Star Trek: The Original Series

"Elaan of Troyius"

2 stars

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

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

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

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

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

Previous episode: The Empath
Next episode: Whom Gods Destroy

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48 comments on this post

Sun, Feb 24, 2013, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
I disagree with the rating. I like the various plot lines that come together at the end. No big philosophical statements, but better than long, drawn out one strand plots. I was surprised at Nguyen's ability to pull off this part, one note that it is.
Mon, Feb 25, 2013, 7:58pm (UTC -5)
Trivia: the only Trek episode with a "written & directed by" credit. Besides John Meredyth Lucas, the only other person with a writing credit for an episode he also directed is David Livingston for "The Nagus" (plus Nimoy's and Shatner's movie credits). In fact, hardly anyone else has both writing and directing credits for Trek. Others include Tom Benko, Kenneth Biller, and, lest we forget, Robert Picardo.

Further trivia: according to Memory Alpha, Lucas was the stepson of "Casablanca" director Michael Curtiz.
Thu, Nov 14, 2013, 12:06am (UTC -5)
This episode was terrible. I liked it when Elaan had to learn about duty, but the whole tear thing was gimmicky. Quite frankly, I'm not sure Kirk needed the excuse of love potion. He turns into a moron the instant any woman is in front of him. I wish at least for this episode he could have kept it in his pants.

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

It also seems quite inspired by "Taming of the Shrew"
Wed, Jun 4, 2014, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
This was ok.

But the deus ex machina that Elas happened to have dilithium crystals as a "common stone" was a bit hard to take. Seriously. . . the Federation never noticed this before?
William B
Mon, Nov 3, 2014, 2:37am (UTC -5)
In which Kirk asks for the ship to move forward at .035 sublight speed, and the episode's pacing ultimately matches.

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

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

I guess 1.5 stars if I am feeling generous.
William B
Mon, Nov 3, 2014, 3:08am (UTC -5)
Scratch that, I'm not feeling generous -- 1 star.
Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 10:30pm (UTC -5)
Okay, I'll confess. Can't argue with Jamahl or the other posters here so I won't rate this episode. Can't bring myself to do it.

Because... I'll always be enthralled watching France Nuyen as Elaan just as much as I am watching Sophie Marceau's performances in "Braveheart" and that silly Bond movie ("The World Is Not Enough").

Yeah, okay. I know I'm a dick. To each his own.
Fri, Oct 16, 2015, 5:31pm (UTC -5)
I have to disagree with you peeps, on the low ratings. For some reason this episode is like-able, and I would say one of the better TOS episodes.

Reason 1 : finally a proper storyline.
well this is one of the RARE episodes thats NOT about either "yet oneother earth" or "kirk outsmarts the computer"
And it is about diplomacy, finally something that really DOES belong to the federation.

Reason 2 : klingons
Always good to have some agresive klingons, some secret agenda's and plotting, and the reason in this case (a huge dilithium mine) is quite logical.

Reason 3 : Shakespeare
I like those plays and taming of the srewd in fact is one of my favorite plays. even though a weak substitute, the hint towards it is clear enough to be enjoyable.

Reason 4 : Shut up woman!
While I don't like sexism, I don't like feminism either, and in this era of today woman are in fact behaving like spoiled brats, playing the card to get everything for free, yet have no old-time obligations for those freebies in turn, seeing such a woman be turned down a notch is always a pleasure.

Well having that said it is not all good :

Criticism 1 :
Sexism again, kirk just HAS to make up with this woman. Do I have to spell unprofessional? Starfleet = Military, and behaving this way in line of duty is unacceptable. And as often said TOS genrally has WAY to much sexism.

Criticism 2 :
Love tears, there was no need whatsoever for them to be in this episode, other than to drag to one more I gonne miss you so much, yabber, that in light on how many times kirk already has said that to tons of other woman is totally unbelievable

Overall I would rate this with a solid 2.5 - 3.0 stars.
making it one of the 15 best TOS episodes.
Mon, Feb 8, 2016, 6:20pm (UTC -5)
What a mess.
Tue, Jun 28, 2016, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
You guys are nuts, this episode was one my favorites from TNG. Espionage, intrigue, and a love story that doesn't feel forced. I'd say that Elaan was generally one of the few women that Kirk genuinely felt love for, with of course the help of her tears.

