So, this episode goes to some pretty weird places.
We start, as usual, with the Enterprise orbiting a planet, before cutting to the bridge. Kirk asks Spock if he’s heard anything from the landing party. He replies that they should hear back shortly. Kirk then complains of back pain, before getting a massage from a yeoman. It should be noted that said yeoman is not Rand, and is in fact someone named Tonia Barrows.
Kirk then asks Spock to push a little harder, before realizing Spock’s not the one giving the massage. Wow, they really didn’t do much to dissuade people from the idea that Spock and Kirk are a couple, did it.
Anyway, she stops, he thanks her, and she tells him he needs sleep. The captain dismisses this, telling her that he gets enough of that from Bones. Spock, however, agrees that all of them could use a rest. Well, except for him, because Vulcan. Kirk then prepares to leave, having Uhura pipe McCoy’s report to his quarters.
We then go to McCoy and Sulu surveying the planet. They talk about how gorgeous the place is and how ideal it would be for shore leave, which is funny, because it looks like they filmed in the closest park to the studio. McCoy, at one point, compares it to Alice In Wonderland. This becomes important really soon.
Sulu goes to scan some plants, and McCoy sees something rather odd: a human-sized rabbit (or, rather, an actor in a fursuit).
Can we just take a moment to appreciate DeForest Kelley’s “what the fuck” face here? Because that, my friends, is a thing of beauty.
So the rabbit, who is clearly the White Rabbit from the aforementioned Lewis Carroll novel, frets about being late before hopping off. As if that wasn’t weird enough, a young British girl in a blue dress (Alice, obviously) asks McCoy if he’s seen the rabbit. Stunned, he points in the direction the rabbit went, and the girl thanks him before running off.
As soon as she’s gone, McCoy calls out to Sulu, who comes running. McCoy asks him if he saw all that, but Sulu has no clue what the fuck he’s talking about.
After the credits there’s a captain’s log explaining that they’re orbiting a “park-like” planet, which is apt considering my theory mentioned earlier. He calls it “too good to be true,” which of course it is, because nothing can ever go right for this crew.
We cut to Kirk’s quarters, where Barrows notices that Kirk hasn’t signed up for any of the shore parties. Kirk says, “Well, I may be tired, yeoman, but I’m not falling apart,” before dismissing her.
She clearly thinks this is bullshit, but orders are orders, and she leaves.
Spock enters, and Kirk lets him know that the starboard section is heading down to the planet first, then asks his second in command which section he wants to go with. Spock, again, tells the captain that he doesn’t need to go on leave, and that he finds shore leave illogical. Kirk laughs, and Uhura calls to let him know McCoy’s calling.
She puts him through, and McCoy pointedly asks the captain if he’s coming. Kirk’s like uuuuuuuuuuh no, why do you ask? McCoy tells him that either their equipment is malfunctioning, or he’s currently unfit for duty. Kirk asks him to explain, and McCoy explains the thing about the rabbt.
Kirk clearly thinks he’s joking, and asks if the rabbit was followed by a little girl. McCoy says that’s exactly what happened. Kirk repliesthat he’ll take this under consideration before ending the call.
He tells SPock he thinks this whole thing is a ploy to get him to beam down to the planet and take a god damn vacation already, and he’s not falling for it. Spock then mentions what he came to talk about: he’s looking at McCoy’s report, and there’s a crewmember showing signs of severe fatigue, but refuses to take any leave. The captain asks who Spock is talking about, and he’ll make sure they get the rest they need.
Spock replies, “James Kirk,” before telling him to enjoy himself with the closest a Vulcan’s ever come to a shit-eating grin.
We cut to the planet, with Spock explaining some of the planet’s features in voice over. Basically, they haven’t detected any life on the planet besides plants, or really any sign that intelligent life ever existed on said planet.
Except there’s something happening on the planet to contradict this: a rock lifts, showing a gun underneath. And I don’t mean a phaser, either; I mean a whole-ass Wild West-style revolver.
We then see one of the scouting parties, a woman in a gold uniform and a man in a blue one, scanning some of the plants. The woman approaches the man and asks, “Always have to be work with you?” She goes on to add how lovely the place is, and the man retorts that it wouldn’t be lovely if their report to the captain is late.
As if summoned, the captain and Barrows beam down nearby.
Kirk asks the two, Teller and Rodriguez, if everything’s all right. Rodriguez (the man) responds that everything looks to be in order, and they’ve finished their survey. He has them beam it up to Spock whenever they’re ready, and to have fun.
Rodriguez says they will, and tells him where to find Sulu and McCoy. He thanks the science officer, and he and Barrows head off in that direction.
As they’re walking, they again talk about how beautiful and peaceful this place seems, and Kirk remarks that after everything they’d been through recently he finds it hard to believe the place exists. We then cut to McCoy, and hear Kirk calling out to him. McCoy calls back, and Kirk and Barrows move over to him.
Kirk asks, “Know any good rabbit jokes lately?” McCoy responds that he, in fact, does, but “that’s not one of them,” before pointing to some tracks in the mud at his feet.
I’m sure that’s normal.
McCoy concedes that he may have been hallucinating, but asks Kirk to look at the track and tell him what he thinks. Kirk says they are indeed footprints, but that if it’s a rabbit it would have to be gigantic. He asks if Sulu can confirm what McCoy saw, and McCoy says Sulu wasn’t looking in that direction at the time.
Kirk calls the bridge, and asks if the first party’s come to the planet yet. Uhura says that they were just about to start beaming them down, and Kirk tells her to have everyone stand by for now. McCoy asks if he’s cancelling shore leave just because of this, and Kirk says he wants to know what’s up with the footprints before beaming people down.
And, of course, this is when the group hears gunshots. They run to investigate, and find Sulu firing the previously mentioned revolver.
Kirk asks what he’s doing, and Sulu responds, “Target shooting, captain. Isn’t it a beauty?” And Sulu doesn’t question where the gun came from on this presumably uninhabited planet? I mean, if it were me, that would probably the first question I’d ask. I certainly wouldn’t pick it up and start shooting.
Anyway, Kirk asks Sulu where he got it, and Sulu just says he found it. He adds that he’d always wanted a gun like that for his collection, and here we have another entry into Sulu’s laundry list of hobbies.
Kirk puts his hand out and Sulu, reluctantly, hands it to him while explaining how guns work. Kirk responds that he’s going to be keeping it for now, since “the fresh air seems to have made you trigger happy.” Barrows then notices something: there are rabbit tracks through this area, meaning McCoy’s new friend must have passed through.
Kirk asks McCoy if he’s certain their scanners didn’t show any animal life on the planet. McCoy responds that he’s absolutely sure. Kirk then Barrows and Sulu go and try to figure out where the tracks came from. He has McCoy accompany him back to the area where they first found the tracks for another look.
As McCoy and Kirk are walking away, they’re being tracked by some kind of antenna
Kirk remarks that this shore leave is turning out super weird, and McCoy responds that things could be worse: “You could have seen the rabbit.” The two of them share a hearty chuckle over McCoy’s goof, and Kirk asks him if he’s developing a persecution complex. McCoy responds that he does feel a bit picked on, and Kirk tells him about an upperclassman at the Academy named Finnegan who was a giant asshole to him.
The conversation is interrupted when Kirk discovers more rabbit footprints, and McCoy finds footprints that seem to belong to the girl. They decide to split up, with McCoy following the rabbit’s prints, and Kirk following the girl’s. McCoy is happy with that, since, as he remarks, “I got a personal grudge against that rabbit, Jim.”
So they go their separate ways, and Kirk doesn’t get too far before encountering a guy leaning on a tree, who calls his name.
Yeah, this is the aforementioned Finnegan, and he is reaaaaaaally annoying. Kirk is, naturally, confused to see his old nemesis here. Finnegan laughs, taunts him, and then punches him in the face, flat on his ass.
