Star Trek 3.3: The Paradise Syndrome

The Paradise SyndromeBleah. “The Paradise Syndrome” is one of those episodes that really shouldn’t have been made. It’s just all-round horrible.

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are on an Earth-like planet – not just a bit Earth-like, but so Earth-like that it has pine trees. And “American Indians“. Not merely analogues, but “a mixture of Navajo, Mohican, and Delaware” as Spock declares. Breaking this astonishing recreation of ancient Earth, a weird metallic obelisk rears phallicly from the wilderness, inscribed with alien runes that fascinate Spock. In the closest thing the episode has to a plot, they reveal that their mission is to deflect an asteroid that will smash into this planet, and that they better leave within half an hour to go intercept it in time. The obvious question here is why are they even on the planet in the first place rather than out there intercepting the asteroid and then maybe later, when it’s safe, coming down to have a look around?

Naturally, they split up to look around. Out of sight of the others, Kirk opens his communicator to talk to the Enterprise, and the obelisk opens up and he falls inside. Spock and McCoy don’t know where he’s gone, and Spock orders them back to the Enterprise to go deflect the asteroid, above McCoy’s protests that they need to stay and look for Kirk. Neither of them thinks to leave a search party on the planet while the ships goes to deal with the asteroid.

Inside the obelisk, Kirk has his mind selectively erased, then emerges later to the wonder of some of the natives, who naturally assume the white man in their midst is a god. Kirk does not dispute this. He is led to the village, where the sceptical medicine man Salish expresses his scepticism. On cue, a drowned boy is brought in for Salish to heal, but he declares the boy dead. Kirk applies mouth-to-mouth and revives the boy, cementing his role as a god, and new medicine man. As medicine man, Kirk also gains the hand of the chief’s daughter and high priestess Miramanee, who was previously assigned to Salish. Salish is understandably disgruntled.

Meanwhile, Spock destroys the Enterprise engines in a failed attempt to deflect the asteroid. The asteroid, by the way, is the size of Earth’s moon, but is all lumpy rather than spherical as any body that size should be. They limp back to the planet – at exactly the same speed as the asteroid, but just 4 hours ahead of it. It takes them 59 days to get there. In that time, Kirk goes totally native, marrying Miramanee, getting into a fight with Salish, and fathering Miramanee’s child!

Back on the Enterprise, Spock forgoes eating in order to decode the alien symbols on the obelisk, saying they are musical notes, representing a sort of musical language, that tells about an ancient race called the Preservers, who seeded life forms all over the Galaxy – thus explaining why they keep coming across so many humanoids. He figures out (somehow) that the obelisk is an asteroid deflector! The natives somehow know doom is imminent and implore Kirk to save them by opening the obelisk (which is weird, because they never had to open it before for any reason). Kirk has no clue however, and everyone in the village turns on him and Miramanee, throwing styrofoam rocks at them. Kirk and Miramanee collapse, just as Spock and McCoy beam down. Spock mind melds with Kirk to bring his memories back. Kirk signals the Enterprise again – which for some bizarre reason happens to be the vocal key that opens the obelisk. Spock goes inside and turns it on, deflecting the asteroid. McCoy declares Miramanee too far gone to live, and the episode ends with Kirk sobbing over her body.

Blah! An episode full of gaping plot holes, annoying stupidity, ridiculous science, and patronising attitudes. Take it away!

Tropes: Mad Lib Thriller Title, All Planets Are Earth-Like, Braids, Beads, And Buckskins, Easy Amnesia, Mighty Whitey, God Guise, Amnesia Danger, CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable, Chief’s Daughter, Nubile Savage, The Native Rival, Space Does Not Work That Way, Going Native, Forgot The Call, Forgets To Eat, Boldly Coming, Precursors, Transplanted Humans, Disco Tech, Songs In The Key Of Lock.
Body count: Miramanee, stoned to death.

2 Responses to “Star Trek 3.3: The Paradise Syndrome”

  1. The Ridger says:

    I agree. This really might be the worst episode. It’s horrible.

  2. maarvarq says:

    Me too. This is the original series episode I’ve always hated, particularly for raising the idea of the Preservers (something which if developed properly could give ST a depth of background that it sorely lacks) and throwing it away because apparently no-one cared.

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