Star Trek: The Original Series

“All Our Yesterdays”

3.5 stars.

Air date: 3/14/1969
Written by Jean Lisette Aroeste
Directed by Marvin Chomsky

Review Text

As the end of the rambling final season draws near, along comes "All Our Yesterdays" to rebuild some of the series' dignity. In a genuinely inspired story concept, the people of a planet whose sun is going supernova are escaping death by transporting themselves into the past.

The site of the time jump is an intriguing "library" run by the pervasively indispensable Mr. Atoz (Ian Wolfe), who maintains an urgency that's as believable as it is humorous. Kirk ends up accidentally jumping into the past, where his attempts to return to the present land him in jail, accused as a witch. Upon trying to follow and locate Kirk, Spock and McCoy find themselves sent into the planet's ice age. Spock begins to undergo an emotional change, as being sent so far into the past has caused the ancient undisciplined side of Vulcan to emerge. Spock's situation allows him the rare opportunity to fall in love with the banished Zarabeth (Mariette Hartley), but also reveals the hidden darkness of Vulcans that is buried beneath the logic, intellect, and control.

This episode is enjoyable as a character study and as an efficiently flowing story. It's entertaining, nicely crafted, and leaves one pondering the "what ifs" when it ends.

Previous episode: The Savage Curtain
Next episode: Turnabout Intruder

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61 comments on this post

    Although the 3rd season was a not Star Trek at its best, I still find the penultimate episode, "All Our Yesterdays" one of the most moving and interesting. Especially moving is when Spock comments that Zarabeth is dead and has been for 5,000 years. He shows no emotion yet one can still see the memory of the emotion he experienced when he traveled back in time. Perfect Spock moment and one of my finest memories of the show.

    I've recently watched several S3 episodes on Joost, and been very pleasantly surprised by their quality, given that season's dismal reputation. The standouts noted above -- "The Empath" (can't watch that one without nearly breaking down), "Tholian Web," "The Enterprise Incident," and "All Our Yesterdays," particularly -- are among the best in the series. But even in the midst of dreck like "The Way to Eden," and indifferently written stories like "Elaan of Troyius," the cast -- particularly the leads -- still do very good work, as if determined by professional pride not to let a bad script and a network's dismissive contempt get to them. Those guys were GOOD, even when given sub-par or even atrocious material to work with.

    I agree. This is a good fun episode, with an intriguing premise, and IMO easily the best episode of the third season. BTW, Jammer did you or anyone else notice something interesting about Mr. Atoz? A-to-Z

    Honestly at this point I am just about fed up with those instant love stories that make the captain, the doctor and now the science officer want to leave their lives, their centuries, their friends behind for a scantily-clad woman they've known all of two hours. Too bad none of TOS' main crew ever got to have a healthy normal romantic relationship with a member of the opposite sex - maybe this is why they hooked Spock up with Uhura in the new movies. Those men act like they've never seen a woman before, much less been in an actual relationship with one.

    No, I didn't like this episode. But maybe that's because I just want to be done with the disaster that is TOS season 3.

    This is a great episode with a great concept, but one thing bugs me. The Enterprise arrives at Sarpeidon to "warn" the inhabitants that their sun is about to go supernova in like twenty minutes. First there's the implicit paternalism implied in "the Sarpeidonites can't possibly have figured this out on their own, so they need us to tell them." Second and more important -- warn the populace that their sun is going kablooey in about twenty minutes? Seriously? The Enterprise crew doesn't know about the time travel schtick, so what would be accomplished by "warning" the inhabitants of the coming disaster except worldwide panic?

    I quite like this episode as well. I know that Leonard Nimoy said that season three was a weak season overall and particularly weak for Spock, and it's hard to argue with that assessment of a season that contains "Spock's Brain." Still, some of the strongest episodes this season are Spock-focused, with Kirk consigned either to the action-adventure B-plot to Spock's emotional A-plot (this, "The Enterprise Incident") or taken out of the episode for long stretches nearly completely ("The Tholian Web"). Giving Kirk an action-adventure/suspense subplot, as happens here, with little emotional weight besides the question of whether Kirk can escape, both keeps the episode moving at a fast pace while the Spock/McCoy plot moves fairly deliberately, and also provides contrast. We know how hard it is for Kirk to get out of his predicament, the wheeling and dealing and punching and whatnot he has to do, and how he has to deal with both the past and with Mr. Atoz. However, this just serves to emphasize how much harder what Spock and McCoy have to do is: emotional difficulty, rather than physical. The Kirk plot also contains some comic relief; I especially like the shot of Atoz trying to cart an unconscious Kirk through the portal.

