Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Star Trek S2 E5 "The Apple"

Go To
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 Akuta, the local priest, who seems shocked that anyone would react violently towards him. Akuta 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 call "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:

  • Absentee Actor: Sulu and Uhura don't appear in this episode.
  • Action Girl: Yeoman Martha Landon knows judo and is the only redshirt on the planet to get out of this episode alive.note 
  • Ad Hominem: By the episode's end with Vaal destroyed and the Enterprise free to depart, Spock points out that with their interference, everything that the plant's natives had - basically everything that made it a "paradise" may not be sustained for very long by using the analogy of the Garden of Eden. Kirk asks Spock if he's suggesting that he played the role of Satan, and the latter insists that he isn't. Bones walks up and Kirk (jokingly) asks the two if there's anyone on board who bears a resemblance to Satan, with the two looking at Spock. Spock (perhaps obliviously or brushing off Kirk's ribbing) replies that there isn't. This doesn't address anything that Spock said, and was a blatant dig at Spock's looks.
  • Advertisement:
  • 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 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!
  • Anti-Villain: Akuta, when he's told to kill Kirk and his officers. He has no understanding of the immorality of murder; to him, it's simply "a thing to do, like feeding Vaal".
  • Cargo Cult: A misplaced AI has found its way on this planet and now the natives believe it's a god. Either that, or it's the remnant of an older, much more advanced civilization that has crumbled leaving the natives we see as the only survivors.
  • 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.
  • Continuity Nod: Spock is still very uncomfortable when it comes to The Talk.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The crew know nothing of Vaal, the computer that runs the world, yet despite the entire planet having a virtually constant climate they beam down within walking distance of Vaal.
    • They can detect humanoid life with their sensors, so probably just picked the spot near the largest concentration.
  • Corrupt Church: If Vaal must teach its followers to murder to protect him, so be it.
  • Crisis Catch And Carry: Kirk picks up Spock after he's been struck by lightning and carries him on his shoulders until he finds Dr. McCoy to take a look at the second-degree burns Spock received.
  • Cultural Posturing: McCoy preaches the superiority of human culture over the natives. Kirk's speech at the end assures the natives they will enjoy Federation culture more than their old one without ever giving them a choice. Spock is the only one to call them out on this.
  • Disposable Vehicle Section: When Vaal catches the Enterprise in its tractor beam, Kirk orders Scotty to, if necessary, jettison the warp nacelles and escape with the center section.
  • Diving Save: When a plant is about to shoot poisonous thorns into Captain Kirk, Spock pushes Kirk out of the way and takes a chestful of thorns himself.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Akuta, while not necessarily dumb - just naive and a product of extreme isolation, points out that Kirk's promise not to harm him ring hollow if you just struck in the face mere seconds before. So Kirk instead promises not to do it again.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Scratch four Red Shirts.
  • Flower in Her Hair: The women of this planet wear lots of flowers in their hair. The men wear wrist corsages.
  • Frequently-Broken Unbreakable Vow: Never interfere...unless the celibate natives run around in loinskins worshiping a papier-mache dinosaur head.
  • 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, it's a moot point. Scotty is rehired when he destroys Vaal with focused ship's phaser fire. It's all just Casual Danger Dialog in any case.
  • Girl of the Week: We've never heard of Martha Landon before and never will again, but Pavel is head over heels for her!
  • Halfway Plot Switch: It starts with a dangerous forest which Kirk quickly loses multiple crew members to. Then they find the people of Vaal, and the episode takes a sharp left turn into a discussion of the Prime Directive.
  • 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.
  • Hypocrite: McCoy denounces Vaal for taking away the "choice and freedom" of the natives by making them entirely dependent on it and wants to destroy Vaal. Kirk seriously considers destroying Vaal even before it became necessary in violation of the Prime Directive. Only Spock points out McCoy's hypocrisy of projecting his own values on to an alien culture or that Kirk has sworn not to interfere. Never mind, both McCoy and Kirk were planning on not giving the natives a choice and arbitrarily deciding for them nor that without Vaal the natives are now entirely dependent on the Federation for survival. McCoy and Kirk are guilty of the very things they accused Vaal of.
    • This is all brought out in a 1987 Mike Carlin comic book, "Return of the Serpent".
    • Kirk punches Akuta in the face, after the latter sneaks up on the Enterprise crew. He then right after tries to persuade him that he means him no harm. Even Akuta, as simple as he is, points out that Kirk had just struck him ten seconds before using that line.
  • In the Original Klingon: Chekov again claims credit on behalf of Russia, this time for the Garden of Eden.
  • Innocence Lost: The villagers in the latter half of the episode, starting when Vaal teaches them to kill.
  • It's All My Fault: Kirk blames himself for the Red Shirt deaths because he was Just Following Orders.
  • Liberty Over Prosperity: The crux of the discussion between McCoy and Spock. The natives live immortal lives of happiness, but are wholly dependent on Vaal. Of course, they do not know of any other way. Kirk takes the decision out of their hands without ever discussing it with them.
  • Living Is More Than Surviving: Kirk destroys a computer that was keeping a planet's people in a stagnant, mollycoddled existence, and argues that this isn't a Prime Directive violation because the people didn't really have their own culture at all.
  • 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."
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: In-Universe, by order of Vaal.
    Bones: Well, there goes paradise.
  • 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.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Kirk goes all Gadfly on Spock by getting him to give The Talk while smirking and eating an apple.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: Deconstructed with the aliens: They have lived for millenia, a simple yet sustainable diet, yet live in bamboo huts, and are (at least initially) very friendly. However, they are completely dependent on Vaal - the AI that they believe to be a god, have no idea how to express attraction to another (it's implied that they haven't even so much as shook hands with one another) because Vaal forbade it, and produce no children - partly because they don't need to...again because of Vaal. It's eventually subverted when Vaal teaches them how to kill - introducing (well, apart from Kirk punching Akuta) violence into the society.
  • Plot Armor: Spock's got it in this episode, surviving an attack by something that killed a Red Shirt outright. Twice.
  • Red Shirt: Along with "Obsession", this episode is an exemplar of wanton killing of Bit Characters, with 3 of the 4 red shirts killed within the first 10 minutes of the episode.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: After Spock has risked his life to save Kirk:
    Kirk: Trying to get yourself killed. Do you know how much Starfleet has invested in you?
    Spock: One hundred twenty two thousand, two hundred--
    Kirk: Never mind. But thanks.
  • 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.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: Vaal is protected by an invisible force field, which is in evidence only by the flash when Spock discovers it by walking into it, and later by a glow when the Enterprise pours phaser fire into it.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Title Drop: Twice at the end, when Spock mentions the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden.
  • 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.
  • We Need a Distraction: Spock and Chekov have a fake argument to cover Kirk's ambush of Akuta.
  • 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.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Played with. The people of Vaal are immortal, but in return for stagnation and lack of choice. They do not create, or think or feel. The Power Trio debate on whether this is a borderline-Fate Worse than Death or not.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Or perhaps "Special Effects People Cannot Do Math". When the Enterprise phasers attack Vaal, an exterior shot of the ship clearly shows two red beams diverging at a significant angle. At that distance, for one of the beams to hit the planet, the other almost certainly has to miss it entirely. However, the phaser beams which hit the "god" do so no farther than perhaps a meter from one another.
    • This is geometry, which is a kind of math.

Example of: