Star Trek: The Original Series

"The Apple"

2 stars

Air date: 10/13/1967
Written by Max Ehrlich
Directed by Joseph Pevney

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

While scouting what seems to be a planet of "paradise," the landing party encounters trouble that results in several of Kirk's men (read: red-shirts) being killed. The party subsequently stumbles upon a primitive but peaceful civilization that lives to serve Vaal, a machine worshiped by the planet's inhabitants as a god.

Where did Vaal come from and why was he put there? Beats me. "The Apple" doesn't seem to know or care, either. This is a lackluster analysis of a stagnant, naive society whose existence is dictated by a machine. For once, however, Kirk doesn't make this machine blow up by offering it a circular argument; instead he has Scotty open fire on Vaal with the phasers.

The only real aspect of any real interest in "The Apple" is the wonderful (but regrettably brief) Spock/McCoy debate on the Prime Directive, proving that Trekkian polemics can be interesting. Other than those few short scenes, the episode is basically a bore. Everything from the ship being put in routine jeopardy to a half-baked theme about physical love, "The Apple" just doesn't work.

Previous episode: Mirror, Mirror
Next episode: The Doomsday Machine

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59 comments on this post

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J'ole
Mon, Aug 19, 2013, 3:26am (UTC -6)
You know, after watching this recently, I think it edges out "Spock's Brain" as one of the worst. Kirk is at his most Zap Brannigan-esque here. They had me at "exploding rocks."
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Adara
Thu, Oct 17, 2013, 8:02am (UTC -6)
I have to agree with Spock here. I find it strange to see anyone in the Trekkian universe preaching capitalist and imperialist propaganda. The people on the planet were happy, healthy, and lived forever. So what was the problem then? Oh, right. They didn't act like Americans. Lordy.
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Josh
Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 4:33pm (UTC -6)
The worst ever.
1. Spores kill 1st redshirt and Kirk continues mission.
2. Planet has same atmosphere globally. Non-sequiter.
3. Exploding rocks.
4. Kirk threatens and then fires Scott. Is that what a captain does to his top guy when the ship is under attack?
5. Vaal has almost infinite power by eating a few heads of lettuce.
6. Scotty uses every last power source on the engines, yet, amazingly the next minute phasers blast away on Vaal.
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dgalvan
Mon, Apr 7, 2014, 1:12pm (UTC -6)
This one was goofy for sure, but oddly I actually enjoyed watching it. Would have preferred they delved into the origin of Vaal, rather then wasting time on the spore-shooting plants and exploding rocks, which had nothing to do with anything else.

I will say that, as kid, I played the 8-bit Nintendo Star Trek game, and one of the levels was essentially this episode, which I hadn't seen at the time. So it was kind of fun to see the origin of that video game level in this show.

(I took the firing/re-hiring of Scotty as essentially a running joke between Kirk and Scotty. Not to be taken seriously.)
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Markus
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 11:15am (UTC -6)
Why the hell did they not take down a shuttle to rescue the away team? It is again so obvious.
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William
Tue, Sep 9, 2014, 12:02am (UTC -6)
This is another TOS that worked for the kids.

I loved this one growing up -- LOTS of action, various ways to get killed, etc. It was very adventurous.

As an adult, yeah, this pretty well sucks.
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Jeff
Wed, Dec 3, 2014, 5:54am (UTC -6)
The entire episode from start to finish was unbearably hokey.
Star Trek goes to Gilligan's Island. "Vaal" is obviously "Baal."
Actually there were two great moments: 1) when the woman crew member did those Aikido throws of the two guys wearing beach towels, and 2) when Kirk and Bones suggested that Spock looked like the devil (he does, sort of).
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Beth
Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 11:46am (UTC -6)
I hated this episode when I first saw it, and I still hate it. It's only fun is for a few good Red Shirt deaths, and the Yeoman actually kicking the ass of some People of Vaal instead of doing the usual things she does in this episode, such as whining, asking a question that no one can really answer (how reproduction happens on this planet - cue unnecessarily awkward *SEX* speculation), and being the stereotypical blonde git whose idea of seducing Chekov (LOL, "Pav") is to ask him dumb blonde questions.

Actually, everyone is annoying in this episode, except maybe Spock, who seems to be the sole voice of reason. Like, why is their way of life so reprehensible? Ohhh right, because the "plot" demands some forced conflict. I kind of wanted to slap McCoy for his stupid arguments, and Kirk for his asinine speech to the People of Vaal at the end on how they'll just enjoy this new life of toil so much ("HEY GUYS! You get to have the SEX now! Maybe you'll figure out how to reproduce! *crowd laughs at this for some reason*).

I especially wanted to phaser McCoy and Kirk for their dumb joke that Spock looks like Satan. Like Spock's NEVER heard that one before. Or maybe he hasn't, considering that pointy ears and arched eyebrows doth not the Devil make!
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Jeff Bedard
Tue, Apr 21, 2015, 11:49am (UTC -6)
And we never do find out what the People of Vaal find so humorous about Spock's name, do we? :)
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NCC-1701-Z
Wed, May 20, 2015, 1:32am (UTC -6)
I found it unintentionally hilarious how Kirk beamed down with one group (which included two redshirts) and then McCoy beamed down with two more redshirts. It's as if someone said, "Hey, I'd like to up the body count this week, send in more redshirts!"

Did anyone honestly expect any of those guys to live? (You in the back, put your hand down. You obviously haven't seen enough Star Trek episodes.)

