Some people refer to this episode as quirky in an attractive way. To me, the premise is just silly, although it shows the three main characters behaving in the most noble of ways. Kirk, Spock and McCoy are captured and the subjects of an experiment where the worthiness of a mute empath (Jem) is being tested. The star of their planetary system is about to nova and a technologically advanced species can only save the inhabitants of one of the planets. The Enterprise three are to be placed in danger, but separately, so only one is to be placed at risk. Using his advantage of having a hypospray to render the other two unconscious, McCoy puts himself at risk. Although they have the opportunity to escape, Kirk and Spock choose to go to the aid of McCoy. All of this is so Jem can experience the concept of self-sacrifice and prove the worth of her "people." The problem with the episode is that no intelligent species would ever try to save a planet by performing dangerous experiments on another intelligent species. All they had to do was to approach the Federation and ask for assistance and a fleet of ships would have been provided, which could have saved the inhabitants of all the planets. The amount of time wasted in the test of Jem was enormous and there is also the problem of what they would have done if she had failed the test. Find three more humans to torture? There is one redeeming feature of this episode, and that is the deep affection and personal loyalty that Kirk, Spock and McCoy demonstrate towards each other. Each was willing to die for the other, without hesitation and there was no thought about leaving their comrades to save themselves. More than in any other episode, we see that natural "human" trait of bonding with your comrades in arms. One can argue that a precondition for any species to achieve space travel is the ability of selected groups to function as a unit, willing to risk all for their comrades. Therefore, despite my intense dislike of the premise of the experiment, I find the episode tolerable, although in the bottom third of the original series in terms of quality.
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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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This episode is an absolute must for fans ofStar Trek's recurring shirtless-Kirk-being-tortured motif. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are taken to a strange laboratory and tortured by powerful aliens while a mute woman is forced to watch--a woman whose empathic abilities are being put to the test. There is, of course, a broader scheme to it all--this is one of the early manifestations ofTrek's eternal conflict between the needs of the many and the needs of the few, or the one. Keep an ear out for one of the all-time great Bonesisms ("I'm a doctor, not a coal miner!") and hang on to those fragile but oh-so-important human emotions.--Ali Davis