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Recap / Star Trek S3 E3 "The Paradise Syndrome"

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Original air date: October 4, 1968

Exterior shot: a Bob Ross painting. Pan right: Our Heroes (Kirk, Bones, Spock) beam down. They comment on how beautiful the place is, how unusually it is like Earth, considering how far away they are from Earth. The only difference between this place and Earth is a mysterious metallic obelisk. Astronomical as the chances are to have a planet with the exact flora and fauna as Earth, they are more concerned about the asteroid that is about to collide with the planet. They have only got 30 minutes before they have to return to the Enterprise, but Kirk thinks that's enough time to explore.

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 that 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 the 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?

The Paradise Tropes:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: The last produced episode before this one was "Elaan Of Troyius"note , and so it's not much wonder that Kirk muses about wanting out even before amnesia and says the loaded line of he doesn't deserve this happiness.
  • 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. Food preservation was a HUGE deal and the most common methods were known to all traditional people.note  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 their beads were made out of shells (a common trade item as well as serving many other purposes), bone, seeds, stone, clay, wood and so on. Miramanee and several of the others have headbands woven of glass seed beads, which were a European trade item not used by Indian people until the 1800s. 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.
  • Cartwright Curse: Kirk falls in love, gets married, and has a baby on the way. So, naturally, his pregnant wife must die to preserve the show's status quo.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Kirk can't help going on about how peaceful this Arcadia is, and Bones jibes him about suffering from "Tahiti Syndrome", which is "particularly common to over-pressured leader types, like starship captains."
  • 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.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Spock burns out the ship's power firing the phasers, apparently forgetting all about their arsenal of photon torpedoes.
  • 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."
  • Loophole Abuse: Dr. McCoy tells Spock to rest and threatens to call in security to enforce it as a medical order. Spock lies down for a moment, but gets back up to continue working as soon as McCoy leaves. Later, when McCoy finds Spock still at work, he angrily declares "I prescribed sleep!" to which Spock replies "You prescribed rest" (presumably he thinks lying on the bed for a moment and then not being physically active while doing his work counts).
  • 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 themselvesnote . 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: Everybody on the planet. Even Salish, really.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: When the Preservers first brought the people to the planet, they provided one of them — the first medicine chief — with the knowledge of how to use the Temple, and it was subsequently passed on from father to son. Unfortunately, they apparently never considered what would happen if the medicine chief died before passing the knowledge on. Exactly this happened with Salish's father, hence why the planet is in danger in the first place.
  • No Sense of Distance: An asteroid is a couple of months from intersecting the planet. The Enterprise could cover that distance in a few moments at standard warp speed, not the prolonged engine-destroying journey depicted.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Stock Footage: Although Uhura does not appear in this episode, a recycled reaction shot places her on the bridge for a brief moment.
  • Title Drop: Averted in favor of the "Tahiti Syndrome", as mentioned by Bones.
  • 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.
    • What about the planet? Do they teach Salish how to open the obelisk and activate the deflector?