Star Trek: The Original Series

“Is There In Truth No Beauty?”

2 stars.

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

Review Text

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

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

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

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

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67 comments on this post

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

    The music is extraordinary, as is some of the outrageous direction - the extensive use of wide-angle, the crazy zooms, and the like. Both music and aspects of the direction recall the great early 60s French avant-garde film "Last Year at Marienbad", and I'm stunned that a 1960s American television series would reference such an avant-garde film. This doesn't even mention the great acting by Nimoy, and some enjoyable scenery chewing from Shatner.

    I agree with Mike; it's better than 2--maybe 3. I like it when entities possess Spock's body and we get to see a new use of Spock's face and body language. Also, who can blame Miranda for being insecure around SPOCK, for goodness' sake? He was offered the job first and turned it down, and she was 2nd choice--who wouldn't be threatened by that?

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

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

    Caught this one in re-runs the other day. I'd probably go a little higher than 2 stars, but it's not a great episode. And there are three reasons for that.

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

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

    Lastly, all the hand-wringing about the special visor was really strange. Why not just make sure the box stayed closed? And if it was so dangerous, why did Kirk stay in the transporter room when Spock beamed Kollos out at the end?

    I thought the concept that physical appearance is the hardest prejudice to overcome was interesting. Miranda's line "Who's to say Karlos is too ugly or too beautiful to behold?" was a good example of the Star Trek philosophical/psychological concepts that the series was unique for.

    I also liked the last interchange between Miranda and Spock about diversity is good, and that it is how our differences combine to give life beauty and meaning.

    To me this was a brilliant, classic episode and I am surprised to see it only got 2 stars.

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

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

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

    This could have been a classic. But there are a lot of weird scenes. The dinner dialog -- where Kirk and McCoy just drool over Miranda -- is quite odd, even for TOS. And, putting all the physical stuff aside, it's not as if Miranda is THAT charming. It's like Kirk and McCoy hadn't seen a woman in five years.

    Also, Kirk's decision to distract Miranda while Spock prepares to meld with Kollos is kind of insulting. Miranda was an adult, after all.

    The best part of this episode is Nimoy's performance as Kollos.

    Completely agree with the last two comments. I found it an amazingly good and moving episode, but there are some oddities, especially the sexist-chauvinist behavior and surely this damn galactic barrier and "out of our galaxy"-stuff. Other than that it was great.

    Here's a little ambiguity: what is the question that the title is actually asking? Is it, "Is there no beauty in the the truth, i.e., is the truth ugly?", or "Is there, in reality, no beauty at all?"? In Ode to a Grecian Urn, Keats says that truth is beauty and beauty is truth -- that is all. In the episode proper, the point is raised that it's a bias that humans have, going back to the Greeks, that beauty and goodness are intertwined. I think the episode might well be ponderous as Jammer suggests -- but I find it very interesting, being basically a series of reflections on the relationship, if any, between those core concepts of truth, beauty and goodness.

    Dr. Miranda Jones, whose name refers to Prospero's daughter in The Tempest, is a beautiful woman who chooses to communicate with a hideously ugly, but intellectually superior, alien Kollos of the Medusans. At different times, she is romantically courted by several human men -- Garvick, most notably, but also to a degree Kirk, as well as McCoy who also lusts after her. (For his part, Scotty seems way more interested in Garvick, in a dynamic that almost plays like a proto-Geordi/Leah Brahms relationship with lots of discomfort.) Kollos is an alien so different from humans that human conceptions of consciousness and values seem not to function around him; he is a being of pure abstraction. In other episodes, like in "Metamorphosis" or "Return to Tomorrow," beings that are significantly different from corporeal humans are revealed to be able to connect to humans on a personal level, even so, especially once they take on the form of flesh. But with Kollos, even his brief period of possessing Spock leads only to a momentary connection before he passes back into his box forever. He is remote.

    Here's how I read Miranda, then. Like many professionals and intellectuals, Miranda feels that she has to choose between a career of scientific and intellectual study and a life involving the heart and body. Both Kirk and Garvick suggest that she will ultimately be unfulfilled by a life bonding with Kollos, but the possibility that she might reasonably be able to do both -- to have human relationships with humans, and to practice the type of mental discipline required to understand Kollos and his abstract, intellectual being, and translate his knowledge to the rest of humanity -- is basically out of the question. With Kollos, Miranda can access "truths," about engineering in particular, that humans mostly don't have access to. But in exchange she loses touch with human notions of living. I think that this is a *particularly* resonant story idea with respect to women; there have been long strides since the sixties, but I think that it's still much harder for women to have both career and marriage, probably because of the emotional/caretaking role women are expected to have in a relationship, skills which don't always match up easily with the intellectual and energy demands of a hardcore academic/research career. Miranda is choosing the pursuit of truth over the pursuit of beauty, and she has a bunch of men whose entire *job* it is to seek out new life and so on telling her she should give beauty another shot and, hopefully, give up this silly truth thing.

    Kollos is deeply, deeply ugly. Beauty is associated pretty clearly with humanity -- but more to the point, *human* conceptions of beauty are incredibly biased to humanity, but it's also a bias that humans are going to have difficulty getting over. On some level, our moral judgments are based at least a little bit on aesthetics, on what seems right, and on what looks natural and normal. When dealing with something really genuinely alien, really totally out of the range of normal experience, is it possible to be open-minded enough to accept that "ugliness" without judgment?

    I think the episode's sort of scattershot approach to examining these themes makes a little more sense when we zoom out and see how elements introduced in one part of the story come out on another. The theme of jealousy, for example, first manifests in Garvick's human murderous jealousy at the fact that Miranda is being taken away from him by Kollos. Then in the second half of the story, after Spock has connected with Kollos and may die at any moment, it's Miranda's more subtle, and less obviously destructive, jealousy of Spock's intellectual ability to commune with Kollos that forms the basis of the main conflict. Jealousy, we learn, can take many forms. And Kirk insists that Miranda's jealousy is a kind of ugliness much worse than Kollos', and in so doing once again links goodness and beauty in a more metaphoric way -- but it's a link that also jolts her out of her shaky commitment to saving Spock, partly, I think, because Kirk has managed to find a truth about her which is itself ugly. The truth is associated with ugliness throughout the episode, including, at the end, *moral* ugliness, but taking glimpses at that truth is ultimately what saves the day, whether it's Spock carefully melding with Kollos to bring the ship back into the galaxy, Miranda accepting her human limitations that she can't fly a space ship, and Miranda noting and forgiving herself for her jealousy of Spock so that she can get over it enough to help him with all her effort and self.

    That Miranda is blind and also psychic has certain mythological connotations (check out, for example, the TV Tropes page for Blind Seer), and her blindness is what cuts her off from human notions of beauty even as her telepathy ( this the only pure human who's telepathic? I guess Riker had some degree of telepathic contact with Troi for like twenty seconds in "Encounter at Farpoint") puts her into close contact with the uncomfortable, ugly truths of the psyches of all around her. She's a lot like Tam Elbrum from TNG's "Tin Man," who also finds himself drawn to a strange alien as an alternative to the overstimulation of the minds of those around him. The whole thing is poignant -- she shuts herself off to "beauty," which is to say, human notions of what is "good" and "right" in an effort to become a pure academic, studying "truth" in form with Kollos. But even there, she's got human limitations, and she knows that her bonding with Kollos will never be as complete as Spock's. That she stays committed to her intellectual connection with Kollos even while knowing that it'll be incomplete is a minor tragedy, while also in a sense uplifting -- she's a professional woman who is not swayed from her goal, and I actually wonder if she's the best, most interesting one-off female character in the Original Series, with Edith Keeler and the Romulan Commander from "The Enterprise Incident" as the main competitors.

    Miranda is an interesting mirror for Spock, who also finds himself cut off from humanity and compensates for it with intellectualism and even a strong rejection of human notions; but like Miranda, he's still human enough to have human biases and human "ugliness" within him, which keeps him apart from his fully Vulcan side. I think the episode doesn't necessarily plumb the depths of the Spock/Miranda parallels as far as they go, but there is something special about these two. Miranda reflects the no doubt large amount of Trek fanbase who basically *want* to be Spock, want to be Vulcans, and yet find their human frailties get in the way; for her to be able to accept that, yes, she finds herself jealous of Spock for being born (half-)Vulcan, but that she will still devote herself entirely to saving him, is an impressive demonstration of the redemptive power of forgiving oneself for being imperfect yet still trying one's best. And I think that's a lesson that Spock, so intent on denying his human side much of the time (though by this point in the series he's a little more cool with it, I think) can learn.

    I think the episode is still a little strange, and somewhat low-key. But I like it quite a bit, and find it moving in an odd way. I would probably go for 3 stars.

    John Adams to Thomas Jefferson
    September the 2nd, 1813

    "Now, my Friend, who are the άριστοι [aristocrats]? Philosophy may Answer "The Wise and Good." But the World, Mankind, have by their practice always answered, "the rich the beautiful and well born." And Philosophers themselves in marrying their Children prefer the rich the handsome and the well descended to the wise and good.

