Star Trek

Season 3 Episode 21

The Cloud Minders

Aired Unknown Feb 28, 1969 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
142 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

To acquire the resources to cure a space plague, Kirk must resolve a mining dispute between the cultural elites of the cloud city of Stratos and the miners on the surface.

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  • In search of a cure for a plague, the Enterprise discovers a divided world, with an elite group of "haves" living in the clouds and a group of "have-nots" mining below.moreless

    This episode is a mixed bag, which is about the best that can be hoped for at this point in the series. There are some interesting visuals, lots of action, and interesting story to hold the viewer's attention; but there are also some plot holes and character inconsistencies (most notably involving Spock, who freely brags about Pon Farr, despite Spock and Vulcan Matriarch T'Pau making it clear in "Amok Time" that this sort of thing is not to be mentioned to "outworlders".) While Shatner and guest star Jeff Corey (Plasus) are great, and Diane Ewing (Droxine) is okay, Nimoy mails it in, clearly giving up on the series here, and Charlene Polite's performance (Vanna) isn't very memorable either.moreless
  • When Kirk and Spock visit planet Ardana to try and acquire a vital mineral needed to stop a plague, they become embroiled in the dispute between the cloud dwellers of Stratos and the miners on the planet below. A watchable if rather camp episode...moreless

    (Note: As with all of my Original Series reviews, I am reviewing the original version as opposed to the remasters, which I not seen yet).

    After the terrible "The Way to Eden" in the episode previously, anything was a step up, and "The Cloud Minders" is at least watchable. It's a strange sort of episode to try and sum up – far from one of the series' best moments, but it does at least hold the interest for the most part.

    The episode gets off to a dodgy start, as, after the opening credits, Kirk speaks a line of dialogue but his mouth does not move!

    The cloud city of Stratos is an interesting concept. But I do feel that the effects – which achieved wonders despite the limited technology and budget of the time in other episodes, were very shaky, and one of the Original Series' poorer examples. The cloud effect is passable, but the city itself looks very flat and unconvincing.

    Jeff Corey puts in a reasonable performance as High Advisor Plasus, in one of the better guest spots this late in the series. I couldn't decide about Diana Ewing as Droxine, who much of the time comes off as little more than a well-spoken bimbo. Saying that, she does have a very notable costume (or what there is of it!) which compliments her figure.

    The story does have the feel of much of the later third season that the series is definitely on its last legs, but that said, it does come off as one of the slightly better episodes from the late period. But far from the classy, thoughtful stories from earlier in the series, this one has a more 'camp', kitsch sort of feel.

    All-in-all, for a late Original Series, it does at least hold the interest more than most of those around it.moreless
  • While there are some faults, one of the better episodes from the final season overall.

    Kirk is caught in an age-old class war when the Enterprise visits a planet to obtain a needed mineral.

    Certainly not the worst of the Season 3 "issues" episodes, there are some good and bad things going on here. The basic premise is good, class struggles between those that work and those who enjoy only leisure. The false-looking "cloud city" actually re-inforces this message, a castle on a puffy cloud is no more real than what the segment of the population that lives there represents. It's nicely symbolic. The balcony on Stratos for beaming down to the surface is a nice set, poised high in the air. Also, the matte painting looking down on the planet from Stratos is well-executed.

    What doesn't work is the idea that an unseen gas is the true cause of the social disparity on the world, it's a cheap cop-out - though I do think the line that the airless cave is also an example of an invisible gas is a good piece of science fiction writing. Probably most annoying is Spock's apparent fascination with the wooden and empty-headed Droxine, it plays badly and almost seems like it is recycling cut lines from "The Enterprise Incident" ("beauty...can be...disturbing").

    In contrast to the original story written by Gerrold, I like the ending here, the script is still ambiguous and sets up and nice sense of future competition between the the protagonists. Not too bad.moreless
  • Average for 3rd season, given the misuse of Spock.

    Spock, a man who prides his closeted sexual nature so highly, seems to love telling Droxine that he doesn't "go for it" until every 7th year of his life.

    That aside, there are some astonishingly good performances in a script with real potential.