Yeah, not a particularly great episode but it did give us some classic lines/exchanges between the characters.
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Bill
Sat, Jul 11, 2015, 3:57pm (UTC -6)
Loved how Spock literally took a "bullet" for Kirk. You'd assume he'd do that, of course, but here he actually did.
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mike
Sun, Aug 16, 2015, 8:47am (UTC -6)
I'd give it 1 and a half stars. It's the same tired formula it's just a matter of how silly the dialogue and costumes will be. A landing party goes down, immeadiately there's fatal redshirt blunder, "Jim, don't blame yourself", encounter some locals, and Kirk says "blah, blah, these people shouldn't... be... living like... THIS!".

You know the ship is going to be in trouble because Scotty is still on aboard to struggle with it. He reports that something on the planet is messing with the dilithium crystals and we're gonna burn up in atmosphere.

How many times have we seen this? The solution is always the same. Destroy something the locals think is precious,now the ship is okay. Kirk tells the locals it'll be rough without your idol your megacomputer, oracle, or whatever you serviced but you're gonna like struggling and boinking each other. Bye now.
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CPUFP
Sun, Oct 11, 2015, 1:30pm (UTC -6)
Well, this really was not much, but I liked the scene where Kirk reminisced about one of the killed redshirts, how he had known his family etc. At least a little attempt at making these guys more than plot cannon fodder.
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DutchStudent82
Wed, Oct 14, 2015, 9:27am (UTC -6)
all has been said.. this IS a shitty episode.

I like SCIENCE fiction, without the fiction and with accurate science, this one is why TOS sucks in comparising to later series

Ok so we have a society that has degenerated, that once build a VERY advance machine, than could controll everything, even regulated their population (no touching) and would keep everybody alive. This must have been done by a VERY advanced civilization, with population numbers in the billions.
Now I can see how even an advanced race things a simple life is better, and perhaps shieled their offspring from knowing these facts. Evidence is that at one time these antenna's were installed back when their society still had technical skills.
If it was castrofofy, like a plague or overpopulation, or the result of generations, if the machine made the rule of not breeding, or even backfired and killed all but a few, is unknown, but there we are.

But now it gets crappy :

Bug 1 : Preservation of energy
*this machine was capable of controlling the climate on a global scale and able to change it in minute detail in seconds. It was even able to control the plantlife somehow, some plants ma have been biological machines instead.
*it ALSO was able to simultainisly completely drain the energy-reserves of the enterprise, even the combined pull with all theý got was NOT enough to pull loose.
This would take a LOT of energy and computing power, much more than the imput from their sun could give them (and as all food needs to be grown from that solar energy coming it.. can't be done).
*we see them feed the thing 2 ties a day in meager quantities, even if they would feed him other energy sources (like those rocks??) it would not suffice, the energy-density for that is not high enough.
*if there would be MANY more villages like this on the planet AND many more entrences all feeding him tree times a day those rocks/uranium/antimatter or something similiar than yes perhaps.
=>
As we know there ARE no other villages on the planet, the only logical conclusion is that the feedings are merely ceremonial (thought up as part of the simple life doctrine of their forefathers) and that the machine was self-sufficient by whatever energysource was installed in it.

As such there is NO way that if the enterprise power supplies were not able to break free, their weapons would be able to destroy the machine. In both cases it is a simple power output of the enterprise vs power output of the machine. The argument it has not been fed is bogus as argumented above.

==============
to the positive side there was really no way to escape without destroying the machine, it could ONLY cmmunicate by sending information to the one guy with antenna's implanted, standing before the cave and talk was pointless, they should have reverse engineerd those antenna's. (basic neural node, not above star trek capability) Unknown is however if it was also possible to send information to the machine, as signs prove the machine was made to only SEND orders. any treats to its directive (simple life for its people) were simply destroyed.
The message "we will leave, and let them alone" hence could not have been communicated.
=======

I find spocks argument that this society works for them valid, and find it a crime that they destroyed it. After all the prime directive WAS in place indeed, and the should have sacrificed themselves and that ship in order to maintain it.

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However as also pointed out, IF they were able to destroy it, they should also be able to escape it, and the "were burning up in atmosphere" problem would not excist.
===
That would indeed make the chooice much more interesting : leave and leave this culture intact, or destroy it before leaving.
and would show kirk for the racist and xenofoob he is should he stil destroyed it.







=> if it was capable to do his kind of things, the energy imput should have been A LOT greater than what they "feeded" him (even if they feeded him those rocks,


Preservation of energy, anyone?
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Strejda
Sat, Feb 27, 2016, 7:45am (UTC -6)
"I like SCIENCE fiction, without the fiction and with accurate science, this one is why TOS sucks in comparising to later series"
.....seriously?
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K'Elvis
Wed, Aug 3, 2016, 3:42pm (UTC -6)
The Prime Directive prohibits interfering with the natural development of cultures, but one of the themes you see in TOS is that a society controlled by a machine is not a natural development. There's also the fact that Vaal was preventing the Enterprise from leaving. In TNG, you see a much stricter interpretation of the Prime Directive than you do in TOS. This is partly because the Federation is in a cold war with the Klingons - the Federation makes contact with less technologically advances societies because if they don't, the Klingons will, and will add them to the Empire by force. Thus interference is inevitable.

It would be interesting if Vaal could be repaired, and then these people could choose if they wanted to live the way Vaal dictated or how they chose to live. The episode does have the common trope of one village representing a whole planet, sure, but I can overlook that. It's common enough in science fiction.
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Outsider65
Wed, Sep 7, 2016, 2:34pm (UTC -6)
Watching through this series for the first time, I find this episode to feel rather different than the previous ones, with the main characters seeming out of character.

Kirk angsting about the death of redshirts? They routinely die and he never usually says as much. He also goes on and on about how this weird, alien-looking planet is somehow like the Garden of Eden.

