Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 24 – This Side of Paradise

This episode is unique in that for the majority of the episode Spock reacts like a normal emotional human.

The Enterprise is sent to a recently colonized planet to confirm that the colonists have succumbed to the effects of deadly Berthold rays, which apparently are very bad.  But when they arrive, they find the colonists very much alive and in perfect health.  McCoy discovers that not only are they healthy but show remarkable signs of regeneration such as self-repaired lung damage and regrown organs that had been surgically removed.  In addition, one of the colonists, Leila (played by the very attractive Jill Ireland) is an acquaintance of Spock’s.  She had been in love with him when she knew him previously though he never reciprocated the feeling.  She asks Spock to go see some plant life that was important to the investigation into why the colonists had survived.  When she brings him into a field, she points to a flower shaped like a lily and when Spock approaches it, a puff of pollen blows into his face.  After exhibiting pain from the exposure, suddenly Spock began behaving as a human expressing happiness to see Leila.  He kisses her and they talk about how the plant spores protect the colonists from the Berthold rays.  And Spock agrees to stay with Leila and live on the planet.

Meanwhile Kirk has been telling the colony leader Elias Sandoval (played by talented character actor Frank Overton) that the Enterprise will be evacuating all the colonists to a nearby star base.  Sandoval placidly refuses.  When Kirk attempts to call Spock on his communicator, at first, no one answers.  This is when we cut back to Spock sitting with his head in Leila’s lap watching the clouds in the sky and acting like a man in love.  Finally, he answers the call and tells Kirk that he isn’t leaving the planet and to stop bothering him.

Kirk and several crewmen search for Spock.  When they find him, he’s swinging on a tree branch and smiling like a man without a care in the world.  When Kirk demands an explanation, he brings them to one of the lilies and all the crewmen except Kirk are sprayed with spores and begin acting like Spock.  Eventually everyone but Kirk are controlled by the spores and begin to transport down to the planet from the Enterprise.  Kirk is basically in despair because without his crew he cannot even leave the star system with the Enterprise.  Finally, a lily that is on board the ship sprays spores onto Kirk’s face and he becomes like the others.  He calls Spock and tells him that he will be joining them soon on the surface of the planet.  Kirk goes to his cabin and collects his effects (which he packs into a very recognizable samsonite carrying case) but as he is looking at one of his Star Fleet medals, he becomes angry and this has the effect of shaking off the control by the spores.  Kirk then dictates a captain’s log to let us know that his plan is to lure Spock back onto the Enterprise in order to get him angry enough to escape the control of the spores.  He adds that considering the much greater strength of a Vulcan he is taking a dangerous risk by angering the very emotional Spock.  And that’s what he does.  He calls Spock a half-breed and a traitor out of a race of traitors.  Spock flips out and throws Kirk around the transporter room.  Bu the plan works and Spock overcomes the spore control and assumes his normal Vulcan persona.  Together Spock and Kirk rig a subsonic noise that irritates the colonists and crewmen and they all start fighting and then come to their senses.  Leila says a sorrowful goodbye to Spock and everyone heads up to the Enterprise.  On board Kirk asks Spock to describe his experience and he replies, “I’ve little to say about it Captain, except that for the first time in my life, I was happy.”

This was a pretty good episode.  Let’s call it a 7.  As far as mockery, there were some pretty good payoffs.  When Kirk is throwing off the control of the spores, he is hunched over in a pose that I guess is supposed to be towering rage.  It looks more like constipation.  During his baiting of Spock, he taunts him in a voice that is more whiny petulance than anger.  And perhaps the most embarrassing aspect of the whole episode is the awful southern accent that Doctor McCoy affects when he is controlled by the spores.  He blathers on about mint juleps and other inane things.  Terrible.

So, I’ll call this a 7 // 6.