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Star Trek: The Return of the Archons

The Enterprise travels to a planet that was the last known location of a Federation ship, the Archon, that went missing a century ago. Sulu is "infected" with the peacefulness and Kirk must take down a landing party to investigate.They find an Earth-like society that exists in absolute peace... except once a year when they have a Festival and everyone turns violent.


Episode Info


Episode number: 1x21
Production Number: 6149-22
Airdate: Thursday February 09th, 1967



  • Currently 7/10
7/10 (4 Votes cast)
Starring Roles
DeForest KelleyDeForest Kelley
As Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy
Recurring
George TakeiGeorge Takei
As Lt. Hikaru Sulu
Recurring
James DoohanJames Doohan
As Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott
Recurring
Nichelle NicholsNichelle Nichols
As Lt. Nyota Uhura
Recurring

Guest Stars
Harry TownesHarry Townes
As Reger
Torin ThatcherTorin Thatcher
As Marplon

Co-Guest Stars
Morgan FarleyMorgan Farley
As Hacom
Recurring
Charles MacaulayCharles Macaulay
As Landru
Recurring
Jon LormerJon Lormer
As Tamar
Recurring
Sean Morgan (1)Sean Morgan (1)
As O'Neil
Recurring
Lev MailerLev Mailer
As Bilar
Recurring
David L. RossDavid L. Ross
As Guard
Recurring
Sid HaigSid Haig
As First Lawgiver
Christopher HeldChristopher Held
As Lindstrom

Uncredited
Bobby Clark (1)Bobby Clark (1)
As Townsperson
Recurring
Eddie PaskeyEddie Paskey
As Lt. Leslie
Recurring
Miko MayamaMiko Mayama
As Yeoman Tamura
Recurring
Barbara WeberBarbara Weber
As Dancing Woman
Main Cast
William ShatnerWilliam Shatner
As Captain James Tiberius Kirk
Leonard NimoyLeonard Nimoy
As Commander Spock

Recap

Lieutenants Sulu and O’Neil are on the planet Beta 3, disguised as natives as the planet is at a late 19th century stage of development. Men in hooded robes, carrying staves, close in on them from several directions. Sulu calls up to the ship to request beam up while O’Neil panics and runs away. One of the men touches Sulu with his staff and the lieutenant’s face turns blissful just as he beams away. Kirk and McCoy go to the transporter room to find Sulu totally under the sway of the alien influence and saying that he is part of “the Body.”..

Read the full recap
Episode Notes
This is the first of four times that Kirk destroys an advanced computer by outsmarting it.



Episode Quotes
Kirk: What happened?
Sulu: They're wonderful. They're the sweetest... friendliest people in the universe. It's paradise, my friend. Paradise.
Kirk: Lieutenant O'Neil, where is he?
Sulu: Paradise. Paradise.

Lawgiver: Tamar. Stand clear.
Tamar: I hear... and obey... the words of Landru...
(The lawgiver discharges his staff and Tamar falls dead.)

First Lawgiver: It is clear you simply did not understand. I will rephrase. You are ordered to accompany us to the absorption chamber.

Kirk: It's time you learned that freedom is never a gift. It has to be earned.

Landru: Your weapons have been neutralized. So it shall be with you.

Landru: I am Landru. I am he. All that he was I am, his experience, his knowledge.
Kirk: But not his wisdom. He may have programmed you, but he could not have given you a soul. You are a machine.
Landru: Your statement is irrelevant.

Kirk: Without freedom of choice there is no creativity.

Kirk: You can get rid of those robes. If I were you, I'd look for another job.

Spock: Predictably metaphysical. I prefer the concrete, the graspable, the provable.
Kirk: You would make a splendid computer, Mr. Spock.
Spock: That is very kind of you, Captain.

Lindstrom: Just wanted to say goodbye, Captain.
Kirk: How's it going?
Lindstrom: Couldn 't be better. Already this morning, we've had six domestic quarrels, and two genuine knock-down drag-outs. It may not be paradise, but it's certainly human

Spock: How often mankind has wished for a world as peaceful and secure as the one Landru provided.
Kirk: Yes. And we never got it. Just lucky, I guess.