Spock throwing the rock after commenting on its composition and then being surprised when it exploded (if he knew what it was made of, he'd have known it would explode!), complaining about McCoy's medicine instead of thanking him for seemingly saving his life (then again, he did shrug off two other redshirt-killing blows in this episode so maybe not), complaining that the native people's flower bracelets made him feel "uncomfortable", and gee, acting pretty irritable when he's supposed to be burying his emotions and human half (and no one called him on it, either! That would have been a good opening for some banter or explanation for why he's acting like this). He gets hit by three different things in this episode that would have killed a redshirt and walks it off every time (did the writers not like Spock or something?). Later back on ship he asks Kirk if he's familiar with Genesis (obviously he is, he was calling the planet a garden of Eden earlier, did Spock not pay attention? The real question is why does Spock know it, and why does he think it's relevant to what just happened?) and casting Kirk as Satan (is he trying to start a fight? Again, why is Spock so pissy in this episode?) and of course it backfires on him (I know the whole "Spock looks like Satan" thing is probably just a reference to the fact one of the producers said something like that early on and wanted to change his design, but it comes off as the writers really not liking Spock lol).

The awkward way everyone skirted around talking about sex. They were all grown adults, no reason for them to act like that! (And why does Spock of all people sit there looking embarrassed (and very out of character) instead of redirecting the question to McCoy? Obviously the doctor should be the one to explain the facts of life. Another perfect setup for banter that never went anywhere!)

The yeowman and Chekov acting like horny teenagers was annoying, but at least we finally got to see a female officer actually be competent in a fight for once (shouldn't every officer on board be as competent as her, though? Isn't it standard training?) Actually, the only other time I can recall a woman even actually trying to fight in this series is when Uhura helped them take down barbarian-beard Spock when they were trapped in that parallel universe a few episodes back.

I could go on, but I really probably shouldn't.
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Rahul
Fri, Feb 24, 2017, 3:23pm (UTC -6)
This is a goofy episode - have to agree with @dgalvan. Also very similar to "The Return of the Archons" and also "That Which Survives" (from Season 3) to some extent. That being said, I didn't mind it and don't consider it anywhere near TOS's worst episodes.
The highlight is the philosophical debate between the Big 3 on the prime directive. The fact that the Enterprise is threatened dictates the crew's actions.
Chekov, for having appeared at the start of Season 2, has already played significant roles - more so than Uhura (absent in this one) and rivalling Scott and Sulu. His character as a bit of a ladies man has now been established.
Some inconsistencies - Spock should/could have died twice (once from the spores, the other being struck directly by lightning). He also ran into Vaal's forcefield. Thought Scotty threw the kitchen sink at the impulse engines to break free, yet they have phaser power to destroy Vaal.
Other than the prime directive dialogue, the rest of the dialogue is mostly silly.
I'd give it 2/4 stars - a well-worn plot which would have been more interesting if some story of how Vaal was created, how his people got there was found out.
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RandomThoughts
Sun, Feb 26, 2017, 1:58am (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone

I noticed a couple of comments about still having phasers after using nearly all of their power in an attempt to pull the Enterprise free. If I'm not mistaken, the phaser banks of that era were powered by batteries. Scotty talks about that in the next episode *minor spoiler* when he was on the Constellation and said he had one bank recharged.

I think it was ST: The Motion Picture *minor spoiler* where Decker informs Kirk that the phasers now draw power directly from the warp engines, which was changed in the re-fit from the previous way they did things.

I think if they previously had the phasers fully charged, they would still be that way even if the ship was out of power, unless they drained the energy back into the ships systems somehow.

This is just a thought. If I'm wrong, please show me the light. But this is how I remember the phasers working for TOS.

Have a great day... RT
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Rock Lobster
Sun, May 14, 2017, 5:48pm (UTC -6)
I hate episodes where Gene Roddenberry's pompous atheism is on display and this is one of the worst examples. I'm sorry, Gene, but religion is really not the deterrent to societal growth your kind think it is.
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Derek
Fri, Oct 13, 2017, 1:58pm (UTC -6)
It's funny, but I remember this one from watching it when i was much younger as really sucking--and it kind of does--, but i actually kind of enjoyed it this time around. Joking about Scotty being fired while under great duress, the yeoman kicking some ass, Chekov's "I was just going to take some readings sir," Kirk feeling remorse about the red shirt whose dad helped him get into the Academy, the confronting of the dilemma of the Prime Directive (in truth this is a part that i especially dislike about this episode is the casualness with which they regard the PD--I mean if this society is not doing it our way then forget the principle of non-intervention (WTF!)). Anyway, I tend to try to ignore the plot and logical inconsistencies as much as i can (sometimes it's impossible), but if i do that I still found enough of the episode entertaining. 2.25 stars.
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Trent
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 10:19am (UTC -6)
TOS had a number of stories like this: paradise and eden's are a trap, a phony bliss which hampers development, whereby development is code for "contemporary western style civilizeation". It's not a message I agree with. But this episode is nevertheless fun, feels alien and surreal in ways only TOS managed, features another stunning yeoman, is unintentionally funny in a number of scenes ([email protected] Beach Boy natives), has a couple good Spock/Kirk moments, and the actual "robot snake cave" is very creepy.
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Trek fan
Fri, Oct 20, 2017, 5:45pm (UTC -6)
Loved "The Apple" as a kid, but not so much as an adult, and I've even hated it at times. However, I'm intrigued by the fact I've recently seen it in both Best TOS and Worst TOS lists online, so I haven't given up on it. And watching it most recently, in air date order as I go through the DVD set, I'm surprised to say that I'm finally landing on the "enjoyment" side here. It's a weird mix that gets my vote for the best video game Trek episode -- I think there was even a Vaal level on the NES game? -- but the mix of polemical debate and action remains sufficiently engaging for me to give this one 3 stars.

