7/24/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Cloud Minders"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S03E21
Air Date: February 28, 1969
Written by: David Gerrold and Oliver Crawford
Directed by: Jud Taylor

Premise
In the search for another cure, this time for a different planet, Kirk and friends get caught up in class rivalry on the planet Ardana.

Review
The planet Merak II is in desperate need of zenite to cure their planet-wide botanical plague. And the closest place to produce zenite is Ardana. When they arrive, they beam down to the mines and look up at the cloud city, Stratos. The rulers live up there while the workers, Troglytes, stay on the ground and work the mines. At least... they were working the mines. Now they're on strike. They don't have the zenite ready, and they don't care. In fact, when Kirk and Spock arrive, they attack!

Luckily Plasus is there to break up the party. He beams down and shoos away the Troglytes with the help of his guards. Plasus apologizes profusely as Kirk and Spock untie themselves from the Troglytes' ropes. He then invites them up to Stratos while they get the matter of the zenite settled. Up in the cloud city, the look down and make remarks about how awesome it is to have the whole city flying and stuff. And Plasus explains that Disruptors in the Troglytes have started a terrorist group. But that all fades away when he introduces his daughter, Midriff Droxine.
Proving once more that there are no ugly women in space.
Droxine seems to take a liking to Spock (I mean, who wouldn't?), and then they all take a look at the artwork around the room. Their tour is cut short, however when Plasus finds a miner's tool lodged into one of the pieces. That's when Plasus reveals that the Disruptors are delaying their work until the people of Stratos give them what they demand. And what they demand is equal footing. Which Plasus can't give them because they are objectively, demonstrably stupider than the people of Stratos.

One of the Troglytes is caught trying to leave without an identification card, so he's brought before Plasus for questioning. He looks suspiciously like Lil' John. And he's just about as coherent. It's clear that he's lying about every answer he gives, but at least when he commits to jumping out of the city, he jumps out of the city. He runs straight past Plasus and falls thousands of feet to his doom below. And then everyone ignores it and goes to their chambers for the night.
Kirk in his chambers. Normal.
While Spock is visited by Droxine, Kirk is visited by Vanna, one of the Troglytes who attacked him earlier. She attacks him again, this time with a weapon. Some guards take Vanna away and start to torture here, but Kirk is having none of that. He tries to stop the torture, but Plasus gets irate. They argue over the treatment of the Troglytes, but Plasus finally says "GO AND NEVER RETURN!" or something like that. Kirk and Spock go back up to the Enterprise and while they wait for their shipment of zenite, Bones comes in with a report on the Troglytes.

Apparently the Troglytes really are stupider than the Stratans. But not because they were born that way. A gas in the zenite that is released during mining is retarding their brain functions, but they should be able to counteract their effect with a special mask. Kirk thinks that's wonderful! And he presents the idea to Plasus but Plasus is still mad and rejects the idea. So Kirk goes straight for the source. He beams back down to the mines and gets himself caught by the Troglytes.
I am Stratos' reckoning.
When he finds himself in the cave with the Troglytes, he orders the Enterprise to beam Plasus in with them. When they're all alone, they start mining the zenite. The gas is released and they all slowly become stupider. And, of course, with stupidity comes aggression. And Kirk and Plasus fight with each other for a while. Meanwhile, Vanna finds Kirk's communicator and requests the Enterprise beam all of them up. Once they're all on the ship, Spock tries to calm Kirk down. It's all over now. Having gained Vanna's trust, she gives Kirk his order of zenite. Plasus is still pretty miffed, but he'll get over it. In the meantime, he has to deal with the fact that the zenite really is making the Troglytes stupid. And that'll take a while to work out.


Overall Thoughts
Class rivalry like this is sort of a staple in science fiction stories. There's something about having superior technology that makes superiority easy. And in this case, they did it rather well. Because the Enterprise had the most superior technology and they ended up being the ones to bring everyone together. I liked this story. I have no complaints.