    The real emotional core of the episode is the Spock/McCoy/Zarabeth story. Criticism out of the way first: I've always found the idea that Spock would retreat to pre-modern levels of Vulcan emotional control dubious. It would be one thing if he were "prepared" for going to the past, the way we are told Atoz can (and is supposed to) do. (Aside: this thing is handled pretty inconsistently in the episode; does Atoz "prepare" Kirk before going to send him through a portal, for example, and if so does that mean Kirk can't stay in the present? Why can Spock and McCoy stay in the past if they weren't "prepared"? What kind of "preparation" is this, anyway? It's clearly a plot device to force Zarabeth to "have to" stay in the past, and to provide a reason for Kirk to return to the present. I will accept it as such, I guess.) But Spock is not physically or internally changed by the move into the past. And even if he were physically changed in some way, Vulcan discipline is not a matter of physical parts of the brain but of regular practice and teaching. The way I tend to fanwank it is that it has to do with the mysterious, somewhat inconsistent Vulcan telepathy. We know, for instance, that Spock can feel the deaths of a Vulcan crew from light years away (from "The Immunity Syndrome"), and so by the same mysterious, improbable process, I could believe that the collective barbarism of the entire Vulcan species on his homeworld might reach him somehow.

    Spock getting the chance to experience emotions, including love, and having it ripped away, were covered in "This Side of Paradise," and so this episode could feel redundant. Still, "TSOP's" spectrum of emotions as experienced by Spock (and the others) were extremely narrow, and I think it's fair to say that, joy or not, it's not much of a life. Spock is given here the chance to have the complete range of emotions, including the darker, angrier impulses that are even more powerful and more suppressed. When Spock says to McCoy, "I don't like that. I don't think I ever did," the temptation to let go of his propriety and express his anger pushes through pretty strongly. And in spite of Spock and McCoy's genuine closeness, it's hard to say that McCoy doesn't deserve some of Spock's anger (if not to a murderous degree!) at this point. The temptation to stay is in some senses greater here than it was in "TSOP," because the happy spores in "TSOP" more or less induced a euphoric state, whereas in this episode aspects of Spock's deeper desires, for good and ill, are unlocked; it feels quite natural.

    And so id comes raging in: sex, meat, rage -- and having these natural inclinations and denying them all the time means having those restraints suddenly, dramatically lifted feels good. Further, McCoy of all people acting as the "voice of reason" makes it easy for Spock to ignore him for quite some time; it's very easy to believe that McCoy's rampant emotionality renders any of his judgments on Spock's behaviour, when Spock is veering toward the "irrational," easy to dismiss. McCoy and Spock's dynamic, then, is reversed. That Spock basically has to listen to McCoy, and then eventually has to return to the present because the two of them went through the portal together, reinforces the connectedness of these two. The two can't fully exist without the other; they can exist without Kirk, but they need each other, at least to a degree, in order to function, which is what "The Tholian Web" stated as well and what will continue into the movies. Spock and McCoy switching roles as a result of the time jump allows for Spock to get something of a handle on McCoy's usual frustration and for McCoy to see more clearly than usual what his constant berating of Spock must do to him, as well as a recognition of what it is that Spock's insistence on logic and propriety keeps at bay.

    The romance between Spock and Zarabeth works for me, despite the short running time, because of the "unlocking" of Spock's emotions as imposed by the episode's plot, and because she really is quite beautiful. I do think that this makes the romance in "The Cloud Minders" seem particularly silly, since part of this episode relies on the recognition that having a real, open-hearted emotional relationship is extremely difficult for Spock, perhaps all the more so because he's half human and doesn't have the security in his Vulcan training that pure Vulcans have. For Game of Thrones viewers, something about this dynamic reminded me of Jon Snow and Ygritte, Zarabeth as a guide to life on the margins, away from what Spock had thought of as "civilization," which also happens to be a place where Spock will never quite feel at home. With Zarabeth, the ultimate outcast, alone in the middle of nowhere and deep in the past, Spock might have been able to "be himself," whatever that means, without fear of judgment, even judgment from himself. He also might eventually have killed her in a rage on their first lovers' quarrel. And ultimately, as much as he still feels like an outcast on the Enterprise, with McCoy in particular not really understanding him...he does belong there at least to an extent.

    I think it's a strong outing and one which, I agree, allows the series to end with some dignity. 3.5 stars.

    OH MY F'IN GARD! Could these guys take any friggin' longer to beam the hell out of there? Holy Christmess! I was screaming at the TV, "BEAM UP ALREADY!" They had me wishing they would have disintegrated in the supernova and that be the end of Star Trek forever. "Get us out of here, Scotty!" "It's too late, Captain!" WHAAAAM!

    Wonderful episode with some marvellous Nimoy line readings.

    A wonderful episode -- kind of like "The City on the Edge of Forever" but for Spock. It is a Spock-focused episode but really about the bond between McCoy and the Vulcan with a reversed dynamic. Kirk really has a secondary role to play here.

    Pretty interesting premise although with time travel there tends to be some loopholes. The idea of being prepared to go to whatever time period is a bit loosely dealt with. Presumably Kirk would have been prepared when Atoz attempted to shove him through the portal, so what does that do about him staying in the present time?

