Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, February 16, 2015

Season 3, Episode 67 "Plato's Stepchildren"


"Plato's Stepchildren"
Production Order: 67
Air Order: 65
Stardate: 5784.2
Original Air Date: November 22, 1968


Hey, friends. If you have, say, rape or abuse triggers, I'm gonna suggest that you not watch this episode. Cuz I don't really have those, and even I found this episode un-fucking-pleasant to watch.

*******



Kirk's Log 5784.2: "Responding to some distress calls from an unknown planet, which is weird because scans shows no life here. But it does have rich deposits of kironide or something or other that Spock says is important. I dunno. Science. He and I and Bones are beaming down because it's too hard to answer their distress calls from the bridge first to determine what might be in store for us planet-side. Plus, it's more fun to just beam down to an unknown planet. Maybe there's something there that will eat us. Maybe it's covered with beautiful women. Being a space captain is awesome!"

They beam down to the surface, which is actually covered in columns and statues, and we're clearly on a Greco-Roman planet (again). A booming voice and a tall shadow demands to know if they came from the Enterprise. Kirk answers in the affirmative, and the shadow gets smaller as the person moves forward until we see that he's actually a little person. He says that he's Alexander, and that he's entertaining and a good loser. That can't bode well. Dude is friendly, but why does he want them to know that he loses well?


He says they're Platonians, and they were native to the Sandarian system until their sun went nova, and they relocated here. Their founder was all into Plato, and their current philosopher-king Parmen says they're like "Plato's children," though Alexander says he thinks of them more like "Plato's stepchildren." He says that they're wanted somewhere, then he stiffens and sorts of hops away, like he's being pulled by something invisible. They follow him into a room with a dais, where a guy in a fancy toga is lying on a couch. A woman in green asks which of our boys is the doctor, and Bones answers that he is.
He goes to Mr Toga and asks how his leg got gross and infected. Toga replied that he scratched it and things just got out of hand. Bones goes to give him a hypo to ease the pain, but the hypo floats out of his hand, and Toga asks where it needs to go.
"Arm," mutters Bones, and the hypo is given in the arm.
Can I give a quick fist-bump to whatever prop person put together Bones' hypo kit? It's awesome, with little vials of colored water to indicate different medicines.


We flash over to the chick in the green toga, Philana, and Alexander. Think you've seen this woman before? Congratulations, you have. That's Barbara Babcock. She was Mea 3 in "A Taste of Armageddon", did a bunch of uncredited voice work for TOS, and has been in pretty much everything since the late fifties.
"This sucks," Alexander tells Philana. "They came here to help, and you intend to kill them."
She tells him that he talks too much, and gives him a death stare, and he bites his own hand. The dramatic music leads us into the theme song.


Just a quick note because I always seem to talk about this, and won't have time later: none of the costumes on this episode suck. A+ costume team. No one looks ridiculous. Hair is excellent as well, and good job to the set guys. It's a bitch to paint marble, and they painted a lot of it. The furniture is all awesome as well.
Okay, back to it.

Kirk's Log 5784.3: "So after their sun went nova, these people actually ended up in ancient Greece. But after Plato died, they moved here, and continued to live as the ancient Greeks."

This is the voice-over that we get while we watch Alexander play some kind of game with another Platonian. It looks like a large-scale chess game, but the board and pieces are different. Alexander has to heft the heavy pieces into place while the other guy directs them to float into place with his mind.
Meanwhile, Bones is telling Parmen, the Toga guy, that he will have to think about how to cure him, but in the meantime, to please let him run his own hypos, okay?
Bones tells Kirk and Spock that Parmen's illness is different from what he's seen before, and that he'll have to compare and contrast it with things that he knows. Philana gives them a run-down on things: there was some dabbling in eugenics on Sandara all those millenia ago, and they are the product of it. There are only 38 of them. When they arrived on Plutonius, they developed psychokinetic powers. They're actually all like, 2300 years old. The problem is, not doing anything because they're lazy shits has made them susceptible to everything under the sun, so now Parmen is dying from a scratch.
Right on cue, Parmen starts moaning and thrashing about on his couch. Stuff goes flying around the room. Spock remarks that it's a physical manifestation of his delirium.
Guess what, friends? It Disables the Ship. They're locked in orbit and suffering through nasty turbulence.
But look! Look who's on the bridge! Another black woman! And she's wearing blue! Blue on the bridge means she's probably science! And she appears to have a full stripe on her cuff, which makes her rank Lieutenant. YUSSSSS.