I was thinking about it and the tears make sense on a planet like Elas. People there are hard and war like, with tears being a rarity. I'd imagine that women on Elas use their tears as a way of choosing a mate, the mate being someone they trust enough to cry around.

When said I love you on the turbolift, it felt genuine. And Kirk does everything in his power to stay himself despite his emotions. Powerful stuff.
Thu, Sep 1, 2016, 8:47pm (UTC -5)
I like it very much also. 3 stars at least. It was fun and with a lot of tension. Having a different culture in the ship is nice, and in fact we got two different species that think not alike. It would be better if the ambassador took the role of Kirk in the whole love story, though.
Trek fan
Thu, Feb 23, 2017, 2:25am (UTC -5)
Good, solid, fun TOS episode. The plot overreaches perhaps just a bit, short-changing the developing sparks between Elaan and Kirk in favor of a neat Klingon battle that is drawn out a little too long. But I would give this one a solid 3/4 stars, if not 3 1/2 stars, because of the amusing battle of wills between the ever-diplomatic Kirk and the charismatic Elaan.

France Nuyen, the Vietnamese-French actress from several Hollywood classics, makes a strong impression here as the first Asian woman to play the main guest role on a Trek episode. There's an undeniable energy to her performance that sustains interest in the somewhat placid pacing of the episode. All of the regular actors, from Shatner down to Majel Barrett, feel very comfortable in this one -- nicely underplaying their parts with an easy chemistry that has really matured by this point in Season 3.

I enjoy both parts of the episode, namely the diplomatic crisis half (primarily centering around Elaan's friction with everyone on board) and the tactically driven (TOS is a throwback to the days when Trek space fights involved actual strategy rather than technobabble pyrotechnics) Klingon battle half, which tie together through the espionage plot. The A/B plot with a connecting link here actually foreshadows the way DS9 and other later Trek shows would often script their episodes. My only complaint is that, in this case, the drawn-out Klingon battle unfortunately pulls our attention away from Elaan's character a bit sharply -- it's much more jarring here than in the shorter battle sequence and spy plot that interrupts the diplomatic mission/interpersonal crisis in "Journey to Babel." And as fun as it is to see the Enterprise in a strategic dogfight with a Klingon warship, it's not as compelling as the Elaan-Kirk dynamic that it pushes to the background. But that's a small gripe in an otherwise engaging episode of Star Trek.
Mark J
Mon, May 8, 2017, 11:09pm (UTC -5)
This is an episode where the remastered effect really help. Instead of seeing the same effect of the Klingon ship several times we get much more variety of shots. It made it a more enjoyable watch as a result.
Fri, Jun 30, 2017, 5:52pm (UTC -5)
I really liked this episode and disagree with Jammer's review/rating. It's not perfect but it does a lot of things right: France Nuyen as Elaan reminds me a bit of how Klingon women are portrayed in later Trek series -- the first part of the episode when she's a big brat was done convincingly (although it was irritating to see) but then she softens up considerably and even toward the Troyian ambassador Petri. I think her tears touching Kirk had a reciprocal effect on her -- that was really the turning point in the episode.

This episode also had a lot going on -- kind of similar to "Journey to Babel" focusing on diplomacy and some of the Federation interests. Although I have to guess the UFP didn't have time to discover that there's a fair amount of dilithium crystals in the universe, which is why the Klingons have an interest.

I thought the battle scene was quite well done - got to see Kirk try and work some tactics with limited resources. Of course that the necklace was made with dilithium crystals was very fortunate.

Shatner did a good job as Kirk trying to teach Elaan some manners, while trying to be respectful, following orders. It was amusing to watch.

I'd have to say "Elaan of Troyius" is a pleasant surprise and just gets to 3.5 stars for me. I can't say I agree with forcing Elaan into a marriage but we accept it as part of what these alien cultures have decided and that it is Kirk's job to make it happen. Throw in some good battle scenes after the sabotage and you've got a fun episode. The guest actors for Elaan and Ambassador Petri were engaging.
Mon, Nov 27, 2017, 5:39pm (UTC -5)
After another viewing, I think my initial rating was a tad generous. This is a pretty good episode with a solid performance from Nuyen (helps that she naturally has an accent). It becomes easier to understand Elaan's behavior when understanding she's being married against her wishes and all the "responsibilities and obligations" she has to deal with. She didn't want the role she was chosen for and this comes out in the end in her love for Kirk (reasonably well portrayed).