    The other loose end is that when the star supernovas, won't it destroy the atavachron on the planet thus destroying all the past as well? Shouldn't the atavachron need to be running in order for the past to still exist? Another minor nitpick would be that Spock is supposed to be more susceptible to cold than McCoy yet it is the doctor who suffers far worse from the cold.

    In any case, this is a terrific episode for seeing the range of emotions Spock goes through and more excellent acting from Nimoy. McCoy is the voice of reason/logic whereas Spock is emotional -- gets angry, falls in love.

    The romance between Spock and Zarabeth comes on fairly quickly -- it didn't build as nicely and as naturally as Kirk/Keeler in "tCotEoF" but it still works. Spock is highly emotional, Zarabeth is very lonely (and beautiful and accommodating). The ending where Spock says she's been dead for 5000 years is a touching moment -- McCoy knows what he felt. In a way, it is a bit like Kirk saying "Let's get the hell out of here" at the end of "tCotEoF" -- there's a lot of emotion he's trying to get over after seeing Keeler get run over by a car.

    3.5 stars for "All our Yesterdays" -- the penultimate TOS episode is a winner. May not be considered one of the Star Trek classics but there's plenty to like about this especially that Spock/McCoy bond and how they go through the time portal together and return together. Definitely one of the best episodes of S3 TOS.

    The notion that travelling far back in time reverts Spock to the state that Vulcans of that time were in is like suggesting that a human travelling back to the Jurassic era would become a dinosaur.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I also liked the character actors in the 1700's type era Kirk lands in. That whole dimension and the characters in it (the woman accusing Kirk of witchcraft, the magistrate, and the jailer) was very well done.

    Trekfan, William and Rahul said it all and said it well. This is one of the highlights of season 3, and ably blends a great SF concept with good character work. And like most episodes which place Bones and Spock alone together, it's packed with touching gestures of friendship.

    Am I the only finding irritating that
    - the portal is disguised as a door exiting the library , making it extremely easy to travel in time by accident
    - sound travels between time through the portal , but only voices and none of the inhabitants of the planet are going near the portal anymore (so that they could be heard).
    - Spock goes barbarian but the doctor’s psychology is unchanged, which means that humans haven’t changed in the last 5000 years?
    Knit picking I know... :)

    @Mark G

    I dunno about your other points, but I think the deal with Spock, and I can't remember it it's said in the episode, is that his behaviour is being affected by the thoughts/feelings of Vulcans of the era, who are telepathicaly projecting those feelings, and Spock is picking up on them.

    I’ll have to rewatch that part. Still , Spock is the only Vulcan on the planet.


    Early example of interstellar Vulcan telepathy? Plus, given that they would've been excessively violent rage monsters, maybe their feelings were just that strong to reach that far. Haha.

    The musketeer types that greeted Kirk when he went through the portal instantly reminded me of the Picard-Data-laforge musketeers from 'Hollow Pursuits'

    The scantily clad women of the week was quite hot as well!

    My first rewatch of this in years, and I suddenly had an epiphany that explains everything (and some small thanks to Mr. Zito with his Vulcan telepathy hobby).

    It had always been pretty clear that Spock's regression to pre-Surak savagery made no sense, since why, after all, should a particular Vulcan magically forget his logical control just because he's gone back in time? I had viewed this in the past as an unexplainable curiosity of the episode, mostly a conceit that made little real sense. But - aha! What if something far greater is being shown here than it appears? What if Vulcan logic and control actually *isn't* just a matter of each individual learning discipline? What if the effect of all Vulcans everywhere acting in concert mentally has an expansive effect in telepathically reinforcing the control of all other Vulcans? We might say that the collective subconscious of all Vulcans is the 'person' learning the discipline, and the main task of each Vulcan is to hook into that system. And there is even some basis in TNG that things may be able to work this way, when in Sarek we find that one Vulcan certainly can use telepathy to reinforce the logic and control of another. Why not all of them doing so at the same time for the mutual benefit of their entire people? That really would suggest an advanced sense of personal contribution to the whole.

    If this is so then it would explain how Spock loses all control here: he no longer has the Vulcan network backing him up, and it's too difficult to develop that control all by himself in a vacuum.

    I also noticed one hilarious moment that I never caught before:

    Spock: This is a fascinating machine. What is it?
    Mr. Atos: Ah! This is the atavachron.
    Spock: Interesting nomenclature.

    Haha! Translation: that's the stupidest name I ever heard.

    A good episode. There are some inconsistencies but nothing out of the ordinary. Nimoy does a great job selling his transformation and his love for Zarabeth - yes, it's quickie romance, but we can believe Zarabeth falls in love quickly because of her desperate situation: alone in a frozen wasteland. I think Spock is figuratively is the same. He even mentions understanding her loneliness. McCoy's outburst about Zarabeth's desperation doesn't only apply to her.