    What chance have Talents and Virtues in competition, with Wealth and Birth? and Beauty?


    The five Pillars of Aristocracy, are Beauty Wealth, Birth, Genius and Virtues. Any one of the three first, can at any time over bear any one or both of the two last.

    Let me ask again, what a Wave of publick Opinion, in favour of Birth has been spread over the Globe, by Abraham, by Hercules, by Mahomet, by Guelphs, Ghibellines, Bourbons, and a miserable Scottish Chief Steuart? By Zingis by, by, by, a million others? And what a Wave will be spread by Napoleon and by Washington? Their remotest Cousins will be sought and will be proud, and will avail themselves of their descent. Call this Principle, Prejudice, Folly Ignorance, Baseness, Slavery, Stupidity, Adulation, Superstition or what you will. I will not contradict you. But the Fact, in natural, moral, political and domestic History I cannot deny or dispute or question.

    And is this great Fact in the natural History of Man? This unalterable Principle of Morals, Philosophy, Policy domestic felicity, and dayly Experience from the Creation; to be overlooked, forgotten neglected, or hypocritically waived out of Sight; by a Legislator? By a professed Writer upon civil Government, and upon Constitutions of civil Government?

    You may laugh at the introduction of Beauty, among the Pillars of Aristocracy. But Madame Barry says Le veritable Royauté est la B[e]autee [true royalty is beauty], and there is not a more certain Truth. Beauty, Grace, Figure, Attitude, Movement, have in innumerable Instances prevailed over Wealth, Birth, Talents Virtues and every thing else, in Men of the highest rank, greatest Power, and sometimes, the most exalted Genius, greatest Fame, and highest Merit."

    I could not agree more.

    Your opening question is an excellent one, William. All I can answer is that there is, in Truth, beauty. And that there is, in truth, Beauty.

    [...and why did you have to comment on the one and only season of all Star Trek I don't have on DVD?!... :) I haven't seen this one in quite a while (about five-six years), so I'm sorry, but I am at a loss for anything to say about this particular episode. I remember it as one of the better or best of the season, along with "All Our Yesterdays", but that's unfortunately all. However, Edith Keeler doesn't necessarily strike as the best one-off female character from TOS. As I don't have S3 on DVD I can't even remember "The Enterprise Incident" nor the Romulan commander you mention; I personally think more of Vina from "The Menagerie" and Andrea from "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", and, for very personal reasons, Droxine from "The Cloud Minders", my earliest Star Trek memory, when I was six years old, and the very episode that made me an overnight fan of Star Trek. Keeler is of course memorable, but that is also because the episode is very much so, too; but I personally find Vina's and Andrea's situations far more interesting. I'm not talking about acting skills or lines of dialogue, but the sheer weight of the situation; I've always had a great deal of sympathy both for Vina and Andrea. Needless to say, "The Menagerie" and "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" are two of my favorite TOS episodes. But "Is There In Truth No Beauty?" is one of the few from S3 I can actually vaguely remember, and favourably at that, so I'm guessing I'd give it three stars just like you would.]

    @William B.: About your opening question: I did a quick search, and this is what I found:

    Jordan (I)
    from "The Temple" (1633), by George Herbert (1593-1633)

    "Who says that fictions only and false hair
    Become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty?
    Is all good structure in a winding stair?
    May no lines pass, except they do their duty
    Not to a true, but painted chair?

    Is it no verse, except enchanted groves
    And sudden arbours shadow coarse-spun lines?
    Must purling streams refresh a lover's loves?
    Must all be veil'd, while he that reads, divines,
    Catching the sense at two removes?

    Shepherds are honest people; let them sing;
    Riddle who list, for me, and pull for prime;
    I envy no man's nightingale or spring;
    Nor let them punish me with loss of rhyme,
    Who plainly say, my God, my King.


    "Herbert's "Jordan (I)" is very difficult to understand because understanding the poem depends completely upon understanding the allusions that pepper the poem, the allusions that are scattered throughout. Remembering that Herbert was a devout Christian Anglican and minister, after resigning his parliamentary career, it is easier to understand the first and central allusion in the title: Jordan. There are two "Jordan" poems and both discuss writing poetry.

    "Jordan" is thought by most critics to allude to the Jordan River that is important to the people of Israel in the Old and New Testaments. In the Old, the people of Israel cross the Jordan to get to the "promised land," and, in the New, Jesus is baptized in the Jordan at the beginning of his ministry. The general opinion, then, is that Herbert is setting up a poem about the divinely inspired potential of poetry as being regenerative and as giving renewal, if, that is, poetry could stop being what he saw it as presently being, which was that poetry was false.

    "Who says that fictions only and false hair
    Become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty?"

    In the first stanza, Herbert contrasts the Jordan allusion--the potential for poetry to give spiritual renewal--to poetry that is fictitious, false and artificial. There is debate about some of his allusions in this stanza but he seems to be invoking images of sonnets to loved ones who have artificial beauty (false hair) and images of poems that praise this falseness; he seems to be lamenting this falseness in persons and in poetry: "Is there in truth no beauty?" He seems to criticize the structure of poetry, compare it to a winding, circular staircase and suggesting poetic structure is overly complicated. He seems to suggest that in poetry reality is embellished, that it can't be plain reality: "Not to a true, but painted chair?"

    It is clear now how allusion is present in every line and through the allusions in the second stanza, Herbert seems to be criticizing poetic conventions and cliches. Many critics take "enchanted groves" as an allusion to the convention of pastoral poetry that praises the rural lives of shepherds and shepherdesses. Herbert seems to see this as part of the falseness of poetic convention and cliched lines, like "purling streams refresh a lover's loves." Ironically, since Herbert is considered a metaphysical poet, the last two lines seem to criticize the conceits of metaphysical poems, which make unusual comparisons between two things to arrive at one truth.

    The third stanza alludes, again, to pastorals and to the second stanza itself. He is suggesting that while pastoral poems may go too far from reality, shepherds are themselves "honest people" who should sing as they like. Yet, he says that he rejects poems with riddles to solve and cliched phrases, like "nightingale or spring." The last two lines seem ambiguous to critics. Some say they allude to Herbert who wants to write plain, straightforward poetry. This explanation seems unlikely to other critics who suggest Herbert is further criticizing poets who drop rhyming and write in plain lines without rhyme: "Who plainly say, my God, my King."

    This latter opinion makes a good deal of sense as it accords with the syntax of the three lines: envy no man, let them, who. It also accords with what we know of Herbert's poems, which speak honest truth but surely do not do it in a plain and straightforward way."

    It's past midnight here in Scandinavia as I'm writing this and I'm frankly tired, and as I said I haven't seen the episode for years, so I won't even try to say anything meaningful, and just leave the interpretation up to you. What do you make of the poem, and how does it relate to the episode, in your opinion?

    @Andy's Friend, thanks for the link to that poem. I find it very interesting. My understanding of the poem -- at first blush, and with the textual aid of the interpretation you quoted -- is that Herbert is rhetorically asking "is there in truth no beauty?" to suggest that other poets and artists who can find beauty only in the depictions of false things seem to be missing the beauty that exists in reality, or in truth itself. Can other artists really believe that poetry and beauty is only meaningful when describing things in the imagination, and that the pursuit of truth and reality is some wholly separate endeavour?

    How I think this relates to this episode is this then: I think that the title question really is, "Is there no beauty to be found in the pursuit of truth?" And the question hangs in the air because Miranda is dedicating her life to finding "truth," by communing with and learning from a Medusan. She is rejecting beauty, or conventional ideas of beauty, entirely, as the other characters, especially Marvick, bursting with unrequited love and the jealousy that accompanies it, but also Kirk and McCoy as well, remind her frequently. The question is whether there is something beautiful -- unconventionally so, but beautiful nonetheless -- in her wholly intellectual/spiritual desire to commune with Kollos. I think that the episode answers "yes" -- but it does leave it open to what extent she will be fulfilled by it, and it points out even here that Spock, as a half-Vulcan, is much more able to connect to Kollos and, perhaps, to derive satisfaction in the pursuit of truth alone, than most humans are.

    You are definitely right about Vina being a compelling character. I wasn't sure whether to count Edith Keeler as a candidate for "most interesting female character" or not, because, as you say, she's not the central draw of the show so much as the way she plays into it. But I think we're led to see her as remarkable for being a woman ahead of her time in her thinking, but of the wrong era; the consequences of 23rd-century thinking in the 20th century, all that's good in humanity leading to humanity's destruction. Andrea -- well, I don't have as much feeling for Andrea, but I might revisit "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"

    As for why I have to comment on this one and only season :), well, I was recently commenting on the back half of season two! I wrote comments on much of TNG as well...I have vague ambitions to go back and finish that -- either here or to make my own site -- but it's daunting, even if I have written at least a bit on more than half the episodes. TOS I only really started commenting on about halfway through my rewatch of the show, with one or two exceptions, partly because of the pace with which I'm watching the episodes (I'm watching with my girlfriend, but we have other shows on the go, and so it is slow enough that I can mostly comment on episodes).