The ending battle scene was one of the better ones from TOS although I wonder why the Enterprise didn't fire photon torpedoes until after the dilithium crystals were replaced. I didn't think you'd need the crystals to fire torpedoes. It's easier to understand why phasers wouldn't be an option without the crystals.

3 stars for "Elaan of Troyius" -- seems to me to be one of the TOS S3 episodes with a bigger budget and it is used reasonably well with a number of guest actors, costumes, battle scenes (which are much better in the enhanced video version).
Mon, Jan 8, 2018, 1:16am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

Admittedly, it has been a couple of years since I saw this one, but there is a part that mildly bothers me: weren't the TOS phasers powered by batteries? I think back to The Doomsday Machine, where Scotty informs Kirk that he has one bank recharged while they are on the Constellation. I'd think they could be stone dead in the water and still have phasers, if the batteries hadn't been bled off for something else. It wasn't until The Motion Picture that they said they were powered directly from the warp engines, and specifically made the point when Commander Decker countermanded Kirks order for phasers when they were having their problem.

Here, Kirk asks Scotty if he can get him partial power to the phasers, and he replies "No, sir, not a chance".

If I am mistaken, or mis-remembering things, please let me know. I just figure they'd have phasers because they had already been charged from the get-go.

All that being said, this was one of my favorite episodes growing up (around 12 or so when they started to show full episodes in the afternoon in '77). It was tense, had intrigue, and a bit of a space battle. I still enjoy it when I queue it up and would give it a thumbs up.

Take care and have a great day... RT
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
Perhaps the tear thing is a metaphore for trying to draw pity. There was an obvious attempt at seducing as well.
Gul Densho-Ar
Fri, May 18, 2018, 11:37pm (UTC -5)
Ah, the good old story of the capricious woman who just needs a strong guy teaching her some manners. Not sure if the magic tears nonsense made this episode better or worse. No rating.
Steve McCullagh
Sun, Jul 22, 2018, 11:50am (UTC -5)
I can't believe it took me so long to realise that the title is a play on "Helen of Troy".
Mon, Aug 13, 2018, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
Another episode I loved as a kid, so I may be blinded by nostalgia. Everything was new to me then (including, or perhaps especially, the cliches... both Trek and otherwise) and I remember it fondly as a rip-roaring adventure. The guest star totally owns it with her performance, which holds up well today. In a weird way it reminds me of a PG-rated Mr Rogers' Neighborhood as a simplistic but effective lesson in manners and controlling your emotions, and it's still very powerful if you can accept all the exaggerated characterizations.
Mon, Oct 1, 2018, 10:01am (UTC -5)
Maybe it's because I'm starved of Trek, but watching this for a second time made me appreciate it much more. The tragedy and plight of the alien princess really shines through once you're familiar with the plot, her warrior culture is nicely sketched, and you begin to appreciate more the way she masks fragility and innocence with aggression, fire and bluster. I thought her tears - a kind of pheromone used to trap a mate - were a neat scifi concept. The idea that an aggressive species might be pressured by evolution to develop something like this, is pretty neat.

Others above have complained about pacing; I disagree entirely. This is a fast episode, packed with clever rapid-fire dialogue. Finally, the episode makes excellent use of the Klingon's; the combat sequences and little tactical game they play with Kirk, is very imaginative.
Peter G.
Sun, Nov 4, 2018, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
Ok, so when was I was a kid I didn't get the allusions being made here: Elaan = Helen, Troyius = Troy, Ellaas = Hellas (aka Greece) .So it's the Helen of Troy story, right? Except that TOS episodes are so good that they *begin* with a template like Helen of Troy and only build from there. In this episode we have the following amazing building blocks:

