Star Trek

Season 3 Episode 3

The Paradise Syndrome

Aired Unknown Oct 04, 1968 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
161 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to a planet in the path of an oncoming asteroid. However, Kirk disappears and the Enterprise is forced to abandon the search to stop the asteroid in time. Meanwhile, Kirk recovers consciousness but has no memories of his previous life, and is adopted by a local Amerindian tribe as their medicine chief and god.moreless

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  • While exploring a planet with a primitive people, Kirk has an accident

    Jim Kirk gets his own Dances With Wolves adventure in a story that spans two months, making this one of TOS's most unique episodes. But what used to be considered a third season gem is less popular today with audiences are more aware and less tolerant of Native American caricatures. (Poor Disney has it worse, with its 1953 Peter Pan movie having an entire song asking "What made the Red Man red?" while an old Native American gives the kids a peace pipe to pass around).

    The idea here is similar to TNG's Magna Opus, "The Inner Light": the captain gets to have everything his starship denies him, gaining a life with simple and stable pleasures free of the burdens and responsibilities of command... at least until the world is threatened. (It is, ironically, the same sort of lifestyle Kirk has made a career out of putting a stop to when it comes to others!) Shatner throws himself into the part (and he and guest star Sabrina Scharf throw themselves at each other) for his planet-based scenes that benefit immensely from some of Star Trek's most gorgeous location shooting, with Los Angeles's Franklin Reservoir (the fishing hole in the opening credits of the Andy Griffith show) and a specially constructed obelisk prominently featured. (Sadly, due to budget cuts this is the only location work for the season, apart from a short scene in "All Our Yesterdays"). Scharf, playing Miramanee, gives her part a nice blend of ignorance and intelligence that compliments the amnesiac Kirk, but the writers don't give her much to work with, content to let her be a simplified version of Pocahontas. (It doesn't help that she's surrounded by other Native American stereotypes, with 75 year old Richard Hale as the High Chief and 33 year old character actor Rudy Salari as the Medicine Man, both there simply to give Kirk an ally and an enemy).

    On board the ship, the others get a B story, with Spock in command and the crew forced to abandon the captain to save Kirk and the inhabitants of the planet from an asteroid rushing in to collide with the planet. (It's curious that after a whole season of getting beat over the head with the prime directive, it's suddenly absent here, though it would return in TNG. Picard would just let the asteroid slam into the planet and take it out... unless Data had a pen pal there). This part of the story gives Nimoy and Kelley a chance to resurrect their bickersons relationship (which later comes to a head in "The Tholian Web") while Jimmy Doohan is busy shouting orders to imaginary engineers just offscreen because the budget doesn't allow for more than one extra. It's pretty rudimentary Star Trek, but Spock and McCoy working out a problem in their own way is always fun, and the shots of the Enterprise chasing and being chased by the asteroid are a fun back and forth bit to contrast with the surface of the planet. (Meanwhile, Composer Gerald Fried reprises his lonely Vulcan bass theme from "Amok Time" for Spock and contrasts it with high strings for Kirk to effectively transition from one deep in troubled thought to one at peace with the world).

    Does "The Paradise Syndrome" approach the heights of "The Inner Light"? Not by a long shot. Kirk's life on the planet lacks the scope and depth of Picard's adventure, and the writing and guest stars aren't on the same level. But with the big three driving the plot, and the producer supplementing them with location work, special effects, and a great score, "Syndrome" offers much more entertainment than the similar but inferior offerings, "The Apple" and "A Private Little War".

    Remastered version: This is a case where the original's effects are quite good, with the show reusing the planet from "Operation: Annihilate!" and creating some new, nifty asteroid shots. But CBS Digital does a fine job too, replacing the planet sphere with a better looking Earth-like world and creating all new Enterprise and asteroid effects. Originally, CBS Digital messed up a an upgraded beam that comes out of the obelisk, with the team making it red when the dialogue indicates it should be blue; but this is corrected in the Blu-ray set.

  • It was a season 3 episode. What can you expect.

    The 'natives' used the phrase 'Kirk to Enterprise' to open the temple. Seriously??

    I have zero faith left in Dr. McCoy. With all the medical advance of the 23rd century, he can't save someone who got hit by a couple of rocks?

    At least Kirk got to grow some real sideburns!
  • Margaret Armen = awesome writer

    Her input into her various TREK episodes always gets me to take a look. Sometimes the sci-fi isn't bulletproof, but she has a decent grasp of the characters and the plots she writes up were always interesting and engaging. Definitely one of the better writers FOR the show.

    In this episode, there's an asteroid that will hit a (another "Earth parallel development" scenario type) planet unless a deflector beam activates to hit it. It's really good luck that Kirk and Co transport down to investigate the planet for life before dealing with the asteroid, since the unit had deactivated in the past... and a malfunction gives Kirk amnesia, so when he leaves the structure he is seen as a god by a couple of locals, including Miramanee - who was engaged to the local doctor until Kirk showed up and saved a child (thus unwittingly breaking the prime directive, since he was suffering from amnesia). Kirk's identity is gone but his intelligence is not. This is cool. Especially as he tries to remember his name, "Kirk" becomes "Kirok".