Seriously, someone is getting zapped or attacked every minute or so here, and it's fun to watch the landing party dodge the obstacles as they make for a native village ruled over by the computerized god Vaal. Not as much an ensemble piece as the first few shows in Season Two, but Chekov continues to make an impression -- his immaturity solidified by efforts to woo a yeoman during a danger situation -- and the presence of Scotty and Kyle on the ship add a note of continuity.

Lots of good dialogue and bits in this one, including Kirk's "Nothing makes sense down here!" The native humanoids are sufficiently alien and oddball to be unlike quite anything else I've seen in Sci-Fi. The debate about the Prime Directive is engaging without devolving into self-righteous posturing as we'll later see on the first two or three seasons of TNG; the fact that Vaal is trying to destroy the Enterprise and crew forces the crew (as in "A Taste of Armageddon") to intervene more in the culture than they might wish. Kirk tries to beam out and can't, and he continually tries to respect the native setting, but circumstances keep forcing him to get more involved in it. The question of whether a computer ruling a society -- albeit without its informed consent -- constitutes natural development is relevant: The notion that the computer keeps the native infantalized and ignorant of life's realities (sex, death, aging, etc.) certainly defies all human notions of what is psychologically healthy, even if it's possible that some alien cultures might experience such dependency positively.

Anyway, "The Apple" continues to surprise me, as there's a bit more depth here than the hokey set/costume design suggests at first. There's some serious stuff going on here amidst the fast-paced action. Together with the "Doomsday Machine" coming up next, "The Apple" seems to represent a conscious effort in Season Two to dial up the humor and action to 11 -- and it works because the cast's chemistry is locked down in this season in a way it wasn't quite mature before. The scene of Spock and McCoy debating to sway Kirk's decision about how to move forward establishes a classic template, not quite fully matured before this episode, that is fun to watch. And again, Chekov gets to be the naive rookie here, helping solidify our sense of his character in just a few short shows now -- he slides right into the crew like he's been there all along.
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Joe Menta
Mon, Jul 2, 2018, 12:30pm (UTC -6)
It would have been interesting to see what Kirk would have done with that society if he wasn’t forced to act because his ship was in danger.
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PreppieYeti
Fri, Jul 13, 2018, 5:02pm (UTC -6)
It's a Viet Nam allegory.
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Trent
Wed, Aug 15, 2018, 9:45pm (UTC -6)
I watched this episode last year and liked it. Watching it again today, it's gone up even further in my estimation. Indeed, it captures well what I like best about Trek: lots of planetary exploration, studying alien plant life, first contacts with primitive aliens, some political and philosophical conversations (the one in the hut is beautifully lit) and a very concise, allegorical or theatrical tale in the vein of early SF short stories. In an age of serialized drama, TOS seems so refreshing.

"The Apple" also neatly inverts the book of Genesis. Here we have an Edenic utopia in which aliens are ignorant of sex, violence and lack "knowledge". Instead of an Abrahamic God presiding over this Eden, we have a giant mechanical snake. In other words, the episode rightly portrays the Biblical God as a kind of tyrannical, oppressive figure. It reconfigures the Abrahamic God as a serpentine devil. The liberators of the Bible - Satan, who entices man with the apple of knowledge - become the humans here, in the form of Kirk and the gang. Completing the inversion is Spock, who resembles a devil, becoming a kind of spokesman for the Old Testament God: he urges against granting knowledge to the primitive aliens and urges fidelity to Starfleet laws (of non-interference). And from various philosophical perspectives, he's arguably right: a totalitarianism in which inhabitants are happy, or believe themselves to be happy, is not inherently worse than contemporary human conceptions of "freedom" and "individualism".

Episodes like this also highlight what Trek has lost in its slow shift toward "realism" and "naturalism". TOS and TNG were very stylized, theatrical, didactic, deliberately stilted, expressionistic, Brechtian and so forth. Their zany sets, orange skies, weird plants, giant snake caves and goofy aliens didn't really pull you out of the story, because the stories were already operating on very abstract levels anyway. Indeed, the type of imagination required to key into something abstract seems to make the stories even more powerful.

Modern Trek finds it hard to do this, to create forehead aliens which are simultaneously believable/symbolic, but it's still possible once you get the tone right (Dear Doctor, Duet, Outcast etc). Another option is to ditch anthropomorphized aliens altogether, and start doing hardcore xeno-science.
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Debra Petersen
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 9:42pm (UTC -6)
Seeing this one again for the first time in a long time I just couldn't believe how childishly naïve the people of Vaal came across. They seemed actually incapable of thinking on their own. Even the spokesman, Akuta, merely passed on what he was given and didn't originate anything. It strikes me that they wouldn't be able to get along without some major help...for quite some time. They would have to be taught about raising their own food. Even the very natural physical aspects of man/woman relationships had been suppressed among them for so long that they would need some guidance to rediscover them. Not really a very viable society.
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hifijohn
Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 12:32pm (UTC -6)
Silly,very silly, give me spocks brain any day over this.
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Springy
Sat, Apr 27, 2019, 10:04pm (UTC -6)
One of the worst so far. Just so silly in so many ways.

Mandatory sexy lady is interested in Chekhov, not Kirk, so that's different. And she fights as well as flirts, so half a point for that.

It took me awhile to recognize a very young, made-up David Soul. Wow.

Kirk (and Shatner) is at his worst when he's preachy and self righteous, which he definitely was in this one.

The Prime Directive talk added some interest.

