Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, December 23, 2013

Season 1, Episode 22 "The Return of the Archons"

"The Return of the Archons"
Production Number: 22
Air Order: 21
Stardate: 3156.2
Original Air Date: February 9, 1967

Let's start with a pun:

GORNAMENT.

*******


This week, we open on a studio backlot, which is dressed like an old-fashioned city street. Sulu and another dude are booking it away from... something. They're dressed like Ben Franklin, tri-cornered hats and all. Out of places to run, they stop, and Sulu requests an emergency beam-up. They're being advanced upon by monks. Or dementors. Guys with cloaks and sticks.


The other dude gets scared and takes off. Meanwhile, the guys dressed like bottles of Frangelico reach Sulu and touch him with their sticks. He goes stiff and then relaxes before being beamed back aboard the Enterprise.
"Where's O'Neil?" Kirk asks Sulu.
"You're not Of The Body," Sulu replies. Then he gets mad at a Blue Shirt nearby. "You gave us the wrong clothes! They knew we were Archons! These are the right clothes!"" And he throws clothes at the Blue Shirt. Then he blisses the fuck out and says "Landru" dreamily, as though he's hoping Landru will ask him to homecoming.

Sulu + Landru: he ships it.

After the credits break, we get an establishing shot of the Enterprise, as seen from the warp nacelles. I really like this shot. It's an unusual angle, and it looks less like a model when shown this way. I feel like TNG utilized this shot more often.


Kirk's Log 3156.2 The Enterprise is orbiting Beta III, where 100 years earlier, a Starfleet ship named The Archon went down. Kirk had beamed down an away team (Sulu and O'Neil), but one had not come back, and the other had beamed up sans sanity. 
Kirk feels that he has no choice but to beam down himself... with an away team that consists of his second-in-command, his third-in-command, and what one can only assume are three red shirts. So, given that Sulu (4th) is probably holed up in sick bay with Nurse Chapel, then either Uhura or Scotty is currently in charge. While it's totally inadvisable to leave your ship open to danger like that, at least Scotty and Uhura are both competent choices.

I'm totally loving the costuming change on the away team. They look like refugees from Bonanza (as does the set they've used this week). And because they couldn't hide Spock's ears, they've elected to cover them with a short cloak. He looks like he's going to storm the castle to stop Buttercup from marrying Humperdink.


Everyone on the street appears to be as blissed out as Sulu. It's like a rave with no music. The away team is stopped by a guy who smiles too much. Did you know that humans find it psychologically disturbing when someone smiles too much? That's why only some goldfish crackers are the snack that smiles back.
"Hello, you be strangers," smiles Smiley smilingly. He has some sort of weird-ass accent that I can't place. I guess it's supposed to be mid-Western, but I don't really care, and clearly, neither does he, as he keeps slipping in and out of it. "Are you here for the Festival?" he asks.



"Uh, yeah," says Kirk, just making up shit as he goes along.
"You should find a place to sleep, but you better hurry, because the Red Hour is starting in five minutes." Apparently, Smiley is head of the Beta III Bureau of Tourism. "You should sleep at Reger's house." And he randomly grabs a girl from the street. "Tula, these six strangers can sleep at your daddy's house, right?"
"Yep," says Tula, who also smiles too much. But then the clocks chime 6 pm, and Tula suddenly loses her shit.
In fact, Smiley and everyone else on the street does, too. They scream and throw rocks through windows, beat up and rape each other. What a great festival! The away team makes for the house that Smiley pointed out.


