Star Trek: The Original Series

"That Which Survives"

1 star

Air date: 1/24/1969
Teleplay by John Meredyth Lucas
Story by Michael Richards
Directed by Herb Wallerstein

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

When a landing party beams down to investigate a planet, a mysterious woman named Losira (Lee Meriwether), armed with a deadly touch, begins attacking several members of Kirk's crew, both on board the ship and on the planet surface. The problem is magnified when the Enterprise is hurled far away from the planet and its engines are sabotaged, causing a countdown to the ship's destruction.

"That Which Survives" is as close to nothing that you can have on the screen and still have some semblance of a Star Trek episode. The familiar two-tiered story structure does nothing here, failing on both counts. The landing party's lobotomized attempts to uncover the mystery of Losira have precisely zero urgency and thought put forward. Meanwhile, the technobabble-heavy Enterprise jeopardy plot is completely insipid; not one character on the ship seems to really believe that they're going to "blow up in 15 minutes."

And on top of the uninteresting nature of the story, we have to put up with one of the most irritating utilizations of Spock ever conceived. Spock's sarcasm is entertaining when wittily and subtly developed, but here his quip one-liners are so needless, pervasive, and annoying that I simply wanted to strangle him. (Just how many times can we listen to him snidely telling Scotty to forego emotionalism and get to work?) The finale uncovers a mystery that is not remotely worth the effort required to get there.

Previous episode: The Mark of Gideon
Next episode: The Lights of Zetar

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57 comments on this post

Thu, Apr 14, 2011, 2:12pm (UTC -6)
Here's one lonely cheer for "That Which Survives". When I was a little kid watching this episode in the early 70s, it absolutely scared the bejeezus out of me. I used to sneak up on my brother and touch his shoulder like Losira. Then we'd both run away screaming.
Sun, Nov 4, 2012, 12:34am (UTC -6)
"That Which Survives" is as close to nothing that you can have on the screen and still have some semblance of a Star Trek episode."

HA! thank you
Fri, Sep 13, 2013, 9:17am (UTC -6)
I would give this episode 2.5 stars. True, Spock's rationalism was overdone, but I liked Scotty's character on this show a lot. The Jeffries tube scene in the anti-matter chamber was great, and the special effects inside it excellent. The film technique for Losira to come and go was neat - looked like a door opening and closing and for I appreciated a female leader that wasn't a romantic interest for Kirk and was strong and competent (contrast Spock's Brain). The concept of her being a computer enhancement of a person long dead was a nice surprise at the end.
Sun, Apr 27, 2014, 2:46pm (UTC -6)
The one thing not mentioned in this episode was Sulu and his child-like questions on the planet. You could make a drinking game everytime he asked Kirk a question and you would never make it around for the end. IMO, one of the worst written tos episodes for this and Spock's new cocky attitude.
Wed, Jun 4, 2014, 4:54pm (UTC -6)
Where did this version of Spock come from? It seemed like they were trying to resurrect some of the story elements from the Season 1 episode "Galileo Seven", in which Spock is in command of the landing party and struggles with keeping loyalty from a crew that sees him as too unemotional and unintuitive. But instead, in "That Which Survives", Spock just ended up looking like a jerk. He was just written very differently in this episode than in any other. Didn't seem like him.

Also, how come the computer-generated Losira could exist on the Enterprise, 1000 light years away from the computer generating her?
Sun, Aug 17, 2014, 8:54am (UTC -6)
The Voyager should have gotten the Enterprise's engines... Imagine it: 1.000 lightyears in about a day? Voyager would have been back in a matter of weeks!
William B
Mon, Nov 17, 2014, 3:05pm (UTC -6)
This is one of my favourites of Jammer's "bad episode" reviews -- as usual, funny, and funny in that same kind of way that Roger Ebert's (whom I know Jammer really values) negative reviews are funny.

So, uh...Kirk suggests early on that this is a Ghost Planet, and then it turns out that the planet really is haunted, albeit by a computer-created ghost. Trek has a few episodes like this, where there's something of a gothic fantasy story justified at the last minute by some technobabble; an episode for which this works well is "The Tholian Web," and an episode for which this works terribly is "Sub Rosa." This one isn't quite at "Sub Rosa" depths, because Kirk and Sulu don't end up sleeping with the fake Losira, but it's pretty terrible. Still, I feel like this episode could have worked; the ghostly apparition leading visitors to death becomes something of a trapped spirit, with pale reflections of Losira doomed to live out on the planet for centuries to kill intruders to protect a set of people who will never come. It's sort of poignant if you think about it; the episode's failure is of course, that it fails to present this in an interesting way, and it certainly fails to portray the Losira spirits convincingly as being somewhere between computer program programmed to destroy and Real Person created. (TNG's "The Arsenal of Freedom" does something a little bit similar, this time focusing not so muh on spirits of the dead and more on the tech side of weaponry destroying civilizations and outliving them; and in general it's a far, far better episode.) But hey, it's kind of a cool idea, I think. The sci-fi explanation sort of works -- it's plausible that the computer could create Losiras, I guess, if it's sufficiently advanced -- though it falls apart, as other commenters mentioned, with the idea that it can both launch the Enterprise a thousand light years away and then project a Losira onto that ship. Nor is there an explanation of how the computer cube can produce person-specific cellular poisons and know their names, and so on.