Below average. Ook.
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Pavel
Wed, May 8, 2019, 12:24pm (UTC -6)
This episode, along with “The Cloudminders” demonstrates that the Federation, like the United States, is a malignant imperial power and that ultimately Star Trek is propaganda in service of the American Empire. In this episode and the aforementioned Cloudminders, Kirk and his crew find a culture that has a social structure unpalatable to their “human values” (another imperialist conceit, in Star Trek apparently the West has so thoroughly conquered the world that the hollow morality of the European enlightenment has become the only value system amongst people) so of course they actively try to destroy it and compel the native people to conform to their alien morals. What this episode tells the viewing public is that America is of course justified in invading Korea/Viet Nam/Afghanistan/Iraq etc. because those peoples’ beliefs and values are keeping the people “stagnant” and “primitive” and therefore it is some sort of moral obligation for Americans to liberate them from their own culture by destroying it and supplanting it with that of the Western world..

Absolutely repugnant!
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Peter G.
Wed, May 8, 2019, 12:35pm (UTC -6)
@ Pavel,

This is a tricky one. TOS has a habit of both preaching non-interference, but *also* of being sympathetic to correcting a situation where interference has already happened.

In the case of episodes like A Piece of the Actiona and Patterns of Force, the interference was by Federation people, and so in a sense it was cleaning up their own mess. In others like The Apple, Return of the Archons, Friday's Child, and A Private Little War, it seems like a foreign power or entity interfering with a native people is cause (in Kirk's view) to interfere and try to return control of the planet back to the native people if possible.

Overall I would call the message in TOS consistent, which is overarchingly anti-Imperial, anti-cold war in its treatment of 3rd world countries, and anti-paternalistic. This general message seems occasionally challenged, such as in Errand of Mercy where even the Federation is shown to be more aggressive than it needs to be sometimes, and even in A Taste of Armageddon, where arguably Kirk interfered in a culture where he didn't strictly need to because he thought they were wrong. Or maybe it's because they had the chutzpah to try to claim his ship.
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Pavel
Thu, May 9, 2019, 3:21pm (UTC -6)
“In others like The Apple, Return of the Archons, Friday's Child, and A Private Little War, it seems like a foreign power or entity interfering with a native people is cause (in Kirk's view) to interfere and try to return control of the planet back to the native people if possible.”

In the case of The Apple and Return of the Archons the allegory is even more insidious, those computers weren’t a foreign power they were those peoples’ Gods, so in short the message if “if we Westerners find the religious practices of others repellent to our values, we will destroy your religion.” Of course, that’s what the so called war on terror was, a crusade against the Muslim peoples to force them to be “moderate” (that is, to abide by the secular humanist and liberal values of post enlightenment Europe instead of their own),
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Sarjenka's Brother
Sat, Jun 1, 2019, 8:24pm (UTC -6)
In many ways, this is The Quintessential Original Series episode. It checks off so many prerequisites:

-- Multiple red-shirt deaths (this time by a variety of groovy causes: Flower that shoots poisonous "darts," lightning bolt, exploding rock, knocked in the head).

-- Philosophical argument between Spock and McCoy.

-- Showdown with a computer (they really were obsessed with technology taking over things).

-- Scotty delivering dire news about the status of the ship in orbit while the landing party is also in danger.

-- A main character "almost" dies but quickly recovers (this time, Spock "almost" dies twice).

-- Kirk briefly questions his command decision and quickly gets over it. Kirk later gives speech about freedom.

-- Yeoman De Jour beams down with landing party.

-- An inappropriate desire for romance in a dangerous situation (this time with Chekov and Yeoman De Jour)

-- An extremely red sky (I think red was their favorite color for planetary skies).

-- After another deadly mission to red shirts, quips and laughter at Spock's expense to wrap things up.

This was the kind of Trek I loved as a kid. I definitely have less kid in me these days. The ones I found a bit boring back then I like a lot now. "The Apples" of Trek are less interesting to me these days.
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saffron
Thu, Jun 13, 2019, 8:28am (UTC -6)
Ok I liked the adventure elements. I did not care for the sex talk, which is made uncomfortable and unnecessarily stretched out at the same time.

What really bothers me is the blatant professionalism of just about everyone. Why are they constantly insisting this is "paradise", just because a planet *has plant life*? In The Enemy Within, they have a tent set up and collect samples and make it look like they're doing actual field work.

The final straw is an exchange between Kirk and Scotty near the beginning, where Kirk is like "Dude, redshirt just died" and Scotty goes "Oh no, what a shame" and then moments later he goes on about how much he would love to stroll around down there himself. Then Kirk says something along the lines of "Ok gotta be real careful from here on out", then immediately proceeds to pick a flower and mindlessly smell it. It's like the actors and director didn't even care anymore at this point. :D
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saffron
Thu, Jun 13, 2019, 8:30am (UTC -6)
*un*professionalism, obviously. Sorry.
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Chrome
Wed, Jun 19, 2019, 3:18pm (UTC -6)
Lol, what did I watch here? I think there might have been some potential in using the Apple metaphor from the Garden of Eden and showing a very nuanced view of how technology/help from advanced races can be helpful and harmful. Some commenters even brought up colonization and imperialism which, in the right context, could've been apt here. The episode does discuss the topic of helping/hurting briefly, but unfortunately the episode comes off a one-sided in favor of interference against a system that's so obviously flawed.

The episode goes off course by making practically all freedoms taboo for the people of Vaal. No touching, or kissing, or sex? Even Spock's Vulcan customs should be against this to a degree. The unfortunate consequence of Vaal's strict portrayal is it becomes impossible to sympathize with his "paradise". I mean, it's neat that people don't die or anything, but what exactly is enjoyable about living with Vaal?

Unintentionally funny were Red Shirt deaths. There are at least 5 Red Shirts on the away team and they all seem extraneous from the start. So, it's hilarious to see them all formulaically meet their doom, as if this were the game Space Quest (which parodies Trek) rather than Star Trek itself. How lethal the planet is gets really confusing as Spock is struck by at least two lethal traps but seems perfectly fine moments after. I was expecting "Vulcan physiology" to come into play, but even that handwave wasn't present.