    The ending is a bit too PC, where everything always works out for the best, because the storyline just doesn't want to present a solution. It's a shame as there are many little nice touches (e.g. Plasus reassuring himself that the Trogolytes only know violence as a solution) in this one.

    Overall, it's average for season 3: Interesting plot concepts let down by some gaffes in logic (Kirk and Vanna using Vanna's card to beam back to the surface even though Kirk would be recognized and killed in an instant as he's banned from the planet!) and let down by Spock being very Un-Spock-like...moreless
  • Spock selfishly chooses to deliver life saving drugs to some obscure populated planet over an easy one night stand with a hot blond

    I loved Shatner’s performance in the cave with Plasus and Vanna. I think this was a good storyline. And I enjoyed the beam down method from Stratos to Ardana. I think I’m a sucker for the poor giving it to the rich. Maybe that is why it held my interest as it did. I’m glad they snuck this episode in before it was cancelled. Margaret Armen can really write when she wants to. All the side stories were interesting as well. How about that fall from the balcony in the clouds to the planet surface? You’d think they’d have a higher fence there, but it would have defeated the purpose of our boy who forgot his transport card from the swan dive!moreless
William Shatner

William Shatner

Captain James Tiberius Kirk

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

Mr. Spock

DeForest Kelley

DeForest Kelley

Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy

Jeff Corey

Jeff Corey


Guest Star

Diana Ewing

Diana Ewing


Guest Star

Charlene Polite

Charlene Polite


Guest Star

James Doohan

James Doohan

Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott

Recurring Role

Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols

Lt. Nyota Uhura

Recurring Role

Roger Holloway

Roger Holloway

Mr. Lemli (uncredited)

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (10)

    • Plasus fights Kirk to a draw, even though he is much older, a bureaucrat, and a member of an elite society that does no physical labor.

    • A botanical plague shouldn't "annihilate all life" unless plant bacteria can suddenly mutate and attack other cells, i.e., animal and humanoid. Just because the plants die, doesn't mean all life forms would perish immediately, as inferred in this episode. Oxygen would still exist for some time, giving the planet's inhabitants opportunity to relocate somewhere else.

    • McCoy says he "checked his findings" and determined the Troglytes' intellect ratings are 20% below average. How the heck did he do that? He has no access to the Troglytes and they've never shown the Enterprise sensors can scan people for their "intellect ratings." At best all he could have done was read the Stratos citizens' records... and those a) wouldn't have been "his findings" and b) coming from the folks who were prejudiced would have almost certainly been biased and no reputable medical officer would have accepted them.

    • The kidnapping of Plasus makes no sense. How is Spock able to locate the Stratos leader on the city? Previous attempts have been impossible unless the target was biologically distinct from everyone else ("The Enterprise Incident").

    • When Kirk slugs Plasus and knocks him into a supposedly stone wall, it bends back noticeably behind the actor.

    • In "Amok Time" Spock described Vulcan mating rituals as "a thing no out-worlder may know" - here he goes on about them with Droxine at some length.

    • During his stealth mission, instead of having the Enterprise beam him and Vanna down, Kirk goes looking for a Stratos transporter to get to the surface.

    • When Kirk breaks out Vanna, he hides behind the door, lets the guard go past, and then waits to stun him until after the guard turns around and sees him. Why does Kirk wait, particularly since the guard can then ID him?

    • Both Spock and Droxine seem to believe that Stratos is an intellectual society that has eliminated all forms of violence - however they have security guards and Plasus indulges in torture and no one seems to notice this contradiction.

    • Right after the opening credits Kirk is heard saying, "who are you what is the meaning of this attack" and his lips do not move.

  • QUOTES (8)

  • NOTES (2)

    • Uniquely in the series, Spock has an interior thought monologue as he contemplates the situation in the guest quarters. Clips from scenes just a few minutes earlier in the episode are used.

    • David Gerrold's original story pitch called for an ending that would not have resolved the conflict between the Troglytes and the Stratos dwellers by the end of the episode. His original script called for McCoy to declare near the end, "Yes, but how many children will die in the meantime?". This was rejected by the producer and Margaret Armen was brought in to rewrite the script to make it more positive by introducing the use of gas masks much to Gerrold's chagrin, although he retained story credit.