Anyway, there is so little tension in the episode; none of the landing party seem concerned when they believe the ship blew up, nor do any of them remember that they saw Losira kill the transporter chief right when they beamed down until they see another Losira. The stuff on the ground is so inept. My favourite Sulu line is, and I can't believe this actually was said on air, "How can such people be, Captain? Such evil and so, so beautiful." My second favourite is probably his "I don't want to kill a woman!" exclamation. My favourite general concept is the idea of crew members interposing themselves between Losira and her intended victim, and then, once there are three Losiras, Kirk's exclamation, "Shift positions!" so that they stand in a slightly altered permutation of their standing in a line.

The Enterprise stuff is indeed terrible. Spock really is intolerable in this ep, isn't he? Since when does Spock correct every single calculation people say? And Spock of course shuts down anyone who "speculates" or "guesses" and then engages in wild, unreasonable speculation himself. I think the worst Spock episode in the series. Scotty's excitability I usually find cute, but it's really hard to take in this episode, too. Just overall pretty disastrous. 1 star -- mostly for the poignant idea behind the Losira "ghost story."
Sat, Feb 7, 2015, 4:34am (UTC -6)
This one really anticipates a lot of Berman-era features, doesn't it? Technobabble-heavy plot, crawling around in Jeffries tubes, ticking countdown to the technobabble destroying the ship, last second resolution via more technobabble, and of course the Vulcan is an asshole. This must have been Berman's favorite episode.
Sat, Feb 7, 2015, 1:46pm (UTC -6)
Durandal_1707: "This must have been Berman's favorite episode."

You think Berman watched enough TOS to have a favorite episode. That's cute.
Dave in NC
Sun, Feb 8, 2015, 5:32pm (UTC -6)
Grumpy: "You think Berman watched enough TOS to have a favorite episode. That's cute."

OK, that was funny.
Robert of ST-v-SW
Mon, Feb 23, 2015, 9:41am (UTC -6)
The Kalandan defense system beamed a million-ton starship a thousand light-years . . . I'm pretty sure sending in a Catwoman fembot projection afterward was a cakewalk.
Sun, Mar 29, 2015, 11:00pm (UTC -6)
Watching the TOS episodes for the first time, I immediately picked up on Spock's uncharacteristic incessant antagonism in this episode. As a heavy Spock watcher and fan, I found myself defensive at his portrayal in this episode!

I felt that Spock had often, up until this episode, been mostly unwittingly brash when he simply found a character's actions illogical; but in this episode, he seemed to go out of his way to attack the logic of other crew members of the Enterprise.

If only for the misportrayal of Spock, I was terribly annoyed at this episode! It comforts me to know that other fans of the series were similarly upset!
A fellow Kalandan
Tue, Oct 27, 2015, 3:30am (UTC -6)
Until I read your review and some of the comments, I had a high regard for this episode. I still like it but I do see that Spock is a bit of an ass in this one.
Mon, Sep 26, 2016, 2:14am (UTC -6)
You could tell immediately when they beamed down that the blue geologist was doomed, lack of red shirt notwithstanding.

Spock was at his most obnoxious in this episode, needlessly berating his crew and nitpicking at their language and mannerisms. Scotty's a saint for putting up with all that. This is just one more episode explaining why the crew has ample reasons for being uncomfortable when Spock is in charge. Dude either yells at them for no reason or sacrifices them to space cavemen. Or endangers them all because he values the life of the captain over the combined ship and crew. Maybe it was a showcase of why Dr. McCoy is so essential - if he's gone, who's Spock supposed to fight with?

The away team hiding behind each other to evade the 'ghost' was a pretty funny visual. Sulu got some dumb moments but at least he got off the bridge this ep.
Sarak of Vulcan
Sun, Oct 2, 2016, 10:33am (UTC -6)
Someone please explain to me how ejecting Scotty from the Jeffries Tube was going to save the Enterprise? The matter-anti-matter thing was fused or whatever. How does killing Scotty solve this?
Jason R.
Fri, Dec 16, 2016, 5:50am (UTC -6)
I would give this 2.5 stars. There was the foundation for a pretty neat story in there, even if it never really comes together in the end. I liked Losira's portrayal - a being with intellect and purpose but essentially no soul. There was something almost otherworldly about her, like she was some kind of vampire or ghost. I thought she was tragic, and wish (as Kirk muses) that we could have known more about who she was and how she came to this end. I also thought her method of killing her victims, coupled with that weird space "door" effect was legitimately creepy.

That said I acknowledge that the story never really came togetherbin a satisfying way and the it seemed the writers just kind of konkedbout at the end. They really squandered a very compelling premise.
Mon, Jun 5, 2017, 10:30am (UTC -6)
Wow, Spock sure put on his sassy pants this morning!
Mon, Aug 7, 2017, 5:59pm (UTC -6)
I don't think this episode is as bad as Jammer's review makes it out to be. For one, I think the premise of it is pretty good and the episode has decent potential, but the execution of it is weak. It's not at all a "shaking-my-head" hour of TOS.

