Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Star Trek S3 E8 "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky"

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

Original air date: November 8, 1968

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 their 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 diagnosed 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 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.

For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Tropes:

  • Agony Beam: The Instrument of Obedience, a subcutaneous implant placed in a person's head, can inflict horrible, even lethal, pain on them when they violate any rule set down by the Oracle.
  • 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.
  • All There in the Manual: The novelization of this episode explains why the ship went off course: Yonada included native animal life to sell the illusion of a normal planet, including insects; a wasps' nest set up shop in one of the attitude control engines. In the episode proper, you can see Spock massaging his finger after being stung when he comes back from fixing the engine issue.
  • City in a Bottle: Yonada. The entire "world" is really a massive generation ship, on which everyone has forgotten this fact. If anyone finds out, then the Oracle (its resident supercomputer AI who's worshiped as a god) will kill them.
  • 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.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Spock can be seen karate-chopping a guard during the melee, but another grabs his arms before he can be nerve-pinched.
  • 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.
    • Also, when McCoy is being cured of xenopolycythemia, Kirk reacts to McCoy's intense pain by touching his friend's arm.
  • 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. (Although there's a line left in that suggests this isn't the end of their relationship... see Trivia.)
  • Hand Gagging: Jim silencing Natira when she calls for her guards.
  • He's Dead, Jim: Bones gives a blunt, "He's dead" after checking the Old Man's pulse.
  • High Priest: Natira is this for the Yonadans, heading their religion. She alone, plus her husband, is allowed to view the Book of the People, their holy text.
  • His Name Is...: Bones collapses in agony from his implant before he can reveal where the manual is.
  • Hollow World: The asteroid/generation ship Yonada.
  • Human Aliens: The Fabrini look identical to Humans. Nobody comments on this.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • The Oracle tries to cook the Enterprise trio to death rather than immobilise or stun them with its force field.
    • By keeping the population in ignorance, the Oracle can't adapt to an easily-repaired fault in its circuitry.
  • I Choose to Stay: Even after finding the truth, Natira chooses to stay on Yonada and lead her people to their Promised Land, rather than roam the universe with McCoy.
  • Jerkass Gods: Kirk gives the Oracle the standard "We come as friends" line. The Oracle responds, "Then 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.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Our heroes don't object as the context is obviously religious.
  • Large Ham: Jim...uses excessive...pauses...and gestures...when trying to...convince Natira...of the truth!
  • 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.
  • Meaningful Name: The Creators of Yonada belonged to a race called the Fabrini. The Latin word "fabri" can be translated as "makers" or "creators".
  • 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.
  • Our Doors Are Different
    • The lift cylinders to the Underground City slide upwards.
    • Natira waves her hands over the writing on the door to the Oracle, causing it to open. Spock knows the language and just copies the gesture.
  • 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 for the sake of their future marriage.
  • Planet Spaceship: One 200 miles in diameter.
  • Population Control: The Oracle chooses everyone's mate for them, to insure their social harmony, except the High Priestess. She is the only one allowed to choose for herself. It presumably also controls how many are born too, preventing any overpopulation in the ship's limited space.
  • Prime Directive: Spock points out that revealing the truth about their 'world' would violate this, but Kirk points out that it can hardly be more devastating an effect than letting them Colony Drop an inhabited planet (not to mention being destroyed by Starfleet to prevent this happening).
  • 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.
  • Sacred Scripture: The Book of the People, which contains all knowledge on the Fabrini. Only the High Priestess plus their husband is allowed to view it. Anyone else trying to will be killed by the Oracle. It turns out to just be a manual on how their world ship's computer (the Oracle) works.
  • 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.
  • Secret Underground Passage: The door to the Master Computer room is revealed to be behind the Oracle.
  • Status Quo Is God: The cure for McCoy's illness is conveniently stumbled upon shortly before the episode ends.
  • That's an Order!
    • Kirk point-blank orders Bones to come back to the Enterprise with them. He calmly refuses.
    • Kirk is ordered by Starfleet to move onto his next assignment, implying that Starfleet will destroy the asteroid if it doesn't change course.
  • 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 Theocracy: Yonadan society is run by the Oracle, a computer whom they believe is a god, and their High Priestess.
  • Title Drop
    Kirk: Why is it forbidden?
    Old Man: I am not sure. (wince at sudden pain in his head) But things are not as they teach us. For the world is hollow, and I have touched the sky! (collapses in agony)
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: To ensure the populace remains passive and stable until they reach their new world, the Oracle controls everybody with implanted surveillance/punishment devices, Population Control (the High Priestess is the only one with the right to choose her own mate), and total ignorance of their true condition.
  • The Wall Around the World: The whole world of Yonada is an asteroid. Presumably for psychological reasons, the population are kept in ignorance of this.
  • We Can Rule Together: A non-villainous version, as Natira wants Bones to rule alongside her as her consort.
  • We Need a Distraction: Kirk tells Bones to keep Natira busy while he and Spock snoop around. It works a bit too well.
  • You Fool!
    Natira: Fools. You think we are children? You think you can do as you please, commit whatever offence amuses you?