The captain gets up, rubbing his jaw and staring at Finnegan, who’s trying to goad Kirk into hitting him back. Kirk, grinning, obliges, and rushes forward to attack, but the tussle is interrupted by Barrows screaming. The captain runs off to investigate, leaving the jeering Finnegan behind.
While on the way, he meet up with McCoy again, who asks what’s going on. Kirk says it’s Barrows, and the two continue on. They find her near a tree in a state of extreme distress, and ask her what happened. It should be noted that there is a large tear in the top of her uniform.
Tearfully, she explains that she was following the tracks when she was accosted by a man in a cloak with a jeweled dagger. The captain asks if she’s sure that she’s not imagining this, to which I would respond that the massive hole in the top of her unform kind of confirms that she’s not.
Anyway, the yeoman basically makes the same point that I did above, and McCoy says that the description she gave sounds like the infamous Don Juan. Barrows says that’s it, and that she was daydreaming about coming across Don Juan as she was walking.
Kirk then notices that Sulu is absent, and asks her where he is. Barrows explains that Sulu went after the dude who attacked her. Kirk tells McCoy to stay with her while he goes to find Sulu. As he’s running, that weird antenna thing starts tracking him again.
He eventually stops and starts calling after Sulu before continuing on towards a desert, where comes across a bush with orange flowers. He picks on, and looks at it for a moment before seeing a blonde woman some distance away,
He recognizes her, and we learn that her name is Ruth. She walks over to him, and assures him that she is who he thinks she is. Of course, we all know that this isn’t really Ruth and is actually the planet fucking with him, and Kirk seems to realize this as well.
After a captain’s log explaining that everyone seems to be seeing things, Kirk takes out his communicator to call McCoy, who does not answer. Meanwhile, Ruth is just sitting there, staring at the captain.
Kirk puts the communicator away and sits on a nearby rock, facing her. They stare at each other for a moment before Kirk asks her how she can be there. Also he hasn’t seen her in 15 years, so the fact that she hasn’t aged seems weird.
She tells him none of that matters, which is delightfully evasive, and Kirk’s communicator beeps. This turns out to be McCoy, wanting to know if the captain’s found Sulu yet. Kirk’s too busy staring at Ruth some more, so it takes him a bit to answer that he has, in fact, not found Sulu, but that’s he’s probably OK.
McCoy asks if he’s OK, since he seems a little out of it right now, but Kirk assures him that he’s fine. The communicator beeps again, and this time it’s Rodriguez, who’s just seen a huge flock of birds. This is concerning, since there isn’t supposed to be any animal life here.
Kirk thinks their instruments must be defective, but Rodriguez doubts that they could be that off. The captain thinks for a moment and tells him to have all the search parties meet in the glade from earlier.
Ruth, disappointed, asks Kirk if he really has to leave, and Kirk says that he doesn’t want to. Ruth assures him he’ll see her again if he wants, and that she’ll be waiting for him, walking off with the flower as Kirk’s communicator beeps. This time it’s Spock, letting him know that he’s getting some really weird readings from the planet’s surface. Because of course he is, there’s weird shit afoot.
It turns out that what they’re picking up is some kind of field, that’s draining the ship’s power. It also seems to be fucking with their communications, which is a great sign of things to come.
Kirk asks if Spock knows where it’s coming from, and Spock replies that there might be something beneath the surface. The captain tells him to keep looking for the source, and they’re going to continue their investigation on the surface. We then see that antenna again.
We’re back with McCoy and Barrows. He asks her if she’s feeling any better; she says that she is, but she’s still pretty freaked out and really doesn’t want to be alone right now. They talk some more, and Barrows mentions that she feels like she should be dressed like a princess, with a bunch of guys pining after her. McCoy flirts with her a little, but is cut short when Barrows sees a dress like what she described hanging from a tree.