I don't understand the conflict between Scotty and Kirk. Kirk seems adamant that Scotty stay aboard the ship and not goof off on the planet (like he and the others do). This somehow escalates into Kirk *firing* Scotty for not being able to accomplish the impossible? I know it's a bit tongue-and-cheek with Kirk, but it makes him come off as a real jerk instead of a good captain and the moral center of the episode he's supposed to be.

The best part was probably the Chekov romance scene which subsequently led to the people of Vaal being curious about freedom. This episode could've used so many more moments like this to show how wrong Vaal was to control people instead of laying the burden on Kirk to spell it out in rapid succession almost aggressively on the native people.
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LisaM
Sat, Sep 21, 2019, 10:59pm (UTC -6)
These people just lost their god, yet laugh at the end as if strangers killing your god is no big deal.
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Todayshorse
Sat, Oct 5, 2019, 8:06am (UTC -6)
Wow, not sure what to make of this...this...episode. we will destroy whatever it is that controls your life using power we dont have because everything will be 'better' and dont you forget it 😄

I note David Soul in the credits. Not sure who he was in the episode.
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Bobbington Mc Bob
Sat, Oct 5, 2019, 11:29am (UTC -6)
Kirk: "Formation L"

* everyone forms a line *

Formation "Line" is entered into Star Trek canon
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Top Hat
Tue, Dec 17, 2019, 10:47am (UTC -6)
A pretty bad episode -- so repetitive padded that it hardly gets going at all till Vaal actually appears. However, the scene where Makora casuallyexplains killing to the other Feeders of Vaal is chilling.
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Sleeper Agent
Tue, Dec 31, 2019, 9:21am (UTC -6)
I totally get the scorn this ep gets, but I have to say, I really, really enjoyed this one.

First of all: it is absolutely beautiful! The backgrounds, props (Vaal is sooo cool) and camera angles, make "The Apple" nothing less than an absolutely a treat to the eye.

Second: The dialogue and interplay with the actors is on point, at least when it comes to pure entertainment. The discussion between the Yeoman, Kirk, Bones and Spock, about sexual reproduction as they do their best to not actually mention sex, is just hilarious and brilliantly acted out. Kirk firing Scotty at first felt strange, but when the episode ends with Kirk quickly spurting out "Scotty you are rehired!" I couldn't help but laugh out loud - and there was small humorous elements like that in most of the dialogue throughout.

I also loved the scene when the landing party gets ambushed and the Yeoman kicks ass; plus the one where Akuta demonstrated for his fellow men how to crush somebodies skull with a "stick" - just great stuff. By the way, the red shirt death count sets a new record in this one I think.

The last scene where Kirk implies that Spock looks like the devil felt like an unnecessary cop out though. Spock is 100% right, Enterprise interfering with the Vaal society is one of the clearest breaches against the Prime Directive in Trek history.

Having watched through VOY and checked the comments for almost everyone of the episodes here on Jammers Reviews, it is unbelievable how much hate Janeway gets for "breaking the PD" when Kirk basically shatters the core of an alien society in every other episode.

3 Solid Stars for "The Apple"
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BRIAN
Fri, Jan 31, 2020, 10:55pm (UTC -6)
Kind of a boilerplate star trek episode. Its almost like if you had to think of a generic Str Trek adventure this is pretty much it. Buttt... I liked it. I cant help it. I love star trek! Season 2 of TOS they had all of their tropes and relationships between characters down pat. So many red shirt deaths. The set of the snake cave(!?} is done no favors in HD, but its awesome they built that thing life size. I mean.. thats a lot of work I dont care if its paper mache or pink foam or whatever asbestos material they used in the 60s, its impressive and way harder than some cgi.

The central concept of a utopian planet being kept in stasis that the crew of the enterprise needs to end in order to escape the atmosphere is, i think, a really smart and interesting sci fi premise. Its executed with extreme hamfistedness here, but I like that TOS had solid science fiction ideas behind even questionable episodes.

Also the main cave man actor sells the hell out of his role and is fun to watch.

3/5 for me. Exactly average trek. But thats much better htan most crap I watch
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Mal
Tue, Dec 15, 2020, 6:52am (UTC -6)
Well, at least you can see the red panties of the red-SKIRT of the week, Yeoman Martha Landon, when she does her karate fight.

https://64.media.tumblr.com/64a6f8753ecc6b1dcfd81705023957d5/tumblr_nrr16xIWPn1r67t21o1_400.gifv

I agree with @Jeff and @Beth, that scene may have been the only enjoyable part of the episode.

@PreppieYeti, LOL. I mean I assume you're poking fun at the 60's. Man, in 60 years, will people poke fun about us, and how everything just had to be about Potus these last 4 years?

I whole-heartedly endorse @Chrome's write up. Seriously, wtf.
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Tidd
Sun, Apr 4, 2021, 4:21pm (UTC -6)
Awful episode. Not-very-subtle 'anti-Soviet / Eastern totalitarianism' clumsily disguised as a Biblical parable. I can think of very little good to say about it, and will never bother re-watching it.

1 star
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Peter G.
Sun, Apr 4, 2021, 5:54pm (UTC -6)
@ Tidd,

"Not-very-subtle 'anti-Soviet / Eastern totalitarianism' clumsily disguised as a Biblical parable."

