ONCE UPON A PLANET This is the third direct sequel to a TOS episode, fourth if you include Yesteryear (which I would argue only utilises elements from COETF as a framing device). However, while this episode is certainly not a necessary addition it’s actually slightly better than the original Shore Leave which I found quite repetitive and tedious. Here, all 3 plot threads tie neatly together and the animated format of the show help the various “fantastic creations” of the planet feel more cohesive with the landing party. No chained up tigers or aircraft in the distance this time, now we get some pterodactyls and a freakin’ TWO HEADED DRAGON!!! While the mystery plot is a good one, I had the same query as @Poltargyst: This is never made clear as far as I could tell. Last time McCoy was run through by a knight which was later revealed to be a part of the normal narrative,. He was even restored to perfect health afterwards! So why is McCoy worried about a scary army of playing cards and their pointy sticks? Isn’t the whole point of the planet that no-one can come to any long term harm? Having learnt nothing whatsoever from last week, Kirk yet again pulls the “fake an illness” deception to try and gain access to the control centre, hoping to take advantage of the planet’s “auto-cure” function. Thankfully he did not put anyone’s life at risk, but it makes no sense that the planet still has that core programming when the Master Computer has stated repeatedly that it just wants to kill the landing party on the surface. Does that mean that if the landing party were indeed killed by the pterodactyls that they would then be restored to life underground? Is it really that stupid? I guess so, as it didn’t see that Spock was clearly alive and only had the outward appearance of being dead. It was also easily convinced to abandon its plans for autonomous roaming of the galaxy and just keep doing the job it was built for. Uhura says that it’s fine to serve others if you do it of your own free will: This sounds more disingenuous the more I think about it, not least because Kirk is obviously very keen to keep this powerful entity firmly on the planet. What if the Master Computer had said “no” to Kirk’s generous offer? He’d probably pull the same manoeuvre he used on Apollo or Vaal reduced the computer to pile of slag. AKA: “We call it freedom, and I think you’ll like it. A lot.” There’s a surprisingly dark subtext to many of these TAS episodes that I honestly did not expect going in… OTHER THOUGHTS Uhura singing - first time in TAS as far as I recall. McCoy finds a southern ranch – he really is an old country doctor at heart! Why did the master computer erect a gravestone? It showed little knowledge or interest of the concept of death in organic beings. Perhaps some final instructions the Keeper programmed into it? Suddenly, the Master Computer suddenly has the power to interact and control the Enterprise’s systems. Last time it was only able to block access to the planet, but now it can build an avatar of itself inside the Enterprise’s own computer bay! The Master Computer wants the Enterprise. But what does a computer need with a starship? Oh yes, like all dystopian A.I. systems it wants to take over the galaxy! Well, not quite that bad, it apparently just wants to contact other forms of artificial life. Perhaps he could start at Harry Mudd’s android planet? Anti grav! Finally depicted on an episode of Star Trek, thanks solely to the animated medium. This also leads to seatbelts on the bridge! The end of the episode is basically the same as in Shore Leave – you’ve been threatened and terrified by us, now please stay for a vacation with robots that could turn on you if you think the wrong thoughts. Erm, okaaaaaaay… This was the final episode of TAS’ first season and quite a showcase for the new animated cast that have been introduced – M’Ress is at the communications station, Lt Arex has a few lines, even Lt Gabler plays his part on the engineering staff (making his fifth and final appearance in the show). However, Uhura’s also back and plays quite a part in the plot, even arguing for voluntary servitude at the end (more on that later). The only TAS regular not present is Nurse Chapel – but then again she is a criminal Next Week – the shortest season two ever!