(airdate: November 8, 1968)
Writer: Rik Vollaerts
Director: Tony Leader
Natira: Katherine Woodville
Old Man: Jon Lormer
Captain's Log: McCoy discovers he has an incurable disease that leaves him with one year to live. Meanwhile, the Enterprise discovers a rogue asteroid that is heading directly for the inhabited world of Daran V. Investigating, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy discover that the asteroid is actually a generational starship called Yonada, carrying the descendants of a race known as the Fabrini, and run by a computer known as the Oracle. Kirk and Spock commit sacrilege and are condemned to death, but McCoy intervenes, agreeing to stay behind as the wife of the high priestess Natira in exchange for his friends' lives. McCoy is inducted as a member of the People and is shown a book that he realizes could be used to correct Yonada's course. He calls the Enterprise back. Kirk and Spock beam down and, despite the efforts of the oracle, are able to gain access to the control room and put Yonada back on course for its original destination. Spock also discovers that the Fabrini had a cure for McCoy's illness, and thus by using this knowledge McCoy is cured.
Whoops!: What is the actual point of the Oracle? It's clearly there to ensure obedience, except...why? Why is it so necessary to keep the People in the dark as to the nature of Yonada? Were the Creators worried that their descendants would screw things up if they were given the possibility? Or that if they knew they were on a spaceship that they would try to steer it somewhere else? [Some of this goes away if you assume that the People did in fact know all this but lost that knowledge over the last 10,000 years, but we're still left without an explanation as to why the Oracle is so adamant in maintaining the People's ignorance. Unless that's a computer fault too.]
Why is Yonada launching missiles in the first place? It presumably has to be an automated system or else the Oracle would be aware of the Enterprise's presence. But it's not at all clear why it considers the Enterprise a threat in the first place. [Maybe it didn't; maybe the Fabrini launched some missiles ahead of Yonada, just in case it was going to run into something on the way.]
The footage of Yonada is a reuse of the asteroid footage from "The Paradise Syndrome."
Three minutes and 59 seconds into the episode, there's a blue ghost of Chekov reaching to check a button while the solid Chekov remains stock still. [This is the result of trying to keep Chekov stationary on the film insert in post-production and being only partially successful.]
Classic Lines: Natira: "Is truth not truth for all?" Oracle: "The truth of Yonada is your truth."
Alien Love: McCoy is willing to give it all up to become the husband of Natira, the high priestess of the People. Of course, once his illness is cured he doesn't seem to be raring to go back to her...
Library Computer: Yonada appears to be a standard asteroid 200 miles in diameter, but it is in fact a generational spaceship, powered by atomic energy (leaving a trail of hard radiation and debris in its wake) and able to correct for all gravitational stresses. It has been in flight for 10,000 years. It is capable of launching archaic, chemically fueled missiles at sublight speeds. Yonada has a hollow outer shell which surrounds an independent interior that has a breathable atmosphere. That interior has a reddish sky with brown mountains, and the illusion of a sun and stars. The population of Yonada, known as the People, live underground. They are forbidden from climbing the mountains on the surface of the interior, lest they learn that their world is artificial.
The People are clad in robes with colorful, often argyle patterns. Their guards wear oddly-shaped hats and carry short swords, while the women wear brightly-patterned dresses. Their high priestess is named Natira. She is the only member of the People seen to converse with the Oracle, and is the only one who can choose her own mate. She is briefly married to Dr. McCoy.
The Oracle is contained in a large room. The Oracle is a large shrine (though Spock describes it as an "altar") decorated with a large sun pattern, with a white circle in its center. There is a black marble pentagon in front of it, which is surrounded by a starburst pattern on the floor. This pentagon has a blue light at its front (relative to the Oracle) and kneeling on it seems to activate the Oracle. Entering the Oracle room without permission is an act of sacrilege and is punishable by death. The Oracle has the ability to defend itself, either by paralyzing intruders with a strong electrical beam or by raising the temperature in the room to at least 120 degrees [Fahrenheit]. To one side of the room is a black marble obelisk with the representation of a star and eight surrounding planets -- the planets of the Fabrini system, from which Yonada originated. Inside the obelisk is the Book of the People, given to them by the Creators, which can be revealed by pressing the three planets on the lower left side. It is to be opened and read once Yonada reaches its destination in the Daran system [well, it has to be, given that it's going to arrive at its new destination in roughly the same amount of time as it was going to take to crash into Daran V], to explain to the People why they must leave for their new world. Behind the altar (activated by pressing its center) is the control room for Yonada. It has controls similar to the Enterprise's, which are still functional after 10,000 years -- although a slight fault has developed in "one of the eight tubes" [of the engine] that can be easily corrected. The control room also contains the total knowledge of the Fabrini.
The People are controlled by the Oracle via a subcutaneous implant (known as the "instrument of obedience") in their right temple. It allows the Oracle to know what the People say and think [though the latter might be hyperbole, since we only actually see the Oracle respond to speech], and it can be used to hurt or even kill them. It glows red when activated, but it can be removed without ill effect with the proper equipment.
10,000 years ago, the Fabrini people learned that their sun was going to go nova and destroy their solar system and its eight planets. By the end, the Fabrini were living underground to survive. In order to survive, they built a huge generational spaceship named Yonada to carry their best people [Kirk assumes] to another planet: a journey which has lasted a hundred centuries. The Fabrini were an advanced race, with a great deal of medical knowledge -- including a cure for xenopolycythemia. Some trace of the Fabrini survived, enough for Spock to recognize Fabrini writing and for Kirk and Spock to be familiar with their fate.
Xenopolycythemia is a terminal disease with (initially) no cure. It appears to affect the blood, decreasing the flow of oxygen and possibly affecting the white blood cell count. It can weaken the sufferer, leaving them more vulnerable to electrical shock. A cure for xenopolycythemia was discovered on Yonada among the medical knowledge of the Fabrini. [Polycythemia is a real condition, caused by either an increase in red blood cells or a decrease in plasma volume. It's treatable, so the xeno- variety must be particularly robust.]
Daran V is a planet with roughly 3.724 billion inhabitants.
Dr. McCoy is single. [Well, it's nice to have confirmation.]
Final Analysis: "For the world is hollow and I have touched the sky! Aah!" A nice script with some interesting ideas at play here is helped by some striking direction by Tony Leader, and it's nice to see McCoy be the focus of a story. It's slightly worrying that the episode mainly revolves around the inability of our heroes to get through a door, but honestly you're not actually likely to notice, since nothing here ever feels like just marking time. A good solid tale.
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Page originally created: April 18, 2013
Page last updated: June 17, 2016