Season 2, Episodes 16-20, Star Trek: The Original Series

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Can this group of episodes beat out the stellar quality of last week’s? I don’t know, but I think it comes pretty close. We cover some more classic sci-fi tropes in these episodes, and while they’re not perfect, I really liked most of them, most of the time.

Season 2, Episode 16: “The Gamesters of Triskelion”

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Original Airdate: 5 January 1968
Directed by: Gene Nelson
Written by: Margaret Armen
Wikipedia synopsis: “Captain Kirk, Chekov and Uhura are kidnapped by powerful disembodied aliens and forced to fight in gladiatorial contests for the aliens’ gambling entertainment.”
Favorite quote: “I am chasing the Captain, Lieutenant Uhura, and Ensign Chekov not some wild aquatic fowl”
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This episode was actually really good, despite the lackluster set-up. It was one that I was semi-dreading watching, because TOS episodes where highly evolved beings make the crew of the Enterprise fight for their own amusement are like a dime a dozen. Maybe it’s just season 1 versus season 2, but this one is pretty well executed. It follows a lot of TOS stereotypes, but remains a strangely compelling episode of the more adventurous and less thought-provoking type.

Season 2, Episode 17: “A Piece of the Action”

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Original Airdate: 12 January 1968
Directed by: James Komack
Written by: David P. Harmon and Gene L. Coon
Wikipedia synopsis: “The Enterprise visits a planet with a violent culture based on Americas 1920s prohibition era.”
Favorite quote: “Captain, you are an excellent starship commander. But as a taxi driver, you leave much to be desired.”
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Yay! Another comedic episode! In this one, they get beamed down to investigate a contagion and discover the planet is overrun by 1920s gangsters! Basically, the contagion plot gets jettisoned as Kirk attempts (unsuccessfully) to remodel their society. Bones, Spock, and Kirk basically just have to escape, and that involves engaging with the gangster culture to a hilarious degree. Shatner in particular really gets into it, and it’s hilarious to see the bemused expressions on the rest of the crews’ faces as they find out what happened to their captain (also, dope suits in this episode).

Season 2, Episode 18: “The Immunity Syndrome”

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Original Airdate: 19 January 1968
Directed by: Jospeh Pevney
Written by: Robert Sabaroff
Wikipedia synopsis: “The crew of the Enterprise encounters an energy-draining space creature.”
Favorite quote: “We’re going to attempt to probe the area of darkness”
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This a pretty good episode, as the Enterprise encounter a creature in space that drains its energy. It does this just as a byproduct of staying alive, not maliciously. The Enterprise has to make a choice between running way and learning more, and in choosing the second, almost looses the lives of everyone on board. This is a good episode of the crew running up against a natural enemy that really doesn’t intend to harm them, but must be destroyed anyway. The only thing holding it back is a weird animosity between Spock and McCoy which is usually good-natured, but turns a bit ugly in this episode.

Season 2, Episode 19: “A Private Little War”

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Original Airdate: 2 February 1968
Directed by: Marc Daniels
Written by: Gene Roddenberry and Jud Crucis
Wikipedia synopsis: “Captain Kirk must decide how to save a primitive people from the technological interference of the Klingons.”
Favorite quote: “The fact that Earth took 12 centuries doesn’t mean they have to.”
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This was a decent episode, one that brings the crew into contact with the Klingons and the prime directive (even though the prime directive itself was not really mentioned at all). Spock also gets shot when they first land on the planet, so the story is split between the Klingons, the tribe with Kirk’s friend, and Spock healing. It mostly works. The tribe is lead by Kirk’s old friend when he was stationed there, and his wife is witch woman who’s really crazy plotwise and her motives don’t always make sense. Anyway, interesting episode as far as interfering with other civilizations goes, but the ending is abrupt and the tribe leader’s wife is crazy.

Season 2, Episode 20: “Return to Tomorrow”

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Original Airdate: 9 February 1968
Directed by: Ralph Senensky
Written by: John Kingsbridge
Wikipedia synopsis: “Telepathic aliens take control of Kirk and Spock’s bodies with the intention to build new, mechanized bodies for themselves.”
Favorite quote: “Not even a Vulcan can know the unknown, Captain”
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There are a lot of Star Trek episodes, I feel like mostly in the first season (like “Naked Time” and “This Side of Paradise”) where the crew gets affected by some sort of space thing and basically show their crazy true selves. That’s not what this episode is, but one of the best features about it reminds me of those types of episodes. A race of beings who have achieved pure consciousness want to occupy the bodies of the crew temporarily in order to build robot bodies they can occupy permanently. The one that inhabits Kirk is the leader, whereas the one who inhabits Spock goes rogue and wants to stay in Spock’s body (cuz he’s half Vulcan and super strong and stuff). That means we get to see Nimoy emote wayyyyy more than 90% of TOS episodes (since he’s technically not playing Spock but a mustache twirling villain for half an episode). It’s pretty amazing to see, because most of the time you don’t even think about how much Spock withholds just because of who he is. This episode also has a lot to think about and is jam packed with plot twists, definitely a highlight of the series.

This was another really good group of episodes and I continue to be a fan of season two! “The Gamesters of Triskelion” was strangely compelling even though it’s paint-by-numbers Trek at first glance. “Piece of the Action” was a fantastic comedic episode (which Trek doesn’t do a lot). “The Immunity Syndrome” was an interesting look at how the Enterprise confronts a natural enemy, but featured a strangely hostile depiction of the Spock/Bones relationship. “A Private Little War” was a decent episode dealing with Prime Directive stuff, and in “Return to Tomorrow” we get to see Nimoy emote! Really good group of episodes, hopefully we’ll be back soon to close out season 2!

Click here to read reviews of the next group of episodes!

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