Kirk and company beam down to Gamma Trianguli VI for exploration. It looks like a nice place with flowers and chirping birds and perfect weather. Then, a Redshirt
gets a chest full of poisonous spines. Still, they must press on and explore. There is, for example, an alien village worth observing.
Another Redshirt bites the dust when a lightning bolt seems to strike at random. Yet another has the bad fortune to trip over an exploding rock. They have the feeling they're being watched and discover Akula, the local priest, who seems shocked that anyone would react violently towards him. Akula takes the remaining crew to his village, which seems to be a perfect Utopia, were it not for the social stagnation and sex being forbidden. All this is due to their worship of a strange god they cal "Vaal".
While Spock and Bones debate over whether or not to let the natives have their silly superstition
, things get personal when Vaal seizes the Enterprise
, putting everyone aboard in grave danger. No more debate. Vaal must be destroyed, even if it means forcing the childlike aliens to grow up.
Tropes for this episode include:
- Action Girl: Yeoman Martha Landon knows judo and is the only redshirt on the planet to get out of this episode alive.
- Adam and Eve Plot: Since it's scientifically unfeasible to believe that an entire race could grow from only two people, we're given a mid sized village. Still, it's the same plot and the Biblical story is alluded to.
- Adorkable: Spock has a rare moment of it when asked his opinion on how the aliens breed when the need arises. He really doesn't want to talk about it.
- AI Is Still A Crap Shoot: This one has a bad case of A God Am I.
- Alien Non-Interference Clause: Spock's argument for letting the natives be.
- Angst: Poor Kirk is having a bad day. He's torn between following Starfleet's orders and doing what he feels is right. The Redshirt body count is 4 by the episode's end. Spock nearly got himself killed twice. Spock and Bones are arguing...again. And as if that wasn't bad enough, an AI gone mad is trying to destroy his ship. Oh, and the cute blonde seems to like Chekov more than him.
- Anger Born of Worry: Kirk scolds Spock for putting himself in danger. He tries to make it sound like Spock is just too valuable to Starfleet to lose, but his quiet "Thanks" reveals his true feelings. Kirk, you Tsundere, you!
- Cargo Cult: A misplaced AI has found its way on this planet and now the natives believe it's a god.
- Childless Dystopia: No need for "replacements" when you live forever. Curious that Kirk questions the absence of children here when he never has before when meeting a civilization seemingly comprised only of adults. Typically, civilizations solely made up of children concern him more.
- Corrupt Church: If Vaal must teach its followers to murder to protect him, so be it.
- Everything Trying to Kill You
- Flower in Her Hair: The women of this planet wear lots of flowers in their hair. The men wear wrist corsages.
- George Jetson Job Security: Kirk tells Scotty his job is on the line when he tells him to get the Enterprise away from the planet. When he fails, Kirk fires him. Considering Scotty's life was also on the line, its a moot point. Scotty is rehired when he destroys Vaal with focused ship's phaser fire.
- Girl of the Week: We've never heard of Martha Landon before and never will again, but Pavel is head over heels for her!
- God Needs Food Badly: Vaal has tired of fruit and now desires a starship. But what does God need with a starship?
- Heroic RROD: Vaal destroys itself in trying to reinforce its own energy field when fired on by the Enterprise. The "Heroic" part is debatable as Vaal was only defending itself.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Hutch is an alien who wants to know what kissing is!
- Made of Explodium: The rocks on this planet. (Possibly just Vaal trying to keep out any threats to its existence.)
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: Oh yeah. This episode has a whopping five Redshirts, four men and one woman. The woman survives; the men might as well have signs on their backs saying "Kill me."
- Not My Lucky Day: It's just not Spock's day as he's shot by a poisonous plant, laughed at by natives, bounced off of a force field he didn't notice, pulled into a very... awkward conversation, struck by lightning, and in the end called Satan by Kirk and Bones.
- Over-the-Shoulder Carry: How Kirk moves Spock after he gets struck by lightning.
- Red Shirt: Along with "Obsession", this episode is an exemplar of wanton killing of Bit Characters.
- Scare Chord: One plays when the spike shooting flowers fire their poisonous nettles.
- Sinister Minister: Played with in Akuta's case. While he does order his followers to kill, having to show them how to do it, it's difficult to call him "evil". Like Satan from Mark Twain's The Mysterious Stranger, he simply does not know what evil is.
- Single-Biome Planet: Gamma Trianguli VI is tropical forest from pole to pole. Lampshaded when Kirk points out how unusual this is.
- Spike Shooter: Some poisonous plants that later get referenced in a mediocre Star Trek video game for NES.
- A Storm Is Coming: And it came out of nowhere.
- Sufficiently Advanced Bamboo Technology: Since Vaal is taking care of all their needs, the aliens haven't developed any tech beyond simple houses and bowls to put fruit in. Even the antennae that Akuta wears to communicate with Vaal came from Vaal.
- Taking the Bullet: Spock shouts out a rather impassioned "Jim!" as he jumps between him and a spine slinging plant. I have no idea why people want to write Slash Fic about this pair.
- Theiss Titillation Theory: A rare example where both males and females wear next to nothing.
- Understatement when Spock is struck by lightning, Bones decrees he has "Second degree burns. Not serious but I bet they smart." Spock commends him on his talent for understatement.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: The aliens sacrifice their ability to grow and develop plus making ritual sacrifices to Vaal in exchange for immortality and a life of mindless bliss.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: The aliens are immortal, but in turn for stagnation and lack of choice. They do not create, or think or feel.
- What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Akuta comes out and asks "What is love?" Sayana and Hutch-uh, I mean Makora are intrigued by the concept of kissing and proceed to experiment.