    I did think it was a mistake leaving Kirk in the transporter room at the end. I had presumed that Spock put on the visor for transport because it became possible during the transporter 'effect' to see through the box Kollos was in. And they were so careful to have all humans leave the room in the beginning.

    But Kirk stands right there, facing the transporter pad, even as Spock dons the visor for safety. And there is no hint of Kirk going mad. Strange.

    @ William B: Great analysis. Your comments are often very insightful on various Star Trek episodes.

    @ Andy's Friend: Thanks for sharing the poem.

    The episode has a great theme and offers some rich material.

    Truth vs beauty is a theme that can be taken in a number of directions. Is beauty superficial and truth deeper? Is beauty innate and truth artificial? Is beauty subjective and truth objective? The two words are often compared to discuss different approaches to constructing meaning. (For me, meaning is the product of our attempt to render our world intelligible.) Both concepts: beauty and truth, have value. In this episode, I believe beauty is associated with instinct and truth with intellect.

    In this episode, the theme of truth vs beauty helps characterize the conflict of this new 23rd century society. The life of the crew lacks the innate beauty of a more natural ecosystem. They have left their natural ecosystem to unravel the deeper mysteries of space outside Earth. Yet truth eludes the crew in every corner of the galaxy. In this remote existence, Spock's logic represents a more detached, intellectual outlook that one might envy; the pursuit of truth is just as vital as ever in a life of exploration. But, his emphasis on intellect over emotion would seem lonely and hard to bear. Moreover, the crew is still drawn towards innate beauty (see Kirk and the space garden in this episode). How does one find innate beauty in a world that demands so much logic? Dr. Jones may have found that beauty in her connection to the Medusa life form. Here is a truth that is beautiful. But is there any truth in beauty? Or is it just another window into another lonely room in a series of lonely rooms? As Spock's Medusa ponders, even in this advanced society that appears to be ideal, life is still ever so lonely and mysterious. Still they must continue to explore. Is that instinct then?

    I agree with the reviews by Mike and William B above. I give it 3 stars. I found it very interesting and engaging, and it has a truly great monologue from Spock/Kollos about the human experience. A multifaceted episode with a lot to appreciate.

    I thought this episode was vile, by far the worst TOS episode. Sure there are some bad, boring, ridiculous episodes and yes TOS always had a nasty whiff of sexism. But the sexism and pure misogyny in this episode is beyond the pail.

    The attitude of being "a woman" being of greater value than her career is tough to swallow. All of the characters act incredibly shallow and superficial. The dinner scene is cringe inducing with all the male characters coming across is creepy and drooling all over her, and she is acting incredibly unprofessional and petty towards Spock the entire time.

    It feels like it was written by someone with the emotional range of a 12 year old and frankly is pretty offensive. Combine that with some absolutely clunky shlocky direction that looks like it comes out of a piss-poor Horror movie and you have an absolute disaster of an episode. OK Spock;s Brain is an absolute disaster of an episode but it didn't annoy me the way this one did - ZERO stars.

    I'm going to join the majority of commenters here and say I think this episode is easily 3/4 stars. It's one of the TOS installments I've gone back and forth on, sometimes thinking "meh," but I appreciated it quite a bit on my latest rewatch.

    First of all, the pacing is pretty swift, a welcome change from several talky and snail-paced TOS episodes -- including Diana Muldaur's other guest appearance in the molasses-slow "Return to Tomorrow." Second, there's just tons of interesting stuff happening here, with every scene peeling back new layers of the characters and situations -- another welcome change from too many Trek episodes that contain too many repetitive or one-note scenes. Thirdly, the concept of the alien in the box and ugliness vs. beauty were really cool, and I liked the debate as well as Muldaur's unique turn as the telepathic blind Dr. Jones. She's a little less sassy here than as the science officer in "Return to Tomorrow," being a bit more wounded and jealous here, but it's a fascinating role that showcases the actress' undeniable charisma and her ability (also visible later on TNG) to command a scene in a series where female guest stars often fade into the background.

    Finally, as noted by many fans here, there's a heightened artistry in the story and style of this one, with a nice scope for a ship-bound episode. It didn't feel at all to me like TOS was keeping to a budget in this one, as there were actually quite a few extras in the hallways and a lot more things happening with the camera (not as many reused closeups, it seemed) than many other third-season outings which take place on one set with only a few of the main actors. The 1960s auteur lens tricks occasionally felt a bit dated or hokey, but I appreciated their energy. Also, pro tip for Jammer: Whenever you've got BOTH Sulu and Chekhov in a third-season episode, it means they're actually spending a little more money than usual that week, not less.

    And let's not forget the always-praiseworthy Leonard Nimoy, whose turn in this one as the host of a temporary symbiosis with Kollos (wherein both personalities are present) feels like a Trek first and foreshadows the joined Trill species of Dax in DS9. It's not quite top-shelf Nimoy, but it's good Nimoy, and the performance hits equal notes of pleasantness and pathos with a bit more subtlety than in many other "Spock episodes." By this point in the series, it's clear Nimoy is wearing Spock like a second skin, and the effect feels pretty effortless. Not a huge fan of Spock "forgetting" to put on the visor near end, but it did set Nimoy for some good scenes looking at the experience of blindness.

    In the final analysis, I think what put this one over the top for me is that it lingers a bit in the mind, standing out from many other TOS episodes as much for the beats it hits authentically as for the concept it executes. There's a good deal of human vulnerability here, infusing every character from Jones and Marvick to Spock and Kollos, and the execution feels just strong enough to make us buy it. A Trek classic, I believe.

    Agree with all of the above. I very much enjoyed this episode with some great visuals, music and some classic Nimoy.

    Having said, some of the dialogue with the Doctor was at best weird and frequently insulting. I know the budgets were tight but did they fire the Script Editor? I did like the Shatnerian acting when he was trying to convince her to save Spock though.

    Yeah, this was a weird one. There were so many plots going on, and even though the episode seemed to claim the theme revolved around beauty, it didn't really. It was more geared toward unrequited love, or longing for something that you can't have, the dangers of letting your emotions rule you, or something like that. You had Garvick in love with Miranda, but she rejected him and it drove him mad. Bones seemed to have at least a little crush on her. Jones had a love for Kallos and was intensely jealous of Spock. Kirk felt sorry for Jones being isolated and away from the rest of humanity. Once Kallos merged with Spock, he wanted to stay that way so he could interact with the crew. Even Jones' blindness works for it, as its part of her isolation and inability to connect with others. All of these stories running through the episode. And how many have to do with beauty? Not much. Not really sure why they tried to shoe-horn that theme in.

    But other than that, it was a nice, pleasant episode. You usually don't have this many plot elements, so it was a nice change of pace episode. There really isn't another episode like it I think. I don't think any one plot element could have carried the story, but by smashing so many possible ideas in there it kind of feels like a slice of life tale. There's a feeling of wistfulness, of roads not taken, of sorrow in almost everyone's character (both regular and guest star). Yet, in the end, it was willing to move past any resentment of those roads not taken or the isolation that saved the day. Jones had to accept that Spock was the right one to meld with Kallos, and then she had to do what she could to keep him from going insane. A fairly low key episode, despite the rather silly ship-in-danger plot and the "they're so ugly you go mad if you look at them!" concept of the Medusans. But a pleasant low-key episode.

    @ Skeptical,

    I think that's an incorrect grammatical reading of the title; it's not about beauty, it's about truth. It asks "if the truth itself not beautiful", and is likely meant to address the notion of outward hideousness and whether a human being can find enough beauty to get by without the outward affect of what we think of as the beautiful. This is certainly relevant to the Medusan himself, where there is the potential to have a loving relationship with someone so ugly we can't even look at them. There's something about focus on the inward person in this, and something about blindness as well, since while we typically think of "beauty" as being relegated to the visual sense, blind people obviously find other things fulfillingly beautiful in others even if we wouldn't think to call them beautiful at first glance.

    The other interpretation of the question of whether the truth might be beautiful, is when the truth is something unpleasant. If you love someone and they don't (or can't) love you back, normally we call that a bad situation, or a 'failure', or something to that effect. But we might well ask whether we should consider the truth to always be a beautiful thing, as it is nothing more or less than reality. As such, even learning 'bad news' such as that our love is unrequited might be seen in an objective sense as still being a beautiful truth, since the reality of a thing ought to be more important than what we would like the thing to be. Trek is about exploration and discovery, and there is no "bad" discovery out there, even if some of it results in unpleasantness.

    Perhaps not, but the obsession over the Medusans being too ugly to look at (as opposed to simply being too incomprehensible to look at or having mild telepathic ability or something), as well as to a lesser extent the emphasis on Dr Jones' beauty, makes it seem like they did mean to say something about beauty. Sure, the second interpretation of the title is equally possible, but it's not exactly groundbreaking theme that not all truths are pleasant, and of course its not true that all truths are pleasant. Like I said, it works as an interesting experience of an episode, but hardly an important message or theme.

    I think it's a great theme but they way Kirk was written in is really condescending. He seems to rebuff any talk of conversation other than his attempts to flirt with Miranda. I found ti annoying and a detriment to the episode.