She runs over to the dress and starts showing it off, giddy with delight. McCoy suggests that she puts the dress on, but she’s still a little freaked out and not sure she wants to do that. Which is, honestly, probably the smart thing to do in this situation.
He insists, however, saying he’s not sure how this is happening, but that the dress clearly exists and he’d like to see what she looks like in it. So she agrees, and goes off to change. She tells him not to peek, and he responds “My dear girl, I am a doctor. When I peek, it’s in the line of duty.”
As he turns around, his communicator goes off. It turns out to be Rodriguez, who’s breaking up quite a bit. Rodriguez relays the order to head to the glade from earlier in the episode. McCoy acknowledges this, and asks what’s happening with the communicators.
Rodriguez and Teller, however, have a new problem. Namely, they’re trapped by a tiger. Rodriguez tries to call the doctor again, but doesn’t get an answer. It’s OK, though, because the tiger gets bored and wanders off.
And now we see Barrows in her new dress, and frankly ridiculous looking hat.
She and McCoy smile at each other, and we fade to the ship orbiting the planet. Spock is on the bridge, and Kirk tells him that he’d like some answers as to the current goings-on, please and thank you. Spock posits that they’re hallucinating, but Kirk responds that hallucinations generally don’t punch people in the face.
Spock says that there has to be some explanation, and asks the captain if there’s anything he can do about their weak signal. Kirk says he’s boosted it to maximum, so no. Spock then asks if Kirk wants him to send down an armed party. Kirk doesn’t think that’s necessary, since the scouting parties are already armed and there doesn’t seem to be any danger. Except for one of the crew getting attacked, but that apparently doesn’t count.
He ends the call, and we cut to Sulu walking about, phaser at the ready. As he’s walking by, a panel pops up and a samurai jumps out. Which, hoo boy.
Some generic Asian-type music starts playing as the aforementioned samurai moves to Sulu. He tries to shoot the extremely stereotypical figure, but his phaser isn’t working at the moment. Thankfully, he evades the samurai’s attacks as he tries to get the fuck out of there.
Back to Kirk, who’s trying to call McCoy with no success. Sulu then runs over, yelling for the captain to take cover because of the samurai chasing him. However, looking behind him shows no samurai present. The captain assures Sulu that he believes him, since he’s seen some shit today too. He asks if Sulu’s seen anyone else from the ship, and Sulu says Rodriguez called him a few minutes ago to relay the new plan. Kirk hopes Rodriguez managed to tell everyone, since the comms are almost dead.
Sulu tells the captain that his phaser’s not working either, which prompts Kirk to give his a test. Naturally, his is also broken. Regardless, Kirk says they should go meet the others. They’re about to leave when Sulu notices someone beaming down, but having some trouble with that. The figure does, eventually, coalesce into Spock.
Kirk reminds him that he ordered everyone else to stay on the ship, but Spock tells him that he had to beam down, because they have no communications and the transporter is now also broken. He reminds the captain of the energy field soaking up all the ship’s juice, and that things are getting worse.
The captain’s glad to have Spock’s help, and Sulu realizes that the transporter no longer working means they’re basically stranded. Kirk says that’s the case, at least until they can figure out what the hell’s going on.
We then cut to McCoy and Barrows, still a pretty princess, having themselves a nice little stroll.
They arrive at the previously mentioned glade, and quickly realize that no one else is there yet. McCoy then hears someone moving nearby, which freaks Barrows out a bit. He goes to investigate, but doesn’t find anything. He then assures her that she shouldn’t be afraid, not with “a brave knight” there to keep her safe.
Yeah, that comes back to bite him in the ass real soon.
Still in the desert, Sulu, Spock, and Kirk hear the tiger Rodriguez and Teller were dealing with before. Kirk suggests that the three spread out to try and find the source of the noise.
And we go back to Barrows and McCoy, who see a knight on a horse in the distance.
McCoy tells Barrow that these are hallucinations and can’t hurt them. Kirk and Spock then arrive on the scene, just in time for the knight to charge McCoy and stab him with a lance as Barrows screams.