They go inside and encounter a group of old men.
"Hey, so we're strangers, but some guy on the street said we could stay here before he flipped out," says Kirk.
"Also," says a Probably Red Shirt, "whoever is Reger, your daughter Tula is outside losing her shit."
"Yeah," says Reger sadly, "that's Landru's will..."
"Hey," says one old dude. "You're young. How come you're not at the Festival?"
"We need lodgings," says Kirk.
Reger leads them upstairs while his friends argue about whether or not to call the Lawgivers on the away team. Apparently, it's not cool to skive off the Festival.
Upstairs, Kirk tells Reger that they're not there for the Festival, and that they want to know about Landru. Reger is hesitant.
Without getting his answer, we skip to the next scene, where Kirk hands out assignments to the away team, figuring they have until morning to gather info. When 6 am rolls around, all the looting stops, and everyone goes back to being smiley and bland.
Downstairs, Tula is back, and she's hysterical. Bones gives her a hypo to sleep, and one of Reger's friends accuses the away team of not attending the Festival.
"Um, are you Archons?" Reger asks Kirk. "It was foretold that more would come."
"Maybe," says Kirk.
Reger's old dude friend Hacom arrives with a pair of Lawgiver Frangelico guards. He turns in the other old dude, Tamar, for mocking the Lawgivers. The Frangelicos pull out metal pipes, but instead of beating him with them, sparks and smoke come out of the end, and he falls to the floor, dead. Then, in robotic voices, the Frangelicos tells Kirk that they're going to absorb him.
"What do you mean, absorb?"
Come on, Kirk. Absorb: indoctrinate, brainwash. Assimilate. Exterminate. Delete. Imperius. To make out with a dementor.
"Landru is gentle," they intone. Just the tip. Landru promises to use lube.
"Fuck that shit," replies Kirk.

Maybe they're just giant jawas.
"The sand people will return in greater numbers
to beat you with metal pipes!"

The Frangelicos turn toward each other and just stop functioning. They just stand there.
"How'd you do that?" asks Spock.
"They're not used to outright disobedience," says Kirk. "They don't know what to do."
Bullshit. Lucky guess, if you guessed at all. They said come, you said no, they backed down, you claimed credit.
Kirk takes one of the Frangelico's weapons, and hands it to Spock, who says it's just a plain metal pipe. It doesn't do anything.
Reger takes the away team outside and everyone is all smiles again. Suddenly, the Betans all stop and pick up rocks and sticks, advancing on them like an angry flash-mob.
"It's Landru!" says Reger.


The away team uses their phasers to stun small groups of the mob, and discover Lieutenant O'Neil, dragging him along behind them. Reger leads them into a building and takes out a secretly-hidden lighted panel. He says it's from Before Landru, and even though no one is positive how long ago that was, they think it might be 6000 years. Spock says this tech is too advanced to match their culture. But he thinks it may match the tech of the energy signal that his sensors are picking up, and which may also match the energy powering those metal pipes.


Reger says that when the Archons first came, they were unruly and resisted Landru. They were either killed or absorbed. Reger is part of an underground resistance movement. Apparently, some people are immune to Landru's power. Tamar, the dead dude, was his contact. Bones gives O'Neil a shot to keep him asleep so O'Neil won't give them away. Reger explains that Landru controls the population by telepathy. They are The Body. Somehow, everyone seems to have forgotten that they have a person upstairs who is Of The Body. Who may be sitting at the helm of the ship, fucking things up in the name of Landru.
Reger then says that Landru was the one who pulled the Archon out of the sky. Spock confirms that that power source could handle that kind of job. Kirk calls the E, and whaddaya know? 
Scotty and Uhura answer. Landru has heat beams trained on the ship. Their shields are holding, but sucking up energy. If they try to use the engines, the shields will fail and they'll fry. But they only have enough power for a 12-hour orbit. Once again, let's play Disable the Ship. Clock time: 12 hours.


Suddenly, Landru appears. Or, you know, a holographic image of Landru appears on the wall. He says they are evil, and a disease, and that Beta III is a world without war or crime or anything evil like that. He says he is going to absorb them. Then he disappears, and a high-pitched sound fills the room. Everyone covers their ears and collapses.

No crime? I think your hairdresser should be arrested.

Kirk's Log 3157.4: "Ship disabled. Scotty in charge. Been kidnapped by Landru. Sucks to be us." 
And again, I have to ask how Kirk makes captain's logs when he is nowhere near the ship.
The group wakes up in a new place, minus Bones, O'Neil, Reger, and one of the Red Shirts. In trying to figure a way out of this predicament, Kirk suggests that they Just Say No again, but Spock says it won't work. He surmises that the Lawgivers reacted before like a computer which has been fed bad data, but will have been trained not to do so again.
A door in the wall opens, and Bones and the other Red Shirt enter with some Frangelicos. Oops, more crew members are Of The Body now. The Frangelicos tell Kirk to come with them. He tells them to fuck off, but they threaten to kill him.
"Told you so," says Spock. "Just go, you dumbass."
Kirk goes with the Frangelicos. They strap him to a device in the wall, and a dude who is dressed like a monk, but not like a Frangelico, turns a machine toward Kirk.


