7/1/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "Plato's Stepchildren"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S03E10
Air Date: November 22, 1968
Written by: Meyer Dolinsky
Directed by: David Alexander

Premise
Answering a distress call, the crew find a Platonic race of telekinetic beings who hold Bones captive and force Kirk to make history with Uhura.

Review
Landing on the planet Plutonus, Kirk, Spock and Bones immediately meet a midget named Alexander who fakes them out by casting a huge shadow. Frankly, I don't know what they could have been scared of. They faced the huge shadow of a cat back in season two and it turned out to be just a regular-sized cat. And not even a real cat. But Alexander is real, and he's pretty much the only normal one on the planet, aside from his size.

Alexander explains that he and his people originally came from a planet that was about to explode along with its sun. They escaped and, because their leader liked the teachings of Plato so much, named his new home after the philosopher and adapted all of his teachings to their new government. The strongest minds will therefore lead and the weakest minds shall serve. They soon find out what the "strongest minds" means when, after they find the leader, they discover he is stricken with an infection and, in his fever, tosses things around the room... WITH HIS MIND!
Captain, please don't pretend like you need an excuse to touch them.
Well, the leader is sick, so this is what Bones is here for. He takes a look and finds that it's just a simple infection. He cures him right away and everything is good! Except... now the leader says they need a doctor on the planet. Out of all the great minds on Plutonus, they don't have any doctors, so Bones is being forced to stay. And Kirk and Spock will be killed. When they object, the leader takes control of them and makes them dance for him. They sing the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum song and then Spock dances around Kirk's head like a Mexican hat dance. It's all very silly and comical.

Well, then Spock and Kirk are sent to some kind of quarters where they discuss what in the world is going on along with Alexander. Alexander reveals that the Plutonians didn't have their telekinetic powers until a few months after they arrived on the planet. From that, Spock deduces that it's something in the local vegetation that made them develop powers, and not, as they thought, their naturally "strong" minds. Bones concurs on this theory and gets to work on a telekinesis serum. Meanwhile Alexander is relieved that his mind is not abnormal after all... just his height.
[Insert Tyrion Lannister reference here]
Meanwhile, the team gets some unexpected guests. Uhura and Nurse Chapel randomly beam down in the middle of Bones administering a heavy dose of telekinesis to Spock and Kirk. They look like they want to say something, but, in stead, they awkwardly walk off toward the Plutonians. It'll take a while for Kirk and Spock's telekinesis to kick in, so while they're waiting, they, too, are pulled into the entertainment chamber. For his amusement, the leader of the Plutonians have the Starfleet members perform. Spock sings a sonnet to Chapel and Kirk appears to woo Uhura. And in the telekinetically induced revelry, Kirk and Uhura perform the world's first on-screen interracial kiss. Which is immediately trampled on by Kirk being forced to pick up a whip and go after Uhura with it.

Over on the sidelines, Alexander, who's tired of this crap, pulls a knife and runs toward the Plutonian leader. But the leader instead forces Alexander to turn the knife on himself. The edge of the knife getting ever closer to Alexaner's chest, Kirk's telekinesis finally kicks in. Alexander throws the knife away and the Plutonian leader wonders who did that! Kirk throws down the whip and demonstrates the power of his own mind. The leader and Kirk fight for power over Alexander, meanwhile Alexander is bouncing back and forth with a knife in his hand hoping to kill the Plutonian leader.
Never trust a midget with a knife.
Kirk ends up getting the upper hand, but then he teaches Alexander a valuable lesson about not murdering people. The Plutonian leader, who is now afraid of Kirk because of his "stronger mind", promises to be good, but Kirk's all like "pfft - no you won't!" He says Starfleet will be back to check on them and, in the meantime, the leader must swear to uphold the rule of fair law and all that Plutonian stuff that he says he believes in. And then Kirk beams himself, Spock, Bones and Alexander back up to the Enterprise and the day is saved!

Overall Thoughts
This episode teaches a valuable lesson about tyranny of the mind. We hear a lot about people who take over control because of their ability to force people into submission, but rarely do we hear about people lording their brains over people and using this as a sort of dictatorial tactic. But especially in a universe like the Star Trek universe, this can and does happen. Don't think you're better than people just because you're smart. That's just as wrong as punching them.