Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Joel_Kirk, May 16, 2012.
It was a pretty nifty looking addition to the set.
'This Side of Paradise'
The Enterprise is ordered to pick up colonists from Omicron Ceti III, not knowing whether or not they - the colonists - are still alive. The colonists were exposed to deadly rays from the planet's sun upon their landing, but the Enterprise crew find the colonists in perfect health due to mysterious alien spores. These alien spores have put the colonists in a lackadaisical state of mind, and have also started affecting some of the Enterprise crew.
'One has to work for true paradise; it won't come easy.'
This ideology has been touched upon in various aspects of Trek over the years. In Star Trek V, Sybok claimed to take away 'pain.' His method of quick and easy brainwashing was similar to the effect of the alien spores from 'This Side of Paradise.' And, the challenge of Sybok's thinking was that one needs pain in order to persevere in life.
In DS9, the idea of Roddenberry's 24th century utopia was challenged. For example, at one point in the show during the Dominion War arc, Captain Sisko brings up that Earth doesn't have much of a struggle as those who live on far away planets without starship aid. Some on Earth are blinded by 'paradise,' a luxury those who are fighting against Cardassians, Jem'Hadar, or Founders on far-away colonies (and raising families) don't have.
PLOT HOLES/PLOT ISSUES:
I hate to do this for a D.C. Fontana script, but it's not entirely clear what the spores actually do. As aforementioned, the spores basically make the individual lazy. That to 'understand' is to basically enjoy life without a care in the world. (Which isn't bad, but productivity is also good...especially if one wants to make his or her mark in the universe).
When Elias Sandoval comes out of the spore influence, he talks about not making any progress....yet, at the beginning, we saw that the colony actually was progressive through their gardening without the need of cattle or special.
I just found it interesting: Leonard Nimoy would years later be taken over by spores, again, in the 1978 remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." (A movie that scared the hell out of me when I was little!)
I also thought it was interesting that the late Mrs. Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland, who portrays Leila Kalomi, gets to first base with Spock. The spores just allowed Spock to act upon his feelings for Leila. Nurse Chapel, on the other hand, wasn't able to hold Spock's even when he was under the influence of another alien entity in 'The Naked Time' and when he was under the influence of Pon Farr in 'Amok Time.' (McCoy even rubs it in by remarking in 'Amok Time:' "You never give up hoping do you?")
Frank Overton, whom I first saw in an episode of The Twilight Zone named 'Walking Distance,' resembles Deforest Kelley a bit. This won't be the first time two different characters by two different actors resemble one another as Dr. Leighton, from the episode 'The Conscience of the King,' looks like a future Kirk from the films. And, Lee Kelso from 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' resembles Trip Tucker from Star Trek: Enterprise.
There are a few recurring characters in this episode. For example, Eddie Paskey returns as Lt. Leslie (or is it Lt. Thule?) There is also 'Harrison' portrayed by the big Hawaiian dude, Ron Veto, who wears yellow in this episode. And, then there is Kelowitz, returning in a blue-shirt (first seen in 'The Galileo 7,' then 'Arena). Lastly, Lt. DeSalle returns, showing up as one of the Enterprise landing party who is later taking over by the spores. (One that is not seen but heard by name, is Scotty).
A new navigator is seen in this episode, and that navigator is Mr. Painter. It just occurred to me that TNG's first season mimicked (consciously or unconsciously) with a new individual in Chief Engineer position in their first season. Kirk's Enterprise would not get a main navigator until second season, where Picard's Enterprise would not get a Chief Engineer until their second season.
The term 'Vulcanian' is used a second time in this episode. The first time would be in 'Court Martial.' And while it - the term - was rarely used later on in TOS, I don't see the term not being used by individuals elsewhere within the universe in later decades.
There are two interesting scenes with Kirk, which credits good direction. One has him looking at a bare bridge, the entire crew - influenced by the alien spores - already beamed down to the planet. Kirk then throws a used spore across the bridge, beaten. (And the sad soundtrack drives home the fact that Kirk feels beaten). The same scene has Kirk exposed to the spores, and a literal production 'light' is shown on Kirk, signifying that he 'understands' the influence of the spores. Interestingly, later on when this newly influenced Kirk is about to beam down to Omicron Ceti III with his case full of clothes, ready to leave his ship forever, he wills himself back to reality at the last minute. Another light shines on him, this time it's a light from the ship's panel - his reality being a starship captain overtaking the alien influence.