Spock tries to shoot at the knight, but Kirk stops him, telling him that their phasers aren’t working. Kirk, however, still has the gun Sulu found earlier and shoots the knight. The three of them run up to check on McCoy, who is dead.
I mean, we know he’s not, or at least doesn’t stay that way, considering McCoy is in later episodes of the series, in the movies, and the Next Generation pilot, but it’s very sad.
There’s a captain’s log over the above tableau, explaining that all communications with the ship have been cut off, and that they’re pretty much all boned at this point. Ha, get it? Boned? Because Bones is dead.
Anyway, Barrows is busy sobbing and blaming herself for what happened, until Kirk grabs her by the shoulders and tells her to pull herself together. She calms down as Sulu, who’s leaning over the body of the knight, calls Kirk over.
And inside the knight’s armor is a super, super creepy mannequin.
Sulu says he has no idea what’s going on. Kirk answers that he doesn’t either, but that he intends to find out. Sulu then states the obvious: the knight appears to be a dummy, and, as such, shouldn’t be able to move around.
The captain asks him if his tricorder is still working. It is, and Kirk calls Spock over to take a look at the super, super creepy thing they found. Sulu hands Spock the tricorder, and he finds that whatever it’s made of, it’s not skin.
Honestly, I’m pretty glad about that, because it would’ve only made it creepier.
Spock does, however, determine that it seems to be made out of the same stuff as everything else on the planet, and that someone must be making them somehow. They ponder what exactly that means, then look up to find an airplane flying overhead.
We go back to Teller and Rodriguez looking at the plane, and Rodriguez identifies it as a 20th century fighter plane. Teller then asks if it’s dangerous, and Rodriguez explains it’s not unless it decides to strafe them.
So, of course, it decides to strafe them. They run as it shoots at them and manage to make it to the forest, but Teller runs into a tree and is knocked unconscious. Or killed. The way the whole thing is staged is kind of vague.
Kirk, Sulu, Barrows, and Spock watch the plane leave. Sulu then turns around, only to find that McCoy is not where they left him. He calls to the captain, and Barrows adds that the knight also seems to be missing. Kirk goes back over to Spock, who is developing a theory.
He asks the captain what he was thinking about before he saw the people he told him about. Kirk tells him that he was thinking about his time at the Academy, and, of course, this causes Finnegan to put in another appearance.
Kirk demands that Finnegan tell him what the fuck is going on here. Finnegan responds by laughing like a lunatic and running away. Kirk tells Spock to go with Sulu to find McCoy, and proceeds to give chase. Spock asks him to wait, but Kirk reminds him that he just gave an order as he’s running off.
Kirk catches up to Finnegan, who’s spent the whole time taunting him, and, again, demands to know what’s happening. Finnegan launches himself at the captain, and the two get into another scuffle.
Finnegan gets the upper hand and knocks Kirk on his ass, then taunts him to get up, saying that he has the edge here because he hasn’t aged but Kirk has. Kirk gets up and shoves responds by getting up and shoving him down a hill.This time Kirk manages to knock Finnegan on his ass, and he complains about breaking his back in the fall.
This, of course, turns out to be a ruse, and there’s even more fighting. Finnegan flips Kirk, actually knocking him out. And tearing his shirt, because of course that happens.
I am convinced that “Kirk’s shirt gets torn in X number of episodes” was part of William Shatner’s contract.
Some indeterminate time later Kirk regains consciousness. Finnegan taunts him some more, and Kirk again demands answers. Finnegan says that he’ll have to earn them, throwing sand in his face before squaring up to fight again. The trade a few blows, but start to wind down because neither of them is in particularly great shape at this point.
They stop, and Finnegan actually compliments Kirk, saying that this seems to make for their Academy days. Kirk agrees, and then asks him again what’s happening. Finnegan laughs, says he doesn’t take questions from “plebes.” Kirk tells him that this isn’t 15 years ago, and asks Finnegan why he’s here.
