This episode is one of my favorite TOS episodes. Why? I'm not quite sure. Maybe it's the philosophical bickering between Spock and McCoy that goes beyond the usual illogical/green-blooded insults. Or maybe it's Kirk's complete dismissal of the prime directive. Or maybe the constant references to sex.
In the following episode, Spock gets heroically injured twice, Chekov has a girlfriend, and the word of the day is "Paradise".
Spock, Kirk, Chekov, two Redshirts and a Redskirt beam down to a random red planet. The Captain is wearing his stylish green shirt with a V-neck today. How chique! Kirk tells everyone with a tricorder to start their readings. McCoy beams down with his own personal security team. Four Redshirts! All in actual red shirts! Get ready for some serious dying! (Oh, five Redshirts if you count the Redskirt, but something tells me that she’s there for romantic subplot.)
“Well, I might just stake out a claim and settle down here, Jim,” Bones says, rubbing his hands together. Kirk agrees. “It’s a shame to have to intrude,” Bones adds. Intrude? I thought the Prime Directive was ‘Don’t Intrude’. “Well, the last scout ship picked up some pretty strange sensor readings,” Captain “Back Story” Kirk tells us. Spock comments that the soil is very fertile, and that there’s little change in the planet’s temperature even at the poles. “I know. Almost impossible,” Kirk says, nodding. Why he keeps a science or medical officer around is beyond me, since he seems to figure out everything on his own. But I guess if I had two friends who argued like McCoy and Spock do, and I was a sadist, I would make them hang out as much as possible, too.
McCoy, Kirk, and Spock look around the idealistic planet.
“It makes me homesick,” Chekov says, holding a bouquet of flowers he just picked. “Just like Russia!” “More like the Garden of Eden, Ensign,” McCoy growls angrily. (Paradise references: 1) His anger seems a little out of place, but maybe he just doesn’t like those goddamn Commies, or maybe he’s the only one who has noticed that Chekov was picking flowers instead of taking tricorder readings. “Of course, Doctor,” Chekov replies. “The Garden of Eden was just outside Moscow. A wery nice place! Adam and Eve must have been wery sad to leave.” Oh, Chekov. How cruel is it, by the way, to name a character who can’t pronounce ‘v’s Pavel Chekov? Redskirt stares at Chekov lovingly. (Ah, that explains the flowers).
Kirk tells the landing party to head towards a nearby village. One large black flower turns its head to watch them leave, and the traditional Star Trek “Oh No!” music flairs. A Redshirt sees it, and calls Kirk over. Suddenly the flower shoots six or seven tiny arrows into the Redshirt’s red shirt. “Captain…” the kid gasps, falling over. McCoy and Kirk reach him at the same time. “Dead,” McCoy says.
As Bon Jovi would observe, this Redshirt has been shot through the heart!
A quick clip of someone sneaking through the woods! Dum dum dum! Someone orange?
Kirk stands in front of the same black flower and stares at it angrily. As luck would have it, the flower apparently can’t do the shooting thing twice, but standing in front of it still seems like an incredibly stupid thing to do. “What did somebody say—that paradise must’ve looked like this?” Kirk snaps angrily. (Paradise references: 2) Is that a literary quote? It doesn’t sound very impressive, if it is. Bones looks sheepishly to the side. Aha! That’s right! It was you, Bones, wasn’t it?
Extended “Oh No!” chord!
Ping, ping, ping, ping. “Space! The Final Frontier!” Only Shatner can pull off this kind of overacting in a voice-over. The theme song now has acquired the OoOoOing women, as well as DeForest Kelley’s name in the credits. Yay!
Kirk-log tells us that the landing party is on Gamma Trianguli VI, and that a redshirt is dead. Kirk somberly tells Scotty to beam the body up. Scotty somberly says, “Aye, Captain. It’s a shame about Hendorff.” Kirk narrows his eyes, like ‘Hendorff? Was that his name?’ “We seem to have a problem here, too,” Scotty’s lilting voice continues. “What is it?” Kirk asks. Oh no, don’t tell me. The transporters aren’t working. No, wait, the engines aren’t working. No, no, I got it: the shields. Or the matter/antimatter thingie! Or the dilithium crystals! “We’re losing potency in our antimatter pods,” Scotty says. Called it! “I don’t think it’s serious, but we’re looking into it.” Well, I think we can agree that it’s going to get serious enough to make transporters unusable for awhile, seeing as Spock, Kirk, and Bones are all on the planet’s surface. Scotty admits that he doesn’t know what’s causing it, although the electromagnetic field of the planet is “a wee bit abnormal”. “But you say there’s nothing to worry about?” Kirk asks, obviously finding this information Something To Worry About. “Well, sir, I didn’t exactly say that,” Scotty snickers. Not sure why he finds that funny, but maybe he’s been nipping at McCoy’s brandy while the rest are on the surface. “I hear it’s nice down there,” Scotty says. “Yeah, it’s nice. If we’re a little more careful, we shouldn’t run into anymore trouble,” Kirk replies, picking up a random flower. Evidently, he has already forgotten that being “a little more careful” entails avoiding the plant life. Scotty tries to get himself beamed down, saying he’d like a nice walk in the garden. Kirk says they’ll do the walking, and Scotty’ll do the antimatter-ing, cause Kirk is a scene-stealing hack.
