Yeah, I gotta remark on this - one thing I have to give real praise for the show in general is the quality of the acting. One thing I haven’t yet caught any of the principals doing, and I have been watching out for it mind you - they don’t ever phone it in, or act like they’re on a fairly low budget TV sci-fi show. Because Star Trek is goofy, nobody can argue otherwise. But it’s also great fun, and I never get the idea that these guys feel like they’re slumming it. They give it their best. That goes for Shatner, Kelley, Nimoy, Doohan, Nicholls and Takei equally. Maybe they slack off in season three or something but so far, everyone plays it straight and it helps immensely with selling the show.
Yup. They really carry the show sometimes. Pros. Lots of chops and experience.
Speaking of Bonanza.
By the way, I can’t wait for the next few episodes wrapping up the Season. Two duds are coming, but several of the best the franchise has to offer as well.
Yeah, next week’s is one of my all-time favorites. It’s like a little horror movie.
I have to admit, the actual mind control aspects of this episode are so rote that it’s not worth commenting on the actual mechanics. I noticed you did the same. The scene that really stuck out was that scene on the bridge of the Enterprise. With all his crew having mutinied, Kirk is all alone on the bridge. Uhura already sabotaged the communications on the bridge, so Kirk can’t call out for help. What’s really great about this scene is how dim the lighting is, and they just sit in the moment for a while. They just sit there as we watch Kirk sit there in the dark on an empty bridge. It’s a great scene not just for the tension of “what’s going to happen next, how on earth is Kirk alone going to solve this?” which is a background thought they invoke in the viewer, but also because they didn’t just go for the tension. They also went for the actual feeling on being alone and of Kirk’s loneliness.
So yeah, on the surface the episode is about these spores and how they took control over the crew, and that whole thing isn’t all that interesting. But really, you can tell from the Bridge scene and later scenes and the name of the episode, that what the episode is really about is exploring this idea of being happy with the help of this symbiote. Isn’t that the paradise we seek as written in religious texts? They do just enough work to sustain themselves, and are full of love and happiness all the time, with no health issues. Spock makes a good candidate for this. Perhaps others can get this kind of happiness elsewhere, but here is Spock, literally happy and full of joy for the first and only time in his life. It’s an even bigger ask for him to give it up.
It reminds me in a way of what they were trying to explore with Star Trek: Generations. Malcolm McDowell really wanted back into that paradise. Picard was willing to give it up, somewhat reluctantly, and Kirk was even more reluctant at first, but then he became even more gung-ho about giving it up.
In this episode, I’m still not sure what I think of the safe/medal scene mentioned by @Navaronegun. It’s supposed to be the key scene in the whole episode, and like with @divedivedive, it didn’t really work for me. After the fantastic scene where they explore Kirk’s loneliness on the bridge, I would have preferred something with an equal emotional heft on the scene where Kirk is willing to go back to that loneliness rather than join his friends in paradise. I suppose he saw the medal and was reminded of duty and honor, and thought that’s what was worth giving up happiness for? I don’t know, an unsatisfying scene for me as a viewer.
Random other observations: When Spock’s ex-girlfriend on the surface says she already knows Spock, we get a reaction shot of Kirk, where he waits just the perfect beat, and then looks over from her to Spock. It made me laugh out loud. Whoever the director and editor of this episode was, they timed that reaction perfectly for comedic effect. The other thing that was well handled is when Kirk has found “the cure” and it involves fighting Spock. I love his Captain’s Log at that point where he contemplates that he might get killed by Spock.
Overall, I liked the episode quite a bit, despite it’s shortcomings. Like divedivedive, I thought Kirk was immune for some reason and he’d discover why and use it to cure the rest. But that was me falling into the trap of thinking the episode was about an alien takeover of the crew. The episode actually being about giving up paradise was so much more interesting, and kudos to DC Fontana for a nice thought-provoking idea episode disguised as an alien mind control episode.