Finnegan has an interesting response: he tells Kirk that he’s being exactly what Kirk expected to be. Kirk then punches him again, knocking him out.
Spock then arrives on the scene, and asks the captain if he’s having fun. Kirk responds that yeah, he kinda is, mostly because he’d been fantasizing about beating the shit out of Finnegan for years. Which is pretty understandable.
Spock says that seems to support his theory, which is basically that someone’s reading their thoughts and making the things they think about. Which is OK if it’s benign, but that they still need to be careful about what they’re thinking. He adds that whatever’s been making all these things has to be underground, and that there are tunnels leading to the surface.
Spock then has to bring up Rodriguez’s tiger, which naturally causes it to manifest.
And I just noticed that the tiger has a chain around its neck. That doesn’t really have much to do with anything, just thought it was kind of an odd detail.
At any rate, Kirk decides it’s probably a good idea to move away from the tiger and go warn the landing party about what’s going on. They jaunt off, then break into a full-on run when the airplane comes back and shoots at them. Then they run into the samurai again, bowling him over.
We cut back to Barrows, who has just changed back into her uniform from her Disney princess dress. Then Don Juan comes back, and tries to drag her off. Sulu and Rodriguez confront him just as Spock and Kirk return.
He calls out to the three of them causing Don Juan to flee, and he tells the three of them to just face forward and try not to think about anything. Which, you know, always stops people from thinking about stuff.
Spock then notices an old dude in a caftan, and brings him to the captain’s attention.
The old dude explains that he’s the planet’s caretaker, and that he knows all their names. It also turns out that he came up to talk to them because they realized that none of them know what’s going on, and that the whole planet is basically a giant amusement park.
Kirk is not amused by this, in particular McCoy’s death, but the caretaker explains that nothing that happened here is permanent. To drive this point home, McCoy reappears, noticeably not dead and with a girl on each arm.
He explains that they took him beneath the planet’s surface and patched him up, and proceeds to geek out over the inhabitants technology. Barrows, while relieved that McCoy is alive, is still not happy to see his new female companionship, and pointedly asks him to explain that. He stammers out an explanation about some chorus girls he saw once, which does not improve Barrows’s mood.
McCoy releases the two girls, who go to dote on Sulu and Spock respectively. The caretaker then apologizes for any distress, and Kirk asks what planet his people hail from. The caretaker says he doesn’t think that humans are quite able to understand his people, and Spock agrees.
Kirk’s communicator beeps, and Uhura lets him know that the ship’s systems seem to be functioning normally again. She asks if they need any help, and he assures her that everything’s fine now before telling her to stand by. The caretaker then tells them that they’re more than welcome to use their planet for shore leave if they want to. Kirk seems to agree, and has Uhura start sending parties down.
Spock, however, decides that he’s had enough shore leave for now, and that he’s heading back to the ship. Kirk starts to tell Spock to stay and that he’ll go, but then sees Ruth in the distance and decides that he’d rather stay, actually. I hope he takes the time to change his shirt at least.
Some time later, we cut to McCoy, Sulu, Barrows, and McCoy entering the bridge. Spock asks them if they enjoyed themselves, and Kirk responds that they did. McCoy concurs, and Spock declares them “most illogical,” prompting a bit of a chuckle as the episode ends.
This episode is, for the most part, a bit more light-hearted than the previous episode, which is a good thing because “Balance of Terror” was a total downer. It had some tense moments, but for the most part was basically just silly sci-fi fun. Really could’ve done without the sexual assault implication, but at least we didn’t have to see it this time.
Though I’m still kind of spotty on Teller’s fate. We don’t really see her after the tree incident, but I’m guessing that if McCoy’s still alive they probably fixed her up too. Also, kind of curious as to why the people who run the planet wouldn’t have put up some kind of warning about what it’s for. Maybe they thought only their people would encounter it?
I dunno, maybe I’m just reading too much into it.