-Helen is being made to go to a foreign country, a union that should unite them but is instead causing strife (so far like The Iliad).
-But in this case Elaan is unwilling - wrinkle #1. Why? She's a warrior and doesn't want to be a lover. Huh, ok. Except that:
-The reason she resists is not because she wants war, but because she cannot stand being made a pawn in someone else's agreement rather than having the freedom of choice. Therefore she, herself, is a case in point of the following argument:
-That even a supreme monarch, when forced into a situation of duty, realizes that free choice matters more to her than fulfillment of others' wishes, therefore giving her something in common with a Federation ethos. Possible message here is that all people would eventually agree that freedom is beneficial, if only they were in the position that they were made to realize it.
-The Klingons have a stake in dilithium in the system, therefore implying they're creating a wedge in local politics to mine resources, a very Cold War theme that we've seen before, but here it implies further that local disputes can often be traced to foreign powers manipulating them for profit. A very controversial and uncommon theme for the 60's! And quite subversive in some ways to say it (if obliquely).
-Kirk tries to teach Elaan civility, even through force, but she won't accept it. Instead she sees his power and accepts *him*, as a lover, to use him as a weapon of war. Except that Kirk's loyalty to the mission supercedes his feelings and he rejects the love. In seeing him sacrifice his own desires (which she knows for sure he has) for duty his finally does instruct her, and I think out of respect for him she chooses duty as well in the end, in emulation of him.
-Thus the Trojan epic ends with Paris (Kirk) choosing duty over the world's greatest desire, showing real heroism for what it really is: not getting what you want, which classic hero stories are about, but about knowing when *not* to take what you want. And that is very heart and soul of Trek: when what you want hurts the common good, you reject it.

This used to be a skipper for me, certainly as a kid, but now I see that the very best themes of Trek are in it, as well as the best uses of writing: borrow a good story, but tell something new with it. The messages here are so much more evolved than in a classic hero story about triumph.

I'll also note one more thing: I only now realize that TNG's The Perfect Mate is a complete carbon copy of this one, almost down to being an exact replica in the final goodbye scene. And to whatever extent people have debated whether Perfect Mate is sexist versus enablist, one thing is for sure: Elaan of Troyius is much more evolved in terms of feminism. While TNG's outing is about a woman who's blatantly desirable and seen as the object of everyone's desires, and how she copes with that, this one is about a woman portrayed as undesirable and petulant, presumably because she absolutely refuses to be seen as the object of anyone's desire and will be her own woman. That she's portrayed in such an ugly light on account of these characteristics is a damning indictment of how women were seen at the time who wouldn't "play ball" and be nice. It's so much harsher a criticism of culture than the TNG episode is, which may loosely be called a story about women's rights but realistically doesn't a fraction of the guts of the TOS version. Troyius is the much stronger story, and Kirk's part in it significantly more compelling that Picard merely playing the good boy in his version.
Gaius Maximus
Thu, Dec 20, 2018, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
Some pretty ugly sexism in this one, with Kirk threatening to spank Elaan and commenting that Vulcan women are the only logical women in the galaxy. Also, some uncomfortable 'dragon lady' overtones with an East Asian actress in this part. What I really wonder, though, is why it was so damn dark on the bridge in this episode?
Tue, May 28, 2019, 4:56am (UTC -5)
I wonder how Kirk would respond if Star Fleet told him that in order to keep peace in the Quadrant, he was going to have to marry a green skinned Queen of another planet, and go there to live as her dutiful husband for the rest of his life?

I'm sure he'd either comply or quietly give up his commission and leave Star Fleet.

Had some fun elements, but mostly ruined by preachy, arrogant Kirk.
Tue, May 5, 2020, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
I was reminded of this woman with The Final Frontier, did anybody else notice the similarity between this actress and the woman they met in the prison camp?
Peter G.
Tue, May 5, 2020, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
@ MaraCass,

Tbh I didn't. Maybe the accent is what's making them similar to you? According to Wiki, Iman is Somali while France Nguyen (Elaan) is French-Vietnamese, so the accents shoudn't be the same. Maybe there's some phonological similarity the Somali language and French? Visually I don't really see it.
Tue, Jan 12, 2021, 11:13am (UTC -5)
@Jammer gives this 2 stars and his rating for the Andromeda remake is 3 stars, and I’m just here to say that I totally agree - Andromeda’s “The Honey Offering" is way better!

Hey @Bill, I owned the Braveheart VHS tape just for Sophie Marceau ;)

And while Sophie was obviously hotter, Elssbett Mossadim was very, very impressive.
Fri, Feb 5, 2021, 1:29am (UTC -5)
I had never seen this episode before and I loved it. You’re not going to believe this but my super successful rich friend married an “Elaan”, and she even looks the same!

How is this even possible? Are we all just stuck in some computer generated universe on a loop? The interaction between Kirk and Elaan is bang on. And the disbelief of McCoy and Spock in the hallway watching this train wreck, yup, who hasn’t been there before?

I just love TOS. How can practically every episode written 50 years ago, seem so relevant today? And I don’t care what anybody says, they are better actors than what’s on TV now...
Fri, Feb 5, 2021, 8:35am (UTC -5)
"I just love TOS. How can practically every episode written 50 years ago, seem so relevant today? And I don’t care what anybody says, they are better actors than what’s on TV now..."