Star Trek marketing: "Look, kids! We're flying through space! Whee!"
Star Trek subtext: "White or black, male or female, you too can do science. Everyone is equal in the future."
The only problem with making such a cool little subtextual statement is that it happens to have come attached to this episode, which is skeevy, and not so much appropriate for kids.

Anyway. We swing back to the throne room or whatever it is, and Parmen is still flipping out. Bones tries to give him a hypo to sleep, but Parmen is making Bones jerk and fly up against the wall. He's also making Alexander choke himself on the other side of the room. Kirk throws himself in front of Alexander, hoping to shield him, but it doesn't really work. Philana grabs Parmen and holds him long enough for Bones to rush forward and hypo him. Alexander is saved from death by self-asphyxiation. Kirk wants to leave, but Bones wants to stay until Parmen's fever has broken, so Kirk agrees. Alexander shows them to their room.
Grateful that they helped him, he offers to get them whatever they need. Kirk asks if there are other Platonians like him.
Alexander is immediately guarded. "What do you mean, like me?"
Yeah, Kirk. What the hell are you asking about?



"People without psychokinesis," says Kirk, and both Alexander and I relax.
"Naw, just me," he says cheerfully. "They call me a 'throwback.' I was brought here to be the court jester, to get them stuff, and not do anything right." Um, why is this dude okay with being crapped on for being small and not having powers? He asks if there are people in Kirk's world who are small and have no powers.
Kirk smiles. "Dude, we are all different sizes, and nobody has powers."
Alexander smiles back. But then he stiffens up and sort of dances out of the room again, saying that "somebody wants me." And now we understand that these a-holes are psychically calling him, physically forcing him to come at their beck and call.
"I wanna GTFO," says Spock. "This place is creepy as hell."
Bones rushes in to say that the meds he mixed have worked, and that Parmen's powers have lead him to heal at a super rate.
"Awesome," says Kirk, and he calls for a beam-up.
"Sorry," says Scotty. "Everything is frozen, for no reason. And we can't get a hold of Starfleet."
"Call me when we're good to go," answers Kirk.

Alexander is entertaining Parmen when Kirk strolls in. He starts to give Parmen the due respect and all, but Parmen interrupts him.
"Philosopher-kings have no need for titles."
Um, you just gave yourself one?
"Let my ship go," says Kirk.
"Bite me," says Parmen. He floats Kirk's phaser out of his hand and immediately starts making Kirk slap himself across the face. I want so badly to make a "stop hitting yourself" joke here, but in this episode, Kirk isn't being the giant douchecanoe he usually is. He treats Alexander nicely, and ...well, shit goes down later that reminds me that I don't completely hate Kirk all the time.


The boys are all in their room later, Kirk trying to contact an unresponsive Enterprise. Spock surmises that Parmen intends to keep them. They suddenly stand straight up and do that same sort of forced-danced that Alexander often does. They find themselves in the throne room, where Parmen and Philana are waiting. Philana says they have thank you gifts for our boys. Kirk gets Pericles' shield. Spock gets a harp. Bones gets some scrolls written by Hippocrates himself.
"These are nice," says Kirk, who trusts this guy as far as he can throw him. "Has my ship been released?"
"Not yet," says Parmen. "So... hey, sorry. I lost my temper earlier. I'm sure that happens to you sometimes, only when it happens to me, other stuff goes down."
Creeper. He sounds like a batterer. "Hey, baby. Sometimes I hit you, but it's only because I'm so passionate."
"Yeah... thanks for the gifts," says Kirk. "Gonna go now."
"Um, Dr McCoy stays," says Parmen. "We thought we didn't need a doctor, but I guess we do."
"No thanks," says Bones. "I already have a job."
Parmen is pretty insistent. He goes from zero to asshole in six seconds, and now Bones can't move.
"We'll persuade you," says Parmen, and he forces Bones to stand next to him on the dais.
Then he forces Kirk and Spock to drop their gifts and put on laurels. Then they dance to Alexander's drum-beating and recite rhymes from Through the Looking Glass.


Kirk ends up being tortured on the floor, then Spock is forced to get up and dance the flamenco around his head. That bitch Philana is totally enjoying all of this.


