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Recap / Star Trek S3E8 "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky"

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"It's about damn time I get the chance to get some!"

The Enterprise is attacked by what appears to be a normal asteroid, but what turns out to be a cleverly disguised generation ship called the Yonada. The ship is on a collision course for a Federation planet with a population of 4 billion. As the Power Trio beam over, they discover a people from a long-dead civilization. The people still believe that they are on the planet, which was destroyed when the sun went nova, and anyone who learns the truth is killed by the Oracle, actually the main computer of the ship. McCoy, who has been inflicted with a rare, incurable disease that will kill him in a year, begins to fall in love with one of the women of Yonada, and decides to join the ship in exchange for Kirk and Spock's lives when they're caught trying to figure out a way to divert the ship from its course. McCoy himself finds out the way to divert the course, but the trio must fight the Oracle every step of the way to do so. As they do, they consult the civilization's database, which, conveniently, also has the cure to McCoy's condition.


"For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" is the longest title of any Star Trek episode. Amazingly, they actually pull off a fairly well-executed Title Drop.

Tropes for this episode include:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: As we've learned in "The Apple", computers make lousy gods.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The Fabrini have their own written language that was considered dead. (Though conveniently enough, Spock can read it. Presumably Fabrini artifacts were found on other planets, otherwise how would he even know the asteroid people were Fabrini.) It's never explained how the Fabrini can speak English, being cut off from any outsiders for centuries.
  • City in a Bottle: Yonada
  • Converting for Love: Bones agrees to submit to the Oracle in order to marry Natira.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Oracle might be a brutal tyrant, but it is very insistent that the "Instruments of Obedience" only be implanted with Bones' full consent.
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  • For the Evulz: The only apparent motivation for why it's forbidden for these people to know they're on an asteroid.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Fourth date? Try no date! Bones points out to Natira that they barely know each other, but he needs little convincing to marry her.
  • Friendship Moment: When Spock is told Bones is dying, his reaction is simply to arch an eyebrow and allow his hand to linger on Bones' arm a little longer than need be after helping him up. Coming from The Spock, this may as well be a tearful embrace.
  • Girl of the Week: Natira. Nah, she and Bones don't settle into Happily Ever After. Their ending is closer to Rick and Elsa from Casablanca. Well, they'll always have Yonada.
  • Hollow World: The asteroid/generation ship Yonada.
  • Idiot Ball: The Oracle tries to cook the Enterprise trio to death rather than immobilise or stun them with its force field.
  • Jerkass Gods: Kirk gives the Oracle the standard "We come as friends" line. The Oracle responds with "Learn what it is to be our enemy." and gives them a severe electric shock for no reason other than a show of power.
  • Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge: Natira guards a book that explains everything. Reading it is blasphemy. Just looking at it is an honor reserved only for the High Priestess and her husband.
  • Long Title: The episode's title is the longest in the entire Star Trek franchise.
  • Love at First Sight: An insight into the brain of Bones: "OK, I'm gonna be dead in a year, but I'm still gonna protect my friends with my bare hands! So get ready for a knuckle...whoa! Check out the babe in the barely there toga!" Natira falls for our curmudgeonly doctor fairly quickly.
  • Orion Drive: Yonada is constructed out of a hollowed-out iron asteroid, propelled using "Orion class nuclear pulse engines" in which fission bombs were detonated in shafts. It appeared to have been traveling for about 10,000 years, and had traveled about 30 light years on its own power.
  • Path of Inspiration: The ideals of worship of the Oracle revolve around truth and obedience. Well, turns out more of the latter than the former.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Bones begs Natira not to have Spock and Kirk executed for blasphemy. She rather casually agrees.
  • Religion Is Wrong: The people of the spaceship Yonada have forgotten they're in a spaceship and are ruled by an unforgiving Oracle that can deal out instant, painful death should anyone disobey. The Oracle is also a computer, this time defeated when its head Priestess turns against it after McCoy convinces her she's wrong through The Power of Love and common sense.
  • Restraining Bolt: The "Instruments of Obedience" are subcutaneous chips that cause unbearable pain whenever anyone tries to learn or reveal the truth about Yonada.
  • Secretly Dying: Dr. McCoy learns that he's suffering from a disease called xenopolycythemia which will kill him in one year. When he tells Kirk about it he asks him to keep it to himself so he'll be most effective in his job in the time left.
  • That's No Moon!: A giant asteroid turns out to be a worldship for an almost-long dead civilization. In a twist, none of the inhabitants know they are on a worldship until the Enterprise crew tells them.
  • The Wall Around the World: The whole world of Yonada is an asteroid.
  • We Can Rule Together: A non-villainous version, as Natira wants Bones to rule alongside her as her consort.

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