In which the Enterprise gets severely lost, a set is constructed using $20 of broken crap from Salvation Army, and the part of Kirk is played by Roman Polanski.
A human distress signal farther than any known ships or colonies. We should all be glad that Spock is here to tell us that an M-class planet is spherical. I might never have guessed otherwise. But a lot of those statistics are sounding familiar. Apparently, someone duplicated Earth, or really broke the navigational computer. Or possibly there’s just another Earth out there for no adequately explained reason. But if that were the case, surely at least life would look different, because there’s no way evolution would happen in exact parallel. That’s just dumb.
Or possibly, even the cities look the same, except a lot more desolate. Complete with abandoned cars, 55-gallon drums. Just like they were in 1960. Hyuk hyuk hyuk. Much later, the Enterprise will travel back to the ’80s because that’s when they filmed that movie. Gotta love a shoestring budget. McCoy is playing with a tricycle when he gets attacked by Woody Harrelson’s character from the Hunger Games, but with leprosy. And with the mind of a child. This must be the one where all the adults die and everything is Lord of the Flies. Why is this on Earth? Did they run out of styrofoam blocks to shape into huts and rocks? You couldn’t even have had someone make a globe that wasn’t literally a globe of Earth and justified it as a slowship colony from way back? Just handwave it. “It’s earth. Don’t worry about it.”
So, quick summary of the background – all the grown ups or “grups” got sick, panicked, rioted, and died. All the children – “onlies” – hid. while the adults died. The pathogen is clearly still around because of that raving dead dude we just saw, and this Miri girl is tugging on our heartstrings so if I were here I wouldn’t start any long books. Yes, I am cheating. I remember this one, vaguely.
So all the animals are dead. All the adults are dead. The only food left must be vegetables, which means the children have nothing to eat. Before Kirk can turn that into a sex joke, he gets the plague and McCoy gets to work. It’s not encouraging that McCoy refers to pathogens as “little bugs or whatever they are” and when asked why Spock isn’t infected, doesn’t immediately respond with some rounded statistics about plagues generally not crossing species barriers, let alone to a completely alien biology. Spock doesn’t even have hemoglobin – his blood chemistry is based on copper, but that’s not the first thing out of McCoy’s mouth? Where exactly did you get your medical license?
More anti-transhumanism. This plague happened because someone was working on anti-agapics and didn’t keep the samples in a clean room. Clearly, therefore, humanity should never bother trying to improve themselves through medicine. Getting real sick of your shit, Roddenberry.
At least Spock is asking the obvious question – if it’s been 300 years since the end of civilization on this planet and the children die upon reaching physical maturity, why are there still children? The anti-aging virus affects the children at a rate of 1 biological month per century. So they stay children for hundreds of years. The argument here is that, given hundreds of years in a fourteen-year-old body, you would behave as if you’ve only been alive for fourteen years. Gotta love the 1960s approach to cognitive sciences.
The children of the city are in some terrifying little gang of anklebiting immortal child soldiers, which sounds like a Highlander season filmed in Uganda. It’s worth mentioning that despite my complaining above about the philosophical agenda and the completely arbitrary duplication of Earth in this episode, this is a good episode overall. Mostly because Gene Roddenberry isn’t writing about gender politics. Man, those just don’t hold up at all.
Anyway, Rand has a nervious breakdown because she’s finally showing symptoms, Kirk tries to comfort her, Miri is jealous and defects to the children, who prepare for war. I’m reminded of an internet test – “How many five-year-olds could you take in a fight.” Pro tip: they’re light enough you can use ’em as weapons. If that thought shocks some of you, wait until you hear the incessant chanting. It’ll get easier. Would it help if I said one of them tried to club Kirk while his back is turned? Come on, Jim! Roundhouse kick at head height!
Wait a minute, where did the redshirts go? Did they get ambushed by the children and I missed it? Surely Kirk and a redshirt could’ve just stunned all the Onlies and found the communicators. Nope, there’s a redshirt. Kirk went alone. That’s just dumb. And ultimately pointless, since they made the vaccine right the first time. Well, on the upside, Starfleet Command (or “Space Central” as it is apparently known in the 23rd century) is sending teachers. Good thing we don’t know about the Prime Directive yet, or that would seem an awful lot like interfering in the development of a sovereign culture.
And no, they never explain why there’s another exact duplicate of Earth just hanging out somewhere in space.