“I find that most unusual, Captain,” Spock says, assumably referring to the antimatter pods. Kirk brushes aside that the science officer finds something scientific troublesome, and says they have a mission to accomplish. Spock reports that there are subsurface vibrations for miles in all directions. Mr. Spock could vibrate my subsurface anytime. “That’s strange,” Kirk comments. “Quite strong, fairly regular… and artificially produced,” Spock adds. Kirk is shocked, and so is the music. He calls a Redshirt (Mallory) over, and tells him that they’re heading towards the village. Kirk orders him and another Redshirt (Marple) to scout ahead. “There may be other dangers besides poisonous plants,” Kirk says ominously. As the Redshirts leave, Spock whispers “Captain. There’s a humanoid hiding behind us, moving with remarkable agility.”
Shot of someone orange in the bushes!
“What eez eet Meester Spock?” Chekov asks. “A visitor,” Spock replies. “One wanting to retain his anonymity, I should say.” Chekov looks over at Redskirt, who looks totally bored by the whole situation. Instead of being useful, Chekov decides to go over and talk to her. Redskirt whines about the fact that a Redshirt died and that someone is spying on them. She says this loudly. Way to alert the dude that you know he’s spying, Redskirt. Also, if you can’t deal with dead Redshirts and “discovering new life”, maybe you shouldn’t have joined Starfleet, eh, Queen Bee? “It’s frightening,” she finishes unconvincingly. Oh, I see, she’s playing the Hold-Me-Cute-Boy game. It works, and Chekov, holding her, says he’s been vanting to get her “in a place like this for a long time.”
Kirk comes bustling in. “Mr. Chekov, Yeoman Landon, I know you find each other fascinating, but we’re not here to conduct a field experiment in human biology,” he says. Oh, snap! “I vas just about to take some readings,” Chekov explains. Yeah right. Readings of loooove. Back to the actual plot, Kirk tells Spock and Bones that the spy moves like a cat. “Jim, I don’t like this,” McCoy complains. Bones, you never like the missions. Kirk agrees with him. He rallies the landing party around him and announces that they’ve been watched and probably will be watched, even louder than Redskirt did. “We’re moving out. Formation L,” Kirk exclaims. Formation L turns out to be a line. I guess “Form a line” just sounds cooler when it’s “Formation L!”
They pass an odd metal object in the ground, and even though Kirk glances at it, no one seems to care. However, when they see some oddly shaped rocks, Spock is all over that shit. He finds the combination of materials interesting, and points out how lightweight the stone is. He breaks it in half. “Fragile, good cleavage.” I think he just said that to mess with Kirk. “An analysis should prove interesting,” he says, tossing aside half of the rock. It explodes! The landing party ducks from the debris.
“Would you mind being careful where you throw your rocks, Mr. Spock?” Kirk asks. “Garden of Eden… with land mines!” he adds. (Paradise references: 3) Bones glances around, clearly even less thrilled with being on this mission. And Formation L is off again.
They pass another one of those odd metal objects! Again, no one cares. It looks like a two-pronged fork just sticking out of the ground. What the hell!
Shot of leaves behind them rustling. I bet you whatever is behind those leaves is orange!
Back on the Enterprise, Scotty has become a little more concerned about things. He calls Kirk to tell him that the antimatter pods are completely inert. I thought that if the matter/antimatter thingie was off balance, crazy things happened, like time travel or explosions? Maybe that’s only when the warp drive is on. “I couldn’t stop it, but I know why,” Scotty says. “Why?” Kirk says in an annoyed tone, like if Scotty tells him it’s the electromagnetic “don’t worry about it!” field, he’s going to kick some engineer ass. But Scotty explains it’s a beam or transmission from something on the surface. “And it’s still on,” Scotty adds. “I’m having it analyzed. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before!” It’s coming from the village! “We’re heading there now, Scotty,” Kirk says.
Spock suggests that the transmission or beam might be related to the vibrations he read earlier. “A kind of generator?” Kirk suggests. Spock agrees. Kirk notices that Bones is examining something with his little medical whizzie. If I’m going to continue these recaps, I should probably look up the names for this stuff. Bones says it’s one of the thorns, like the one that killed Hendorff. Kirk and Bones are so interested in discussing the poison that they don’t even notice when one of the black flowers turn its head towards them. Spock, however, notices and cries out “Jim!” pushing both McCoy and Kirk out of the way at the same time. Consequently, he is shot with those same little arrows, and his eyes widen in a “Oh shit poison” way. Well, the needs of the many DO outweigh the needs of the few.
Spock is absolutely shocked that standing in front of a poisonous arrow will result in getting poisoned.
“Spock!” Kirk cries out, running towards his first officer. I have to question Nimoy’s falling down skills here. He falls to his knees, then to his hands, and then, I kid you not, flips his body over WITH his hands, to pass out. Maybe it’s a Vulcan thing.
