Eh season three…. The sage continues with five more episodes. Most of them are not great, but at least we have a classic to look forward to at the end.
Season 3, Episode 11: “Wink of an Eye”
Original Airdate: 29 November 1968
Directed by: Jud Taylor
Written by: Arthur Heinemann and Lee Cronin
Wikipedia synopsis: “Invisible ‘time-accelerated’ aliens take over the Enterprise and attempt to abduct the crew for use as ‘genetic stock.'”
Favorite quote: “He aged very rapidly and died.”
This episode was not great. I can’t muster up enough emotion to say it was outright bad, mostly it was just really unremarkable and kind of a mess. The mechanics of how the super speed worked and what it did to the human body made no sense whatsoever, but I guess that’s not super unusual for TOS. Having the alien chick pursue Kirk was even less original (though they did imply actual sex way more heavily than usual, so maybe that’s notable as a censorship thing?). Eventually Spock and Bones do some science and save the day, but overall this episode was really not anything to get excited about.
Season 3, Episode 12: “The Empath”
Original Airdate: 6 December 1968
Directed by: John Erman
Written by: Joyce Muskat
Wikipedia synopsis: “While visiting a doomed planet, the landing party is subject to torturous experiments to test an empathic race.”
Favorite quote: “I shall certainly give the matter all the consideration it is due”
While “Wink of an Eye” wasn’t all that exciting because it felt like we had seen it all before, “The Empath” isn’t all that exciting because it tries to do a lot of profound things but ultimately it doesn’t do them very well. I kind of liked the “set” that is just weird furniture on an empty sound stage, but other than that this episode was pretty grating. The aliens were all kind of obnoxious, the bad ones weren’t all that threatening and the good one was overacting even more than Shatner (thankfully no dialogue). It all results in an argument we’ve seen before, Kirk yelling something about the importance of humanity and compassion and eventually saving the day. We did get some Spock sass at the end though, which was pretty needed at that point.
Season 3, Episode 13: “Elaan of Troyius”
Original Airdate: 20 December 1968
Directed by: John Meredyth Lucas
Written by: John Meredyth Lucas
Wikipedia synopsis: “Captain Kirk hosts a spoiled princess, who must bring peace to a star system at war.”
Favorite quote: “Mr. Spock, the women on your planet are logical. That’s the only planet in the galaxy that can make that claim.”
This episode was…. tiresome. Sure, a lot of stuff happened, but I’m not a huge fan of Kirk teaching the alien chick of the episode (Elaan) manners and threatening to spank her and such. Really not into it. As an episode I guess it was pretty much fine, the confrontation with the Klingons was a welcome diversion from the weird sexist ettiquette lesson we were getting prior to it, and the final reveal of why they were interested in the planet was neat too.
Season 3, Episode 14: “Whom Gods Destroy”
Original Airdate: 3 January 1969
Directed by: Herb Wallerstein
Written by: Lee Erwin and Jerry Sohl
Wikipedia synopsis: “Captain Kirk visits a mental health facility and confronts an insane starship captain who believes he is destined to control the universe.”
Favorite quote: “Yes, it is somewhat reminiscent of the dances that Vulcan children do in nursery school.”
Tumblr Commentary (not available for this episode, sorry!)
This episode was also…. alright. Not great, not horrible, but a pretty average episode of TOS. Aspects of it were annoying, including the particular brand of “insanity” depicted in this episode; I would really like to know how the alien chick wound up in prison, when just about the most “insane” thing she does is pretend she wrote Shakespeare. Ah well, the actual villain is at least a bit more threatening. The best part is that he can (pretty implausibly) shape shift, so Spock has to figure out which person who looks like Kirk is actually Kirk and which is the villain of the episode. Then it goes right back to being annoying again in its depiction of insanity, because apparently in the future we can cure all mental illness with one singular shot.
Season 3, Episode 15: “Let that Be Your Last Battlefield”
Original Airdate: 10 January 1969
Directed by: Jud Taylor
Written by: Oliver Crawford and Lee Cronin
Wikipedia synopsis: “The Enterprise picks up the last two survivors of a war-torn planet who are still committed to destroying each other aboard the ship.”
Favorite quote: “To expect sense from two mentalities of such extreme view points is not logical.”
Ah racism, a touchy subject at the best of times, and I’m sure 1969 was not the best of times. But that statement right there makes the same error that this episode does, and that’s assuming that racism is not a current problem. Sure, the Enterprise does exist hundreds of years in the future and is the result of mankind coming together with many other species on different planets to form the Federation, which is a helpful, peaceful organization that decontaminates planets from space (however that happens), but that doesn’t mean it’s past making fun of Spock’s green blood or shaming women who want to have careers of any sort. But everything’s great in our post-racial society, where the representative for the oppressors on planet Cheron talk to Kirk and Spock and the representative for the oppressed on planet Cheron talk to Sulu and Chekov.
All “outrage” aside, I did like the episode. Even if it doesn’t handle the issues super well, it tries. Plus, in most respects it’s an involving episode. Regardless of all the high-horse moralizing from Kirk and the crew, it was a pretty thrilling episode that sees Kirk about to destroy the ship and jeopardize the crew in order to make these warring aliens behave. The two multi-colored aliens are played pretty convincingly by Frank Gorshin and Lou Antonio, and what they find when they reach home is pretty tragic. I liked this episode because it did what Star Trek sets out to do pretty well, even if it doesn’t totally succeed it keeps you intrigued with its failures.
Really only the last episode, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” did anything for me. It wasn’t up their with some of Trek’s best episodes, but it did seem like what the show stands for and got me involved. The rest of the episodes just felt mediocre, and this group really did a number on me in terms of alien chicks falling for Kirk. I wish we could just move past that trope a bit in the next group.