    Loved Mr Atoz, well cast and well done. The Kirk part was the weakest part of the ep, but it didn't drag and held my interest. The supporting cast did well and Shatner did OK.

    Good closing with Spock's line about the lovely Zarabeth having been dead and buried 5,000 years. Just like Vulcan emotions.

    Definitely the best ep of the season and one of the best in the series.

    @Trek fan

    "The scene where he pushes Kirk in thte library cart is funny."

    I wonder what era he was planning to send Kirk to. Wherever it was, the inhabitants must have been surprised when a library cart came shooting out of a wall or a cliff face.

    One thing that always bugged me about this episode:

    There they discover the Atavachron, a marvelous, powerful device of a technology the Federation clearly does not have. Why then does the Enterprise not beam it up to save and study it? Or, if somehow it's too massive or can't be moved or transported, why not beam a librarian or archivist to quickly/expertly beam up a chunk of the library contents? It's not stealing if it's all going to vaporize. Shouldn't sentient life in the future want to learn about this fascinating civilization?

    Meanwhile, something useful for a historian to do (besides Lt. MacGivers in Space Seed): Wouldn't someone on the enterprise know what would have been some warp-capable civilizations 5000 earth years ago? Sure, we know the Vulcans were brutal at that time, but what about others—those that existed at the same time as the Federation but much older, or even those that existed 5000 yrs ago, but may have died out, say, 1000 yrs ago?

    For example... they could have contacted someone like the Fabrini (from "For the World is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky.") OK the Fabrini's sun went nova further back, they said 10,000 yrs. But imagine if the timelines were closer for the two? Spock and McCoy contact the ancestors of Yonada, and travel to and joing their civilization—which McCoy especially has a connection to? Or, strictly in the right time frame of 5,000 yrs... they could contact another civilization that Federation archaeologists have studied well.

    In such a case, genius Spock could have repurposed the tech of their communicators and phasers to search for signals of sentient, technologically advanced life—or even send some signals of his own, targeted to the most likely candidates. Sure, it wouldn't get them back to their own time. But if they were to be stuck there and then... better than alone on an ice planet.

    Then, even when Spock/ McCoy found they could and did return to the Enterprise, Zarabeth could have such options available to her!

    @ Malia,

    When looking at TOS it's easier for the most part to consider each episode as a stand-alone movie, or even a one-off adventure contained in different continuities. There's the rare world-building scene written into a script, or even a whole episode like Journey to Babel or Errand of Mercy, but for the most part these are script submissions by various authors who have their own story to tell using the Trek setting. The production team running TOS didn't work to establish world-building continuity or ongoing arcs like we see in the other series. To whatever extent writers did build on existing continuity it would have been because they saw the previous episodes!

    To me the general feel of these episodes is more like The Outer Limits than what we later get in, say, Enterprise. Each week they will encounter something totally bizarre, new, or fascinating, that really bears no resemblance to what they've encountered before, and in effect has no continuity with it either. Like they may face "the greatest threat ever to the Federation" and this kind of statement is made in a vacuum without actually being a comparison to previous threats in other episodes.

    "Atoz" is such a good name for a librarian. His name is on the spine of every single-volume reference book: A to Z.

    Always loved this episode. One question. Why would an inhabitant of the planet choose to go back to the era that Kirk gets sent to? Seems like there are better choices.

    "Always loved this episode. One question. Why would an inhabitant of the planet choose to go back to the era that Kirk gets sent to? Seems like there are better choices."

    A better question is what that chick did to get sentenced to eternal solitude on Hoth. Was she a criminal or something?

    Interesting that Zarabeth was in a polyamorous relationship ("My crime was in choosing my kinsmen unwisely. Two of them were involved in a conspiracy to kill Zor Kahn.”), and suddenly she gets handed two men by some amazing twist of fate. Poor thing, no wonder she couldn’t believe her luck and almost had a nervous breakdown ("This isn't real. I must be imagining all this. I'm going mad!”).

    She was far too well coifed for a woman with no access to toiletries. But I’m not complaining. Every time - over the decades, when I watch Spock go back into the portal, I inevitably wonder how he could have made himself do that, and if I was in his place, would I?

    Parting question: are we, here @ stHypertext, more like the Sarpeidons than we'd like to admit? Instead of dealing with the epic disaster that is nuTrek, have we simply reverted into the past, rewatching old episodes again and again and again?

    @Malia, I agree with you, and its a shame that TNG did the same thing with the Iconian gateway technology,

    An enjoyable hour. I’m good with 3 stars, but no more. I do prefer the Doctor Who library/time-travel/romance:

    I'm not going to write a whole lot more, cause I want to get to the next episode. I can't believe our time here is almost up...

    It was fun. Oh my.