Re. the acting on TOS, this is so very true -- especially when you get into the guest actors, that's where the ones on TOS absolutely blow away the ones on other Trek series.

Yes I think we've all been there at some point or another watching a mate getting tangled up with the wrong gal... That's an aspect of this episode I didn't really think about since there is plenty else going on... so I would also agree that a great many TOS episodes are very relevant today as those were archetypal stories and will always be relevant on some level to the human condition. By contrast, stories from DSC, PIC will be forgotten a few months after they premier (if not sooner by some).
joseph lindsey
Fri, Apr 30, 2021, 6:30am (UTC -5)
I am here for one reason. I loved this episode....and the reason I loved this episode is the performance by France Nuyen. I thought she was riveting.
Tue, May 11, 2021, 2:11am (UTC -5)
I don’t read comments until I have written my own review so I am guessing that most others have seen the obvious Trojan War nomenclature: Helen of Troy and their war against Hellas (Elas) ie Greece. Someone at Paramount loves their Classical analogies. Let me get these out of the way then:

- the face that launched a thousand starships
- at least they obeyed the Priam Directive
- “I’m a doctor Jim, not Achilles “

(I’ll get me coat!)

A fairly good but not great episode, with some echoes of Journey To Babel: one imaginative alien, a diplomatic mission, Klingon involvement with a ‘shadowing’ starship initially beyond sensor range...

But a single line of dialogue shows the troubled nature of this episode:

KIRK: (to Spock): On Vulcan the women are governed by logic. That’s the only planet in the galaxy where that’s the case.

And of course, who in the crew is infected by Elaan’s (Helen’s) tears? Why, our very own lothario, James T. Aaaaargh. The spanking dialogue was beyond kinky!

Nevertheless, I did enjoy the episode on several fronts: Elaan being taught manners, the despair of the Trojan (sorry, Troyian) ambassador, the stranding of the Enterprise without power during a Klingon attack.. it wasn’t too shabby.

I’d give it 2.5 stars.
Tue, May 11, 2021, 2:21am (UTC -5)
Wow, not many seem to have “got” the Helen of Troy analogy - kudos to Peter G, and to Steve!
Sat, Jun 19, 2021, 7:04am (UTC -5)
This is an episode that you can’t take too seriously. Just have fun with it. The part with Elaan’s bodyguard working with the Klingons to sabotage the Enterprise was an exciting and fun part to an otherwise subpar story.
You would think the dylithium crystals would have been dangerous to handle if they gave off so much power in the engine room. And the Klingons trying to sucker the Enterprise into warp speed and destruction was a fun twist. I’d give it a C+, lots of fun but a goofy episode.
stevaan of edmontaan
Thu, Jul 15, 2021, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
I watched this many times in B&W reruns in my youth, but avoided it until reading the account in These Are The Voyages. Watching it again, remastered in glorious HD, was a revelation. I thought the story was much stronger than I remembered, and the acting above average for the Third Season. But the battle with the Klingon ship, freshly realized with new graphics, elevated it to a definite three star rating.

PS: the account in TATV is fascinating, if for no other reason than to read memos from powerful, white males of the late 60s justifying Kirk’s hitting Elaan while tittering about band aid-sized clothing. Now THAT was definitely of its time.
Neo the Beagle
Thu, Jul 29, 2021, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
The three male guards would have made good Romulans. And Elaan could be my ex wife.
Tue, Oct 5, 2021, 10:19pm (UTC -5)
Jammer review is spot on. Elaan was mildly funny when she was cranky, but seriously annoying in her syrupy state. Same thing with Captain Kirk. I might have given this 2.5 stars but for the plastic glitter costumes on the Elasian guards. Those were truly awful. 2 stars is about right.
Tue, Oct 5, 2021, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
One other thing: Did anyone else notice that the bridge scenes kept switching between having Chekhov in his seat at the helm and the blonde guy who substitutes into that seat occasionally? The change in actors occured in the same scene as the camera switches to another view and then back again in what was supposed to be the same moment. Very distracting glitch happened several times in this episode.
Mon, Oct 18, 2021, 12:09am (UTC -5)
Jammer is spot on in the rating. The episode started strong with the diplomatic crisis and Kirk trying to "train" a spoiled brat, and gave us an iconic line of Vulcan being the sole planet where women were logical. Then it devolved into a hot mess. As Jammer said, there were way too many plot strands and the writers didn't know what to do with them. The Kiingon plot was action-packed and fun, but it was hard to connect it to the marriage/diplomacy plot. The sabotage plot with instant red shirt death was lame and hard to believe. Only 1 person is working in Engineering? Any stranger can just walk in and disable a critical part? No locks, force fields, or other security measures. And did Scotty forget to pack spares for a part so important? The love tears plot was idiotic as well and killed the fiesty dialogue between Kirk and the girl. She goes from intolerable shrew to a lovesick puppy in 5 seconds? And there was even another plot of the concept of forced marriage, which was never explored.

