3/25/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "This Side of Paradise"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S01E24
Air Date: March 2, 1967
Written by: D.C. Fontana
Directed by: Ralph Senensky

Premise
Checking up on a colony that should be dead, the Enterprise finds that the colony has stayed alive by use of a pollen that gives them perfect health and tears down all their inhibitions.

Review
"Emotions run deeply within our race," said Sarek in Star Trek (2009), "In some ways deeper than humans." A lot of people don't realize that Vulcans actually are capable of emotion, they just suppress it. This episode answers the question: "What if Spock's suppression mechanisms were broken down?"

The Enterprise's mission was to catalog the destruction of an agricultural colony that left from Earth three years ago. Unfortunately, the existence of deadly berthold rays was only discovered after they left. They were, however, undeterred. They settled down and determined to live despite the radiation. And live they did! When they beam down to the planet, Kirk and the away team find the colonists to be completely alive. Not only that, they're in absolutely perfect health. Even some glands that had been removed were regrown! And while they try to figure that out, Spock meets up with his old girlfriend, Leila Kalomi, to whom he seems quite unreceptive.
Because once he went black, he never went back.
So, she leads Spock down to an area of the planet where they can be alone... with the plants. And then the plants spit at him. And he is the first of the crew to get high on the spores. That's when he hangs around on trees and falls in love with Leila and smiles and totally breaks character. The spores give him a complete sense of peace and calm and lowers all of his emotional walls. For the first time in his life, he allows himself to be happy.

The leader of the colonists, Elias, as well as Spock, explain to Kirk that the plants flew around in space until they landed on the planet and waited around for humans to spit their spores into. The dirt on the planet is perfectly suited for planting, so not only are the random space plants welcome, but an agricultural colony is perfect. Kirk, however, argues that their paradise of an existence has made them stagnate. He says humans aren't meant for paradise and progress will never be made as long as they have no challenge.
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED
No one listened, though. Everyone on the entire ship is hit by the spores and never wants to leave. They're basically all high, but in perfect health. This planet is paradise. And Kirk wants out. He goes back onto the ship and tries to call Starfleet, but Uhura screwed up the communications. So he basically just sits around and makes another Captain's Log. And that's when a random plant finally gets to Kirk.

Kirk finally being under the influence of spores, he contacts Sock and tries to leave, but the extreme stress of having to leave his beloved ship behind congers negative emotions in him. And that, as it turns out, is the key to defeating the spores. Before he can transport down, he's cured, so he starts his master plan to cure the rest of the crew by beaming Spock up and making fun of his half-breededness. He jabs at him like a bully for a while and then Spock starts to fight. But in the middle of the fight he's cured! Back to his normal self, he sets up a sub-sonic treatment to go over everyone's communicator to make them agitated and angry and finally everyone is free of the spore's influence.
Spock: professional killjoy.
One last knot to tie up, though. Ya see, Leila was in love with Spock. And now Spock is no longer capable of returning that love. He beams him up to tell her that he is who he is, and that if there are self-made purgatories then we all have to live in them, that his can be no worse than someone else's. Whatever that means. Leila cries and then realizes that she lost not only Spock but the feeling the spores induced as well. However, she says that her feelings for Spock still have not changed and that she still loves him.

And so for the second time humanity was kicked out of paradise.

Overall Thoughts
This is one of the more interesting morals of the Star Trek story. Roddenberry doesn't like the idea of paradise, and, really, I don't blame him.Without a challenge, without a race to win, there is no progress. Change, challenge and intelligence - these are what bring us to the future.