Our Heroes observe a Native camp from a distance. Spock observes that they do not only appear Native American, they are Native American. A blend of Delaware, Navajo and Mohican to be precise. Kirk admires the people, briefly contemplates what it would be like to be one of them, then goes about his way to save them all from the incoming asteroid. Unfortunately, Kirk just happens to stand on a secret passage outside the obelisk, just happens to say the secret password "Kirk to Enterprise" and just happens to fall through and vanish without a trace. Bones wants to look for the missing Captain, but Spock explains to him, using rocks as puppets, why they must hurry and destroy the asteroid.
Kirk, meanwhile, gets hit by a surge of Imported Alien Phlebotinum. And he may ask himself "How did I get here?" And later, he may ask himself "How do I work this? Where is that large spaceship?" And he may tell himself "This is not my birch bark teepee! This is not my beautiful wife!" (Then again, maybe it is!)
When Kirk leaves the obelisk, he meets Miramanee and her handmaiden, who are convinced he's here to fulfill the prophecy. After doing some CPR on a half drowned boy, Kirk is made medicine man. While the medicine man's badge has the unfortunate appearance of an L on the forehead, the former medicine man, Salish, is loathe to part with it. He's even more loathe to part with Miramanee, who as chief's daughter must marry the medicine man. (Sound familiar?) Salish hasn't been this upset since he saw someone littering! How long will Kirk's happiness as "Kirok" last?
Tropes for this episode include:
- All There in the Script: Although not mentioned on screen, the planet in this episode, according to the script, was called Amerind.
- As You Know: Since the episode starts with the crew arriving on the planet, the script strains a bit to have Spock explain what they're doing there. It hits peak ridiculousness when he spends several minutes explaining to McCoy that it's vital they not waste another second before going after the asteroid.
- Braids, Beads and Buckskins: The people are supposed to be a mixture of Delaware and Mohican (both Eastern civilizations) and Navajo (Southwest), but live in tipis like Plains people and have almost no Navajo characteristics. Feathered cloaks are Aztec, not Native North American. Temples are also much more likely to be found in a Native South American civilization. Irrigation was known to many tribes, dating back to 1200 BC. The only accuracy here is their unfamiliarity with lamps — pre-Columbian Indians apparently didn't have them. Belts and headbands are traditional for Eastern tribes, but Miramanee is wearing a headband woven of glass seed beads, which were a European trade item. Both headbands, hers and the Medicine Chief's, were strung on ELASTIC THREAD.
- Captain's Log: Since Kirk is missing and amnesiac, Spock gives the opening narration.
- The Chief's Daughter: Miramanee.
- CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Kirk uses a (now outdated) variant of the Silvester Method (pumping the legs) on one of the locals.
- Disco Tech: potentially world-destroying asteroid is held at bay by a repulsive field that is controlled through the use of music, or saying the correct sequence of consonants and vowels that just happens to sound like "Kirk to Enterprise."
- Dressed to Heal: Hinted at. The position of medicine man is represented by a headband bearing a shiny emblem which, though non-functional, resembles a physician's head mirror. A closer look shows the emblem represents the obelisk.
- Easy Amnesia: One little zap and Kirk forgets everything. He's almost sure his name starts with a K and he has dreams about a giant metal lodge floating through space. Spock uses Vulcan Mind Meld to help him recover.
- Forgot the Call: Kirk forgets he's a starship captain and becomes a medicine man of a native tribe and marries Miramanee. Until all Hell breaks loose.
- Fourth Date Marriage: Miramanee doesn't even know Kirk's name (well, neither does he at this point) and she's ready to marry him before you can say "Salish who?"
- God Guise: Kirk can't remember who he is, so if some people tell him he's a god, he won't argue.
- A short scene that was cut for time showed Kirk telling Miramanee that he knew he was a man and not a god, and her response that if this is true, it must be kept a secret or the people would kill him.
- Idiot Ball: In Kirk's absence, Spock screws the pooch royally, insisting on dashing off to the asteroid at Warp Nine and then phasering it futilely until the engines burn out. It will then take the ship months to return to the planet and there will be next to no time to do anything. Had Spock chosen almost any other course of action, there would have been a fully functional starship to carry out whatever Plan B they were able to devise in the many months they had available.
- Impostor Exposing Test: Kirk plays along with Miramanee's people who think he's a god, until Salish cuts him and contemptuously exclaims, "A god who bleeds!" Still, the people continue to revere "Kirok" as a god, until it's clear he can't stop the impeding disaster. Then out come the rocks! The concept of "A god who bleeds" is explored in the Next Gen episode " Who Watches the Watchers".
- The Insomniac: Spock goes without sleep for around two months. He states that Vulcans under enough stress can go without sleep and/or food for much longer than humans. Bones tells him to rest anyway.
- Last Kiss: The episode ends with Kirk kissing Miramanee just before she dies. Because in the future, if you need a new kidney, you only need to take a pill, but if you get hit by a rock, you're screwed. Her Last Words are "Each kiss is as the first."
- Mighty Whitey: Kirk supplants the medicine man and marries the chief's daughter, and — despite his amnesia — remembers enough about artificial resuscitation, lamp-making, food preservation, and irrigation to introduce the locals to technological improvements they would apparently never have come up with by themselves. It gets subverted at the very end, as Kirk proves completely useless at the thing the natives actually think he's been sent there to do, and Spock ends up being the one who saves the planet from the asteroid.
- Noble Savage
- Nubile Savage: Miramanee again. Her handmaiden's pretty hot too, complete with the Roddenberry-requisite ultra-short skirts.
- Poor Communication Kills: Apparently having a Starship crippled and out of action for months doesn't warrant a call to Starfleet Command asking for help, nor does it motivate Starfleet to send a ship out to say what up.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: McCoy is able to treat all manner of injuries and bizarre alien diseases throughout the series, but unable to save Miramanee from dying after she gets pelted with a few rocks. This can't even be blamed on her having a Bizarre Alien Biology, seeing how it's specifically mentioned that these are transplanted humans.
- Shirtless Scene: Kirk doesn't need a shirt to frolic with Miramanee! Note that she seemed pretty eager to remove his shirt bare moments after they meet.
- Songs in the Key of Lock: The obelisk left by the Preservers has a door that opens in response to a specific sequence of sounds (musical notes or speech tones).
- Title Drop: Averted in favor of the "Tahiti Syndrome", as mentioned by Bones.
- The Simple Life Is Simple: Even Kirk dreams of chucking it all just to live at one with nature. He seems to have no trouble doing so.
- Transplanted Humans: Ever wonder why there were so many humanoid aliens throughout the galaxy? It's because Precursors "seeded" the galaxy with them in hopes of preserving them. So it's not because it's just easier to use human actors!
- Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: The Enterprise was so crippled it took months just to return to the planet at about the same speed as the asteroid (so only a few thousand miles per hour). Scott said she couldn't be repaired outside of a space dock — so how did they ever reach one? It's thousands of times further from one star to the next than it is from an outer planet to an inner one.