Gather round, kids, because it’s that time again - this week’s episode is “Return of the Archons”. And it’s another that I don’t really recall at all, I must have seen it but it just didn’t stick with me. But I will say that, while it hits a few Trek tropes pretty hard (though they weren’t really tropes at the time), I liked this episode. It’s kind of creepy and while it doesn’t really have much in the way of surprises, it sets out a pretty straightforward story and presents it pretty well.
To recap, we’re dropped in the middle of a scene, with Sulu and some redshirt running from robed people. The two crewmen try to beam up but redshirt loses his nerve and bolts before getting beamed up, while Sulu gets gently touched just before beaming. Upon arrival, everyone is shocked to learn that Sulu is totally stoned. McCoy takes him to the kitchen to make him a cheeseburger.
Kirk and the gang decide they need to get in on this action so they decide to cosplay as pilgrims and beam down. The gang meets a lot of well-behaved young people and some cranky older people. At 6pm the young people become a lot less well-behaved but the old people stay cranky and the Enterprise crew is totally confused. Then they get identified as total narcs, and put in jail. But they’re rescued by a couple secret narcs, hiding among the alien stoners, who set them free. Kirk and Spock figure out the whole thing is obviously a plot by some weird pothead computer, so they decide to destroy it. The computer says ‘dude, you’re harshing my buzz’ to which Kirk replies ‘No U’ and the computer explodes, everyone comes down and are totally bummed now.
Like I said, there’s not a whole lot new here, though I think this is the first appearance of the prime directive, at least called out as such, and the Federation’s adherence to non-interference. Also the first appearance of totally ignoring the prime directive when you feel like it, because reasons. But I mean really, these blissed out weirdos totally had it coming. You can’t go around pointing a metal tube at someone and not expect to get your ass kicked.
I did like the bit where Reger is leading the crew to safety and says ‘too late!’ and the entire town as one stops wandering around aimlessly and stoop to pick up the nearest blunt object and advances on the crew with murder obviously on their minds. There’s a creepy hive mind thing going on here that was presented pretty well. Clearly we’re not meant to dwell on the fact that these young townspeople totally spend twelve hours of every day trashing everything. So what, they spend the next 12 hours rebuilding? I guess that’s one way to keep people occupied.
I laughed a bit when Kirk and Spock decide to beat up a couple of lawgivers, and Spock just straight up decks one of them. I was thinking what, no nerve pinch? And then right after that Kirk says to Spock, that’s kind of old fashioned don’t you think? I don’t know why things went that way, but it amused me.
Anyway thumbs up from me, a pretty good entry this week. Not really a classic in the way Corbomite Maneuver or Balance of Terror were, but worth watching.