    Wow, Kirk has some impressive fencing skills. Is there nothing he can’t do? Always be a cool around the lasses, and never miss an opportunity to grab 40 winks!
    Why is there no “Captain Kirk’s Guidebook for being an Officer and a Gentleman?”

    Awesome set decoration for Spock and McCoy. I felt cold and afraid for them after about 30 seconds of that freaking blizzard!

    The cave was well done too. Spock’s concern for McCoy was very touching...Right up to the love triangle situation. Whoa. Ponn Farr Caveman O’Clock all day long. Spock the Barbarian inspired me. I think I may be over domesticated. Oscar for Meathead Spock. Nimoy is simply awesome.

    How horrified would you be to be plonked into the Inquisition? Kirk’s fat was almost in the fire there! Took some cunning to get out of that situation!

    Zarabeth. Poor Zarabeth. I am now going to stop whining about this Covid lockdown...

    Loved this episode. Just wish Kirk would work on his time management skills before I have a heart attack...

    4 stars

    "How horrified would you be to be plonked into the Inquisition?"

    Now just think that the judge dude *chose* this time of all the ones available to live in. I guess it was better than the alternatives? (YIKES!)

    As an aside, upon rewatch of this episode I realized that this civilization, despite possessing time portals, holographic replicas and other fantastic technology, seems to have no knowledge of space travel and possibly even of alien life.

    Note that Atoz never considers the possibility that Kirk et al. could escape the supernova other than through the portals. He never seems remotely curious about where they are from and just kind of assumes they are just locals who were late to get to the library. When I originally watched this years ago I just assumed he was a hologram or a computer program like a poor man's Guardian of Forever (its cheap Chinese knockoff?) but of course he's a real person!

    It is totally whackadoodle when you think about it. I mean did Atoz not even make note of Spock's ears? But on the other hand, I kind of like these off kilter concepts. It's kind of neat that a civilization at a prewarp level would also be capable of crazy technological feats.

    Personally I always thought Atoz was supposed to be more or less insane. Maybe it's because he's the last person on his planet or something. The fact that the holograms come across as whacky, and then Atoz himself is barely better, seems to me to suggest that the off-kilter vibe isn't just stylistic to the episode but is literal, like Kirk would even find it weird. Atoz seems particularly clueless and unable to process what seem to be simple questions and drawn conclusions as Jason R. suggests. Yes, it may be because they have no space travel technology, but perhaps the choice to retreat into their planet's past says something about them as a species. Maybe they are really insular, or lacking in imagination in some respect, and instead of branching out and expanding they just want to dwell in their own history, going backward instead of forward. If I'm being charitable, maybe the writer had in mind that the very worst use of technology would be to bring about the regression of the species, where finally someone who is a mere librarian is the custodian of their whole culture.

    Mal said: "Interesting that Zarabeth was in a polyamorous relationship ("My crime was in choosing my kinsmen unwisely. Two of them were involved in a conspiracy to kill Zor Kahn.”)"

    I don't think this is supposed to be her saying she was in a polyamorous relationship. "Kinsman" and "husband" aren't synonymous. I think she is pointing out that her "crime" wasn't a crime at all. She was saying that she was being punished for simply being related to two political conspirators.

    There are a lot of cool things about this episode: Atoz, Mariette Hartley, and I really love the idea of the people of Sarpeidon escaping their planets destruction via time travel instead of space travel.

    There are a couple of big problems though:

    1) I think the idea of Spock devolving just because he travelled back in time very silly.

    2) The stupid idea of "Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planetary Development" is used yet again. I know it saves some money to have the planet and people look exactly like Earth, but damn I hate it. Would it have cost any more to mix and match the wordrobes of the characters, or not have them use specific human accents? There was no reason why they HAD to recreate 17th century Earth.

    Season three was full of episodes that had cool ideas that were poorly executed. This was one of them. I wish this had been a two-parter so that they could have spent more time coming up with plausible explanations for everything and to flesh out the worldbuilding and characterization a bit more.

    Trivia: this is the only TOS episode not to have an interior-Enterprise scene.

    Good episode in an otherwise forgettable season.
    Just one note on a comment made above. Someone thought it was an inconsistency that Kirk had to worry about dying in the past because he wasn’t “prepared”, whereas McCoy and Spock almost decided to give up trying to leave simply for the love of a woman.

    I don’t think there’s an inconsistency here, when we remember that all information Spock and McCoy had was provided by Zarabeth. The implication, I thought, was that Zarabeth was so consumed with loneliness that she would have lied to the men and condemned them to die, simply for a short relief from her loneliness.

    On further reflection, Zarabeth isn’t a sympathetic character at all. She was willing to take the entire remaining lives of two men, just to relieve her loneliness for a short duration of time.