This episode made me appreciate the A and B plots used in other Trek series. Yes, at times a bad B plot killed the A plot, but at least there was focus.

All in all, some 3 and 4 star moments, but weighed down by a messy plot.
Wed, Mar 16, 2022, 9:23pm (UTC -5)
Well, I read through some of the comments, and most here just missed the entire structure of the episode. Of course, we are Trekkies so anything not Kirk/Spock/McCoy/Scott centered must be evaluated based on that paradigm. People, this episode is a character study! And the character chosen is NOT a Trek person. Start there - and this episode starts to make sense. France does a great job with a big big role here. But - almost everyone is viewing through Trek colored glasses and how the main cast played OFF the guest. Exactly backwards!

Elaan is the leader of a warrior planet, and she's the ultimate authority there. This is driven home in the very first frame of the show. Kneeling officers in the transporter room as the Dohlman beams on board. "You have not been dismissed!!! You are now, dismissed." Get it? This show is not about Kirk, it's all about Elaan. I think that pisses a lot of Trek people off to think there are others out there not running their lives against the standard of Star Fleet and the UFP.

Yes, Elaan is harsh, smart, sneaky, vicious, exotic, strong, intoxicating(tears or not), and in all respects acts as the ruler of an entire planet. Get it yet? She has to be given to a stranger, from another planet, to stop a war. But - she sees another way out. This captain, this tool, this instrument of star travel power can be used, manipulated, turned, and brought to heel by feminine wiles.

Unfortunately, her bold plan doesn't work on the captain, completely. He is a tool of Elaan and second fiddle in this show to the center-piece. Get it, finally? She's done everything, sacrificed everything, she's been on top, and has fallen so far, as to be rejected finally by the one man who could have kept her on top, and avoided the humiliation awaiting her on another planet. Forever to be second fiddle or worse, and her future is destroyed.

Kirk is a bit player here. Yes, he's important in the scheme of running the ship, and dealing with the ambassador, and of course fighting the Klingons as he always survives. Elaan knows, she now understands, she's been on the bridge and seen him - over his command, saving his ship, using her, and her planet resources for the benefit of the ship and crew. "Don't forget me." "I can't, you've seen to that". KIrk has his ship, and his crew. She has been destroyed. GET IT????
Thu, Mar 31, 2022, 7:16pm (UTC -5)
Wouldn't it be rather difficult to fight a space battle at warp speed? You lock on to the enemy ship then order Warp 2 and in a few seconds you are millions of miles away, and as for turning at that speed, good luck with that. I also found the battle itself rather lackluster since he's ordering all these fancy warp speed maneuvers and things but we don't get to see them because of 1960s special effects technology and shoestring TV show budget, so I guess we just have to use our imaginations.

I liked the ambassador and his caramel ripple hair.
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 1:25pm (UTC -5)
This was a strange episode. When I watched it for the first time, I remember I didn’t really like it… it just seemed too much like “The Taming of the Shrew” in space. But when I sat back for a while and thought about it, I finally liked it a lot better.

I agree with @doc that this is, as the title suggests, a character study, and it helps a lot to look at it from this particular angle, focused on Elaan instead of the Enterprise crew. As we’re told, Elaan, the Dohlman of Elas, is to marry the ruler of Troyius in order to bring peace to the two warring planets. Most probably, our first impulse today would be to object to such an arranged marriage for political reasons and to denounce the disregard of the free will of the partners (which, by the way, is not only true for Elaan, but for the bridegroom-to-be as well, but nobody seems to care about the poor guy…). I find it interesting that Kirk doesn’t voice this kind of objections; I don’t think that this means he or the Federation are advocating arranged marriages, but rather the customs and decisions of other worlds are being respected.