Bones uses the medical whizzie, and pulls out his medical bag. “Security alert!” Kirk demands, and everyone else goes off as if looking for something. Yeah, guys, catch that damn flower! The doctor pulls out a hypo. “Is he alive?” Kirk asks McCoy, anxiously. No, Kirk, Bones enjoys sticking hypos into corpses. Evidently, Bones finds this question as stupid as I do, because he doesn’t answer. He just pumps Spock full of something. Spock doesn’t move. “I filled him with enough Masiform D to make the whole crew turn handsprings and he’s not responding!” Bones exclaims. “We’ve got to get him back to the ship, Jim.” Kirk comms Scotty with the news, and asks that they all be beamed up, including Mallory and Marple, the two Redshirts who are scouting ahead. “Aye, aye, sir,” Scotty says. Okay, let’s make a bet: I say the transporters don’t work.
“All hands!” Kirk exclaims. Every one returns from recess, or Security Alert; the Redshirt still with them stands over Spock’s unconscious body, with one foot on either side of him. I can’t really explain why I find this so hilarious, but it is.
“Energize!” Scotty orders. Transporter special effects begin, but no one quite fades out. Scotty looks horrified. “We can’t make transporter contact, sir! The entire system’s inhibited.” Of course it is. “The way it is now… we wouldn’t beam up a fly,” Scotty finishes dramatically, as the music turns back to “Oh No!” status. Beam up a fly? Hee. I love Scotty’s crazy metaphors.
Dramatic zoom in on Kirk’s face! Oh No!
Kirk-log tells those who missed the past ten minutes that their mission “has suddenly turned into a nightmare. We’re being watched and followed. Mr. Spock has been injured. And now we find we are unable to return to the ship.” Fine, Kirk-log, why don’t you just write the recaps? Kirk comms Scotty back and asks if the transporter malfunction is related to the antimatter malfunction. “I don’t know, sir. I’ll check it and get back to you,” Scotty replies.
Spock and his Magical Blue Shirt seem to have mended themselves while Kirk was on the communicator, because Spock is awake, and his shirt has no holes in it. “You alright?” Kirk says. “Dr. McCoy’s potion is acting like all his potions: turning my stomach. Other than that, I am quite well,” Spock replies. Bones glares back. “If your blood were red instead of green, you wouldn’t have an upset stomach,” he says, his accent becoming more Southern as he gets aggravated. I love Bones. Spock shrugs and raises his eyebrows, which is almost as good as a comeback when you have eyebrows like Spock.
“Just what do you think you were trying to do?” Kirk asks, angrily. “I surmised that you were unaware of the plant, so I…” Spock begins to explain. “Stepped in front and took the thorns yourself?” Kirk asks. Spock assures them all that his clumsiness just prevented him from getting out of the way in time. “Next time, just yell,” Kirk asks. “I can step out of the way as quickly as the next man.” And more quickly than most Redshirts! Spock promises he will. “Trying to get yourself killed. Do you know how much Starfleet has invested in you?” Kirk lectures. Spock tries to actually respond with a figure, but Kirk interrupts him, with “Never mind!” After a pause, he adds, “But… thanks.”
Kirk brings up that something is after both them and the ship. “Captain, to affect the ship at this extreme range would require a highly sophisticated planet defense system,” Spock begins, but he’s interrupted by “Oh No!” music, and we see red clouds gather menacingly above the landing party. “Thirty seconds ago, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky,” Kirk informs those of us who don’t know whether a red sky backdrop means cloudy or sunny.
Lightening forms and strikes down the Redshirt who was still with them, was being the operative word here. Kirk orders them all to take cover, which they all seemed to be in the process of doing anyway. Suddenly, the clouds all disappear. “Phasers!” Kirk orders. What, are you going to go track down that cloud and kill it? They approach a grassy knoll, where the pile of ashes that was Redshirt smokes threateningly. Kirk says that the planet is not quite paradise. (Paradise references: 4) Yeah, we get it, dude.
Mallory has reached the village! He comms the captain to let him know. But his signal is faint, so Kirk starts yelling into the communicator. Yeah, that’ll help him keep the cover you ordered. Mallory, though, still can’t hear the captain, so he goes on about how primitive the village is. “Strictly tribal by the looks of it,” he says. “And Captain, there’s something else…” but then they lose him completely. Spock indicates that the village is only a short distance away, so Kirk orders they all go there “on the double!”
One of the M Redshirts is running towards the camera, saying “It’s over there! That way! I never saw anything like it!” but the camera is now focused on his feet, so you know that it’s time to see Redshirt become Deadshirt. Sure enough, he steps on one of the land mines and blows up. Except, instead of blowing up, like I except as a LOST viewer, he just gets casually tossed aside. Evidently, it’s still enough to kill him. Kirk confirms that it’s Mallory we just saw die, and McCoy confirms that he’s dead, Jim.