    Just going off my memory here -- I've seen this episode in its entirety or parts of it umpteen times -- but I don't think Zarabeth is meant to be an unsympathetic or disingenuous character. Yes, she is in a pitiable situation -- she knows she can't go back since she's been "prepared" -- which is a well-used plot device. I listed a number of minor gripes I have with this episode back in 2017 (none of which really detract) but one thing Jimmy's comment made me remember is that I think McCoy makes a bit of a leap in logic by determining that both he and Spock can't stay because they haven't been prepared. This part always seems to surprise me -- like how did McCoy come up with that?? It's not like Kirk's situation where he's clearly told by a credible figure. And McCoy is calling Zarabeth out when she says she doesn't know about them (not being prepared). I think her saying she doesn't know is genuine enough though she'd obviously like for Spock/McCoy to stay and I don't think she'd want them to die quickly due to not being prepared.

    Thinking about Chrome's comment -- I guess that when I check out this forum, I do most look forward to some random comment on TOS. Just find those episodes to be the most enduring.

    I liked it. Another hottie Mariette Hartley graced the screen in a skimpy outfit. The time travel thing is always enjoyed and that they didn’t have to worry about screwing up the future greatly simplified things. Spock’s struggling with his primitive altered state was interesting, as was his love for Zarabeth. Plus he got to enjoy eating a piece of meat, way to go! I give it a B.

    If I were Atoz, I'd have said the hell with whatever my original escape plans were. Now that I know she's there I'm going back in time to Zarabeth! Yowza.

    (I know he was he going back in time to his wife and children, who had already gone though. I kid. Mostly.)

    I think "preparing" you to go back in time is aligning your cells to what your people were like at that time biologically. It's a side effect of this form of time travel that that is what will happen to you. If you don't get "prepared" ahead of time (under medical care), you can only survive for a few hours because your cells will start the process on their own, and it isn't something your body can survive. Unless maybe you're a Vulcan, of course. Spock maybe could have stayed. A human's cells "aligning" to what they were five thousand years ago wouldn't really be any substantially different from present, and evidently, the same is true for Sarpeidons, I guess. Not Vulcans though, it seems. And I guess a side-effect of doing it medically is that it's not reversible. They probably do the procedure, and then you have a few hours to go through or you die.

    Yeah it's garbage science, but who cares. Makes for a good story. All that matters is that the story logic flows. I suppose it does, or close enough.

    One of my personal favorites in the original series. I loved the characterizations in this one. The pacing in this episode was much better than the pacing in a lot of other season 3 episodes, keeping things exciting throughout.

    @Jason R.

    "what that chick did to get sentenced to eternal solitude on Hoth"

    That cracked me up.

    It would be interesting to hear some physicist's, or some science fiction writer's, thoughts on how that time travel thing "worked." I mean in terms of "When the world is about to end, everybody hauls ass to the past" — like when did this start? Did the planet have time travelers in its populace from "the beginning," if there is such a thing? I thought for a moment that maybe the implication was that the past was populated entirely by people from the future, but that can’t be the case because Sergeant Zale, to take one example, seemed to be oblivious to the time travel schtick. I find the whole thing fascinating.

    Depends how many iterations of time travel they go through! Could be nearly infinite...but there must have originally been some non-travelers, right? Maybe not! The whole planet could be a temporal paradox. If you like that idea go watch "Predestination" (which I recommend you do anyhow).

    Because there were a couple of comments about the weird sounding name for the time machine, wanted to note that it is a deliberate portmanteau:

    atavistic: relating to or characterized by reversion to something ancient or ancestral.

    chron: a prefix from the Greek chrónos, meaning “time.”

    atavistic + chron = atavachron

    The plot point about cells reverting to their time period, needing to be "prepared" is the atavism the name alludes to.

    Spock’s plan to construct a greenhouse, heated by the hot spring, seemed a bit optimistic in that cave - felt a bit Gilligan’s Island-ish or Swiss Family Robinson-ish.
    Crazy long time to beam back up. Very stressful watching the chit chat in the library.

    Re WG

    Yes a greenhouse in a cave but without sunlight so more like a heated cave for growing mushrooms
    But unlikely for green vegetables but who knows he’s Spock lol

    Terrific episode. Another score for Spock. Kirk still leads by far in the hottie contest. This is the final romantic story for Spock in TOS. My personal inventory of Spocks greatest hit list consists, in no particular order, Nurse Chapel, Leila, T' Pring, Romulan Commander, Droxine, and Zarabeth. There may have been others. I'm not counting the Whoreta or the chics that made Spock lose his mind in Spocks Brain. I prefer Zarabeth or especially Leila. I mean come on, Jill Ireland, Charles Bronsons woman, double points for sure.

    Fantastic season 3 episode. One of the best in all the various Star Trek series. Alas, too little too late to save the original swries. What if more episodes like this were produced, leaving out the dreck? What if...

    Every time I watch this, I find myself wondering where Spock plans to get the seeds or seedlings for whatever vegetables he plans to grow in his hot spring greenhouse. But of course, he is "not himself," so maybe he doesn't see the illogic of the plan.

