22016 "The Eye of the Beholder"

(airdate: January 5, 1974)

Writer: David P. Harmon
Director: Hal Sutherland

Tom Markel: James Doohan

Randi Bryce: Majel Barrett

Stardate: 5501.2

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is investigating the fate of the Ariel, which was conducting a science mission around the planet Lactra VII. Finding the ship abandoned, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to investigate further. While exploring Lactra VII's strange ecosystems, the landing party is captured by strange slug-like beings and placed inside a zoo with the surviving Ariel crewmembers. The Lactrans are so advanced as a species that they don't realize the Starfleet personnel are intelligent, and so are keeping them in a human environment for the Lactrans' amusement. A baby Lactran is accidentally beamed aboard the Enterprise; Scott is able to help convince the Lactrans that humans and Vulcans are intelligent, and the Lactrans release their specimens.

Whoops!: This week's animation gaffes: Scott temporarily grows a mustache while operating the transporter [the shot is a reuse of Kyle from "Beyond the Farthest Star"] as well as wearing captain's braids for a different shot, and Markel and Bryce have their assignment patches on the wrong side of their tunics for a couple shots, indicating the image has been flipped.
      Kirk instructs the ship to beam aboard "two parties, all human", apparently forgetting that Spock is part of the group. He also comments that the Lactrans are taking them to the northwest, "toward the city Scotty reported" - except Scotty said the city was to the northeast.
     The stardate provided here overlaps with the stardates in "The Ambergris Element" (which runs from 5499.9 to at least 5506.2).
     So if everyone on the Ariel beamed down to the planet's surface, leaving the ship empty, how exactly were they planning to get back to the ship?

Classic Lines: Spock: "Unless, of course, the random choice is the pattern." McCoy: "Spock, do you ever say anything straight out?" Spock: "I thought I just did, Doctor."

Cringe Lines: Spock and McCoy's quarreling aboard the Ariel seems unusually mean-spirited on both sides.
     Spock: "You propose the same environment necessarily prompts the same evolution?" McCoy: "My shoes are full of sand."

Library Computer: Lactra VII is a blue Class-M planet, with atmosphere and gravity Earth normal. No information about the planet existed beyond what the Ariel had gathered. It was a planet with extreme variations in climate in close proximity to each other, including a desert next to marshland with boiling water, and a rainforest with water too pure to be natural, leading Spock to wonder if the planet had been terraformed according to a pattern resembling randomness. This is because much if not all of the planet had been engineered to provide habitats for different creatures. The marshland area included a large magenta dragon-like creature living in the boiling water, with what appeared to be a single yellow eye on the end of its snout, while the desert area included a gigantic grey dinosaur-like creature, with three claws on each of its front legs and grey-blue patterning on its face - a creature very similar to one on Canopus III, in an environment similar to Canopus III's. The dinosaur appeared to gather strength from phaser blasts but could be knocked out by concentrated fire to the underside of its neck. The rainforest area included large purple flying reptiles, resembling the dragons on Maravel, which were kept at bay with a forcefield.
     98 kilometers northeast of the rainforest is a large city, measuring roughly five square kilometers. This city contained a zoo that held a different magenta creature from the one in the marshland, with what appeared to be tendrils coming out of its back; an animal that looked something like a cross between a rhinocerous and a wolf; a green insectoid creature; and a collection of humans from the starship Ariel. The Lactrans themselves are large, red and beige slug-like creatures with a long, tentacle-like "hand" emerging from what one might term their nose, with three "fingers" on the end. The Lactrans are incredibly advanced, some tens of thousands of centuries ahead of humanity. They communicate via telepathy - albeit so rapidly that Spock can't make out their thoughts - and do not appear to realize that humans and Vulcans are intelligent species. Lactrans can telepathically assault a person if they deem it necessary, either one-on-one or in a group. A six-year-old Lactran was able to pilot the Enterprise and read its computer banks in a very short time, learning about the Federation and the races that are a part of it - this is what leads the Lactrans to realize that humanity is intelligent. They invited humanity to come visit in another twenty or thirty of their centuries, although Spock has yet to work out how a Lactran century translates to a human one.
     The Ariel was a Federation ship, manned by six scientists, which was investigating Lactra VII. Three of the members beamed down to the planet's surface and were lost, so the other three members - Lt. Commander Tom Markel, biologist Lt. Randi Bryce, and navigator Lt. Nancy Randolph - beamed down after them, leaving the Ariel deserted. They were captured by the Lactrans and placed in their zoo. Randolph contracted a malarial-type infection, probably from an insect bite, while on the planet surface. Markel wears a gold command tunic but with a sciences insignia in his arrowhead patch.
     The captain of a Federation ship, regardless of rank, must follow orders, which include leaving someone aboard the ship.
     Canopus III is light years away from Lactra VII.

Final Analysis: "We are specimen animals in a zoo. And they have taken every precaution to prevent our escape. To them we are caged for life." There are some nice moments, and the design of the Lactrans is excellent, but "The Eye of the Beholder" does feel a bit derivative in places - the zoo idea isn't exactly new, even for Star Trek. Still, they do a decent job with the story (even if some of the dialogue is a bit awkward), and the overall feel is of a harmlessly average tale. Rather charming in its own way.


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