Kirk starts lamenting about the dead boys. “His father helped me get into the Academy…” Kirk says, sadly. Why did Kirk need help getting into the Academy, I wonder? “Captain, in each case, this was unavoidable,” Spock tells Kirk. Nothing like a Vulcan telling you you’re in the right. “I could’ve prevented all of it,” Kirk replies, shaking his head. “I don’t see how,” Spock says.
“A walk in” yeah, you guessed it “paradise…” Kirk spits out, bitterly, (Paradise references: 5) “among the green glass and the flowers. I should have beamed up at the first sign of trouble.” Wouldn’t that be going against everything that the 5 year mission stands for? I mean, if you acted like that, you might as well call it the 3 year mission! Oh…
Spock points out that they are under orders. “I alsohavetheoption. To. Disregard. Thoseorders, if I. Consider. Them. Overlyhazardous,” Kirk says. Shatner becomes even more Shatner when he’s acting emotional. “Thisisn’t. That. Important. AmissionSpock.” Spock points out that Starfleet duty is not particularly safe, and that everybody knows this. There’s a shot of a frowning McCoy, like he’s just starting to figure this out. “You’ve followed the correct and logical course,” Spock continues. He flatters Kirk for a few more moments, until he realizes that they are being spied on again. Kirk calls Marple and Chekov over, and gives them the down low. “Something or someone is behind that rock. I want it,” Kirk says. He asks Spock and Chekov to create a loud diversion. See, I would’ve sent the only person on the crew who knows the Vulcan Neck Pinch over, but I guess Kirk has some anger to get out.
“Mr. Chekov! Your tricorder readings are totally inefficient!” Spock yells. “Uh, mind your own business… uh, for your information, I have a wery high efficiency rating!” Chekov replies. Chekov proves to be worse at acting than Spock, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, seeing as Vulcans supposedly can’t lie. Then again, Chekov’s tricorder readings probably ARE totally inefficient, since he’s been spending more time getting the readings on Redskirt than anything else. Spock loudly says that he won’t stand to be spoken to in that tone of voice. “Vhat do you vant? Wiolins?!” Chekov finishes. Obvious cheap shot, but I cracked up.
Kirk has snuck up on what appears to be a giant Oompa Loompa, and punches him in the face. The Oompa Loompa starts crying. Kirk’s face softens. “I won’t hurt you,” he says. The Oompa Loompa stares at him like he doesn’t believe him, and I don’t blame him. “Do you understand?” Kirk adds. Oompa still ain’t buying it. “I. Won’t. Hurtyou,” Kirk proclaims. “You struck me,” Oompa points out. Kirk looks perplexed. “With your hand,” Oompa clarifies. “Well, I won’t strike you again,” Kirk promises, relaxing out of fight mode. Kirk asks why Oompa has been following them. “I am the eyes of Vaal,” Oompa replies. “He must see.” Speaking of eyes, this guy has eyeliner in a thickness that even Uhura would call too much, but it’s white, just like his hair and eyebrows. He also has some sort of antennae sticking out the back of his neck. Kirk asks who Vaal is, and Oompa just says that Vaal is everything.
The Giant Oompa Loompa and his crazy ass make-up.
“Do you have a name?” Kirk asks. “I am Akuta,” the orange man replies. “I am the leader of the Feeders of Vaal.” The rest of the landing party comes around to see what Kirk is up to. They all have phasers and Akoompa Loompa looks like he’s going to flee. “They’re not going to hurt you,” Kirk promises. “We come in peace.” Kirk asks to see Vaal. Akoompa explains that he alone speaks with Vaal. Spock notices the antennae and asks to examine them. Akoompa explains that they are his ears for Vaal, so that people could hear Vaal and obey. “You speak of the People of Vaal,” Kirk observes. “Are they nearby?” Akoompa agrees to take them back to the village.
Kirk gets commed by Scotty. Scotty is saying “Condition red! Condition red!” which I have to assume is different from Red Alert, but I wonder how they differ. I’m sure I could look it up somewhere, but it’s already Trekkie enough that I noticed the name difference. Anyway, Scotty explains that the Enterprise is being pulled by a “giant tractor beam” towards the planet. They still only have impulse power, and they’re starting to slip from their hold against the beam. “We might be able to pull out on warp drive, but without it… we’re like a fly on flypaper,” Scotty says grimly. “Even worse!” Wait, this is the second fly metaphor Scotty has made today. What the hell? Is he just… thinking about flies a lot? Scotty explains that at the present rate, they can only hold up for 16 hours. “Then we’ll burn up for sure,” he sighs. “Scotty,” Kirk says, “you’re my Chief Engineer. You know everything about that ship that there is to know! More than the men who designed it. If you can’t get those warp engines working… you’re fired.” Seeing as they’re dead if Scotty can’t get those engines working, I assume this is supposed to be a joke, but Scotty replies very seriously, “I’ll do everything there is to do, sir.” I guess if you’re gonna burn up in 16 hours, it’s not that funny.
Kirk looks distraught, and turns back to Akoompa. “Tell me about Vaal,” he demands. The Akoompa makes some more references to Vaal being a deity: “He causes the rain to fall, the sunshine to shine,” the Redshirts to be struck by lightening… “All good comes from Vaal!” Kirk wishes to speak to him. Akoompa reminds them that Vaal only speaks to him. “I’ll take my chances,” Kirk replies sarcastically.