    Watching this one again for the first time in years, and some things occur to me that are perhaps intended to be subtle but implied. Miranda claims initially to have trained on Vulcan to both control her emotions and also to block out telepathic noise. She certainly acts serenely and vaguely unemotional at first, until we hear speak of how jealous she is about Kollos. We also see how unreasonably emotional she gets when confronted with the need for Spock to meld with Kollos, culminating in a shrill cry from her when Kollos presumably tells her she has no choice but to allow it. So it seems that she isn't nearly as unemotional as she'd like to pretend, and that Kirk is probably correct in his assumption that she wants to live among Medusans as a way to escape facing other humans.

    Add this fact to Spock's claim (and her own) that she's a powerful telepath, and what we may have here is something similar to what we see in TNG's "Sarek". She may be suppressing her emotions as far as she can tell, but maybe instead of being suppressed they're being shunted elsewhere? Right from the start something was 'off' about how the crew reacted to her. Sure, she's intelligent and beautiful, and it's one thing for Kirk to fawn over a beauty, but Bones? I've never seen him act like this. They were both drooling over her, and it was frankly creepy. And yet she didn't seem even slightly put off by it, almost as if it came as no surprise to her. Add this to the fact of Marvick being arguably insanely in love with her, and I began to get suspicious. Right from the start I was wondering whether she was giving off some telepathic vibe causing men around her to be attracted to her, and given how later on we see how crazed Marvick is (in her quarters) it strikes me as not likely coincidental that everyone in her presence is crazy for her. Marvick, who we otherwise assume is a normal Federation citizen, is at the point of contemplating murder over her, which unless I read my future history wrong, is extraordinarily abnormal for a Federation citizen.

    Later on, when Marvick is insane in engineering, amidst his babbling he blurts out that they shouldn't love her, that she'll kill them if they love her, upon which he immediately dies. Bones and Kirk try to make sense of this by supposing that he couldn't bear the anguish, but I find it far more likely to suppose that in the midst of physically assaulting Miranda (and no doubt mentally assaulting her as well) she reflexively killed him with her mind. If she's as powerful a telepath as everyone claims this should be within her power, I think. Earlier she spoke of learning to block out other peoples' thoughts, but she never mentioned what she could do with her own. We do know that she was strong enough to try to break into Spock's mind to read his thoughts, although he seemed able to block her out at the time (or she let him think so). So maybe I should reassess my suggestion that Miranda was escaping humanity; maybe she wanted to live among Medusans because she knew she was too dangerous to live among humans. As a bit of evidence for this, she claimed to have enjoyed the dinner of men fawning over her, which one would think would be unpleasant; almost as if she enjoyed them fawning over her, and knew it would happen. Maybe even she enjoyed watching Marvick squirm, which would make her a little sadistic as well. Later on Kirk seems pretty convinced she deliberately tried to kill Spock, and Kirk isn't the type to venture off into half-baked theories. The ending of the episode seems to skirt around these possibilities, and her possible murderous intent isn't spoken of again. Perhaps there is no "Miranda" to accuse any more once she merges with Kollos.

    Overall this is an awesome episode. There's the Medusan lighting effect which I think is nifty, there's the 'psycho-cam', which I think works very well to portray madness (especially when we have Spock's POV), and there's the introduction of a telepathic character, something that wouldn't be taken seriously in subsequent Trek series but is treated with deadly seriousness here. Muldaur is also awesome in this episode, as is Nimoy, especially when he's playing Spock/Kollos. His monologue there is excellent delivered, especially considering that its scripting is a bit obvious. Even Miranda's musical theme is very memorable. I would hesitantly call this one a highlight of the series.

    An interesting and different kind of episode for TOS S3 -- and one that I think is pretty cleverly constructed. So I don't see it as some kind of a "ponderous mess" as Jammer does and I think he missed the target badly in his review, which is quite rare for him.

    The ideals of beauty, ugliness, truth, jealousy all play out in a whirlwind kind of way here. The episode also benefits from a terrific musical score -- when George Duning gets involved "Metamorphosis", "Return to Tomorrow" it really adds a special dimension to the episode.

    Some minor criticisms first: I think Kirk, McCoy went too far with crushing on Dr. Jones. That a plan to distract Dr. Jones involved Kirk hitting on her is silly. And the scene at the end with Kirk in the transporter room as Kollos/Miranda beam out without him wearing a visor as Spock dons one...somebody dropped the ball there. Also, when Marvick goes insane, he's able to fight off 3-4 men, apparently knock out Scotty...a bit much.

    But otherwise, it's a very creative episode to have a non-corporeal alien telepath that is supposedly gentle, benign -- we see this when it joins with Spock in an entertaining scene (more great acting from Nimoy in this episode). I liked the scene where Kirk confronts Miranda about her ugliness inside / her jealousy. I think these parts manage to link up well using what Kirk briefly learned about Miranda. Of course, it's great to get Muldaur back as a guest actor to portray the very complex character that is Dr. Jones with her talents and flaws.

    I'd rate "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" 3 stars -- pretty interesting episode, weird but in a good way and about topics that are perfect for Trek to take on. A high point in S3.

    I agree with SteveRage that this episode was vile for all the reasons he gave above. 1 star.

    I feel that, like alot of TOS: Season 3, this is an underrated, excellent episode. I also feel most reviews skip over the point of the episode.

    Lyrical, Lovecraftian and filled with mythological allusions, "Is there in Truth no Beauty?" basically tells the tale of a blind, self-hating woman who views herself ugly because of her disability, a disability which she hides from others. But her true blindness, the episode says, is her blindness to the love the Enterprise crew ("There is beauty in diversity", the episode's final lines say, ie - in her) and other humans have for her. Her response to these psycho-sexual hangups - her refusal to accept that she is whole, and is deserving of love - is to "bond" with an alien being that is so "ugly" that it is essentially unloved by humans who can not gaze upon it. But she can gaze upon it, and connect with it, and be one with its ugliness, as she too is ugly. The episode ends with the woman's disfigurements being mirrored to the alien's disfigurements; both have limitations, she not able to see, it not able to experience senses like humans. But there is glory in these limitations, the episode says, for "the glory of life is in its diversity".

    This was actually a pretty good one. (Funny how the TOS bottle shows were often among the better episodes.) The use of the organ in the score set the tone for one eerie episode. And Kollos being non-corporeal and so alien his appearance drove humans insane was a great (and budget-friendly) idea.

    Once and for all, the Enterprise did not get lost in the barrier at the edge of the galaxy. When it passed warp 9.5, it somehow breached the barrier between our space-time continuum and wherever they ended up. The stock footage of the ship flying into the BATEOTG in the 60s original was for budget reasons. The drippy colors void the ship was stranded in in the 60s original (not to mention the blue-green energy flare void in the remastered version) look nothing like the BATEOTG.

    The woman who wrote this (and "All Our Yersterdays") used to come into a store I worked in when I was younger. I got to know her a little and she was quite a thoughtful and elegant person.

    Hardly a good episode, but in principle not one of the worst either. What kills it for me is the the sexism, how Miranda is depicted as that stunningly beautiful woman who passively tolerates any lustful advances or downright harrassment, as if that was the way it's ought to be, without any apparent self-consciousness about it in the plot, writing, acting, anything.

    Can't get rid of the thought that this reflects the attitude of some people behind the series towards women and casting couches.

    I'm tired of you people judging everything on things like "Sexism", It's always sexism with you, SEXISM THIS, SEXISM THAT. Put a beautiful woman on the screen and then it's SEXISM SEXISM AND MORE SEXISM to you sallow "fans". Let a woman be beautiful, and a WOMAN, who can be both capable and beautiful.

    I agree 100% with "Anonymous" who lashes out at those viewers who have to get sex into every aspect of the series. I have the impression that they are all in the grip of a terminal case of pon farr. I will say that every episode of this series, good, bad or indifferent, has something to say, and what this episode gives us is a provocative investigation into the subjects of truth, beauty and what they mean to all of us. And I have nothing but sympathy for poor Miranda Jones---a prisoner of that most destructive of all human emotions, that all-consuming jealousy which prevents her from attaining her desired objective (becoming one with Kollos)---and a great big shout-out to our favorite Vulcan for breaking through that screen via the Vulcan mind-fusion, forcing her to realize this. This may not be the greatest episode of the series, but it's a good one.

    A particularly cerebral episode that deepens Spock’s characterization, and it only gets two stars? I’d say it deserves a solid three. I will briefly outline my reasons.

    The storyline was rather original. We have a mostly or totally non-corporeal alien who presents no threat: not even a supposed threat that’s revealed as benign as in “Metamorphosis.” Instead, the threat here is how humans react to the alien. The theme of whether truth, in and of itself, can be beautiful is well-explored.

    We also get a rare third-season original score. Even during parts of the second season, musical cues from prior episodes were being recycled to save on budget. This episode’s fresh music, including jarring organ, is effective. The same is true for the avant-garde cinematography.