The idea of an artificial planet set up and defended to welcome a supply ship being guarded by a highly advanced computer system is good. That the Enterprise crew has to solve the mystery before getting killed also works. Also, the portrayal of Losira as something of a ghost (spooky music when she disappears) who doesn't want to kill but is defending her planet is fine too. She and her race have an interesting story. The 2-tier plot is a good structure that wasn't used too much in TOS so having Kirk & co. on the planet with Spock etc. on the Enterprise also has potential.

But here's where things break down. What got into Spock in this episode? I agree with Jammer's assessment here -- you just want to strangle him! And what is that gadget he keeps fiddling with while berating Scotty and others? Sulu had some dumb lines but I thought Kirk was an a-hole toward him when he suggested some theories once they first landed on the planet. Poor writing here.

The episode requires a lot of suspension of disbelief for what the planet's defense system can do -- sending the Enterprise 1000 light years away with an earthquake? Projecting Losira that far and sabotaging the engines? If I'm not mistaken, the warp 14.1 the Enterprise travels at is the fastest it ever went in TOS. And they calculate like 11.5 hours at warp 8-ish to cover the distance. So that's like 80+ light years/hour...

I guess cellular disruption requires a bit less suspension of disbelief -- but then again the show would not want to show what a dead body would look like if all its cells were blown up. Thank God for that.

The other problem is the familiar solution of just phasering the computer. And of course Spock and redshirt arrive just as 3 Losiras are created. The crew seem to find some respect, understanding for Losira -- or at least her beauty (Lee Meriwether was a Miss America winner).

There is a good story to tell here and I still enjoyed this episode enough to give it a solid 2 stars. There are much worse TOS S3 episodes but "That Which Survives" feels like a ball dropped.
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 2:01pm (UTC -6)
Everyone misses the obvious in regards to Spock's attitude in this episode. At the beginning when the ship is hurled 1000 ly's away, Spock hits his head on the Captain's chair. I always saw that as the reason for his strange behavior. Since the episode ends on the artificial planet's surface, it's anyone's guess what occurred on the ship after, hah. That is my theory anyway, take it for what it's worth.
Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 7:39pm (UTC -6)
The following comment by Jammer is the best summation of this episode ever: "That Which Survives" is as close to nothing that you can have on the screen and still have some semblance of a Star Trek episode."
Trek fan
Wed, Dec 6, 2017, 7:43pm (UTC -6)
Hmm, I actually like "That Which Survives," although there are times when I've disliked it. Although the execution feels a bit pedestrian in the shipboard crisis, Lee Meriwether makes a great guest star for the mysterious Losira, and I like the way the mystery resolves in a nifty high concept. I give it 3 stars.

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

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

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

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

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

Overall, a good episode for me despite these flaws, and I'll still take it any day over more than half the Trek episodes that appeared post-DS9 and pre-Discovery.
Mon, Dec 18, 2017, 4:04pm (UTC -6)
Pointless observation: this episode invented the disco cube. Watch until the end...
Thu, Mar 22, 2018, 10:21pm (UTC -6)
"telling Scotty to forego emotionalism"

forego: to go before
forgo: to do without
Fri, Mar 23, 2018, 3:41pm (UTC -6)
"Forego" is a valid variant spelling of "forgo" -- one I happen to prefer.
Mon, May 7, 2018, 3:32pm (UTC -6)
While the idea is cool, this is the absolutely one of the worst written TV shows of any type I have ever seen. Whoever did the writing had to have been like 12 years old. Everyone cuts off everyone and insults everyone's dialogue. "I suggest" is so ridiculously overused.
Peter G.
Mon, Oct 29, 2018, 6:57pm (UTC -6)
This episode has so much I don't know where to start. On the one hand one is tempted to call it weak because of the bland, featureless planet set, or perhaps because the characterization of the "villain" is so nondescript. And yet these features are intentional and not a sign of poor decision-making. Maybe there were budgetary concerns, but only TOS could turn a lackluster set and make the scenes feel eerie. The lack of any interesting surroundings makes the place feel fake, and that entirely contributes to the atmosphere. And the intruder is so alien and weird that we don't even have the benefit of being scared or impressed by her; she's just bizarre.

But aside from these technical points here's what That Which Survives has strongly in its favor:

-Many prominent guest spots, where new actors get entire scenes to themselves. That's a great thing! And the doctor and geologist were pretty good, too.
-A lot of interactions with crew members who don't often interact: lots of stuff for Sulu, which is sorely needed in the series, and several Spock/Scotty scenes which are always nice. Chekhov seems to be missing, though, which is too bad.
-Spock is showing exceptional snark here, interpreting lines that a boring actor would read as bland facts (that Scotty sitting on the engines would be undignified) and turns them into very overt shows that Spock has been deliberately trying to employ humor in his interactions with others as part of his command style. This is a huge turn from his attitude in The Galileo Seven.

