Recap / Star Trek S1 E25 "The Devil in the Dark"

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Kirk faces off against the horta. The horta's eggs are in the background.

The Enterprise is called to a mining planet, where the personnel are being killed by an invisible creature. Said creature turns out to have a point of view too; she is 'the Horta' the mother of her race and the human miners have been carelessly destroying her eggs - thinking they are nothing but a curious mineral formation. These facts are established by Spock through a mind meld. The miners - to their credit - are appalled at what they have unknowingly done. And the Horta is presumably equally distressed to discover the aliens she's been killing are not deliberate child murderers. Happily both sides are willing to let bygones be bygones and Kirk is able to negotiate a peace treaty and alliance that makes the human miners - and presumably the horta - 'Embarrassingly rich.'

Tropes:

  • Antagonist Title: Subverted.
  • Anti-Villain: The Horta is revealed to be protecting her species' nest, filled with millions of Horta eggs endangered by clueless human miners.
  • Breakout Character: In a way. The Horta became immensely popular with the Trek fanbase, and show up as characters in video games, Fanon and Expanded Universe literature.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The silicon nodules turn out to be Horta eggs. Their destruction was what caused the conflict.
  • Dug Too Deep: That's what inadvertently caused the conflict in the first place.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The vital mineral that the colony mines is "pergium," which is said to be used for reactors. Despite occasional mentions of other valuable resources, dilithium would be established as the premier element for the Federation, its primary use being in warp cores.
  • Eat Dirt, Cheap: The Horta.
  • Green Aesop: What the story becomes when Kirk and Spock learn of the Horta's motivations and the fact that her species is at an extremely tenuous period in their natural history with a very real possibility of extinction because of alien encroachment.
  • Hollywood Acid: The Horta dissolves a miner and a security guard, leaving them "burnt to a crisp".
  • Humans Are Ugly: The Horta calls the humanoid shape "repulsive".
  • Hypocrite / A Million Is a Statistic: Spock attempts to defy Kirk and have the Horta brought in safely...until Kirk reveals that it's right in front of him. Then Spock has to be ordered not to attack it.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: A bricklayer, in this case. But McCoy still managed to cure the injured Horta.
  • It Can Think: the Horta steals a piece of machinery from the life-support system, revealing that it's not just a mindless beast.
  • Last Of Its Kind: the Horta. Except there are thousands of eggs, some of them hatching by episode's end.
  • Mama Bear: the Horta. Fortunately, she is a very reasonable one and open to an acceptable compromise
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Spock feels incredible mental pain when he first tries to establish a Vulcan Mind Link with the Horta. He does better on the second try, probably because the creature is more trusting.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: the Horta's motive for killing the miners.
  • More Expendable Than You: Kirk tries to make this argument, saying that while individually both he and Spock can be replaced, if both of them are killed it would be a grievous blow to Starfleet. Spock ignores him.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Both the miners and the Horta react this way when the truth comes out - the miners are horrified to have unknowingly slaughtered an intelligent species, and the Horta is dismayed that it was killing people for a crime they didn't even know they were committing. This helps both sides reach a truce.
  • No Sell: One of the miners shot the Horta with a hand phaser (Phaser 1), which didn't even slow it down. Kirk surmises that using phaser pistols (Phaser 2) may be more effective.
  • Not So Stoic: Spock begins to panic when the Horta causes a cave-in near Kirk, and it only heightens when Kirk reveals that the Horta is right in front of him.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Spock, the pacifistic scientist of the group, takes aim at the Last Of Its Kind Horta with a phaser when he catches it near Kirk.
  • Red Shirt: The poor schmuck at the beginning, as well as several more before the episode's started. One of Kirk's men also bites the dust.
  • Rock Monster: The Horta, a silicon-based lifeform.
  • Shaming the Mob: Kirk and Spock do this to the angry personnel after Spock's mind-meld turns up some interesting facts.
  • Silicon-Based Life: The Horta.
  • Tunnel King: the Horta, due to the acid secreted from its skin.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: One of the best episodes to point this out, as the Horta is the most alien-looking lifeform we ever meet on the series...And one of the most popular non-humanoids in the franchise.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: When a cave-in occurs in Kirk's area, Spock begins to call "Jim" rather than "Captain" into the communicator.
  • You No Take Candle: When trying to communicate its lack of hostility to Kirk and Spock, the Horta carves, "No Kill I" into the rock.

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