    The acting is also very good, particularly from and Diana Muldaur. Spock smiling and quoting Byron and Shakespeare is worth half a star in itself, I think. The Vulcan concept of IDIC is introduced for the first time (it is later explored in one episode of Star Trek the Animated Series, the one written by Chekhov (Walter Koenig).

    The sexism issue bothers me, so I will address it. It is very easy to forget that TOS is 50+ years old and should be judged by its contemporary standards, not our own. This is a show where, in the pilot episode, you had a ship’s executive officer, “Number One,” a hyper-competent woman — in a 1965 TV production.

    Let’s not forget, too, that this episode, in which Kirk and Spock do indeed fawn embarrassingly over Miranda Jones, was written by a woman. (She’s also one of a very small group of fans who actually got their script submissions produced!) I think it’s not only unfortunately reflective of the time period, but probably also is meant to reveal a deeper meaning in an episode with many layers. Jones is the link between Ambassador Kollos, a creature supposedly unbelievably ugly on the outside but refined and sublimely beautiful on the inside. I think we are meant to see Jones as very beautiful on the outside but not pretty at all on the inside. For someone schooled on Vulcan, she is consumed by jealousy (a particularly ugly and destructive emotion), racked with self-doubt, ashamed of being blind (which the script makes clear is not a cause for shame in that time-period), and surprisingly poor at understanding the emotions or even motivations of others for a psychologist who is also telepathic! Worst of all, she may even possibly be a murderer if she somehow telepathically extinguished the life of Marvick. That is hinted as a possibility, but not explored.

    All in all, this is one of the stronger entries in the show’s last season.

    @ Peter,

    "The sexism issue bothers me, so I will address it. It is very easy to forget that TOS is 50+ years old and should be judged by its contemporary standards, not our own. This is a show where, in the pilot episode, you had a ship’s executive officer, “Number One,” a hyper-competent woman — in a 1965 TV production. "

    I don't think anything in this episode needs apologizing for. I'm pretty sure the 'sexism' during the dinner party was in fact an intentional hint at Miranda's mental powers.

    I have a further comment regarding the last act of this unusual and provocative story, and it has to do with who the real hero was. It was Captain Kirk, who when he saw that Spock was in danger took one of his most decisive actions. He went after Miranda Jones with both barrels, chewed her out mercilessly, raked her over the coals, and forced her to take a good look at herself and see just what her insane jealousy was doing to her! Thus distracted, she was no match for the recovered Spock who forced the mind-fusion and made her realize once and for all that the only way she would ever achieve her desired objective---becoming one with Kollos---was to let go of that most destructive emotion. It was the only logical thing to do.

    Great episode,the idea that a creature could be so ugly that one look will drive you mad is very interesting,but if beauty and ugliness subjective, then kollos would have very different effects on different people.

    Just finished watching this one again on H&I and I have to agree that it's better than 2 stars. I'd give it 3. The scene where Spock and Kollos have melded is worth an extra star in itself, for Nimoy's performance and for the aptness of the literary allusions. The look on Spock's face when he backs out from behind the barrier after seeing Kollos without the protective visor is just remarkable. And the way Kirk forces Miranda to confront the ugliness of her jealousy is pretty impressive too. I've always appreciated Diana Muldaur as an actress, and she does a fine job here.

    Plusses: Some nice performances from Muldaur and Nimoy; Nice surprise reveal regarding her blindness.

    Minuses: Kirk trying to distract Miranda with the power of his irresistible sexiness; some very boring stretches.

    An average offering.

    Ah, the irony no Next Generation fan could miss:

    "I realize you can do almost anything a sighted person can do, but you cannot fly a starship …"

    … Geordi.

    I didn't like this one as a kid, but it's gone way, way up my list upon a fresh viewing decades later.

    I'm with Rahul and some of the others for the same reason. 3 stars for me. 3 1/2 if they hadn't missed a few things such as Kirk watching the transport at the end. Sloppy things like that detract.

    Amazing how much the music played close to the end of the episode while Kirk gives Miranda a rose sounds like the Brady Bunch theme.

    "It's the story of a lovely lady, who is mind-linked with an uggo named Kollos …"


    Your comment inspired me to watch this and it’s very close indeed. I believe the music you’re referring to is called a leitmotif. It’s used whenever Dr. Miranda is on screen (especially when we see her power).


    I even checked to see if the same composer was involved with both shows, but nope.

    Subconscious plagiarism?

    Is There In Truth No Beauty?

    Star Trek season 3 episode 5

    "Who is to say whether Kollos is too ugly to bear or too beautiful to bear”

    - Miranda

    2 stars (out of 4)

    This episode is half zero-stars and half four-stars, and I suppose that makes it absolutely perfect for the question which it asks.

    No one can look upon Kollos, a Medusan, without going mad. Since so one is able to look upon a Medusan, no one knows if they are too beautiful or too ugly to bear. Miranda can be in their presence only because she is blind, and thus incapable of telling us if they are beautiful or ugly. Mr. Spock (and presumably other Vulcans) who have seen Medusans are devoted to logic, and wouldn’t let something as superficial as appearance cloud their judgements.

    And so Medusans exists in a sort of Schrodinger’s beauty box - anyone who tries to peak inside will not be sane long enough to tell us what they saw.

    It reminds me of a question I once heard when I was a kid: what does cyanide taste like? What I was told is that no one knows because all the people who have ever tasted it died before they could tell us what it tasted like. I even heard a sick joke that someone once started writing down the flavor but died after scribbling “S”. Which of course could be sweet, salty, spicy, savory, sour - no help at all!

    Some of you may know that the fashion company Versace uses a picture of Medusa as its logo

    The logo can either be taken as beautiful or ugly, after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I imagine the founder of that fashion house was going for something more concrete - he wanted it to be striking. And both extreme beauty and extreme ugliness are striking. It is gray that is dull and boring. Medusa was many things, but she was never boring.

    The Greek legend of Medusa talks of a strikingly beautiful woman who seduced the great Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon. Medusa and Poseidon had sex in Athena’s temple (they were kinky like that in ancient Greece), and Athena got pissed, and transformed Medusa’s beautiful hair into snakes.

    Greek sculptors showed Medusa as terrifying and beautiful, and the Versace logo certainly invokes that feeling. In any case, if merely looking at Medusa could turn you into stone, she is sort of like cyanide or Kollos - no one survives long enough to tell you whether the snakes made her even more beautiful, or terrifying, or both. What Medusa was for sure, was striking. Stone cold striking ;)

    @Andy's Friend very helpfully provides the poem by Herbert from which the title of this episode is derived. The key lines are:

    Who sayes that fictions onely and false hair
    Become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty?

    What this Christian devotional poem by Herbert is asking is: Given that poets seem to go on and on about the beauty of things that are not real - like false hair - isn’t there anything that is true (that is real) that has beauty - beauty that maybe worth a line or two of poetry? Or is it (as @Peter G. asks and) as people keep telling us, that the truth is ugly, hideous, gory - that it is a Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad...

    Of course the poem is titled "Jordan", like the river, and you can guess what Herbert, who was an ordained minister, had in mind, that he thought might just be both true and beautiful - and thus, worth a poem or two.

    The key line of dialogue from the episode tries to hide this answer:

    SPOCK: I see, Doctor McCoy, you still subscribe to the outmoded notion, promulgated by your ancient Greeks, that what is good must also be beautiful.

    MARVICK: And the reverse, of course, that what is beautiful is automatically expected to be good.

    KIRK: Yes, I think most of us are attracted by beauty and repelled by ugliness. One of the last of our prejudices.

    One of our last prejudices indeed. Star Trek in its own way tried so hard to show a future where the prejudices of its day - racism, sexism - had been overcome. But discrimination based on attractiveness, Kirk mused, was still very much with them.

    Which is interesting. Given that how you looked in Kirk’s time was very much a matter of choice. Just two weeks ago, Kirk had changed his appearance to that of a Romulan. No doubt if Spock wanted to, he could clip his ears to fit in with the all-human crew. How he looks is a choice.

    If how you look is a choice, is it still prejudice to judge a book by its cover?

    I’m going to agree with @Strider, that it is a real pleasure to watch Spock when he is possessed (@Trek fan says it is a little like he gets a Trill symbiont - I agree!). I think possessed Spock was also my favorite part of “Return to Tomorrow.” In that charming state of mind, Spock/Kollos gives us a line from Byron’s “She Walks in Beauty”,

    SPOCK: Uhura, whose name means freedom. She walks in beauty, like the night.

    But I for some reason they leave out the part of the poem that best reflects Uhura,

    And all that’s best of dark and bright
    Meet in her aspect and her eyes;


    Finally, I wonder if this episode inspired JMS when he was creating Babylon 5?

    Ambassador Kosh on B5, like Kollos, only went around in an encounter suit, and could not allow himself to be seen. And Lyta, the human telepath and Kosh's devoted aid, was she modeled on Miranda?

    I suppose it is only fitting then, that Kosh showed us one moment of perfect beauty

    Nice write-up, Mal.