Spock's stuff is especially interesting because if the series has gone on for more than 3 seasons I bet we'd be seeing this in hindsight as a slow character arc where his behavior changes over time. Because of how things turned out this process got truncated and over 4 feature films we see that progress instead, where in TMP he begins it and says that logic is not enough.

Overall the style of writing character interactions in this one is quite lively, and stays serious despite hovering around a sense of fun. I think that several S3 episodes began to develop the exciting dynamic that this talented cast was capable of, and it's a shame that the series was in transition as these new show features were being introduced. If this could only have sustained more seasons I think we'd have seen marvelous things develop. I certainly am not one of those who thinks that S3 is weak. I think it continues to develop how this show should play, and is overall and improvement over previous seasons despite obvious production difficulties. If it had continued this would have shown as a transitional period, like TNG's S2. But since it stopped it ends up looking like a dip, while I don't think it is. Some of the show's best episodes are in this season, despite some of the plots having to make do with limited resources. But imagine if TNG ended after S2? It would look basically like the show was confused, having a few winners, many weird episodes, and overall we might have supposed it was on the decline. But not so, as we know in hindsight.
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 9:35am (UTC -6)
@ Peter G.,

I've always had a soft spot for this episode. I totally agree with you that there is much merit to this episode (Jammer's TOS reviews/ratings are very much hit and miss and he misses it here).

"TOS could turn a lackluster set and make the scenes feel eerie." This is so true. Look at "Spectre of the Gun". The cheap-ass set works here and in this episode.

But I don't think this episode is consistent with Spock's character development, even as it relates to him being in command. He is just plain out of character here -- maybe the bump to his head has something to do with it. He has been repeatedly challenged when in command "The Galileo Seven", "The Tholian Web" come to mind but I don't think he should be more aggressive with his denouncement of others' input here. I think the character interactions for Kirk, Sulu, Spock are where this episode suffers greatly not to mention phasering the disco cube as the ending resolution. I can't see it better than a 2* episode.

The other thing is I get the sense people shit on TOS S3 far too much. I don't think it is weak either (it's not strong, though). It's really a few stinkers that drag it down. It has excellent outings like "The Empath" "The Enterprise Incident" and "All Our Yesterdays". But for me, there is a noticeable dip in quality from TOS S1 and S2 (the 2 best seasons in the Trek cannon) and S3. And (after careful consideration) I'd posit that, for example, TNG S1, S2, S6, S7 are worse and TNG S5 is barely better than TOS S3. Yes, I will always lament that TOS stopped after 3 seasons...Still remains the best Trek for me.
Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 11:23pm (UTC -6)
Fun episode, not great
UHURA: What happened?
SPOCK: The occipital area of my head seems to have impacted with the chair.
UHURA: No, Mister Spock. I meant what happened to us?
SPOCK: That we have yet to ascertain.
Tue, Jun 4, 2019, 9:27am (UTC -6)
Spock was noticeably different in this one, though I thought that was kinda fun and one of the best aspects of the episode. Sometimes people have bad days, are more irritable and critical than usual - I didn't see this portrayal as an . . . impossible version of Spock. It was cranky Spock.

I liked seeing a bit more of Sulu.

The story itself - an OK premise, not great on the execution.


(I'm truly dragging myself through these final eps. But I do plan to get through them.)
Sarjenka's Brother
Sat, Aug 17, 2019, 3:46am (UTC -6)
Lt. Raddah: "What a bunch of *itches on this ship. If we survive, I'm getting a transfer."
Mon, Oct 28, 2019, 8:05pm (UTC -6)
H&I network has been showing TOS nightly, I’m enjoying it tremendously, even after so many viewings since it was first broadcast. It’s the best show ever, with great ensemble acting, fantastic vision and smart concepts. At this point even the bad episodes seem good to me - including That Which Survives. Star Trek TOS survives, and that is great.
Thu, Apr 30, 2020, 11:27am (UTC -6)
Really one of the top ten worst TOS episodes. Thought so watching reruns as a kid in the 1970’s and confirmed now. Totally ridiculous plot and over the top poor acting. Yikes!
Fri, Jul 3, 2020, 10:56am (UTC -6)
I felt like Spock was, while certainly different, not exactly out of character in this episode. It was almost like a satirized version of him. He corrects someone's number almost every episode, we just saw it more frequently here. Same for his comments about feels and guesses, despite engaging in speculation himself.

But this was absolutely the most fun I had watching Spock. He has so many great quotes, "not only illogical, but unworthy of refute" being my favorite.
Thu, Nov 12, 2020, 2:34pm (UTC -6)
Weird how they just bury D'Amato under a pile of rocks. You'd think they could take him back to the ship and store him for a proper funeral.
JJ Not Abrams 8-)
Fri, Dec 11, 2020, 1:05am (UTC -6)
Anyone notice that what happened to Losira and the
Kalandans seems eerily like Covid, especially how
the disease was spread to their entire interstellar
society via the trade routes ... yikes.

Add a star for Lee Meriwether please.