They approach what looks like a giant snake head made out of stone. Its mouth is wide open, with that looks like steps inside. My first thought is, “It’s like Snakes on a Monkey Island!” but I soon realize that the thing looks more like the sand dune tiger head in Aladdin, except made of stone and with bright green eyes. Kirk says “Vaal”, but snakey Vaal-demort does not reply. The “Oh No” music sends us to commercial break.
Vaal-demort is just a giant snake head.
We return to find the camera zoomed in on Vaal-demort’s eyes, which has to be a mistake. From far away, the eyes look green and shiny, but up close, they are just ugly green with a yellow stripe down the middle. Kirk-log fills in anyone who missed the rest of episode. Spock thinks the whole thing is fascinating. He has found that Vaal-demort is not the center of the energy readings, which are far beneath the ground, but an axis point. “There would also seem to be a—,” he begins to add, before walking into a force field and being tossed aside. “A force field?” Kirk finishes. “Obviously,” Spock says in a snarky, Alan-Rickman-as-Snape way. Kirk asks Akoompa how he talks to Vaal-demort. “Vaal calls me,” Akoompa explains. “Only then.” I can’t help but think of drunken Mr. Big from Sex and the City, when he’s dating the movie star: “She can reach me, but I can’t reach her. She can reach me… but I can never reach her. It’s fucked up!” Akoompa suggests that they wait until Vaal-demort is hungry, which should be soon. He brings them back to the village. (I keep hoping Chekov will say “willage” or “Waal” or “willage of Waal” but it hasn’t happened yet).
The landing party plus Akoompa reach a tribal village. “These are the people of Vaal!” Akoompa proclaims, indicating the 20 or so Oompa Loompas who are standing around basically in towels. Kirk wonders where the children are. The Oompa Loompas of Vaal don’t understand the word “children”. “Little ones, like yourselves, they grow,” Kirk sums up, which I think is actually a pretty accurate and concise description of children. I guess hanging out with Spock has rubbed off on him. “Ah, replacements! They are unnecessary, Vaal has forbidden them,” Akoompa explains.
Redskirt is confused: “But when a man and woman fall in love..” Akoompa laughs. “Strange words,” he says. “Children, love… What is love?” Redskirt looks a little awkward, and Chekov springs into the frame, looking just about ready to give these people a biological lesson in the manner of “Debbie Does Chekov”. He puts his arm around Redskirt. “Love is when two people are…” she begins, but finds herself unable to answer. “Ah, yes,” Akoompa nods, “the holding, the touching. Vaal has forbidden this.” “Well, there goes paradise,” Bones scoffs. (Paradise references: 6) Did I mention I love Bones? Kirk looks a little upset that he won’t be scoring some orange tail, but Akoompa makes the villagers welcome them, which they all do happily. The tribal women wrap flowers around the landing party’s arms. Upon seeing Spock’s, Kirk smirks and says, “It, uh, does something for you.” “Indeed it does, Captain,” Spock replies cheerfully. “It makes me uncomfortable.”
“I am Sayana,” one tribal girl says to Spock. “Do you have a name?” “Yes,” Spock replies. “I am Spock.” No, you’re not, Nimoy. The tribals all look at each other and laugh hysterically, repeating his name. Spock raises his eyebrows. “I fail to see what they find so amusing,” he tells Kirk. Kirk looks innocent and confused, as though he doesn’t laugh at Spock for no reason at least once a week. Then McCoy breaks into a smile, like he’s found his people, those who laugh at Spock for nothing. They are brought to a pretty impressive … wigwam? I don’t know, it’s a tent made out of sticks (which, for those of you curious, is better than straw, but worse than bricks). “Now ve are velcome. Avhile ago, this whole planet vas trying to kill us! It doesn’t make sense,” Chekov exclaims. “Nothing makes sense down here,” Kirk sighs. “Kirk to Enterprise!” He asks Scotty for an update, and Scotty tells him that there is basically no change. “I’m sick of hearing that word ‘can’t’! Get that ship outta there!” Kirk growls. To be fair, Scotty usually says “canna” and not “can’t”. As in, “I canna change the laws of physics!” Scotty assures Kirk that they’re doing everything they can within reason. Kirk gives a lot of mechanical orders, and gets increasingly angry with poor Scotty, who seems to be just as concerned (if not more so) by his impending death.