    What I personally like about this episode is the ambiguity in some of the scenes that could come off as regressive. In the dinner scene, for instance, there's this backward chauvinistic behavior - or is it telepathy and the guys are actually the ones under attack? You have this jealous would-be boyfriend who is out of line - or is he? And you have the Medusan, who when you get to know him is really a terrific guy - or is he? I'm not even sure how much the writing implies there's an answer to these questions. In an episode about whether there is (or should be) any correlation between truth and beauty, it's funny that they should obscure from us the answer to these things. In assessing whether Miranda is beautiful or horrible, for instance, it might help to know the actual truth, but we don't get that. So we will have to decide on our own whether to like her or not, and perhaps that's the point of the exercise?

    The episode's title may be a reference to the question about whether true things may be beautiful by nature without having to rhapsodize them; or maybe it asks whether truth itself is beautiful regardless of what that truth is. Could we bring ourselves to call Miranda beautiful even while knowing that she definitely is using mental powers to entrance the men into wanting her more? Or does that idea make her despicable? Or are we able to make our ideas align with what we find beautiful and not? Maybe we want to find it despicable but are tempted to give her a pass because she's good looking. Or maybe it would be unbearable to think that all the nice looking things in the world may be horrible, so that we prefer to shield our eyes from seeing it.

    A mix of the utterly brilliant and the ludicrously poor. Fortunately the latter only involves Dr Jones’ would-be lover (for heaven’s sake - Scotty hands over the controls of the ship to him?) who provides a bad Hollywood B movie sub plot.

    The rest of it, discussions of beauty and ugliness, good and bad, Kollos’s speech and observations via the mind meld with Spock, Miranda’s blindness - it is all rather Shakespearean! Certainly unforgettable.

    3 stars, definitely.

    I think people are going way overboard about the "sexism". I - a male - have been in the company of a group of men who were absolutely drooling over a woman, letting her know it, and she was lapping it up like a hungry kitten. It happens, folks. Yeah, it's embarrassing to all males to see men doing this, but it's just as embarrassing to see women reveling in it, and many do that.

    The original title of the script was "Miranda" and so perhaps we might be reading a little too much into the phrase of "Is there in truth, no beauty?" It _is_ a marvelously ambiguous phrase. What could it mean? Is nothing beautiful? Is truth beautiful? Which is it? Both?

    This is one of my least-viewed episodes because the previews traumatized me as a young child(explained at the end of this.) So this is maybe my third viewing, and I feel like it refers to the ultimate scene, where Kirk admonishes Miranda for all her hatred and jealousy of Spock. Spock, the person who is facing death from looking at a being that may be unbearably ugly. It is at this moment that Kirk bestows the ultimate truth upon Miranda - the ultimate bit of beauty - which she carries back into sick bay and uses to "un-do" the damage from Spock seeing the ultimately ugly being (perhaps?) It could be the episode's ultimate yin-vs-yang moment.

    I was inspired to rewatch this episode because I saw the weekly preview when I was very young and it scared me half to death. The weekly preview showed Larry Marvick suffering from the Medusan reveal, and I thought he was being killed, so this episode supposedly had a monster that would kill you just by looking at it. For that, it is an episode that I have watched the least in the entire series of Star Trek episodes. I do agree that it has surprising depth for a season-3 episode. Is the difficulty in decoding the episode intentional or is it just a hot mess? Which is the truth?

    I think TOS's issues with sexism reflect the issue of the show's quality overall. It can't live up to the high bar it set for itself in S1. Pointing back at Number One to defend individual episodes is difficult, both because "The Cage" is getting further and further away but also because it only highlights that the show is capable of better.

    I think there is something missing in the numerous comments about “sexism”. The term means discrimination or stereotyping on the basis of sex (typically women), and the implication that one gender is superior (typically male). The dinner party conversation was not sexist. The men were not “drooling” over Miranda. Drooling references sexual attraction. In that scene the men were enamored with Miranda’s physical beauty, elegance and intelligence. When Dr. McCoy challenges her career choice based on beauty vs. ugliness, she zings him with her retort about love of life vs. a career dealing with disease and death. He acknowledges her winning the argument with grace and intelligence of his own and she exits the scene without gloating. The entire exchange was lovely.

    The episode presents a woman who is beautiful, intelligent, charming, confident and at the same time flawed, struggling, and disabled. The men are not threatened by her strengths. Kirk boldly challenges her weaknesses to save Spock, and is scared by what he has done. The final scene of Spock and Miranda having reached parity with each other and connection with Kollos was gorgeous. In that final truth there was so much beauty! 4 stars.


    Well said!

    I really think this is a wonderful episode (greatly helped by George Duning's original score) that tackles a very unique theme -- jealousy and the inner conflict in Miranda.

    Yes, the dinner scene was terrific -- classy in a way that cannot be produced in today's TV/movies. It had the charm of that era.

    And the final scene with Miranda and Spock acknowledging each other and Kirk just saying "Peace" to Miranda after all they've been through is one of my favorites in Trek. The musical score really enhances the scene here. This is what TOS was all about.

    I've always regarded this as an excellent episode as well, and one of the unsung gems tucked away in season 3. The Spock scenes at the piano in particular, have always stuck with me.

    I've always wondered what Jammer would make of this episode were he to rewatch it on a nice, new, HD print (I assume his review is from the 1990s). Some of these old TOS episodes have a lush, voluptuous quality when seen properly projected.


    "The Spock scenes at the piano in particular, have always stuck with me."

    Haven't seen this episode in a while but I don't recall Spock playing the piano in this one -- I do recall him playing some Brahms at the piano in "Requiem for Methuselah".

    Clearly you're disagreeing just to disagree Mike because to say that this episode of the all over the place and without direction is crazy.

    And it is disturbing seeing people defending the sexism amd acting like they're offended that it is point out. Li,e @ Anonymous.

    One thing that occurs to me by the end of the episode every time I see it is that it's kind of sad that we never "see" the Medusans again. Brilliant navigators, who could have contributed so much to the Federation.

    Presumably, Miranda and Kollos were never able to figure out a way to make a stable mind-link work well enough for Medusans to serve in Starfleet or have significant enough interactions with other Federation species to figure in any future Trek plots.

    The scene when Spock and Kollos are linked, allowing both Spock and Kollos to interact with long-time friends in ways neither of them could have alone, makes me almost wistful at the idea of what might have been.

    I've decided that this is the strangest episode in the series. The sheer number of unanswered questions, loose ends, and open-ended implications is shocking. By the time it ends I'm asking myself "what just happened?"

    Let me give a few examples.

    Miranda (presumably so-named as the strange woman coupled with the ugly Caliban, aka Kollos) comes on board accompanied by "Larry", a man not only in love with her but apparently unhinged and forcing himself on her. She tells him she can't love him the way he wants...but are they even a couple? That is a very strange way to reply to a platonic colleague. So are we to assume they are a couple, but that she's told him it's not serious and cannot be? Or were they a couple and broke up, which went badly, and yet they're still working together on a sensitive mission where he's insanely jealous of the Medusan? What the hell is going on here, and why is this guy even in the episode? He adds almost nothing to the story except to be irritating.

    And for that matter, why write in such an irritating character, who acts like a child, has a face that is simultaneously boring and annoying, and is even dressed in the most boring way possible? And he even has a very long scene with Miranda - one lacking any Trek regulars - which is quite an oddity in TOS writing. Why give this nothing of a character such a long scene when their relationship is never even explained or plumbed out? And speaking of their relationship, yes, he's literally driven insane by Kollos, but why of all things does he accuse Miranda of "she'll kill you if you love her"? That is a pretty random charge to make, right after mumbling things like "they come in your dreams" and "they suffocate in your dreams." And then, after receiving a death stare from Miranda, he magically just drops dead!

    Speaking of Miranda, we learn outside of the Medusans' quarters that Miranda is not only a telepath, but apparently has a sophisticated "sensor web" which enables her to see without eyes. McCoy hid from the others "to respect her privacy" that she was blind, but did he not wonder why she didn't bump into walls? And should it not have been mandatory for someone like her to mention to the captain that she has other abilities than reading the thoughts of others? And if she can do that and quite deliberately kept it to herself (which I doubt was because she wanted "privacy") can she do others things too? Kirk thinks so, because out of the blue he later accuses her of deliberately affecting Spock's mind so that he'd neglect to put on the visor when looking at Kollos on the bridge. He also accuses her of insane jealousy, and later on she freely admits to him that his words enabled her to see. An ironic phrasing, given the nature of her abilities, but shouldn't that bring up what actually happened? Did she deliberately mess with Spock's mind, implying she may have abilities resembling those of telepaths in Babylon 5, to read thoughts, implant them, and affect minds in other ways as well? And does this make us rethink what may have happened to Mr. Marvick, who dropped dead immediately after accusing her of doing something to him?

    And now that we know she can deliberately affect the minds of others, we could also return to the dinner scene where Kirk and McCoy are shamelessly fawning over her, to the humiliation of Larry Marvick. It is mere coincidence that she chooses to keep company with a man insanely infatuated with her, and at the first chance in a dinner scene so is everyone else? And why is she so threatened by Spock from the moment she comes aboard? They say Spock turned down the job she's up for, but she's acting like he's trying to steal it away, and accuses him of wearing the IDIC pin (first mention of IDIC in Trek??) to taunt her, a ridiculous notion. Is she afraid Kollos will reject her or something, or that she'll be found unworthy even though she's a powerful telepath? Why would she fear that if she really has the qualifications it sounds like she has?

