Philana (Barbara Babcock) and Alexander (Michael Dunn).
You guys have been looking forward to this, haven't you?
This episode was absolutely crazy
, packed with zany antics and veering from serious to silly
in a heartbeat. It is second only to "Spock's Brain" as a perfect example of the Seasonal Rot Star Trek
started to show in the third season.
It's also a landmark episode, being the first time on network television a black woman and white man were shown kissing. Even though Aliens Made Them Do It
The ep starts with our Power Trio
beaming down to Platonius to answer a distress call. They are greeted by a giant shadow, but before you can say "Be vewy quiet"
, they find the owner of the shadow is a dwarf called Alexander. It seems Parmen, the leader of the Platonians, has suffered a severe infection from a simple paper cut and is near death. Bones treats him. It is soon learned that the Platonians have many abilities. Their gift of telekinesis, extending as far as the orbiting Enterprise
is the most obvious. They also have incredible longevity and mental capacity. Unfortunately, they have very weak immune systems, small wounds becoming infectious very quickly. They tell Bones that they would like him to stay. Bones respectfully declines, only to learn that this was not an invitation
. The Platonians are going to keep Bones with them and will make a puppet show with his friends until he agrees to stay.
The bulk of this episode is of the Platonians forcing Kirk, Spock, Uhura and Chapel to perform for their benefit. Did you find this episode amusing? You Bastard
! You're no better than the Platonians!
Tropes for this episode include:
- Ancient Astronauts: The Platonians so admired classical Greek culture that they adopted it as their own, down to naming the home planet after the philosopher, Plato. And cue the Title Drop!
- Censor Decoy: The script called for Uhura and Kirk to kiss (the first scripted, onscreen, interracial kiss on TV at the time), but the network called for the scene to be filmed with and without the kiss, to decide later which to use. William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols deliberately screwed up every take of the non-kiss scene, making the version with the kiss the best option.
- Which becomes even more impressive if you read their autobiographies, where it becomes clear this is the only thing they've ever agreed on.
- Chew Toy: Alexander is treated like one by the other Platonians because he's small and without telekinesis.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: No room in the budget for crystal spires, but plenty of togas!
- Death Glare: When Kirk plants one on Uhura, Kirk gives the Platonians a look that says "How dare you force me to kiss this beautiful woman!"
- The Dog Bites Back: Alexander has really had it with the way the Platonians treat him.
- Empowered Boss Normal: Kirk gains telekinesis from the local food.
- Faux Affably Evil: For all of Parmen's formality, he's just a sadistic sociopath. When Kirk and Spock finally get the jump on him, he breaks down and promises not to be an asshole anymore, which Kirk doesn't buy.
- Forgotten Phlebotinum: Telekinesis seems pretty handy; you might think people would start taking Kironide supplements on a regular basis. Yet somehow we never see it again.
- Gilded Cage: Not for the first time, Bones is offered one. Not for the first time, he turns it down.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Look out, Kirk! He may be short but he's the evil Dr. Lovelace! Oh, wait, he's the only decent person on the planet.
- Philana bears resemblance to both Grace from Hill Street Blues and a younger, blonder version of Dorothy from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Not to mention Mea 3 from "A Taste of Armageddon." She also sounds like Trelane's mother.
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: For all the times Bones has scolded Spock for being unemotional, he's the first to protest when the Platonians use their powers to force a show of emotion out of Spock.
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Alexander finally has Parmen at knife point and has a more powerful telekinetic on his side. He begs Kirk for the opportunity to kill Parmen. Kirk responds "Do you want to be like him?" Alexander tosses the knife away and expresses his contempt for the Platonians.
- I Just Want To Be Free: In the end, Alexander is given his wish when Kirk agrees to take him away from Platonius aboard the Enterprise.
- Involuntary Dance: Spock's Flamenco, and the skipping duet he does with Kirk that's one big Shout-Out to Alice in Wonderland.
- Kissing Under the Influence: As part of their sadistic puppet show, Kirk is forced to kiss Uhura while a make out session with Chapel and Spock is also played out.
- Large Ham: Shatner at his best.
- Malfunction Malady: Parmen is sick, and since he, like almost all Platonians, has telekinetic powers, he makes furniture fly around as if there was a hurricane while in a fit of feverish delirium.
- Meaningful Name: "Alexander" means "helper of men". He even introduces himself as "Alexander, at your service." Alexander gives Kirk and his men the info they need to beat the Platonians.
- Mind Rape: Used by the Platoians, with the most blatant example being Parmen forcing Spock to laugh and cry.
- Mood Whiplash: Spock goes from uncontrollable laughter to uncontrollable crying on the whim of the Platonians. Kirk is having a serious conversation with Alexander on the nature of equality when he suddenly spins about like a top. The seemingly silly situations are actually quite serious when you realize they are being manipulated by this week's Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
- People Puppets: Uhura describes the experience as "It was like becoming someone's puppet."
- Playing with Puppets: The Platonians use their telekinetic powers to make the Enterprise crew members act in absurd and humiliating ways.
- Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Bones begs Parmen to stop this travesty.
- Power Incontinence: Parmen experiences this when feverish.
- Really 700 Years Old: Actually, Philana is closer to 2300 years old, with her husband Parmen being slightly older at 2500 years old.
- Royal Brat: All of the Platonians. Thousands of years of doing nothing has made them insufferable brats who treat others like playthings.
- Somewhere, an Equestrian Is Crying: At one point, the Platonians force Alexander and Kirk to play "Horsey". Kirk makes a noise that sounds more like a turkey being tickled than a neigh. Sad thing is, Shatner is an accomplished equestrian who should know better.
- Theiss Titillation Theory: Gender flipped. The peplos worn by the women display the shoulders and arms, but are still modest compared to the scanty tunics Spock and Kirk are forced into.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: The Platonian lifestyle is of course based on what was recorded in Plato's The Republic; establishment and survival of the perfect state requires autocratic rule by philosopher-kings bred from a system of eugenics. So what if the result is a bunch of spoiled brats who don't know how to properly treat anyone different from them?
- Variant Chess: The Platonians play chess with oversized pieces, moving them either by telekinesis or getting Alexander to do it.
- Whip It Good: After they get tired of watching them kiss, the Platonians decide they want to watch Kirk whip Uhura. Funny, all that uproar over an inter-racial kiss and not one complaint about the Unfortunate Implications of a white man whipping a black person of any gender. Oh well, the Kironide kicked in before anything really bad happened.