That's interesting, since personally I never read a Soviet statement into it at all. Maybe I'd have to watch it again. It pretty much seems to me to be about the Garden of Eden is a rather straightforward way.
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Tidd
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 4:14am (UTC -6)
@Peter G

Yes, that was my reaction at first, but I got to thinking about the time it was made: it seemed that a Cold War statement was more 60s than some religious thing. The view of the time (Manchurian Candidate?) was that Soviet/Chinese populations were brainwashed and had little freedom of choice (some truth in that?), while their media portrayed society as “perfect” - if not exactly Eden, then Trek’s clumsy analogy was close enough to contemporary portrayals.
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Peter G.
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 11:39am (UTC -6)
@ Tidd,

I see what you're saying, but I'd ask what content in the episode really highlights that we're talking about a brainwashed population. true, Vaal is an overlord who does use force, but on the other hand he does seem actually kind to his people and offers them a perfectly pleasant, if infantile, society. It's dangerous to outsiders to be sure, but it seems that all they have to do is offer fruit to their god and they get to live like happy children forever. To me this is how a cynical person would view the Garden of Eden, where (presumably from the POV of an anti-theist) the people are kept as mental children, not allowed real knowledge, and should they ask unacceptable question (i.e. eat the forbidden fruit) they will be punished. I think the episode is saying something like, "you threaten to kick us out? I don't think so, we quit." Like, take your Garden and stick it, sort of thing, since enlightened humans don't want to live like children anyhow.
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Tidd
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 3:47pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G

I think Vaal represents the - e.g. - Kremlin, which did use force to keep its people in subjugation, while at the same time portraying Soviet society as "ideal" with the Pravda reports of record agricultural yields, manufacture of tractors, and so on.

There's an echo of that in the character of Chekhov who constantly (and comedically!) asserts that everything good originates in Russia.

It's also obviously an Eden parable but I just think there's more to it than that, given the era it was made in.
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Brontodon
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 2:29am (UTC -6)
Does it bother anyone else that the landing party was beamed down 17 kilometers from the humanoid settlement and had to walk there, with no survival equipment, through what turned out to be hostile territory?
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Sophie
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 2:05pm (UTC -6)
This episode definitely has a jumbled message, and I think This Side of Paradise and Return of the Archons do a similar-ish plot much more effectively. (Obviously these episodes differ in exact situations, but they’re all about the dangers of a society controlled by an outside force that keeps them docile). That being said, this is an episode I love to rewatch passively, because the visuals are just gorgeous. I think this is one of the prettiest and most visually-striking TOS episodes.
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Mark P.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 9:31pm (UTC -6)
Not the worst episode but close. I find it hard to watch. So predictable is the reason why.
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Michael
Tue, May 17, 2022, 12:14pm (UTC -6)
I know this is an unpopular opinion, but this is one of my favorite Trek episodes. Hear me out: when I watch it today, I absolutely understand how ridiculous the plot is. But a part of me regresses to the 5-year-old boy who saw it for the first time and was absolutely terrified and fascinated by the Vaal cave. Coolest. Set. Ever.
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Neo the Beagle
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 7:51pm (UTC -6)
Agree that Vaal is a very cool looking prop. And for the second time in the past 4 episodes, the Enterprise uses sustained phasers to destroy an object on the ground. Awesome!
Best line: when the native leader says "it is a simple thing" as he demonstrates how to smash someone's head in.
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Proud Capitalist Pig
Mon, Jun 27, 2022, 9:00am (UTC -6)
I think that the largest problem with "The Apple" is that it's utterly unnecessary and useless. Star Trek did a far better examination on the different sides of societal paradise in, well, "This Side of Paradise." Far superior stories of Kirk's dismantling of a planet's utter cultural norms (for whatever reason) were delivered to us in "Return of the Archons" and especially "A Taste of Armageddon."

It's an interesting predicament, in a way. When you're a writing staff faced with 25-30 episodes a season, I suppose that eventually you're going to start taking several trips to the same well. After a while, episodes of your own show will start to feel formulaic just by their existence. In "The Apple," as @Sarjenka's Brother beautifully put it, all the typical trappings of a Star Trek episode are here via a list you can check off, as if a new writer watched a bunch of previous episodes and just made one or two trope notes in order to figure out how to write a new story for this show.

There are a few moments that save it from being a failure. The jungle of horrors element was campy and goofy. The succeeding deaths of those redshirts, offed one by one, became almost comical (the last one was the funniest--the guy didn't even look like he got hit all that severely). I love how Kirk refuses to dole out the slightest bit of punishment to that man in a beach towel that killed his security officer. There's a joke in the TV show LOST about this, where John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) comments that so many redshirt deaths happening under Kirk's watch probably makes him a "piss-poor captain."

Even more comical was Spock getting his ass kicked repeatedly by the planet -- the only reason he survives, of course, is because he was wearing his specially issued Opening-Credits Plot Armor (TM). Kirk almost looks exasperated as he's lifting Spock up to carry him to safety.

I agree somewhat that this could be read as a Vietnam allegory about imperialism, but I also cosign Peter G's comment that Kirk wasn't destroying Vaal simply because he was pissed at the natives' lot in life (like the situation in "A Taste of Armageddon")--here he needed to destroy the snake-thing so that the landing party and the Enterprise could escape. That this also led to the natives' freedom from their bondage was basically happenstance. I suppose it's an interesting message at face value: if your way of life is perfectly acceptable for you but comes into direct conflict with another group that has superior firepower, guess what happens. Still, based on the presentation here, I'm hardly willing to give writer Max Ehrlich that much credit.

Moreover, these simple happy people on the planet with their incessant laughter (more of that absurd smiling, @Peter G!) don't even seem to care all that much. Kirk introduces them to his crew, they laugh. Kirk mentions procreation (indirectly, of course, not because of their own hang-ups about it but because of 1960's network television censors), they laugh. Kirk destroys their God... they laugh. Okay then!

Hell, at least they have that hot yeoman to teach them all about sexual positions now.


Best line:
Kirk -- "Would you mind being careful where you throw your rocks, Mr. Spock?"