    Perhaps the strangest scene of all is in the sickbay, after Kirk confronts Miranda, and she faces down Spock in bed and says "Now, Spock, this is to the death. Or to life for both of us.." The transcript goes on to say this:

    (She touches his forehead, then we get distorted images of what Spock saw while he was insane. Finally he opens his eyes and connects with Miranda.)

    But I tell you, watching the scene, I can't but feel it looks like she's attacking him mentally in the bed, or at least trying to extract from him the experience she can never have of seeing Kollos with her own eyes. And when Spock sits up in bed, putting his hands to her head, it sure doesn't look like a friendly meld. It looks more like he's telepathically defending himself. And then - poof - next scene he staggers into the room with Kirk and McCoy, and without further explanation again - poof - the episode is ending and Miranda waltzes calmly into the transporter room, everyone is ok, and she's merged with Kollos!

    I have entertained the idea that the episode's director was simply not on the same page as the writer. Perhaps things were made to look a certain way, and the actors to behave as well, that contradict the intentions of the teleplay. Or maybe both are confused and, as Jammer suggests, they don't know what they're trying to say. But then why are there so many specific insinuations and details thrown in that didn't have to be there, like Kirk saying (apparently truthfully) that Miranda messed with Spock's mind, that she had abilities she kept to herself as long as she could, that her 'lover' (??) was a madman even before he saw the Medusan and she apparently was ok with that, who accused her of killing him (right before he died), and that Miranda had a great ugliness within her despite being beautiful and yet had a happy ending.

    Am I the only one who finds this story perplexing? I don't even understand what it's supposed to mean that she merged with Kollos offscreen prior to the final scene. Why suddenly then? Are we to understand she would have failed this attempt before, but her encounter with Spock in the sickbay changed things? If she's changed, in what way? And if she hasn't changed, why hadn't she merged with him before this? And why did she announce to Spock at the start that she had not been selected for the job? Was it Kollos who wasn't sure of her, or her superiors, or who? Apparently she had the job by the end...did she hire herself?

    The whole episode is extremely bizarre. But it's also really good, as Muldaur does an excellent job in the role, and there is a peculiar intrigue throughout that works. When considering the title once more, the mention Miranda makes of Kollos comes to mind:

    MIRANDA: Ugly. What is ugly? Who is to say whether Kollos is too ugly to bear or too beautiful to bear?

    And my wife and I both thought that a few elements of the episode bear resemblance to Kosh and Lyta in Babylon 5. There is the case of an alien being that no one may look upon, who is strongly telepathic, who lives in a protective case, who requires a human to be his connection to others, and who seems to have wisdom beyond the rest of our characters. And this question of whether he's too ugly or too beautiful to look at, along with his 'body' consisting of a swirl of lights and color, also seems to suggest a being so alien that we can't even conceive of it. He's certainly no regular physical being with a body, especially since he marvels at Spocks senses and how trapped he feels in a body. So an energy being? One would imagine that it's just not possible for a regular physical being to be so ugly that you'd literally go mad, so perhaps it's more logical to assume that it's a property of whatever he is that the human mind cannot handle whatever he's made of.

    Maybe I'm a bit paranoid at this point about Miranda's character. A lot of my suggestions above seem to imply that the is dangerous and malicious, and yet if you looked at the transcript alone there is a case to be made that she's well-intentioned, was subject to abuse from Larry who earned his own fate, was likewise made uncomfortable by Kirk and McCoy, just like she is by all men, and that this explains why she'd be happy to be away from humans and to spend her life working with a race that doesn't care about physical beauty. I can see the writing as pointing to wanting to do away with caring what anyone looks like. Her only fault in all this, then, would be her jealousy of Spock, something she overcomes to save him, making her worthy of Kollos. All of this would make the episode very clear to read, and rather simple in the end. So why can't I accept this version of it when I watch the episode?

    It's apparent Miranda communicates with Kollos. Wouldn't those instances of communication require a mind meld?

    Does beauty really exist, or is it the product of human perception and value judgment? Can truth be beautiful, or is it by nature sterile and unmoving? Any episode that can spark such a litany of competing philosophical ideas with its title alone deserves some credit. Is There in Truth No Beauty, even the original poem it derives from makes it difficult to understand what exactly is being asked, what is the actual subject of this question? Is it the aesthetic potential of truth itself, or is it a question of the substantive existence of beauty as an agreed upon part of reality?

    I think the episode is more concerned with the nature of beauty, or more precisely, is beauty a relative, subjective concept. Miranda asks the rhetorical “who is to say if kollos is too ugly to bear, or too beautiful to bear?”, a question that from her perspective is a genuine mystery, as her blindness has isolated her from a full understanding of what the other characters take for granted. And simultaneously, all the dudes on the ship are slathering all over Miranda’s outward hotness, reveling in their perception of beauty, yet inwardly, ugly jealousy is churning away in her, demanding the question: what is true beauty? Is it aesthetic by nature, or is it a broader, more ethereal idea? Kollos is central to these notions, he can’t be looked upon, can’t be admired, or even understood in his natural form, yet when he melds with Spock it’s clear that he has a beauty all his own: compassion, contemplation, understanding, thoughtfulness, empathy. Which, once again, begs the question, where does true beauty reside? Can beauty exist as an abstract, divorced from aesthetics?

    In addition to the mental exercises about truth and beauty, i think there’s also a bit of a theme pertaining to disability in there. The issues at hand and the motivations of the plot are explored through Miranda as a character, particularly her status as a blind person and the burning need she has to connect with kollos. Given that she hides her disability and places such barriers between herself and those around her I took it that she places a great deal of her self worth on her exclusive relationship with kollos, if she can’t be kollos’ lone surrogate then in her estimation she’d just be defined by what she can’t do rather than what she can. Which is what drives a great deal of her jealousy and seeming hostility towards Spock.
    An enjoyably thought provoking episode.
    A few other thoughts:
    -Miranda’s telepathy is a tough part of the puzzle to figure. Was she exerting influence on those around her? If so it might explain why Kirk was such a doofus during the dinner scene.
    -The sensory dress is a cool concept. I like Spock’s line about complimenting Miranda’s dress maker.
    -I’ve always wondered what about kollos could drive people insane. Did he evolve from some sort of predatory species that developed a hypnotic, brain scrambling ability to stun their prey, and now it’s just an instinct or something that kollos can’t turn off?

    3/4 nifty insanity-prevention visors.


    Great ideas. Concerning your thoughts on the nature of beauty, I’d like to throw in the Ancient Greek concept of linking “beautiful” and “good”. If we combine these qualities, there are the following conclusions:
    What is good is beautiful.
    What is beautiful is good.
    What is ugly is bad.
    What is bad is ugly.
    What is good can’t be ugly.
    What is ugly can’t be good.
    What is beautiful can’t be bad.
    What is bad can’t be beautiful.

    Taking into consideration what we see in this episode, I think the intention is to deconstruct this concept, since all of the conclusions above are proven wrong here.

    A first thing, one which you also mentioned, is the perception of appearance or outward beauty: Kollos is ugly, but he’s a good guy; Jones is beautiful, but her jealousy is an evil character trait. However, thanks to her telepathic abilities she can appreciate Kollos’s good personality – his ugliness doesn’t bother her because she doesn’t see him. The others, on the contrary, mostly perceive the looks of people or things and don’t get what’s inside; they are, on their part, “blind”.

    As a second point, we also understand that telepathy can be hell for the telepath, in this case Jones who can’t help but telepathically “look” into the ugly minds of the people around her, while due to her blindness she has no use for their outward beauty (well, as you say, beauty is a relative concept…). And again, the others, on the contrary, feel attracted by her outward beauty and don’t notice her jealousy until it’s almost too late. (Actually, Jones fails to notice it herself until Kirk confronts her.) But to be fair, as far as Kollos is concerned, they don’t yield to their prejudices: Kirk and Spock manage to overlook his ugliness – just as “blind” as Jones is – for the sake of cooperating with him and benefiting from his knowledge.


    Miranda is an interesting character. There’s a moment in the episode that stuck with me where she opens kollos’ box and asks “what do they see when they look at you? I must know”, which to me indicates that she feels the need to connect with kollos in more than just a telepathic way, but also in a visual way. As though ANY advantage that another person might have in interacting with kollos, even if only on a purely aesthetic level, is intolerable for her. She can communicate with kollos better than anyone, probably even Spock, but it’s not enough, she needs total ownership of that relationship. This got me thinking that part of her drive here is that her role as kollos’ conduit is bound up with her insecurity in her own limitations pertaining to her sight. Because of that, even though she has this incredible ability that gives her greater “vision”, she can’t fully “see” kollos and what makes him possibly beautiful. Which gets back to that question, can beauty exist apart from our perception of it? Obviously the Greeks had a lot to say on the subject:)

    I have only seen a few seconds of this episode and it was years ago, so it's on my list to watch.