McCoy and Spock approach Kirk. “Incredible,” Bones says. “I just ran a thorough check on the natives, and there’s a complete lack of harmful bacteria in their systems.” He lists off some other medical terms, basically indicating that they aren’t aging. Kirk turns to Spock and asks for his opinion. “Quite possible,” Spock replies. Yes, Spock, it’s quite possible that the ship’s Chief Medical Officer might be correct on his medical discovery. “It checks with my atmospheric analysis.” He explains that their atmosphere protects them from any harmful effects from their sun. I assume he means, besides that awful orange color they’ve all turned. Kirk makes yet another paradise reference. (Paradise references: 7)
Kirk gets distracted by a bunch of natives walking by, grinning their perfectly white teeth out. The landing party hurries out of their wigwam, and Spock and Kirk follow them to Vaal-demort. The people of Vaal are feeding his giant head. Spock confirms it is a machine, not a living being. They try to approach it, but Vaal-demort’s hideous yellow-line eyes light up and his mouth shakes. “That’s not the way,” Kirk surmises. “Evidently not,” Spock agrees. They deduce that it is a highly intelligent machine, but it needs to eat frequently; thus, it can’t have any power on reserve. They figure out that Vaal-demort probably weakens around feeding time, and asks the Enterprise to keep track of the strength of the beam hour by hour.
Bones sneaks up behind Kirk and Spock. “What’s going on, Jim?” Where were you, Bones? I saw you leave the wigwam with the rest of 'em. Kirk explains that Vaal is being fed. Spock comments that this is just a society at work, which causes Bones to call him computerized. They bicker a little bit. Spock is not bothered by the society, and tells McCoy not to apply human standards to this culture. Bones believes that every humanoid has the right to “a free and unchained environment, the right to have conditions which permit growth.” Spock argues that another is “their right to a system that seems to work for them.” McCoy gives up on the Vulcan and turns to Kirk, asking him if he’s blind to what’s going on. “There’s been no change or progress here in at least 10,000 years! This isn’t life. It’s stagnation!” And Spock’s view isn’t an opinion, Bones. It’s the prime directive!
Kirk doesn’t actually answer because Spock pipes in again, pointing out that the people on this planet are “healthy and happy. Their system works.” “Well it might work for you, Mr. Spock, but it doesn’t work for me! Humanoids living so they can service a hunk of tin?” Bones rants. I have to say, this is a most interesting Spock v. McCoy fight. “Gentlemen,” Kirk finally breaks in, “I think this philosophical argument can wait until our ship's out of danger.” Just like any good Spock fan, I die a little inside when I hear that line.
Scotty drops a line to say that the power of the tractor beam has been dropping bit by bit. He also says he’s switching everything but the kitchen fly, I mean, kitchen sink into impulse power. “It’ll take us another eight hours.” The “Oh No” music drops in for a quick hello. “That’s cutting it a bit fine, Scotty,” Kirk says anxiously.
Back at the stick wigwam, Yeoman Landon paces, worrying about the Enterprise. If she’s trying to get Chekov to hold her, it’s not working this time, because Kirk cuts in with a “Yeoman, you’re wasting your energy.” He convinces her to eat some food.
Thus begins the best scene in the episode.
“Yeoman, speculate,” Kirk continues. “What would happen if someone on this planet died?” Landon points out that they’re immortal. “Accidents happen,” he suggest. “Yes,” Landon says cautiously. “I suppose if someone were to fall of a cliff or something, that might upset the balance of the population.” “They’d need a replacement,” Kirk concludes. “Opinion, Mr. Spock?” Spock sees no alternatives, which is rare. Landon is all, “But these people don’t know anything about…” Her voice trails off as she realizes what she’s about to say on 1960s prime time television. Spock raises his eyebrows. Kirk even raises his eyebrows, a little amused. McCoy, who is a doctor and thus probably bored of people being modest about things, just stares at her.
“What I mean is, they don’t seem to have any natural, uh…” Landon tries again. She pauses, and then helplessly asks the table, “I mean, how is it done?” Chekov’s somewhere, Yeoman. He’ll show you how it is done. And probably claim it was inwented in Russia. I guess Kirk didn’t get enough enjoyment out of embarrassing Landon, so he turns to Spock. “Mr. Spock, you’re the science officer. Why don’t you explain it to the young lady?” I can’t begin to explain how uncomfortable Spock looks. “Well, I believe it’s safe…” Spock says, and then clears his throat awkwardly. “…safe to assume that they would receive the necessary… instructions.” “From a machine?” McCoy asks, mildly outraged. His eyebrows finally catch up, and he raises one in surprise. It’s like eyebrow poker in the wigwam. Spock calls McCoy’s eyebrow, and raises both. McCoy matches. “That’d I’d like to see,” Bones adds, smirking. I’m sure you would, Bones.
Akoompa is standing in front of Vaal-demort. “I understand, Vaal. It shall be done,” he says aloud.
Chekov and Landon decide to take a moonlit stroll through the Garden of Freaky. “Without Vaal, this place would be paradise,” Landon sighs. (Paradise references 8) Oh my GOD, Star Trek! We get it! Stop with the freaking PARADISE metaphors! I swear, if I hear the word paradise one more time…
“Any place ve can be together is paradise,” Chekov replies. Gah! He starts nuzzling her neck. “Pav… can the ship really break away?” Landon asks. Aw! ‘Pav’ doesn’t know. “Will we be able to get back on board?” she continues. “Martha, I don’t know!” he laughs. “But if ve do have to stay here…,” he says, zooming in for a kiss, “vould it be so wery bad?” Maybe not for you and Hot Lips, but there ARE 400 other people on board. I think that would be “wery bad”, Pav.