    What's cool with this "parallel development" theory is that, as I recall, it's not as heavyhanded compered to other episodes. It's deftly dealt with and then it moves on, and the episode feels more natural as opposed to many other episodes using the same trope, which feel far more contrived with the Nazis, 1920s gangsters, and - most blatant of all - America and its identically-shaped flag. Parallel worlds are better for "Sliders", but with "Paradise Syndrome" TREK pulls it off with aplomb, because the parallels aren't so contrived. Just Indians similar to the various tribes we know of. There it is, let's move forward, and really do something with it as opposed to just saving money on reusing other shows' costumes. The episode simply says "similar to the Mohegan, Najavo, No big history lessons, no hammer-hitting with the forced parallels, they keep it simple and effective - and easier to suspend disbelief over. And since the parallel doesn't reach the 18th century, it feels all the more authentic for it. And it resonates with Kirk, for which a part of him feels worn out and he wants to relax. "The Paradise Syndrome", which was said... ;)

    Not since Khan do we see a massive villain in the making with Salish. He is clearly fuming over Kirk's arrival and one-upping him (albeit unintentionally). Rudy Solari's performance only adds to a character that you know wants to tear Kirk apart, especially once custom kicks in and Miramanee is given to Kirk/Kirok. But imagine Trek II without Khan... but Salish is indeed a character that was strong and effective, but would never - and could never - be used again.

    The guest cast are solid and convincing in making the premise feel authentic. So much so that I wept when Miramanee (with unborn child) was STONED TO DEATH. Okay folks, this is a TV show made in the 1960s, a show that had so many hollow, empty endings (a la "The Cloud Minders"), and here we have one hell of a tragedy - people stoned to death, Kirk can't do anything about it... nobody wins. This ending is as real as it gets and there's no way it can be hollow or empty.

    Indeed, Spock's fascinating compassion for the captain's emotional state over the loss of a person he loved with all his heart, and providing a Vulcan "forget it" pinch is both sentimental (for the right reasons) is character-breaking but oddly convincing as well -- but this is the third season, where Spock would be doing very un-Spock things throughout. Yet, in this episode, I can buy it... I shouldn't, but yet I do...

    And that segues into Spock's emotions over not succeeding in dealing with the asteroid - yes, we had to see the obelisk that trashes Kirk's memory be the reason for zapping asteroids all over the place, but Spock's guilt also felt out of character. And yet I can't knock off points, because this story's conviction, and portrayals by all involved, make me suspend my disbelief. It works.

    And it's nice to see location filming done in an area outside of a giant rock sanctuary, too...

    I can't rate this episode highly enough. It may be in the third season, but everything gels perfectly - it's better than any number of first season stories as well.moreless
  • My enjoyment may because of a Song

    I really enjoyed this episode. However I believe it is mostly from the Warp 11 song, "Kirock" from their "It's Dead, Jim" album. I spent the whole episode waiting to experience the events described in the song.
  • My favorite episode ever!

    This episode was the best of all the other episodes. The story line with Kirk was great, a chance to see him have the normal life he so desperatly craved and the end sequence with his wife was truly moving, had me in tears. ! ! ! ! But as good as that story line was nothing could beat Leonard Nimoys performance as Spock. The way he was shown punishing himself becouse of his own guilt at the asteroid not being stopped and Kirk been lost was so heartwrenching ! ! ! All in all this was a massive success of an episode.moreless
Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

Mr. Spock

DeForest Kelley

DeForest Kelley

Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy

William Shatner

William Shatner

Captain James Tiberius Kirk

Rudy Solari

Rudy Solari


Guest Star

Richard Hale (II)

Richard Hale (II)

Chief Goro

Guest Star

Naomi Pollack

Naomi Pollack

Indian Woman

Guest Star

George Takei

George Takei

Lt. Hikaru Sulu

Recurring Role

Walter Koenig

Walter Koenig

Ensign Pavel Chekov

Recurring Role

Majel Barrett

Majel Barrett

Nurse Christine Chapel

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (10)

    • Most of the outdoor scenes were done with voice-overs due to too much background noise during filming, but the voice-overs at the beginning of the epiosde on the surface of the planet are very obvious and poorly done. Budget restrictions, no doubt.

    • It seems odd that McCoy isn't able to help Miramanee after she gets hurt by some flying rocks. They were able to save Spock when he got shot in "A Private Little War," he saved Kirk when he got stabbed in "Journey to Babel" and modern medicine even saved Capt. Pike, who was mutilated from radiation. However, with all their advanced medical abilities they can't stop some internal bleeding from getting hit with rocks.