Spock attempts a Mind-Meld on Bones, but doesn't get anywhere because the mind control on the good doctor is too powerful. The door opens. The Frangelicos want Spock. On his way in, he passes Kirk, who is all, "Peace and brainwashed sentiments to you, friend."
Spock is strapped to the wall, and lights flash as the Frangelicos leave.
"Ha!" says the monk. "I'm Marplon, a guy with Reger's resistance group, and you and your captain are fine. Here are your phasers and stuff. Your coming was prophesied. Just act all brainwashed when you leave, 'kay?"
So the Vulcan goes back to his group, spouting tranquility and crap to the Frangelicos.


Kirk, Spock and the remaining Red have to be careful, because the doctor and the other Red are still brainwashed. They quietly form a plan while pacifying Bones with wishes for peace and shit. Spock says the planet has been brainwashed into thinking everything is hunky-dory, and that Landru isn't real.
"Let's pull the plug!" says Kirk.
"What about the Prime Directive?" asks Spock.

WHAT? HOLD THE MOTHERFUCKING COMM BADGE.
Are you serious? We haven't heard a damn thing up until this point about the PD, and so I assumed that it didn't exist yet. It's such a darling of TNG that I thought it hadn't been invented until then. In fact, Kirk spends so much time wiping his boots with the Prime Directive that I not only assumed that it didn't exist yet, but also that it was invented specifically BECAUSE of this dipshit's exploits. And now I come to find that it's been in place the whole time?! Kirk breaks the Prime Directive EVERY. FUCKING. WEEK.

"The Prime Directive is only for growing, thriving cultures," replies Kirk.



No. No, it really is not. If that were the case, any captain (say, YOU) could walk up to a developing culture, decide that they had hit a plateau, and "gift" them with tech or something. Listen to your science officer, Kirk. He knows the rules better than you do.

Reger and Marplon come in, and Bones yells for the Lawgivers. A fistfight starts, and Kirk knocks Bones out before he and Spock take down the Frangelicos. They put on the Lawgiver robes and page the Enterprise. Scotty estimates 6 hours left. Kirk finally recalls that he's got a Landru-ite on board, and orders a guard on him.
"Okay," he says to Marplon and Reger, "give us the full shit on Landru." 
"We had war and strife," says Reger. "Landru was our leader, and fixed things so that we had peace. He took us back to an earlier time." But then Reger starts to doubt his own actions, requesting that he be allowed to submit to the will of Landru.
Spock pinches him, and Kirk makes Marplon take them to the Hall of Audience, where they can talk to Landru. Once inside the Hall, Kirk announces that the Archons have returned and demand to speak with him.

Also, look how dapper Spock is in that shirt and vest. Hella dapper, y'all.

The holographic Landru appears again, and Marplon hides his eyes. It tells Kirk that he will be killed, as well as everyone who has come with him, and everyone who has seen or been in contact with him. Landru refers to it as "cleansing the Body". Kirk tries to reason with it, but Spock reminds him that you can't argue with a projection. So they pull back the curtain. Or, you know, phaser a hole in the wall. *gasp!* The Wizard of Beta III is a computer! Great. Now Spock will never get his heart, and Kirk will never get a brain.

You know what I love best about the computers on this show?
They look like the sort of computers/robots that little kids make
out of cardboard boxes
.

"Makes sense," says Spock. "Computer's idea of perfection is peace, but no soul."
"I am Landru," says the computer. And a bright light shined in their direction supposedly neutralizes their weapons.
"Landru is dead," says Kirk. "Maybe Landru programmed you 6000 years ago, but you are not Landru."
"I am," says the computer. "And you're going to die for the good of The Body."
So Kirk comes up with a new plan: he gives the Landru computer an existential crisis. He tells the computer that by denying the people/Body the freedom to be creative, that it has become evil. And the computer's job is to destroy evil, so it must destroy itself. 
"Are you aiding the Body, or destroying it?" asks Spock.
Pathetically, the computer ends up short-circuiting itself while repeating "Help me! Help me!"


