Thursday, June 6, 2013

Star Trek: The Return of the Archons

The Return of the Archons is a breakout episode for Star Trek in a couple of ways. It was first the first Kirk vs. Computer episode and the first time that the Prime Directive is mentioned. While it is not on most people's Trek top ten list, it is a solid and enjoyable episode.
It begins with Sulu and O'Neil being pursued on the surface of planet Beta III. They request an emergency beam up. O'Neil runs off and Sulu is "shot" just before the transporter energizes. He is beamed aboard but speaks with a religious passion of Landru and paradise.
Kirk and a landing party beam down to find O'Neil and to learn what happened to Sulu. Apparently they have arrived just in time for Festival. The Red Hour strikes at 6.
Festival! Festival!

With the onset of Festival the calm, peaceful populace turns to wild debauchery. The landing party escapes inside to seek shelter and begins to learn of Landru.
From the safety of his hotel room Kirk watches the Festival and contemplates the use of post top lighting on planet Beta III. It is capped to prevent light from shining upward, but they still are sources of glare. He realizes that they are not a very efficient source of lighting and this must be a primitive culture.  Okay, not really. Kirk was watching Festival and likely not thinking about the lights at all.
Jon Lormer (left) who played Tamar also appeared in two other Star Trek episodes. Can you name the other them?  Reger (center) was played by Harry Townes. Because Reger and Tamar were both immune to absorption, they were able to resist Landru.

Hacom (played by Morgan Farley) is upset that the strangers are not at Festival and, after hearing Tamar talking about Landru, summons the Lawgivers. 
Tamar is killed by the Lawgivers.
After Tamar is killed there is an interesting exchange between Kirk and the Law Givers:

Lawgiver: You will be absorbed. The Good is all. Landru is gentle. You will come.
Kirk: We're not going anywhere.
Lawgiver: It is the law. You must come.
Kirk: I said we're not going anywhere.

The Lawgivers then look at each other for a while to figure things out. Kirk and Spock have a short exchange about it and the Lawgivers finally face Kirk again:

Lawgiver: It is clear that you simply did not understand. I will re-phrase. You are ordered to accompany us to the absorption chambers.

They can't handle Kirk's response and Reger sees this as their opportunity to flee.

The Festival is over and everyone outside is back to their mindless, harmonious selves. Kirk and company follow Reger who will take them to a safe place. Naturally, they are discovered. Landru has summoned The Body (the town's populace) to attack them.
As they flee they find O'Neil. Has has been absorbed.
McCoy, Y U No phaser?

Reger takes them to a safe place and sets up a light panel (on the shelf behind his head):
Spock is impressed from the technology, calling it "amazing in this culture." Reger says that it comes from a time before Landru, possibly as long as 6,000 years ago.
Was Landru the inspiration for Eraserhead?
O'Neil's presence leads them to being discovered by Landru, who makes an appearance via projection. They captured, McCoy is absorbed and things look pretty bad until they meet up with a member of the resistance movement, Marplon, who returns their weapons and takes them to Landru.

Spock and Kirk have already come to realize that Landru is not a living being. Kirk says, "The plug must be pulled," and Spock counters by saying, what about "our Prime Directive of non-interference."
Always ready with an excuse, Kirk says "That refers to a living, growing culture. Do you think this one is?" I guess not as they phaser their way in to meet Landru.
Inside we see that Landru is nothing more than a computer! And we know how Kirk feels about computers.
He hates 'em! Especially computers that really mess up the normal social evolution of a human culture. Landru neutralizes their phasers, so that leaves them just one thing to do--out wit it!

You can watch the full episode here, or if you just want to see Kirk talk Landru into suicide, then watch this clip.
"Help me! Help me! Help me! Help me!"
It's good, fun Trek and I recommend it. Next up? A Taste of Armageddon.

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