    • When Miramanee takes the medicine badge off of Salish and puts in on Kirk, take note of the space age elastic band that the badge is tied to.

    • Unavoidable, but Kirk uses good old-fashioned 60s mouth-to-mouth rather than subsequently developed CPR technique to revive the boy.

    • When Kirk heads for the monolith as the storm whips up, in some shots the sky is a clear blue and the nearby lake's surface is perfectly calm.

    • When Kirk and Miramanee are sitting on the ground and she is telling him that she is pregnant, a fly steals the scene by landing on Shatner's forehead and remaining there for several seconds.

    • Since the warp drive is out, and Scotty claims he can't repair it in space, how are they ever going to get back to a starbase at impulse speed? If the nearest base is four light years away, it's going to take them four years. It takes them two months just to get back to the planet. Presumably they're going to send out a distress call and get a tow, but then why doesn't the tow ship show up in the two months it takes them to get to the planet?

    • The idea that Starfleet goes around preventing natural disaster on unaffiliated planets whose people don't know of the Federation seems a little odd - at the very least it would seem to be a violation of the Prime Directive (at least as they explain it later in Next Generation episodes like "Pen Pals").

    • When Spock orders the phasers to fire, they shoot outward from the ship at an angle from each other, but when they hit the asteroid they converge at a single point.

    • Once its power circuits burn out and the phasers are useless, why doesn't Spock try and use the photon torpedos?

  • QUOTES (16)

    • McCoy: What's the matter, Jim?
      Kirk: What? Oh, nothing. Just so peaceful, uncomplicated. No problems, no command decisions. Just living.
      McCoy: Typical human reaction to an idyllic natural setting. In the twentieth century, we referred to it as the Tahiti Syndrome. It's particularly common to over pressured leader types, like starship captains.
      Kirk: Ah, Tahiti Syndrome.

    • Spock: I want full power, Mr. Scott.
      Scotty: Aye, sir. All right, you lovelies. Hold together.

    • Kirk: Miramanee... tell me about the wise ones.
      Miramanee: Tell? But a god knows everything.
      Kirk: Not this one. Tell me.

    • Kirk: I need time to remember.
      Miramanee: Here there is much time. For everything.

    • Spock: Lock all phasers on that mark. Maximum intensity, narrow beam. I want to split that fissure wide open.
      McCoy: You sound like you're cutting a diamond.
      Spock: Very astute, Doctor.

    • Scotty: That Vulcan won't be satisfied until these panels are a puddle of lead!

    • Scotty: My bairns. My poor bairns.

    • Miramanee: Tribal law betroths me to our leader. If there is another, I will step aside.
      Kirk: No, Miramanee, there's no one else, in my mind or my heart.
      Miramanee: God's wish is above tribal law.
      Kirk: Name the joining day.
      Miramanee: The sooner our happiness together begins, the longer it will last.
      Kirk: Tomorrow.
      Miramanee: Tomorrow.

    • McCoy: Well, Spock, you took your calculated risk in your calculated Vulcan way, and you lost--you lost for us, you lost for that planet, and you lost for Jim.

    • McCoy: Back to that planet? Without warp speed, it'll take months.
      Spock: Exactly 59.223 days, Doctor, and that asteroid will be four hours behind us all the way.
      McCoy: Well, then what's the use? We might not be able to save the captain even if he still is alive. We might not be able to save anything, including this ship! You haven't heard a word I've said. All you've been doing is staring at that blasted obelisk.
      Spock: Another calculated Vulcan risk, Doctor.

    • Salish: You bleed. You bleed, Kirok. Behold a god who bleeds!

    • Spock: I'm not hungry, Doctor. And under stress, we Vulcans can do without sleep for weeks.
      McCoy: Well, your Vulcan metabolism is so low it can hardly be measured, and as for the pressure, that green ice water you call blood...
      Spock: My physical condition is not important, Doctor. That obelisk is.
      McCoy: Well, my diagnosis is exhaustion brought on from overwork and guilt. You're blaming yourself for crippling this ship Just as we blamed you. Well, we were wrong. So were you. You made a command decision. Jim would have done the same.

    • Kirk: Miramanee. Come here. Miramanee.
      Miramanee: Each time your arms hold me is as joyous as the first.

    • Spock: (about Kirk) His mind--he is... an extremely dynamic individual.

    • Kirk: More symbols. Can you read them?
      Spock: I do have an excellent eye for musical notes, Captain. They would seem to indicate that this series of relays activated in their proper...
      Kirk: Spock, just press the right button.

    • Miramanee: When I am better... it will be as it was, will it... not?
      Kirk: If that's what you want.
      Miramanee: We will live long and happy lives. I will bear you many strong sons. I love you always.
      Kirk: And I love you, Miramanee... always.
      Miramanee: Each kiss... is as the first.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Miramanee's pregnancy is considered by many Star Trek fans to be the only incontrovertible evidence that Captain Kirk had sexual relations with an alien or human female during the time frame of the original series.