Spock collapses on the floor and begins laughing hysterically.
"The hell?" says Bones. "You can't just unlock all of a Vulcan's emotions. That'll seriously screw him up."
Parmen says that Spock shouldn't die laughing, so he forces him to cry instead.
"Asshole!" yells Alexander.
Parmen forces Alexander to climb on Kirk's back and ride him around the room like a horse. "You're a total d-bag for allowing your friends to be tortured like this," he tells Bones.
I'm instituting a name change. From now on, Parmen will now be known as Abusive Boyfriend.


Back in their rooms later, Spock is sitting in quiet contemplation while Bones and Kirk talk quietly. Bones says that Spock must sort of "cure" himself. He then tells Spock directly that the release of emotions is a healthy thing. Spock replies by saying (truthfully) that a healthy release of emotions, while good for that person, are often not good for those around them. He's concerned that he now feels enough hatred toward Abusive Boyfriend and his wife (Sadistic Bitch) that he might be a danger to others. Spock then crushes a cup in his bare hands. Bones tells Kirk that he will stay on Platonius so the others can leave.
"No way," says Kirk. "They won't let us go free. They know we'll come back for you with Starfleet in tow. So they'll say that they'll let us go once you agree to stay, then they'll blow up the ship or something."
"He's right," says Alexander. "They've been telling me for years that I'm shit that they scraped off their shoes, and this whole time I've been saying "thank you sir, may I have another?" Now they're treating you the same way. You can't stay here and let that happen to you too." Alexander is getting worked up. "It's not me! I'm not shit, they are!"
He smashes a vase and grabs a sharp pottery shard. "I'll cut 'em all! I only have to get each one once, then they'll die of infection!"


Kirk manages to talk him down, and Alexander says this is the first time someone has been nice to him. He says he'll help them in any way he can. Spock asks how long they had been on Platonius before the others developed their powers. Alexander says about six months, and admits that they had only brought three or four months' worth of supplies with them.
"So they probably got it from eating the native food," says Spock.
Bones scans Alexander and says the difference between his blood and Abusive Boyfriend's blood is that AB has a build-up of kironide in the pituitary glands, which regulates growth. The same thing that made Alexander small also kept him from getting the powers when he ate the same food as the others.
"So that sucks," says Alexander.
'Can you give us shots of kironide to build it up in our bloodstream so we can get the powers, too?" Kirk asks Bones.
"Well, yeah," says Bones. "But there's more of them than us. What if they like, combine powers to become MegaZord?"
"They can't," says Alexander. "They tried to combine powers forever ago, and it fucked up all of the shit. Everybody's powers operate on a different frequency."
"Cool," says Kirk. "Let's do double the amount in Abusive Boyfriend's system. Also, let's give some to Alexander. He could take over AB's spot and run the whole place." 
"Fuck that!" yells Alexander, backing away. "I don't want those creepy powers. I don't wanna be like that. Just say that if this works out, you'll get me the hell away from here."
Kirk is about to agree when the air shimmers on the other side of the chamber, and Uhura and Christine appear.
"The hell?" asks Kirk.
The women silently turn and walk away.
"Guess we weren't entertaining enough," he replies.

I never noticed until now what a height difference there was between
Majel Barrett and Nichelle Nichols. Also, please take note of the fact that,
even though they have very different figures, they both look killer
in those ridiculous tunics.

Uhura and Christine walk into a dimly-lit room in new clothes. Uhura's dress looks kind of like jammies, but she still rocks it. Christine looks good, too. Remember earlier when I said that all of the costumes on this episode are awesome? Not taking it back, but... here come our boys.


 When I watched this the first time, I laughed so hard I almost choked. Like, on nothing. Nice gams, gentlemen. And welcome back, Shirtless Kirk. It's been a little while.
Kirk and Spock try to see if their new powers have kicked in by trying to lift a plate of fruit nearby with their minds. Nothing doing. There's the sound of clapping and laughter coming from somewhere, and a wall is removed to real that Abusive Boyfriend, Sadistic Bitch, and all of their friends have taken seats behind the wall to watch. Abusive Boyfriend stands up and says that today they are welcoming a new person into their community, and he gestures at Bones, who is sitting next to him.
Bones grumbles his dissent, and Abusive Boyfriend says that he is ruining the festive mood of the ladies, so now they should have a serenade.
Alexander is made to play the harp while Spock sings to Uhura and Christine a pretty, flourish-y, romantic-sounding song about... a drunken one-night stand. There's a thinly-veiled allusion to stolen virginity and cum-guzzling. Lovely.


