This cute episode balances drama and humor with a heavy premise that seems more fitting for a Star Trek movie: an invasion from another galaxy. It's another interesting concept by Jerome Bixby, the writer of "Mirror, Mirror", with the ideas of a multigenerational ship and first contact with the residents of another galaxy being spectacular even for Star Trek. (With our galaxy being one of dozens in a local cluster, and the closest spiral galaxy being the biggest of the Local Group, it's great to see Star Trek to step outside its usual box and look at this bigger picture). And yet to finesse the grand concept into the weekly budget, the show has to turn the extraordinary idea into something more mundane. The Andremodans have lost their spaceship before we ever meet them and always assume human form, making them seem more like they're from Pennsylvania than another galaxy. They have magic belts that can remove all the extras from a scene and turn them into blocks, which is only one step away from the silliness of "Spock's Brain". And even the story seems a patchwork of past ideas with Kirk himself pointing it out: "This reminds me of Eminar VII!","The galactic barrier? Yes, we've been there before".
And yet director Marc Daniels somehow merges the various ideas together into a cohesive episode that succeeds as a small scale offering. Moving from a planet-based prison story to ship-based occupying force tale, Daniels gives it all a light touch that keeps the ideas fresh and reminds us not to take anything too seriously. It might not be anything we haven't seen before, but he's determined to make the patchwork of greatest hits a fun ride.
Remastered Version: Just like the original version, the upgraded counterpart reuses footage of the galactic barrier from "Where No Man Has Gone Before". This frees up some money to allow CBS Digital to extend the planet set with a gorgeous matte painting for an establishing shot as the crewmembers beam down. In addition to new shots of the Enterprise and a class M planet (originally a reuse of the "Operation: Annihilate!" planet and now looking more Earth-like), the team gives us a better image of Andromeda as well.