Like a door opening and closing ... can we get to 2021
and get past Covid asap?
Wed, Jan 20, 2021, 2:49am (UTC -6)
That Which Survives

Star Trek season 3 episode 17

"Mister Sulu, if I'd wanted a Russian history lesson, I'd have brought along Mister Chekov.”

- Kirk

2 stars (out of 4)

Slow to start, this episode picks up about two-thirds of the way through and actually lands at a fairly mediocre level, with the effect that, over all, it is not nearly as bad as @Jammer makes it out to be.

Part of what really works are the interesting ideas. One such idea is the kill-by-touch that is programmed for only one particular person. TNG picked this up in "The Vengeance Factor.”

This leads to one of the most amusing scenes in the episode, as @Trek fan calls it, the “shuffle dance” when Kirk, Bones and Sulu have to protect each other against three killer fembots.

Another great idea was the last lone guardian of an ancient civilization. Again TNG picked this up in “The Last Outpost.”

And there is the the ability to fling the Enterprise hundreds of light years away, seen again as a planetary defense mechanism on TNG in “When the Bough Breaks.”

What really drags the episode down is Spock’s surly attitude. @hifijohn picks out the key line of dialogue, where Uhura and Spock talk about how he bumped his head. But after Spock’s disastrous turn at command in “Galileo Seven,” the near mutiny he faces in “Tholian,” and driving himself to the edge in “Paradise Syndrome,” I was not entertained by yet another “Spock is bad at command” episode. That said, it goes a long way towards explaining why Spock never got a ship of his own. He sucks at leading people.

In sum, I agree with @Rahul that this one is not nearly as bad as @Jammer makes it out to be.

Not great, even a little below average, but given the screen time we get for Sulu, Rahda (back after “Triskelion” and competent as ever), Scotty (who gets a very nice sequence to work with his hands), the return of Dr. M’benga (back after “Private Little War” - if only he had slapped Spock here too!), and of course “Lucky” D’Amato, it would be a shame to skip this one merely because of some questionable scoring by our esteemed host.
Sat, Feb 6, 2021, 9:05pm (UTC -6)
Boy, Spock is in a mood today. I’ll bet the Bridge crew were relieved when that shift was over... These days he’d earn himself a chat with The HR Lady!

Of course then again he’s been out on patrol all week with some serious dip$hits.
Di’Amato lets an alien get into close quarters with him ‘cause she says “Don’t be afraid...”?

And Watkins. Watkins Watkins Watkins. Did you learn nothing during the Starfleet Security Course? Strange Lady in a restricted area with no ID Badge visible, and you start chatting her up?

And Sulu all of a sudden starts asking stupid questions about everything.

And Kirk just letting the purple diva grim reaper just tap him on the shoulder?

No wonder Spock has had it with these clowns...

Star Trek is awesome. It was totally dumbed down so the whole family could watch it.
That’s probably why we loved it as kids and are still talking about it...
Sat, Feb 6, 2021, 9:59pm (UTC -6)
Oops sorry Spock. I was too dumb to get that you where out of sorts because you got a knock on your Vulcan noggin. Any kid back then who had watched Gilligan’s Island would have figured that out...
Sat, May 15, 2021, 2:47am (UTC -6)
A ridiculously pedantic Spock is simply the most irritating feature of an awful episode. Probably the worst ever. No more needs to be said.

No stars.
Sun, May 16, 2021, 2:56am (UTC -6)
"That Which Survives" is as close to nothing that you can have on the screen and still have some semblance of a Star Trek episode."

More like 'That Which Airs This Week' eh 😏
Sat, Jun 26, 2021, 10:11am (UTC -6)
The only redeeming quality of this episode was the appearance of another Uber hottie in Lee Meriwether. This episode seemed awfully flat, you’d think there would have been much more urgency on the Enterprise. The ide of a computer defense system was good but the episode was overall lacking. I’d give it a D.
Tue, Oct 19, 2021, 9:17pm (UTC -6)
I was originally glad to see some of the guest actors actually get some lines to speak, but then it was obvious that all of them were going to die soon. I know the running gag about red shirts, but the crew dies in almost every episode just to show off the danger of the enemy of the week. So in a nutshell, TOS is the Kirk, Spock, and McCoy show (and Scotty eventually became the 4th), with Chekov, Uhura, and Sulu as wallpaper, and a throwaway guest cast used as cannon fodder.
Mon, Nov 8, 2021, 4:11am (UTC -6)
A little clunky, and whoever wrote Spock's lines, as a friend of mine aptly put it, "was just a dillweed".
Nevertheless, All that Survives has an eerie vibe which I really like, and even today the visual effect of Losira's disappearances is rather cool, along with that strang vocal accompaniment. Poor D' least the last thing he saw was Lee Meriwether coming gently in his direction. The final speech was moving and I agree with Kirk, that "Beauty endures."
Mon, Apr 4, 2022, 6:42pm (UTC -6)
An intruder suddenly appears in engineering and the guy just calmly stands there having a conversation with her instead of immediately alerting security. That's some fine training there. Yes, Spock was extremely obnoxious in this episode, it's too bad you can't tell your commander to shut up. I think if I were Scottie I'd have told him to go jump out of an airlock, especially if I thought I was about to die anyway. I don't know what they were going for with Spock's behavior, humor maybe? Whatever it was they failed spectacularly. The "ancient computer almost killing the crew" idea is wearing really thin at this point also.
Wed, May 18, 2022, 7:57am (UTC -6)
I watched this again last night for the first time in probably 35 years. I’d forgotten the plot completely. High points were Lee Meriwether and the use of new crew members in expanded rolls. The low point was definitely Mr Spock’s dialogue and the lack of tension on both the Enterprise and the planet surface. Warp speed inconsistencies and technobabble ruled. I felt the cast made the best of a poor script. I didn’t mind the cheap planetary set as I have a thing for the old series’ production values. I agree season three has low points but I also think it had some of the most thought-provoking and enjoyable episodes. But this wasn’t one of them!
Wed, Aug 10, 2022, 6:13pm (UTC -6)
Things that bugged me about this episode:

* Spock was taking everything people said literally, almost misinterpreting things on purpose. This has already been discussed to death here.

* Kirk seemed to have all the answers down on the planet. Why did he even bother with the other members of the landing party? He could have done it all himself.

It's as if they had a different screenwriter that week.

* When Spock and redshirt (Lemli?) beam down, Kirk yells, "Spock! The computer! Destroy it!" Then Lemli shoots the cube.

How did Spock know the lighted cube was the computer? How did Lemli know? Lemli shot the cube with no prompting or guidance from Spock or Kirk. Anyway, that always bothered me.

My favorite parts were Scotty doing awesome engineering stuff on the ship (Spock's histrionics notwithstanding). And Lee Meriwether, of course.
Sun, Aug 28, 2022, 6:41pm (UTC -6)
I think the review is a little harsh, although I admit when I watch it now I am channeling some of my childhood memories. Back in the 70s, I couldn't yet quite appreciate the sex appeal of Lee Meriwether but I remember liking the "pretty lady." And I thought her teleportation - turning into a flat line - was REALLY cool.

Upon recent viewing, it is kind of stupid how sloppy the crew is about avoiding Losira's touch. They stay WAY too close. And on the flip side, Losira doesn't really make a good effort (although that could be explained by Kirk's final speech, that the computer programed Losira's guilt into the replicants.)

I do agree with the Spock comments - he's just a jerk to everyone.
Sean J Hagins
Thu, Sep 29, 2022, 12:20am (UTC -6)
I actually have to agree with Stubb (the first commenter) here. I think it may be hard to view these episodes for what they were now with people being so jaded and television changing. As a kid, this episode scared me also! In a good way-it was captivating. The idea of a touch for a specific person, and the eerie chorus music when the computer girl "beams" away as well as the odd and effective special effect was chilling!

I still get chills remembering how this affected little kid me 40 years ago! But I grew up on stuff like classic Star Trek (and next Generation a bit later), classic Dr Who (the 3rd and 4th doctors especially) and the Twilight Zone. Scary stuff, but not inappropriate/indecent like much TV today
Sat, Oct 1, 2022, 8:37pm (UTC -6)
I rather like this one too.

I'm sure I also saw this about 40 years ago. I don't remember being scared, but I sure might have been. I still find it pretty effectively creepy when the lady appears, particularly in engineering.

And though there are some writing issues, that scene was well written and played. The engineer is alarmed but doesn't immediately panic. He reacts appropriately by lying to her and then yells to the others when it's clear she's a serious danger.

I also thought the effect of the lady disappearing was surprisingly nifty. It's very effective for the era and looks digital. The dancing planet set was surprising. A bit goofy but doesn't look cheap for the time.

The biggest problem to me is the writing of Spock. He's a non stop twat. Though I bet I liked him here when I was 12 :).
Ms Spock
Thu, Dec 1, 2022, 4:21pm (UTC -6)
There are some weaknesses. The main issue is that Spock reverts to being as clueless about humans as in 'The Galileo Seven'. In another s3 episode a bit before this - must be 'The Tholian Web' - Spock shows how he has grown as a commander, how he has a much better understanding of human psychology - he welcomes both Uhura and Chekhov when they return to duty and says they were keenly missed etc - and generally is no longer making the mistakes he did earlier. In other episodes also, he obviously understands and makes allowances for human idioms. In the present episode, he seems to have taken a huge step back and is taking everything people say literally, something he doesn't do in most other episodes. So that was downright weird writing.

Weird also is having an engineer who tries to lie to an obvious alien invader rather than immediately yell to Scotty that there's an intruder onboard. When he does yell, what he says is absolutely ridiculous and it would've been much better to have had him yell about there being an intruder, Scotty running in and being just in time to see Losira disappear, to get over the issue of how they would know a woman had come aboard. When does she get a moment to fry the panel anyway?

I also wonder why Scott didn't check the controls in the area where the murder took place and find the sabotage much earlier. And the scene with him in the crawl way becomes muddled because they are doing a countdown of how long they have before the ship blows up yet it sort of becomes a countdown to how long before Scotty has to be ejected from the ship - that would be rather immaterial since the whole ship would have blown up by that point. The only reason for having the ejection device there was if his adjustment went wrong and was going to trigger the explosion earlier.