This was good too. We’ve seen before that some of the crew harbors some suspicions and resentment toward Spock’s alien nature, but there’s also the fact that Spock is significantly stronger than any other single crew member. Kirk goes into this with a plan but is perfectly aware that if pushed too far, Spock has the capacity to kill him with little effort.
That said, the visual of Spock beaming up and appearing before a pipe-wielding Kirk cracked me up a little bit.
This is IMO the way to view this episode. The non-infected (or disinfected) characters all think it’s bad to be infected by the symbiote, despite the fact that the infected are far more healthy and happy than they ever were before. The show asks why the infection is bad.
The answer it comes up with is basically a form of the work ethic: The problem with the spores is that they give you unearned happiness and health. Without striving to achieve those thing, you’re getting something false, which is to say, something of no value. You’re abandoning your responsibility, your obligation to do something. Note that, as far as we are allowed to see, not a single person who is cured goes out to get infected again.
So it’s basically reflecting the times in which it was made. Should we peace out and make love together, or should we get on with building things? It’s hardly surprising that it comes to the conclusion it does; and, to some extent, as a recurring series it has to come to that conclusion, because 23 more episodes of Spock lying around in the pasture ain’t in the cards. But it would have been a more interesting episode if someone had grappled with the underlying question and/or really challenged the conclusion.
I think that’s what Spock’s part of the story is all about. Spock tells himself, and everyone else in earshot, that he has no emotions and is incapable of feeling them. But we know better, he has them, he just keeps them buried very deep. In this case, he’s allowed to be in touch with his emotions in a way he would never permit himself to be. Like I mentioned, he says he feels happiness for the first time in his life. I think it’s clear from the way Nimoy plays his scenes that Spock feels some small regret to be leaving that behind. Not that he would ever seriously consider abandoning his responsibilities, but he feels the loss of his “connection” in a way the others don’t. For the others, it’s like a hangover after a bad night of drinking, something to be put behind them as quickly as possible. Even though Trek is quite episodic and things don’t necessarily carry forward, he gives the impression that this isn’t something he can so easily put behind him.
Yes, that’s certainly there. And Nimoy plays it well, But even he seems to accept that the rat race is ultimately better, more desirable than (fake) happiness. It’s a rejection-of-hippiness show, where Spock is the one person with sympathy for the hippies. There’s another show like that later, right? Journey to Eden?
Charles Napier, baby.
I am not Herbert.
I’ll admit this to you guys, but nobody else. Don’t tell anyone - but I’ve almost bought this a number of times:
I thought this was the Star Trek “Terms of Service” adventures where we dissect the multitude-page documents where we sign our lives away.
I believe you are thinking of “STD”.
I can watch this on a loop for hours…
Save it for season three gentlemen! We still have a long road ahead.
Yeah, I don’t even know what the hell you guys are even talking about anymore. We had a nice discussion going about the current episode and everything.
It is kind of an awesome happenstance that we’re doing this viewing just as Star Trek: Discovery is going on. And the show just happens to be set a few years before The Original Series. It’s just neat to see how the events line up, and that Discovery is obviously trying to be consistent with what we’re watching on TOS, while simultaneously doing their own thing.
Visually it’s also interesting for them to be trying to bridge the uniforms from ST: Enterprise and transition to the uniforms more in the style of Star Trek (TOS), while still maintaining their more futuristic look.
Meanwhile, back in the Original Series, let me just comment on something that I’ve been meaning to mention now for many episodes, but I always forget to. Sometimes the Captain and the crew is on the bridge, and they get these beautiful ladies parading politely through the bridge, giving everyone drinks in little paper cups. The first time it happened, I thought “aha! This is like Chekov’s gun. I wonder how this will play into the story later?” Except, it never does. Which is why I haven’t mentioned it yet. It’s such weird little quirky thing that’s actually kind of cool, right? I mean, the bridge crew’s going to get thirsty, why shouldn’t they be served drinks? Why do later crews like Picard and company have to wait for their bridge shift to be over before they can quench their thirst? It’s not right, I tell you. It’s not right! Bring back the bridge interns!