Season 3, Episodes 6-10, Star Trek: The Original Series

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Season 3, Episode 6: “Spectre of the Gun”

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Original Airdate: 25 October 1968
Directed by: Vincent McEveety
Written by: Lee Cronin
Wikipedia synopsis: “For trespassing on an alien world, Captain Kirk and his companions are forced to re-enact the famous shoot-out at the O.K. Corral with themselves cast as the losing side.”
Favorite quote: “Let it go Jim, he’s dead.”
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This episode was okay. It wasn’t straight up bad, but it just didn’t do anything new or well enough to set it apart from the norm. It was set in a facsimile of the wild west, and it’s not like we haven’t seen some sort of recreation of Earth’s history on the show before. I think really the only stand out episode where this happens is the one set in Prohibition, but regardless this one did have a sort of interesting twist which features Spock realizing there all in some sort of mind control, and the only way to get out of it is to see right through it. Not really enough to make it great, especially because all Bones does is disagree with everybody at almost every turn.

Season 3, Episode 7: “Day of the Dove”

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Original Airdate: 1 November 1968
Directed by: Marvin Chomsky
Written by: Jerome Bixby
Wikipedia synopsis: “An alien energy-based life form that feeds on negative emotions (such as fear, anger, hatred) drives the crew of the Enterprise into brutal conflict with the Klingons.”
Favorite quote: “I too felt a brief surge of racial bigotry. Most distasteful.”
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Whenever the Klingons are around, you know the show is going to tangle with racism and prejudice on some level. Though we all saw that coming from a mile away, I still really liked this episode. An alien force (which is just like a ball of light changing colors and zooming around) is turned the Klingons and the Federation crew against each other in order to feed off their hatred and grow stronger. The thing is, it doesn’t create hatred out of nothing, it manipulates them to intensify emotions that are already there. So when everybody starts going crazy and battling each other, it’s not that far off the mark of how everyone actually feels. It takes all of the Klingons’ and Federation crew members’ civility to put their differences aside and combat their mutual enemy, but the way it turns out is totally worth it. (Also, Spock and Bones put aside their animosity for a bit and it’s really nice to see.)

Season 3, Episode 8: “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”

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Original Airdate: 8 November 1968
Directed by: Tony Leader
Written by: Rik Vollaerts
Wikipedia synopsis: “As McCoy discovers he is dying of an incurable disease, the crew of the Enterprise rush to stop an asteroid from colliding with a Federation world, only to discover that the asteroid is, in fact, a disguised alien vessel. They find an entire civilization living in the ship who believe they are actually on a planet and a dictatorial “Oracle” who forbids any attempt to discover the truth.”
Favorite quote: “Captain, informing these people they are on a ship might be in violation of the Prime Directive”
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This episode was…. alright. I wasn’t a huge fan of it, mostly because the central conflict just wasn’t interesting to me. The idea that an entire civilization exists under the pretense that they are living on a planet, not a ship, might be cool, but not if the audience is coming at it from the outside (at least not in the instance anyway). There’s not a ton of suspense involved with the civilization finding this out, and I wasn’t feeling a lot of conflict on the part of the Enterprise crew telling them or not telling them, so in the end it just didn’t seem to matter that their world wasn’t “real.” The romance was weird, and I thought the show might go to interesting lengths and keep McCoy’s disease a recurring plot point for a couple of episodes, but unfortunately I was wrong.

Season 3, Episode 9: “The Tholian Web”

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Original Airdate: 15 November 1968
Directed by: Herb Wallerstein
Written by: Judy Burns and Chet Richards
Wikipedia synopsis: “Captain Kirk is caught between dimensions while the Enterprise is trapped by an energy draining web spun by mysterious aliens. A sequel to this episode is In a Mirror, Darkly, the second to last major story arc of the final season of Star Trek Enterprise”
Favorite quote: “The renown Tholian punctuality”
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Okay this episode. I really liked it because it focused on the Spock/Bones dynamic and had the guts to get rid of Kirk for almost the entire episode, but still I have to acknowledge the lack of focus in this episode. You have Spock and Bones struggling to relate to each other, you have Kirk missing, you have the crew raging out because of the interphase crossing of the universes thing, and you have the Tholian force field thing. You have a lot of things. That last thing? You don’t need.

Season 3, Episode 10: “Plato’s Stepchildren”

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Original Airdate: 22 November 1968
Directed by: David Alexander
Written by: Meyer Dolinsky
Wikipedia synopsis: “The crew of the Enterprise encounters an ageless and mischievous race of psychic humanoids who claim to have organized their society around Ancient Greek ideals.”
Favorite quote: “Captain, it will be gratifying to leave here.”
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Ooof. We’ve finally made it to the first interracial kiss on television. Now, that sounds super progressive and aspirational, which I guess it was at the time it was, but today it’s just really awkward. I want to believe that Trek never consciously wants the show to be racist or sexist, but a lot of times it just is. At least this feels more mishandled rather than poorly-intentioned like “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” (But then again, maybe I just reacted to that so strongly because it was specifically about women in the workforce.) Regardless, having Uhura and Kirk kiss against their will was not really fun or inspiring to watch in anyway. Then cutting to a scene where Kirk is forced to whip Uhura against both of their wills? That was pretty poorly judged too. The episode overall is one of Trek’s more uncomfortable ones, with everybody forced to do all sorts of messed up things against their wills. I suppose in terms of the episode we’re considering, it’s not horrible, but in terms of television history, it kind of is.

This week we do a little bit better with Trek episode, as there are two I actually really enjoyed (though they are still a bit flawed), “Day of the Dove” and “The Tholian Web.” I wasn’t a huge fan of “Spectre of the Gun” or “For the World is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky” but neither of them were horrifically bad either. “Plato’s Stepchildren” is a strange one, as the first interracial kiss thing now overshadows almost everything else about the episode. It’s different, I’ll give it that, even though it history has it working against itself nowadays.

Click here to read reviews of the next group of episodes! (S3, E11-15)

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