April 26, 2017
IN THIS, THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE OF THE ORIGINAL SERIES, we visit the planet Sarpeidon, a planet whose star is about to go supernova. Setting aside the crucial travel advisory that three hours out from a supernova, kids, do not beam down to the surface of a planet, this feels like a little late to be trying for… a last-minute anthropology scan? Last-ditch rescue attempt? We never know exactly what their plan was, only that they “came as soon as [they] heard” that the star was going nova.
Anyway, Kirk, Spock & McCoy beam down to find the planet… abandoned. Spookily, entirely abandoned. Except for this one guy, the last person on the planet, who is, in keeping with what one might expect of our own reality, a librarian.
Well, technically, we’d argue that Mr. Atoz is actually an archivist, but he describes himself as The Librarian, in charge of sending people “wherever they wanted to go.” Our heroes’ first conversation with Atoz is rife with frustration and accidental misdirection, wherein Kirk, Spock or Bones asks “uhhhhh where did everybody go? you definitely don’t have space travel,” and Atoz says “they left,” and then tries to hurry them along towards choosing their own destinations.
Long story short, the Library is a repository of periods of the planet’s past, and the Librarian’s primary duty is running the Atavachron, a time portal that sends its passengers to any period in the planet’s past whose details are contained in the Library.
So naturally, our three stars immediately end up blundering through the portal and accidentally travelling back in time to variously shitty periods in Sarpeidon’s history: Kirk by himself to some weird combo of Victorian Dublin and pre-Revolutionary France, and Spock and Bones to the planet’s last ice age.
Naturally this episode boils down to a) the wacky hijinks of our heroes while stranded in the past and b) the emotional conflict encountered by one or more of said heroes upon their return to the present. Specifically, we get an intensely soapy romantic interlude between Spock and the female guest star, Zarabeth, who was deliberately exiled to Sarpeidon’s ice age and has been physically altered so that she can never return.
In the end all is resolved, and the Enterprise, with its full complement, floors it out of Sarpeidon’s solar system in the nick of time. Narratively satisfying, if astrophysically dubious.
Tune in next week for the very last episode of TOS! Are you excited? We’re pretty excited.
June 23, 2017
June 14, 2017