Two Oompa Loompas have been watching them make out, and they, of course, decide to play doctor about 10,000 years too late. They awkwardly kiss and discuss how pleasant it is. It’s a very predictable and very orange scene, so I would subject you to much more.
Akoompa enters with thunder, stating that “the law is plain.” He asks if they want to be smitten by lightening. The girl blames it on “the strangers”. “You copied them?” Akoompa asks, surprised. He tells them that the men of Vaal need to meet when the strangers are asleep. The way Pav and Martha were goin’ at it, that might some time, Akoompa.
Akoompa tells the men that they are to kill the strangers. The men of Vaal are all, “What? Kill? Huh? What’s that?” “It is a thing to do, like feeding Vaal,” Akoompa explains. “Vaal explains it to me, I will show you.” He proceeds to do this adorable step-by-step DIY Kill A Person instructional speech. He picks up a stick and a piece of fruit, and hits the fruit with the stick. The fruit is intended to be a stranger’s head. Oh, and by stick, I mean metal forks in the ground that nobody noticed earlier. “It will be done when the sun returns in the morning,” Akoompa declares.
Akoompa tells the villagers that they must kill the strangers.
Dramatic zoom in of the smashed fruit/head, and the “Oh No!” music, of course, triumphantly returns.
Back in the wigwam, everyone is asleep except Kirk and Spock. Spock’s still going on about how the society is a viable one, and the people are healthy and happy. I guess Kirk doesn’t mind the philosophical discussion now, because he picks up Bones’ end: “These people aren’t living, they’re existing… They exist to service a machine.” Spock considers this. “If we do what it seems we must, in my opinion, we’ll be in direct violation of the Noninterference Directive,” he points out. Thank you for finally bringing up the biggest argument for your side, Spock! “These are people, not robots! They should have the opportunity of choice,” Kirk says. Whatever, your biggest argument is “we can’t get out of here unless we violate the Noninterference Directive”, Kirk, you should stick to it. “We owe it to them to interfere!” Kirk exclaims. See, the Prime Directive was put into place so that Captains like you couldn’t try to make a subjective choice about changing societies. Spock meanders off to check on things.
Scotty and Kirk talk briefly, and Scotty says that in a half hour, they’ll be trying to pull out of the tractor beam pull. Kirk reminds Scotty that in 45 minutes, they’ll begin to burn up. Scotty is very aware of that, thank you very much.
Spock comes running back in. “Captain!” he says loud enough to wake McCoy. “The people of Vaal seem to have disappeared.” Chekov, McCoy, Spock, and Kirk all run out of wigwam in an awful hurry. Spock and Kirk go straight to Vaal-demort. Kirk tries to reason with Vaal-demort, which is obviously a terrible idea. The skies begin to darken, and Spock’s tricorder readings change in various ways. Lightening gathers, and Kirk screams “Let’s get out of here!”, but a little too late: Spock gets hit by lightening! A burning hole in his shirt indicates that his life may very well be in danger! The “Oh No!” music swells as Kirk swings Spock over his shoulder and flees.
Back at the willage of Waal, Kirk is calling out for Bones. The doctor comes out of the wigwam. Huh? I thought they all were out of the wigwam. Did Chekov and McCoy just run outside, look around, and run back in? That seems counterproductive. Anyway, Bones helps Kirk put Spock on the ground and examines his back. “Second degree burns,” Bones muses. “Not serious, but I bet they smart.” Spock’s face does scream Extremely Controlled But Serious Pain. “Doctor,” Spock rasps, “you have an unsurpassed talent for understatement.”
Attack of the Oompa Loompa’s! Marple, of course, has the misfortune of stepping out of the wigwam at the very moment the Oompas attack. He is struck on the head and killed. (For those of you keeping track, all four of the original male Redshirts is now gone.) Oompas come out of everywhere, holding these giant forks above their heads. The landing party fights them, of course, which involves some kung-fu chopping and Vulcan Neck Pinching (yay!). Yeoman Landon actually grabs an Oompa by the arm and flips him over, and then kicks another in the stomach immediately after, rendering them both in too much pain to get up. You go girl. Kirk rolls around on the ground. Uh, you go girl…
Yeoman Landon kicks some orange Oompa ass.
Yeoman Landon continues to kick some Oompa ass.
Kirk rolls around on the ground, trying to lose his shirt in vain.
Bones is crouching over the newest Deadshirt in that “He’s dead, Jim” position, which I guess Kirk can read by now, because he doesn’t even ask. Kirk tells the landing party to put the poor, confused natives in the wigwam. Spock, with no small touch of cynicism, notes that McCoy wanted the Vaalians to be more human. “I submit there is no cause for worry. They’ve taken the first step. They’ve learned to kill,” he says, steadily, throwing one of the fork-sticks to the ground. McCoy looks kind of embarrassed, which is a shame, because he was asleep when Kirk agreed with him, so he thinks he really is the only one who wished this on them.