    @ Trish,

    This probably goes against the mindset Spock is in when he says this, but in principle the Enterprise could send seedlings through the portal. The fact that Spock thinks they can't go back doesn't mean they can't receive supplies. In fact that's what the planetary governor did for those exiled anyhow, so it must be doable.

    First time watching the Original Series. I have to agree that Season 3 was hard to get through. This episode was the best of the season.

    This episode is SO BADLY WRITTEN! I couldn't enjoy it at all.
    You can see it everywhere, from big things to little details. For example, right at the begining, we have this dialog:

    Spock: no signs of sapient life forms
    McCoy: how can a planet full of people just disappear?
    Kirk: if they knew that their sun was dying, it could be anything up to mass suicide
    Spock: reports deny that they had any spaceflight capability.

    Well, firstly, why the hell wasn't Spock getting "no signs of life forms" if there is a guy (and his replicas) right there?? And, you see, it's not like this matters at all: if they beam down and "everybody had left but there is just one person on the entire planet" this would be as noteworthy as well.

    Secondly, Spock's last observation is out of order. The mystery is where did everybody went; their lack of spaceflight capability adds to the mistery; but Kirk's point already dissmissed the mistery: it could be anything. Maybe the idea was Spock supporting Kirk's point, like "yeah, that seems likely SINCE they don't have spaceflight capability" but if that's the case Nimoy surely didn't acted it in this meaning.

    Now, this may be nitpicking, but the entire episode is like that. Everybody is annoying and dumb:

    Kirk: you said everyone is gone. Where'd they go?
    Mr A-to-Z: it depended on the individual of course. If you wish to trace a specific person I'm sorry but that information is confidencial.

    Ok, kinda of dumb, since they clearly asked about everyone's destiny, not individuals, but fair enough as a first response. But the torture continues:

    McCoy: no particular person, just people in general

    Real answer: oh, to the past. Everyone selected some period to go.

    Bullshit answer to create bullshit mistery: Ah, you find it difficult to choose, is that it?


    And you see, Spock said there was no sapient life forms, so we naturally think this guy is some kind of assistent library hologram, and that would be fine, like he is malfunctioning or has a very narrow capability of answering, but no, it turns out he is just a regular (and dumb) guy.

    Anyway, either of them could just said: "no, we don't want to go anywhere, we just want to know where'd people went, if they are safe...", but they remain silent and he goes on: "but perheaps I can help you. Would you step this way, please?", and then... he stays put, and let the crew walks into another one of him — who doesn't know what the fuck is happening and restarts the interaction from zero "May I help you?". OMG WHY.

    We haven't even get to the credits yet!
    And this crap just goes on and on the entire episode... Everybody playing absolute dumb and incapable of the simplest dialogues.

    So, Mr A-to-Z gives, because of reasons, a tape for Kirk to watch in a separeted device, and also because of reasons, Kirk watching it on that special equipment made the portal open to that time, so he hears a woman screaming and, of course, runs to save her wihtout listening to they guy screaming "wait". Fine. But then Spock and McCoy also go running after him (and also ignoring Atoz warning) but now the portal is tunned in the ice age — so, the separeted device Kirk was using apparently had nothing to do with it, we have to conclude now the portal
    - just knows what tape you've just watched, and it just opens to it automatically when you come near.

    - also conects the sounds of whom passed through it. But like, conects not only the destine points to the library, but once you pass them, it conects the destine points between themselves (and aparently not anymore with the library), Indeed, it's a very special configuration, because we get to see that, in fact, it conects specifically Spock/McCoy to Kirk, being he in his past or back at the library.

    I get we are dealing with made-up alien techonology here, but c'mom, there is a difference between science or even magic, and pure non-sense features, forced to generate an "accidental trip".

    But ok, let's go on. So, they pass through the portal, and suddenly they are running in a fucking ice mountain. All right. Now what? Well, I guess you just turn back and see what's going on with the rocks behind, that you apparently just went through...? Which, by the way, in fact THEY DO! BUT FOR BULLSHIT REASONS, THEY CAN'T FIND THE PORTAL now. You see, now they can't find the portal that they've just passed, but later on they will come from distance and find the exact spot.

    Argh. It is just SO BAD!

    Anyway, I guess the episode's core is "that time Spock had to choose between banging a hot chick while eating meat like his ancestors, or to go back to his logic and science shit", but instead of watching this dilemma being decently developed and solved, we got to see a lot of very low quality bullshit made up to force it to happen.