Positive aspects are a woman at the helm, Scotty saving the day, Sulu being given more to do, Losira being a strong competent commander of an outpost - makes you wonder what kind of society she came from. Kirk's a bit sexist asking her at one point whether there men there as if he can't believe a woman could be running the place. Her society might have been female dominated or have had parity between the sexes. Anyway, her obviously torn nature when she is questioned and her personality starts to come through is poignant, and on the whole I like the episode - if only they hadn't miswritten Spock I would like it a lot more.
Sat, Jan 7, 2023, 5:49pm (UTC -6)
Perhaps more than any other TOS episode, this one feels like the basic concepts came from one writer, and the screenplay from someone else, someone who never read the style guide. So, we get interesting ideas struggling to overcome poor execution. A lonely outpost, medical assistance that will never arrive, the desperation of the last person (Losira?) who leaves things running on automatic, a computer that actually has some compassion. Those good possibilities are burdened by a pedantic Spock, crew members who ask lots of stupid questions, and a mishandled Jefferies tube countdown.

Of Scotty's race against the bloomin' cuckoo clock in the Jefferies tube, it feels like an introductory scene was cut. Without such an intro, Scotty's repeated "Push the button!" request becomes so incongruous that for years a friend and I have jokingly recited it anytime something gets stuck. Since this button is never described, viewers are left wondering what Scotty means when instead they should be immersed in the scene's suspense. Worse, this could-be-great scene ends with a pedantic lecture from Spock.

Nomad would be all over the distracting non sequiturs, such as this exchange: "LOSIRA: I am from here. SULU: Then the planet is hollow!" And, "LOSIRA: Only Sulu. I mean you no harm.
KIRK: Are there men on this planet?"

Or, the appreciative Captain, "SULU: Captain, I was making a standard magnetic sweep. From zero, I suddenly got a reading that was off the scale. Then, a reverse of polarity and now I get nothing. I've never seen anything like this reading. Like a door opened and then closed again. KIRK: Kirk out."

Near the end we get, "KIRK: Spock, the computer! Destroy it!" and a redshirt immediately phasers the disco cube, apparently one that had "computer" stenciled on its side.

With repeated viewing, many positives emerge, especially the use of crew members outside their perfunctory roles. Bonus points go to the set designers for making the rocks actually move relative to the rest of the set during the planetquake. With AI animation to ease the task, I think small modifications could convert That Which Survives into one of the best third-season entries.
Peter G.
Wed, Jan 18, 2023, 10:52pm (UTC -6)
This is another episode where I have to beg to disagree with probably everyone. I think it's a suitably creepy episode, using S3's typical eerie atmosphere to good effect, and even the sound effect of Losira teleporting is uncomfortable. We get a lot of good crew interactions, great scenes with Scotty in all sorts of distress and heroism, and Spock perhaps at his best. Yes, you heard correctly - at his best. A lot of the dialogue in the episode is stylized and strange, and I think it's intentional. Maybe not intentional in the sense that the writing intends to make people sound different than normal (i.e. wrong) but intentional in the sense that they wanted to explore some new types of interactions.

For example, Spock in command of the Enterprise, possibly for good, and exercises his own values to critique the reactions of the crew. Despite what other viewers feel, I never felt like he was being a jerk. Or rather, I suspect those reactions suggest that people IRL would find any Vulcan to be a jerk. Spock is just acting like a Vulcan who's in command and knows he has the authority and even obligation to try to improve his crew's performance. In Galileo Seven we see a less experienced Spock unsure of how to command humans, not knowing how they'll react to logic. Here he seems far more comfortable, even sure of himself, and takes several occasions to caution the crew about making unfounded assumptions, expressing emotion instead of making an efficient report, and being worried when what they should be doing is working. You know what, he's not wrong. Scotty did waste a bit of time kvetching instead of working, even though he did pull through in the end. Even in the face of Spock having to jettison Scotty's tube into space, seemingly without concern, we do also know that Spock gave him every last second, maybe even a few more. Kirk wouldn't have done any better for him than that. Spock also opted to use their remaining 15 minutes in study of the problem rather than scrambling people frantically. Not that Kirk would have lost control, but Spock was nevertheless in full control and handled everything splendidly. Is it so far-fetched to suppose that he in fact did employ optimal methods, and feels the effectiveness of the humans could do with following his example? There may be something to that. And amidst all this, we may note that he was still quite polite in his manner of giving orders.

Aside from the interesting and offbeat Spock scenes, we also get a bizarre twilight-zone episode on the planet's surface, which I think is plenty engaging. Sulu also gets lots of time, which is a plus. And the fact of Losira stumbling as she tries to explain and even remember what she's doing is very interesting. For once it's the opposite of a malevolent mindless computer system, as it did in fact include traces of her morality in her replicas. And the last line of the episode, which I never picked up on before, is amazing:

KIRK: The computer was too perfect. It projected so much of Losira's personality into the replica that it felt regret, guilt, at killing. That bought us the time we needed to destroy it. She must have been a remarkable woman.
MCCOY: And beautiful.
SPOCK: Beauty is transitory, Doctor. However, she was evidently highly intelligent.
KIRK: Kirk to Enterprise. Five to beam up. I don't agree with you, Mister Spock.
SPOCK: Indeed, Captain?
KIRK: Beauty survives.