What’s more, we all know that on Earth, there also was a time when arranged marriages between dynasties were a common political instrument, and while they rarely generated happy couples, they sometimes did ensure political stability. It seems that’s what Elas and Troyius are going for: not love and happiness, but a solution to a conflict that threatens to destroy them both. Both planets have nuclear power and are on the verge of being invaded by the Klingons. So the stakes are very high, and forming an alliance is an important goal which requires personal sacrifices.

As Dohlman, Elaan has a responsibility for her people’s welfare – by rebelling against the marriage, she’s abdicating from it, denying her people a personal sacrifice for selfish reasons, which would prove that she’s not able to live up to the expectations and the confidence they are placing in her. I think that’s what Kirk is trying to tell her when he says: “You enjoy the privileges and prerogatives of being a Dohlman. Then be worthy of them. If you don't want the obligations that go along with the title, then give it up.” And I also think that’s where her change of mind comes from: she finally finds the wisdom to understand that her role doesn’t only grant her privileges, but that the responsibility that comes with it obligates her to do what is best for Elas and to accept the marriage.

And here is a crucial difference between this episode and its Shakespearean cousin: unlike in “The Taming of the Shrew”, accepting the marriage doesn’t necessarily mean that Elaan consents to docilely obey her husband’s whims, but that she agrees to do her part in a political process meant to ensure peace and maybe even the survival of her people. In view of the heavy-armed inner conflict and the external threat of the Klingon invasion, the only chance for both Elas and Troyius is to unite and seek the support of the Federation, and Elaan's decision comes across as a noble sacrifice, not as a humiliating defeat.

So, yes, this is a good episode… not great, but good. Maybe its greatest weakness is what many commenters have experienced: that it doesn’t reveal its depths while you’re watching it, but that it really requires some reflection and analysis to get through to it.
Wed, Dec 7, 2022, 9:25am (UTC -5)
Another episode with a huge split among the fans. It's one of my favorites. I especially like the chemistry between Shatner and Nguyen and Nimoy's understated authority as he quietly and respectfully reminds Jim Kirk of his duty on the bridge. Nguyen's goodbye scene to me is quite moving.
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 10, 2023, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
This was one of my least favorite episodes as a kid, probably due to both guest stars, Elaan and Petri, being unlikeable and actively annoying. But I see it in a whole new light now, as this is clearly a Kirk episode, where unfortunately Elaan ends up serving mainly as a foil for the plot so that Kirk has to deal with all kinds of amusing trouble and abuse. And in fact him having to deal with her behavior really is quite amusing, and clearly Shatner thought so too as we can see by his amazing acting choices when standing up to her. Somehow Shatner manages to both strike back at her authoritatively and under great irritation and yet never loses the twinkle in his eye, almost smiling as he dodges one insult after another and giving back as good as he got. He is being tough but never comes off as mean. It ends up playing like a game of intense tennis against a wall, where the wall is petulant and sometimes throws knives at you. That actually does somehow add up to some highly charged and fun acting scenes.

Likewise, although Petri himself is repulsive in the manner intended, he does also end up being amusing as exactly the wrong person for the job, where everyone knows it and Kirk keeps sending him back for more. It's particularly smirk-inducing how Kirk is still telling him when he's incapacitated in bed and barely alive that he's good enough to get back on his feet and try again! It's almost like Kirk was quite happy to see this fellow get his own education, of another sort.

I also find the Klingon sub-plot to be surprisingly effective, both in the tension built up on the bridge at being crippled, to the intrigue of why the Klingons are behaving in such a strange manner. And in fact this is not even fully explained in the episode, even though we get a lot of hints. The Klingons want the dilithium in the system, making this another Cold War plot, but there's more detail here than what we get in Friday's Child, for example. Here, the Klingons not only want to scuttle the royal marriage, but additionally keep threatening the Enterprise but not attacking. At first we learn they are trying to trick the Enterprise into going to warp and destroying themselves. But after this ploy fails they *still* won't destroy the Enterprise themselves, making several additional threats and then threatening to board. But even the boarding seems endlessly delayed. Kirk theorizes that perhaps they don't have the stomach to actually start an all-out war, so while firing on a Federation ship might pass as a 'skirmish', destroying or seizing it would lead to full hostilities with the Federation. So what are they doing firing at the Enterprise and threatening to send boarding parties? It seems to me they fell back on a plan B which consisted of trying to get Kirk to surrender so that they wouldn't have to board by force. And I think the reason for this is they needed Elaan alive and unharmed, because if either planet in the system learned that the Klingons killed her they would never side with the Klingons. If they attacked and destroyed or damaged the Enterprise, they would obviously be blamed for it. If the Enterprise surrendered peacefully they could remove her from the ship and ensure her safety, securing their claim to the system. And with the original plan, of course, the Federation would have been blamed for having a defective ship and getting her killed, with the same result for the Klingons. So that is why I think the Klingons needed to hurt the Enterprise enough to make them believe they had no choice but to surrender, but could not win the fight outright. If so, that's some much deeper writing then we typically get in the Klingon episodes, and all this for a relatively minor sub-plot compared with the taming of the shrew.