Then Christine and Uhura are made to lay on couches, and the boys are made to go back and forth between them, the a-holes behind the wall laughing and calling them fickle. Then they pair off, Kirk with Uhura, and Spock with Christine.
Alexander looks like he wants to cry. Christine begs Spock to make them stop.
"For so long I've wanted to be close to you," she says. "Now all I want to do is crawl away and die."
He apologizes earnestly, saying that he doesn't have the power to stop what's happening.
This is killing me to watch this, you guys.


Spock and Christine kiss, shaking from the effort of trying to stop the action, while two of the Platonians make icky remarks about them. They continue to make out while the focus shifts to Uhura and Kirk. Uhura tells him that she is thinking back to all of the times on the ship when she was afraid of what was happening, but then she would look over at Kirk in his chair and see that he had things under control, and she would take strength from that. He tells her not to be afraid. They kiss. He scowls over her head at the Platonians. 


Sadistic Bitch is treating this like her own private booth at the back of the video store. Clearly, she's a Watcher of the highest caliber. She tells Abusive Boyfriend to "get on with it." AB is running this show, remember? Everything is going according to his script, and I guess he knows what Sadistic Bitch likes. And Sadistic Bitch wants him to bring on the hard-core fucking.


Abusive Boyfriend chides her for being impatient, and cites Bones' patience for the "piece de resistance." Yes, you're right. Bones is being patient while he waits to watch his friends be forcibly raped. Is it possible to reach through the screen and punch these people? They fucking deserve it.

Weapons come out. A red hot poker for Spock and a whip for Kirk. Oh, I see. We're going to do some kind of gladiator-Pon Farr thing beforehand. Charming.

Look how excited Sadistic Bitch is. She just loves her some
sexual violence.

And then... they fucking turn back toward the girls.

WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF FIFTY SHADES OF BULLSHIT IS THIS?!

Kirk manages to turn back to the Assholians and yell at them that they're all dead inside. Abusive Boyfriend turns his powers up full blast to make Kirk turn around and crack that whip right near Uhura's face. You can see the embers falling off the poker that Spock is brandishing at Christine. Sadistic Bitch is eating it up. Bones is yelling at Abusive Boyfriend to stop, that he'll agree to pretty much anything at this point if AB lets them go. Nobody notices that Alexander has a knife, until just before he tries to stab Abusive Boyfriend. Sadistic Bitch stops him, and then calmly points it out. Abusive Boyfriend decides that Alexander should stab himself instead.


Sadistic Bitch is now fascinated by this instead. Rape, torture, forcing one to commit seppuku, it's all good. She'll get off on most anything, apparently. But then -- the knife is slowly moved sideways, away from Alexander's chest. Abusive Boyfriend is stunned.
"Who did that?' he demands.
Kirk drops his whip and laughs. "Ha! Fuck you, Abusive Boyfriend! Fuck you sideways with a katana! I have powers now, and I did that!"
I'd complain about the convenience of Kirk and Spock gaining their powers just in the nick of time (like always), but I'm so fucking done with this episode and this scene specifically that I no longer give a shit. Alexander is not bleeding out. Uhura does not have whip marks on her face and Christine will not have burn scars on her body.
"I have twice your powers, Abusive Boyfriend!" crows Kirk.
AB makes Alexander hop off the bench and run at Kirk with the knife. Kirk makes Alexander run back to AB. Okay, knock it off, Kirk. I'm really not cool with you playing with Alexander like this, even if it is to get back at Abusive Boyfriend. But there's the knife at Alexander's chest, and he's realizing that Kirk does have better powers than he does, and he starts begging for mercy. But Kirk spins Alexander around.
Alexander protests about not being able to make his kill shot.
"Dude, you didn't want to be like Abusive Boyfriend," Kirk reminds him. Alexander drops the knife.
Kirk makes AB climb over the wall.


"Sooo... heh. You guys knew that I was going to kill you and destroy your ship," says Abusive Boyfriend. "...how come you saved me?"
"Because we're not fucking assholes like you," answers Kirk. "But hey, you can't live in a vacuum anymore. We're sending Starfleet in to check you out."
"Oh, um... that's not necessary," fumbles Abusive Boyfriend. "You're totally safe, and also, I think that lately we're become freakish with our powers, and lazy and also unkind and stuff. We're gonna change."
"Your breath smells like manure," says Kirk.
"Yes," agrees Spock. "I too believe that you are full of shit."
"Beeteedubs, we know how to get the same powers as you, and in higher doses," Kirk reminds him. "Try anything and we'll be back on your ass so fast. now get the hell out of my way."
He calls Alexander over to him and then flips open his comm. "Scotty, I have a little surprise for you. Beam us up."
And I'm so glad that this episode is over that I'm not even going to bitch that he smiles at Alexander right when he says "little surprise."