    But I just read an article on Daily Choices called Dishy Factoids or something similar, which states that this episode was rewritten due to a mutiny by Shatner and Nemoy, who considered the original draft "unacceptable."

    Unfortunately there aren't any Dishy Factoids about what exactly the problem was, but it was bad enough for them to threaten a walkout and piss off the new showrunner.

    If the rewrite has some problems, imagine what the original version must have been like.

    Out of the comment stream I read, one says, is this brilliant, or a hot mess? I suppose when your sci-fi budget is limited to a hinged box, the characters dialogue and costuming has to go into warp drive. One must mind meld with the star trek universe to arrive at the deeper meaning, yet an amateur viewer with limited "just doesn't get it" interest will think it's boring and stupid like they will all episodes. God help them. This one has excellent musical additions, and film technique that's quite remarkable for the series. There's quick frame close ups, forced perspectives, bottle end bottom looks, and tricks I don't know what to call. They say the Desilu production values were really quite good and persisted beyond the acquisition, and this is more evident watching fixed-up episodes on a 60" LED screen that were originally intended for the 19" CRT in most homes in 1968. Yeah you can tell the stunt doubles pretty easy now, but I was looking for when Leslie was injured during a stunt performance (never to return) but didn't find it. I am not fooled by Ann Mulhall coming back in another episode as a different character that shares minds or bodies again....... lol! They should have had Diana Muldaur play the Janice Lester part in Turnabout Intruder for a trifecta of body sharing..... in fact I only just realized now that a different actress who looks just like Muldaur is playing that part. Let's see, that I'll be seeing in about a couple weeks or so.

    Definitely 3/4 - this episode aged well for me. As a teenager, I didn’t understand the concepts of obsessive and unrequited love like I do as an adult.

    A lot of interesting concepts in this episode. Had to take away a star for the way the men treat Miranda, particularly Kirk, who is always a bit “handsy”, but is really over the top here.

    I go with the crowd on this one, saw it for the first time and this episode is an under-rated entertaining cerebral romp with an unpredictable plot and some really interesting conceptual attempts. The positives are the guest star performances, the hallucinogenic tone, demented music, the whacky camera work, lighting and editing. I was never bored, although the resolution could have been better I would be happy to call this a valiant attempt at something different even if it was a bit of a failure. Peter G. makes some really good points about there maybe being a disconnect between the screenplay and the direction which explains the rather "off-kilter" feeling the audience has watching this episode.

    The revelation of Miranda's medical condition was a genuine surprise for a first-time watcher. The dinner party scene was excellent seeing all the male posturing and low-key muscular preening going on there, Kirks "mission" to distract Miranda was a stroke of genius and surely by now would be obvious have been a deliberate "in joke" by the writing team. The fact that this episode could have sprung so many intellectual conversations and different opinions says to me that despite its sometimes troubled logic, this episode succeeds on an intellectual level which is something you can't say for some other TOS episodes.

    Anyway its not perfect but its different, conceptual and relatively complex if somewhat flawed - two and a half stars?

    So tell me if you think there’s any beauty within the following truth behind this episode’s production. I feel that there is, because to me, many things are “beautifully hilarious,” and this certainly qualifies.

    Gene Roddenberry worked hard to create an aspirational, socialist, utopian future while really being a hardcore capitalist pig at heart--which makes me grin from ear to ear. Get a load of this guy: Roddenberry wrote words to the Star Trek opening theme. The lyric is terrible, full of nonsense like “star women” and “strange love,” but that’s okay because this was a song never meant to be sung. He wrote the words just so he could snag 50% of composer Alexander Courage’s royalties. Yes, this was perfectly legal, and no, Courage never spoke to him since.

    And this brings me to “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were hopping pissed over this one. @NoPoet touches on this above but couldn’t find the full story. The behind-the-scenes brouhaha was all over that Vulcan medallion prop, the logo for IDIC (which stands for “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations,” a typically hypocritical hippie notion because while it’s a lofty idea in theory, in practice you just know there’s no room for the diversity of conservative, TERF, or religious thoughts--but I digress). Roddenberry created the IDIC medallion in order to sell plastic IDIC medallions to the fans. TV shows do it all the time, to the point where South Park made fun of the practice by satirically creating the talking, pot-smoking towel Towelie so that Comedy Central could unironically peddle towels in stores across the nation.

    Nimoy went apeshit over the IDIC pitch, seeing what was going on plainly. In Roddenberry’s defense, of course, Star Trek was (and still is) in the business of making money before anything else, so this was a natural opportunity. And I mean, it was their *own* product placement for God’s sake. It’s not like they were showcasing a can of Diet Coke. But Nimoy’s head was full of naive crap like “artistic integrity” and didn’t want entire pages of the script to be nothing more than a naked marketing ploy. Shatner got in on the drama too. Ultimately, although the IDIC exposition was scaled down, the producers would be damned if they were going to cut it out entirely because of a couple of self-righteous preening actors, so the medallion stayed in. Slow claps from me.

    So there you go. You can pontificate for dozens of paragraphs analyzing the intent of this story, the message of this episode, the poem from which it got its title, but ultimately it was a way to make cash for NBC and Paramount just like every other show.

    “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” asks us (quite ponderously, as Jammer correctly points out) to examine our own prejudices and qualifications when it comes to things that we think of as “beautiful," just as "The Paradise Syndrome" asked a similar question about our notions of "paradise." This episode challenges us to try finding more beauty in the truth behind things, no matter how ugly they may be, because such analysis pulls back the facade and renders the Matrix powerless. Here, the Medusa analogy makes “ugly” the thing that ultimately saves the Enterprise.

    What is "beauty," anyway? Is it really beauty that you’re seeing? Is there more resonance in the truth behind the touch-ups that you’re *not* supposed to see? The beautiful and happy model in that Cosmopolitan spread has had Photoshopped alterations to her mug and is probably struggling with an eating disorder. The happy family next door to you could be like the one in "American Beauty" (ironically or unironically titled, depending on your worldview), led by a matriarch intentionally painting the facade of having a beautiful, happy family to keep up appearances while selling houses, when in reality she is a frustrated obsessive nutcase, her husband is a figuratively impotent and ineffectual suburban drone lusting after his teenage daughter’s best friend, and said daughter is a gothic-dressing depressive drowning in banality while saving up for a boob-job and just hoping to be noticed.

    What we think of traditionally as “beauty” is mostly based on half-truths or outright lies. It’s all about superficial presentation, and we’re kidding ourselves if we think otherwise. (A great sarcastic line from The Devil Wears Prada: “Yes, that’s what this billion-dollar industry is all about: inner beauty!”) Women touch themselves up with makeup principally to be more alluring and appealing to men--because it works. We say we like authenticity, truth, and intellect, but what really turns us on is flashiness and money. Is there in truth no beauty? I’d say no, because truth can be beautiful in itself as long as you find beauty in irony, humor and naked hypocrisy.

    "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" does tend to meander all over the place (much like this rant, haha), but it has its moments. Diana Muldaur, who will always have a special place in my heart for portraying icy bitch Rosalind Shays on L.A. Law, performs admirably here and emerges as one of Star Trek’s strongest guest stars. She holds her own opposite Shatner and Nimoy, getting in some ironic stares and sassy side-eyes that make Miranda come alive--particularly in the dinner scene. Many commenters above are outright sensitive about the “misogyny” and “sexism” they see here (the fact that this was filmed in 1968 going right over their heads, of course). But I like the scene because it clearly shows Miranda has a healthy agency in her cutting retorts, and @Peter G’s take on it is downright fascinating--it makes more sense if you interpret this as Miranda sending mind-control vibes to the others at the table. That went right over my head when I watched the scene the first time, but I stand by it now. Well done, Peter!

    It’s a busy episode but not a boring one. It may be a little too pleased with itself, but it has a thought-provoking foundation that has certainly generated a dynamic discussion here on Jammer’s Reviews.

    Speak Freely:

    Kirk -- “At the risk of sounding prejudiced, gentlemen, here’s to beauty.”

    My Grade: C+

    "Women touch themselves up with makeup principally to be more alluring and appealing to men"
    Wow, that is such a male thing to think. Let me pose a hypothesis. You have never used make up and you never talked to a woman why she is using make up. Still, so much confidence in your opinion.

    Beauty is also a very unspecified word in the English language. Nature can be beautiful, a painting can be beautiful or a certain act can be beautiful. The examples are endless. If you cannot see any beauty in all those things at best a little and only through a lens of deep cynicism, then that's pretty sad.

    "You can pontificate for dozens of paragraphs analyzing the intent of this story, the message of this episode, the poem from which it got its title, but ultimately it was a way to make cash for NBC and Paramount just like every other show."
    If somebody pontificates for dozens of paragraphs, it's you. Most have barely written more than three paragraphs.
    Oh and thanks to point out that everybody exists in the capitalist system. With AI and robotics soon to be fully functional, I doubt that we will live in that system for much longer. Not that it necessarily will be better system afterwards.

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