22006 "The Lorelei Signal"

(airdate: September 29, 1973)

Writer: Margaret Armen
Director: Hal Sutherland

Theela: Majel Barrett

Dara: Nichelle Nichols

Carver: James Doohan

Stardate: 5483.7

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is investigating the disappearances of various starships in a previously unexplored region of space over the last 150 years. They encounter a signal which draws them to a planet in the Taurean system. The men are powerfully affected by the signal, and a landing party beams down, finding a planet inhabited by beautiful women. These women drug the landing party and begin to draw their life force from them, prematurely aging them; the women were stranded on the planet and were dependent on male lives to continue their own existence. Since the men still on the ship are still in thrall to the signal, Lt. Uhura leads a party of women down to rescue the Enterprise crew. They're brought back aboard and restored to their youthful selves via the transporter. Meanwhile, the women are going to be resettled, to live out more fulfilling lives without ensnaring passing ships.

Whoops!: Animation goof: Chapel is in red when she beams down to the planet. In an odd bit of pacing, the first cliffhanger threatens our heroes with...a feast. (Oh no!) And one of Spock's last lines as a enfeebled man ("Possibly. But the odds against us are 99.7 to 1") is delivered strongly, unlike the rest of his lines.
     The landing party manages to escape, and the women have no idea where they went. Yet they decide to look around for them rather than just asking the opto-aud where they've gone. And it's not that the opto-aud can't find them, because this is exactly how Uhura is able to locate them. But if we're speaking of weird things regarding the women on this planet... They've been luring ships to their planet for at least a hundred and fifty years, and yet not once has it occurred to them to ask the crews for help, rather than just leeching off them like energy vampires. Or for the women to try and figure out how any of these ships worked. [Maybe they thought they would die if they left the planet.] And this also seems to require that none of these ships had any female crewmembers, what with women being immune to these hallucinations and suggestions and all.

Technobabble: The headbands worn by the landing party contain polarized conductors that transfer life energy from the wearer to the bodies of the women.

Library Computer: According to data collated by the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Empire, and the Federation, every 27.346 star years, a ship disappears in a certain, largely uncharted sector of space; this has been going on for at least 150 years. The Enterprise's investigation revealed a powerful subspace radio signal coming from the second planet of the Taurean system, on the edge of the sector. As the ship approached the planet, strong hallucinations were experienced by the male members of the crew, affecting their judgment. [This includes things like Spock seeing a woman playing a Vulcan marriage drum and McCoy seeing magnolias in bloom. It also causes Spock to misread the sensor readings, such that Spock erroneously believes the planet is safe. These hallucinations probably also explain why the planet appears to be slowly rippling in certain shots, although that's not explicit.]
     This planet is a dull, stripey brown [it looks a lot like Jupiter, honestly], with indications that the planet was once inhabited by a vast civilization; however, now "life readings are sparse and concentrated." The architecture on the surface is gigantic, flowing, and twisty, looking very organic in nature. Once, the planet was inhabited by a civilization who fled their doomed homeworld and settled here; however, they discovered too late that the planet drained humanoid energy, leaving people as aged, withered husks. The women's bodies developed a glandular secretion which made them immune to the planet's effects and allowed them to manipulate male brains via their emotions, but this left them both ageless and barren. Thus, in order to survive, every 27 years the women would lure a ship to them and drain the men aboard of their life force, allowing them to continue their existence. The women achieved this energy transfer by fitting their victims with glowing orange [or perhaps copper] headbands with a yellow stone in the center; this glow diminished as the proximity to the women decreased, leading Spock to theorize that the bands were polarized conductors. Spock states that the landing party is aging approximately ten years per day [a figure almost certainly being accelerated by the women's energy transfer, although this isn't made explicit]. The women may have drugged the landing party's nectar-like drink to make it easier to fit them with the headbands. [That's the suggestion, but it isn't really confirmed one way or the other; it could also just be the properties of the planet or of the nectar itself.] It would seem that this ageless and barren condition wasn't permanent, however; Dr. McCoy was confident that once the women were taken to a different planet, they would be able to live out normal lives again within a few months.
     The women of the planet appeared to be humanoid, with light pink skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes. However, Spock noted several internal differences, with their bodies appearing to function on "an unusual psychokinesis level". They all wore yellow low-cut sleeveless dresses and gold diadems. They all seem to be quite youthful. Their leader is a woman named Theela. The women used a device that they called an opto-aud to monitor events on their planet and surrounding space. It was operated by tonal control and could show whatever the user desired to see. They measure distance in units called "cusecs".
     The landing party is able to de-age themselves by using their younger stored patterns in the transporter, although the odds against this actually working were 99.7 to 1; failure of this procedure would have caused their patterns to break up and scatter into space. [Thus answering the unspoken question of why people don't just use the transporter to essentially live forever; the landing party just got lucky that it worked.]
     Vulcans have a marriage drum, a small drum on a short tripod. [Note that there didn't seem to be anything like this in "Amok Time".]
     Spock can telepathically contact Nurse Chapel, although it doesn't seem she can respond. It's also reiterated that Spock has a longer lifespan than humans.
     Scotty knows the Welsh ballad "Yr Hufen Melyn", in Welsh. [Good to know that Welsh hasn't completely died out in the future.]
     Cortropine is a strong stimulant.

Final Analysis: "Release Captain Kirk and his men or we will destroy your temple." In some respects this is a fairly straightforward story, but it's really welcome to see Lt. Uhura and Nurse Chapel given such prominent leadership roles, putting them in the position of rescuing the helpless men. That alone elevates this episode above much of its siblings. Good fun, even if it ultimately doesn't end up being the most brilliant or memorable of stories.


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