TOS: S1E24: “This Side of Paradise”

In which Spock loves, McCoy drinks a mint julep, and good old human anger is once again the cure to all mental control effects.

Dissonant strings. We are approaching Omicron Ceti III, which sounds

Elias Sandoval - mild-mannered colonist, or secret mind-zombie?

Elias Sandoval – mild-mannered colonist, or secret mind-zombie?

familiar. Something terrible happened on this colony and it has something to do with Berthold Rays, which disintegrate animal tissue on prolonged exposure. Why would you build a colony there? It doesn’t seem to have affected the trees, grass, or wooden sheds and fences, though. Hm, orr the people. Elias Sandoval greets the away party.  Sulu is thinking outside the box by suggesting the colonists might not actually be alive, and McCoy uses as medical proof that they are that Kirk shook Sandoval’s hand and it was warm. I may be getting unnecessarily down on McCoy here, but of the possible worlds in which Elias Sandoval and his group are dead and you just met someone or something claiming to be him, the worlds in which a warm handshake gives them away are vanishingly few. How in the thirteen hells did McCoy ever graduate from the academy? They must have been desperate for surgeons.

Omicron Ceti III is a mostly luddite colony – a farm community where the barns aren’t built for cows, there are no animals other than the people, and the ornate flowers rotate to follow Sulu. Seems like the people are probably vegetative copies – particularly since the botanist Leyla and Elias have a creepy conversation about making Spock ‘one of them.’ Berthold rays break

Well, Spock is a vegetarian. A plant masquerading as an ex-girlfriend stands a decent chance.

Well, Spock is a vegetarian. A plant masquerading as an ex-girlfriend stands a decent chance.

down animal tissues – not plant ones. And one of the colonists had appendicitis at an early age and some scar tissue, but current scans show healthy lungs and an appendix. Spock gets a conversation with his old flame Leyla that Kirk would have been infinitely better at. One of the human-seeking flowers blows its load all over Spock and apparently does not react well to his biology, at least at first, but it does let him express his emotions.

How, exactly, would such a species of flora evolve? TNG’s “The Chase” is going to give us some interesting insights into how evolution works in the Star Trek universe. It’s completely unlike contemporary understanding. It’s a bit odd that a plant native to Omicron Ceti III would evolve to emit spores that take over carbon-based humanoid animal tissue? This has to be an artifact of some species that trancended long ago – they’re a dime a dozen, apparently.

Somehow Kirk is immune, even though the plant infection is so powerful it turns McCoy’s accent up to 11 and makes everyone tell Kirk to fuck off when he asks for answers.

So, apparently the plants can survive space and may not have originated here, but they still thrive on Berthold rays, so the mystery of their evolution is no less obscured. At least the Enterprise is more-or-less capable of maintaining stasis with a crew of one- everyone but Kirk has been infected by spores McCoy beamed up and which have circulated through the air ducts. Fine Starfleet Engineering, that ship. He may not be able to do much, but the ship isn’t going to break down just from sitting there for several months.

Welp. Kirk finally got hit by the spores. Guess that’s the end of Star Trek, unless he accidentally stumbles on a cure while packing his things. A cure like

The Shat. There is no overacting, only acting exactly enough.

The Shat. There is no overacting, only acting exactly enough.

staring at his war medals or punching a transporter. Apparently, violent emotions are all it takes to purge the spores. So Kirk convinces Spock to beam up and then insults Spock with some surprisingly creative racist invective – one suspects that this is some racist tripe that existed on Earth when Vulcans were helping humanity out of the aftermath of the Eugenics wars. There will always be people who resist helpful overtures from outsiders, and one can imagine an essentially neo-nazi movement – I think one showed up in Enterprise, Earth First or some twaddle like that, which resisted human cooperation with aliens.

Kirk and Spock build a subsonic agitation ray which turns the entire crew into mindless brawlers. This seems a pretty effective weapon against any species with a central nervous system remotely similar to that of a human – people will just beat the shit out of each other and abandon their stations, making them easy prey. What are the chances we’ll ever find out that Section 31 ever took advantage of this one?

Did we miss something awesome?