TOS: S3E05: “Is There In Truth No Beauty?”

In which it’s goddamn Pulaski again, I continue to disagree with the Federation’s policies on prosthesis, and the 60s were a terrible place to live.

There’s a species that are called the Medusans, which are highly intelligent and have “sublime thoughts” but are so ugly they turn humans insane. I’d love to see how that first contact went. Vulcans are fine, as long as they wear a red visor. The Enterprise beams aboard the abassador, who lives in a box, and yet another former-life incarnation of Pulaski. We can’t get rid of the woman, can we? This incarnation is Dr. Miranda Jones, apparently human, and also wearing a visor, even though those don’t seem to work for humans. Is there something fishy going on here, or just sloppy writing?

Left to right: Spock in a stupid visor, Ambassador Kolos in a stupid box, Dr. Miranda Jones in a stupid visor.

Left to right: Spock in a stupid visor, Ambassador Kolos in a stupid box, Dr. Miranda Jones in a stupid visor.

Spock opens the box, and the room fills with green light and flashes of color. Also important: Dr. Miranda Jones is human, but a telepath, which is the first time we’ve seen references to human ESPers since “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”  She studied on Vulcan and seems very tetchy about how much better at her job Spock would be, if he wanted to do it.

There’s a state dinner where everyone has an extended conversation about how one of the last human prejudices is the preference of beauty over ugliness. Until Dr. Jones picks up on someone’s intent to murder. With only two characters who aren’t regular cast members or a box, and one of them doing the detecting, I wonder who could possibly be the would-be murderer? The lovesick dude who doesn’t want Miranda to leave with an alien in a box? Or… oh wait, there isn’t another option.

At least the writers do the reveal in the very next scene, instead of trying to pretend there’s a mystery. Whats-his-face who we don’t care about is a man with terminal Nice-Guy Syndrome. I say terminal because he’s about to try to open the Medusan box, after which he, predictably, goes insane. I’m not sure what it is you were going for, with your murder plan that involved opening the crazy-making box in order to phaser the crazy-making alien.

Even before he knew that Larry Marvek was insane from looking at the medusan, I’m not sure why Scotty turned over the controls in the main engine room, but as soon as Kirk puts out the warning over the PA, a fight ensues. Honestly, the most unbelievable part of this whole thing is that James Doohan, decorated war hero, can’t manage to overpower the crazy dude.

I really, really, really wish I was kidding about that.

I really, really, really wish I was kidding about that.

No, scratch that. It’s that the mere act of having a crazy person running the engines can take the Enterprise to Warp 9.5 and leave the galaxy. Spock decides that the only way to get back is for him to mind-meld with Kolos, but Dr. Jones would apparently rather die in unknown intergalactic space than let Spock do that, so it’s up to Kirk to seduce her hard enough that she won’t notice.

Miranda goes on about how much she hates pity, so it relies only on McCoy to out that she’s actually blind and therefore can’t pilot a starship, because, I guess, she can’t see the viewscreen? She’s wearing a sensor web, but I suppose it’s based on echolocation. 80 years later, the prosthesis available will be one which allows vision that encompasses the full range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

I’m going to go off on another transhumanism rant now. Why isn’t everyone in the Federation wearing a sensor web, or a VISOR? If Miranda can tell distances down to the centimeter, or read heartbeats, why wouldn’t everyone train with and try to wear one? It would make a lot of people’s jobs much easier, and save at least three of the redshirts we’ve seen so far from being murdered brutally from behind. Is it still that the Federation is a scarcity society, and therefore it’s not worth outfitting everyone with the technology? Are there concerns about it becoming a crutch, and only people with natural disabilities are permitted to use crutches? Or is this another manifestation of the Federation’s paranoia about human augmentation, and even technological augmentation is verboten?

Oh yeah, plot. Spock mind-melds with the medusan, gets the Enterprise back home, and forgets to bring his visor with him, then goes crazy. Dr. Jones, though happens to be capable of the Vulcan mind-meld because she was trained on Vulcan and is a telepath. Kirk doesn’t believe she’s really tring to help Spock, though, so he does the thing that they did in the 60s where they grab women by the shoulders, verbally abuse them, and shake the shit out of them in order to shame her into helping Spock. Beuchehchchuchcuhch.

Did we miss something awesome?