Star Trek, Season Four, Episode One
Captain’s log, Stardate 5941.5. We’re in orbit around Tre’knir VII, an M-Class planet that has been emanating some unusual readings of late. Starfleet has ordered us to investigate.
Spock reports signs of intelligent life, an agrarian community centred in one small part of the planet, underneath an incredibly large piece of vegetation which Spock classifies as ‘tree-like’. Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Ensign Cadaver beam down. Scott is in command on the bridge.
The four arrive on the outskirts of the settlement. It’s a farming community which appears idyllic. Ensign Cadaver trips on a pebble and breaks his neck, dying instantly. McCoy manages to revive him. McCoy remarks that the peaceful, rural setting seems ideal to him as a simple country doctor. Spock makes an arch remark about disease rates. McCoy reacts in irascible frustration. Kirk rolls his eyes as LOUD, INCREDIBLY OBTRUSIVE WOODWIND INSTRUMENTS play, in case a deaf guy on the other side of the galaxy doesn’t realise the scene is played for laughs.
Spock’s tricorder shows further unusual readings which Spock is presently unable to explain. In the distance they can see the massive trunk of the incredibly large tree. They head towards it, after Ensign Cadaver is killed by an allergic reaction to the local crops. McCoy manages to revive him.
They encounter a native, who is puzzled by their strange appearance and Spock’s ears in particular. Ensign Cadaver challenges him and is killed by the native’s spear. While McCoy revives the ensign, Kirk speaks with the native, inquiring about their way of life. The native, apparently well practiced in summarising the existence of his entire community, explains that they are Tre'kkians, and live in the gentle shade of ‘The Great Tree, where the Groddenberries watch over all’. He explains that the Groddenberries are the fruit of The Great Tree, and that the natives rely on the “Viz’hen” of the Groddenberries to achieve what he calls ‘Dre-mmah’. Spock tentatively translate ‘Dre-mmah’ as ‘Nirvana’.
Ensign Cadaver notices a rustling in the vegetation around them and reaches for his phaser, then drops dead with an arrow sticking out of his chest – our heroes are suddenly surrounded. McCoy revives the ensign. The native explains that the four must appear before the Council of Elders to be judged. If the Council decides that they do not meet with the Groddenberries’ approval, they will be executed.
Cut to our heroes confined in a crude cell carved into the trunk of the Great Tree. McCoy and Kirk exchange simplistic, sentimental musings on the idyllic agrarian life led by the Tre'kkians. Ensign Cadaver tries to break through the bamboo-like bars of the cell and is killed by a sliver of the stuff. As McCoy revives him, Spock announces that he has completed his tricorder analysis. The soil in the area surrounding the Great Tree is rapidly becoming infertile. Soon, perhaps within a decade, the Trekkians will be unable to farm there at all. In order to survive, the Tre'kkians will need to leave the shade of the Great Tree. MORE INCREDIBLY OBTRUSIVE MUSIC PLAYS as we see Kirk's HORRIFIED YET WORDLESS REACTION and we're out for the ad-break.
Coming back from the break, our heroes are facing the Council of Elders, four middle-aged men and one young, attractive, scantily-clad woman. All of them wear masks with subtle variations, the woman's being the least obstructive, so we can see that she is, indeed, very attractive.
Unaccountably, the trial follows the popularly-understood form of criminal trials in the US of the twentieth-century. Our four are charged with various transgressions of the Viz'hen of the Groddenberries and told they will be executed if found guilty. Ensign Cadaver freaks out and is killed by the guards. McCoy is unable to revive him, so we know the shit's hit the fan now.
Kirk embarks on a lengthy, scenery-chewing speech in which he extols the virtues of change and decries the vices of stagnation, exhorting the Tre'kkians to abandon the Great Tree. The Elders are outraged and say that they can never stray from the Viz'hen of the Groddenberries – it's all they know! Kirk condemns himself from his own mouth with this blasphemous talk! Kirk embarks on a shorter, yet still more intense monologue, telling the Tre'kkians that they can find a new Viz'hen elsewhere, far from the Great Tree and away from the watchful gaze of the Groddenberries. Perhaps, he tells them, they can even find a new kind of Dre-mmah.
Finally the elders are convinced and all is forgiven. The Tre'kkians begin to plan their migration away from the Great Tree. Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam back up to the Enterprise without making any arrangements for Ensign Cadaver's mutilated corpse to be returned to them. So it goes.
Back on the bridge, after completing his log entry, Kirk speaks with Spock about their experience. Spock remarks that the Tre'kkians were not unlike ancient humans in their determination to stick to old ways no matter what the cost. Kirk smirks and makes more simplistic, sentimental remarks about how appealing the agrarian lifestyle of the Tre'kkians seemed to him. Spock raises his eyebrow. FIVE TO EIGHT SECONDS OF FORCED GROUP LAUGHTER AT THE DIRECTOR'S DISCRETION and ROLL CREDITS