1×21 – The Return of the Archons

Premise: The Enterprise discovers a population controlled by a powerful being called Landru. Most of the citizens walk around slowly and placidly, speaking of peace and tranquility, except during a strange brawl called a “festival.” While investigating, Captain Kirk and his landing party are taken captive and slated to be “absorbed” into Landru’s control. The few rebels who have evaded Landru’s possession think that the Enterprise crew are the Archons, come back to save them. Kirk has to figure out who or what Landru is, in order to save his landing party and his ship.

The best things about this episode are the landing party’s costumes and the humorously archaic special effects. Here’s a taste of both:

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30:55 – Spock attempts to do a mind meld with Dr. McCoy, who has been “absorbed” into Landru. He says that it’s impossible because McCoy is “under extremely powerful control.”

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36:08 – I believe this is the first mention of the Prime Directive!

Kirk: “The plug must be pulled.”
Spock: “Sir -”
Kirk: “Landru must die.”
Spock: “Captain…our Prime Directive of non-interference…”
Kirk: “That refers to a living, growing culture. You think this one is?”

37:40 – Spock punches a guard and looks a little bit surprised at himself. Kirk says to him, “Isn’t that somewhat old-fashioned?” We’ve seen Spock punch people before, but it’s true that he prefers the nerve pinch. Speaking of nerve pinches, Spock uses nerve pinch #6 in this episode at 40:10.

46:53 – Kirk somehow talks Landru’s computer into destroying itself. The machine ran for 6,000 years with at most minor repairs, but then overheats when Kirk challenges its conception of how to create a peaceful, perfect society. Wow! Seeya, Landru!

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48:30 -Back on the bridge:

Spock: “Marvelous.”
Kirk: “What?”
Spock: “Landru, Captain. A marvelous feat of engineering. A computer capable of directing the lives of millions of human beings.”
Kirk: “But only a machine, Mr. Spock. The original Landru programmed it with all his knowledge, but he couldn’t give it his wisdom, his compassion, his understanding, his soul, Mr. Spock.”
Spock: “Predictably, metaphysical. I prefer the concrete, the graphable, the provable.”
Kirk: [Smiling] “You’d make a splendid computer, Mr. Spock.”
Spock: [With sincerity] “That is very kind of you, Captain.”

Haha, it’s cute that Spock takes it as a complement to be called a computer. I am certain that he would make a superior computer to Landru.

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This is a strange,  annoying, and repetitive episode, one of my least favorite of the season. It’s made a bit more worthwhile by seeing Kirk and Spock in some adorable suits. The name “Landru” must be spoken 65 times, with “peace” and “tranquility” not far behind. I still have no idea who/what the Archons are, and I’m really not sure what the purpose/meaning of the 6pm-6am festival was. Despite its flaws, this episode is important in that it contains the first reference to the Prime Directive.

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