And then they fly the fuck away from there because oh my God.



So I usually watch each episode all the way through once before re-watching while I write and take screencaps. This way, I can get a better feeling for the episode "overall," think about how the episode fits in with the series and canon, and compare and contrast it to see if it's similar or not to other episodes. Certain episodes fall into my "can I just not?" category, where I've done my initial watching, and have filed the episode away as one that I would rather not see again. Two that come to mind are "Space Seed" (creepy) and "City on the Edge of Forever" (feels trip). One viewing for any episode that falls into this category is more than enough. I feel this way about this episode.
Khan Noonien Singh ogled me at the bus stop. Parmen approached me on the street and licked my arm. In both cases, my skin crawled.
They actually banned this episode initially in the UK, not for the interracial kiss, but for the sadistic violence that Parmen shows to the crew of the Enterprise.
I gave myself several days between viewings to digest the content and really think about it, but no. Upon returning to the DVD, I found that I was loathe to fire it up again, this time having to proceed slowly through each scene, a bit at a time, getting just the right screencapture and creating just the right description and reaction. It takes roughly 4-5 hours to do each review, and because other stuff is going on at the same time, I usually just reserve all of Sunday to get the thing done because I'm also checking facts and pushing cats off my keyboard, and dealing with other on-going projects and convincing other people not to hold long conversations with me while I'm typing. A whole Sunday of "Plato's Stepchildren." *shudder* Not to mention the fact that this past weekend was the one where "Fifty Shades of Grey" came out, and my Facebook feed was full of arguments about BDSM, abuse disguised as romance, and terrible fanfic. I'm gonna have to shower for a week to get this creeper vibe off of my skin. Then I'm gonna watch a shit-ton of cute kitty videos, because kitty videos are good for what ails ya.

Death Toll:
Red deaths this episode: 0
Red deaths this season: 3
Gold deaths this episode: 0
Gold deaths this season: 0
Blue deaths this episode: 0
Blue deaths this season: 0
Total crew deaths this season: 3
Total crew deaths thus far: 45

Can I count myself? I died a little inside watching this.

This episode is shockingly similar to: Space Seed, for manipulative, controlling assholes; "Where No Man Has Gone Before" for assholes who have creepy super-human powers that they use for evil; "Who Mourns For Adonais?" and "Bread and Circuses" for alien civilizations based on Greco-Roman models.

*******

I can't always recall which teas I've reviewed, and which ones just taste really similar to some that I've had before. That being said, the Apple Cinnamon Spice tea by Celestial Seasonings that I drank this week gave me tastebud deja vu. Namely, this tea tastes like liquid Red Hots, and I swear I've had tea like that before. Maybe it was another cinnamon tea. I don't know. But anyway, this one tasted like liquid Red Hots, which is not really my thing. Gonna be honest: was expecting something closer to apple cider, and when it wasn't, I was a bit disappointed. Yeah, I know: if you want some fricking cider, then make cider and not tea. But when you call something Cinnamon Apple Spice, you expect some apple, right? So, yeah. If you like cinnamon, this is the tea for you. If you like more apple flavor, make some cider, I guess. 








You're working on a sewing project? Awesome, I'll help!
You don't need my help? That's crap, yes you do. No, I'm
not moving. This is my pattern now.
TOUCH ME AND
I'LL BITE YOU, BITCH!


1 comment:

  1. I liked this episode for showing an honest look at abuse, something probably not ever really done in the 60s. Alexander was a great character, full of integrity, and then the moral - that he should not become evil like his abusers, that he's better than that. The acting was top notch. Yes, this episode was full of horrible abuse, and yes it was hard to watch. It was a good episode, but not one I'd rewatching too often. I'll admit to looking away and cringing a lot during viewing.

    I can't fault the show too much, because while Kirk calling Alexander a "little surprise" could have come off bad, that is what they like to be called, ("little people") and Alexander was obviously not offended by it. The fact that this episode treated him not as an oddity but as a person, and realistically delt with the kind of turmoil someone put in his position would feel, was probably a huge deal in the 60s, and still remains so today, where people with this syndrome are still looked at as an oddity by the general populace. Kirk telling him that his height didn't matter, that he was a person who deserved to treated with dignity and respect, regardless of any perceived disability, was an important message to get across.

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