Because their race is dead and there is no reason to continue the defenses of the outpost, there is truly no intelligence at work here. Losira's intelligence could only exist so long as she existed. The computer is just a set of operations that understand nothing. But her beauty did in fact persist, in those traces of her morality that made the replicas hesistate. What Kirk is saying is that what made her 'human' survived her, even though her mind and body were long gone, and that this element would continue to live on in their memory of her. The beauty of her values would indeed be immortal, and of much greater value than her intelligence. So perhaps this serves as a counterpoint to Spock's suggestions about the primacy of logic earlier on the ship, that what remains immortally isn't the logic but the humanity, the value for life. There's more here than the script has time for, but what it hints at is truly interesting.
Thu, Mar 16, 2023, 12:23pm (UTC -6)
I definitely remember fragments of this from boyhood. The three copies of the killer projection, and most especially the disappearing special effect. (c.f. Stanger in a Strange Land where the disappearing person seems to grow distant regardless or which direction the observer is).

Very silly defense mechanism.

Why did transporter guy not need a preprogrammed killer projection?

A **very** poor representation of Spock.

And yet, I didn't hate it.

Sun, Jul 9, 2023, 2:18am (UTC -6)
Some here have remarked on the writing, saying it could've been better! It went through many changes. The Memory Alpha Fandom website says D.C. Fontana wrote the story outline; then it was revised; then it went through a second revision; then John Meredyth Lucas did the first draft of the teleplay; he did a second draft; then Arthur Singer did the final draft and additional page revisions; then Fred Freiberger did a revised final draft and additional page revisions. Then it was filmed.

The site says, "D.C. Fontana was so frustrated with how her story premise had been altered that she removed her name from the script and used her "Michael Richards" pen name as the byline for its story instead."

By that time, Fontana was writing scripts for the show only on a freelance basis. Co-producer Bob Justman wrote he was unhappy about the show's loss of quality, that the rewriting process "diluted" excitement in the scripts, and Gene Roddenberry was no longer overseeing the writing process: this latter point is probably important. Justman wrote that the studio was more concerned about the show's budget. After filming of this episode, Justman left the show. This is all my paraphrasing.
Mon, Jul 10, 2023, 7:31am (UTC -6)
Personally, I really like this one. I think that it's an interesting story that could have been even better with a little less Spock snark. Hell, even Kirk got on the jerk train. Of course, Sulu and his dopey questions didn't help. Poor writing there. I liked getting a few other characters involved and developed. Lee Meriwether makes a fine showing as Losira and some new special effects were cool too. Looking back at it, it's a good thing the ship was traveling at the speed that it was or they never would have got back to the planet in time to save the day.
Fri, Aug 11, 2023, 1:55pm (UTC -6)
There’s a very good idea at the heart of this episode. Unfortunately the execution is a bit lacking. The concept of Losira programming the defense computer with herself as it’s model, only to have her projection hamstring it’s ability to preform it’s task due to the more noble aspects of her personality shining through that programming is a very interesting and cool premise. It reminds me of The Ultimate Computer in that Losira’s character can be explored through the actions of her creation. The problem is that in the Ultimate Computer, Daystrom was thoroughly laid out as a character and thus we as the audience were given a lot of avenues of thought to work with, but here, we don’t learn enough about Losira or the defense computer to get the full effect of the core idea. In this sense, the mystery element of the story works against its ultimate aim. Only in the last few minutes are we confronted with the larger issues the story implies. As a result, much of the episode has a confusing flow and doesn’t seem to really come together. Which is too bad. Kirk’s final line that “beauty survives” is a pretty big idea, but the episode just doesn’t give us enough to really dig into it.

A few other observations:
-Spock hits his head which apparently knocks him into sassy-pants mode, making a lot of the Enterprise stuff far less enjoyable than it could have been.
-It’s great to see a variety of guest characters who are more than just redshirt cannon fodder. Lt Radha in particular comes across as competent and smart.
-There’s a mention of a Dr Sanchez, indicating a larger medical infrastructure than is normally seen on the Enterprise, a nice touch.
-Continuity alert! In addition to the return of M’Benga and Radha, McCoy mentions Janus VI and the “silicone creatures” which is a direct reference to Devil in the Dark.
-Scotty gets some heroics amongst his usual histrionics, and all without a single mention of his latent drinking problem. I particularly liked the moments when Scotty snarks back at Spock, cuckoo clock indeed.

Overall not a bad episode, but not a great one either. Decent potential, but I suspect it to be a casualty of the third season curse of budgetary restriction and creative turmoil.

2/4 cool vertical line transporter effects.
Mr. Jimny
Sun, Aug 13, 2023, 8:01pm (UTC -6)
Probably the best 3rd season episode, and one of the best of the series.

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