December 14, 2016
Hold on to your hats, listeners, because something astonishing has come to pass: we all liked this one.
Right on the tail of one of the worst episodes of TOS is one of the best so far, and one that comes with an interesting question, also the title of the episode: is there, in truth, no beauty? Or is unvarnished truth necessarily ugly?
This week, the Enterprise is swinging by to pick up the ambassador to the Federation for species called the Medusans (unsure whether that’s what they call themselves or if that’s just the Jerkface Human translation), who are apparently so “hideous” to look upon that any human that does so goes insane.
Well, except for Vulcans. So it’s Spock who meets the ambassador and his interpreter, Dr. Miranda Jones (played by Diana Muldaur), in the transporter room. Dr. Jones is instantly fascinating to absolutely everyone – mostly because she’s hot – but also because she’s a) a telepath, b) also human? we think? so she’s one of the few mystifying exceptions to the “no human telepaths in Star Trek” rule, c) studied on Vulcan to get her powers under control, d) kind of jealous of Spock, who was offered the job she’s now trying to secure, but turned it down and e) utterly, explicitly uninterested in the creepy romantic advances of all the gross dudes around her.
Also beamed aboard: engineer Larry Marvick, whose chief extracurricular interest is stalking Miranda and failing to take no for an answer. (Content warning: this episode contains at least one brief moment of unwanted sexual contact, i.e. a kiss that is immediately, viciously rebuffed. Larry is not a nice dude and we’re happy when he dies.)
The central conflicts of the story are Miranda vs. Human Emotion (she’s just not that into feelings), Larry vs. Miranda’s Explicitly Stated Disinterest, and Larry vs. the Enterprise. It should also be mentioned that the Medusan ambassador, Kalos, is blameless in the entire affair. He spends 90% of the trip hanging out in his shielded box to protect the squishy human brains aboard the ship from his insanity-inducing magnificence, except for a brief sojourn inside Spock’s head to navigate them back to a known part of the universe after Dickface Larry gazes upon the unfathomable Kalos, loses his mind, and takes the Enterprise on a joyride right before expiring of Toxic Masculinity Poisoning.
(There is so much happening in this episode.)
Anyway, we love Miranda. And Miranda and Kalos, ultimately, settle their difficulties and beam off to the next stop on their tour as simpatico as a human (?) and a formless energy being can be. And do we ever get to see the Medusan in the box? No. We don’t even know if it’s really “ugliness” that drives people mad, though we’re inclined to think that’s just nasty human prejudice-speak for “ineffable.” But we also think that’s kind of the point.
June 23, 2017
June 14, 2017