The Enterprise is investigating the 100-year-old disappearance of an Earth ship called the Archon. They are in orbit around a planet called Beta III. Now first of all it’s a hundred years later who gives a damn? Second of all they send down Sulu and some other guy. As everyone knows Sulu is the lamest character except for Nurse Chapel. Anyway, he returns from the planet having been brain washed into a state of placid stupidity. He talks about Landru as if of a deity.
Kirk, Spock, McCoy and a couple of red shirts go down to the planet and observe the population acting the way Sulu did. But while looking for a place to stay they observe a ritual insanity where at the stroke of 6 pm all the younger people go on a rampage smashing windows and ravishing the very cooperative women. But at the stroke of 6 am everyone returns to their normal placid behavior and resume normal life.
Kirk and Spock figure out that the population is controlled by a force that calls itself Landru. Landru was an historical figure from six thousand years earlier who reformed their civilization into the placid soulless existence it currently has. The system is monitored by Landru’s robed priests who can deal out deadly force. At the same time the Enterprise reports that a powerful heat ray is threatening the ship. All the ship’s power is needed to power the deflectors but because of this, the ship’s orbit will soon decay and destroy the ship.
Finding allies among the native population, Kirk and Spock finally identify that the Landru controlling the planet is actually a six-thousand-year-old computer that has Landru’s knowledge and plan. But Kirk argues the computer into knowing that the Landru life system is actually a living death and therefore it blows itself up.
This is the first mention of the non-interference prime directive and, of course, the first occurrence of Kirk ignoring it. Also, Kirk’s ability to talk computers into destroying themselves is an often-repeated plot device that will be seen over and over. But because these are the first occurrences, I’ll give this episode the pride of place. Let’s call this a 7. There is no Shatner mockery to speak of so let’s give the overall score of 7 // 1.