Episode Goofs
As the landing party run down the street during Festival, a (fake) rock hits Lindstrom's head. Actor Christopher Held tries to cover but it's obvious the rock is Styrofoam and he barely flinched.

Either Beta 3's inhabited section is relatively small (which is never indicated), or the Enterprise crew are remarkably lucky. By purely random chance (and plot contrivance), they beam down into the central location of Landru's computer facility. Anywhere else, and they couldn't have got to the computer to convince it to self-destruct.

Hacom's role in the proceedings isn't clear. He apparently possesses the same immunity to absorption that Reger and Tamar do. But he's not part of their cell and in fact is clearly pro-Landru. Why would Reger and Tamar, underground resistance members, stay near anyone so clearly hostile to their secret plans?

Underground cells don't work the way described here. Reger should know the identity of both of his fellow cell members, and have some way to contact another cell without knowing who is in it (usually the next one up in the chain of command). Instead, Reger is the only member of the cell who doesn't know who the third member is, which causes exactly the problem seen here: when his contact person (Tamar) dies, he has no way to contact his own third cellmate.

The reason behind Festival is never explained and in fact seems to contradict everything that is said about Landru and his gentle kind nature. In James Blish' adaptation (taken from the original script, presumably), he briefly explains that Festival served as a kind of "pressure valve" Landru used to let the natives blow off steam periodically - and as a soulless entity's approach to population control (Blish has Lindstrom offer this theory during his final conversation with Kirk).

Why can't the Enterprise find the wreckage of the Archon? If Landru used the same tactic to kill those who weren't on the planet and available for absorption, it pulled the Archon out of orbit and caused it to crash. A matter/anti-matter engine would make a very large explosion upon striking the planet.



Episode References
As seen here, Spock sleeps with his eyes open.



Analysis
What Changed in the Remastered Version
Remastering added new orbital shots, including some very nice views of the CGI Enterprise model, and (of course) planet Beta III got a nice update with what looks like a more breathable atmosphere. Little else changed; no "heat beams" were added to the orbital shots once Landru began its attack, nor was Landru itself changed. Because much of the episode took place planetside, there were few opportunities for enhanced special effects.

Original vs. Remastered


The Contradiction of Landru's Durability
Dialog within the episode suggests that Landru has ruled Beta III for six thousand years. When Kirk learns Landru's nature he confronts it with this fact and it does not correct him. The construction of any machine that can function for six thousand years, much less one that can organize and control an entire society, is a truly remarkable feat of engineering. Yet Landru is not smart enough to deal with a simple paradox offered it by Kirk, and it burns out. First off, if the machine really is essentially a copy of Landru, its inventor, then it should have had the ability even children have, to simply ignore a paradox if it cannot be solved. Secondly, there is no particular reason it should have felt compelled to obey Kirk's orders or answer his questions - he was not its builder or anyone likely to have legitimate authority over it. Thirdly, even if it got completely bound up trying to solve a paradox, there is no reason for this to cause a catastrophic hardware failure. Humans developed circuit protection (fuses, circuit breakers) almost as soon as we began to harness electricity - surely Landru's builder would have known of such things, given that his science was centuries beyond that of the Federation, which is centuries beyond modern man's. These weaknesses in the climax detract from an otherwise intriguing premise and story.



Other Episode Crew

CreatorGene Roddenberry
Executive ProducerGene Roddenberry
ProducerGene L. Coon
CastingJoseph D'Agosta
Costume DesignerWilliam Ware Theiss
Make-upFred B. Phillips
GripGeorge Rader
Property MasterIrving A. Feinberg
Script SupervisorGeorge A. Rutter
GafferGeorge H. Merhoff
OtherHerbert F. Solow (Executive in Charge of Production)
Sound MixerDoug Grindstaff
Special EffectsJames Rugg
Main Title ThemeAlexander Courage
 
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