Kirk kind of dusts his hands and strolls from the Hall, suggesting to a Frangelico that he look for another job. Marplon is remarkably calm for a guy who just watched two aliens kill God. Scotty calls to say that the heat rays are gone, and Sulu is back to normal, just in time for his shift.


Kirk's Log 3158.7: They're leaving a sociologist and a team of experts behind to help the culture get back to it's roots.
On the bridge, Spock comments, "That was a remarkable program."
"Yeah, but Landru couldn't give it his soul," counters Kirk. 
The sociologist calls to report that people are highly emotional, and that there have been at least two fistfights already. "It may not be perfect, but it's human."
Yeah... those are not humans.
Spock remarks that humanity has always pined for a society as peaceful and tranquil as the one on Beta III, but has never gotten it.
"Just lucky, I guess," laughs Kirk.



I love this episode. I don't know why, though I suspect that it might be those Bonanza suits. There's just enough in this episode to make it intellectually interesting, but just enough ridiculousness for me to make fun of it. I also hate technology, and anytime a computer is destroyed, i cheer. Team Sarah Connor all the way. And plot holes. My God, the plot holes. I think what happened was that they had a cool backstory, but couldn't fit it all in, and stuff was dropped in the interest of time. For instance, why are some people immune to Landru? Why is it mostly older people? Why are older people who are inside not affected by the Red Hour? Tamar and Reger were immune to Landru, and would have to fake it, but Hacom was not - he turned in Tamar for making fun of the Frangelicos. The older people seemed to have their minds completely to themselves as well. Tula and Smiley, younger people, talked like they were being controlled. Hacom didn't, and he was supposedly with Landru. Did the mind control wear off as one got older and less hot-blooded? Crimony. This is starting to sound more and more like 1984. Eventually, you turn yourself in because you caught yourself cursing Landru?
And what the hell was up with the Red Hour, which is never explained? It starts at 6 pm, and everyone loses it, and destroys everything. The Star Trek Encyclopedia suggests that it may have been a time period set aside for people to have an emotional outlet. I was guessing that it might have been a 12-hour period where the 6000 year old computer briefly lost control over the citizens - a regular glitch. I mean, they were all expecting it, so it clearly comes around at regular intervals, and they call it Festival, so it was probably something they actually enjoyed. It's entirely possible that this might have occurred if the computer had gone long enough without regular maintenance. 
Also, the Archons - it really took Starfleet 100 years to go looking for a ship that was known to have disappeared/gone down over a specific planet?
And what the hell happened to the third Red Shirt that beamed down with the away team?

*******
I'm feeling obligated to not only try the teas we already have in our cupboard, but also ones that are holiday-themed. I guess they figure tea-drinkers are all over holiday-themed stuff, so there's no short supply of teas with those kinds of blends. This time I tried Nutcracker Sweet by Celestial Seasonings. It boasts black tea, vanilla, and cinnamon. I was hesitant when I grabbed it off the shelf, mostly because of the C-word. But I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that cinnamon was used as a spice, and not a flavor. It was subtle. The vanilla had a bolder flavor, but not overwhelming. It was kind of creamy, and sweet, and tasted like a cookie. Going thumbs up with this one.




*******

Let's bookend with another pun.
We have had a brush with fleas of late, and while we are treating for them, we are keeping a close eye on the cats nonetheless. So I was horrified in stumbling upon Uhura the other day, booty-scooting across the carpet. Knowing that fleas will sometimes lead to worms, I panicked and chased her down. Scooping her up to check her backside, I was relieved. It was not worms. Uhura was just trying to deal with some Klingons.
Ba-dum-tissssss.



Also, the Gornament is made by Hallmark, and available in their stores and online: http://www.hallmark.com/products/general/keepsake-ornaments/arena-2995QXI2155_DK/

2 comments:

  1. "You know what I love best about the computers on this show? They look like the sort of computers/robots that little kids make out of cardboard boxes."

    Not only are you correct...but you kinda make me want to build a cardboard robot again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you should. But keep an eye on it, or it'll start running the planet, or making androids or something.

      Delete