Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 21

The Return of the Archons

Aired Unknown Feb 09, 1967 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (8)

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out of 10
180 votes
  • The balance of good and evil and free will - both on an alien world and in a 1960s TV episode. The teleplay is generally weak.

    The Enterprise investigates a weird world of people who are controlled by a computer's idea of an idyllic society.

    I suppose it's best to attack "Return of the Archons" on its good points and bad, so on the positive side: I actually like the weird combination of turn-of-the-century clothing, torchlit dungeons and western movie sets that represent the planet, it's kind of creepy. There is also a fairly risque concept here also, one of "festival" that seems to represent the idea that even brainwashed humans need some sort of outlet for their "animal" desires, so this is the way it's handled by Landru.

    What is fairly painful is the execution of the concept when it comes to the script. One of the fearsome robed "lawgivers" relinquishes his post to another with the phrase, "happy communing", the endless "peace and tranquility" references are repetitive and almost laughable. And sadly, the reasoning that Kirk uses to make the computer freeze its programming makes little sense as he provides no examples of how the "body" is hurt by lack of "creativity". And WHY the director let Kirk's flip line to the planet's residents at the climax, "well, you're on your own - hope you're up to it" stand is pretty unbelievable.

    So while there is some potential here, "The Ultimate Computer" and even "The Changeling" represent better examples of contradicting an overbearing electronic over-lord. The very good episode "Taste of Armageddon" remains the standout as a paradigm of the perils of computer decisions.
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