My Grade: D+
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Peter G.
Mon, Jun 27, 2022, 10:46am (UTC -6)
I started to get puzzled when I thought about the title "The Apple" since it seems like the locals weren't exacted tempted by much of anything. Two of them did seem to be tempted by "the touching" when they saw kissing happen, but it's not like anyone convinced them to reject their god. Kirk more or less unilaterally decided to end that little paradise and force the apple upon them.

Upon re-reading the transcript I think the writing is a little more sophisticated than it might appear from watching the episode. Spock does appear to be assessing the situation throughout, and is not against concluding that their system of life is viable. His is concerned about the PD, but also about using human standards of value to judge an alien society. And it is fairly clear that Vaal is only using force on their ship because they are a snake invading the garden, and Vaal requires an unchanging environment. Does that explain the exploding rocks? Did they only explode because Vaal wished it, or were they always explosive? If so, why would there ever need to be exploding rocks in such a paradise? I get the idea that the rocks and plants are like an immune system, and Vaal somehow knows none of the locals will disturb them. So these systems are not to keep the locals in but to keep outsiders out. That almost presupposes Vaal knows aliens will come to this world, which in turn implies Vaal knows there are aliens! Maybe this really is giving the writer too much credit.

Here's a peculiar thing: Vaal is almost a homonym with Baal, which is (by Judeo-Christian accounts) at best a non-living man-made idol people worshipped, or at worst an actual demon demanding things like human sacrifice. However you want to see it, this cases Vaal (if we accept that its naming is deliberate in this way) as being demonic in some sense, which in turn suggests a Gnostic interpretation of Genesis: that 'paradise' was really a demon trapping humanity and the 'evil snake' was in fact a savior trying to get them to freedom. And despite Spock's objections (and his Pan-shaped ears) Kirk and McCoy seem agreed that they were saviors in this situation, rather than destroyers or tempters. If we assume the title is a reference to Kirk choice to do what he did, then the writer is casting the explusion from paradise as being debatable rather than a blatant bad thing. I'm not sure if a 2/3 majority by Kirk and McCoy is supposed to land our understanding on the side of it being a good thing. This point would have been essentially impossible for the writer to deal with, so he understandably ends it on a joke instead.

I guess what sets this one apart from Archons is that this system does seem completely stable, where the outward happiness is the real deal. Even compared with This Side of Paradise, which was arguably about a drug-induced haze causing you to act like a jerk and think you were immortal, this one seems to possibly involve literal immortality and not acting like jerks. So really the objections to this society amount to:

1) Kirk doesn't like it.
2) Vaal's defensive measures are probably an overreaction, causing its ultimate destruction. Aliens coming to this world would probably be inevitable, so Vaal's hostile actions would only work against weaker aliens, but cause its destruction against stronger aliens.

Objection (1) is relevant and Spock brings it up. Objection (2) seems to not be relevant in the writing, even though it's fairly obvious that having outside cultural contamination would obviously disrupt the homeostasis Vaal has achieved. So one can hardly fault Vaal for trying to prevent it, even though this isn't viable long-term. So what we're left with is that Kirk doesn't like it. Except that he *had to* destroy Vaal to save the ship. So doesn't that invalidate the argument about whether or not he was right to take action? The possibility of allowing themselves to die in order to serve the PD is never brought up, so I assume for now that this is not a thing, and that saving the ship would take priority. So is there really a moral dilemma?

If the writing is guilty of anything it's trying to take on too much. I'm not aware of ever watching the episode and coming out deep in thought about the difficult moral problems. Maybe the points made are too messy, or maybe it's throwing a lot of crap at the wall and not really saying anything. It's surprisingly hard to see what the writing is trying to exactly do.
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Paul Johnson
Sun, Oct 2, 2022, 10:06am (UTC -6)
For some reason The Apple always sticks in my brain as the Drag Queen episode.
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Ms Spock
Mon, Oct 3, 2022, 3:52pm (UTC -6)
One thing I noticed when viewing this the other day is that Akuta confronts David Soul (can't remember his character name) and girlfriend and asks if they invite the lightning to strike. They in turn look alarmed. So I think the defences were always there and are ready to be deployed against the natives if they stray from the smiley happy people path.

I did wonder also if they (before having a mindwipe) or their ancestors had installed the whole thing - maybe they came from a technological society and like the hippies in The Way to Eden wanted to get back to a idealised paradise, the difference being they built their own instead of trying to find one. The reason for the ban on sex would be that children wouldn't necessarily follow along unquestioningly. There would be bound to be one or two teen rebels and it would then be necessary to zap them with the rocks or some other method. The mention of replacements I took to mean once in a while someone does fall off a cliff as the yeoman suggested, but one child being raised alone wouldn't have peers to bond with and therefore would be more subject to the general brainwashing from the adults. But they wouldn't want to have more than one child at a time as they would be bound to find solidarity with their peers and maybe find the society's way of life boring with resultant strife and Vaal vengeance.
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Peter G.
Sun, Oct 16, 2022, 12:33pm (UTC -6)
I just watched this one again, and I'll add to my previous comments a bit. I do get one thing from the writing and the episode itself: it seems clear we're supposed to see Vaal's people as being pretty stupid. They are not really afforded much dignity in how they're portrayed, so I must surmise that the episode is painting 'paradise' as being something not very good, to say nothing of the thing running paradise. I guess Kirk and McCoy are meant to be correct in the end, and Spock's devil's advocate position is precisely that: not something we're supposed to agree with, but rather an alien perspective that is interesting but not to be entertained seriously.
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matt h
Sun, Nov 13, 2022, 8:00pm (UTC -6)
IS Vaal an idol from or inspired by the Gorn? He kinda looks like Captain Gorn elevated to the size of the Lincoln Memorial.

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