S02E09 – “The Apple”
On an idyllic world, the local population is overseen by a jealous protector.
Welcome to the Garden of Eden. Watch out for exploding rocks. And poison flower darts. Come to think of it, be careful of everything… including Chekov’s roving hands if you happen to be a beautiful young woman. Seriously, people still think Kirk’s the threat? Ok, I suppose he and his crew are the “serpents” in this paradise. But… I can’t help but notice that Val looks like a serpent and has a name that rhymes with “Baal,” an old Canaanite deity later rebranded as a demon by Christianity.
This episode is a classic example of an entity in power teaching the innocent to “hate and fear everything that’s not like you.” It’s rough being on the targeted side of that particular coin, isn’t it? It’s another classic example of “Kirk vs. the computer.” In that scenario, three guesses who wins, and the first two don’t count. No need to out-think a deity when ship’s phasers will do. Kirk learned that just a couple episodes back from Apollo. There’s nothing quite like practical experience in the field.
S02E10 – “Mirror, Mirror”
Due to a transporter malfunction in an ion storm, Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura find themselves in a parallel universe where the order of the Terran Empire is enforced by conquest and assassination.
Over fifty years later, this is one of those magnificent episodes that keeps on giving. Later Star Trek series — including the back half of Discovery — comics, novels… the Mirror Universe is just full of possibility. And with each variation, this original episode just keeps getting better. It ages remarkably well. I’ve seen variations where Spock followed through on Kirk’s suggestion of liberty, and I’ve seen others where he considered the idea for about ten seconds and decided it to be most illogical. My current favorite iteration of the Mirror Universe comes from late in season four of Enterprise, “Through a Glass, Darkly,” Parts I and II. We’ll get there eventually. It’ll be a long road getting to there from here. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) There’s just something exciting to me about finally seeing a Constitution-class starship kick ass and take names in a way the original series could never realize with the effects limitations.
It’s interesting that the Mirror Universe is meant to counterpoint all of the Federation’s ethics and morals with its own atrocities. It highlights just how noble and self-sacrificing our heroes are, even when the chips are down. After all, they could have let Mirror Spock die, but McCoy went that extra mile because he’s a doctor first. I also love how episodes like this one in this second season really allow some of the cast beyond Kirk and Spock the chance to shine. Uhura and and the Mirror versions of Sulu and Chekov, for example. It’s not much, but they make it count. Such a fun episode.
S02E11 – “The Deadly Years”
The expedition of an experimental colony is aging rapidly. As the Enterprise remains in orbit to investigate, members of the landing party begin exhibiting the same problems.
I can’t help but wonder if William Shatner ever looks back on this episode and considers how lucky he is to have aged so well. We should all be so lucky to be so mentally and physically active as time speeds forward. The complete breakdown of an aging Kirk in this episode is the sort of thing an actor can have fun with. There are some serious themes to this episode, however, as Star Trek confronts ageism head-on. The older I get, the more poignant this episode becomes. I suppose that’s only natural.
Special kudos for the magnificent corbomite bluff at the climax of the episode. Absolutely classic.
I don’t often pay much attention to fan films, but in the world of Star Trek, there are a number of professional level productions now at the amateur level. Accordingly, there are many that truly stand out. Among those is an episode of Star Trek: New Voyages called “To Serve All My Days.” It’s a direct sequel to this original episode where Walter Koenig steps back into the role of Ensign Chekov to play the character as he ages. At the time this was done, such a reprisal in a fan film was unheard of. It broke some new ground, which elevated the status of such projects to that of a more worthy and serious consideration. I have nothing but praise for the largest part of what James Cawley and his production achieved.
S02E12 – “I, Mudd”
The Enterprise is hijacked by an android and taken to an uncharted world where the only human inhabitant is a familiar face with ulterior motives.
Harry Mudd returns, the only nemesis to make a return appearance within the original series. This episode’s decidedly more comedic than his original appearance, but no less threatening either. If anything, the stakes are higher, seeing as how Mudd sent a crew of androids to the ship and stranded the entire crew on the surface while no one was looking. Say what you will, but it’s a far more effective mutiny than even Khan’s attempt.
The opening banter between Spock and McCoy ranks among the best bickering between these two in the history of Star Trek. It sets the tone for the entire episode perfectly.
The question of the androids being capable of functioning “as real girls” opens all manner of tempting thoughts, to which Uhura is at first not immune (which makes for a convincing ruse later). The idea of having a most perfect body for upwards of 500,000 years is tantalizing. I can’t argue that, assuming all of the physical and mental sensations can be transferred in with no other side effects. It still brings up the question of virtual immortality vs. the gilded cage. Ah, the stuff of quality sci-fi…
Obviously, we’ve got another “Kirk vs. the computer” story, largely played for laughs, but still no less serious as any of the other similarly themed episodes. Personally, I think that’s a better choice than simply playing up on Mudd’s chauvinism again, especially since it comes with a most satisfying payback at the end. It’s all part of the episode’s absurdist approach to busting the 1s and 0s of computer logic, topped off with one of the most unique prison sentences in fiction for Mudd. Bravo, Kirk. Bravo.