4/16/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Apple"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S02E05
Air Date: October 13, 1967
Written by: Max Ehrlich
Directed by: Joseph Pevney

Premise
Kirk and the crew find a planet that, at first blush, appears to be an idyllic paradise. And then they come across dart-shooting flowers, exploding rocks and a serpentine cavern that controls an innocent, yet naive tribe.

Review
Although I don't particularly imagine paradise to have a red sky, that's exactly what strikes one first upon beaming down to Gamma Trianguli VI. And comparisons to paradise were exactly what were made by the landing party. It doesn't take long, however, to find something wrong. Leave it to a redshirt to find the only plant species in paradise that shoots poisonous darts. Luckily it's not the same plant that Chekov picks up for his girlie, Yeoman Landon. It does, however, keep a few people distracted when Spock finds rocks that can blow up on impact.  And then another redshirt dies from a stray lightening bolt. You'd think that'd be their cue to leave... but no.

These exploding rocks could be a valuable resource, says Spock. So they go on exploring. After a while, Spock mentions that some kind of lifeform is following them, but they never find it. And Chekov is off in a corner with Landon making bad Yakov Smirnoff jokes and trying to invade her Red Square. Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, Scotty says something planet-side is interfering with their anti-matter pods and draining all their power. So, when Kirk finally decides that there's too much danger here in "paradise", Scotty says there isn't even enough power to beam them up. Their mission now is clear: find whatever is interfering with the Enterprise.
And find a room for these two.
Redshirt Mallory finds a village, but when he runs back to find Kirk, he steps on an exploding rock and is killed instantly. This makes Kirk all kinds of distraught, but at that moment, Spock picks up another lifeform. Kirk devises a plan to trap it, and when they finally come face to face... the full-grown male alien cries like a little girl. The alien introduces himself as Akuta, the leader of the "Feeders of Vaal". Kirk asks to speak to Vaal, but apparently the snooty alien god only talks to Akuta. When Scotty says they're being held in orbit by something on the surface, though, Kirk demands to see Vaal. And Akuta finally agrees.

They go see Vaal and, sure enough, the crazy serpentine cavern refuses to speak. They take a few tricorder readings, run into his force field and eventually end up going back to Akuta's village. At the village they meet the Feeders of Vaal. They all look like albinos with spray tans. While there, the crew learn that Vaal keeps his feeders at full health in return for being fed. There is no need for love, no need for offspring, no need for sex, no need to progress. And this really troubles Bones. He argues with Spock about it for a while, but they are interrupted by Scotty calling in to say that the Enterprise is about to crash into the planet unless something is done about the field that's holding her. Whether or not Vaal is right is moot now. Vaal must die.
But first a lesson in sex from professors Chekov and Landon.
Well, the Feeders of Vaal are commanded by Vaal to kill the strangers, but that doesn't go over very well. First of all, they have to be taught what "kill" means. Then, when they try to bonk the strangers on the head, they're quickly overtaken and imprisoned in their own huts. Enterprise is given 45 more minutes until it crashes into the planet, so Kirk rushes to Vaal with Spock and commands that Scotty fires all phasers at the cavern/god/machine/thing. Vaal puts up a valiant fight, but is eventually overtaken and dies. The Feeders of Vaal are now free to do whatever - and whomever - they want.

Back on the Enterprise, Spock makes reference among Bones and Kirk to Adam and Eve being kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Which leads to a light hazing over which of these three character even remotely resembles Satan. Personally... I don't see it.

Overall Thoughts
I originally didn't like this episode, but the more I think about it, the more it holds together. I only wish we could have known the origin of Vaal. I feel like he might have been an experiment being run on the natives that was just kind of abandoned after a while. And, of course, Kirk is in clear violation of the Prime Directive, but that's nothing new. All-in-all I suppose this episode isn't as bad as I had originally thought. It's just that "paradise" is such an overused theme, I guess.