I volunteer for the blind. Diane Muldare or whatever her name is did not do the greatest job. I’m well aware that most of the episode she had on that sensory dress, but she still made a poor blind person. And the addition of Marvick’s obsession with her (the plot thins) did not help it out. I also did not buy for a second that no one on the bridge said to Spock/Kollos, “Hey brother, don’t forget your sunglasses”.
The Enterprise has been assigned to transport an alien ambassador, whose physical appearance causes insanity, and his telepathic aide. The closest the series has come to a filler episode at this point...
This episode has a few fairly good moments, but for the most part is a very average and rocky tale, and the closest the Original Series has come to a filler episode at this point.
The concept of Medusan ambassador Kollos, whose physical appearance drives people insane, is a thinly disguised reworking around the ancient Greek myth of Medusa, who would turn anyone who looked at her to stone. The idea here is an interesting one, but deserves a stronger storyline around it.
Probably the best thing about this mixed episode is Diana Muldaur as Dr. Miranda Jones. Muldaur had already played a different character in the second season episode "Return to Tomorrow", and in the role as Jones she has good screen presence. The twist revealed about her later in the episode (which I shan't give away here) is quite unexpected. (Diana Muldaur would, of course, go on to play Dr. Kate Pulaski in the second season in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation').
If this story had come earlier in the show's life, it no doubt would have been much sharper and polished, but by this point, things are feeling a bit tired, and the show has defiantly long peaked by this point.
The episode has its good moments, but ultimately winds up as one of the Original Series' far weaker stories. While there are some genuinely nice moments, there are also a number of weak ones.
The plot has a great many elements, and plays like one story after another. While it deserves credit for trying something with such scope, the result is sadly something uneven and unfocused.
"Who says that fictions only and false hair become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty?"
- From Jordan (I), a 1633 poem by George Herbert
Talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly! This episode's unsolicited, amateur script has all the hallmarks of Mary Sue fan fiction. Basically, it's about an extraordinarily woman with remarkable talents visiting the ship, and all the guys try to elbow each other away to get her attention.
(Mary Sue: noun, An original female character in fan fiction who serves as an idealized version of the author mainly for the purpose of wish fulfillment. She's often exotically beautiful, having an unusual hair or eye color, and exceptionally talented in an implausibly wide variety of areas).
But writer Jean Aroeste, a librarian, gives the episode several broad strokes that are more inventive than those offered by her professional counterparts. She creates one of Star Trek's most "alien" aliens, adds a clever, unexpected twist midway through, and turns the title question on its ear through her two character creations. Unfortunately, her subplots are all over the map, and the core issue of looking upon the Medusan itself is handled inconsistently. (At first, Captain Kirk and his crew aren't even allowed to look at the alien's housing, and Spock has to wear a protective visor. Then as the episode progresses, only the alien inside is treated as a dangerous sight, and everyone becomes more casual about the situation. Heck, Captain Kirk isn't even allowed in the transporter room at the beginning, but he's right there at the end!)
Aroeste's greatest problem, however, is her need to have the lead guest star be more right than the crew, with the script having the guys ask why someone so beautiful would spend her days with one so ugly and having her put them in her place with a pointed answer. That's all fine for her, but in the next episode she's gone, and the regular cast will be back; it's important not to make them look too bigoted. And yet Captain Kirk takes the foolishness one step further. He attempts to seduce Jones as a distraction, only resorting to reasoning with her as Plan B. (This seems like a new low even for him). But Kirk's poor showing is balanced by the awesomeness of Jones, Spock and Kollos, with Diane Muldaur, Leonard Nimoy, and the special effects team working well together to bring the three to life to create a compelling triangle relationship. (Nimoy in particular deserves credit for giving Kollos a personality through the Vulcan mind meld story device). Having a woman raised on Vulcan is an intriguing concept, and mixing Vulcan training with Earth emotions gives Dr. Jones an interesting personality that Muldaur plays well and Shatner and Nimoy play well against.
Toss in a new score and the sure hand of director Ralph Senensky, and you have a decent little bottle show.
Diane Muldaur returns to Star Trek to play a third doctor in TNG's second season.
Remastered Version: B
With the Enterprise leaving the galaxy in this episode, there are quite a few cool sights here, though both the original and remastered use some previous footage to flesh it out. Interestingly, the original uses the same stock footage of the "Operation: Annihilate" planet for both the beginning and end, despite the whole point of the episode being to transport the Medusan from one place to another. (Would it have killed them to pull out another stock planet?) Actually, the dialogue in the episode is inconsistent with regard to the destination. In the beginning, Kirk says they're transporting the entity to the Medusans' home planet, but later Dr. Jones says they're rendezvousing with a Medusan vessel. The original takes its lead from Kirk and has the Enterprise enter orbit with a planet at the end, but the remastered version agrees with Dr. Jones and includes a rendezvous with a Daedalus Class ship similar in design to one of Captain Sisko's models.
The remainder of the remastered shots include an Earth-like planet, the old galactic barrier, a nebula effect, and shots of the Enterprise going here and there. The "Kollos" effect, an ingenious pattern of flickering colors that really does seem like it could drive you mad, is wisely left alone.
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