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This Side of Paradise - Recap

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The Enterprise is sent to Omicron Ceti 3 to investigate what they expect to be the death of colonists there. Starfleet has discovered that the planet is inundated with Berthold rays, which cause certain death after a week or so of exposure. Receiving no signal, Kirk takes down a landing party and finds that the colonists are alive and healthy!

The colony leader, Elias Sandoval, introduces himself and invites them to investigate to their heart’s content. Sandoval also introduces Leila Kalomi, a botanist who clearly has met Spock in the past. Investigating, the landing party discovers that there are no animals on the planet. McCoy confirms that the colonists are in perfect health, and Sandoval has even grown back an appendix that was removed.

Leila visits Spock and after trying to discuss their past “relationship” with them, she offers to show him the secret behind their good health. She shows him to a group of flowers, one of which sprays him with spores. He reacts in pain due to his Vulcan physiognomy, much to Leila’s surprise, but he quickly recovers and starts… smiling.

Kirk receives orders from Starfleet to evacuate the colonists but Sandoval peacefully refuses. He calls Spock but the Vulcan is clearly more interested in Leila. Kirk follows the communicator signal with Sulu and Kelowitz and find Spock hanging from a tree. Spock takes them to the flowers, which spray Sulu and Kelowitz who immediately become blissful and intent on staying. Another missing crewman, DeSalle, shows up at the landing site with more of the flowers and shows them to McCoy…

When Kirk returns he finds that McCoy has beamed the flowers up to the ship and the entire crew is equally “infected.” He goes up only to find that Uhura has short-circuited all but short-range communication, and the crew are beaming down to the planet as fast as they can.

Kirk returns to the planet where Spock and Sandoval explain that the flowers drifted through space before coming to the planet, and they thrive on the Berthold rays. They establish a symbiotic relationship with a human host, absorbing the radiation and providing health and peace of mind. Kirk, unimpressed, beams up to the ship but soon finds himself the only one on board. Then a flower sprays him and he goes to his quarters to get his personal belongings and beam down to the ship. However, in the transporter room he is overcome by sudden rage, which brings him out of the spores’ effects. Realizing that strong emotion is the key, he tricks Spock into beaming up. Then Kirk antagonizes him until Spock lashes out, almost crushing the captain’s skull. Spock recovers in time and offers his services in rigging up a subsonic transmitter.

Leila calls up to the ship and asks to see Spock. He hesitantly agrees but she senses that he’s free as soon as she arrives. Sorrowful at losing him again, she is freed from the spores. Kirk and Spock then activate the subsonic transmitter, which causes irritation among the crewmen and colonists so that they fight each other until the spores are washed away in the adrenaline.

Sandoval quickly asks to be evacuated so they can settle on a planet and build a real thriving colony. As they leave orbit, Kirk observes that this time they are walking out of Paradise on their own, and Spock notes that for the first time in his life… he was happy.