self-destruct codes, to be re-used later as an Easter egg in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
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