This episode involves aliens torturing the Enterprise landing party. And I feel as if I were being tortured just by having to watch the episode.
Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to planet blah, blah, blah to evacuate scientists that were observing a star that is about to nova. The scientists have been abducted and almost immediately so are the landing party. They find a pretty girl with way too much make-up and a sensible short hair style, the sort to be found on women playing nurses on soap opera series. She is a mute and it turns out she is a “total empath” which McCoy explains means she can heal other’s injuries by transferring them to herself and then healing herself.
The aliens, called Vians, that have captured Kirk and company have already tortured the scientists to death and placed their dead bodies in clear cylinders so that Kirk and company can see their tortured expressions and become outraged. Now they start torturing the landing party starting with Kirk. This involves taking off Kirk’s shirt and suspending him with manacles and chains by his wrists and then beating him. We can’t see what they are hitting him with. But I imagine it’s either an energy weapon or a sack full of oranges.
The empath that McCoy has nicknamed Gem heals Kirk’s injuries. Next the Vians tell Kirk he must choose whether their final victim will be Spock or McCoy. McCoy tricks Kirk and Spock by sedating them with his hypodermic needle. The Vians beat him with the sack full of oranges to the brink of death and then Spock and Kirk witness Gem hesitantly trying to heal McCoy. We find out all of this is a test to see if Gem’s people are worthy of being saved from the nova by the Vians. If she possesses the “instinct” to sacrifice her own life to save another then she passes and her people will be saved. After some diffidence over whether her efforts were sufficient the Vians end the test and save McCoy. Then they scoop up Gem and leave. The episode ends with the landing party back on the bridge and trading witticisms about “Gem” being a pearl of great price.
As you can probably tell by the summary this is a weak episode. A shirtless Shatner suspended by the wrists and writhing in pain has some comic value no doubt. But this is very thin gruel. The Vians are funny looking with their bony skulls and silver dishdashas but other than a slight amount of sympathy for the dying McCoy what are we looking at here? Season three strikes again.
I’ll give it a 5 // 5.