SCORE: 3.8 out of 5. This is a B-movie idea used for a "Star Trek" episode. It's a simple story with a simple 'villain.' However, it's not entirely clear this affect of the spores, other than to make individuals lazy...even though it was shown that they were productive in some manner even under the spore influence. Too, there are the obvious stunt doubles during the Kirk/Spock fight later in the episode.
'The Devil in the Dark'
We saw that the colonists, even under the influence of the spores, were productive enough to feed themselves, but the impression is that their original goal was to be more than bare subsistence farmers -- though Sandoval never mentions any specific plans other than "We wanted to make this planet a garden." Maybe they intended to build a small city, or at least a shopping mall.
My bad editing....
It should have read 'special tools.'
The Devil in the Dark
Kirk must investigate a mining operation on a colony that is being hampered by a mysterious creature killing workers.
'Never judge a book by it's cover.' Both the miners and the Horta see one another as a threat primarily based on physical appearance, and look to kill the other as a means to solving their problems. From the audience point of view, the audience is supposed to see the Horta as evil since it doesn't fit our aesthetics of a 'benign' creature at first glance. However, despite the deaths on both sides, the Horta and miners learn to work together.
Plot Holes/Plot Issues:
I wondered why the Horta seems to kill when 'she' – since we find out the Horta is a mother, possibly a queen – is not on the defensive. For example, she kills the white, blonde security officer who doesn't fire at her, but stands still in fright. This can be attributed to the Horta feeling that the miners or any other humans have already killed her kind without provocation so she must do the same to protect her children as well as herself.
However, why doesn't she kill off Kirk when she finds him in her nest? It comes off as 'main character immunity' when he is given time to call Spock, draw his own conclusions about the Horta, and so forth.
“Why does Van der Berg leave one guy to guard a particular area?” I asked myself while watching this episode for review. He seemed to play into the horror tropes of leaving one person alone when there is a killer loose. However, that trope was challenged when we had Kirk take charge and suggest that people should be in 'twos' while patrolling. And, this shows that Van der Berg probably wasn't really thinking when he gave his own orders, or that he doesn't really deal with 'the unknown'...as much as a starship captain to utilize a certain bit common sense.
We have a few recurring characters. Ron Veto shows up, as well as Eddie Paskey. And, Barry Russo, as Lt. Commander Giotto, would later turn up as Commodore Wesley in 'The Ultimate Computer.'
The redshirt death myth is challenged here. As aforementioned, there is one security officer killed. However, the danger for the other officers is not from the Horta, but from the miners who want revenge on said Horta when they learn that Kirk, later on in the episode, wants to talk and not kill the Horta, and has ordered security guards to keep the miners at bay.
I noticed one bit in the remastered version that caught my eye. When Kirk stumbles upon the Horta nest, we see a 'remastered' version of the Horta burning through rock to confront the Enterprise commander. For me, it was pretty cool.
Lastly, non-canon Trek features the Horta as Starfleet personnel. In a few tie-in novels, as well as the tie-in game Star Trek Online Horta are companions, workers on dilithium mines, and officers on Starfleet vessels.
4.3 out of 5. The glaring plot issue (not plot hole) with the Horta not attacking Kirk on sight, when we've seen the Horta do so otherwise with the security guard and miners, has me taking away a few points. However, the episode overall makes a good point of working with others and helping others despite how they may look; putting away perceptions or at least challenging those personal perceptions about others (when we don't know them) and possibly build a friendly relationship that could be mutually productive, or just a simple friendship.
Errand of Mercy
Could it be that the Horta has some sort of empathic ability? Everyone else in there went into the tunnels with killing in mind.
Could it be that she sensed Kirk was not out to kill her and her children?
I remember a certain apprehensiveness about the Horta's movements as if saying, "No, this one is different."
You're right that he does seem "exempt", but he was also the only one that's ever actually hurt her before. Maybe when she "saw" him she got scared. Having a chunk shot out of your side can make you think twice about something.
I wonder if the Horta had eyes in the sense we would use that word or some other kind of sensing organs? Even thought it seemed to be for the comedy factor, they said that she found human appearance unsettling but liked Spock's ears. That seems to rule out some kind of infrared detection vision unless it's really sensitive because ears usually don't show up too well because of their temperature being closer to the surrounding atmosphere.
Enterprise crew had more powerful phaser sidearms than the miners, as pointed out in dialogue. The Horta might have been able to somehow recognize the phaser pistols on sight as more dangerous after the injury.
Shatner's father died during the episode filming. The production was willing to stop around noon after he'd gotten word, but since he had a late flight, he chose to keep working rather than grieve for several hours alone. They shot Spock's mindmeld scenes ("PAIN!") with Eddie Paskey standing in, as well as what scenes they could during his absence. Shatner came back after the funeral and did his reaction scenes. He was proud of how his performance plays consistently when it was put together.