Speaking of which, I was trying to find reasons why one might sympathize with Elaan. Given how it was written and directed, this is very difficult to do, and especially because we are not given her POV at all, only Kirk's. She is not really a bona fide co-star love interest to Kirk, and really serves more as a plot device to give Kirk outrageous behavior to deal with. That's too bad, because I would have liked to have seen her internal transition near the end to shine on screen. It seems that she did respect Kirk enough to select him: his authority and standing up to her no doubt made her admire him in some regard. That she seduced him mainly to try to control his powerful starship doesn't change the fact that I think she really did like him. But even then she is still acting petulant, until Kirk executes the herculean act of shrugging off her irresistible drug in another throwback to This Side of Paradise, demonstrating to her shock just how dedicated Kirk is to duty. I think him resisting romance with her, and telling her in the turbolift that he fully intended to carry out his mission even though it made him unhappy to do so, is what made her realize how important duty must be. But we never get to see this realizing in her, it's just indirectly evident from the fact that she does finally agree to her mission. This also perhaps bears some resemblance to TNG's The Perfect Mate, in that the possible love interest instead learns discipline and duty from the Captain.

I thought there might also be a bit of a feminist angle her. Just consider that she's the warrior leader of what appears to be an actual matriarchal society, where they in fact worship her, not unlike Cleopatra, who I take her to be modeled after even physically. And this person is now told she is going to have to learn to dress and act like a polite and dainty girl to please a man in some other society, and to learn their 'manners'. I could actually see how Elaan's lines earlier in the episode about this being a humiliating and unbearable thing for her would actually make sense. It's like taking the Queen of the Amazons and telling her maybe she should take up knitting and bow to some man and act like a good girl. This expectation is not a particularly good look; after all why isn't the male leader of Troyius being asked to move to Elas and toughen up and become a warrior and bow to his new Queen? Seems pretty one-sided, and if the script were just a little different it could easily have been shown to indeed be a galling thing to ask of her, worthy of her contempt. But as it is they needed the explosive fireworks to come from Kirk bouncing off of her infantile sparks, so that's how it went down. I'm just observing that buried in here is a potential real message about not judging a woman on her 'immature' reaction to being treated like an object who has to be subservient. If she hadn't been so actually immature this could have come through.

Overall I do find this one much more enjoyable than I used to, even though I would have preferred for Elaan to have been taken a bit more seriously as a real person with a real grievance. As it is she plays more like a Charlie X type childish character who is the butt of our amusement because, unlike Charlie, she poses no real threat to Kirk.
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 10, 2023, 11:40pm (UTC -5)
Well, well. Upon inspection it seems I already brought up a comparison to The Perfect Mate in a previous post. So be least I agree with me.
Tue, Jan 17, 2023, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
Watch another bratty TOS youngster? As McCoy says, are you out of your Fulkin mind? (The cast must have had fun with that line.) With Elaan's background undeveloped, she comes across as sullen and manipulative, so it's hardly a pleasure to watch Kirk patronizingly tiptoe around her. The episode is not a total loss: the story contains a few inventive ideas, some snappy dialogue, and a battle of sorts with the Klingons. This yields a rating of one of four tears, which puts it in the bottom ten TOS episodes for me.
Mr. Jimmy
Fri, Feb 3, 2023, 10:36am (UTC -5)
Here we have another underrated episode. A lot fun watching Kirk under Elaan's tearful control, the Klingon battle, Elaan's tantrums, all of it. One of the best season 3 episodes.
Wed, Feb 15, 2023, 10:51pm (UTC -5)
I expected to hate it. Really enjoyed it.

Nobody taught Elaan about duty, but everybody modeled it, and she learned from their example.

Imperfect, but different and interesting.


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