Scotty lets Kirk know that the ship is ready to try and escape the tractor beam. “Put her in full reverse,” Kirk orders. “Get her out of there.” At first it seems like it’s working, but then, suddenly, it stops. They only have pulled away a little. “We gained… maybe an hour, but we blew nearly every system in the ship doing it. There’s nothing left to try again.” Scotty sighs. “I guess you’ll have to fire me, sir.” Kirk, dazed, replies, “You’re fired.”
Kirk once more blames everything on himself, including everyone on the Enterprise dying. “I had to follow orders, always orders!” he laments to Bones. Duh, that’s what being part of a fleet is about. Bones just kind of stands there awkwardly looking at the sky. I thought he was just ignoring Kirk’s self-pity speech, but it turns out that Vaal-demort is ringing a bell, demanding dinner, and Bones is listening to that. The people of Vaal try to leave the wigwam, but Chekov won’t let them. Kirk realizes something that they almost realized seven or eight hours ago. “Bones, stay here with Chekov! Don’t let them feed Vaal!” he cries out, telling Spock to follow him as he runs towards Vaal. Since the Enterprise assumably hasn’t lost phaser firing power, I think I can see where this is going.
Sure enough, Kirk gives Scotty the coordinates for firing at Vaal. “Aye, sir, but they won’t penetrate that force field!” Scotty exclaims. “If my guess is right, they won’t have to,” Kirk replies. Spock notes that Vaal-demort is trying to get power from the surrounding area. Kirk hypothesizes that, if the force field was attacked, then Vaal would be unable to maintain its energy for very long without being fed. He gives Scotty the signal to fire. Vaal tries to get a storm brewing, but it seems a little weak. Sparks start forming in Vaal’s mouth, and soon his whole head is smoking. His crazy green eyes go dead. “Scotty, cease fire!” Kirk exclaims. Spock confirms that Vaal is dead.
Scotty adds that the tractor beam is gone and that the potency has returned to the antimatter pods. “Scotty, you’re rehired!” Kirk says, joyously. He then comms Chekov and Bones to tell them to let the people of Vaal out.
Once people of Vaal come to them, Kirk and Spock show them that Vaal is dead. Akoomba complains that it was Vaal who gave them food and water. “He… cared for us,” Akoomba says, sadly. “You’ll learn to care for yourselves. And there’s no trick to putting fruit on the trees. You might even enjoy it,” Kirk tells them. We see the orange couple who were caught kissing earlier; his arm is around her. Oompa Loompa love! “That’s what we call freedom! You’ll like it… a lot!” Kirk continues. “And you’ll learn something about men and women—,” and sometimes women and women, and sometimes men and men, “they way they’re supposed to be. Caring for each other. That’s what we call love. You’ll like it, too. And your children will,” Kirk exclaims. “What are children?” an Oompa asks. “The… little ones? They look like you, they…” Kirk begins, but then remembers that they don’t get it. “Just keep on going the way you’re going, you’ll find out,” he sighs. The Oompas somehow find this funny, even though there’s no way they could get sexual jokes yet.
Back on the ship, we hear McCoy drawling “I don’t agree with you at all, Mr. Spock!” and Spock responding evenly, “That’s not unusual, Doctor.” Kirk is passing them, and McCoy pulls him back for a second. “Hey, Jim, I want you to hear this.” The three stop, and Spock says, “Captain, I’m not at all certain we did the correct thing on Gamma Trianguli VI.”
“We put those people back on a normal course of social evolution,” McCoy argues. “I see nothing wrong with that.” “Well,” Kirk says, “it’s a good object lesson, Mr. Spock. An example of what can happen when a machine becomes too efficient.” Spock looks like he has about as much understanding of "a machine becoming too efficient" as Akoompa did of "children". “Captain, you are aware of the biblical story of Genesis?” Spock asks. Kirk is, and he’ll be even more so in about 15 years. “Adam and Eve tasted the apple and were driven out of paradise,” Kirk grins. Gah! (Paradise references: 10) You’re not even on the planet anymore! Stop with the paradise metaphors. “Precisely, Captain,” Spock replies: “and in a manner of speaking, we have given the people of Vaal the apple… the knowledge of good and evil, if you will… and thus have they been driven out of paradise.” Et tu, Spock?! “Doctor, do I understand him correctly?” Kirk asks. “Are you casting me in the role of Satan?”
“Not at all, Captain, I merely—,” Spock begins, but Kirk interrupts him, “Is there anyone on this ship who looks remotely like Satan?” At this comment, Kirk and McCoy look at Spock very carefully, and the traditional “Someone Made A Funny” Star Trek music tinkles. That’s right, Kirk, if you fail to outlogic Spock, the least you can do is make fun of his Vulcan heritage and/or appearance. I guess hanging out with Bones has rubbed off on him, too. Spock frowns and crosses his arms, clearly more than a little exasperated.
“I am not aware of anyone who fits that description, Captain.” Kirk smirks, “No, Mr. Spock, I didn’t think you would be.” Kirk and McCoy walk off snickering leaving Mr. Spock rolling his eyes.
And so yet another episode ends with people laughing at an exasperated Spock.