    Maybe it could be re-written. They get to the library and it is in fact desert. So they investigate for real and find out people went to the past. Cool, everyone is safe, job is done, let's go home. But well, we have 3 hours here, and a chance to visit the past of this society. Hey, what about taking a look? A little debate and they decide it's safe to go. Spock decides to visit some remote past, and finds the hot prisoner and a place where, without the Vulcan Logic Telephatic Network, his primitive instincts get louder. He has to choose between staying there or going back, and we see an actual argument about Vulcan values (instead of McCoy yelling "she is a woman, therefore a liying piece of shit who will say anything to score a man, also there is no lady for me here, so I don't want to stay, but we need to go together into the portal because yes, so we better get going, mister!", which is pretty much literaly the lame solution the episode gave us hahahaha).

    There was an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" in which three women were in an automobile accident and were brought to the hospital. They were played by Bernadette Peters, Mariette Hartley, and I think Kathy Baker. Peters's character's first name was "Sarabeth." Even though it was Sarabeth, not Zarabeth, I'm thinking that couldn't possibly have been a coincidence.

    Easter egg: It would be cool if in some post–TOS show someone mentioned Sarpeidon and said it was destroyed by a supernova but before that happened the original Enterprise scanned and downloaded the planet's digital records. Someone opens a record and there's a picture of Mariette Hartley with a caption like "Zarabeth, a political dissident from the [whatever] century who was banished to the past by Zorkan." And even though her outfit in the episode was hot, the picture would have to show her in "regular" clothes.

    Great episode with a few questions
    There must have been many libraries ,shoving even a billion people through just one would have taken thousands of years.
    What if you went back only a few years and met yourself??
    Im assuming that the people's memories are erased imagine billions of people with knowledge of the future.

    Plot holes galore. But Mariette Hartley adds one star to everything she is in. The Spock stuff was good if you ignore how preposterous the situation is.


    Isn’t it funny that Atos easily uses technology for time travel, but he can’t seem to grasp the concept of space travel?

    Dan6m wrote: "Isn’t it funny that Atos easily uses technology for time travel, but he can’t seem to grasp the concept of space travel?"

    Exactly and that is one thing that bothers me about this episode. We all know that suns do not go nova over night. It takes millions of years. It never made any sense to me to go back to a simpler age instead of focusing on the future.

    A fun season three episode with a strong, tragic heart at its center. While it plays fast and loose with time travel ideas and there’s a handful of quirks that give the viewer pause, this outing definitely has some great stuff going on, and of course Nimoy’s Spock is so well conveyed it’s easy to forget how brilliant he played the character, which is what glues this one together emotionally speaking. Watching Spock grapple with, and begin to openly express, his emotions is an odd experience, like seeing a college professor you really respect get drunk and act weird. But it works. And his last line about zarabeth being dead and buried for 5000 years is pretty haunting, not quite to the level of Kirk’s “let’s get the hell out of here” from City on the Edge, but in the same ballpark.

    A few random observations:
    -Mr Atoz seems like a lunatic. I get that sarpeidon didn’t have space travel or whatever, so maybe it simply never occurred to him that Kirk and co were aliens, but all the confusion could have been avoided with some basic listening skills. Atoz’s grumpy “I don’t have time for your explanations!” attitude didn’t seem like the most sensible approach to guiding newcomers through his library.
    -Someone at the federation’s “supernova early warning department” was procrastinating big time. Waiting until the literal last minute to check up on this doomed planet seemed an odd choice. I mean, what was the enterprise gonna do if they found a planet full of panicking, terrified people? Or blissfully unaware, placid people? You wouldn’t be able to do much other than sit back and watch the supernova-y show.
    -5000 years is too short a time period to go from barren, frost covered wasteland to advanced, time traveling civilization. Did the people of sarpeidon do all their evolving and civilization building in a few short millennia? And is Zarabeth deliberately avoiding her presumably more primitive forebears that one would assume are kicking around at this time? If so, why? None of the other sarpeidons seem to care too much about staying away from past people.
    -Spock mentions that Vulcan is “millions of light years away”, I’m guessing that’s the regression to barbarism talking.
    -Zarabeth’s sexy cavewoman outfit is, while being a delight for me, seemingly impractical for her.
    -The judge’s meme-worthy reaction to realizing Kirk is from the future is hilarious.

    3.25/4 comely but deeply ungrateful enlightenment era wenches.

    The last great TOS episode. I've always chalked up Mr. Atoz's odd behavior as that of his replicas. Even the one that claims "I am the real Atoz" might also be a computerized replica.

    Since people asked about the physics in this episode, and I'm a physicist, I'll add there is no known real science to support time travel as depicted in this episode, or any Trek, or any sci-fi for that matter. Some believe certain rare and specialized conditions might permit a sort of time travel, perhaps in the vicinity of black holes, but those conditions appear to be way beyond human control.

    However, evidence is growing that parallel universes are physically real, and may even interact with each other, something called "many interacting worlds" (search miwoi). In Trek, worlds would be called timelines. The number of other worlds might be infinite or close to that, in which case all physically possible outcomes happen in at least one of them. There is no known way in present science to intentionally shift from one world/timeline to another of your choosing, but such limitations have never stopped sci-fi from creating interesting stories.

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