November 18, 2015
In this episode, in yet another example of early Starfleet’s flagrant disregard for basic biohazard precautions, Kirk, Bones, Spock, Rand and two redshirts beam down to an uncannily Earth-like planet in response to an SOS.
A planet where everyone appears to be dead, and has been dead for hundreds of years.
And creepy childlike singing and ghostly footsteps echo from around corners and beyond shadowed doorways.
…yes. This definitely seems like a safe place to explore.
The planet seems to be abandoned, apart from the aforementioned creepy singing and the pitter-patter of little feet – at least until they meet the episode’s titular character, (13/14-year-old?) Miri, who is hiding in a closet and terrified out of her mind at the sight of strange “grups.” A few minutes in an ancient, abandoned science lab nets the discovery that somewhere around three centuries ago, all the adults suddenly died, leaving only the children (cast largely from the offspring of the cast and crew), who seem to have grown feral in the interim.
Like so much of early Trek, this episode is one of those with a lot of unfulfilled potential and a lot of unfinished conversations, e.g. Is the prospect of an eternal childhood tempting or horrifying? How much of culture is passed down exclusively from adults to children rather than created anew with every generation? What cultural equilibrium can be achieved without biology forcing physical maturity? Is The Lord of the Flies a pack of nonsense that falls apart when not cast entirely with wealthy white males (spoiler: probably, but the episode itself doesn’t give us a lot to go on)?
All in all this is a very small story, an episode without a B-plot where surprisingly little happens, the cast demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of how vaccines work, and there is much debating about the appropriateness of flirting with infatuated 13-year-olds in the interest of saving everybody’s lives.
Sadly these questions are mostly left as loose ends in favour of a quick monster-of-the-week wrap-up, though at least this episode has a low death-count. Even the redshirts survive!
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