That's more plausible than my "empathic explanation", though I was already getting used to the idea!
I've always thought she was reacting to the weapon, not Kirk.
The Horta was intelligent; she might have deduced that Kirk (incidentally armed with the more powerful Phaser II), was a leader , and valuable as a hostage. It's possible, too, that she didn't merely deduce this, but rather she knew it.
Consider how expertly she removed the PXK reactor's circulating pump. There is no evidence that Hortas used nuclear power, but she knew exactly how to perform this task. She effectively turned the reactor into a time bomb, perhaps to force the humans to vacate the planet. Once this goal was achieved, she would presumably replace the pump to prevent it from going supercritical.
The point being that either she already possessed the technical expertise to sabotage alien technology, or she gained these skills by somehow accessing the mine's computers. Granted, this theory seems unlikely given the evident language barrier, but I believe that there are alternative explanations to the Horta hesitating to execute Kirk.
She probably recognized Kirk as one of the two who actually injured her, so was more hesitant to attack, and, when he didn't go after her, realized "wait a sec..."
Tangent: I'm pretty sure the stand-in for Shatner in the mind-meld scenes wasn't Paskey. It just doesn't look like his stance/body configuration. I think this was Don Eitner (sp?).
I agree. I was so smitten by my conjecture that I lost sight of the answer that satisfies.
But why did she preserve the circulating pump when she simply could have dissolved it?
While watching the episode, I also thought that the Horta possibly knew that Kirk was in charge since he was wearing a different tunic and was giving orders. Since she had the ability to 'sneak' around...she would have the ability to watch the miners or visitors. Also, I want to say that she probably thought that Kirk was different, but I may be reaching....
Anywho, I like Maurice's idea better.
I feel the need to go back to Space Seed for one post, if only to comment that Spock states rather explicitly that the Botany Bay is in fact an older model, the DY100, rather than the DY500.
You may now return to your dissection of Devil in the Dark.
Memory Alpha credits Paskey. Neither it, nor IMDB, credits Eitner as being in the episode.
Errand of Mercy
It's war with the Klingons, and the Kirk is ordered by Starfleet to lock down Organia as a potential base before the Klingons do the same and exploit the seemingly primitive planet.
Sometimes the heroes can be just as bad as the villans. While Kirk doesn't go as far as the Klingon commander Kor in trying to get the Organians to cooperate, Kirk's attitude is questionably biased against the Klingons just because they are the enemy. He doesn't try to reason with Kor or come to a mutual agreement. It is the Organians who are the mediators and force both Kirk and Kor (both names starting with 'K,' and characters who can be considered two sides of the same coin) to put aside their differences, at least until they're out of Organian space. The only time Kirk and Kor actually work with one another, is when the Organians have taken the power (literally and figuratively) from the Federation and Klingon peoples to battle one another.
PLOT HOLES/PLOT ISSUES:
None I could find.
This episode embodies the idea of Star Trek: A character, Kirk, learns of his wrongdoing and, at least for this episode, becomes a better person. Ayelborne finally explains to Kirk that while he was on his 'errand of mercy,' Kirk was defending death and destruction. (We get a nice shot of Spock, slightly grinning, as he understands Ayelborne's point of view). However, Kirk's prejudice against the Klingons continues well into the feature films, particularly after his son David is killed.
Some other things that stood out for me in this episode are: The opening incidental music, one of my favorite pieces of music from TOS and John Colicos eating up the scenery as he does in all of his roles; Kirk's reputation among the Klingons even though this is the first year of his 'five' year mission - yes, he could have built his own reputation before said five year mission with various assignments around the galaxy; and, we hear the term 'Vulcanian' once more.
3.6 out of 5.
Why is this, you may ask? Well, I watched TNG's 'Tapesty' a few days ago and found out something: Even though I believe TNG to be boring, I enjoyed the episode and felt the writing and acting for that particular TNG episode was pretty interesting. It had 'gravitas' and it too had a person learning from their mistakes and becoming a better person, at least for that episode. 'Errand of Mercy' didn't have such gravitas, it still came off as a routine episode for me. It didn't stay with me as 'Tapestry' or even the previous TOS episode 'Balance of Terror' did.
City on the Edge of Forever
According to Errand Of Mercy it would seem that the Klingons and the federation are banned from getting into war with each other FOREVER. And that makes the following wars rather inexplicable.
Separate names with a comma.