A set of missiles armed with nuclear warheads is launched at the Enterprise from a large asteroid. The asteroid turns out to be hollow and is inhabited by a people called the Yonadans. They are unaware that they are onboard a spaceship and a computer that they call the Oracle enforces rigid rules of thought, knowledge and behavior. Dr. McCoy is also suffering from an incurable disease that will kill him in approximately one year. Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam over to the surface of the asteroid and are taken prisoner. They are brought before the Oracle and are given a severe shock, which was meant to be a warning from the Oracle. After the warning, they are treated well, with the high priestess of the Yonadans falling in love with McCoy. He returns the affection and agrees to stay on the asteroid, even though he knows that it is on a collision course with a planet. Once Kirk and Spock return to the Enterprise, they are relieved of all responsibility by Star Fleet Command, as the plan is to destroy the asteroid if the course cannot be altered. McCoy then learns of a book of knowledge and informs Captain Kirk about it. McCoy is punished, but Kirk and Spock arrive in time to save him. They move to the Oracle room and after consulting the book, Kirk and Spock are able to gain entry to the control room, where they make the appropriate repairs to the drive system. The asteroid is then placed back on course, but when they are leaving the control room, Spock discovers a repository of knowledge amassed by the ancestors of the Yonadans. A great deal of that knowledge is medical in nature, including a cure for the disease afflicting Dr. McCoy. He is then cured and stays aboard the Enterprise. The good part of this episode is that Dr. McCoy is given an opportunity for romance. Unfortunately, it takes an incurable disease that is easily cured and the leader of a doomed world falling for him at first sight. The "psychotic" computer plot device was used several times in the original series and by the time this episode was made it was stale. McCoy finds it so easy to leave the Enterprise, but in fact goes right back the first chance he gets. There was no emotional angst or trauma to his decision to return. Where only a few hours earlier, for love, he left the Enterprise and had the instrument of obedience installed, he then abandons that love as if it was nothing. It just doesn't seem believable. Also, Kirk Spock and McCoy beam to the surface of the asteroid, where there is a breathable atmosphere and daylight. Both of these are of course nearly impossible. An advanced society would not place an atmosphere on an asteroid where only the interior was to be inhabited and even if they did, it would not stay there for 10,000 years. The likelihood that the asteroid was near enough to a star to be illuminated is also nonexistent. This is a weak episode, typical of the third year of the series. From the first time I saw the episode, I have wondered why they included the "incurable" disease feature. It was in no way essential to the plot, and in my opinion, the story would have been stronger if McCoy had just demonstrated some remorse over loving and leaving so quickly.
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Charles Ashbacher (CharlesAshbacher)
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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Dr. McCoy gives babe magnet Kirk competition when the big-haired High Priestess (statuesque Kate Woodville in a form-hugging green wrap) of the runaway planet Yonada falls for the old country doctor, who has just been diagnosed with an incurable disease. Yonada is actually a spaceship in the guise of an asteroid, a kind of interstellar Ark on a trip to the promised land. A godlike computer known as the Oracle (voiced by James "Scotty" Doohan, minus the brogue) keeps the citizens in blissful ignorance and enforces its will with shock therapy, but it's dangerously off course and McCoy must break religious commandments and challenge his lover's will to set it right. A promising story that tackles dogma and blind faith is undercut by a timid script and a passionless affair (McCoy isn't getting married, he's negotiating a contract!), turning potential tragedy into just another shore leave fling. The episode earns its name from an inspired moment of poetic defiance: an aging citizen proclaims the truth in the face of the computer's wrath and dies in McCoy's arms. The rest of the episode never achieves the power of that moment.--Sean Axmaker